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Associated British Picture Corporation (1933-70)

Production Company

Main image of Associated British Picture Corporation (1933-70)

In the 1940s and 50s, The Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), originally British International Pictures (BIP), was the greatest rival to the Rank film empire, with a chain of cinemas as well as studios.

Owner John Maxwell, whose paternalistic influence was well known throughout the company, bought British National Studios at Elstree in 1927 and renamed the company British International Pictures - already with an eye on the American market. The studio became known as "the porridge factory" for reasons more likely to do with the quantity of films that the company turned out, than their quality.

BIP's first big hit was Hitchcock's Blackmail, produced in 1929, commonly thought to have been Britain's first 'talkie'. Hitchcock made a series of films for the company between 1927 and his departure for Gaumont-British in 1933.

After the war, Maxwell made a deal with Warner Brothers to distribute BIP films in their 800 American cinemas. As a result the company was renamed ABPC.

ABPC's most famous films were made in the 1950s and 1960s - the first of these being The Magic Box (d. John Boulting, 1951), in fact a collaborative project with other industry representatives such as Rank, made in honour of the Festival of Britain. The film is a tribute to William Friese-Greene, the man who invented the first British film camera.

Later in the 1950s ABPC were responsible for such classics as The Dam Busters (d. Michael Anderson, 1954) and Ice Cold in Alex (d. J.Lee.Thompson, 1958). The 1960s saw Tony Hancock's The Rebel (d. Robert Day, 1960) and a series of highly successful teen movies starring the young Cliff Richard, including The Young Ones (d. Sidney.J.Furie, 1961) and Summer Holiday (d. Peter Yates, 1962).

As the industry slumped, ABPC was taken over by EMI in 1969, but the company is still involved in film and television production today.

Lou Alexander

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