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 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.
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).