Star Archive

Group 3 (1951 - 1955)

In 1951 the National Film Finance Corporation (NFFC) produced a report that, among its proposals, suggested helping new film makers. New units were to be set up in Rank and Associated British to bring forward new talent, and a third independent unit was to be established: Group 3.

Two well-established talents were enlisted to run the organisation: documentarist John Grierson and producer/director John Baxter. Both had a reputation for bringing on new talent and for developing distinctive bodies of work outside the main studios. They were to produce films on moderate budgets funded by NFFC and Associated British's distribution arm which would also put in some money and handle the films.

During the course of its short history Group 3 produced over twenty films and a loss of nearly half a million pounds. Distribution was the main problem. Getting the films into the cinemas proved difficult. None of the films were obvious hits, even on paper, with the exception of The Conquest of Everest which contained footage of the great climb and which turned a healthy profit.

Behind the distribution problem there was another issue: quality. Many of the films don't stand up to scrutiny. Narrative drive was never John Baxter's strong suit and Grierson was uncomfortable outside the area of documentary. Group 3 was started in a rush and some of the scripts show evidence of this. On top of this there was a big whiff of the old-fashioned about the films just as older audiences were about to abandon the cinema in favour of a night in with the telly.

Another area of criticism was the inability of Group 3 to bring on new talent. New directors needed to be already working in the industry thanks to trade union pressure so Group 3 generally looked to employ people who might well have been on the verge of getting a directing break with one of the main studios.

Looking back on Group 3's achievements there are some minor pleasures. The company made no classics but some of the films are watchable. Despite the problems, the likes of John Guillermain, Lewis Gilbert, Joan Collins and Peter Sellers got early chances with the company.  


1951 Judgment Deferred
1951 Brandy for the Parson
1952 Time Gentlemen Please!
1952 You're Only Young Twice
1952 The Brave Don't Cry
1952 Miss Robin Hood
1952 The Oracle
1952 Laxdale Hall
1952 Child's Play
1953 The Nutcracker
1953 Man of Africa
1953 Background
1953 The Conquest of Everest
1953 The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp
1954 Devils on Horseback
1954 Conflict of Wings
1954 The End of the Road
1954 Orders are Orders
1954 Make Me an Offer
1954 Doublecross
1954 The Love Match
1954 The Blue Peter
1955 John and Julie
1955 Tensing's Country
1955 The Challenge of the North

Group 3 Productions on Amazon UK