‘Bombed into stardom!’: Roddy McDowall, ‘British evacuee star’ in Hollywood

Lawrence, Michael (2015) ‘Bombed into stardom!’: Roddy McDowall, ‘British evacuee star’ in Hollywood. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 12 (1). pp. 45-62. ISSN 1743-4521

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Abstract

This article considers the beginnings of the British actor Roddy McDowall's career as a child star in Hollywood. Following his relocation to the United States in October 1940 and signing a contract with Twentieth Century-Fox, McDowall quickly became one of Hollywood's most popular juvenile actors. For the duration of the Second World War, McDowall's star image was indissoluble from his status as a war guest: he was ‘a British evacuee star’. McDowall thus became an unofficial ambassador for the British nation, much like his fellow evacuees, who were widely recognised for their work improving Anglo-American relations. In the management of McDowall's image, and in his screen performances, there is a discernible effort to substantiate certain attitudes about the character and attributes of the British nation but also to challenge certain prejudices about English sissy boys. McDowall's star text was carefully managed so that the image of the actor presented by the media and the fictional characters he played on screen congealed in a productive way to inspire among American audiences specific sentiments about the British and America's relationship with the British nation during wartime. Analysing the representation of McDowall in American film magazines during the early 1940s, as well as his performances in three war-themed productions – Confirm or Deny (1941), On the Sunny Side (1942) and The White Cliffs of Dover (1944) – I explore the ways McDowall's star text functioned in its geopolitical and bio-political contexts.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures
Depositing User: Michael Lawrence
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2014 08:43
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2020 15:09
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/50578
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