Mancunian Films

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Dickenson Road Studios whilst under BBC ownership in the 1960s.

Mancunian Films was a British motion picture production company organized in 1934.

Founded by John E. Blakeley, the company produced films in London on extremely low budgets. Blakeley's first studio consisted of a single soundstage in a loft space above a taxi garage. Whenever the filmmakers wanted to shoot a scene, they would first have to signal the mechanics below to stop working, so the noise from below wouldn't register on the soundtracks. Blakeley's first production was Boots! Boots! (1934), starring the young variety entertainer George Formby. Production values were so low that some scenes were filmed in semi-darkness, to hide the lack of set decorations. Despite the technical flaws, the debut film was a huge success in the local provinces, recouping Blakeley's investment several times over and launching George Formby as Britain's leading screen comedian. Within the year "Blakeley's Productions, Ltd." had become "The Mancunian Film Distributors, Ltd."

Escalating costs and a desire to cater for the robust tastes of northern industrial audiences led to the establishment of the two-stage facility[1] in a former Methodist Chapel on Dickenson Road, Rusholme. Starting with Cup-tie Honeymoon (1948) starring Sandy Powell, over the next six years the films went on to feature northern favourites Frank Randle, Josef Locke, Diana Dors, and Jimmy Clitheroe. The studio, though it often worked on a shoestring, was successful and profitable but Blakely decided to retire when he reached 65.

Mancunian Films continued under Blakeley's son Tom for many years, providing facilities for Hammer Horror and making a number of B-movies. The cinematographic expertise developed in Manchester formed the foundations of Granada Television. The studio was sold to the BBC in 1954 making it the first regional BBC TV studio outside London,[2] and demolished in 1975 when operations were transferred to New Broadcasting House on Oxford Road. The studio's archives were lost in a fire at Kay Film Laboratories in 1980.

Mike Blakeley, cameraman and grandson of John E. Blakeley, is[when?] working with CP Lee of the University of Salford in promoting the detailed history of the Mancunian Film Studio via film screenings and facts about Mancunian Films and its actors.[3]

Selected filmography[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Williams, Philip Martin & David L. (2001) New Edition(2006) Hooray for Jollywood - The Life of John E. Blakeley & The Mancunian Film Corporation ISBN 978-0-9518012-9-1
  • Montgomery, J. (1969) Comedy Films, 1894-1954 ISBN 0-04-791018-6

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Patricia Warren British Film Studios: An Illustrated History, London: B.T. Batsford, 2001, p.116
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