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Eagle-Lion Films

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Title: Eagle-Lion Films  
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Eagle-Lion Films

Eagle-Lion Films
Industry Film studio
Fate Merger
Successors Eagle Lion Classics
Founded Sept 1946
Defunct 1950
Key people J. Arthur Rank

Eagle-Lion Films was a British film production company owned by J. Arthur Rank intended to release British productions in the United States.

In 1947 it acquired Robert R. Young's PRC Pictures, a small American production company, to produce B Pictures to accompany the British releases. The studio became one of the most respected makers of B-movies on what was known as Hollywood's "Poverty Row."

Eagle-Lion was also a film distribution company under the name of Eagle-Lion Distributors Limited in the United Kingdom and Eagle-Lion Films Inc. in the United States. The relatively small film lot was located at 7324 Santa Monica Boulevard, and has long since been demolished.

Late history

The company was founded in September 1946.

From 1946-1949 Eagle-Lion was under the control of Arthur Krim who in addition to releasing films by Rank and reissues of David O. Selznick films produced his own B-movies as support. Bryan Foy the former head of the B-picture unit at Warner Bros. was placed in charge of production.[1] Some of the producers working at Eagle-Lion included Aubrey Schenck, Jack Schwarz and briefly, Walter Wanger. Directors included Anthony Mann.

The initial arrangement was that Rank and Eagle-Lion would each produce five films a year. Costs were also initially kept to less than $500,000 per film. Their first year of films were financed with $8 million in loans from the Bank of America which Young personally guaranteed.[2]

The company recorded a loss of $2.2 million in 1947. Arthur Krim later attributed this to them paying too much money for stars who were not worth anything at the box office.[3] This encouraged Eagle Lion to change its mode of production, using more independent producers as a source of product. Bryan Foy resigned as head of production to become an independent producer for the company and Arthur Krim became studio chief. Eagle Lion would help finance the films and offer facilities, although producers would find their own money too. PRC was dissolved in August 1947 and its product was shifted to Eagle Lion.

Along with Foy, other independent producers who worked for Eagle Lion included Edward Small and Walter Wanger. They began making lower budgeted films, enjoying particular success with film noir.

By 1947-48 the studio had accomplished 14 productions. By the spring of 1949, ten were in release, five of which earned a substantial profit - T-Men, Raw Deal, Canon City, He Walked By Night and The Noose Hangs High. Two others broke even and two others showed loses. If the company had completely financed these films it would have made $1.2 million but as it was it made $200,000.[4] However because of its unsuccessful first year, the company still owed money and shut its studio in November 1948.

Eagle Lion released a series of British films, most of which were unsuccessful at the American box office. There were some exceptions, such as The Red Shoes.[5]

Assistant director Reggie Callow felt that the studio would have survived longer had they kept producing low-budget films rather than attempting to compete with the major studios by making higher-budgeted films.[6]

The company suffered increasing financial trouble throughout 1949. Krim resigned in May and the company ceased production at the end of the year. Eagle-Lion merged with Film Classics in 1950 to become Eagle-Lion Classics.

In 1951 Krim was offered the leadership of United Artists to improve their fortunes. In April of that year UA took over distribution of Eagle Lion's current releases; Eagle Lion terminated the releasing pact with Rank and ceased distributing movies. Their studios were sold off.[7]

Eagle-Lion had acquired the film studio of Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) which had acquired the building from Grand National Pictures which ceased operations in 1939. In 1954 Frederick Ziv bought the studio for his Ziv Television Programs.

While the production company was ultimately unsuccessful, Arthur Krim's experience working at it was invaluable in helping re-establish United Artists as an industry powerhouse in the coming decades.[8]

Select Filmography

(* produced by Rank, distributed in US by Eagle Lion)

Notes

  1. ^ p.87 Mirisch, Walter I Thought We Were Making Movies, Not History Univ of Wisconsin Press, 27/02/2008
  2. ^ p. 21 Balio, Tino United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry Univ of Wisconsin Press, 1987
  3. ^ Balio p 24
  4. ^ Balio p 31
  5. ^ Balio p 34
  6. ^ p.63 Callow, Ridgeway & Behlmer, Rudy Shoot the Rehearsal!: Behind the Scenes With Assistant Director Reggie Callow Scarecrow Press, 01/06/2010
  7. ^ Balio p 37
  8. ^ Balio p 38-39

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