Jeffrey Richards / “2. The Dream Merchants” / The Age of the Dream Palace: Cinema and Society in Britain, 1930-1939 / 1984

The international success of The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933, $2.5 million) propelled the development of the British film industry at home. Producer, Alexander Korda.

STRUCTURE of the BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY, 1930-9. Mid 1930s, the Film Council sponsored analysis of structure of British film industry. Found: behind production companies were financial institutions like National Provincial Bank, Prudential Assurance, Eagle, Star, and British Dominions Insurance, Equity and Law Life Assurance, Law Debente Corporation. Late 20s, no money to be made with British films. 1923, 10% shown were British. 1926, 5%. Turning point in 30s, when 2 giant combines were created, and would dominate decade: Gaumont British Picture Corporation (GBPC) 1926, Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC) 1933. Third, Odeon, 1933, which would be most famous and enduring. 1933, United Artists contracted with Alexander Korda, Private Life of Henry VIII, huge hit, $2.5 million. Success led to dramatic rise in # production companies. 1st rise had been with 1927 Cinematographic Act. 1936-37, the industry bubble bursts. 1938, act renewed, renew quote, set minimum cost limits. American companies got more directly involved -> MGM made 3 of best known, and loved, prewar films: A Yank at Oxford, The Citadel, Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

CAPITALIST STRUCTURE of FILM INDUSTRY EFFECT on FILM CONTENT? Films with international rather than national appeal. 1933, influx into industry of Central Europe refugees fleeing Hitler and Nazis coming into power. Expertise, polish, Continental style. Nonetheless, Korda and other produced many quintessentially British films; Korda was knighted.


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