Archive for Michael Balcon

Intertitle of the Week: ‘ome

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 12, 2009 by dcairns

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The cockney traveler’s lament.

From THE RETURN OF THE RAT, directed by Graham Cutts and starring Britain’s top film star of the mid-twenties, Ivor Novello. This is a sequel to THE RAT, from the same team, augmented by assistant director Alfred Hitchcock, which sadly isn’t available anywhere I know of (see Comments). Hitch and Cutts became enemies after that production, with Cutts objecting to Michael Balcon’s giving Hitch a directing gig. According to Hitch and Alma Reville, Hitch was of invaluable help to Cutts, and Cutts resented that. Hitch also considered Cutts, to put it bluntly, visually illiterate.

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Looking at THE RETURN OF THE RAT, it seems that Cutts was perfectly competent, but perhaps uninspired, and it’s possible that the Hitchcockian suggestions he rejected were the more interesting ones. The movie does have Novello swanning around Paris in sharp suits, as a semi-reformed apache who’s made good, and Hitchcock alumni Gordon Harker, Marie Ault, and Isabel Jeans. And also,  special guest spot by the Virtual Reality Josephine Baker ~

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Quote of the Day: Not O-kay for Sound!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on February 28, 2009 by dcairns

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“We embarked upon a large programme of silent pictures, paying no heed at all to, you know, ‘I’d walk a million miles for one of your smiles…’ and went gaily on…”

~ Sir Michael Balcon, in archive footage interview excerpted in Brownlow and Gill’s Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood.

Balcon, as head of Gainsborough Pictures at the end of the ’20s, typified the British attitude to the coming of sound, ignoring it in ostrich fashion until it was all but too late.

But sound could not be resisted. How Hitchcock reacted to the new medium will be the subject of Wednesday’s entry in Hitchcock Year.

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