Saturday, February 26, 2005

The Rank Organisation has lost its charm

Sad news in the Guardian: the Rank Organisation has severed the last of its links with film industry by selling "its Deluxe unit, dedicated to DVD distribution and technical support".

As the report emphasises, Rank's involvement in the movie business was once huge:

By 1946, the Rank Organisation was as big as any Hollywood studio. It had a staff of 31,000. (By comparison, the National Health Service employed 34,000 people on its inception.) Rank invested in every aspect of the film business, from labs to distribution, from meteorologists (to predict when it would be sunny enough to shoot) to its eccentric Highbury-based "charm school", where various good-looking women and statuesque men were taught diction and deportment in the hope they would turn into stars.
This scale of the Rank Organisation's film business will not be a surprise to anyone who has read Shepperton Hollywood, the book I have been enthusing about recently.

Matthew Sweet writes so well that I wanted to quote great chunks of it on my anthology blog Serendib. Conveniently, Gilbert Adair's review in the Spectator puts together some of Sweet's most striking facts into one paragraph, so I have posted it there under the title "You Tickle Me Spitless, Baby". You'll have to read it to see why.

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