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Gainsborough Pictures

From Academic Kids

Gainsborough Pictures was a film studio based in Islington, London, active between 1924 and 1951. The former studios were demolished in 2002 and replaced by three blocks of upmarket apartments in 2004.

Gainsborough was founded in 1924 by Michael Balcon and was a sister company to the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation from 1927 with Balcon as Director of Production for both studios. Whilst Gaumont-British, based at Shepherd's Bush produced the 'quality' films, Gainsborough mainly produced 'B' movies and melodramas. Both studios used continental film practices, especially those from Germany, with Alfred Hitchcock being encouraged by Balcon -- who had links with UFA -- to study there and the study making multilingual films before the war. In the 1930s Conrad Veidt, Mutz Greenbaum, Alfred Junge, Elizabeth Bergner and Berthold Viertel, along with others, joined the two studios.

After the closure of the Shepherd's Bush studio in 1936 and the departure of Balcon to the British arm of MGM the J. Arthur Rank organisation took an interest in Gainsborough and popular films such as Oh, Mr Porter! (1937) were made here. From 1942 to 1946 a series of morally ambivalent costume melodramas were made by Gainsborough for the domestic market based on recent popular books by female novelists. These included The Man in Grey (1943), Madonna of the Seven Moons (1944), The Wicked Lady (1945) and Caravan (1946) based around a stable of British actors including Margaret Lockwood, James Mason, Stewart Granger and Patricia Roc. The studio also made modern-dress comedies and melodramas such as Love Story (1944), Time Flies (1944, starring Tommy Handley) and They Were Sisters (1945) and the 1944 Arthur Askey film Bees in Paradise directed by Val Guest.

Subsequent productions, led by producer Betty Box who was at the time the only major female producer in British cinema, included Miranda (1948). Rank however were unhappy about the performance of the studio and it closed in early 1951.

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