|Index||3 reviews in total|
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.
As an admirer of the British cinema, I thoroughly enjoyed those who
were able, i.e. alive at the time of filming in 1985 to contribute. To
say that they had only minor entities commenting on the studio in the
film is false. Dirk Bogarde was not a minor star.
The film was an attempt to follow the entire history of the Arthur Rank phenomenon and so naturally could not go into great depth on many films. I especially enjoyed seeing John Mills, Betty Box, Dirk Bogarde and Norman Wisdom on camera relating their various experiences at the studios.
Many of the wonderful films and their producers and directors were touched upon with insightful anecdotes and stories. I was not disappointed, but indeed wished the film was three times longer to be able to give us even more information. It is a fun documentary and highly recommended.
After reading the review by Benoît Racine, I really didn't feel that there was a lot I could add to their insightful review. While this documentary about the Rank Film Studio was welcome since there are apparently no other documentaries on this subject, it is NOT a particularly inspired film. Much of the problem is that they seem to spend a lot of time on particular films mostly depending on whether or not they could get various mostly minor stars on camera to discuss the pictures. As a result, this took precedence over more important or ground-breaking films. In addition, later in "The Golden Gong", the entire production really seemed like it was just an extended ad for Michael Caine's latest film--one they made sound as if it was greatest film in the history of British cinema! A rather cynical and shallow film to say the least--but at least it did provide some nice background on the studio.
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