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Sir Michael Balcon.1896-1977

A Vision of Albion
Cecil Hepworth 1874-1953
Rescued By Rover (1905)
Through Ealing's Eyes. I
Sir Michael Balcon
Through Ealing's Eyes.II
"Just Room For One Inside Sir..."
Other Eyes, Other Visions
British Film At War
A Canterbury Tale (1944)
The Post-War Years
Brighton Rock (1947)
London Belongs To Me (1948)
Scott of The Antarctic (1948)
Tiger Bay (1959)
Whistle down the Wind (1961)
Sir John Mills (1908 - 2005)

'Can we ever build up a real British film industry?'
-Sir Michael Balcon

Sir Michael Blacon (1896-1977)

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 Studios.
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 1954.
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

Classic  British Films, Ealing London

Executive, Producer
his biography and
related links at screenonline
at the British Film Institute

courtesy of screenonline at the
British Film Institute

Related Links

actress, and the daughter of
Michael Balcon and the mother
of actor Daniel Day-Lewis.
 she appeared in several
Ealing films

born in Birmingham, UK
founder of the Odeon cinema circuit.
he entered the film industry in
the 1920s with school friends
Michael Balcon and Victor Saville,
who went into production, while
Deutsch became a prominent exhibitor.

the first studio Michael Balcon founded

Gaumont-British was a subsidiary of
the French production company.
In 1927 Gaumont-British teamed up
with Michael Balcon's 
Gainsborough Pictures,
with Balcon becoming director of
production for both companies.

the most 'typically British'
of all film genres

director, producer.
born in Birmingham
entered the film industry as a films
salesman in 1916 after wounds sustained
in the battle of Loos had brought
about his army  discharge.
His salesmanship experience led
him to an interest in film production,
and with school friend, Michael Balcon

screenonline @ British Film Institute

 The It Is Forever England Website
and Cinema Show 
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