Warwick Films was a film company founded by film producers Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli in London in 1951. The name was taken from the Warwick Hotel in London. Their films were released by Columbia Pictures.
|Founder||Irving Allen, Albert R. Broccoli|
|Headquarters||London, England, United Kingdom|
The reason for the creation of Warwick Films was a combination of several economic factors in the 1950s.
- American film companies were forbidden by the Marshall Plan to take their film profits in the form of foreign exchange out of European countries.
- To use these profits in Britain, film companies would set up production companies using the required amount of British film technicians and actors to qualify as British productions in order to take advantage of the Eady Levy.
- At the same time Americans working outside the US for 510 days during a period of 18 months would not be taxed on their earnings by the Internal Revenue Service. Though this scheme was developed for the aid of American humanitarian workers redeveloping nations destroyed in World War II, agents discovered that Hollywood actors, directors and screenwriters would qualify for the tax break by working outside the US for the same period.
- Albert R. Broccoli, who wanted to become a producer, and Irving Allen, who had both produced and directed several films, discovered that they would have more creative freedom and control over their films by being based outside Hollywood.
- British labour and thespians were not only of high quality but also more economical to use than the conditions and salaries set by American film unions. Columbia Pictures agreed to match Allen and Broccoli's funding dollar for dollar; in other words for every dollar/pound the producers raised, Columbia would provide the same amount.
The Red BeretEdit
Their first film based on a best selling book was The Red Beret (1953), based on Operation Biting. Originally Warwick arranged to do a two-picture deal with RKO, but that fell through and the company signed with Columbia.
Although the story was British, the producers decided to use an American star. Broccoli was a former agent who knew that Alan Ladd had left Paramount Pictures over monetary disputes. Ladd and Sue Carol, his agent and wife agreed to a three-picture contract with Warwick Films on condition that Ladd's personal screenwriter Richard Maibaum co-write the films.
The Red Beret was economically filmed with Parachute Regiment extras at their installations in England and Wales, under the direction of Terence Young. The film cost US$700,000 to make and grossed US$8 million worldwide leading to more Warwick films. (It also began a collaboration between Maibaum, Young and Broccoli that would lead to the James Bond fims).
Two more with Alan LaddEdit
Warwick next two movies both featured Alan Ladd and were in the action genre directed by Americans: Hell Below Zero, a whaling drama based on a script by Hammond Innes, directed by Mark Robson; The Black Knight (1954), a medieval swashbuckler directed by Tay Garnett. Both movies were a success and Columbia signed another three-picture contract with Warwick. Broccoli said in a 1954 interview:
We're not making British pictures, but American pictures in Britain. We're trying to Americanize the actors' speech in order to make the Englishman understood down in Texas and Oklahoma – in other words, break down a natural resistance and get our pictures out of the art houses and into the regular theatres. And we're doing it. Furthermore, we'll soon be shooting all over the world, bringing to the public the beauty and scope of the outdoors in new mediums – real backgrounds, but always with an American star.
At this stage, Warwick's budgets were around $1 million a film with $200,000 allocated to the American star.
Warwick's next three films for Columbia were A Prize of Gold, The Cockleshell Heroes and Safari (1956). All followed the template of the first three films - action stories with American stars - with the additional element of being shot on location.
The Cockleshell Heroes (1955) was a war movie based on Operation Frankton filmed at RM establishments and in Portugal in 1955; the first British independent movie shot in CinemaScope, it starred Trevor Howard and Jose Ferrer, who also directed. It was the first screenwriting credit for Bryan Forbes. The movie was very popular in Britain but not in America.
Safari (1956) was set during the Mau Mau Rebellion, starring Victor Mature and Jennifer Leigh, directed by Terence Young. The movie was shot on location in Kenya. By this stage Columbia had agreed to finance additional movies from Warwick so it was decided to make Safari back to back with another adventure tale, Odongo (1956), starring MacDonald Carey and Rhonda Fleming, directed by John Gilling.
In 1956, Warwick negotiated producing nine films in three years for a cost of £6 million for Columbia Pictures. Warwick also arranged the shooting of several 30-minute films for television that would advertise Warwick's cinema releases.
Mature had signed a two-picture deal with Warwick. After Safari he made Zarak (1956), a British Empire tale shot in Morocco, directed by Terence Young with Michael Wilding and Anita Ekberg. The film was profitable.
Warwick's first non-action film was a science fiction story, The Gamma People (1956), but it still starred an American (Paul Douglas) and was shot on location (Austria). It was the first Warwick film in black and white.
Warwick signed a new three-picture deal with Victor Mature. The first of this was Interpol (1957), an action thriller shot in Europe, which reunited Mature with Anita Ekberg, and co-starred Trevor Howard; John Gilling directed.
Warwick's biggest budgeted movie to date was Fire Down Below (1957), a war tale starring Rita Hayworth, Robert Mitchum and Jack Lemmon, directed by Robert Parrish. The shoot was difficutl, plagued by problems with its mercurial star Rita Hayworth led to a temporary strain in their relationship with Columbia Pictures.
At the end of 1956 it was announced Warwick would make thirteen films for a total of $18 million.
Warwick made its first comedy, the low budget How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1957), starring and directed by Nigel Patrick. It was their first movie without an American star.
High Flight (1957) was more traditional: an air force movie starring Ray Milland, directed by Gilling. So too was No Time to Die (1958) a war movie with Mature directed by Young. That was the last in a seven-picture deal Warwick had with Columbia.
In February 1957 Warwick announced their relationship with Columbia would finish at the end of the year. In October 1957 Warwick announced they would shift from continuous production to a per-picture basis and let go many of their permanent staff. They said after No Time to Die they would have finished their seven film obligation to Columbia. Production on The Man Inside was pushed back. Warwick said Zarak was profitable but Fire Down Below grossed $750,000 short of the amount to break even.
It was announced that Ladd would make three more films for the company, but he did not appear in another Warwick film. Two of the films were made with other actors, The Man Inside and Killers of Kilimanjaro.
1959-61 Final YearsEdit
Towards the end of 1959 Warwick announced they were reducing production to one film a year. "In five years costs have doubled and earnings have halved", said Allen at the time. "When those two graphs meet you're out of business" Warwick sold its office business in central London, disposed of technical equipment and terminated staff contracts.
Warwick adjusted its output during its final years. They made three lower-budgeted musical comedies starring Anthony Newley: Idol on Parade (1959), directed by John Gilling; Jazz Boat (1960), directed by Ken Hughes; and In the Nick (1960), also directed by Hughes.
Newley also had support roles in two more traditional Warwick movies: The Bandit of Zhobe (1959), starring Victor Mature, directed by Gilling, using footage from Zarak; and Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959) directed by Richard Thorpe, starring Robert Taylor. Many of these movies co starred Anne Aubrey.
Warwick's last film of note was The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) a biopic of Oscar Wilde directed by Hughes starring Peter Finch. The film was critically acclaimed but its financial failure contributed to the dissolution of Warwick.
Allen and Broccoli also had a disagreement about filming the James Bond series that Allen thought was beneath him. Broccoli was prevented from meeting Ian Fleming's representatives due to his wife's serious illness with Allen meeting them and insulting the Bond properties.
After several disagreements with Columbia Pictures, Warwick attempted to become independent distributors by taking over Eros Films an established British film distributor that distributed that film as well as Johnny Nobody.
Irving Allen once espoused his philosophy behind filmmaking to a journalist in 1959:
If somebody sends me a literate script do you know what I do with it? I throw it in the waste paper basket, that's what I do with it. I make films to appeal to the lowest common denominator. That's why I'm still in business while the other arty-farty boys are not. I just want to make pictures to make money. That is a rat race and you can't afford to be a rat in a rat race... If I'm not tough I'm going to have my brains eaten out. The art of surviving in this business is never to let on whether you've got fifty million bucks or fifty cents... I wouldn't see my own films. I've got more taste than that. Does Barbara Hutton buy her jewelry at Woolworths?
|"We're not making British pictures but American pictures in Britain", said Broccoli.
The director of the initial Warwick Films was Terence Young who not only directed several more films for the company but acted as an uncredited story editor for Warwick. The Red Beret also used Ted Moore as a camera operator and Bob Simmons as a stuntman who both would work on more Warwick productions as stunt man, stunt double and stunt arranger.
As a condition of doing his final film The Black Knight with Warwick, Alan Ladd insisted on Warwick employing his friend Euan Lloyd who worked as a publicity agent for the company and directed the short April in Portugal (1954). Later, Warwick used Victor Mature, Bonar Colleano, Anne Aubrey and Anthony Newley in several films.
Harold Huth was a director of the company from 1956 onwards.
- The Red Beret (1953)
- Hell Below Zero (1954)
- The Black Knight (1954)
- A Prize of Gold (1955)
- The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)
- Safari (1956)
- Odongo (1956)
- Zarak (1956)
- The Gamma People (1956)
- Interpol/Pickup Alley (1957)
- Fire Down Below (1957)
- How to Murder a Rich Uncle (1957)
- High Flight (1957)
- No Time to Die /Tank Force (1958)
- The Man Inside (1958)
- Idol on Parade (1959)
- The Bandit of Zhobe (1959)
- Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959)
- Jazz Boat (1960)
- The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960)
- In the Nick (1960)
- Johnny Nobody (1961)
Projects announced by Warwick but subsequently not made include:
- An Englishman in Las Vegas – a comedy starring Norman Wisdom and Anita Ekberg|* The Rolls Royce Story – a comedy starring Cary Grant|*The Death of Uncle George
- Golden City
- The Naked Lady
- The Long Ships – originally announced for Warwick but later made by Allen in 1964
- Trail of the Badman – a suspense Western with Don Burnett
- It's Always Four O'Clock – script by Irwin Shaw starring Alan Ladd
- The Unloved – written by Celin Morris
- a version of Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
- Broccoli, Albert R., Zec Donald. When the Snow Melts. Boxtree. 1998
- 309 F.2d 51
- Walker, Alexander Hollywood U.K.: The British Film Industry in the Sixties Stein and Day Publishers 1974
- "Special to The New York Times: Studios planning 2 Alan Ladd films; Warwick and Columbia to join in offering 'The Red Beret' and 'The White South'." The New York Times, 15 July 1952, p. 17.
- p.55 Chapman, James Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films Columbia University Press 2001
- Scheur, Philip (13 June 1954). "A Town Called Hollywood". Los Angeles Times.
- p. 129 Harper, Sue and Porter, Vincent British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference Oxford University Press 2003
- "BRITISH. FILMS MADE MOST MONEY: BOX-OFFICE SURVEY". The Manchester Guardian. Manchester (UK). 28 December 1956. p. 3.
- "British War Themes Disappoint". Variety. 8 August 1956. p. 7.
- "Warwick Shrinks Overhead and Sked". Variety. 23 October 1957. p. 4.
- Euan Lloyd Interview Cinema Retro Magazine
- "13 Productions on Schedule of Warwick Films". Los Angeles Times. 12 December 1956. p. C10.
- "Warwick Shrinks Overhead and Sked". Variety. 23 October 1957. p. 4.
- Thomas Pryor (19 February 1957). "DISNEY IS SALUTED BY THE PRESIDENT". The New York Times. p. 35.
- Edwin Schallert (16 September 1957). "Alan Ladd Gets Huge England Deal; Hunting Film Stars Prime Trio". Los Angeles Times. p. C11.
- Stephen, W. (1 December 1957). "Activities on Britain's Varied Film Fronts". The New York Times. p. 165.
- "Joan Littlewood Turns To Films". The Times. London, England. 22 March 1962. p. 16 – via The Times Digital Archive.
- "STEPHEN W. "Noted on the British Movie Scene."". The New York Times. 26 April 1959. p. X7.
- Scheuer, Philip K. (13 June 1954). "A TOWN CALLED HOLLYWOOD: Producers Want English Clear--Even in Oklahoma". Los Angeles Times. p. D4.
- Cinema Retro #1 Euan Lloyd Interview
- "Mr Harold Huth". The Times. London. 28 October 1967. p. 10 – via The Times Digital Archive.
- "James McCarthy, 'Sir Anthony had little to celebrate last week', Pictorial 14 April 1956: 3".
- "STEPHEN W. "Film Activities Along the Thames."". The New York Times. 22 April 1956. p. 115.
- "The Future Programme". Kinematograph Weekly. 31 May 1956. p. 14.
- "This Is the West?". Los Angeles Times. 8 September 1960. p. C9.