The above quote comes from Michael Balcon himself, and is taken from his 1969 autobiography,
A Lifetime of Films.
Sir Michael Balcon was born in Birmingham, England in 1896, his career began,
also, in Birmingham in 1920, where, with Victor Saville he was a film distributor. Within two years they had begun producing
feature films in London - Woman to Woman 1923 was the first. He formed Gainsborough Studios the following year. He
visited the Ufa studios in Berlin in 1924 ,shortly after marrying Aileen Leatherman, and began a co-production association
with The Blackguard that was to last 10 years. German technical staff populated Gainsborough films throught the 20s
and early 30s giving them a slick, sophisticated veneer to match any produced in Hollywood, Balcon was aiming for a product
of international interest unlike many other British studios in the silent and early talkie era. In 1928 the company came under
threat of a takeover by Gaumont-British and this became a reality in 1931, however, Balcon remained joint production chief
both at Gainsborough and at Gaumont-British until 1936.
He joined MGM's British production unit but didn't last a year there despite making three excellent films: A Yank
at Oxford, Good-bye Mr Chips and The Citadel. In 1938 he joined ATP which soon changed it's name to Ealing
At the outset of the Second World War he put forward a plan to the Ministry of Information to create a programme of propaganda
films, this was, of course, inevitably completely ignored. During the war he set Ealing on a steady track with films
about relevant issues of the day. Such as Convoy 1940 - the merchant navy and Next of Kin 1942 - about security
and spying in England. These were tempered with comedies starring George Formby and Tommy Trinder where the stars took swipes
at Germany and the Nazis. The post-war films reflected the changed attitudes of the public and the relief of victory - Hue
and Cry 1947 - a Boys' Own adventure caper and Whisky Galore 1949 - Scottish islanders outwit the excise men. Also
the need for escapism in austerity England Another Shore 1948 - an irishman dreams of life on a South Sea Island and
The Loves of Joanna Godden 1947 - a pastoral England in the near past is evoked as a taste of life to come.
Commercially and personally 1948 was a good year for Balcon Scott of the Antarctic starring John Mills was selected
for the Royal Command Film Performance, and he received a knighthood from
King George VI.
In 1951 he became Chairman of Group 3 which was a subsidiary of the National Film Finance Corporation who had a brief
to develop new acting talent, which they did very well, films included Miss Robin Hood 1952 and The Love Match
After the closure of Ealing Studios in 1957 he became an independent producer forming Bryanston Films. He spent a troubled
two years as Chairman of British Lion 1964-5 and was involved in the British Institutes Experimental Film Fund, he retired
at the age of 72.
Sir Michael Balcon died in 1977