Archive: An Oscar of the Silver Screen; Chris Upton Discovers How Birmingham Made Its Mark on Movie Distribution

The Birmingham Post (England), February 22, 2003 | Go to article overview

Archive: An Oscar of the Silver Screen; Chris Upton Discovers How Birmingham Made Its Mark on Movie Distribution


Byline: Chris Upton

Erstwhile home of industry it may be, but Birmingham's contribution to the film industry tends to get overlooked. Handprints in wet cement in this city are generally industrial accidents, and film stars do not, as far as I know, congregate in our version of Hollywood.

But the city that created celluloid in the first place (or at least its precursor called Parkesine) has made its impact on the silver screen in many unexpected ways. Nor do we need to unearth old Cliff Richard movies to reveal it.

A smoky office in Bennetts Hill in 1920. Camera tracks up the stairs and in through a partly opened door. Inside three old school friends, destined to make their mark in cinema on both sides of the Atlantic, are discussing the niceties of film distribution.

Two of the men are explaining their decision to break with the company and put their faith in film making instead. They are Michael Balcon and Victor Saville. The third man is coming to terms with his friends' decision and considering his options. Oscar Deutsch is talented, but his skills are in business and property, not in directing.

Sound fades out. Camera moves back, down the stairs and into another office on the floor below. A man is at his desk, smoking a cigar. Behind him the walls are filled with stills from Hollywood blockbusters. It could be Los Angeles, but, no, it really is Bennetts Hill.

This man is Sol Levy. Birmingham's Jewish population made an enormous impact on early cinema in the city, and none more so than the two men on different floors of this building.

Levy is the older man, already in his early forties. He can tell you about shoemaking in London, retailing in Africa and India, and cinematography. Mr Levy has done it all. But now he is most definitely an impresario, and embarked on creating Birmingham's first chain of cinemas. Already he has built the Scala on Smallbrook Street and taken over the Futurist in John Bright Street, and is planning to extend. He has just got rid of the pianist at the Futurist and replaced him with a full orchestra instead. Tell Mr Levy that he needs to be careful in the current economic climate and he will throw his yarmulka at you. Sol Levy and Oscar Deutsch were not the only the Jewish cinema owners in Birmingham. A contemporary of theirs was Joseph Cohen, whose initials lie behind what would be the Jacey chain of picture houses. Cohen owned up to 50 cinemas in and around Birmingham during his career, and built two of them (the Pavilion picture houses in Wylde Green and Stirchley). During the 1950s Cohen pioneered continental film in the city at the Cinephone in Bristol Street and the Tatler in Station Street, both of which later changed the definition of the word 'continental'. But Joseph Cohen's chief claim to fame was to introduce news clips into the Birmingham cinemas. His two news theatres in High Street and New Street were the precursors for others in Manchester and Bristol. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Archive: An Oscar of the Silver Screen; Chris Upton Discovers How Birmingham Made Its Mark on Movie Distribution
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.