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John Davis:The Man Who Ruined the British Film Industry

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  • John Davis:The Man Who Ruined the British Film Industry

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kf88SgCSrAo


    I came across this earlier this evening and it worth mentioning. Some great archive footage and interviews with lots of former Rank employees with a chip on their shoulder about Mr Davis.

  • #2
    Well be did close down film studios and hundreds of cinemas,so what's to like.He was a feared man and despised.
    Last edited by orpheum; 8th November 2018, 09:51 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by orpheum View Post
      Well be did close down film studios and hundreds of cinemas,so what's to like.He was a feared man and despised.
      Oh, please let's not try to turn him into cinema's Dr. Beeching! Television was the reason for the decline in cinema. Do you think that film studios should have stayed open making films that nobody wanted to see and cinemas should have been kept open when they had lost practically all of their audiences, or do you think, as people on rail forums do re. Beeching, that if there had been no closures those single screen 1500+ seat cinemas would now be heaving with customers?

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      • #4
        John Davis was an accountant and a businessman. The ladt person who should have been given any power in a creative field

        Steve

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        • #5
          Unfortunately, the Rank Organisation had shareholders....!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Steve Crook View Post
            John Davis was an accountant and a businessman. The ladt person who should have been given any power in a creative field

            Steve
            Davis' actions kept Odeon cinemas and Pinewood studios in business, so that , in other hands, they still exist today, whereas the other cinema chains of the time...…….

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            • #7
              Don t agree.many AB C cinemas were renamed Odeon.His only idea was to close cinemas.He was a vandal who basically turned Rank into a photocopying company.



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              • #8
                Originally posted by orpheum View Post
                Don t agree.many AB C cinemas were renamed Odeon.His only idea was to close cinemas.He was a vandal who basically turned Rank into a photocopying company.


                ABC closed almost as many cinemas as Rank, so who was the evil pantomime villain at Golden Square? ABC ceased to exist when Golam and Globus bought them and renamed them Cannon. When after many name and ownership changes the runt of the circuit was sold off in a management buyout, a new ABC was created, this was taken over by a venture capital company who then bought Odeon and quickly decided which was the better brand. Rank's joint venture with Xerox was one of the best investments that they ever made and yielded very good returns but to suggest that The Rank Organisation was photocopying company is absurd. They remained a major player in cinema through the Odeon circuit, Rank Film Distributors and Pinewood studios until these were sold off many many years after Davis had gone and the share of Rank Xerox had been sold back to the Xerox company.

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                • #9
                  I've got some correspondence relating to cancelled Rank project - in a letter to the proposed American script writer, a very senior Rank executive was quite happy to lay all the blame on Davis and say that he had left the producer in tears.

                  So, to me, it looks like Davis was making the hard calls, but had no friends.

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                  • #10
                    He got Rank back from the brink of insolvency and put them on a solid commercial footing, and kept them there for three decades. That's pretty much what you want your chief exec to do. He was an accountant and he was answerable to the shareholders not to the film makers or the film buffs. I doubt if there were many shareholders complaining about getting out of high investment/high risk film production and into the photocopying business

                    Admittedly, if you listen to the talent he seems to have been an unpleasant person, but then again Christopher Lee and Betty Box seemed to be okay with him

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                    • #11
                      Well, he seems to have been between a rock and a hard place. He had to keep the shareholders happy and producers happy, this plus the fact that films were hit and miss with Rank didn't help. It's a pity he had to make all the hard decisions on his own. Kenneth More and his outburst at Davis, was probably something a long time coming, no doubt others felt the same, but not to his face.








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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CliveT View Post
                        Well, he seems to have been between a rock and a hard place. He had to keep the shareholders happy and producers happy, this plus the fact that films were hit and miss with Rank didn't help. It's a pity he had to make all the hard decisions on his own. Kenneth More and his outburst at Davis, was probably something a long time coming, no doubt others felt the same, but not to his face.
                        I know nothing about the Kenneth More situation, what his contract was or commitments that had been made, so I won't comment. I agree with your other points, though, Clive. Whatever else, he kept the lights on at Pinewood and the Carry Ons, the Doctor movies, the Wisdom films, and the other films that established More, and the likes of Dirk Bogarde as stars, were all made under his watch. All of these movies have their admirers around this forum.

                        It doesn't seem a stretch to describe him as 'the man who saved the Rank Organisation.'

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                        • #13
                          Interesting programme.. Lewis Gilbert in his book All My Flashbacks relates how some years after Davis retired he was invited to a private lunch as Davis's office. When he got there he was surprised to find a white haired kindly old gentleman reminiscing about a golden past in place of the man who had terrorised Rank executives for years.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paxton Milk View Post
                            It doesn't seem a stretch to describe him as 'the man who saved the Rank Organisation.'
                            But saved it at what cost?

                            Steve

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                            • #15
                              I quote from J Arthur Rank and The British Film Industry by Geoffrey Mcnab:
                              the tradegy is that,except in all too brief spells,,Rank has shown itself incapable of reinvesting those Xerox millions with much acumen or of managing its own cinema,leisure and industrial operations with much skill.For Ranks decline John Davis must take the blame.
                              Notorious for the way he bossed around Ranks contract film stars.
                              cold blooded manner in which he axed executives.
                              So there you have it.
                              Remember ranks falling ouit with Fox over CinemaScope which led to Fox pulling their films from Rank and giving them to Granada.
                              On a personal note i remember being offered a job in Ranks legal department but turning it done as the pay was too low and the prospects remote.Shortly after Rank terminated their film productions.
                              I have been to the National Archives many times in the past.There are a number of files on Rank.It is quite clear that Davis didnt have a clue as to how to deal with the decline in attendances other than axing.
                              I am not saying that other studios had any great ideas but at least some of them gave it a go.Fox with widescreen and stereo sound,Paramount with Vistavision,Warners with branching out into tv.
                              Davis may have saved Rank in the early fifties but for what?

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