Magazines, MacGuffins and everything including the Kitchen Sink
by Film and Furniture Founder, Paula Benson.
This week I learned a lot about magazines, MacGuffin’s and the kitchen sink (drama).
A MacGuffin is an object or device in a film or a book which serves as a trigger for the plot. This plot device often has little or no narrative explanation and is a common technique in films, especially thrillers. The MacGuffin is often the central focus at the beginning of a film but then declines in importance, or may reappear at the climax but sometimes is forgotten by the end. The term and technique was popularized by Alfred Hitchcock – he referred to it in a few lectures and interviews and it helped him to underline the fact that his films were not always what they appeared to be on the surface.
‘MacGuffin’ might have been a fitting name for the Film and Furniture website seeing as we delve into the significance of furniture, decor and objects in film, but an equally delightful, superbly written and designed magazine has adopted the mantle: The biannual design & crafts printed publication MacGuffin celebrates objects and features stories about ordinary things. Each edition uncovers the personal and sometimes curious relationships we have with the stuff that surrounds us.
The Kitchen Sink
The fourth issue of MacGuffin, ‘The Sink’ delves into the alluring life of the humble sink and includes a feature by Fantastic Man assistant editor and self confessed sink spotter, Elliot Haworth. He has been diligently researching the British Kitchen Sink Dramas of the 1950s and 1960s for notable sink appearances including Saturday Night Sunday Morning, 1960 (starring Albert Finney, Shirley Anne Field and Rachel Roberts), Room At The Top, 1959 (starring Laurence Harvey, Simone Signoret and Heather Sears) Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, 1962 (starring Michael Redgrave, Tom Courtenay, Avis Bunnage) and Look Back in Anger, 1959 (starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom and Mary Ure).
magCulture celebrated the current issue with film clips and a talk “What The Sink Saw” given by Elliot in their perfectly formed 400 square feet shop on London’s St Johns Street which is filled with interesting and unusual printed magazines. The shop is appropriately located in a ground floor retail unit of one of London’s first 1950s council tower blocks. Owner Jeremy Leslie told me that in renovating the shop they found a beautiful original 50s floor hidden beneath some tiles. The floor has become a bit of celebrity in it’s own right and is the backdrop for many images from magCulture’s Instagram feed.
We sat gathered on stools on this mesmerizing 1950s floor around a kitchen sink installation, watching clips from Kitchen Sink Dramas.
The term was coined to describe the British cultural movement of the 50s and 60s which focused on social realism: Literature, theater and film which celebrated everyday life as a reaction against the glossy idealism coming out of America. Working class homes, factories and pubs became the stage set for stories, often about “angry young men” disillusioned by modern society.
Although the term Kitchen Sink Drama was not meant necessarily literally, it’s no surprise that a sink is often seen somewhere in these scenes. The sink represents domesticity, the mundane and around them we are privvy to domestic life, arguments, affairs and chatter. The condensed space of a kitchen or bedsit seems to create focus and a heightened sense of drama to the dialogue which is often delivered in regional accents – something quite new for the time when formal Queens English had been the order of the day.
When I was a young teenager, I often used to stay inside on Sunday afternoons fascinated by these films on the telly – I loved the grit and the honesty. My Mum used to knock on the window from outside, calling out in her Geordie accent – “Get oot in the fresh air!”. As I sit indoors here at my computer on a hot sunny afternoon writing this, I can almost here my Mum at the window.
Buy MacGuffin magazine and Fantastic Man from the MagCuture online shop >