Michael Balcon

Pioneering move moguls

He had worked with diamonds and rubber before he entered the film business at age 26. In the ’30s, he was a patron to Hitchcock as well as Robert Flaherty and he represented MGM in the U.K. But his glory starts in 1938 when he heads Ealing Studios and shows the same skill with wartime documentaries (“Next of Kin,” “Went the Day Well?” “San Demetrio,” “London”), an amazing line of film noirs (“Dead of Night,” “Pink String and Sealing Wax,” “It Always Rains on Sunday”), the urge to use Australia (“Eureka Stockade”) and the classic comedies (“Whisky Galore,” “Kind Hearts and Coronets,” “The Lavender Hill Mob,” “The Ladykillers”). The pictures were economical, very well written, beautifully acted, and they became — for good and ill — a huge influence on how the world perceived Britain.

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