It seems that the beginning of the Second World War posed a real threat to British film production industry. The result was the general decrease in home-grown British cinema industry during the period 1937-1939. Shepperton was not in use, Pinewood was closed, and Amalgamated Studios were beaten by the more powerful competitors…
The aim of the pressure was also to restrict the growing impact of Americanism(Aldgate 1994).
Anyway The Board of Trade was rather happy to have the opportunity to rely on USA import and American companies were of importance as they handle percentage of produced British films. Then the situation changed and British film-making industry became profitable (Warners, Twentieth Century Fox, Columbia, MGM, etc). The mentioned studios were allowed to produce British films at their British studios.
The main British studios of that period were Ealing, Gainsborough and British National. All of them emerged in the 1930s and survived severe War, because of wealthy patriotic backers. Michael Balcon became Head of Production at Ealing Studio in 1938. The company was backed by the Courtlaud family. British National was found as it was mentioned by Arthur Rank (flour millionaire) and later took over Elstree. Gainsborough was backed by the financier Isidore Ostreer and the company had contacts with Twentieth Century Fox and MGM(MacKillap 2003).
Ealing was under the influence of Michael Balcon who was the Head of Production since 1939. The company was dominating in the film production market. For the next years Balcon maintained a commitment to "British films", although the budget was very modest and poor. Balcon took a number of talented figures with hi such as Charles Critchon, Charles Frend, Robert Hamer, Henry Watt, Basil Dearden and Cavalcanti. The main war-time films of that period were "In Which We Serve", "The Big Blockade", "The Foreman Went to War", "Went the Day Well". However, then Ealing understood that British society was really tired of was films and the company responded to the new film movement for popular social change. That was rational decision influencing all its further film productions(MacKillap 2003).
The early years of British cinema were dominated by Ealing, especially by Ealing comedies aimed at lower middle class, against bureaucracy and at celebrating brave community spirit. For example, films "Passport to Pimlico" and "Whiskey Galore" established the new trend to fight for anarchic libertarian rights. Nevertheless later that formula became also boring and conservative. In the result the Ealing comedy gave rise to the next generation of comedies(Street 1997).
Ealing Drama and Comedy: Interaction
Charles Barr (Ealing Studios, script writer) wrote (Lou 2003): "The drama is Ealing's picture of how things have to be in a society which rightly inhibits individual deems and desires for self-fulfillment. The comedy is a daydream, a fantasy outlet for those urges".
It is a well-known fact that Ealing studios were built in 1932 by a theatre director Basil Dean who was the former of film production company Associated Talking Pictures (ATP) in 1929. The company made more than 60 films during the period of 1930s, but then its fortune significantly declined. It was phased out and then replaced by a production company which bore the studio's name. Michael Balcon, who earlier was the Head of Production at Gaumont-British, became the head of Ealing during 1930s. The style and ideology of the Ealing films were strongly influenced by ideas of national identity and national interests. All the films of that period were based on those ideas(Lou 2003).
When Balcon was the head, the company's aim was to become the voice of social conscience and to ...
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