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21/05/2012

English Heritage Blue Plaque For J. Arthur Rank

The film producer J. Arthur Rank (1888-1972) has been commemorated with an English Heritage blue plaque at 38 South Street, Mayfair, where he established the headquarters of the Rank Organisation, which financed films such as The Red Shoes (1948) and the Ealing comedies Passport to Pimlico, Whisky Galore and Kind Hearts and Coronets (all 1949).
Sir Christopher Frayling, member of the English Heritage Blue Plaques Panel, said: “For over a quarter of a century – between the 1940s and the 1960s – the name 'J. Arthur Rank' was virtually synonymous with the British film industry. His companies owned over half the British film studios and more than 1,000 cinemas. His corporate symbol of a bare-chested ex-boxer banging a huge gong was instantly recognisable the world over – on a par with the celebrated Hollywood studio logos. The films presented by the Rank Organisation were sometimes good, sometimes bad – but never ugly. And they turned British film into an industry, from the headquarters in Mayfair."
Rank is generally credited with saving the British film industry at a time when the government was willing to cede control to Hollywood. Without him, many of the greatest British films of the twentieth century may simply never have been made. Modest and extremely hard-working, his ardent Methodism influenced the moral tone of the films of his day. He became a powerful but popular figure who wanted the industry to be a force for good, and played a key role in the success of directors such as Carol Reed, Alexander Korda, David Lean, and Michael Powell. He was also a highly successful industrialist who transformed his family business into one of Britain’s biggest companies; renamed Rank Hovis McDougall in 1962, it survived until 2007, when it was taken over by Premier Foods.
Speaking of the English Heritage blue plaque to J. Arthur Rank, his grandson, Joey Newton, said: “the Rank family are very proud that he has been honoured in this way.”
English Heritage Website
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