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MGM British Studios


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The Hollywood company, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), in the late '30s sought to extend its empire by turning out films from MGM's Denham studio, using predominantly British acting talent, though topped up with such American stars as Robert Taylor (A Yank at Oxford, d. Jack Conway, 1937) and Rosalind Russell (The Citadel, King Vidor, 1938). Ben Goetz, Louis B Mayer's son-in-law's brother, was appointed studio manager and Michael Balcon was production chief for a couple of unhappy years. After the triumphant success of Goodbye, Mr Chips (d. Sam Wood, 1939), followed by Busman's Honeymoon (d. Arthur Woods, 1940), the venture came to an end.

However, postwar production resumed with Edward, My Son (d. George Cukor, 1949) and in the '50s there were the box-office hits, Ivanhoe (d. Richard Thorpe, 1952) and the first MGM CinemaScope film, Knights of the Round Table (d. Richard Thorpe, 1953), as well as more modest programme films, such as The Hour of 13 (d. Harold French, 1952) and the suspenseful Time Bomb (d. Ted Tetzlaff, 1953), all using Hollywood stars and expertise, bolstered by British actors and technical skills.

Until MGM closed its British studio in 1970 and amalgamated with EMI, it turned out several productions each year from Borehamwood, including such critical and/or commercial successes as The Adventures of Quentin Durward (d. Richard Thorpe, 1955), Bhowani Junction (d. George Cukor, 1955), Lust for Life (1956), several of Ealing's last films, including Dunkirk (d. Leslie Norman, 1958), Margaret Rutherford's four 'Miss Marple' thrillers, starting with Murder She Said (d. George Pollock, 1961), Anthony Asquith's all-star last gasps, The VIPs (1963) and The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964), Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (1961) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), and - almost the end - a musical remake of one of the earliest MGM-British successes, Goodbye, Mr Chips (d. Herbert Ross, 1969).

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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