E is for Ealing


E is for Ealing


While most of this months #atozchallenge focuses on Hollywood in the Golden Age, I thought I should pay tribute to Ealing Studios (plus the only ‘E’  could think of who was a definite movie star was Nelson Eddy).

The name Ealing Studios is synonymous with a certain kind of British comedy – sometimes gentle (Passport to Pimlico, Whisky Galore!), sometimes dark (Kind Hearts and Coronets), but the studio made all kinds of films: weepies, melodramas, social conscience movies, and costume period pieces.


Known as the studio that helped launch Alec Guinness’s career, the Ealing Studios that most people recall is the film studio run by Michael Balcon. In his early days as a producer, he was responsible for Hitchcock’s early British thrillers such as The Man Who Knew Too Much and The Thirty-Nine Steps. He took over at Ealing in the late 1930s.

In the 1930s and 1940s, Ealing produced many comedies with stars such as Gracie Fields, George Formby, Stanley Holloway and Will Hay.

Alec Guinness playing all eight members of the D'Ascoygne family in 'Kind Hearts and Coronets'
Alec Guinness playing all eight members of the D’Ascoygne family in ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’

In the post-war period, the company embarked on a series of celebrated comedies which became the studio’s hallmark. These were often lightly satirical and were seen to reflect aspects of British character and society. The first was Hue and Cry in 1947 and the last Barnacle Bill in 1956. However, the best remembered Ealing films were produced between 1948 and 1955: Whisky Galore! (1949), Passport to Pimlico (1949), Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), The Lavender Hill Mob (1951), The Man in the White Suit (1951), The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953), The Cruel Sea (1953) and The Ladykillers (1955) are now seen as classics of British cinema.


The Ladykillers

Ealing Studios is still in use today. The downstairs parts of Downton Abbey (the kitchen and servants quarters) are filmed there, and many landmark British TV series were filmed at the studios (The Singing Detective, Colditz, Porridge, and Z Cars).


8 thoughts on “E is for Ealing

  1. I have always loved the Ealing comedies. I don’t think I could name a favourite, though “Kind Hearts and Coronets” comes close. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it. Alec Guinness was wonderful as the whole D’Ascoyne family! I have got to get the dvd of it so I can watch it again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Halcyon days indeed Niall. Many of my favourites in there. Great choice for ‘E’.
    Not a lot of scope there really. Vince Edwards? No. Eddie Albert? He’s an ‘A’. Zac Efron? Come on…
    Cheers mate, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was almost going to do something on Nelson Eddy, but I think I’ve only seen one of his films, and I don’t really remember much about it at all. I as sorely tempted to cheat and write a piece about Edward Everett Horton and simply ignore his last name


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