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Woolloomooloo or Wapping? Critical responses to The Sentimental Bloke in 1920s London and the normalization of the inner-city working class

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-332
Number of pages11
JournalStudies in Australasian Cinema
Issue number3
PublishedMar 2012

King's Authors


This article explores the British reception of the first film adaptation of C. J. Dennis' verse poem The Sentimental Bloke, and traces the tendency of contemporary London critics to re-align the film's inner-city character 'types' with those much closer to home. Whilst contemporary Australian reviews tended to regard the central characters as typical Australian 'larrikin' types, London critics consistently compared them with – and occasionally even mistook them for – their own inner-city working class types. References to cockneys and costers abound in a process of normalization that saw Sydney's urban working class identities subsumed by that of their more familiar English cousins. Framed by an investigation of themes of 'realism', 'authenticity' and 'universality', this article asks why London critics may have needed to normalize certain aspects of the film and ponders what that process might say about urban identity and broader British notions of Australia and 'Australianness' in the 1920s.

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