Last year, I published a book called The History Usherette’s Second Seat, Third Row. The starting point for this book was one of my favourite films, ‘A Canterbury Tale’. This film was released in 1944, towards the end of the Second World War, a time that I am deeply fascinated with. I wondered about the contemporary audience; how the film affected them and made them feel. Putting this thought together with the Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and a book that I had read about the life of a painting…’Second Seat, Third Row’ began to take shape. The title refers to a seat in a fictitious cinema somewhere near Waterloo Station. The book takes a group of people who all sit in this seat and see ‘A Canterbury Tale’ when it is first released, and it tells their stories. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it.
This has been my most well received book to date, and combined with the fun I had writing it…of course I had to repeat the exercise with another film. This time I have taken two films, both dealing with another fascinating piece of 1940s history. ‘Blithe Spirit’ and ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ were both in cinemas in the immediate post war period. Both deal with human spirits and the afterlife. There were other films that looked at this subject, and it is no coincidence. As 6 years of death and destruction came to an end, of course those that survived were moved to consider what had happened to their loved ones. Films and stories so often reflect popular thought and ideas and are a fascinating window into their time.