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Yorkshire Post (15/Jan/1929) - The Cinema World: British Films on the Continent



The Cinema World

British Films on the Continent

There is distinct encouragement for British films in the film import statistics far 1928 now available in France and Germany. During 1928 France imported 23 British pictures, as against eight in 1927, two in 1926, seven in 1925, and none in 1924. France herself produced 94 full-length films during the year and imported 313 from America and 122 from Germany.

Germany imported 92 European pictures during 1928, as against 90 in 1927. Among countries contributing these pictures France heads the list; Austria comes second, and Great Britain third, with 15 pictures to her credit. In 1927 Great Britain stood bottom but one on the list, with only two films placed on the German market.

In most other European countries, too, and in the Dominions, British films have made considerable headway, though the American market still remains virtually closed.

But it remains true that the British film industry has so far produced only one star of international appeal — Betty Balfour — and that not lately; and no British director, in spite of the brilliant promise of Hitchcock, Saville, and Anthony Asquith, and the substantial achievement of Maurice Elvey, has yet won the international repute of a Lubitsch, a Fritz Lang, a Joseph von Sternberg, or a D. W. Griffiths.

Individual film talent is certainly not lacking in Great Britain; what is lacking is, rather, the driving power and organising intelligence necessary to put British films definitely "on the map." There is still too much haphazard production on a small scale. too little continuity of policy, and too much control by financiers ignorant of production technique. We need more men at the top who understand that the film industry is a business, but who understand also that this business requires imaginative handling of a distinctive kind, and cannot be treated simply as a branch of the celluloid trade.

"The Ring."

This week "The Ring," the first picture made by Alfred Hitchcock for British International, is generally released. Its story of a young boxer — very well acted by Carl Brisson — who rises from fighting all-comers in a fair-booth to championship form, is not out of the common, but Mr. Hitchcock's direction is very much out of the common. Mr. Hitchcock finished work on the film in the summer of 1927, and it remains, in my opinion, the most effective British picture yet made — which is creditable to Mr. Hitchcock but disappointing from the point of view of British film progress.

"The Ring" is — to revive an old phrase — a real "living picture," not a series of photographed episodes laboriously joined together, and probably the main reason for its vitality is that Mr. Hitchcock has the gift of thinking directly in film terms. He does not photograph a story, he writes it, so to speak, straight on the screen ; this is why "The Ring" lives and moves with such stimulating rhythm and vigour. It is the expression of an individual mind, not a mechanical construction, and scarcely half a dozen British films have yet been made of which this can be said.