Patricia Warren
British Film Studios, An Illustrated History. Book

Film historian Patricia Warren has compiled a pretty comprehensive work on the history of Britain's film production, with special regard to the studios. More than 100 years of British film history are covered by illustrated stories on more than 90 studios, both famous and long forgotten ones.

Patricia Warren has squeezed a lot of information into this book, mostly stuff she had compiled for a TV series in the 1980ies. The abundance of illustrations, most of them stills from movies, is a welcome feature - a lot of atmosphere speaks through the pictures and emphasizes the written word. There must have been more film studios in Britain than the ones presented in the book, but without doubt the most important ones are covered here.

Though the studios are lined up in rigid alphabetical order, Warren has tried to present them in a vivid way by interweaving bare facts, anecdotes, gossip, and historical background. Friends of British cinema will certainly like this book. It gives a straightforward, yet quite entertaining, overview on the movie scene in Britain and its relation to American and European film.

It's also interesting to see how some studios became so closely associated with their productions, take for example the close connection between Bray Studios and the Hammer Film Productions, famous for their "Hammer House Of Horror" style films like "The Curse Of Frankenstein" or "The Damned" and their trademark actors Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price. Most of Hammer's low budget Gothic horror movies were shot at Bray's film studios near Windsor. Or witness London's Ealing Studios, nearly synonymous with a certain kind of absurd comedy - the "Ealing Comedies" like "Man In The White Suit" or "Passport To Pimlico".

All in all, an interesting look behind the scenes with an unusual focus on the workbenches of the film industry rather than just stars and glamour. This holistic approach makes Patricia Warren's "British Film Studios" a recommendation for cineastes interested in motion pictures made in Great Britain.


Published by Batsford Books

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Patricia Warren's guide to the history of British film studios