German 43: Exiles and Émigrés

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Korda, Alexander

(Pusztatúrpásztó, Hungary 1893–London, 1956)

Born as Sandor Korda. Producer. One of a large group of Hungarian refugees who found work in England in the 1930's, Korda became a major force in the British film industry of the 1930's and continued to influence British films until his death in 1956. He learnt his trade by working in studios in Austria, Germany and America and was a crafty and flamboyant businessman. He founded his London Films production company in 1933 and one of their first films, The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), won an Academy nomination as best picture and won the Best Actor Oscar for its star Charles Laughton. Helped by his brothers Zoltan Korda, a director, and Vincent Korda, an art director, and other expatriate Hungarians, London Films produced some extraordinary films, often in collaboration with Hollywood. In 1942, he helped produce Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be, with Vincent in charge of art direction. Alexander Korda's willingness to experiment and be daring allowed the flowering of talent such as Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and gave early breaks to people such as Laurence Olivier, David Lean and Carol Reed to name but a few. Korda sold his library to television in the 1950's thus allowing his famous logo of Big Ben to be preserved. Sir Alexander Korda was the first British film producer to receive a knighthood. His desk was adorned by a sign, "It's not enough to be Hungarian."

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