Letter: On laughter and forgetting

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The Independent Online
THANK YOU, Robin Buss for 'England's Dreaming' about the early days of Ealing Studios (Review, 25 July).

I would like to add the following. In 1938 my father, Sir Michael Balcon, was 'sacked' by Louis B Mayer. Basil Dean had made a series of the most awful loss-makers at Ealing, and Stephen Courtauld, main shareholder in Associated Talking Pictures, owners of the studios, asked Major Reginald Baker, the managing director, who could become production head. 'Balcon is the only person available,' said Baker. My father had been production head of Gaumont until late 1936. He was approached but insisted on coming to Ealing initially as an independent, with his own team. It was only when war seemed inevitable that he assumed the role of production head. In fact the comedies very much reflect his fight of the small man against bureaucracy.

Jonathan Balcon

Michael Balcon Productions

Seal, Kent

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