hooray for jollywood
Lively films kept Northern audiences entertained
An important new book release has recently become available which should be of special interest to George Formby fans everywhere. "Hooray for Jollywood " is the aptly named title of a splendid work by Philip and David Williams, cataloguing the life and works of legendary Northern film producer John E. Blakeley and his company, Mancunian Films. The book scores on many levels, from a 'film buff' point of view it is indispensable as it chronicles the films of Blakeley in great detail supply fascinating anecdotes and storylines of all the major players within the Mancunian family as well as supplying comprehensive facts and figures of all the releases from this sadly almost forgotten studio. For any student of Northern humour in the 30's, 40's and early 50's the book is a treat, Frank Randle, Harry Korris, Dan Young, Josef Locke, George Formby, Norman Evans, Jimmy James, Nat Jackley and many other great Northern names were associated with John E. and the book includes interesting notes on all these and many more. Although George Formby made only two films for Blakeley, they were very important in the rise of Mancunian Films, the front cover of the book features a rarely seen photo of George and John E. Blakeley on the set of "Boots Boots". The book is well illustrated throughout, with scenes from many of the films, publicity posters, and actors and technicians. John E. Blakeley virtually retired around 1952 and died in February 1958 but the story doesn't end there and the authors bring us right up to date with how the company and the Blakeley family continued into present day. This book is a 'must-have' for anybody interested in the subject matter contained here. I cannot think of any other work which so comprehensively tells us about this much-missed man and the films he made. The book is published by History on your Doorstep ISBN 0 9518012 4 4 and is priced at £14.99. You can however, purchase direct from the authors for the reduced price (including postage) of £12.99 Hooray for Jollywood - paperback, A5 size with 198 pages including photos etc The ISBN number is 0 9518012 4 4 and it is priced at £14.99. Should be able to order it through most bookshops. However, we can offer GFS members the chance to obtain copies at a special reduced price. If ordered direct from the us members will pay only £12.99 per copy inclusive of postage. Cheques payable to P.M. Williams Philip Martin Williams & David L. Williams 15 Welbeck House Brook Street East Ashton-under-Lyne Lancs OL6 (contact: David on 0161 343 3928 or e-mail historyonyourdoorstep@btinternet.com)
PUBLISHERS NOTES: John E. Blakeley, the man behind The Mancunian Film Corporation, was a rare breed in the annals of British film history for all the films he made were produced solely for northern audiences. Indeed, it's probably fair to say that they were despised in the south of the country. Through necessity, his films were initially shot in London, although they were planned and conceived in his home city of Manchester. Made on a shoestring budget and usually bereft of a storyline his stock company of popular northern music hall eccentrics made them extremely popular with the working classes. His stars included George Formby, Nat Jackley, Norman Evans, Duggie Wakefield, Jewel & Warriss, and of course the inimitable Frank Randle. In 1947 at a time when the film industry was virtually on its knees, Blakeley did the unthinkable and opened his own studio in Manchester. At a cost of £70,000, Film Studios (Manchester) was equipped and housed in an old Wesleyan Church, on Dickenson Road, Rusholme. Known locally as the 'Fun Factory' or 'Jollywood' the studio carried on turning out the popular comedies. This book tells the story of John E. Blakeley his lifetime in the film industry and of a devoted family man. It also looks behind the scenes of film making both in London and Manchester. Many stories are told of the stars that worked at 'Jollywood' and many are featured in this book.
See our page on John E Blakeley