This 1987, 76 minute, no-frills TV documentary was possibly only made to tie-in with Michael Caine's latest Pinewood Studio-produced actioner of the time, "The Fourth Protocol", excerpts of which book-end the presentation. It is a very shallow overview of the Rank production company's impact of British film history (approx. 1935-1990) that misses almost every opportunity to transcend vulgarity and platitudes to attack the meat of the subject, which was Ranks's fierce competition with American movies and other British studios like Alexander Korda's, Ealing and Gainsborough. The real stars of the era (directors Hitchcock, Gabriel Pascal, David Lean, Michael Powell and Laurence Olivier, actors Anna Neagle, James Mason, Alec Guinness, Vivien Leigh, Flora Robson, David Niven, Kathleen Harrison, Margaret Lockwood, Kay Kendall, Dirk Bogarde, John Mills, Norman Wisdom, and countless others) are given short shrift at every turn in favour of (living at the time) non-entities like Diana Dors and Joan Collins. No mention is ever made of the writers. The narration, amply given the "common touch" by Michael Caine, is extremely symptomatic of the British inferiority complex when it comes to glorifying their own. One would wish for more excerpts from priceless masterpieces that have yet to see the light of day on DVD. The only reason "Caesar and Cleopatra" is mentioned at all is because it was the most costly production made in England at the time it was shot and Stewart Granger was on hand to bad-mouth it when the documentary was shot. Even the segments on the "Carry On" and "Doctor in the House" comedies and the phenomenal success of the James Bond films are not given the emphasis, colour and anecdotes they deserve. I put this one squarely in the "better than nothing" category in the hope that someone, someday, will come up with a series of documentaries respectful of the glory and variety of British cinema.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?