Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era: The Poverty Row Studios (1930–50s)

Yannis Tzioumakis

in American Independent Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748618668
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670802 | DOI:
Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era: The Poverty Row Studios (1930–50s)

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The chapter continues the examination of independent filmmaking in the studio era by focusing on 'low-end independent production' that also included ethnic film production. Low-end independent production was practiced mainly by Poverty Row studios, such as Monogram and Republic, and often by extremely thinly capitalised, short-lived companies that produced and distributed a handful of films before squeezed out of the market. Never confused with the top-rank independents and the studio films, low-end independent films tended to be made with few resources and to place emphasis on action, thrills, pace, adventure, stunts and any other exciting element. In this respect, low-end independent films promoted a more accessible and more inclusive American cinema which embraced audiences from the lower strata of society, including immigrants and children), a cinema less bound by established rules, which justifies the term 'independent.' Owing its existence to the introduction of the 'double bill' during the Depression Era that created demand for a large number of feature films, low-end independent production in the studio era was very much determined by the socio-economic conditions of the time.Case studies: Charlie Chan at Monogram; Detour (Ulmer, 1946).

Keywords: Poverty Row studios; Low-end independents; Monogram; Republic; B Film; Double bill; Great Depression; Ethnic filmmaking

Chapter.  13499 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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