Motion Picture Herald (Mar-Apr 1945)

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BRITISH RECORD SET BY GAINSBOROUGH 22, Made Since War Began, Show Gross Production Profit of 100 Per Cent by PETER BURNUP in London There's an obstinate coyness among distributors this side when it comes to disclosing precise grosses; sales managers preferring to deal in unconvincing euphemisms rather than realistic statistics. But from out that customary Trappist veil we've contrived for once to obtain exact particulars on two of the country's most remarkable current exhibits. The pictures in question are "Madonna of the Seven Moons" — Herald review January 27, 1945 — -and "Waterloo Road" — Herald, February 24, 1945. Both carry the Gainsborough brand mark ; neither compares in pretentiousness with other much-vaunted productions of the J. Arthui Rank outfit; their combined production costs being less than £200,000 (about $800,000). But both of them are breaking house records wherever they play. Big Gross for British Film "Madonna" (producer R. J. Minney, director Arthur Crabtree) has been sent round J. Arthur Rank's Gaumont-British circuit. To date it shows a gross thereon of £210,000; and easily will bring in £320,000 for Mr. Rank before its British viewings are complete. That total, $1,280,000, on a British release is a powerful lot of money, as American executives know. "Waterloo Road" (director Sidney Gilliat) has been assigned an Odeon run and here an even more precise yardstick is available. Odeon preens itself on playing America's choicer product; 70 per cent of the circuit's aggregate programs are American in origin. The standing "high" in grosses for all pictures on the Odeon London release — it comprises some 80 first-rate theatres — is held by "Jane Eyre," closely followed by "The Sullavans." "Waterloo Road" on its London showings has topped that "high" by more than £2,000. Granted it is a picture interwoven into London's own peculiar pattern ; that, by so much, it was assured of success among the Cockneys. That's not the whole of the story; for, in its preliminary canter around provincial centers, "Waterloo Road" shows equal promise of rich returns. There's every indication, indeed, that on the final accounting it will have yielded yet another £300,000 into the Rank coffers. Call for Close Scrutiny These twin phenomena, so it rs urged in American motion picture circles here, call for close scrutiny not only in Hollywood but in New York home offices. For, odd though it seem, there has been hitherto a pronounced bias among British theatre audiences against British pictures. People here, maybe, have become so thoroughly "Hollywoodized" ; or, on the other hand, they may have long memories of certain of those doleful British quota offerings put before them in the long ago. There, in any event, is the fact. In spite of that notorious bias against the local product, two British films, almost simultaneously, put up new circuit "highs." Maybe British pictures are "improving. And, in connection with the present statisti cal roundup, we have been vouchsafed a private view of Gainsborough's total wartime accounting. During the period under review the company made, in all, 22 feature films at a total cost of £1,360,000, which grossed in the aggregate £2,600,000. Certain of those productions were just plumb bad. But a gross production profit of 100 per cent is calculated to charm many another promoter. Is Oldest Rank Unit Gainsborough, although the longest established of the Rank units, has been regarded often as the Cinderella of the piece. There's nothing especially flamboyant in the Gainsborough makeup; nothing grandiose in its approach to the job of picture-making. But there are many folk who hold the view that it's Gainsborough year in and year out which supplies the Rank organization with its bread-and-butter keep. The company has two more ready for showing: "Place of One's Own," directed by cameraman Bernard Knowles and starring James Mason — British Number One in the Motion Picture Herald Fame poll — Margaret Lockwood and Barbara Mullen ; "They Were Sisters," directed by Arthur Crabtree, who made "Madonna," and starring Phyllis Calvert and James Mason. Mr. Mason and Miss Lockwood figure also in "The Wicked Lady," Leslie Arliss directing, now in course of production at Shepherds Bush. Gainsborough, under Maurice Ostrer's tutelage, promises at least three more before this year's end; in one of them, a reconstruction of famed violinist Paginini's life and loves, they hope to hire Yehudi Menuhin to record the sound track. Miss Kirkwood to Hollywood As this dispatch was prepared for filing, Sir Alexander Korda came forward with his official announcement that Miss Pat Kirkwood would make her first MGM-Korda picture in Hollywood. Sir Alexander admits he's way behind in the immense production schedule he gave out more than a year ago. Robert Donat's "Perfect Strangers" is the only one of a long list of announced pictures so far completed, and that still hasn't been shown to the trade. Sir Alexander blames the Government for the delay in not derequisitioning ere this the Korda Elstree studio ; hopes to * see Hugh Dalton, Board of Trade president, and persuade him to expedite the process. Most likely outcome is that production of several of the promised pictures — notably "Pickwick Papers" — will be shifted to Hollywood. Two Cities announce that there's still another alteration in the name of their film "Rendezvous." This is the picture which United Artists will distribute not only in America but in this country, Mr. Rank thereby helping U. A. out of a considerable quota difficulty. The picture is to be known as "The Way to the Stars." Monroe Joins Inter-American Robert Allan Monroe, formerly radio production manager of Donahue & Coe and co-creator and producer of "MGM's Screen Test," has joined Inter-American Radio, specialists in radio exploitation and promotion in Latin America, as director of motion picture radio. Canadian Off id Rules on Releasi Of Rank 9s Films J. R. Croft, Federal Administrator of Sei of the Canadian Wartime Prices and Trade E has issued a special ruling to govern the ni in the Dominion of 15 British features by Ei Universal Films, Ltd., which holds the Can francise for J.. Arthur Rank product. The prescribed arrangement provides tha exhibitor having a basic contract with the pany is not required to buy any of three sp< in order to purchase either of six-picture gi in standard classification. At the same time buying of a special picture is not conditional the taking of any other releases. Mr. Croft made the ruling regarding the ' ing-away" of product by stating: "If a basic tract holder refuses to buy, the distributor sell away, in which case the present basic tract holder loses his basic contract rights to f product of this type." There also are clauses governing the maxi rental price in accordance with the Board's eral policy, but there is a directive to the < that if a distributor sells away, maximum j for specials and the first and second groups ti non-contract exhibitor are to be similar to rentals in comparable situations. The distributor may, it says, refuse to sell basic contract holder any portion of the in either^ group unless the exhibitor buys al pictures in the group concerned. The listed cials are : "This Happv Breed," "The Way Al and "A Canterbury Tale." It is indicated by the issuing of this order the Dominion Government is continuing to exe control of the film business under the Orde Council of four years ago. New York Musicians Had $20,000,000 Payroll More than $20,000,000 was paid out by the tertainment industry in New York City to n bers of the American Federation of Music Local 802 during 1944, according to the yi statement of the union released last week. Ir opinion of Harry A. Suber, treasurer, the fi represents approximately 70 per cent of the annual payroll of musicians in the city, organization has a membership of some 24 with more than 6,000 members having serve! the war. Currently there are some 4,600 merr in the armed forces and more than 4,000 ployed in war plants, the report adds. Six New Films Reviewed By Legion of Decency The National Legion of Decency this week reviewed six new films, approving four and fin kg two objectionable in part. In Class A-2, u m jectionable for adults, are: "Gentle Annie," t's in the Bag," "Two O'Clock Courage," "Zon|es on Broadway." In Class B, objectionable in irt. are "The Bullfighters" and "Without Love." Uphold Commissioner Moss In Ticket-Fee Dispute License Commissioner Paul Moss of New ^ City was upheld by New York Supreme C Justice Church last Thursday in his refusa allow McBride's Theatre Ticket Agency to ch 50 cents for ticket deliveries over the 75 brokerage fee allowed by the state business la Hodge Visiting England Thomas Hodge, assistant director, film divis British Information Services, New York, left week for a month's refresher visit in Engl His headquarters in London will be at the Bri Ministry of Information. While in England, I Hodge will study recent developments in non e atrical distribution. ?8 MOTION PICTURE HERALD, APRIL 14, 1 15