B MoviesTHE ECONOMICS OF B MOVIES
Bs AT THE MAJORS
THE Bs OF POVERTY ROW
THE AETHESTICS OF B MOVIES
DECLINE OF THE Bs
The term "B movie" is still frequently used to describe any low-budget film. At the same time, it is an appellation saddled with negative connotations, and for many people, the "B" in "B movie" stands for "bad." But not every low-budget movie is a B movie, and most B movies were not that bad. B movies were, in fact, a fairly short-lived phenomenon, a product of the studio era that disappeared during the 1950s. 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. Unlike their A counterparts, B movies were designed as a disposable product. They were the excelsior of the bill, filler used to pad out a program and create a perception of value to ticket buyers. Even if they did not win awards or receive critical plaudits, the majority of B movies were still capable of providing an hour's worth of diversion. Some rose above their throwaway status to become box-office hits or recognized classics. Meanwhile, the B movies served as an important training ground for actors, directors, writers, and technicians in the years before television, and later film schools, filled that role.
It took some time for the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression to have an effect on the motion picture business in the United States, but when the economic tailspin hit, it hit hard. Between 1930 and 1933 attendance dropped by almost one-third, forcing exhibitors to scramble to hang onto as many ticket buyers as possible. Price cuts and gimmicks like "dish night" created a sense of value and brought some moviegoers back to the box office. Theaters in parsimonious New England began offering moviegoers two movies for the price of one—double features. The practice proved popular and spread across the country. While most first-run theaters, largely controlled by the major studios, continued to show just a single feature, the majority of US theaters were subsequent-run houses. Audiences at second run theaters in big cities, at neighborhood theaters, and in small towns came to expect a full program of entertainment—cartoons, shorts, newsreels, and two full features. This expectation left exhibitors in a difficult position. Running two top-flight films was not only time consuming, as the features tended to run 90 minutes or more, it was costly. "A movies" were rented to exhibitors on a percentage basis with the favorable terms going to the distributor, which would take 60, 70, or 80 percent of the box office, leaving the exhibitor with the short-end money. Theaters turned to low-budget films from so-called Poverty Row companies that rented their films for a modest flat fee.
Initially, many bookers looked to low-end outfits like Chesterfield, Invincible, Mascot, and Tiffany to fill out the lower half, or "B position," on a double bill. Low-budget films and the companies that made them had a minor niche in Hollywood, usually servicing small-town theaters and marginal venues in larger cities, which could not afford to compete for films made by the majors. Exhibitors in some rural areas found that their audiences preferred the straightforward plots and black-and-white morality of low-budget films over the slick sophistication of movies made by Paramount and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). But continued demand for double features eventually led all the majors to produce B movies. Most created specialized units for the task, such as the one headed by Brian Foy (1896–1977) at Warner Bros. in the 1930s or the Pine-Thomas unit at Paramount in the 1940s. B units also permitted the majors to keep their workforce active, and even though the profits from the flat rental of Bs were small, they were consistent and reliable. The film historian and archivist Brian Taves has developed a taxonomy of B movies that includes: major-studio programmers, major studio Bs, smaller company Bs, and Poverty Row quickies. Given such a wide range of B product, it is impossible to characterize B movies without considering who was making them.
Programmers were made by the majors, and as their name indicates, they could fit in either the A or the B slot on a program, depending on the needs of the individual theater. For instance, MGM programmers such as the Hardy Family series, with Mickey Rooney (b. 1920), and the Dr. Kildare series maintained the gloss that characterized MGM's "A" product. During the 1930s, budgets for major studio programmers could range from $100,000 to $500,000, at a time when A films could run from a conservative $200,000 up to $1 million, depending on the studio. It was not uncommon for programmers to develop from A features. MGM's Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), starring Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, featured opulent production values and was a considerable hit for the studio, and the film's sequel, Tarzan and His Mate (1934), was, if anything, even more elaborate. But after the first two outings, the series moved down to programmer status. For instance, Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939) had a ninety-minute running time, allowing it to serve as either the top or bottom half of a double bill. MGM made its last entry in the series, Tarzan's New York Adventure, in 1942, at which point producer Sol Lesser (1890–1980) brought Cheetah the chimp and Weissmuller to RKO Studios. At RKO the series trundled along as a major studio B. Most of the Tarzan movies at RKO clocked in at less than eighty minutes and became increasingly predictable. After Weissmuller left the series in 1948, the series continued on, with Lex Barker and Gordon Scott essaying the role until 1955, the year Howard Hughes (1905–1976) sold the studio to General Tire and Rubber. A similar pattern is evident in the history of the Charlie Chan films, which began at Twentieth Century Fox, and later shifted to Monogram.
Programmers and major studio Bs reaped the technical benefits of being made at MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, and RKO (often referred to as the Big Five). They were accorded some time and care in their production, with shooting schedules as long as three weeks, and budgets of up to several hundred thousand dollars. They were also able to make use of elaborate standing sets and to call on reliable actors. For instance, Glenda Farrell (1904–1971) and Barton McLane (1902–1969) were familiar faces in character roles in Warner's A films for many years. The two were paired and elevated to the lead roles for seven of the nine movies in the Torchy Blane series of Bs at Warners, starting with Smart Blonde in 1936.
Needless to say, the majors produced some of the very best B movies. Because the financial stakes were minimal, B producers were often given more latitude and had to endure less scrutiny than their counterparts making A movies across the lot. In 1942 RKO hired story editor Val Lewton (1904–1951), formerly with Selznick, to produce a series of low-budget horror films. The resulting movies are widely considered among the best B movies ever made. Stuck with lurid pre-sold titles like Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1942), and The Leopard Man (1943), and with budgets of less than $150,000, Lewton and his staff set about crafting small, literate gems, filled with an atmosphere of dread. Beneath the penny-dreadful titles lurked stories of sexual anxiety, family dysfunction, and urban paranoia. Cat People, about a young woman who fears she will turn into a beast when she is sexually aroused, became a surprise hit for RKO. Both Cat People and The Seventh Victim (1943) contain a strong lesbian subtext that slipped by studio executives, as well as the Hays Office, which enforced the production code, Hollywood's system of content regulation. The Seventh Victim finds a young woman (Kim Hunter) searching Greenwich Village for her missing sister, who has become entwined with a satanic cult. The film presents a bleak view of urban life, and offers suicide as a reasonable alternative to an unhappy existence. It remains a remarkably sophisticated work among the light entertainment and jingoistic films produced during World War II. Most of Lewton's films were re-released—a rather unusual occurrence for B movies.
If B movie production was important to the Big Five, it was critical for the little majors, Universal and Columbia. Both studios produced A films, but it was B westerns and B series films that were their bread and butter. Universal produced dozens of B westerns, and the horror films that gave the studio its identity in the early 1930s were relegated in the 1940s to B budgets and second-rate stars: The Mad Ghoul (1943) with George Zucco (1886–1960); Son of Dracula (1943) with Lon Chaney Jr. (1906–1973); and House of Horrors (1945) with Martin Kosleck (1904–1994). Universal also had its share of series pictures. The Sherlock Holmes films, starring Basil Rathbone (1892–1967) and Nigel Bruce (1895–1953) as Holmes and Watson, are standouts. B movies made up nearly 70 percent of Columbia's output in the late 1930s; the studio favored series pictures such as The Lone Wolf, The Crime Doctor, Blondie, Boston Blackie, and Jungle Jim, which starred a post-Tarzan Weissmuller. Collectively, those series accounted for more than eighty features. As with the Bs made at the Big Five studios, Bs at Universal and Columbia were occasionally capable of exceeding their limitations. Columbia's The Face Behind the Mask (1941), directed by Robert Florey (1900–1979), starred Peter Lorre (1904–1964) as Janos, a Hungarian immigrant who is horribly disfigured in a hotel fire. He slips into a life of crime, leading a gang in a series of daring robberies. When a blind girl falls in love with him, he vows to leave his criminal life, but his vindictive partners kill the girl in an explosion meant for him. Janos lures the thugs to the desert, where they all die from exposure. Florey's film presents the tragic flip side of the American dream, and Lorre gives a strong performance as a gentle man who is embittered by a stroke of misfortune.
Smaller company Bs were dominated by three companies with a significant output during the 1930s and 1940s: Monogram, Republic, and Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Although a number of low-end studios existed at the end of the silent era, the transition to sound, coupled with the Great Depression, caused most of them to fall by the wayside. In 1929 W. Ray Johnston and Trem Carr transformed their Rayart Pictures into Monogram, with a production studio and a nationwide distribution system. Monogram successfully capitalized on the double feature trend by making cheap and efficient B movies, and by 1933 the company had produced a well-received version of Oliver Twist, which was followed by respectable versions of other classics such as Jane Eyre (1934). Monogram's appearance of success was belied by the fact that it had built up significant debt. In 1935 Consolidated Film Laboratory, one of Monogram's creditors, took over the company. Johnston and Carr formed a new Monogram in 1937, building a new distribution network from the ground up. In addition to westerns featuring Buck Jones (1889–1942), Ken Maynard (1895–1973), and others, Monogram cranked out dozens of Charlie Chan mysteries (having picked up the series from Fox), as well as East Side Kids and Bowery Boys films. Movies based on comic strips and a series of horror films with Bela Lugosi (1882–1956), along with melodramas (Black Market Babies, 1945), jungle films (Call of the Jungle, 1944), and the occasional musical were also part of the Monogram mix. Monogram had the capacity to make amiable films, but much of its output was lethargic, even with trim, one-hour running times.
Herbert J. Yates (1880–1966), owner of Consolidated Film Laboratory, formed Republic Pictures in 1935 when he took over several small producers, including the original Monogram. Despite its concentration on low-budget films, Republic was noted for its relatively slick production values for a B studio. There were probably more westerns made than any other B genre, and Republic produced the majority of them. Most of their films feature fine cinematography and action-filled story lines. The company boasted a much-admired special effects unit and the best stable of stunt performers in the business, led by Yakima Canutt (1896–1986). The major points of differentiation in the B western were the name of the cowboy star, whether or not he sang, and the color of his horse. Given those limitations, Republic's films were formulaic. Despite their interchangeability, the movies were exciting for juvenile audiences and diverting for some adults as well. Republic stars Gene Autry (1907–1998) and Roy Rogers (1911–1998) were among the leading western stars of the day, and Autry ranked among Hollywood's top ten moneymakers for several years.
Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC) was founded by a former film exchange manager, Ben Judell, in 1939. PRC's first release was the timely Beasts of Berlin (1939), one of the first dramatic films to deal with Hitler's Germany. PRC profited even more when it later reissued the film to capitalize on the stardom of its male second lead, Alan Ladd (1913–1964). The company produced westerns, mysteries, horror films, and even some musicals and costume films. Sam Newfield (1899–1964) directed so many films for PRC—more than fifty over the course of seven years—that he used several pseudonyms in addition to his own name. Films made by Monogram, Republic, and PRC were made in only a week or two, usually for less than $100,000—sometimes considerably less.
Finally, there were those ragtag companies that existed on the fringes of the motion picture industry making Poverty Row quickies. If films from Monogram and PRC often looked threadbare, Poverty Row quickies were the bottom of the barrel. Generally made for under $25,000 and in less than a week, movies made by companies like Empire, Peerless, Puritan, and Victory were poorly shot and often verged on incoherence.
Whether they were programmers, studio Bs, small company Bs, or Poverty Row quickies, the Bs provided a training ground for many. Leigh Brackett (1915–1978) and Carl Foreman (1914–1984) were among the screenwriters who wrote for formula pictures before going on to craft screenplays for The Big Sleep (1946), High Noon (1952), and other classics. Directors such as Edward Dmytryk, Robert Wise, Anthony Mann, and Fred Zinnemann cut their teeth on Bs before graduating to Hollywood's A-list. Young performers who honed their craft in B movies and emerged as major stars include Humphrey Bogart, Rita Hayworth, John Wayne, Anthony Quinn, Ava Gardner, Jane Wyman, and Susan Hayward, to name just a few. B movies also provided a haven for actors who no longer commanded the public's fancy. Once-popular performers such as Neil Hamilton, Clara Kimball Young, Harry Langdon, Kay Francis, and Erich von Stroheim found themselves toiling in B movies long after their popularity had faded.
While most in the movie business may have aspired to work on A films, many specialized in Bs. Some directors, such as Robert Florey, Joseph H. Lewis, Joseph Kane, Phil Karlson, Arthur Lubin, Edgar G. Ulmer, and William Witney could be counted on to turn out minimally competent—and at times quite extraordinary—work on a budget. Others like William ("One Shot") Beaudine, Reginald Le Borg, Sam Newfield, Phil Rosen, and Jean Yarbrough were undeniably prolific but more workmanlike—if not downright uninspired. Producers like Sam Katzman made a career in Bs, starting by opening a short-lived outfit called Victory Pictures, and later churning out movies for Monogram and Columbia. A number of stars established and maintained their fame in the Bs, including cowboy stars like Tim McCoy, Bob Steele, Charles Starrett, Johnny Mack Brown, Allan "Rocky" Lane, Bill Elliott, and Lash LaRue, not to mention their sidekicks such as George "Gabby" Hayes, Al "Fuzzy" St. John, and Smiley Burnette.
Just as the budgets of B movies covered a wide spectrum, the look and feel of the Bs ran the gamut from the sophisticated to the incompetent. Programmers, and even some Bs made by the majors, could come close to the quality of A films, the only obvious difference being shorter running times. But a B running time could affect the final product. For instance, in Warner Bros.'s Smart Blonde, noted above, the studio attempted to fit a complex mystery into a fifty-nine-minute slot. Wise-cracking reporter Torchy Blane and her police detective boyfriend Steve McBride attempt to solve the murder of the man set to buy the holdings of nightclub owner Fitz Mularkay. A dizzying array of characters with barely sketched motivations are tossed into the trim film, producing so much confusion that in the final scene Torchy and Steve must give an accounting of the characters, their relationships and motives, and the reasoning they used to solve the case. Even with the elaborate explanation, the plot remains maddeningly obscure. With smaller company
EDGAR G. ULMER
b. Olmütz, Austria-Hungary, 17 September 1904, d. 30 September 1972
Few names are as closely associated with the B movie as Edgar G. Ulmer. After studying architecture and working in the theater and cinema in Europe (notably for F. W. Murnau), Ulmer settled in the United States. He directed films in a variety of low-budget forms, including exploitation movies (Damaged Lives, 1933), Yiddish films (Green Fields, 1933), and dozens of Bs.
One of Ulmer's earliest efforts, The Black Cat (1934), is considered one of his best. Although the movie boasted Universal's first teaming of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, it was made quickly, on a B budget. Ulmer gave the bizarre tale of vengeance and necrophilia a sleek modern look that suggested spiritual corruption. He pulled a sympathetic performance from Lugosi and made Karloff, as a devil-worshipping architect, a genuinely malevolent figure. The Black Cat still ranks as an early horror classic.
In 1942 Ulmer began a four-year association with PRC, where he directed Girls in Chains (1942), one of the first women-in-prison films, and Strange Illusion (1945), a low-budget take on Hamlet. Bluebeard (1944) starred John Carradine as a puppeteer and painter in mid-nineteenth century Paris who is driven to strangle women who remind him of the model who helped him achieve his artistic breakthrough. An elaborate costume production, especially by PRC standards, the film featured one of Carradine's most subtle performances and Ulmer's typically baroque visual touches. Detour (1945) is doubtless Ulmer's most enduring production. The fatalistic story of a hapless hitchhiker (Tom Neal) mixed up with murder and a femme fatale (Ann Savage), it ranks as the darkest noir film of the 1940s. Savage's Vera is one of the nastiest creatures ever captured on film, and the whiney Neal seems to wear the weight of the world on his shoulders. His confessional voice-over is filled with metaphysical emptiness. Ulmer excels in capturing the lonely world of roadside diners, cheap motels, and dark streets, which often verge on abstraction. Similar qualities are at work in his 1954 western, The Naked Dawn.
While at PRC, Ulmer also made gangster films (Tomorrow We Live, 1942), musicals (Jive Junction, 1943), and costume films (The Wife of Monte Cristo, 1946). Later Bs for other companies include Ruthless (1948), often referred to as a poor man's Citizen Kane, and The Man from Planet X (1951), both of which were invested with a fine sense of atmosphere.
Ulmer finally achieved some critical attention from auteurist critics during the 1960s and 1970s. Although some individuals made better Bs or more of them, Ulmer is still remembered as one who was able to occasionally rise above the time and budget restrictions of the form to make stylish and thematically compelling films.
The Black Cat (1934), Bluebeard (1944), Strange Illusion (1945), Detour (1945), Ruthless (1948), The Man from Planet X (1951), The Naked Dawn (1955)
Bogdanovich, Peter. "Edgar G. Ulmer." In Kings of the Bs: Working within the Hollywood System, edited by Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn, 377–409. New York: Dutton, 1975.
Bs and Poverty Row quickies, the impact of a low budget and a fast shooting schedule was much more obvious.
Lower budgets meant that exposition tended to be handled in a more overt, at times ham-fisted, manner than in A films, in which it could be delivered more subtly over a longer running time through character behavior. Dialogue was the most expedient way to transmit crucial plot information. In PRC's The Devil Bat (1941), the vengeful mad scientist Bela Lugosi greets the jumbo creation of the title by telling it, "Ahhh, my friend, our teeory ov glandular stimooolation through electrical impulses vas correct! A few days ago you were as small as your companion. And now, look at you!" He reveals his plan to murder the employers who have cheated him by having them wear a bat-baiting shaving lotion he has concocted. He tells the bat, "You hate diss strange oriental fragrance even vile you sleep, just as you did before I made you big and strong. Now if you detect de fragrance in de night when you're fully avake, you vill strike! Yes, you vill strike and kill!" The overwrought dialogue is not, of course, meant for the bat but for the audience, as the film awkwardly establishes its story line. Exposition could also be transmitted overtly in the form of swirling newspaper headlines, radio news broadcasts, and character voice-over. All three techniques are utilized in The Devil Bat, which plays out as a series of repetitive attacks, interspersed with investigation scenes with a big-city newspaper reporter and his photographer, who provides comic relief.
The plots of B movies were generally as thin as the film on which they were shot. As a result, many films required padding of various kinds to bulk them up to feature length. For instance, Arizona Badman, a 1935 B western, clocks in at just under an hour. It uses a song sung at a campfire and footage of cattle meandering over the hills to pad its running time, and more than a third of the film's first sixteen minutes are devoted to interminable scenes of townsfolk hoofing at a square dance. Other cost-saving measures were employed in B movie production to save both time and money, most of which are evident on the screen: day-for-night shooting (day-light shooting employing filters and/or underexposing the film to simulate nighttime), liberal doses of stock shots and repeated shots (e.g., the Devil Bat flying out of its lair to attack), and the use of rear-screen projection in place of location work. Shooting techniques always attempted to maximize efficiency. For example, rather than shooting dialogue as a series of complex shot/reverse shot combinations (shooting over the shoulder of one actor, then the other), which requires multiple set-ups, relighting, and time in the editing room to assemble the footage, B directors would cut corners. Dialogue scenes were often filmed by framing all of the actors together facing each other, but turned slightly toward the camera. The conversation unfolds in a single, extended shot—effectively eliminating the time necessary for additional set-ups and the editing needed to achieve shot/reverse shot combinations. Moving camera shots were usually kept to a minimum because of the expense and time needed to mount them. As a result of these factors, the majority of B movies have a relatively static quality.
That static quality carried over to acting. Because of the brief shooting schedules and desire to avoid retakes, performances in B movies often appear hesitant and wooden when compared to the smoother, more naturalistic performances in A films. Fight scenes in Bs were often poorly choreographed, with pulled punches obvious and falls leaden. While Bs occasionally employed imaginative camerawork and staging (e.g., the opening dream sequence in Fear in the Night, 1947), B movies can best be described as displaying classical Hollywood style in its most stripped-down, unembellished form.
The rationing of raw materials during World War II led to an overall cutback in film production. The majors reduced their output of B movies to concentrate on fewer and better A productions, a trend that continued after the war. The Supreme Court's Paramount Decision in 1948 led to further cutbacks and consolidation. With every movie expected to stand on its own merits with bookers and buyers, there was little impulse on the part of exhibitors to book movies that were obvious cheapies.
In 1946 Monogram formed Allied Artists to produce higher-budget pictures, while it continued to churn out B movies. The corporate name was officially changed to Allied Artists in 1953, and the company signed high-profile directors such as Billy Wilder (1906–2002) and John Huston (1906–1987) to make more expensive films. PRC was bought out by Eagle-Lion, a British distribution company, in 1947. Eagle-Lion made a series of taut B-level thrillers that were a cut above PRC's earlier productions, including Anthony Mann's T-Men (1947) and Raw Deal (1948) and the noirish fantasy Repeat Performance (1947). In 1950 Eagle-Lion merged with Film Classics, only to be absorbed by United Artists the next year. At Republic, Yates experimented with A productions, but faced steadily declining profits throughout the 1950s—in no small measure because of his efforts to prop up the acting career of his wife, Vera Hruba Ralston (1921–2003). Republic closed shop in 1959.
The spirit of B movie production lived on in two realms. The first was the series of teen-oriented exploitation pictures made by newcomers like American International Pictures (AIP). They were quick, cheap, and made on budgets of less than $100,000. AIP packaged the films as double bills (Sorority Girl teamed with Motorcycle Gang, both 1957; She Gods of Shark Reef paired with Night of the Blood Beast, both 1958), for product-hungry neighborhood theaters and drive-ins around the country.
It was, however, the growing television industry that subsumed much of B movie production in the early 1950s. Like their radio counterparts, the young television networks concentrated on live shows. Filmed programs were used as a last resort, but some of their advantages became obvious fairly quickly. "Telefilms" could be rerun ad nauseam, and it was far easier to stage action sequences in a filmed program than with a live show. Several B western stalwarts made the successful, and profitable, transition to television. William Boyd (1895–1972), who was savvy enough to buy the rights to his old Hopalong Cassidy movies and the Hoppy character, brought them to television, and made new episodes as well. Roy Rogers starred in The Roy Rogers Show from 1951 to 1957 to the delight of a new generation of fans. Others who had made a living in Bs made the move to the new medium. For instance, Roland D. Reed (1894–1972), who edited and directed B movies for Chesterfield-Invincible, formed Roland Reed Productions in 1950 to produce TV commercials. The firm soon began producing programs as well, making a number of successful early telefilm series such as My Little Margie and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger. Jack Chertok (1906–1995), who produced Bs such as Eyes in the Night (1942) at MGM, went on to produce several significant early telefilm series, including The Lone Ranger, Private Secretary, and Sky King.
B movie production techniques were the natural model for television film production. In Hollywood TV Christopher Anderson notes that the creation of a television production division at Warner Bros. "required the studio to resurrect its dormant tradition of B-movie production and retool to operate on budgets barely adequate even on Poverty Row" (Anderson, p. 172). This meant tight budgets, restricted production schedules, the recycling of stories and scripts, and pilfering the studio library for stock shots.
If B filmmakers and production techniques saw new life with the advent of television, the B movie did as well. The film libraries of Poverty Row companies were some of the first to turn up on early television, allowing TV stations to pad their programming day, in much the same way that Bs had padded out double bills for exhibitors for twenty years. A new generation was exposed to the simple pleasures, and occasional artistry, of B movies through the video medium. Today Bs continue to fill out the hours on cable television networks devoted to classic movies, westerns, and mysteries, as well as the shelves of video and DVD stores.
Anderson, Christopher. Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
Dixon, Wheeler, ed. Producers Releasing Corporation: A Comprehensive Filmography and History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1986.
Gomery, Douglas. The Hollywood Studio System. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1986.
Martin, Len D. The Republic Pictures Checklist: Features, Serials, Cartoons, Short Subjects and Training Films of Republic Pictures Corporation, 1935–1959. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1998.
McCarthy, Todd, and Charles Flynn, eds. Kings of the Bs: Working within the Hollywood System. New York: Dutton, 1975.
Miller, Don. B Movies: An Informal Survey of the American Low-Budget Film, 1933–1945. New York: Curtis, 1973.
——. Hollywood Corral. New York: Popular Library, 1976.
Okuda, Ted. The Monogram Checklist: The Films of Monogram Pictures Corporation, 1931–1952. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1987.
Pitts, Michael R. Poverty Row Studios, 1929–1940: An Illustrated History of 53 Independent Film Companies with a Filmography for Each. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997.
Siegel, Joel E. Val Lewton: The Reality of Terror. New York: Viking Press, 1973.
Taves, Brian. "The B Film: Hollywood's Other Half." In Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Enterprise, 1930–1939, edited by Tino Balio, 323–350. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.
Telotte, J. P. Dreams of Darkness: Fantasy and the Films of Val Lewton. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1985.
Weaver, Tom. Poverty Row Horrors: Monogram, PRC and Republic Horror Films of the Forties. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1993.