Islington Studios, often known as Gainsborough Studios, were a British film studio located on the south bank of the Regent's Canal, in Poole Street, Hoxton in the former Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, London between 1919 and 1949. The studios are closely associated with Gainsborough Pictures which was based there for most of the studio's history. During its existence Islington worked closely with its sister Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush and many films were made partly at one studio and partly at the other. Amongst the films made at the studios were Alfred Hitchcock thrillers, Will Hay comedies and Gainsborough Melodramas.
The studios were originally built as a power station for the Great Northern & City Railway, and were acquired by the major American company Famous Players-Lasky which wanted to set up a British subsidiary. The building was converted into a two-stage studio, and production began in 1920. During this era Alfred Hitchcock made his start in films, when he was employed as an intertitle writer at Islington. In 1924 the Hollywood company sold off the studios which were bought by Michael Balcon's Gainsborough Pictures. The company enjoyed some success turning out silent films during the 1920s, at a time when other British companies were struggling.
In the late 1920s Gainsborough merged with the larger British Gaumont which owned the Lime Grove Studios. The conglomerate had ambitious plans to challenge Hollywood and produce more than twenty films a year. The larger Lime Grove complex was selected to make expensive films while Islington was designated the cheaper films, particularly comedies. However, during these years it served as an overflow studio and many films scheduled for Shepherd's Bush were made partly at Islington.
During the Slump of 1937, British Gaumont shut down production. Although it considered giving up filmmaking completely, it was decided to continue Gainsborough Pictures making slightly cheaper films. Shepherd's Bush was shut down and all production switched to Islington. The success of some of these late 1930s Islington productions such as The Lady Vanishes helped Gainsborough to keep in business.
Unlike many other studios, Islington was not requisitioned when war broke out and production continued there, but the studio was temporarily closed because it was feared that a direct hit from a German bomb during an air raid would make the large chimney collapse. All production was switched to re-opened Lime Grove. Both studios came under the control of the Rank Organisation when it bought Gainsborough in 1941.
Following the war, Islington were re-opened. In 1946 Betty Box was placed in charge of the studios when her brother Sydney Box was appointed by Rank to run Gainsborough Pictures. Over the next three years the studio turned out a large number of thrillers and comedies. In 1949 both Islington and Shepherd's Bush were closed when Rank concentrated production at Pinewood Studios. Today a block of flats stand where the studio used to be.The block's courtyard features a large sculpture of Alfred Hitchcock's head, by sculptor Anthony Donaldson.
The United Kingdom has had a significant film industry for over a century. The United Kingdom is the birthplace of cinema and was responsible for many of its significant contributions to the art form and the film-making process itself. While film production reached an all-time high in 1936, the "golden age" of British cinema is usually thought to have occurred in the 1940s, during which the directors David Lean, Michael Powell, and Carol Reed produced their most critically acclaimed works. Many British actors have accrued critical success and worldwide recognition, such as Maggie Smith, Roger Moore, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Daniel Day-Lewis, Judi Dench, Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson, and Kate Winslet. Some of the films with the largest ever box office returns have been made in the United Kingdom, including the third and sixth highest-grossing film franchises.
Lime Grove Studios was a film, and later television, studio complex in Shepherd's Bush, West London, England.
Shepherd's Bush is a district of West London, England, within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham 4.9 miles (7.9 km) west of Charing Cross, and identified as a major metropolitan centre in the London Plan.
The Rank Organisation was a British entertainment conglomerate founded by industrialist J. Arthur Rank in April 1937. It quickly became the largest and most vertically integrated film company in the United Kingdom, owning production, distribution and exhibition facilities. It also diversified into the manufacture of radios, TVs and photocopiers. The company name lasted until February 1996, when the name and some of the remaining assets were absorbed into the newly structured The Rank Group Plc. The company itself became a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox and was renamed XRO Limited in 1997.
Sir Michael Elias Balcon was an English film producer known for his leadership of Ealing Studios in West London from 1938 to 1955. Under his direction, the studio became the one of the most important British film studios of the day. In an industry short of Hollywood-style moguls, Balcon emerged as a key figure, and an obdurately British one too, in his benevolent, somewhat headmasterly approach to the running of a creative organization. He is known for his leadership, as well as guidance of young Alfred Hitchcock.
Gainsborough Pictures was a British film studio based on the south bank of the Regent's Canal, in Poole Street, Hoxton in the former Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, north London. Gainsborough Studios was active between 1924 and 1951. The company was initially based at Islington Studios, which were built as a power station for the Great Northern & City Railway and later converted to studios.
Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), originally British International Pictures (BIP), was a British film production, distribution and exhibition company active from 1927 until 1970 when it was absorbed into EMI. ABPC also owned approximately 500 cinemas in Britain by 1943, as well as a station on the ITV television network. The studio was partly owned by Warner Bros. from about 1940 until 1969; the American company also owned a stake in ABPC's distribution arm, Warner-Pathé, from 1958. It formed one half of a vertically integrated film industry duopoly in Britain with the Rank Organisation.
The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 British mystery thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. Written by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, based on the 1936 novel The Wheel Spins by Ethel Lina White, the film is about a beautiful English tourist travelling by train in continental Europe who discovers that her elderly travelling companion seems to have disappeared from the train. After her fellow passengers deny ever having seen the elderly lady, the young woman is helped by a young musicologist, the two proceeding to search the train for clues to the old lady's disappearance.
The Gaumont-British Picture Corporation produced and distributed films and operated a cinema chain in the United Kingdom. It was established as an offshoot of the Gaumont Film Company of France.
Edward Black was a British film producer, best known for being head of production at Gainsborough Studios in the late 1930s and early 1940s, during which time he oversaw production of the Gainsborough melodramas. He also produced such classic films as The Lady Vanishes (1938). Black has been called "one of the unsung heroes of the British film industry." In 1946 Mason called Black "the one good production executive" that J. Arthur Rank had. Frank Launder called Black "a great showman and yet he had a great feeling for scripts and spent more time on them than anyone I have ever known. His experimental films used to come off as successful as his others."
Louis Levy was an English film composer and music director, who worked in particular on Alfred Hitchcock and Will Hay films. He was born in London and died in Slough, Berkshire.
Victor Saville was an English film director, producer, and screenwriter. He directed 39 films between 1927 and 1954. He also produced 36 films between 1923 and 1962.
Love on Wheels is a 1932 British musical comedy film directed by Victor Saville and starring Jack Hulbert, Gordon Harker, Edmund Gwenn and Leonora Corbett.
The Prude's Fall is a 1925 British silent drama film directed by Graham Cutts and starring Jane Novak, Julanne Johnston and Warwick Ward.
Pallard the Punter is a 1919 British silent sports crime film directed by J.L.V. Leigh and starring Jack Leigh, Heather Thatcher and Lionel d'Aragon. It was based on the novel Grey Timothy by Edgar Wallace, set in the world of horse racing. It was made by British Gaumont at Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush.
Road House is a 1934 British comedy crime film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Violet Loraine, Gordon Harker and Aileen Marson.
No Lady is a 1931 British comedy film directed by Lupino Lane and starring Lane, Renee Clama and Sari Maritza. It was made at Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush by Gaumont British, a company linked to Gainsborough Pictures. The film's sets were designed by art director Andrew Mazzei. It was popular enough to be re-released in 1943.
Things Are Looking Up is a 1935 British musical comedy film directed by Albert de Courville, produced by Michael Balcon for Gaumont British and starring Cicely Courtneidge, Max Miller and William Gargan. It was made at Islington Studios by British Gaumont, an affiliate of Gainsborough Pictures. The film's sets were designed by Alex Vetchinsky. Courtneidge plays a dual role as the sisters Bertha and Cicely Fytte. Bertha is a dour schoolteacher, while the bubbly Cicely runs a nearby circus When Bertha surprisingly elopes, Cicely takes her place at the school to prevent her from getting the sack. It was the film debut for Vivien Leigh.
John Maxwell (1879–1940) was a British film producer. Maxwell was the co-owner of British International Pictures, which emerged as the largest British studio following the Film Act of 1927. Maxwell was a Scottish lawyer who first came into contact with the film industry in 1912. In 1927 he took over the newly-constructed British National Studios in Elstree after its founders ran into financial problems. Maxwell built a vertically integrated company incorporating film production, film distribution, initially through Wardour Films, and a large network of cinemas that enabled the company to compete with the leading German and Hollywood firms. Along with the facilities in Elstree, the company also acquired Welwyn Studios in Welwyn Garden City.
Strangers on Honeymoon is a 1936 British comedy film directed by Albert de Courville and starring Constance Cummings, Hugh Sinclair and Noah Beery, based on the 1926 novel The Northing Tramp by Edgar Wallace. Much of the film takes place in Canada. It was made by Gainsborough Pictures at the Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush. The film's sets were designed by the art director Ernö Metzner. Wallace's son also contributed to the film's screenplay, along with 5 other writers.