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  1. #21
    Member Country: Great Britain MarcDavidJacobs's Avatar
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    name='m35541' timestamp='1285599388' post='477994']

    Yes - but there were not many X films in the first half of the 1950s so it was no skin off their nose to say they had a policy of not screening any. Once they started to appear in significant numbers then commerical considerations took over. Don Jarvis hypocritically kept moaning about the the trade making X films for years as if Rank had nothing to do with them but his own company was quite happy to distribute them.


    name='John Hamilton' timestamp='1285613955' post='478082']

    So if Davis was complaining about others making X certificate films does that suggest that he was not a position to over-rule a board policy of not making them? After all why else would he care unless he was constrained from doing so.



    As far as distributing them is concerned, there were certainly X's floating around in the first half of the 1950's The Blackboard Jungle springs to mind but Rank could quite happily maintain the morale high ground and leave the X certs to [mainly]the tuppeny hapenny distributors until there was serious money to be made post the Hammer horrors and presumably the Brigitte Bardot imports


    Actually, I think it's being understated just how many top-tier X certificate films there were even at the very beginning of the 1950s. Just doing a quick search on the BBFC website, in the first year of the X certificate (1951) there were no fewer than thirty-seven films given X's, and a further thirty-one in 1952. Amongst these were certainly a fair share of the schlock crime/horror and nascent sexploitation market — indeed, the only two British films, Women Of Twilight and Cosh Boy, could loosely be categorised under either (or, with Cosh Boy, perhaps both). However, amongst the foreign fare were such films as Rashomon, A Streetcar Named Desire, Buñuel's Los olvidados (which had won the Palme d'Or), Ophüls's La ronde, the Frederic March version of Death Of A Salesman, Les enfants terribles, Casque d'or, Jeux interdits, and even pre-blacklist Joseph Losey's The Big Night and his remake of M. Not all, of course, were yet acknowledged as the classics they were to become, but even then I presume that hardly any were worth dismissing lightly, at least on artistic grounds. On the capitalistic front, perhaps another story....



    As regards the Rank Organisation's somewhat cognatively-dissonant production/distribution policies, a definitive example comes from well before the X certificate was even established. In July 1946, critic Richard Winnington published an article (reprinted in his 1948 collection Drawn And Quartered) on how Jill Craigie's outstanding documentary on post-war Plymouth, The Way We Live, was being refused distribution by Rank (which considered the film too intellectual to be sufficiently marketable), despite the fact that the film was itself (wait for it) a Rank production. The cartoon Winnington produced to illustrate his perception of the matter—

    [attachment=858:RankVsRank.jpg]

    is still a classic in its own right. (In the end, it was only due to critical outcry, spearheaded by the Observer's C.A. Lejeune, who had seen the film only by sneaking into an advance trade showing, that Craigie's film was eventually distributed at all.)



    So, then, might it not be too far wrong to guess that the eventual problem with the X-certificate films might just as well have been that they were as often too highbrow (and thus unprofitable) as they were too degenerate (and thus heathen and offensive)?



    Oh...and, incidentally, as per the original question, I don't suppose the BBFC can speak for what was shown in any or all Rank cinemas, but the earliest film they list as distributed by Rank that was given an X certificate was in 1957 — The Curse Of Frankenstein. A chilling morality tale of the terrifying consequences when man tries to play God? If this was indeed the film to break their personal X ban, perhaps it was because it left Rank just a sliver of the moral high ground still to stand on....

  2. #22
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    I feel sure that The Curse of Frankenstein was a Columbia release that went out on the ABC circuit...not Rank...as did the sequel, The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). However, Hammer's Dracula went out on the Rank circuit in 1958.

  3. #23
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    So if Davis was complaining about others making X certificate films does that suggest that he was not a position to over-rule a board policy of not making them? After all why else would he care unless he was constrained from doing so.


    The main argument Davies (and others) made against X films was that they were driving family audiences away from the cinema. They also continually made the point that the top films of the year were not 'X' rated and that the 'X' films didn't make as much money as a 'U' or 'A'.



    As far as Rank having a policy of not making 'X' films, actual British 'X' films until the late 1950s were negligible and ranbk's policy costs them nothing..



    Per Kine Weekly 25.12.58 as follows:



    Year 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958



    X total 24 26 31 43 55 72



    British 2 1 2 3 5 10



    US 12 13 7 18 34 36



    Other 10 12 22 22 16 26





    The Other are foreign, mostly French and Italian sexploitaters.



    The rise in 1956/1958 reflects the horror/SF boom. Of the British X's in 1957 and 1958 almost all are horror.

  4. #24
    Member Country: Great Britain Gaumont's Avatar
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    "The rise in 1956/1958 reflects the horror/SF boom. Of the British X's in 1957 and 1958 almost all are horror."



    True enough. The Board seems to have had a strong dislike of anything with a fantastic element.

    The following, which nowadays are considered respectable viewing for a Sunday afternoon, were all given X certificates:



    The Thing from Another World (1951)

    War of the Worlds (1953)

    Them! (1954) (passed with cuts)

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) (passed with cuts)



    Nudist films, such as Naked as Nature Intended, and Some Like it Cool, merely picked up an A certificate.

  5. #25
    Senior Member Country: UK Merton Park's Avatar
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    I seem to remember The Hellfire Club being an A not an X.

  6. #26
    Senior Member Country: Vatican Sgt Sunshine's Avatar
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    name='MarcDavidJacobs' timestamp='1285633443' post='478130']

    Actually, I think it's being understated just how many top-tier X certificate films there were even at the very beginning of the 1950s. Just doing a quick search on the BBFC website, in the first year of the X certificate (1951) there were no fewer than thirty-seven films given X's, and a further thirty-one in 1952. Amongst these were certainly a fair share of the schlock crime/horror and nascent sexploitation market — indeed, the only two British films, Women Of Twilight and Cosh Boy, could loosely be categorised under either (or, with Cosh Boy, perhaps both). However, amongst the foreign fare were such films as Rashomon, A Streetcar Named Desire, Buñuel's Los olvidados (which had won the Palme d'Or), Ophüls's La ronde, the Frederic March version of Death Of A Salesman, Les enfants terribles, Casque d'or, Jeux interdits, and even pre-blacklist Joseph Losey's The Big Night and his remake of M. Not all, of course, were yet acknowledged as the classics they were to become, but even then I presume that hardly any were worth dismissing lightly, at least on artistic grounds. On the capitalistic front, perhaps another story....



    As regards the Rank Organisation's somewhat cognatively-dissonant production/distribution policies, a definitive example comes from well before the X certificate was even established. In July 1946, critic Richard Winnington published an article (reprinted in his 1948 collection Drawn And Quartered) on how Jill Craigie's outstanding documentary on post-war Plymouth, The Way We Live, was being refused distribution by Rank (which considered the film too intellectual to be sufficiently marketable), despite the fact that the film was itself (wait for it) a Rank production. The cartoon Winnington produced to illustrate his perception of the matter—

    [attachment=858:RankVsRank.jpg]

    is still a classic in its own right. (In the end, it was only due to critical outcry, spearheaded by the Observer's C.A. Lejeune, who had seen the film only by sneaking into an advance trade showing, that Craigie's film was eventually distributed at all.)



    So, then, might it not be too far wrong to guess that the eventual problem with the X-certificate films might just as well have been that they were as often too highbrow (and thus unprofitable) as they were too degenerate (and thus heathen and offensive)?



    Oh...and, incidentally, as per the original question, I don't suppose the BBFC can speak for what was shown in any or all Rank cinemas, but the earliest film they list as distributed by Rank that was given an X certificate was in 1957 — The Curse Of Frankenstein. A chilling morality tale of the terrifying consequences when man tries to play God? If this was indeed the film to break their personal X ban, perhaps it was because it left Rank just a sliver of the moral high ground still to stand on....


    An excellent post Marc......

    I was interested by your reference to Jill Craigie's documentary "The Way We Live" about Post-War Plymouth....

    As a Plymouthian born & bred I would be fascinated to see this if its still available. Have tried all the usual places but seems to be a non-starter....

    Any kind souls on here have a copy they might be willing to lend me......

    Many thanks

    Sgt S

  7. #27
    Senior Member Country: UK Moor Larkin's Avatar
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    name='MarcDavidJacobs' timestamp='1285633443' post='478130']As regards the Rank Organisation's somewhat cognatively-dissonant production/distribution policies, a definitive example comes from well before the X certificate was even established. In July 1946, critic Richard Winnington published an article (reprinted in his 1948 collection Drawn And Quartered) on how Jill Craigie's outstanding documentary on post-war Plymouth, The Way We Live, was being refused distribution by Rank (which considered the film too intellectual to be sufficiently marketable), despite the fact that the film was itself (wait for it) a Rank production. The cartoon Winnington produced to illustrate his perception of the matter—

    [attachment=858:RankVsRank.jpg]

    is still a classic in its own right. (In the end, it was only due to critical outcry, spearheaded by the Observer's C.A. Lejeune, who had seen the film only by sneaking into an advance trade showing, that Craigie's film was eventually distributed at all.)
    Hmmm.. well, J Arthur himself seems to come out of it rather well, if nobody else does, according to the BFI



    J. Arthur Rank agreed to finance The Way We Live (1946) through his subsidiary Two Cities Films, but Rank's accountant John Davis tried to halt production in mid-shoot because he felt the subject matter was insufficiently commercial. Craigie successfully appealed to Rank on the grounds that the Plymouth residents were praising him and the City Council supported her.

    http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/582163/




  8. #28
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    name='darrenburnfan' timestamp='1285660274' post='478177']

    I feel sure that The Curse of Frankenstein was a Columbia release that went out on the ABC circuit...not Rank...as did the sequel, The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). However, Hammer's Dracula went out on the Rank circuit in 1958.


    "Curse of Frankenstein" was indeed an ABC Circuitrealease: 20 May, 1957

  9. #29
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    The Hellfire Club, with the tamest "orgy" scene ever filmed, was a "A" cert film that went out on release on the ABC circuit in 1961 as the lower half of a double-bill with Konga (also an "A" cert film).

  10. #30
    Senior Member Country: Vatican Sgt Sunshine's Avatar
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    name='Moor Larkin' timestamp='1285681847' post='478256']

    Hmmm.. well, J Arthur himself seems to come out of it rather well, if nobody else does, according to the BFI



    J. Arthur Rank agreed to finance The Way We Live (1946) through his subsidiary Two Cities Films, but Rank's accountant John Davis tried to halt production in mid-shoot because he felt the subject matter was insufficiently commercial. Craigie successfully appealed to Rank on the grounds that the Plymouth residents were praising him and the City Council supported her.

    http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/582163/






    Many thanks for that link Moor Larkin.......

    Interesting read....

    My father was involved with the Labour Party in Plymouth after the War, and would probably have known & met both Michael Foot (MP for Plymouth Devonport) and his future wife Jill Craigie (she met him whilst making the film)....

    What a pity that the clips on the BFI website are not allowed to be seen......

    I wonder if this or any of her other films are still available.....?

    Cheers

    Sgt S

  11. #31
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    name='Gaumont' timestamp='1285667111' post='478198']



    Nudist films, such as Naked as Nature Intended, and Some Like it Cool, merely picked up an A certificate.


    Naked was originally refused a certificate outright and only after had been accepted by London County Council and screened in London sans certificate that the BBFC backtracked and passed a suitably edited version as an 'A'

  12. #32
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    name='darrenburnfan' timestamp='1285685126' post='478264']

    The Hellfire Club, with the tamest "orgy" scene ever filmed, was a "A" cert film that went out on release on the ABC circuit in 1961 as the lower half of a double-bill with Konga (also an "A" cert film).


    it did but as with the best of the Baker/Berman films there was a saucy 'continental' version for those morally ambiguous Europeans to savour

  13. #33
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    name='John Hamilton' timestamp='1285700535' post='478338']

    it did but as with the best of the Baker/Berman films there was a saucy 'continental' version for those morally ambiguous Europeans to savour


    Well, I'm glad they got to see something stronger than a girl with a goblet of wine being poured on her.

  14. #34
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    name='darrenburnfan' timestamp='1285700678' post='478340']

    Well, I'm glad they got to see something stronger than a girl with a goblet of wine being poured on her.


    Maybe it was sulphuric acid after all that got poured. Previous cast member in background.

  15. #35
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    name='Rick C' timestamp='1285703161' post='478363']

    Maybe it was sulphuric acid after all that got poured. Previous cast member in background.


    LOL

  16. #36
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    name='Rick C' timestamp='1285703161' post='478363']

    Maybe it was sulphuric acid after all that got poured. Previous cast member in background.


    Obviously, Pinewood extras were cheap in 1960, when this film was made.

  17. #37
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    The Hellfire Club, with the tamest "orgy" scene ever filmed, was a "A" cert film that went out on release on the ABC circuit in 1961 as the lower half of a double-bill with Konga (also an "A" cert film).


    Helllfire Club was later re-released with a U after receiving further BBFC cuts. Not clear to me whether the version we have is the A or U one.

  18. #38
    Senior Member Country: England darrenburnfan's Avatar
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    name='m35541' timestamp='1285772692' post='478537']

    Helllfire Club was later re-released with a U after receiving further BBFC cuts. Not clear to me whether the version we have is the A or U one.


    I'm not sure what else the BBFC could have cut, as it was pretty tame even as an "A" certificate.

  19. #39
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    Dunno. The BBFC website seems to be wrong as it records a U for this film (after cuts) on 27 July 1960 although July 1960 would have been the A rated version that went out with Konga in March 1961. It was then cut for a U in 1962 I think and re-released by Regal.



    Regal had a package of U and X films available for exhibtitors in 1962/1963 including Curse of Frankenstein (sometimes paired with their own Jack the Ripper). Not sure how they got the UK rights to that although I think the original Hammer deal only gave Warner for seven years.

  20. #40
    Member Country: Great Britain MarcDavidJacobs's Avatar
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    name='Sgt Sunshine' timestamp='1285685182' post='478265']

    My father was involved with the Labour Party in Plymouth after the War, and would probably have known & met both Michael Foot (MP for Plymouth Devonport) and his future wife Jill Craigie (she met him whilst making the film)....

    What a pity that the clips on the BFI website are not allowed to be seen......

    I wonder if this or any of her other films are still available.....?

    Cheers

    Sgt S


    name='Sgt Sunshine' timestamp='1285676019' post='478235']

    An excellent post Marc......

    I was interested by your reference to Jill Craigie's documentary "The Way We Live" about Post-War Plymouth....

    As a Plymouthian born & bred I would be fascinated to see this if its still available. Have tried all the usual places but seems to be a non-starter....

    Any kind souls on here have a copy they might be willing to lend me......

    Many thanks

    Sgt S


    Glad to hear of your interest in Jill Craigie. Alas, while I have had the pleasure of seeing The Way We Live, I've yet to know of any way of having the opportunity of owning a copy. (Although, if ever you should hear of a way to do so, I would love to be the second to know!)



    To my mind, Craigie seems a blindingly-obvious choice as the sort of neglected, iconoclastic filmmaker whom either the British Film Institute or Panamint Cinema should've jumped on long ago with an edition of her complete works. But even without this sort of well-deserved treatment, I'm perhaps more astounded that not one of her most notable films — Out Of Chaos (1944), The Way We Live (1946), Blue Scar (1949) and To Be A Woman (1951) — appear to have ever been released on commercial VHS or DVD. Strangely enough, most of the films for which she wrote screenplays but did not direct, such as The Flemish Farm (1943, directed by and co-written with her then-husband Jeffrey Dell, and for which, accordingly, she is credited as Jill Dell), her two adaptations for Ronald Neame, The Million Pound Note (1953) and Windom's Way (1957), and even Norman Wisdom's debut Trouble In Store (1953), which she felt had been so altered from her original conception of it that she had her name removed from the credits, all have been on DVD at one time or another.



    There are still a few options, though, for seeing some of her films, depending on where you are in the world. By far the best would be if you had access to the Mediatheque at the British Film Institute, where you can see both The Way We Live and Blue Scar in their entireties, under their 'The Promised Land' and 'This Working Life: King Coal' collections, respectively. (Of course, if you aren't at present in the UK, this could prove a rather daunting journey.) So far as the DVD market is concerned, the best I've ever been able to find are Chris Robinson's series of DVDs on the history of Plymouth from the 1920s to 1945, the last of which, Plymouth: The War Years, does contain some footage from The Way We Live. If you are indeed as interested in Plymouth history as in Jill Craigie's work on it specifically, I feel you might well enjoy these.



    Returning to Craigie, though, I wonder if you have heard of Carl Rollyson's excellent recent book on her, To Be A Woman: The Life Of Jill Craigie, published by Aurum Press Limited in 2005. It is a fascinating read, and covers equally well details regarding her films as it does those regarding her private life (with, understandably, quite a substantial amount devoted to her years with Michael Foot). Amongst other things, it devotes a great chunk of material to the fascinating account of her mammoth undertaking (over nearly a quarter of a century) on an ultimately-uncompleted history of the suffragette movement, which she called Daughters Of Dissent.



    Relating to The Way We Live specifically, and the controversy over its distribution, there is also a very comprehensive PhD thesis by Leo Enticknap, 'The Non-Fiction Film in Britain, 1945-51', which is available online at his website. The Way We Live is discussed at length in Chapter 4, along with another excellent feature-documentary of 1946, Theirs Is The Glory.



    Barring these substitutes, I suppose, for the meanwhile, we shall just have to sit and wait and hope that, sometime soon, somebody finally gives Craigie's films the thoroughly-excellent treatment that they deserve, and have been so long in wanting.

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