Paul Dickson’s The Undefeated, the 1949 feature documentary that established his critical reputation.
“I Don’t Think He Did Anything After That” – Paul Dickson
This is an extended draft of a chapter that is published in Patrick Russell & James Piers Taylor (eds.), Shadows of Progress: Documentary Film in Post-War Britain, London, BFI / Palgrave Macmillan (2010), ISBN 978-1-844573-21-9, pp. 156-175.
This chapter, in a section of the book dealing with the careers of prominent sponsored, educational and informational filmmakers, assesses the work of the Welsh director Paul Dickson (1920-2011). Dickson is chiefly remembered for having made two, well-received feature length story documentaries at the tail end of the Documentary Movement’s mainstream period: The Undefeated (1950) and David (1951), and then – as far as orthodox British cinema history is concerned – having disappeared off the face of the map. Interviewed many years later, one of his contemporaries recalled that “I don’t think he did anything after that” (David), hence the title of the chapter. In fact, his career continued for a further three decades, working in sponsored film, both public and private sector, assistant directing roles on Hollywood features and television drama and advertising (Dickson made some of the earliest commercials to be broadcast on British television). This chapter discusses his later career, and in particular considers the impact of sponsored filmmaking on post-war British cinema in broader terms.
Please note that the version available for download here is an earlier and substantially longer version of the chapter than the one published in the book. It includes background coverage that was edited out of the published version, because it covered the same ground as other contributions to the book.
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