The Rank Organisation

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum



Background

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.

Logo (November 22, 1944-November 21, 1997)

Visuals: On a backdrop of draped red curtains, there is a shirtless man (Billy Wells from 1944 to 1957, and Ken Richmond afterwards), hitting a large gong twice with his mallet. As this happens, the screen zooms 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 variant where 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: A (.*) 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 Microgramma 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 Microgramma font.
  • For films shot in scope format, the logo is zoomed out to fit the aspect ratio.
  • 1997: In Lawn Dogs (the last film produced by Rank), the text reads "THE RANK GROUP".
  • A black-and-white variant can be found on B&W films.
  • Sometimes, the text appears early either before or after the first gong.

Technique: Mainly live action, but on the golden age version, the words appear via a "wipe" effect.

Audio: The two "hits" of the gong.

Audio Variants:

  • 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: Seen on releases from the company right up until 1997.

  • When The Rank Organisation's film library was sold to Carlton Television in 1997, Carlton originally deleted the logo from many of its prints and replacing it with the 1999 Carlton International logo as they had a nasty habit of removing/plastering logos. However, after Carlton merged with the Granada Media Group to form ITV plc, this has since become less common with ITV's restoration and remastering of the Rank film archive keeping the logos intact.
    • Films that have not yet been restored by ITV, such as The Naked Truth (1957) and The Plank (1967), still have the 1999 Carlton International logo.
    • The B&W variant of the original version of this logo is also intact at the beginning of a Screenpix print of All Night Long (1962), following the 2012 MGM and 1999 Carlton International logos.
  • 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 also retained on the 1999 VHS and 2000 DVD releases, the 1987 UK VHS release by Video Gems, releases from Rhino Home Video, the 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 release (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 instead but still retains the gong sounds).
  • It is also seen on recent UK DVD releases and TV airings of Weekend At Bernie's (1989), and Strictly Ballroom (1992) all after the 2004 Granada logo (the latter also appears on the U.S Lionsgate Blu-ray release).
  • The 1970s variant can be seen on UK TV prints and the Network DVD release 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.
  • This also appears on British VHS prints of Wes Craven's New Nightmare, preceding the New Line Cinema logo.
  • The German variant was spotted on a 22 May 1982 ARD airing of Fähre nach Hongkong (Ferry to Hong Kong).
  • The original version of this logo also appeared at the start of a November 10, 2022 UK airing of Countess Dracula (1971) on LEGEND, following the 2009 ITV Studios Global Entertainment, the 2001 version of the 1986 MGM and 2001 United Artists logos.

Legacy: This is one of the most famous British logos of all time.

General Film Distributors
The Rank Organisation
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