University of Leicester
2015CroftATPhD.pdf (1.79 MB)

A portfolio producer: Michael Balcon’s management of film production at the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation

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posted on 2016-01-07, 14:21 authored by Andrew Thomas Croft
Michael Balcon has been acknowledged for his work at Ealing Studios from 1939, and particularly for a portfolio of films produced in the decade 1942-1952. Charles Barr’s 1977 history of Ealing Studios1 and John Ellis’ 1975 article on Ealing2 explore Balcon's ‘agency’ - the ways in which he exercised authority, and the decisions and deals he committed to, in order to achieve success - in the production of films such as Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) and Passport to Pimlico (1949). Yet, despite the fact that Balcon produced 152 films between 1924 and 1936, of which 133 are features3 - and despite the fact that Balcon produced across many genres during that period, facilitating the use of many different technical and aesthetic approaches to cinema, Balcon has not been fully acknowledged in the initial, interwar years of his career in film production. His role in the formation and development of Gainsborough Pictures has been assessed in Pam Cook’s edited history of the firm.4 However, Balcon’s contribution to British film industry development at the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation (GBPC) - during a key period from 1931 to 1936, when he was responsible for a significant proportion of British films viewed in British cinemas - has not been subjected to a dedicated and comprehensive appraisal. This thesis represents research into the relationship between industrial and commercial development, governmental intervention, and that which is known of Balcon's policies and practices; the choice of films produced, the film production techniques adopted and encouraged - and the technicians and artists he managed and worked with.



Chapman, James; Barefoot, Guy

Date of award


Author affiliation

Department of History of Art and Film

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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