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British Film and Production Companies: Ealing Studios

jclarke | Friday February 01, 2013

Categories: A Level, EDUQAS A Level, EDUQAS AS, FM2, Section B: British Film Topics, Film Industry, Production Companies, Genres & Case Studies, British Film


Institutional Context | Notes on the Background and History of Ealing Studios


To understand the meanings, messages and values of any film as a text it’s important to also explore the institutional context from which it, or group of films, was produced. Context always helps us understand text.

In terms of studying the films produced by Ealing Studios (Ealing being a suburb of west London) we need to have some understanding of the studio’s institutional context in two ways: (i) in terms of British cinema during the 1940s and 1950s and (ii) the ethos, character and image that had been constructed of the Ealing Studio by itself when it began to produce films during the earliest years of sound cinema in the early 20th century. Incredibly, the original studio building continues to be used for film and TV production today.

Ealing Studios, as we perhaps now most easily identify it, established its filmmaking identity and commercial popularity between the years 1927-38. Then, throughout the 1940s the studio began to flourish as British cinema produced around forty feature length films each year. Ealing Studios produced an average of five films each year during this time frame and from its beginnings its productions were characterized by an emphasis on location filming and the treatment of modestly dramatic stories for the most part.

Along with Hammer and Gainsborough studios, Ealing was the highest profile British film studio. Each of these studio’s names became a brand-name that the audience could readily identify and ‘trust’ and they were all very different from each other: Hammer produced horror movies and Gainsborough typically produced period melodramas.

The films which Ealing Studios produced during the later part of its life, between 1948-1955, can be considered as the titles that have arguably secured the studio’s prominence, and our sense of its legacy, in our history of British post-war cinema.

Having established...

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