[104], In May 1969, the most important exploitation movie of the era premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. It's also encouraging filmmakers to shoot digitally—a cheaper process that results in a grittier, teen-friendly look. [182] Schumacher notes that after 1984 deregulation German public television passed its climax and became marginalized. Rausch, Andrew J., with Michael Dequina (2008). Hollywood's A product was getting longer—the top ten box-office releases of 1940 had averaged 112.5 minutes; the average length of 1955's top ten was 123.4. [79] The British Hammer Film Productions made the successful The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), major influences on future horror film style. Anyway, let us look at the definitive film on the history of Michigan, 2020's "Werewolf Island," directed by Michael James Alexander. As the average running time of top-of-the-line films increased, so did that of B pictures. In 1973, American International gave a shot to young director Brian De Palma. The term B actor is sometimes used to refer to a performer who finds work primarily or exclusively in B pictures. (2005). The 1959 creature feature The Tingler featured Castle's most famous gimmick, Percepto: at the film's climax, buzzers attached to select theater seats unexpectedly rattled a few audience members, prompting either appropriate screams or even more appropriate laughter. [116] Its distributor was small Cinemation Industries, then best known for releasing dubbed versions of the Italian Mondo Cane "shockumentaries" and the Swedish skin flick Fanny Hill, as well as for its one in-house production, The Man from O.R.G.Y. Republic was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry, … 118–28; Williams (1996), pp. The micro-budget "quickies" of 1930s fly-by-night Poverty Row production houses may be thought of as Z movies avant la lettre. Best of Rotten Tomatoes. August 27, 2012. carnal-knowledge.jpeg. (1996). 9–11, 90; Denisoff and Romanowski (1991), pp. "[91] In the late 1950s, as more of the old grindhouse theaters devoted themselves specifically to "adult" product, a few filmmakers began making nudies with greater attention to plot. 64–65, 95–100, 105. During the silent era, films music is provided by each individual theater, either by phonograph or as performed live by flesh-and-blood musicians. Celebrated filmmakers such as Anthony Mann and Jonathan Demme learned their craft in B movies. [70] In terms of content, the majors were already there, with films about juvenile delinquency such as Warner Bros.' Untamed Youth (1957) and MGM's High School Confidential (1958), both starring Mamie Van Doren. [123] Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg made serious-minded low-budget horror films whose implications are not so much ideological as psychological and existential: Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979). In no position to directly block book, they mostly sold regional distribution exclusivity to "states rights" firms, which in turn peddled blocks of movies to exhibitors, typically six or more pictures featuring the same star (a relative status on Poverty Row). The transformation of the film industry due to court rulings that brought an end to many long-standing distribution practices as well as the challenge of television led to major changes in U.S. cinema at the exhibition level. "Notes on Film Noir", in Silver and Ursini, Scott, A. O. I very quickly expanded the meaning of the word to include any kind of exploitation or B-movie. [121] Like Romero and Van Peebles, other filmmakers of the era made pictures that combined the gut-level entertainment of exploitation with biting social commentary. By 1935, 85 percent of American motion-picture theatres were programming double features. [33], In 1946, independent producer David O. Selznick brought his bloated-budget spectacle Duel in the Sun to market with heavy nationwide promotion and wide release. See, e.g., Mathijs and Mendik (2008), p. 167; James (2005), pp. Typically, it was low budget and usually in one of either the gangster, exploitation, western, sci-fi, horror, or suspense genres. Superman, released in December 1978, had proved that a studio could spend $55 million on a movie about a children's comic book character and turn a big profit—it was the top box-office hit of 1978. [118], In 1970, a low-budget crime drama shot in 16 mm by first-time American director Barbara Loden won the international critics' prize at the Venice Film Festival. For a detailed consideration of classic B noir, see Lyons (2000). Thompson, Howard (1960). By 1953, the old Monogram brand had disappeared, the company having adopted the identity of its higher-end subsidiary, Allied Artists. [167] As big-budget Hollywood movies further usurped traditional low-rent genres, the ongoing viability of the familiar brand of B movie was in grave doubt. Although there have always been economical means with which to shoot movies, including Super 8 and 16 mm film, as well as video cameras recording onto analog videotape, these media could not rival the image quality of 35 mm film. "Horror Hero of the 90's, Half Man, Half Bomb,". To meet the constant demand for new B product, the low end of Poverty Row turned out a stream of micro-budget movies rarely much more than sixty minutes long; these were known as "quickies" for their tight production schedules—as short as four days.[11]. (1995). [71], In 1954, a young filmmaker named Roger Corman received his first screen credits as writer and associate producer of Allied Artists' Highway Dragnet. The Exorcist had demonstrated the drawing power of big-budget, effects-laden horror. In its current usage, the term has somewhat contradictory connotations: it may signal an opinion that a certain movie is (a) a genre film with minimal artistic ambitions or (b) a lively, energetic film uninhibited by the constraints imposed on more expensive projects and unburdened by the conventions of putatively "serious" independent film. Some actors, such as Bela Lugosi, Eddie Constantine, Bruce Campbell and Pam Grier, worked in B movies for most of their careers. Despite all the transformations in the industry, by 1961 the average production cost of an American feature film was still only $2 million—after adjusting for inflation, less than 10% more than it had been in 1950. [179] Weldon's immediate source for the term was the Chicago cult film The Psychotronic Man (1980), whose title character is a barber who develops the ability to kill using psychic energy. [155] In 2005, the top ten movies at the U.S. box office included three adaptations of children's fantasy novels, one extending and another initiating a series (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, respectively), a child-targeted cartoon (Madagascar), a comic book adaptation (Batman Begins), a sci-fi series installment (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith), a sci-fi remake (War of the Worlds), and a King Kong remake. Auty (2005), p. 34. But the tidal shift in the majors' focus owed largely to the enormous success of three films: Steven Spielberg's creature feature Jaws (1975) and George Lucas's space opera Star Wars (1977) had each, in turn, become the highest-grossing film in motion picture history. TV Shows. But it is generally seen as a B movie: the schedule was still a mere fifteen days, the budget just $200,000 (one tenth the industry average),[85] and its 85-minute running time close to an old thumbnail definition of the B: "Any movie that runs less than 80 minutes."[86]. [134] In the 1970s, original feature-length programming increasingly began to echo the B movie as well. We’ve compiled a great list of films that span American history from the formation of the colonies to the conclusion of the Cold War. In 1927–28, at the end of the silent era, the production cost of an average feature from a major Hollywood studio ranged from $190,000 at Fox to $275,000 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. According to a 2006 report by industry analyst Alfonso Marone, "The average budget for a Hollywood movie is currently around $60 m, rising to $100 m when the cost of marketing for domestic launch (USA only) is factored into the equation. Posted by Joanne in Aug, 2018. So they provide a good starting place for ambitious would-be filmmakers who can't get more conventional projects off the ground. Hoberman, J., and Jonathan Rosenbaum (1983). Prince (2002) gives, Cost per Bruce Campbell, cited in Warren (2001), p. 45. Learn about the development of the first viable motion-picture camera and other technological advances and discover directors and movies that have made key contributions to the film industry. Almost always shorter than the top-billed films they were paired with,[1] many had running times of 70 minutes or less. [154], By 1990, the cost of the average U.S. film had passed $25 million. FACE IT, EARLY FILMS WERE ALL B MOVIES. Although the U.S. production of movies intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continues to be used in its broader sense to this day. In either usage, most B movies represent a particular genre—the Western was a Golden Age B movie staple, while low-budget science-fiction and horror films became more popular in the 1950s. In 1935, B movie production at Warner Bros. was raised from 12 to 50% of studio output. Often referred to as the "King of the Bs", Corman has said that "to my way of thinking, I never made a 'B' movie in my life", as the traditional B movie was dying out when he began making pictures. 197–98; Wyatt (1998), p. 78. Denby, David (1985). [53] RKO, weakened by years of mismanagement, exited the movie industry in 1957.[54]. Finler lists. [65] The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), directed by Bert I. Gordon, is both a monster movie that happens to depict the horrific effects of radiation exposure and "a ferocious cold-war fable [that] spins Korea, the army's obsessive secrecy, and America's post-war growth into one fantastic whole". Eventually they arranged a financing and distribution deal with Columbia, as two more graduates of the Corman/AIP exploitation mill joined the project: Jack Nicholson and cinematographer László Kovács. 100 Best History movies. [72] Among the six films he worked on in 1955, Corman produced and directed the first official ARC release, Apache Woman, and Day the World Ended, half of Arkoff and Nicholson's first twin-bill package. Best of Rotten Tomatoes. Balio (1995), p. 29. Copyright © 2018. www.www.bmoviesproduction.com. In 1956, distributor Joseph E. Levine financed the shooting of new footage with American actor Raymond Burr that was edited into the Japanese sci-fi horror film Godzilla. Unlike their A counterparts, B movies were designed as a … [162] The budget of David Cronenberg's Crash (1996), $10 million, was not comfortably A-grade, but it was hardly B-level either. [141], It had taken a decade and a half, from 1961 to 1976, for the production cost of the average Hollywood feature to double from $2 million to $4 million—a decline if adjusted for inflation. [77] Unpretentious pictures with simple, familiar plots and reliable shock effects were ideally suited for auto-based film viewing, with all its attendant distractions. '"[28], Series films are often unquestioningly consigned to the B movie category, but even here there is ambiguity: at MGM, for example, popular series like the Andy Hardy and the Dr. Kildare–Dr. One of the most influential films of the era, on Bs and beyond, was Paramount's Psycho. Identify influential films in movie history. The video rental market was becoming central to B film economics: Empire's financial model relied on seeing a profit not from theatrical rentals, but only later, at the video store. Tuska, Jon (1974). "[12] Many small theaters never saw a big-studio A film, getting their movies from the states rights concerns that handled almost exclusively Poverty Row product. [151], One of the most successful 1980s B studios was a survivor from the heyday of the exploitation era, Troma Pictures, founded in 1974. [25] One low-budget oater of the era, made totally outside the studio system, profited from an outrageous concept: a Western with an all-midget cast, The Terror of Tiny Town (1938) was such a success in its independent bookings that Columbia picked it up for distribution. Corman directed over fifty feature films through 1990. [16] At Fox, which also shifted half of its production line into B territory, Sol M. Wurtzel was similarly in charge of more than twenty movies a year during the late 1930s.[17]. Like today’s technological inventions, the Greeks had to invent the perfect amphitheater in order for its large-scale audiences, sometimes 1,400 people, to be able to hear the play. The New York Times review concluded: "Suburbia is a good genre film. In the decades since, these cheap entertainments, generally dismissed at the time, have become some of the most treasured products of Hollywood's Golden Age. [152] One of the few successful B studio startups of the decade was Rome-based Empire Pictures, whose first production, Ghoulies, reached theaters in 1985. He prefers to describe his metier as "low-budget exploitation films". "Down-and-Out Youths in 'Suburbia'". Several New World pictures followed, including The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972), both directed by Jack Hill. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified films intended for distribution as the less-publicized bottom half of a double feature (akin to B-sides for recorded music). He also takes a supporting acting role here. [23] Film historian Jon Tuska has argued that "the 'B' product of the Thirties—the Universal films with [Tom] Mix, [Ken] Maynard, and [Buck] Jones, the Columbia features with Buck Jones and Tim McCoy, the RKO George O'Brien series, the Republic Westerns with John Wayne and the Three Mesquiteers ... achieved a uniquely American perfection of the well-made story. Like today’s technological inventions, the Greeks had to invent the perfect amphitheater in order for its large-scale audiences, sometimes 1,400 people, to be able to hear the play. [41] From a latter-day perspective, the most famous of the major studios' Golden Age B units is Val Lewton's horror unit at RKO. From the 1930s through the 1950s, all of the major studios made B movies; a number of other companies existed for the sole purpose of cranking out the cheap films used to supplement Hollywood's top-of-the-line products in double bills. In this transformed commercial context, work like Russ Meyer's gained a new legitimacy. [93] Roger Corman's The Trip (1967) for American International, written by veteran AIP/Corman actor Jack Nicholson, never shows a fully bared, unpainted breast, but flirts with nudity throughout. [35], Considerations beside cost made the line between A and B movies ambiguous. "The Formation of the 'Major Independent': Miramax, New Line, and the New Hollywood", in. [127] One of the first films adopted by the new circuit in 1971 was the three-year-old Night of the Living Dead. Most down-market films of the type—like many of those produced by William Alland at Universal (such as Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)) and Sam Katzman at Columbia (including It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955))—provided little more than thrills, though their special effects could be impressive. [7], Poverty Row studios, from modest outfits like Mascot Pictures, Tiffany Pictures, and Sono Art-World Wide Pictures down to shoestring operations, made exclusively B movies, serials, and other shorts, and also distributed totally independent productions and imported films. 19–21, 45, 72, 160–63. [147] At the beginning of 1983, Corman sold New World; New Horizons, later Concorde–New Horizons, became his primary company. The machine is still in the experimental stage and the effects are a tad unpredictable. The C movie is the grade of motion picture at the low end of the B movie, or—in some taxonomies—simply below it. [64], But these were genres whose fantastic nature could also be used as cover for mordant cultural observations often difficult to make in mainstream movies. In other genres, Universal kept its Ma and Pa Kettle series going through 1957, while Allied Artists stuck with the Bowery Boys until 1958. "[24] At the far end of the industry, Poverty Row's Ajax put out oaters starring Harry Carey, then in his fifties. 3–4. Jewell, Richard B., with Vernon Harbin (1982). In July 1960, the latest Joseph E. Levine sword-and-sandals import, Hercules Unchained, opened at neighborhood theaters in New York. Denisoff, R. Serge, and William D. Romanowski (1991). THE HISTORY OF B-MOVIES The term 'B-movie' was coined in the early 1930s to distinguish the low-budget productions (usually lasting between 50 and 80 minutes) made by the eight major studios from their more expensive 'A-movies'. Schatz (1999), pp. Heffernan (2004), p. 221; Cook (2002), pp. Yes, the user should be allowed to select all "Recent" items in the Movies & TV app we are forced to use. The former playwright had a hand in many famous pictures, including “The Wizard of Oz,” but most went uncredited. Early B movies were often part of series in which the star repeatedly played the same character. See also Shapiro (2002), pp. THE HISTORY OF B-MOVIES The term 'B-movie' was coined in the early 1930s to distinguish the low-budget productions (usually lasting between 50 and 80 minutes) made by the eight major studios from their more expensive 'A-movies'. [44], In one sample year, 1947, RKO produced along with several noir programmers and A pictures, two straight B noirs: Desperate and The Devil Thumbs a Ride. Canby, Vincent (1984). Silver, Alain, and James Ursini, eds. Still, like anything, movies live or die by audience. [175] The rapid expansion of niche cable and satellite outlets such as Sci Fi (with its Sci Fi Pictures) and HBO's genre channels in the 1990s and 2000s has meant a market for contemporary C pictures, many of them "direct to cable" movies—small-budget genre films never released in theaters. From their beginnings to the present day, B movies have provided opportunities both for those coming up in the profession and others whose careers are waning. "[180] The term, popularized beginning in the 1980s with publications of Weldon's such as The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, The Psychotronic Video Guide, and Psychotronic Video magazine, has subsequently been adopted by other critics and fans. [39], In the 1940s, RKO stood out among the industry's Big Five for its focus on B pictures. BY | Michael C. LaBarbera ... A painting by Charles Knight in Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History shows a confrontation between a Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops--a popular subject in movies and illustrations of the days when dinosaurs walked the earth. [32] These were crucial factors in the progressive shift by most of the Big Five over to A-film production, making the smaller studios even more important as B movie suppliers. One of the first leading casualties of the new economic regime was venerable B studio Allied Artists, which declared bankruptcy in April 1979. "[170] Independent filmmakers, whether working in a genre or arthouse mode, continue to find it difficult to gain access to distribution channels, though digital end-to-end methods of distribution offer new opportunities. A History of American B Movies – Part 1 Posted by Joanne in Aug, 2018 While numerous opinions exist as to how a b-movie should be defined, there is all but one technical definition. Body Swap (2019) - 8.5. When Hot Rod Gang (1958) turned a profit, hot rod horror was given a try: Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959). [36] Particularly in the realm of film noir, A pictures sometimes echoed visual styles generally associated with cheaper films. Mathijs, Ernest, and Xavier Mendik,eds. Early B movies were often part of series in which the star repeatedly played the same character. [156] The growing popularity of home video and access to unedited movies on cable and satellite television along with real estate pressures were making survival more difficult for the sort of small or non-chain theaters that were the primary home of independently produced genre films. Haines (2003), p. 49; Landis and Clifford (2002), pp. While the Golden Age-style second feature was dying, B movie was still used to refer to any low-budget genre film featuring relatively unheralded performers (sometimes referred to as B actors). That average reflected both "specials" that might cost as much as $1 million and films made quickly for around $50,000. This time, the answer was spot on. A B movie or B film is a low-budget commercial movie, but not an arthouse film. B-movies are a staple of American cinema. To establish and maintain viewer loyalty these stations broadcast reality shows, sensational journalism, daily soap operas, infotainment programs, talk shows, game shows and soft pornography. [57] In short, low-budget pictures made for her production company, The Filmakers, Lupino explored virtually taboo subjects such as rape in 1950's Outrage and 1953's self-explanatory The Bigamist. Movies with 40 or more critic reviews vie for their place in history at Rotten Tomatoes. [94] The Meyer and Corman lines were drawing closer. The glorious history of movie musicals. [95] Blood Feast (1963), a movie about human dismemberment and culinary preparation made for approximately $24,000 by experienced nudie-maker Herschell Gordon Lewis, established a new, more immediately successful subgenre, the gore or splatter film. 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