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Friday, August 23, 2013

Another UK Worthy Broken On US Shoals


Michael Redgrave in The Browning Version (1951)

I can't imagine a higher pedigree of British drama, nor one less likely to fetch US coin. Universal-International distributed Browning here, part of ongoing link with Uni partner and major stockholder J. Arthur Rank, who tied up with the firm mainly to get better distribution for his Brit pics on our shores. Trouble was habitual resistance on part of both showmen and even U-I sales staff, the latter's push on Abbott and Costello or Audie Murphy reluctantly shared with heavy fare off Rank shelves (and "rank" was a word some indelicately applied to much of this unwanted merchandise). U-I had earlier maintained a special "Prestige" unit to handle Rank releases, the idea being to target art houses, but thanks to sluggish result there, and Rank's pressure for a wider reach, they'd be sold right alongside U-I's own output, thus potential for double featuring The Browning Version with whatever sword-and-sashing Tony Curtis was up to. Outcome was as expected: The Browning Version earned rentals of $98,627 for Universal from a mere 460 bookings, this according to data in Sarah Street's fine survey of British films in the US, Transatlantic Crossings. The Browning Version is presently handled by Criterion and shows up in HD on Hulu Plus.

2 Comments:

Blogger iarla said...

I watched it a couple of months ago. Redgraves performance is devastating and survives the film in spite of itself. Audiences at the time must have winced in pain. The few , that is , that crossed the road to see it. Anthony Hopkins, or say, Daniel Day Lewis in the same role could not have immersed themselves so wholly. I'd love to see a post on "Forever Amber".

4:50 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I prefer Albert Finney's take on the role in the remake.

6:15 AM  

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