moirafinnie wrote:Here's something I've thought about for some time. I know it is apples to oranges in many ways, but could you explain what you like (and dislike) about "B" movies in the studio period?
I like the way they were made with relatively small resources, yet often were chock full of entertainment value. A lot of bang for the buck, so to speak.
I also believe that B-movies and other small-to-moderate sized movies perform an important service. For audiences to be able to appreciate big movies, small ones need to exist. If every movie were an extravagent large-scale drama like Gone With the Wind
, an adventure epic like King Kong
, or a musical extravaganza like Singin' in the Rain
, they would all begin to seem ordinary. It's not that they would all be boring, but the large scales and high production values would come to be taken for granted. It's necessary to see some small movies, so as to not forget how big the big ones truly are.
What makes a "B" movie good in the studio era, aside from a smaller budget?
One of the trademarks and strengths of B-movies was their fast pacing. They wasted as little time as possible, filling as much screen-time with entertainment value as they could.
Which of the major studios (MGM, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Columbia, RKO, Universal) do you think produced the best "B"s?
Warner Brothers. Their B-movie section was a well-oiled machine. Each year, they churned out many snappy, fast-paced B-movies with top-rate casts.
Which of the poverty row studios (Republic, Monogram, PRC, etc.) "B" movies do you think made the most interesting "B" flicks?
Republic, which also made many of the best serials.
If there were Academy Awards for Best "B" Picture, which ones would you like to see honored and why?
I'm not sure. That's a tough question.
I'm fond of a great deal of B-movies, especially in the comedy genre. From film series such Blondie
and Ma and Pa Kettle
, to various solo movies, there are an abundance of great B-comedies. That's not to belittle the other genres, though. There are many great B-mysteries and thrillers (The Whistler
, etc), and well-done B-movies from just about every genre there is. Classic serials such as the Flash Gordon
trilogy, Red Barry
, Secret Agent X-9
, and Spy Smasher
are also in much the same territory as B-movies, as are the many two-reeler comedies featuring such comedians as the Three Stooges.
Although the term "B-movie" eventually came to be used to describe just about any low-budget movie, the type of movie the term was originally applied to began to fade away starting around the 1950s - on movie screens, that is. When television became big, what had been the B-movie section of the movie industry shifted to television, and has stayed there ever since. Now, instead of B-movies, two-reelers, and serials, we have television movies, television series, and mini-series. Much like the B-movies, television productions usually have smaller scales and budgets than their cinematic counterparts. Also similar is that, just as B-movies often starred actors that were given only supporting roles in the A-movies, and a move from the B's to the A's was considered a promotion and came with higher pay, actors who have only moderately succesful (or even unsucessful) movie careers can be stars on television, and a move from television star to movie star remains a promotion to this day. The same principle holds true for other people in the industry, such as directors and composers.