23 Facts About Michael Balcon


Sir Michael Elias Balcon was an English film producer known for his leadership of Ealing Studios in West London from 1938 to 1955.

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Michael Balcon is known for his leadership, and his guidance of young Alfred Hitchcock.

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Michael Balcon had earlier co-founded Gainsborough Pictures with Victor Saville in 1923, later working with Gaumont British, which absorbed their studio.

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Michael Balcon served as chairman of the British Film Institute production board to help fund and encourage new work.

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Michael Balcon was described in his obituary in The Times as a "pioneer of British films" who "had courage, energy and flair for showmanship".

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Michael Balcon worked as a jeweller's apprentice, was turned down for service in the First World War because of defective eyesight, and joined the Dunlop Rubber Company's huge plant at Aston Cross in 1915, rising to become personal assistant to the managing director.

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Michael Balcon gave Hitchcock his first directing opportunity, and Gainsborough gained a reputation for producing high-quality films.

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At first, Michael Balcon was doubtful about 'The Lodger' but after a re-edit by Ivor Montagu, he became confident in the production.

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Michael Balcon's independence had eroded and Gainsborough became an extension of the Gaumont Film Company.

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Still, between 1931 and 1936, Balcon produced a number of classics, including a string of Hitchcock successes, such as The 39 Steps and Man of Aran; directed by Robert J Flaherty the latter was known as 'Balcon's folly' for going well over budget.

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Michael Balcon helped individuals escape Nazi Germany as persecution of Jewish citizens increased, including the actor Conrad Veidt, who had starred in his 1934 film Jew Suss.

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Michael Balcon spent several months in the United States forming links with the big Hollywood studios.

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When Michael Balcon was invited by an old associate of his, Reginald Baker, to head Ealing Studios in 1938, he readily agreed.

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Michael Balcon was knighted in 1948 for his services to the industry.

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In 1959 Michael Balcon became chairman of Bryanston Films, a subsidiary of British Lion Films.

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Michael Balcon was proud to be associated with the British New Wave; the last film on which he worked as executive producer was Tom Jones, after which he continued to encourage young directors, serving as chairman of the British Film Institute production board and funding low-budget experimental work.

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In 1938, Michael Balcon wrote an article in The Cine-Technician, the journal of the filmmakers union, titled 'I wish I could join' in which he criticised the working condition under which films were made and was instrumental in improving these conditions and increasing the salaries of people working on film sets.

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On 10 April 1924, Michael Balcon married Aileen Freda Leatherman, daughter of Max Jacobs and Beatrice Leatherman, whose families were Jewish immigrants from Poland.

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Michael Balcon was born in Middlesex, but brought up in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Michael Balcon met Anglo-Irish poet, Cecil Day-Lewis, and the two started a relationship, marrying in 1951.

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Michael Balcon has won three Academy Awards in addition to many other awards.

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In 1977, Michael Balcon died at Upper Parrock, a 15th-century house set on a Sussex hilltop near the Kent border.

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Michael Balcon was a life-long friend of director Charles Frend with whom he collaborated on a number of Ealing Studio films.

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