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Independent Producers

GAINSBOROUGH PICTURES

Organised in 1924 by – that man again – Michael Balcon, but quickly restructured as a lower-status companion to Gaumont-British (qv) three years later. Initially a Eurocentric haven for emigre German filmmakers and technicians, with Hitchcock’s debut The Lodger an early success, it later fell under the influence of J Arthur Rank, and got into more populist fare. Three main types of film emanated from the studio – earnest “social problem” dramas (eg adoption browbeater When the Bough Breaks, and Jack Warner borstal tale Boys in Brown), unabashed, hard-headed-heroine period melodramas (Margaret Lockwood/Patricia Roc vehicles like Jassy and the great The Wicked Lady) and delightfully down-to-Earth comedies (the Huggetts series, Arthur Askey’s imperial phase, and of course The Crazy Gang’s immortal Alf’s Button Afloat). The early careers of Hitchcock (The Lady Vanishes), Launder and Gilliat and Ralph ‘Doctor’ Thomas were all fostered behind the welcoming smile of fan-toting Glennis Lorimer in *that* live action ident. Perhaps less noteworthy were a slew of musical shorts called things like Wee Hoose Among the Heather and Lewis Hardcastle’s Dusky Syncopaters. Later, after an iffy period under the wayward tenure of Sydney ‘The Night We Dropped a Clanger’ Box, Gainsborough was wound up by Rank in 1950.

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