Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hitchcock -- Berdarold, Piccy, London -- May 15, 2012

This post is part of For the Love of Hitchcock, The Film Preservation Blogathon, hosted again this year by Ferdy on Films (http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/ -- Sunday, Monday) and The Self-Styled Siren (http://selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com/ -- Tuesday, Wednesday), along with Rod of This Island Rod (http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/ Thursday, Friday). 

I hope to contribute these articles this week:
Monday -- Dial HOllywood 9-2411 for Hitchcock
Tuesday -- Hitchcock -- Berdarold, Piccy, London
Wednesday -- Alfred Hitchcock, SRO, RKO, UA, Univ
Thursday -- Hitchcock -- Club: Royal Auto
Friday -- Hitchcock -- He Has Had a Non-Stop Career

Click on images to see larger versions.  The image at the top of the page is a full-page ad from The 1963 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures.

Alfred Hitchcock was a rare creative artist in the movie business, but he had to function within the studio system for most of his career.  I wanted to document the way he fit in.   To do this, I read through some British publicatons: The Kinematograph Year Books for 1931, 1947 and 1954. 

Many industries publish annual books which describe the people who work in them and what they have accomplished.  In the film industry, this was a useful way to determine whether someone who said he had worked for DW Griffth or CB DeMille really had.  The Kinematograph Year Book had been published since about 1913.  Some of these annuals and many other valuable resources are available in the Media History Digital Library (http://mediahistoryproject.org/).

 In the 1931 edition, an ad for British International Pictures boasts that "THE FIRST British all-talking picture "BLACKMAIL" came from Elstree, their studio.  Hitchcock directed Blackmail.  The list of films for 1931 includes Murder! and The Skin Game, each listed as "An Alfred Hitchcock production."  I always liked seeing the initials (BIP) in Hitchcock filmographies.

I don't know if Hitckcock Baker Productions, Ltd involved our Hitchcock.  I don't know who Baker might have been.  I like the Elephanta Film Corporation, Ltd.

Considering that the class system was still going strong in Britain at the time, I was surprised to see that directors, actors and technicians were all grouped in one section.  American yearbooks tended to segregate people.

Many people will remember Hermione Baddely not as a "(b)rilliant young stage comedienne," but as a character on the US television shows Maude and Little House on the Prairie.  I like the name of S Chandos Balcon.  I do not know if he was related to producer Michael Balcon, but he did serve as an assistant to directors Alfred Hitchock, Graham Cutts and Adrian Brunel.  I've always liked Betty Balfour's name, too.  She starred in Champagne for Hitchcock at BIP. 

Edmund Gwenn was a character actor who is probably most famous for Miracle on 34th Street.  He appeared in Hitchcock's version of The Skin Game, where he played Hornblower.   Hitchcock later directed him in The Trouble With Harry.  Lillian Hall-Davis starred in many silent movies, including Hitchcock's The Ring

Michael Balcon produced some of Graham Cutts' and Hitchcock's movies.

The entry for Graham Cutts includes The White Shadow, the movie we are holding this blogathon to benefit. 

A J Hitchcock's entry gives many early credits, including some of his work with Graham Cutts, but not The White Shadow.  His directorial credits omit The Mountain Eagle

Frank Mills was assistant director on several of Hitchcock's silent and talkie films for BIP.

Clifford Pember was art director on D W Griffith's Way Down East and Hitchcock's Easy Virtue

Alma Reville was Hitchcock's wife but was also an experienced editor and writer.  He would not have gotten as far as he did without her.

The 1947 yearbook includes a two-page ad announcing the formation of the Selznick Releasing Organization.  Movies to be released include the bloated epic Duel in the Sun and Hitchcock's The Paradine CaseLittle Women with Lionel Barrymore and Diana Lynn never got made. 

Frank Launder wrote the screenplay for The Lady Vanishes

Sydney Bernstein produced Rope, Under Capricorn and I Confess.

World Wide Pictures, Ltd. lists Graham Cutts as a director.  

In the 1954 edition, Hitchcock's entry still left out The Mountain Eagle, but it doesn't purport to be a complete list.

Hitchcock and Bernstein dissolved their partnership in 1954.

"Makers of Good British Films."  I like it. 

Thank you to Ferdy on Films (http://www.ferdyonfilms.com/), The Self-Styled Siren (http://selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com/) and This Island Rod (http://thisislandrod.blogspot.com/) for organizing this blogathon. I'm having fun and learning. 

Please consider donating to the National Film Preservation Foundation. For the Love of Film III is raising money to place The White Shadow, a 1923 Graham Cutts movie on which Alfred Hitchcock served as assistant director, on the internet for free viewing.


Tinky said...

As usual, you have unearthed some gems. I particularly like your point about the lumping of different types of workers together......

Joe Thompson said...

Tinky: Thanks for the kind words. Always nice to have you visit. I'm glad you liked that about the mixture of people. It struck me.