Idols of the Odeons

Post-war British film stardom

By Andrew Roberts

Idols of the Odeons


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-4703-5
  • Pages: 344
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: April 2020
  • BIC Category: PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism, United Kingdom, Great Britain, The arts / Films, cinema, Individual Actors & Performers, The arts / Film theory & criticism, BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Entertainment & Performing Arts, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain / 20th Century
  • Series: Manchester University Press


Idols of the Odeons examines British film stardom in the post-war era, a time when Hollywood movies were increasingly supplanting the Pinewood/Elstree studio system. The book encompasses the careers of sixteen actors, including Stanley Baker, Diana Dors, Norman Wisdom, Hattie Jacques, Peter Finch and Peter Sellers. Such extremely diverse careers provide the opportunity to explore overlooked films, in addition to examining how the term 'star' could apply to a stalwart leading man, a Variety comic, a self-created 'Vamp' and a character actor. Above all, this is a book that celebrates, with idiosyncratic humour and warmth, how these actors accomplished much of their best work during the transitional period between the Rank/ABPC roster of stars and the US domination of the British film industry.


Senior leads: meet the chaps
Jack Hawkins: 'stand by, number one'
John Mills: 'do push off, there's a good chap'
Kenneth More: hawling like a brooligan
Younger leading men
Stanley Baker: the British Brando?
Laurence Harvey: the talented Mr. Skikne
Leading ladies
Sylvia Syms: never your typical 'nice blonde'
Britain's bad blonde: the one and only Diana Dors
The comics
Norman Wisdom: 'Mr. Grimsdale!'
Terry-Thomas and Leslie Phillips: a tale of two cads
Ladies and gentlemen of character
Sidney James: Jo'burg's favourite cockney
James Robertson Justice: 'what's the bleeding time?'
Not to be crossed: Margaret Rutherford
Hattie Jacques: matron and mistress of misrule
The art of screen acting
Peter Finch: the 'actor's actor?'
Peter Sellers: 'there used to be a me but I had him surgically removed'


Andrew Roberts is an independent scholar

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout