Sunday 21 August 2011

The Great Ealing Film Challenge

This last week, the BBC, Channel 4 and other news organisations joined in celebrations for Ealing Studio's 80th anniversary.

Which is all well and good, except Ealing Studios already celebrated a 100 YEAR anniversary back in 2002 - - to commemorate the actual founding of the studio. As Catherine Grant at Film Studies for Free ( pointed out, the rather obscure anniversary that has just been celebrated was 80 years since the establishment of Ealing's sound stages in 1931.

(curious also how this 'anniversary' occurred at the same time as cinema and Blu-Ray DVD releases of several of the famous 'Ealing Comedies' - among them, The Lavender Hill Mob and Whisky Galore!)

Now, this blog has no desire to dampen such celebratory spirit - Ealing is, after all, a stalwart part of British cinema history and deserves renewed attention. So it is in that spirit that ths 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 ). I may also decide to throw in an occasional 'new' Ealing film (although they've been a bit quiet of late, apart from the revived St. Trinian's franchise), but the main reviews/comments will be from that initial list of 95.

The order in which I watch the films is largely going to be decided at whim, steered by the DVDs already in my collection and the vagaries of Lovefilm - 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).

Normal blog service will continue as normal - i.e. when I see a film/TV/media related story I want to comment on, I'll still write something - but this is an experiment that is (a) related to other (off-line) Ealing work I'm doing and (b) designed to see if I can keep a more regular schedule for blog posts.

Look for the first commentary - on Went the Day Well? - later today...

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