Ripping England!

Postwar British Satire from Ealing to the Goons

By Roger Rawlings

Subjects: Film Studies, British Studies, Cultural Studies, Mass Media, Popular Culture
Series: SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema
Paperback : 9781438467344, 286 pages, July 2018
Hardcover : 9781438467337, 286 pages, December 2017

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Table of contents

List of Images

1. A Nation Turns Inward: The Setting of Economic and Artistic Postwar Britain

2. “Fog in Channel, Continent Cut Off”: Postwar British Filmmakers Look Inward

3. The Great Bloodless Revolution: Postwar British Film and the Ealing Satires (to 1949)

4. The Ealing Satires’ Annus Mirabilus (1949)

5. Ealing at a Turning Point (1949 and After)

6. The Special Relationship: American Satires of the 1940s

7. Postwar Britain Faces Its Subconscious: Spike Milligan and the Goons’ Postmodern Schizophrenia

8. The Post-1950s Satire Boom: Satire Explodes into Late Twentieth-Century British and American Popular Culture

Works Cited

Examines an all too often neglected period of postwar British cinema and popular culture.


Ripping England! investigates a fertile moment for British satire—the period between 1947 and 1953, which produced the films Passport to Pimlico, Kind Hearts and Coronets, and The Lavender Hill Mob, as well as the seminal radio program The Goon Show. Against the postwar background of fading empire, universal rationing, and the implementation of a welfare state, these satires laid the foundation for a new British cultural identity later fleshed out by the Angry Young Men, the Movement poets, the Social Realists, and those involved in the satire boom of the 1960s, which lives on even to this day.

The peculiarity of these satires and the British identity they shaped is better understood when seen in relief against postwar cinematic cultures of Italy, France, and the United States. Roger Rawlings places postwar British film in the context of contemporaneous European national film movements and contrasts it with Hollywood's comedies and satires of the same period. British satires of the late forties and early fifties held up a mirror to a nation that was in the throes of change, moving from a colonial empire to an inward-turning island culture. Ripping England! looks at the all too often neglected miracle of postwar British cinema and popular culture.

Roger Rawlings teaches film studies at Palm Beach State College and is Director of Programming at He cowrote and directed the feature film Neurotica (2004), was executive producer and cowrote the story for Losers Take All (2013), and has produced award-winning films in Ireland and New York.


"The book is full of wonderful anecdotes and facts that will delight even the most knowledgeable culture buff, and the thorough notes are worth reading for the extra information they include. Rawlings has amassed a lot of material in what is obviously a labour of love. " — Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television