The Rank Organisation (UK)
The Rank Organisation was founded in 1937 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., while the North American rights are held by either The Criterion Collection or Shout! Factory (previously, North American rights had been held by Embassy Home Entertainment, Paramount Home Video, and Samuel Goldwyn Home Entertainment). The films Rank merely distributed have gone to different owners.
General Film Distributors
(January 1937-May 1955)
Nicknames: "Gongman", "Lumiton's Big Brother"
Logo: On a backdrop of draped curtains, we see a shirtless man (Carl Dane), hitting a large gong thrice with his mallet. As this happens, we zoom up to the gong, and the words "GENERAL FILM DISTRIBUTORS LTD." fade in on the gong, while zooming-in.
FX/SFX: It's live-action.
Music/Sounds: The three “hits” of the gong.
Availability: Very rare.
- However, it is seen on films produced and/or distributed by this company, such as Young and Innocent and Pygmalion, among others.
- This is not known to have appeared on any colour films that Rank distributed before the 1944 Rank logo was introduced, as they usually go straight to the logo's of the production companies (like The Archers or Two Cities).
Editor's Note: The gonging and dark atmosphere may scare some.
The Rank Organisation
(November 22, 1944-November 21, 1997)
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.
- On Hamlet the text reads "A J. ARTHUR RANK ENTERPRISE" instead.
- A German variant of the 1955 rendition exists, reading ''Die Rank Organisation zeigt'' (roughly translating to ''The Rank Organization presents'').
- There is a French variantwhere it reads "THE RANK ORGANIZATION presente".
- A Portuguese version exists where it reads "A Organzação Rank apresenta".
- An Italian variant exists. More of this variant can be read here.
- 1960s: An 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.
- Some 1970s releases used a variant with "RANK FILM DISTRIBUTORS PRESENT" in a Times New Roman font. It appeared on a Rank Video pre-cert VHS/Beta/Laserdisc release of Tarka the Otter.
- 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).
- For films shot in scope format, the logo is zooming out to fit the aspect ratio.
- A black-and-white variant can be found on B&W films.
- Sometimes, the text appears early either before or after the first gong.
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.
- Sometimes, the movie's opening theme plays over the logo without the gong sounds.
Availability: Much more common than the General Film Distributors Ltd. logo.
- When The Rank Organisation's film library was sold to Carlton Television in 1997, Carlton originally deleted the logo from many of 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 logo was not seen at all on Bad Timing, as Rank's management was appalled by the film's gruesome content, with one executive even going as far as to describe it as "a sick film made by sick people for sick people".
- The 1980s distribution variant can be seen on international prints of The Transformers: The Movie and is retained on the 1999 VHS and 2000 DVD from Rhino Home Video, alongside the 2000 UK VHS and DVD releases of the movie from Maverick Entertainment and the 4:3 print featured on the 2007 Metrodome Distribution DVD (Most later prints of the film, like the widescreen, remaster, do not have this, as they use North American prints of the film, which contains the 1986 De Laurentiis Entertainment Group logo but retains 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 2004 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 2004 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. The German variant was spotted on a May 22, 1982 ARD airing of Fähre nach Hongkong (Ferry to Hong Kong).
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.