Issue date: 02 November 2009
A prolific British film producer of the 60s and 70s, Michael Klinger, is the subject of a new research project which will analyse and catalogue an extensive collection of his papers which has been donated to the University of the West of England. The research will shed light on the producer's career and the film industry of the period.
Dr Andrew Spicer, a cultural historian in the Faculty of Creative Arts at the University of the West of England, will lead the project, which is funded with a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
The documents donated to UWE by Tony Klinger, the producer's son, fill six filing cabinets and include bound scripts for well known films such as Get Carter (1971) and Gold (1974) and as well as draft screenplays, contracts, distribution rights and production deals. The material will be catalogued and housed in a purposely converted archive room.
The two year project will build up a picture of how Michael Klinger succeeded in producing a number of successful films, in a period in which the British film industry was in decline.
Dr Andrew Spicer explains, “During the 1970s, a period of economic decline, admissions to cinemas were down, there was a lack of public investment in the film industry and the Hollywood studios had pulled out of investing in British films. Despite this, Michael Klinger made 13 successful films - he was the only consistently profitable indigenous producer in this decade - yet very little critical acclaim has been given to him. Film studies tends to focus on the director as having the main creative role, yet in the case of Michael Klinger, he was involved in all aspects of film-making, including casting, the writing of the screenplay and editing.
“I am fascinated by Michael Klinger's work and his ability to fund film projects against the odds. My favourite work by Klinger is Pulp (1972), the follow up to Get Carter. It is a fascinating film that doesn't conform to any of the norms. It starred Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney and followed the story of a writer of trashy detective novels who becomes embroiled in a real life 'pulp fiction' adventure. It is highly experimental and challenging.
“As well as archiving the documents, we hope to carry out interviews with those who worked with Michael Klinger. The project will show not only the important part he played in the British film industry, but also give us a better understanding of the period and the producer's role.”
Dr Spicer and the Research Assistant will produce a monograph on Michael Klinger, arrange a symposium on his work and archive the material. Once this is catalogued it will be made accessible as a resource for other researchers.
The Arts and Humanities Research Council Grant (AHRC) is worth nearly £200,000.
Arts & Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £102 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from languages and law, archaeology and English literature to design and creative and performing arts. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,350 postgraduate awards. Awards are made after a rigorous peer review process, to ensure that only applications of the highest quality are funded. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk
Michael Klinger (1920 – 1989) was a highly significant figure in British cinema over a twenty-year period (1960-1980) during which he made 32 films. He straddled the normally separate spheres of the internationalist action-adventure film (notably Gold, 1974), the medium-budget crime thriller (e.g. Get Carter, 1971), exploitation cinema (from Naked as Nature Intended, 1961 through to the 'Confessions Of' series, 1974-76), and the art-house film: Klinger produced two of Polanski's British films, Repulsion (1965) and Cul-de-sac (1966), and Chabrol's Les liens de sang (Blood Relatives, 1975). Through the variety and range of his productions, Klinger became the only consistently profitable indigenous producer during the 1970s.
Dr Andrew Spicer is a cultural historian with a particular expertise in the British film industry. He has written several books including a study of Sydney Box a successful film producer in the 40s and 50s, which was published in the British Film Makers series in 2006.
The project is carried out in partnership with Professor Sue Harper and Dr Justin Smith, in the School of Creative Arts, Film and Media at the University of Portsmouth. It will complement their AHRC-funded research on British film culture in the 1970s, further details of which are available at: www.1970sproject.co.uk