TELEVISION / Briefing: Sinking the buoyancy myth

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The Independent Culture
With movies like The Scarlet Pimpernel, The Private Life of Henry VIII, Things to Come and The Thief of Bagdad, the British film industry of the 1930s and 40s muscled its way into world markets in a way it hadn't before and hasn't since. This was all thanks to one man's vision, and, on the 100th anniversary of Sir Alexander Korda's birth, OMNIBUS (10.20pm BBC1) traces Korda's journey from humble birth in a Hungarian village (his real name was Sandor Kellner) to the first knighthood of the British film industry. Our guide is fellow Hungarian filmmaker Peter Sadsy (seen here with Korda's daughter-in-law, Pamela de Korda), who opens his account by saying 'a Hungarian is a person who goes into a revolving door behind you and comes out ahead'. Ralph Richardson, filmed in 1968, agreed: 'Korda was the nearest thing to a magician that I have come across'. The first half of Sadsy's two-part biography, which concludes next week, follows the legendary producer/director from school in Budapest (Korda:'geniuses don't have to graduate'), early filmmaking in Vienna and Berlin, a short, failed stint in Hollywood ('a Siberian lead mine is the only thing worse') and on to his spiritual home in England. It was here that he formed London Films, with their world-famous Big Ben trademark, only to find Britsih financial institutions didn't share the grandeur of his ambitions.