chapter  3
Spin a dark web
Pages 10

In the context of British cinema of the 1930s, the term thriller denotes works that, whatever their individual qualities, tend towards artificiality and operate at a considerable remove from the realities of criminal activity. The predominant influences in this cinema were the popular writers of earlier in the century, such as Edgar Wallace, whose The Ringer was filmed in 1931 and again, as The Gaunt Stranger, in 1938, and A.E.W.Mason, whose House of the Arrow reached the screen in both 1930 and 1940. Espionage, or at least pseudo-espionage, also provided a recurring theme, particularly in the pre-war films of Alfred Hitchcock, and for obvious reasons such a preoccupation, with a more marked patriotic inflection, manifested itself in the thrillers of the war years. Occasionally a British film would concern itself with ‘everyday’ crime, a noteworthy example being They Drive By Night (1938), but in general, pressures of censorship served to reinforce a cultural climate that ensured that such undertakings were exceptions to prove the prevailing rule.