Boxoffice-May.12.156

boxofficepro

. . . Peter

. . Charles

. . Director

. . David

: May

i&act(m ^efiont

v» HINT that possibly the government

/jisi may have something to say about the

"Americanization" of the British film

industry was given by David Kingsley. managing

director of the National Film Finance

Corp., speaking last week on the annual report

to a selected group of journalists.

Kingsley admitted that as a result of the

increased number of British films being made

with the financial support of American controlled

distributing companies, fewer calls

were being made on the funds of the NFFC.

In the coming year, not less than one third

of the featm-e films made in Britain would be

financed by Americans. "I think this is a

most important issue that will have to be

considered soon," he said. Kingsley's statement

underlined the strenuous tussle now

engaging the industry, between those producers

who are making films through their

own British resources, and those whose production

is partly—if not wholly—the result

of U. S. finances.

The managing dii-ector of the NFFC, in

his annual report, noted that "British independent

production as a whole is still unprofitable,

and the present downward trend

in boxoffice takings is likely to continue."

Kingsley said that in spite of assistance

from the British Film Production Fund, only

62 out of a total of 152 films financially aided

by the NFFC in the four years from 1952 to

1955 were likely to be profitable. This is indeed

the very argument that will be advanced

many times during the coming months by

those who fear that the extra production

profits derived from the Eady Scheme will

be lost to these same independent film producers,

because the bulk of Eady earnings

will go to the more expensive spectacular

co-production features, which are doing so

w^ell in Britain at the present time. One of

the American companies whose features are

now enjoying lucrative boxoffice business is

Columbia, which plans no fewer than 18

Anglo U. S. productions during the next 18

months. All these films will naturally qualify

for quota and Eady money will be made on

By ANTHONY GRUNER

a high budget, with at least two top international

stars. The same goes for MGM.

who in cooperation with Sir Michael Balcon

and Herbert Wilcox, is restarting Anglo U. S.

production in a big way. 20th Century-Fox

is negotiating with certain independent producers

and will shortly (it is rumored be

i

following suit. Naturally, a feeling akin to

panic is beginning to grip some of the smaller

British It if producers. looks as Mr, Kingsley

and the president of the Board of Trade will

need Solomon's wisdom to sort out this

particular industry problem, which strikes

at the very heart of Anglo-American film

relations.

Rod Steiger, in London for a brief visit,

captured the imagination of most of London's

film columnists and received great editorial

coverage when Columbia, who is releasing

his latest pictures over here, "The Harder

They Fall" with Humphrey Bogart and

"Jubal" with Glenn Ford, thi'ew a party in

his honor at Claridges. It is usual at these

receptions for the male star, unless he is a

worldwide personality, to be surrounded by

the lady journalists, while their male brethren

cluster in groups round the cocktail bar, discussing

the latest film and press gossip. But

not with Mr. Steiger! This literate, thoughtful

and witty artiste found himself the center

of everyone's attention and the most lonely

people at the reception turned out to be the

waiters behind the bar. Rare is it indeed that

Fleet Street journalists let Scotch play second

fiddle to a Hollywood actor, but in the case of

Rod Steiger, such a sacrifice was well worth

while.

The Cinematograph Exhibitors' A.ss'n.

which has been battling against the onward

sweep of television, last week gave a sign

that some members of its General Council

were thinking very wisely about the medium.

It is now revealed that negotiations have

been proceeding with the BBC to try to

stop the corporation screening films which

CELEBRATING A NEW COMPANY—Richard Gordon, second from left, American

o-producer of "Requiem for a Redhead," first film of Amalgramated Productions,

clebrates at Kettner's Restaurant, London, on completion of the picture there. Others,

2ft to right, are Jack Phillips, general sales manager; Carole Mathews and Richard

H'lming, American stars of the film, and William G. Chalmers, the producer.

do no credit to the industry and would

naturally keep people away from their

cinemas. The CEA has offered to provide

20 feature films (selected in conjunction with

the renters) to the BBC, from which 12

could be televised at the rate of one a month.

The BBC, in its turn, would guarantee not to

show any other features except those vetoed

by the exhibitors. This is such a bold move

on the part of the CEA that when the rumor

of the current negotiations leaked from a

local branch, most people were inclined to

disbelieve it. If these TV talks are concluded

to the trade's satisfaction, it will be a great

step forward, and a sign that there are still

some broad and statesmanship minds at

work among British exhibitors.

News in brief: When Chief Barker Nat

Cohen and immediate past Chief Barker

James Carreras left Saturday, May 5, heading

a party of Tent 36 Variety delegates to

attend the international convention, they

were seen off by British Broadcasting Corp.

television cameras. Henry Caldwell, one of

BBC's top TV men, produced an excellent

film sequence, which was shown later on TV.

The film has been presented to Variety for

the private use of the Club, and was screened

at the Ladies' Luncheon at the Savoy Hotel,

when three nation celebrities—America's

Dorothy Dandridge, Britain's Merle Oberon

and Spain's Conchita Montes—were the

. guests of honor Laughton has

been signed by executive producer Sam

Spiegel as the first star of his Horizon-

British production for Columbia Pictures

"The Bridge Over the River Kwai." This is

Laughton's fu-st screen role for more than

two years. He recently has been concentrating

on direction and production in association

with Paul Gregory. In "The Bridge

Over the River Kwai" he will portray Colonel

Davidson, a British military leader who is

captured with his troops by the Japanese in

World War II and forced to labor in the

building of a bridge. David Lean directs

Finch has been given the leading

role in Ealing's "The Shiralee," the second

film to be made in cooperation with MGM.

(The first, "The Man in the Sky," is a test

pilot story starring Jack Hawkins) . , . Louis

Ai'mstrong, who arrived over here last week,

is organizing a special concert to help the

National Playing Fields' Ass'n and the Variety

Club of Great Britain . E. Rose is

in town for the premiere of his Coronado

Production's "Port Afrique," with Pier Angeli,

Phil Carey and Dennis Price . . . William

Perlberg of the Paramount producing-directing

team of Perlberg and Seaton is in town

for a short holiday . Billy Wilder

has been signed to direct the film version of

Agatha Christie's London and New York stage

success "Witness for the Prosecution," which

will be produced by Arthur Hornblow jr. in

association with Edward Small for United

Artists release. The stage thriller, set against

the background of the Old Bailey, was first

persented in London at the Winter Gardens

Theatre in 1953. Gilbert Miller opened with

the play in New York in October the following

year. It is still running there . . . Esther

Williams, the former MGM film star swimmer,

will be arriving in London to appear in the

"Aqua Spectacle" at the Wembley Pool, which

will be televised by the National Broadcasting

Co. of America under the title of "Aqua

Spectacle of 1957" ... Sir Laurence Olivier's

VistaVision production for Warner release,

"The Sleeping Prince," with Marilyn Monroe,

will commence shooting at Pinewood Studios

on July 30.

BOXOFFICE

:

12, 1956

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