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Noteworthy Films Made In U.K. Of the millions who attend cinemas throughout the British Commonwealth. many are attracted only by films produced in the homeland. Strangely enough, little has been known about the inside worldngs of the production system and it is sometimes difficult to name the country of origin with certainty.
Cinema patrons will, however, recall such recent acknowledged British films as "Target for To night," "Fires Were Started" and "Western Approaches," all three of which had an element of propaganda as well as enter tainment value. Other wartime titles of note were "In Which We Serve" (with some doubt whether Noel Coward had the same box-office magnetism as in "Private Lives" and "Caval cade") and "Brief Encounter." helped to success by David Lean, who earlier had edited "Pygmalion" and "French With out Tears." "In Which We Serve," made in 1942, cost about £240,000 to produce and earned over £300,000 in British countries and over 2,000,000 dollars in America. "The Gentle Sex" was directed by Leslie Howard, who soon after was shot down by the Germans on a plane bound for Lisbon. Later Cow ard films were "This Happy Breed" and "Blithe Spirit," both in technicolour.
When "Henry V" was ready for the cameras in 1943 there were so few stalwart young men available in England that the Battle of Agincourt had to be fought over again in Ireland. In addition to Olivier. who direct ed, George Robey was used for Falstaff, lifted from "Henry IV" as a matter of expediency. It cost £A75,708 (plus over heads) to make ready for ex hibition in technicolour, but it proved a box-office success. Then came "Hamlet," a black and white film. During its pre paration an executive was ask ed: "What's it like?" He re plied: "it's wonderful; you wouldn't know it was Shakes peare." However, it proved successful and it was to win in Hollywood the main award of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the best picture of the year. Reqardless Of Cost Those were days of extrava gance and no one thought of costs in the belief that success would cancel out everything. but another lesson had to be learnt. "Men of Two Worlds" was shot in technicolour in
Tanganyika at a cost of £600.000 and had to be done over again in England because the film had deteriorated. For the rights of Winston Churchill's "Life of Marlbor ough," £25,000 was paid, but it never developed into a script. Somerset Maugham's "Then and Now" cost £50.000 for the rights alone, but was scrap ped after £100,000 had been spent in preliminary work. "The Wicked Lady," made by Leslie Arliss (who did well in "The Man in Grey") was con demned on preview by all the critics as too raw and salacious, but it made a fortune, probably for that reason. "The Edge of the World" was filmed in the Shetland Islands and, on the basis of its success, "The Spy in Black," "Contra band," and "One of Our Aircraft Is Missing," "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp," "Canterbury Tale." "I Know Where I'm Going," and "A Matter of Life and Death" were launched. Then came "Black Narcissus" all about the Himalayas, but shot in England. "The Red Shoes," marking the first film appearance of Moira Shearer, also introduced ballet to the screen. Production cost over £500,000 and it was no great box-office success in Eng land. However this film earned 5,000.000 dollars in U.S.A. and paid handsomely in Australia, Japan and other countries. "The Red Shoes" was to prove Arthur Rank's "biggest money spinner by far" Dickens Studies Among earlier films produced in England by David Lean were "Great Expectations" (contain ing the startling introduction of the convict in the churchyard) and "Oliver Twist," but "Nicho las Nickleby," prepared by a rival studio, was not so good. After "Major Barbara" had proved popular years ago, it was proposed to work on eight more of Bernard Shaw's plays, begin ning with "Arms and the Man." "St. Joan" was to be another, with Greta Garbo, but both came to nothing. However, "Caesar and Cleo patra" was launched as soon as Vivien Leigh had finished work ing in "Gone With the Wind." A Special Sphinx had to be built to fit into the screen size and it was later taken to Egypt and Tilanted down in the desert, where it still is an object of in terest. Shooting began six days after the landing in Normandy. The Egyptian Government mo bilised 1.200 soldiers and 250 horses for the mock battles. Before the film was ready for exhibition £ 1.278.000 had been spent. The takings have not been revealed, but it was not rushed by the public and the critics were not lavish in praise. One of them headed his article "Cheops and Tomato Sauce." This might be a convenient point at which to interrupt an incomplete record of what those who prefer British films have been privileged to see. The sup ply continues uninterrupted and full of variety, but modern en thusiasts for motion pictures will know all about them. All of these facts and more are contained in the new book, "Mr. Rank." written by Alan Wood, an Aus tralian who has made a name for himself on the London Press and fought as a soldier in Europe. Hodder and Stoughton Ltd. (London) are the publishers.