The Rank Organisation (UK)
The Rank Organisation was founded in 1938 by producer Joseph Arthur Rank as "General Film Distributors". Rank, as a company, still exists today as The Rank Group plc., a hotel, resort, and casino operator. The Rank Group acquired all of The Rank Organisation's shares and company in 1995. The Rank film archive is now owned by ITV Studios Global Entertainment, a subsidiary of ITV plc., with the North American rights are held by either The Criterion Collection or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through The Samuel Goldwyn Company. The films Rank merely distributed have gone to different owners.
General Film Distributors
(January 1937-May 1955)
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Nicknames: "Gong II", "Man Hitting Gong II", "Gongman II", "The New Gongman"
Logo: On a backdrop of draped red curtains, we see a shirtless man, who happens to be Billy Wells, hitting a large gong twice with his mallet. As this happens, we zoom up to the gong, and the words “J. ARTHUR RANK PRESENTS” in a long bold font fade in on the gong.
Variants: The Rank logo has had many renditions over the years. Here are some of them:
- 1944-1955: “J. ARTHUR RANK PRESENTS”. This one has been nicknamed the “golden age version”.
- 1955-1997: “THE J. ARTHUR RANK ORGANISATION presents” or simply “THE RANK ORGANISATION presents”. The words are seen in a stylized font. In 1957, this logo was re-filmed with Ken Richmond now hitting the gong.
- 1960s: A extremely rare still distribution version where there is no gong footage. Instead are the words "Distributed by THE RANK ORGANISATION" on a curtain background.
- 1970-1982: “THE RANK ORGANISATION” is seen in a boxy font.
- 1982-1997: On films distributed by Rank, the words “RANK FILM DISTRIBUTORS present” are seen over the logo in the 1970s logo font. The logo is re-framed to make it appear as if it is now a close-up shot, and the gong man is seen repeatedly striking the gong (the footage is looped here).
FX/SFX: Mainly live action, but on the golden age version, the words appear via a “wipe” effect.
Music/Sounds: The two “hits” of the gong. On other early logos, the gong sounds different. Sometimes, it's silent.
Availability: Much more common than the General Film Distibutors Ltd. logo. The Rank Organisation film library was sold to Carlton Television in 1997. Carlton originally deleted the logo from its prints (seeing as they have a nasty habit of removing/plastering logos), but now it is steadily reappearing on recently remastered TV prints and home video releases. Restoration and remastering of the Rank film archive continues under ITV Studios' ownership. Among the films containing this logo are well known classics such as Henry V, Hamlet, The Red Shoes, Ladykillers, and The Ipcress File. The 1980s distribution variant can be seen on international prints and the Rhino Home Video VHS of Transformers: The Movie (though the recent region 2 DVD release of the film does not have this, at it uses the North American print of the film, which contains the 1986 De Laurentiis Entertainment Group logo with the gong sounds). It is also seen on recent UK DVDs and TV airings of Weekend At Bernie's, and Strictly Ballroom all after the current Granada logo (the latter also appears on the U.S Lionsgate Blu-ray). The 1970s variant can be seen on UK TV prints and the Network DVD of Short Circuit (again, after the Granada logo). This logo also recently turned up on an Australian airing of the 1949 film Eureka Stockade. Also appeared on a U.S. streaming print of Gleaming the Cube on Amazon Prime Video. Though Rank distributed Reservoir Dogs in the UK, this did not appear at all on the film.
Editor's Note: This is one of the most famous British logos of all time, but it is understandable that some may be bothered by the loud gong sounds and/or the dark environment.