Film ID: YFA 3519 Video of YFA 3519 My Summer Cruise MY SUMMER CRUISE 1954-1955 Visitor TabsDescription A film made by local filmmaker Ernest Taylor, of a Mediterranean Cruise including Mary Clare, Gracie Fields, and June Whitfield. The film begins with a man on a ship using a cine camera, followed by the title 'My Summer Cruise', against the background of a map of Europe. Luggage is then loaded onto the ship, 'the Arcadia'. The ship is then tugged away from Southampton Ocean Terminal. The lifeboats are being cleaned by workers, mostly foreign. Intertitle: 'Collision Drill for the Crew' The crew line up on deck for instruction wearing life vests. Then some men are playing a game throwing rope rings into circles marked on the deck. This is followed by a game where swimmers dive into a pool to retrieve spoons. A map of Europe is then shown with the cruise journey marked on it and the title, 'Italian customs officials come aboard'. A boat pulls up alongside the ship from which a posse of custom officers board. Some small boats are lowered to take passengers on a trip. Intertitle: 'We leave Naples for a day trip to Capri'. From Naples Harbour the passengers board a larger boat to take them to Capri. Along the way they pass by US destroyers 807 and 830, and the US aircraft carrier 41, Midway. They disembark, have a brief look at a market and take a trip on the 'Funicolare' monorail. At the top they have a look at some antique stalls and sit outside a caf?. Intertitle: 'The sun comes out and so do the 'STARS'' 'June Whitfield, Mary Clare, Gracie Fields' Next to a caf? on the coast June Whitfield walks towards and past the camera smiling, followed by a close up of Mary Clare and then Gracie Fields, stopping to chat with a group of people before making her way up some steps to a balcony. Then a horse drawn buggy is seen before going on to a crowded market with a couple of US sailors. A map showing the cruise route shows a stopover at Palermo. Back on board the cruise ship passengers are relaxing on deckchairs in the sun, and someone is filming with a cine camera. Two women have a mock fight sat in plastic rings in the swimming pool, followed by two men doing the same. Some men then have a pillow fight sat on a log suspended above the pool. Intertitle: 'Palermo' In Palermo there is a line of horse drawn carriages, with people living among part-destroyed buildings. Washing is being hung from the balconies of apartments. A group of children pose for the camera. A workman does road repairs and children play in the street. In the harbour there are many sailing boats, and the surrounding buildings are covered in scaffolding. There are views of the streets of Palermo, and its gardens and architecture, including the Piazza Ruggero Settimo. The touring group look out over the mountainous terrain from high up on a balcony. A stick then traces the journey on the map back across the Mediterranean to Portugal. Back again on board and passengers play a game of throwing and catching a rope ring over a net. Other passengers read, snooze and eat. June Whitfield stands at the side of the ship looking at the coastal scenery, then relaxing on a deckchair and later playing on deck. In a children's area games are played, despite the problems caused by the wind. Intertitle: 'Lisbon' Street scenes are shown, including women carrying baskets on their heads, in and around Lisbon. There are further shots of the architecture, gardens and parks. Then the stick on the map traces the journey back to Britain. The Arcadia finally docks back and the union jack is hoisted up the flag pole. The End. Context This film was made by Huddersfield filmmaker Ernest Taylor, who coincidentally, was a tailor by trade, taking over his father’s business. The YFA has ten films made by Ernest spanning ten years from 1945 to 1955, the year before his death in 1956. He may have started making films earlier in 1939, but the intervention of the war put a hold on his filmmaking. After the war Ernest resumed making films, mainly of his family and being on holiday, but he also made training films. As evidenced with this film Ernest was willing to experiment in his filmmaking. Ernest was a member of the Huddersfield Cine Club, of which he was twice Chairman, as well as a member of Huddersfield Rotary Club, the Special Constables and the Air Training Corps. Ernest was also active in the local operatic societies – the Huddersfield Light Opera Society and the Huddersfield Amateur Opera Society, both performing and organising. This resulted in a film he made of one of the Societies and their productions, Amateur Cavalcade, made possibly in the same year as this cruise, 1954. Only “possibly” because Ernest also took a cruise the following year, and it isn’t sure which of these is filmed here. Ernest entered films for the competitions run by Huddersfield Cine Club, and possibly in regional cine club competitions. He entered his Holidays in England , made a year or two previously, and perhaps this film was entered too. It certainly looks as if it may have been, being very well made, showing the entire trip from start to finish. More information on Ernest and his films can be found in the Context for Careless Security. The filming of holidays is perhaps the single most common subject for amateur filmmakers, but they are rarely filmed with this much skill, and so this film provides a fine example of what a holiday cruise around this time would have been like. The first cruise 'excursions’ were began by what later become commonly known as P&O, back in 1837, with passengers being taken on the P&O mail voyages to ports on the Iberian Peninsula and the Mediterranean. The company began in 1815, becoming the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company in 1822, with a small fleet of ships sailing between England and Spain and Portugal (hence the company colours of blue, white, red and yellow). But it wasn’t until the mid-1830s that former seaman and founder Arthur Anderson came up with the idea that there was something in leisure cruising as well as in delivering mail, suggesting trips around Scotland and Iceland in the summer and Mediterranean cruises in the winter. In 1832 a mail steamer to Australia took 1,100 passengers on the first cruise to Brisbane and Norfolk Island - a sailing which sold out in just one day. In 1840, with newly built paddle-wheel steamship Oriental, they opened up new routes with a 15 day voyage from England to Alexandria, becoming the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (hence P&O). The first trips that were specifically for leisure cruises started in 1844 with sea tours on the paddle steamer Tagus to the Mediterranean, including Gibraltar, Malta and Athens, sailing from Southampton. The first pioneering advertisement in The Times read: “INTERESTING and CLASSIC EXCURSION: Steam to Constantinople, calling at Gibraltar, Malta, Athens, Syria, Smyrna, Mytilene and the Dardenelles.” Of course, because of the cost, these cruises were only for the wealthy. In fact the word ‘posh’ originates from cruises: it refers to the cooler side of a ship in which to occupy cabin space on the early Indian cruises, Port Out Starboard Home (POSH), which was only affordable by the wealthiest. In the first half of the twentieth century the company took over, or merged with, other shipping lines, in particular British India to India and the Orient. They played a large part in supplying ships for the war effort, and the group as a whole lost 182 of their pre-war fleet of 371. After the war they built 15 large passenger liners in the years up to 1961, including, in 1954, the one in this film, SS Arcadia. By the mid 1960s they were the world’s largest cruise company. The 1920s was the period when cruises really took off, coinciding with the growth in interest in amateur cinematography, and hence many cruise trips have been filmed by holidaymakers in both the inter-war and post-war periods. Heather Norris Nicholson, who has written about this connection and the resultant amateur films, notes that these ‘floating hotels’ provide a protective bubble for holidaymakers, “controlling the kinds of transformative encounters conventionally associated with the process of journeying.” Much of the filming on the ships is on deck: we don’t know whether this was because there were restrictions on filming elsewhere, or whether the light was simply too poor to film below deck. But this does provide a glimpse into the, rather less boisterous, games that used to be played on deck, such as shuffle board, quoits and deck tennis. Miriam Akhtar and Steve Humphries claim that the film And God Created Woman, which came out in 1956 starring Brigitte Bardot, had a large part to play in popularising the Mediterranean holiday. In contrast to the pre-war period – helped by the Holidays With Pay Act of 1948 – working class holidays were becoming more individual and less communal, when the whole factory or town would head off to Blackpool. What is more, living standards were rising – by exactly how much is a contentious issue, some estimates claim there was a 40% rise in average real wages from 1950 to 1965 (although Selina Todd reminds us that much of the increase in consumer goods was paid for by credit). Yet these trends didn’t prevent a downturn in cruise travel in the 1960s with more people taking to the air, especially when Boeing began selling 747s and other aircraft worldwide. It picked up again in the 1970s when cruises began to be seen as less of a means of travel and more a luxury experience in its own right. Some have speculated that the US TV comedy series, The Love Boat, which started in 1977, helped to lead the revival – certainly that’s the opinion of actor Gavin MacLeod who played Captain Stubing. As cruises have become affordable to more people they have mushroomed with a huge variety of themed cruises, such as one for The Archers and one for prog. rock. The extremely luxurious ships, which started to be built in the 1980s, are now doing better than ever, with an increase in the number of people leaving UK ports on cruises of 10% in 2012 over the previous year, taking it to almost 1 million. The ship Arcadia seen in this film – sold to Taiwanese ship breaker – has been replaced by a much grander ship given the same name in 1997 (to what was the Star Princess). Yet in 2012 P&O penalised staff taking action on this ship over poor wages, leading the RMT union to criticise P&O not only for paying very low wages for some of their staff, but also for by-passing British legislation relating to employee rights. The two links on the P&O in References provide a further bibliography on the history of cruises. The sighting of the US destroyers 807 and 830, and the US aircraft carrier 41 Midway, harboured in Naples, is unsurprising given that the US had its Sixth Fleet stationed here. The Midway was the largest ship in the world until 1955 (it wasn’t decommissioned until 1992, and still exists as a museum in San Diego). The US presence remained in the area after helping to liberate Italy from September 1943, followed by the Spring offensive in 1945. It was from here that the U.S. Navy deployed 45,000 men, to the Lebanon crisis in the Middle East in 1958. In fact the US has vastly expanded its military bases across the globe in the decades since the end of the war, now operating or controlling between 700 and 800 military bases Worldwide, in 63 countries and deploying a quarter of a million US military. The standout feature of this particular film is possibly the three well known entertainers of the time that can be seen: the actresses Mary Clare and June Whitfield, and the actress and singer Gracie Fields – this was not the only time that Ernest had filmed celebrities, in July 1949 he filmed Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh when they visited Huddersfield. Mary Clare was a British actress who performed in films, on stage and television. She had recently played Madame Louet in John Huston’s version of Moulin Rouge (1952). Lesser known at the time, but to become much more so due to television, is the actress June Whitfield, who at that time would only have been known for the radio comedy Take It From Here, written by the legendary pair Frank Muir and Denis Norden and starring Jimmy Edwards. Her family had a shop in Huddersfield, and so Ernest Taylor may well have known her. Later she formed a television comedy double-act with Terry Scott, but perhaps saved her best work to last with her role in Absolutely Fabulous. The most famous would have been Gracie Fields, who had become famous in music halls and films of the 1930s, in particular Sally in Our Alley (1931). During the war her popularity was mixed. Gracie Fields is known for her wartime performances to troops, but having married the Italian-born film director Monty Banks in March 1940, she spent the war mainly in the US (Italians and other citizens of Axis countries were interned during the war), and her trips to Britain were sporadic (she later received a government apology). Round about this time she would have been touring the music halls with Tommy Steele and Max Bygraves, and the following year, 1956, played Miss Marple in a US TV production of Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced. Ironically, Gracie Fields died, having contracted pneumonia, after performing an open air concert on the Royal Yacht, docked in the harbour of Capri. References Miriam Akhtar and Steve Humphries, Some Liked it Hot: The British on holiday at home and abroad, Virgin, 2000. David Howarth and Stephen Howarth, The Story of P&O, Weidenfield and Nicolson, London, 1986. Heather Norris Nicholson, ‘Floating Hotels: Cruise Holidays and Amateur Film-making in the Inter-War Period’, in Stuart Aitken, Yvette Blackwood, David Clarke, Valerie Crawford Pfannhauser et al, Moving Pictures/Stopping Places: Hotels & Motels on Film, Lexington Books, 2009. P&O: The company that invented cruising Nicholas Messenger, P&O Veteran British rockers attract the cruise ship crowds, BBC P&O cruise ship Arcadia hits troubled waters over ousting of Indian crew Cruise Line Job History - From Necessity to Pleasure Trip Chalmers Johnson, America's Empire of Bases The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases, GlobalResearch Selina Todd, Did They Ever Really Have It So Good?