January 2, 2017


Edward Black [Ted Black] (1900-1948) b. Birmingham, England, UK.

Black was a highly regarded and key figure in the production of popular British cinema, particularly for Gainsborough where he worked as studio manager from 1928. Ted Black was third son of George Black, property master at the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, whose entrepreneurial tendencies led him to branch out into cinema when the supply of film became prolific. When he died in 1910, Ted and his brothers George and Alfred carried on where their father left off, building up a circuit of cinemas. When Gaumont-British took over their circuit, Ted was employed as a cinema circuit manager but in 1930 he switched to the production side of Gaumont-British, which by this time had absorbed Gainsborough, and he became assistant production manager at Shepherd’s Bush and then studio manager at Islington. In December 1936, Michel Balcon left Gaumont-British for MGM. At the end of March 1937, Shepherd’s Bush studios and Gaumont-British Distributors were shut down, but a deal with C.M. Woolf and J. Arthur Rank’s General Film Distributors led to production continuing at Pinewood and Islington under Black, and one of the directors of the corporation, Maurice Ostrer. Black had a preference for carefully budgeted populism and was wary of involving himself with anything that might dilute it, remarking “If I mix with the intellectual lot, it’ll impair my judgment.” Black and Ostrer disagreed about the emphasis of the studio’s production programme following the success of The Man in Grey (1943), with Black less enthusiastic about the costume melodramas that became a Gainsborough staple and keener than Ostrer on the realist vein represented by Millions Like Us (1943). Black was not backed by Rank, and in 1944 he left Gainsborough to join Alexander Korda for whom he produced A Man About the House (1947) and Bonnie Prince Charlie (1948). In November 1948, shortly after the film had been released to a lukewarm response from critics and audiences, Ted Black died of cancer of the lungs and throat. Black also produced several Carol Reed films for Twentieth Century and shorts for the Ministry of Information in 1941.

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