British International Pictures
Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC), originally British International Pictures (BIP), was a British film production company active from 1927 until 1970. The company was founded by John Maxwell after he had purchased British National Studios and their Elstree Studios complex, renaming the company British International Pictures. Wardour Films Ltd acted as the UK distributor for the company.
After the Second World War, BIP signed a deal with Warner Brothers for the distribution of its films in the United States, and this led it to change its name to Associated British Picture Corporation. The company was to produce much of its best and most well-remembered work under this name in the 1950s, including films such as The Dam Busters (1954) Ice Cold in Alex (1958).
In 1955, ABPC also became the parent company of a new British ITV television franchise contractor, Associated British Corporation, which held the commercial television licence for broadcasting to the Midlands at the North of England at weekends. This company later became Thames Television, and although it lost its broadcasting franchise in 1992 still exists in the form of the talkbackTHAMES independent production company.
During the 1960s, the fortunes of the film company slumped and in 1969 it was purchased by EMI. The following year it was renamed EMI Films, under which title it was still an active concern in the film industry until 1990.
Alfred Hitchcock joined British International Pictures in 1927 where he became the highest paid director in England. For his initial silent films for the company, Hitchcock continued his productive collaboration with scenario writer Eliot Stannard. Whilst adapting Charles Bennett's play Blackmail, Hitchcock was given the opportunity to turn it into one of the very first British all-talking films.
Following the commercial success of Blackmail, Hitchcock seems to have grown increasingly disenfranchised with BIP, and also with his former friend Walter C. Mycroft. After the disappointing reception to the film adaptation of Number Seventeen, BIP announced that Hitchcock would spend a year producing rather than directing — a move seen by some commentators as Maxwell punishing the director.
Hitchcock eventually left the company after Maxwell blocked the Bulldog Drummond project he had been developing with Bennett. This project became the director's first film for Gaumont British, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934).
- The Ring (1927) — director
- Champagne (1928) — director
- The Farmer's Wife (1928) — director
- Blackmail (1929) — director
- The Manxman (1929) — director
- Juno and the Paycock (1930) — director
- Murder! (1930) — director
- Elstree Calling (1930) — co-director
- The Skin Game (1931) — director
- Number Seventeen (1932) — director
- Lord Camber's Ladies (1932) — producer
Amami Film Star Quest (1928)
In 1928, the studio partnered with hair product manufacturer Amami to offer "British girls" the opportunity to became a film actress with a 12 month studio contract. According to adverts placed in a variety of regional newspapers between March to May 1928, the "selected girl will work under the personal supervision of E.A. Dupont [...] and Alfred Hitchcock [...] and receive every encouragement from them".
Eugenie Prescott of Wallesey, Cheshire, was announced as the winner of the Amami Film Star Quest in December 1928.
Notes & References
- The fact that Hitchcock was joining BIP was reported by the English press as early as May 1926, but his contract for Gainsborough Pictures still had six months to run.
- The Times (04/Apr/1932) - New films in London
- Ultimately, Hitchcock produced only one film for BIP, Lord Camber's Ladies (1932), directed by Benn Levy.