Thursday 16 August 2012

The Great Ealing Film Challenge by Keith M. Johnston

A frame capture from Mandy (Alexander Mackendrick, 1952).
Read Keith M. Johnston's assessment of this film, and Pam Cook's
Today, a rather thrilled Film Studies For Free brings you news that Keith M. Johnston's truly 'Great Ealing Film Challenge' has reached its noble conclusion.

Johnston is Lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of East Anglia. His research focuses on the interplay of technology, aesthetics and industry in British film of the 1940s and 1950s, with particular interests in issues of colour, widescreen and 3-D.

He is the author of Coming Soon: Film Trailers and the Selling of Hollywood Technology (McFarland 2009) and Science Fiction Fillm: A Critical Introduction (Berg 2011). He has also published on Ealing's colour aesthetic. You can follow him on Twitter and at the Huffington Post, as well as at his own website.

An ex-resident of Ealing, Keith has always been fascinated by Ealing Studios and its place in British cinema, both past and present. The 'Great Ealing Film Challenge' has been his attempt to better understand the films the studio produced, and what they can tell us about that period in British film history.

Just over a year ago, Keith wrote at his website about his (then) proposed experiment as follows:
[This blog has] decided to conduct its own obscure 80th anniversary celebration... and attempt to watch all of the Ealing Studios films.

Of course, there are some provisos - the list of 95 films I am working from comes from Charles Barr's Ealing Studios book, and is therefore focused entirely on the Michael Balcon years (1938-59). Given the difficulty of seeing much of the studio's output (either before 1938 or, in some cases, after), seeing all of those 95 is already something of a challenge (they're not all available on DVD ). [...]

The order in which I watch the films is largely going to be decided at whim [...] - the initial batch will include some of the well-known titles (commentary on Went the Day Well? and The Man in the White Suit will likely appear in the first week) and those lesser known titles that I realise I've never seen (the likes of The Love Lottery (1954), Nine Men (1943), The Feminine Touch (1954) and Train of Events (1950).
To celebrate the rather impressive achievement of blogging on all 95 films within a year, FSFF brings you not one, but two lists of links to Keith's highly informative and engaging entries! The first comes in the order in which Keith wrote them and the second has been organised alphabetically by year of release.

There will be much more forthcoming from Keith on Ealing Studios' films. He has also been working on co-editing Ealing Revisited with Mark Duguid, Lee Freeman, and Melanie Williams. This major collection will be published by BFI-Palgrave later in 2012, tying in with the BFI's major retrospective of Ealing Studios in November/December 2012.

Oh, and don't forget FSFF's earlier post on Ealing comedy films here.

Well done and thank you, Keith! Surely there should be a wee dram as a reward? At any rate, FSFF hopes you enjoy your readers' gratitude galore!

Prologue: The Great Ealing Film Challenge

Went the Day Well? (1943); Train of Events (1949); A Run for your Money (1949); Fiddlers Three (1944); The Love Lottery (1954); The Cruel Sea (1953); The Long Arm (1956); Nine Men (1943); Nicholas Nickleby (1947); Trouble Brewing (1939); The Magnet (1950); The Ship That Died of Shame (1955); Against the Wind (1948); Another Shore (1948); The Black Sheep of Whitehall (1942); The Ghost of St. Michael’s (1941); Dead of Night (1945); The Feminine Touch (1956); The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953); The Man in the White Suit (1951); The Gentle Gunman (1952); Pink String and Sealing Wax (1945); Saloon Bar (1940); The Next of Kin (1942); The Gaunt Stranger (1938); San Demetrio, London (1943); Where No Vultures Fly (1951); West of Zanzibar (1954); They Came to a City (1944); Return to Yesterday (1940); Lease of Life (1954); Johnny Frenchman (1945); Ships with Wings (1941); Davy (1957); Touch and Go (1955); Spare a Copper (1940); Turned Out Nice Again (1941); Come on George (1939); Whisky Galore! (1949); Let George Do It (1940); Dunkirk (1958); Who Done It? (1956); My Learned Friend (1943); The Captive Heart (1946); The Blue Lamp (1950); Sailor’s Three (1940); The Goose Steps Out (1942); The Halfway House (1944); The Square Ring (1953); The Foreman Went to France (1942); The Bells Went Down (1943); Champagne Charlie (1944); Bitter Springs (1950); The Overlanders (1946); Pool of London (1951); The Rainbow Jacket (1954); The Lavender Hill Mob (1951); The Shiralee (1957); For Those in Peril (1944); The Proud Valley (1940); The Ladykillers (1955); The Siege of Pinchgut (1959); Meet Mr Lucifer (1953); Secret People (1952); The Big Blockade (1942); Out of the Clouds (1955); Cheer Boys Cheer (1939); The Maggie (1953); Undercover (1943); The Four Just Men (1939); Saraband for Dead Lovers (1948); The Loves of Joanna Godden (1947); It Always Rains on Sunday (1947); Cage of Gold (1950); Frieda (1947); The Night My Number Came Up (1955); Hue [&] Cry (1947); Let’s Be Famous (1939); There Ain’t No Justice (1939); Eureka Stockade (1949); Painted Boats (1945); Barnacle Bill (1958); I Believe in You (1952); Dance Hall (1950); Convoy (1940); Scott of the Antarctic (1948); The Man in the Sky (1957); Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949; Young Man’s Fancy (1939); Mandy (1952); The Divided Heart (1954); His Excellency (1952); The Ware Case (1938); Nowhere to Go (1958); Passport to Pimlico (1949)

The Gaunt Stranger; The Ware Case

Cheer Boys Cheer; Come on George; Let’s Be Famous; The Four Just Men; There Ain’t No Justice ; Trouble Brewing; Young Man’s Fancy
The Captive Heart; The Overlanders

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