Ealing Studios 80th Anniversary

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 93: The Ware Case (1938)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 14.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

When discussing Young Man's Fancy (1939), it was noted that these early Ealing films act as a bridge between the Basil Dean / Associated Talking Picture films produced at Ealing and the Balcon-produced films that the production company called 'Ealing Studios' would become known for. Yet even using that framework to approach these films, The Ware Case is an odd and generically unstable contribution to the Ealing back catalogue.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 88: Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 01.10.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Re-watching Kind Hearts and Coronets for the sake of this blog post (the film is one of the Ealing films I've seen several times in my life, although admittedly not in recent years), I'd forgotten how sexual a film it is.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 87: The Man in the Sky (1957)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 28.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

In the forthcoming collection Ealing Revisited, Robert Murphy describes The Man in the Sky as a film any national cinema should be proud of.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 85: Convoy (1940)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 25.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

From the opening credits, which dedicate the film to the 'Officers and Men of the Royal and Merchant Navy' and the note that 'many scenes in our film... were taken at sea under actual wartime conditions' Convoy is, in many senses, the archetypal Ealing war film.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 86: Scott of the Antarctic (1948)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 26.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

In the numerous celebrations and commentaries around the 100th anniversary of Scott's expedition in 2012, few mentioned this Ealing hagiography of Captain Scott (John Mills), the studio's big budget Technicolor epic of Antarctic exploration.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 84: Dance Hall (1950)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 22.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Sometimes, when watching one of the Ealing films that make up this challenge, I am reminded of another film.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 82: Barnacle Bill (1957)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 19.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Barnacle Bill (aka All at Sea in the U.S.) has an undeserved critical reputation as a late failure that is more concerned with the studios' past comedy glories than it is in creating something new and innovative. But, based on viewing it for this blog, I can't really agree with them.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 83: I Believe in You (1952)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 18.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

It is hard to know how to react to I Believe in You: in one sense, this could be dismissed as reliable Ealing social problem fodder, where nice upper and middle-class people volunteer to be probation officers to help deal with the problematic working classes, particularly the rebellious youth who frequent dance halls and get in trouble with the police (in that sense the film has been linked to Relph and Dearden's earlier The Blue Lamp, 1950).

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 81: Painted Boats (1945)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 16.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

So, a strange entry for this blog, but one that gestures towards Ealing's other life, as a wartime documentary film studio, more than their known persona.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 80: Eureka Stockade (1949)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 03.09.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

This historical Western finishes off the coverage of Ealing's five Australian films in this blog and, as that genre description suggests, it has a lot in common with the films it was produced between, namely The Overlanders (1946) and Bitter Springs (1950).

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 79: There Ain't No Justice (1939)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 27.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Michael Balcon often identified this film as an early example of what he believed Ealing films to be capable of: a character study about (allegedly) realistic people and situations, a commentary on modern society, with a focus on community and the representation of British concerns.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 78: Let's Be Famous (1939)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 26.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

The third film produced at Ealing Studios after Michael Balcon arrived (following The Gaunt Stranger and The Ware Case, both 1938), it is both tempting and potentially misleading to try and see the future path of Ealing in the tealeaves of Let's Be Famous.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 77: Hue & Cry

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 21.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Although Charles Barr has "always found the charm of this film very resistible," I think there remains a lot of fun and enjoyment to be found in this often slapstick-laden Ealing comedy: the first of the post-war series that, for many, still defines what we mean by Ealing Studios.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 76: The Night My Number Came Up (1955)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 15.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

This film, late in Ealing's output (one of the last 15 produced by the company), embraces its supernatural conceit and makes it both the pivot around which the narrative revolves, and the central theme the characters debate.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 75; Frieda (1947)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 13.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Frieda remains a strong example of a film from Ealing's back catalogue that challenges the tried and tested community and 'projecting Britain' approaches that have dominated discussions of the studio.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 74: Cage of Gold (1950)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 08.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Given I hadn't see it, my description (in the last blog post) of this film as another of Ealing's women-centred films might not be the most accurate description of this crime / psychological drama.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 73: It Always Rains on Sunday (1947)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 05.08.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

It Always Rains on Sunday, Googie Withers' last film with Ealing, has tended to get the most focus of that list, partly due to Googie's star status, but also because it is a taut and compelling crime thriller that can been linked to late Ealing films (The Blue Lamp (1950) and Pool of London (1951) share crucial DNA with its plot and shooting style).

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 72: The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 29.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

There is something about the 1947-49 period of Ealing production that speaks to the renewed and widened sense of purpose that Michael Balcon wrote about in the post-war period. The Loves of Joanna Godden sits confidently alongside other projects.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 71: Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 23.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Revisiting this film three or four years after I first viewed it (for research on Ealing Studios' colour films) I still think it is unjustly dismissed within many studies of Ealing's productions: Charles Barr, for example, described it as 'an expensive, ponderous and loss-making period spectacle.'

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 70: The Four Just Men (1939)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 20.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

If Undercover (1943) - the previous entry in this Ealing blog - was an unexpected find that played with existing conventions from Ealing's wartime productions, The Four Just Men is an even more interesting discovery, a solid and enjoyable pre-war thriller from 1939 that offers an early example of the drama-propaganda production approach that would soon dominate the studio.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 69: Undercover (1943)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 17.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Over 20 years ago, George Perry dismissed this film as 'unconvincing and cliché-ridden, and not for a moment are its players believable Yugoslavs.' (Perry 1981, 72) Putting aside the latter notion of how Ealing would populate a film with 'believable Yugoslavs,' that is a harsh criticism of a solid and enjoyable piece of filmmaking that both resembles and departs from standard Ealing wartime fare.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 68: The Maggie (1953)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 15.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Authors such as Geoffrey MacNab have talked about repeated themes in Scottish literature and cinema (and books/films set in Scotland) around the terms Tartanry and Kailyardism: tropes and ideas of Scotland as a land of myth and tartan-clad heroes, or a world where canny individuals regularly outwit newcomers with native ingenuity.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 67: Cheer Boys Cheer (1939)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 14.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

Ealing's eighth film after Michael Balcon's arrival at the studio is one of those that is permanently stuck in the debate over what makes a film 'Ealing-esque' or, indeed, what makes a comedy an Ealing comedy?

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 66: Out of the Clouds (1955)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 11.07.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

After watching Out of the Clouds, I am ready to declare that the unsung hero of the 1950s stretch of my Ealing marathon is currently Sid James.

The Great Ealing Film Challenge 65: The Big Blockade (1942)

Dr Keith M. Johnston | Posted 30.06.2012 | UK Entertainment
Dr Keith M. Johnston

When Ealing is described as producing a strong combination of drama and documentary work during their Second World War propaganda films (continuing the tradition set by the GPO Film Unit), titles like The Next of Kin (1942), San Demetrio London (1943), and For Those in Peril (1944) tend to crop up.