J. Arthur Rank - The Rise and Fall of His Film Empire (hardback)
BearManor Media

J. Arthur Rank - The Rise and Fall of His Film Empire (hardback)

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ISBN 9781629338163 

J. Arthur Rank was the biggest and perhaps the most unlikely of film moguls.

The staunch Methodist, and blunt Yorkshire miller, maintained he only became involved in movies after discovering the popularity of some religious films he ran at his local Sunday school; after exhausting their supply he decided to fund the production of more himself to help spread ‘the word of god’. Many mocked him, many didn’t understand him, some even tried to rip him off , but all – ultimately – were in awe of him as he moved into more mainstream entertainment and went on to preside over Britain’s largest ever film empire with studios, laboratories, distribution, and exhibition, along with a stable of contract directors, producers, and artistes under his control.

The Rank Organisation’s film division was unrivalled - before or since - and all of their movies were graced by a man hitting a large golden gong. Films ranging from the definitive Titanic disaster A Night To Remember, to the hugely successful Doctor, Norman Wisdom, Carry On comedy film series, the enchantingly delightful Genevieve, Hitchcock thrillers The Lady Vanishes and The Thirty Nine Steps, Powell and Pressburger masterpieces such as The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and The Tales Of Hoffman, David Lean’s Oliver Twist and Great Expectations, through to British modern-classics Defence Of The Realm, The Fourth Protocol, Four Weddings And A Funeral and Circle Of Friends all came out of the company. Separately its studios, Pinewood, housed blockbusters ranging from most of the James Bond films, Superman, Aliens, Batman, Harry Potter, the more recent Star Wars films and is now a long-term base for Disney’s many big-budget productions; and it’s distribution arm Rank Film Distributors oversaw the release of 700-plus productions.

Through interviews conducted by the author from 1999 onwards with stars, producers, directors, technicians, and executives this book charts Rank’s initial involvement in film, through to the many experiments and initiatives he backed, the crises he carried the British film industry through, to the company’s ultimate downfall and disposal - with all film divisions being sold in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

This is the definitive history of one of the fi lm world’s biggest players.

Gareth Owen has written 20 books and has been based at Pinewood Studios since 1994.