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The Telegraph (26/Feb/2008) - Beating a gong for Ealing

(c) The Daily Telegraph (26/Feb/2008)

Beating a gong for Ealing

Daniel Day-Lewis made an unusual point in his Oscar acceptance speech. As a recruit to the select band of eight to have won two Oscars for best actor, his remarks on cinema should be worth hearing. His speech paid tribute to his grandfather Michael Balcon. To today's Hollywood audience this name was not, perhaps, as familiar as it should be.

As founder of Gainsborough Pictures, Balcon gave Alfred Hitchcock his first chance to direct, and he backed Robert Flaherty's remarkable Man of Aran. But it was Balcon's work at Ealing that made it the most famous British studios in the world, intentionally producing films that reflected the national character, from The Blue Lamp to Kind Hearts and Coronets. His nurturing of talent allowed British films to flourish. British film-making might have all but disappeared now. Yet, as the Oscars showed, its spirit lives on.