Saville, Oscar Deutsch and Michael Balcon were all born within five miles of each other in the Midlands. Oscar Deutsch, the son of a scrap metal merchant was born in Balsall Heath.
Victor Saville's parents were Polish immigrants and his first home overlooked Cannon Hill park. While Michael Balcon was brought up where Spaghetti Junction now stands.
Their careers took off when they started to produce their own movies, with the glamorous silent movie, Woman to Woman, being the pinnacle of their combined achievements.
After their colloboration came to an end (Oscar Deutsch went on to create one of the most famous cinema chains in history - The Odeon), Saville and Balcon went into partnership with Graham Cutts in 1923. They created a new studio called Gainsborough. The young Alfred Hitchcock was one of their early proteges. Through Saville and Balcon, Hitchcock directed his first movie, The Lodger. Balcon and Saville, the production side of the team, parted company in 1926.
From the beginning of sound, Saville was drawn more and more into direction, including the dazzling series of early Jessie Matthews musicals at Gaumont-British, and a variety of comedies, thrillers and musicals for his old partner Balcon at Gainsborough. These films are assured, polished, well-paced entertainments that clearly show Saville's dual skills. In every department - and especially in the overall production design and its use to maximum effect - they compare well with contemporary films from any other part of the world.
The first of Saville's musicals was Sunshine Susie (1931), a British version of the German musical-comedy Die Privatsekretarin, with the tragic Renate Muller (to commit suicide at 30), the star of the original, and jaunty Jack Hulbert. Hulbert was also in Love on Wheels.
Saville's films made a great deal of money at British box-offices and, with a few key figures - Balcon, Basil Dean and Hitchcock among them - he was certainly instrumental in maintaining the buoyancy of the British film industry of the period, nowhere more so than with the Matthews musicals, Friday the Thirteenth, The Good Companions, Evergreen (their best-remembered collaboration), First a Girl and It's Love Again. Saville's hymns to this sexy brunette elf are shimmering, gossamer creations, full of good tunes, well-organized dance routines , high key interiors which gleam with Paramont class, and atmospheric exteriors. He almost succeeded in co-starring her with Astaire in 1934, and it was a dark day for her when he departed to join Korda's London Films in 1937, making thrillers and flavoursome (if now dated) rural dramas such as Storm in a Teacup and South Riding.
At this point , Saville achieved his ambition of becoming a producer with M-G-M at first (The Citadel, Goodbye Mr Chips!) with notable success.
He returned to direction from 1944 in spasmodic fashion: Tonight and Every Night is a fake but enjoyable portrait of Britain's Windmill Theatre in wartime, which surprisingly does more for Janet Blair than Rita Hayworth, and The Green Years is pleasant, tearful fare (from a novel by The Citadel's A.J. Cronin). But Saville's direction showed an increasing lack of assurance in America (although The Long Wait is a grippingly good thriller), and he eventually returned to Britain in the late 1950s.
On his death in 1979, Hitchcock said "He was my last friend and my best friend".
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