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Anglo-Amalgamated Productions

Film Studio

Main image of Anglo-Amalgamated Productions

A small but resourceful production/distribution company, Anglo-Amalgamated was set up in 1945 by two energetic and astute businessmen, Nat Cohen and Stuart Levy. They began by making low-budget thrillers for the bottom half of the double bill, and, gambling shrewdly on new talents, showed themselves cleverly attuned to changing market demands, until, in 1969, they were swallowed up in ABPC/EMI. Their earliest productions were half-hour features such as The Drayton Case (d. Ken Hughes, 1953), with plotlines which attested to the unceasing vigilance of Scotland Yard, and with portentous introductions by Edgar Lustgarten. By the '60s, these had given way to hour-long thrillers drawn chiefly from the works of Edgar Wallace and made at the austere studios at Merton Park.

But A-A was not limiting itself to 'B' film crime, the market for which would dry up in a few years: it produced three musicals with the pop star Tommy Steele (1957-59), all the Carry On films up till 1966, and a batch of horror films, including Horrors of the Black Museum (d. Arthur Crabtree, 1959), two Edgar Allan Poe films in collaboration with American International Pictures, The Masque of the Red Death (UK/US, d. Roger Corman, 1964) and The Tomb of Ligeia (d. Corman, 1964), and, most famously, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960).

In the '60s, the company moved upmarket and allied itself with some of the most important filmmakers of the decade, particularly with producer Joseph Janni and directors John Schlesinger and Joseph Losey. Janni, previously with Rank and British Lion, brought A Kind of Loving (d. Tony Richardson, 1962) and Billy Liar! (d. John Schlesinger, 1963) to A-A in the first instance, thereby launching Schlesinger's features career, but making producer Peter Rogers feel A-A was getting too quality-orientated for the Carry On team. The company produced Losey's first British film, The Sleeping Tiger (1954), though listing its producer Victor Hanbury as the director instead of the Blacklisted Losey. By 1960, Losey's name was on the A-A release The Criminal, and Cohen backed The Go-Between (1971), though, by that time, A-A had ceased independent existence and the film was released through EMI. A-A also produced that archetypal sixties black comedy, Nothing But the Best (d. Clive Donner, 1964), and backed the first features of John Boorman (Catch Us If You Can, 1965) and Ken Loach (Poor Cow, 1967). A good deal of the history of British filmmaking in the '50s and '60s is encapsulated in the A-A enterprise.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Billy Liar (1963)Billy Liar (1963)

Kitchen-sink realism meets airy fantasy in this much-loved Sixties comedy

Thumbnail image of Catch Us If You Can (1965)Catch Us If You Can (1965)

Lively pop musical that was John Boorman's feature debut

Thumbnail image of Circus of Horrors (1960)Circus of Horrors (1960)

Lurid horror about a deranged plastic surgeon

Thumbnail image of Criminal, The (1960)Criminal, The (1960)

Joseph Losey's fascinating portrait of a changing criminal underworld

Thumbnail image of Go-Between, The (1971)Go-Between, The (1971)

Acclaimed adaptation of L.P. Hartley's novel about a boy's loss of innocence

Thumbnail image of Horrors of the Black Museum (1959)Horrors of the Black Museum (1959)

Violent murder mystery revolving around Scotland Yard's famous museum

Thumbnail image of Kind of Loving, A (1962)Kind of Loving, A (1962)

New Wave film about a man torn between desire and responsibility

Thumbnail image of Peeping Tom (1960)Peeping Tom (1960)

Notorious horror film which all but ended Michael Powell's career

Thumbnail image of Poor Cow (1967)Poor Cow (1967)

Ken Loach's cinema debut about a woman's relationship with two criminals

Thumbnail image of Sleeping Tiger, The (1954)Sleeping Tiger, The (1954)

Joseph Losey's British debut stars Dirk Bogarde as a young criminal

Thumbnail image of Wide Boy (1952)Wide Boy (1952)

Lively 'B' picture in which a shady salesman slides deeper into crime

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Second feature, but not necessarily second-best

Thumbnail image of Carry OnCarry On

Britain's longest-running big-screen comedy series

Thumbnail image of Encyclopedia of British Film Encyclopedia of British Film

The exhaustive reference work from which this biography is taken

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