Rank Organisation

From Academic Kids

Missing image
Rank Organisation logo (~1990)

The Rank Organisation, a British entertainment company formed in 1937 and absorbed in 1996 by The Rank Group Plc.



The Rank Organisation was created by J. Arthur Rank in 1937 to consolidate all of his interests in the film industry. A history of these interests prior to 1937 is found under the entry for J. Arthur Rank.


From its inception in 1937 the Rank Organisation became a major force in British film making, distribution and exhibition. Its trade mark was characterised by its corporate logo of the Gongman and it acquired these properties: 1938: ODEON cinema chain. It had been named after its founder's own ambition: Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation. 1939: Amalgamated Studios in Elstree. 1941: Gaumont-British Picture Corporation who owned 251 cinemas and the Shepherd's Bush Studios. Sold in 1949 to BBC Television. 1942: Paramount cinema chain.


Eventually the Rank Organisation owned five major film studios which included both Pinewood Film Studios and Denham Film Studios and 650 cinemas. Independent Producers Ltd, employed some of Britain's greatest directors, such as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (Black Narcissus, The Red Shoes, I Know Where I'm Going!), David Lean (Brief Encounter, Great Expectations), Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat (I See A Dark Stranger, The Happiest Days of Your Life), Ken Annakin (Holiday Camp) and Muriel Box (The Seventh Veil).

1945: The Company of Youth, the Rank Organisation acting school often referred to as The Charm School, launched several careers including those of Diana Dors and Christopher Lee. Although she was not a member of the school, Petula Clark was under contract to Rank for a period of time and starred in a number of films released by the studio, including London Town, one of the costliest flops in British film history.

1959 to 1969, the company made over 500 weekly short cinema films in the Look at Life series, each film depicting an area of British life.

1966 to 1978, the Rank Organization took over production and distribution of the Carry On films, after Anglo-Amalgamated announced after the death of Nat Cohen, they did not want any more Carry Ons produced under them.


1949: A financial crisis forced the Rank Organisation to sell its studios in Islington and Shepherd's Bush. Beginning that same year, the company bought the Bush radio manufacturing facility and began to diversify its interests. In the 1960s Rank took over the radio manufacturer Murphy to form the Rank Bush Murphy Group, which was eventually sold to Great Universal Stores in 1978.

1952: J. Arthur Rank stepped down as CEO of the Rank Organisation, but remained as Chairman until 1962. Under the management of John Davis (1906-1993), the Rank Organisation moved its production exclusively to Pinewood Studios and closed Independent Producers Ltd. 1956 Partnership with the Haloid Corporation to form Rank Xerox.


The Rank Organisation ceased film production in 1980. In October 1996 The Rank Group Plc became a holding company owning all the outstanding shares of The Rank Organisation.

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