A summary of the magazines in the Dirk Bogarde collection

After completing my spreadsheet, I sent an edited version of it (removing the information specifically related to Bogarde to make the other data more legible) to the BFI. While most, though not all, of these magazine share something on Bogarde in common, it is worth giving an overview before turning to dates, countries/languages and other aspects in more detail. The spreadsheet has 632separate entries. By looking at the ‘Magazine Notes’ category (which included information on additional versions of a title) we can see that there are about 115 occasions when there is more than one copy (or part of or photocopy) of a magazine.  At times, there are as many as 4 copies (or part copies) of a magazine. This means that the number of pieces of ‘unique’ materials is probably somewhere between 400 and 500.  Organising the box number category, we can see that there are 19 occasions when magazines appeared on the website but not in the physical collection.  

If we organise the date from oldest to newest we can gain insights into the spread of the collection over time. This does not take into account duplicates, and there are partial pieces which I have not been able to accurately date (and have listed as ‘unknown’). I have used a date, month, year format (e.g. 23 Oct 1948) but due to the varied frequencies of some of the materials this was not always possible – i.e. when a season (e.g. Autumn) and year, or indeed just a year, was given. This makes the checking of dates a little more complex, as does the fact that Excel does not always seem to organise even the ‘standard’ dates properly.

Thus far the comments I have made relate to the Bogarde collection, but little to Bogarde. The collection is of course specifically related to Bogarde since it comes from his estate. On the whole, it also includes material relating to Bogarde (though I noted about 10 occasions when this did not appear to be the case). It is therefore necessary to consider its relation to him in more detail.  The earliest magazine is Theatre World which dates from April 1941. This is prior to Bogarde’s film career starting proper (in 1948) and the small picture and credit of him as Derek Boegarde point to his pre-star status.  The most recently dated material is from newspapers in March 2013, 14 years after Dirk Bogarde’s death. Both The Guardian Guide and The Independent Radar contain articles on Losey’s The Servant.

More broadly speaking, I have judged the amount of coverage over the decades as comprising: 1940s (10), 1950s (190), 1960s (130), 1970s (90), 1980s (65), 1990s (50), 2000s (40), 2010s (10), unknown (50). We cannot presume that the collection is a representative sample of material about Bogarde (it may especially be the case that older material is harder to get hold of, for example), but we can still perform some useful initial analysis. In the 1940s Bogarde was not much present in the collection, he hit his peak in the 1950s, after which his presence decreases decade by decade. It is unsurprising that most of Bogarde’s coverage occurs in the 1950s. In addition to appearing in far more films than in the previous decade (23 compared to 5 credited roles in the 1940s), this was the decade he was contracted to the Rank Organisation, and most often appeared highly placed in box office rankings.  (For more on Bogarde’s films and box office rankings, please see the second post of this series.)

Although Bogarde appeared in a similar number of films in the 1960s as the 1950s, these films were perhaps less popular at the box office – it is certainly the case that he contributed more complex psychological portrayals in more challenging films in this decade. The fact that Bogarde’s contract with the Rank Organisation ended early in this decade may have meant that he was less routinely covered in magazines, since we tend to presume correlation between studios and magazines.  Interestingly the decrease between the 1960s and 1970s is not as marked as that for the 1950s to the 1960s, despite Bogarde’s number of films dropping to 7 in the 1970s. (Though to reiterate, I have not considered the matter of duplicates and unknown dates and the collection may not accurately reflect Bogarde’s coverage in these decades.) Perhaps once a star is established, coverage about them continues. I also hope at a later date to investigate whether particular clusters appear in specific years, or months of years, and to ponder why this may be the case. For example, they may be linked to the release of a film, a book (by, or about, Bogarde), or momentous news about Bogarde’s life.

The country and language of the materials contained in the collection also worth summarising. This is sometimes necessary in terms of identifying a magazine (sometimes the same titles are used in different countries for example), and the BFI perhaps has more of a focus on British publications.  It also usefully shows the extent of Bogarde’s popularity worldwide. Some of the material is exclusively visual which makes identifying the language of the magazine complex at times.  This is even more the case for the country of a magazine since the same language can cross several countries.  Most of the coverage is in English (about 460 entries), with the majority of this from the UK (380 entries).  This ranges from the earliest piece on Bogarde in Theatre World (1941) to British Newspapers in 2013.  Over the decades this was approximately 1940s (10), 1950s (170), 1960s (85), 1970s (45), 1980s (20), 1990s (10), 2000s (30), 2010s (10).  Compared to the overall date coverage, the 1960s seem less well represented by UK publications and there is more UK coverage in the 2000s in relation to the 1980s and 1990s. United States publications account for about 30 entries, ranging in date from 1960 to 2000. By decade the entries are approximately: 1960s (5), 1970s (5), 1980s (10), 1990s (10). These therefore began after Bogarde’s first Hollywood film, Song Without End (1959), and ended just after his death. In contrast to the general dates of the collection, and especially the UK ones, the 1980s and 1990s saw the most US coverage.  The other country English-language publications appeared in is Australia.  These are only 2 magazines: Photoplayer (in 1950) and New Screen News (1961, 2 copies).

The other most common language which appears in the collection is French (120 entries).  Most of these are identified as coming from France (95) – accounting for more than 3 times those from the US. The French-language magazines also appeared in Belgium (Chez Nous, 1972, 2 copies) and a France/Italy coproduction: Le Film Illustre (1961). The dates for the magazines from France range from 1953 to 1999. More consideration of these magazines in terms of decades is worthwhile. They comprise, approximately: 1950s (10), 1960s (20), 1970s (25), 1980s (15), 1990s (25). Therefore, Bogarde was more covered from the 1960s onwards, with a dip in the 1980s, until a return to the peak of 25 in the next decade matching the 1970s figure.

This is in contrast to the 1950s providing the peak overall, in the English-language magazines, and those which were UK-based. This might be related to Bogarde’s move into European cinema in the 1960s and 1970s, and indeed his own move to France in the late 1960s garnering coverage in his adopted country.  Looking at the 1990s in more detail, it seems these may be related to Bogarde’s final role in Bernard Tavernier’s French film Daddy Nostalgie (1990) and indeed tributes paid to him after his death.

In order to be complete, the other languages covered are European. There are 8 in German (mostly from Germany) from 1958 to 1993 with most of these occurring in the 1950s and 1980s. The 7 Spanish-language magazines spanned 1966 to 1991. The earliest of these were based in Mexico (in 1966), with those in Chile ranging from 1966 to 1985 and those in Spain clustering around 1971. I have identified (using Google translate) that 6 magazines are written in the Croatian language (from 1957 to 2011, mostly in the 1950s and 1960s). I am, however, aware of a certain amount of sensitivity regarding this, and indeed the country these were based in, due to conflict and changing borders. The 5 Italian language publications span from 1950 to 1969 with one of these (in 1957) stated to be based in Italy. (There is also the matter of the France/Italy magazine Le Film Illustre in 1961.) There were 3 Portuguese and Portugal based magazines present in the collection, although none of these had dates.  Finally, there was a Hungarian magazine in 1959, which I guess was based in Hungary though this is not necessarily the case. It will be possible to undertake further research as to which magazines appeared in particular countries, and perhaps to get a better idea of dates.

We can also note some of the variety of types of materials. Some of these were large and heavy, such as some Film Review, Picturegoer and Picture Show annuals and the Entertainment Weekly yearbook from 2000. Other yearly-related, but lighter, items included calendars. More often, daily newspapers were included.  Specialist ephemeral items at times related just to Bogarde (there were two postcards, and a few portrait photographs), but also comprised promotion and publicity for his films, including for Doctor at Sea, Death in Venice and Daddy Nostalgie. There were also print outs of computer files, relating to scans and photographs of the collection – presumably in connection to the official Dirk Bogarde website.

Magazines were, however, the most prevalent type of material, and these spanned various genres. These included those we can categorise as general: lifestyle (e.g. House & Garden), celebrity (Hello), women’s (e.g. Woman’s Own, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Marie-Claire), men’s (GQ, Penthouse). More specialist publications are aimed at more specific reader interests: gay issues (e.g. Refresh), architecture enthusiasts (Architectural Digest), theatre-lovers (Theatre World) and, of course, film fans. I may, at a later date, delve into these more, especially in terms of language, country and date. While the vast proportion of the materials relate to Bogarde (and indeed are of interest to researchers since they form a collection donated by the star’s estate) I suspect that the BFI will be less interested in keeping non-film materials. On the other hand, these are less likely to duplicate their existing holdings.

The film-related magazines can be further subdivided as including TV guides, fan magazines, and more academic journals. While these categories overlap, and indeed may not be the only ones present, it is worth going into a little more detail on each of these. The TV guides are mostly from France (e.g. Tele 7 Jours) and the UK (Radio Times makes up 10 entries between 1976 and 2005) and in addition to listing the upcoming week’s TV, have interviews with stars and other features. There are many fan magazines from various countries. Fan magazines, and the definition of these, are one of my key research interests. Maybe we’ll discuss this further on the blog another time, since we must allow for both the very specific pleasures they afford the reader, and the variety of their layouts and coverage.  But broadly speaking it is useful to say that these are often fairly cheap magazines which appeal to a general film fan, as well as those obsessed with particular stars, since they contain a lot of star-related material such as reviews, articles, gossip, reader’s letters, portraits and advertisements. 

I won’t list all the fan magazines present in the collection here, but there are several extensive runs which are especially important, as well as single issues which highlight the archive’s international nature. The French-language fan magazines include approximately 20 entries for Cinemonde (1960-1967), 15 for CineRevue (and its various title changes, from 1957-1992), and lone copies of Amor Film (1955) and Le Film Illustre (1961).  There are 3 different fan magazine titles in the Croatian language: Filmski Vjesnik (1954), Novela Film (1957), and Filmski Svet (1961). All the material in Portuguese consists of non-dated fan magazines (2 issues of Cine Romance and 1 of Collecao Cinema).  Italian fan magazines include issues of Hollywood (1950) and Novelle Film (1957). Hungary was represented by Filmvilag (1959) and Spain by Nuevo Fotogramas (1971). In relation to the latter, you can find an excellent article by Nuria Triana-Toribio,  ‘Film Cultures in Spain’s Transition: The ‘Other’ Transition in the Film Magazine Nuevo Fotogramas (1968-1978)’, in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies [online] 15; 1 (2015)(https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14636204.2014.991486)

Fan magazines in the English language are far more prevalent in the collection, and include the Australian Photoplayer (1950) and New Screen News (1961) and the US Screen Stories (4 entries from 1963 to 1969). In the UK they comprise: Film Illustrated Monthly (4 entries 1948-1950), ABC Film Review (approximately 15 entries 1963-1967), Photoplay (approximately 25 entries 1951-1977), Picture Show (approximately 45 entries 1948-1960) and Picturegoer (approximately 80 entries 1948-1959).

More recent magazines which are both similar to, and different from, fan magazines include Empire (1994). These are film-related, but less-star focused.  There is also the matter of the magazines which goes into more theoretical detail on production and reception and seem to be aimed at the more ‘serious’ filmgoer. These started around the time that film was starting to gain traction as an academic subject. In 1951 French critics (including Andre Bazin) founded the film magazine Cahiers Du Cinema. This contained contributions from French filmmakers such as Jean-Luc Goddard and Francois Truffaut.  French magazines of this type in the Dirk Bogarde collection include Ecran (1974, 1977), Cinema, and Cinematographe (1977). During this period film studies became more accepted by the academy.

UK magazines which seem similar to these include Films and Filming (approximately 50 entries, from 1956-1988) and Sight and Sound (15 entries from 1963-2011, and of course published by the BFI). It would be interesting to examine this more at the level of content (including in relation to Bogarde, obviously) but the spreadsheet offers up another aspect to consider: price. These are not always directly comparable as the dates for the different types do not entirely coincide. However, we can note that in the mid-1950s Photoplay cost 1 and 3 (i.e. 15 pence), Picture Show 4 pence, Picturegoer 3 ½ pence and the more high-minded Films and Filming 2 shillings (i.e. 24 pence).  This shows that the latter was nearly twice the cost of the most expensive fan magazine (Photoplay) and in fact 7 times the price of the cheapest fan magazine (Picturegoer). The gap was even starker in 1963: the ABC Review was 6d (i.e. sixpence, half a shilling) while Films and Filming rose to 3 shillings (6 times the cost of ABC) and Sight and Sound 4 shillings (8 times the ABC’s price). This difference may be partly explained by higher production values –better quality pages, and more of them, more-well remunerated staff – and possibly even a lack of advertising in the more expensive magazines meaning they had to offset costs by placing this more directly on the buyer. It means that the ‘frivolous’ fan magazines were likely have higher circulation and indeed be more widely read since they were within the reach of ‘everyday’ people.

In closing this blog post I’d like to turn to consider a matter the BFI was especially interested in, but which has previously not loomed large in my research: condition. The collection material was mixed in terms of completeness. This spanned small clippings of photographs, photocopies of pages from unidentified and identified magazines, single pages from magazines, to several pages and indeed entirely complete issues. The related matter of condition also varied a lot, partly because of the date range (1941 to 2013) and also the ephemeral nature of much of the material – most of it was intended to be read and then disposed of.  I graded the material as 1 (clippings, photocopies, incomplete magazines), 2 (complete, but poor quality, often indicated by loose binding) 3 and 4 (complete but with decreasing levels of marking/staining) and 5 (mint – used the most sparingly).  Because I have often worked with online copies of magazines, previously I have only really been aware of completeness and condition when a page is missing or difficult to read. These matter, of course, to those concerned with digitising such materials, including archivists and librarians. They are also of interest to collectors and sellers who buy and trade magazines on websites like Ebay.  While Scholes and Wulfman briefly cover the mater of condition it is only in relation to which magazines archivists choose to digitise. I think that bringing together these overlapping groups of people (archivists, collectors, academics) would be useful in pondering fan magazines further, each group gaining useful insights from the others.

Do add comments or email me, Sarah Polley, on sp458@kent.ac.uk if you’d like to discuss the above further. I’m pondering whether I will be useful and/or interesting, to display any of the information (particularly the number of magazines in various languages by decade) in graphs…

Next time: I’ll provide some detail on the content of the coverage about Bogarde in the collection.

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