The Celluloid Closet
The Celluloid Closet is a 1995 American documentary film directed and written by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. The film is based on Vito Russo's book of the same name first published in 1981 and on lecture and film clip presentations he gave in 1972–1982. Russo had researched the history of how motion pictures Hollywood films, had portrayed gay, lesbian and transgender characters; the film was given a limited release in select theatres, including the Castro Theatre in San Francisco, in April 1996, shown on cable channel HBO as part of its series America Undercover. The documentary interviews various men and women connected to the Hollywood industry to comment on various film clips and their own personal experiences with the treatment of LGBT characters in film. From the sissy characters, to the censorship of the Hollywood Production Code, the coded gay characters and cruel stereotypes to the changes made in the early 1990s. Vito Russo wanted his book to be transformed into a documentary film and helped out on the project until he died in 1990.
Some critics of the documentary noted that it was less political than the book and ended on a more positive note. However, Russo had wanted the documentary to be entertaining and to reflect the positive changes that had occurred up to 1990. Russo approached Epstein about making a film version of The Celluloid Closet and wrote a proposal for the film version in 1986, but it was not until Russo died in 1990 that Epstein and Friedman gained any traction on the project. After his death, Channel 4 in England approached the filmmakers about the film, offered development funding in order to write a treatment, “and most to determine if it would be possible to obtain the film clips from studios.”After developing the project for years, fundraising remained the biggest obstacle. Lily Tomlin, the actress and comedian who would narrate the film, launched a direct mail fundraising campaign in Vito Russo’s honor, she headlined a benefit at the Castro Theatre, which featured Robin Williams, Harvey Fierstein, drag star Lypsinka.
Individuals such as Hollywood producer Steve Tisch, James Hormel, Hugh Hefner offered “significant support” and the filmmakers began to receive foundation funding from the Paul Robeson Fund, the California Council for the Humanities, the Chicago Resource Center. European television again played an important role in funding the project, when ZDF/arte signed on, but it was not until the filmmakers reached out to HBO that they were able to begin production. In May 1994, "Lily Tomlin contacted chairman of HBO, on behalf of the project. Epstein, Friedman and Rosenman flew to New York for a meeting with Fuchs and HBO Vice President Sheila Nevins. At that meeting, HBO committed to supply the remainder of the budget.” The following people are interviewed for the documentary. In 2001, the DVD edition of the documentary includes a crew audio commentary, a second audio commentary with the late Russo, an interview Russo gave in 1990, some deleted interviews put together into a second documentary titled Rescued from the Closet.
The Celluloid Closet had precursors in Parker Tyler's 1972 book Screening the Sexes and Richard Dyer's 1977 Gays and Film. The film was released at a dramatic time in gay history, it seemed. He had been the first major party presidential candidate to court and to promise to gay voters. However, the movement faced a huge public setback. In response to these obstacles, the LGBT-rights movement became media focused, realizing that the images projected into the world negatively affected perceptions of homosexuality. In 1994, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was formed as a national organization; the Celluloid Closet came out in 1996, as marches and protests against homosexual representation in film and television grew. "Protests aimed at some of Hollywood's biggest and most prestigious films, including The Silence of the Lambs, which features a crazed transvestite who kills and flays women, JFK, which has a scene in which gays alleged to be conspirators in the Kennedy assassination cavort in sadomasochistic fun and games".
The article quoted above features an interview with Kate Sorensen, a member of Queer Nation, an organization that helped to organize the protests: "‘Every lesbian and bisexual character in these films is accused of being a psychotic killer... And the girl never gets the girl. I'm tired of that.’” Gay activists across the country attacked films like these, where the homosexual character is portrayed as a disgustingly erotic killer. It was believed that these portrayals reflected "a perverse fear of AIDS or the rising intolerance that caused an increase in hate crimes of all kinds. Still, Hollywood's treatment of gays helped. With few exceptions, the homosexual characters in films are creepy misfits or campy caricatures"; the release of The Celluloid Closet further emphasized the twisted way homosexuals have been depicted throughout history. Addressing specific issues that were pertinent at the time, Russo exposes the existence of Hollywood homosexuals as well as the uncontrolled homophobia that keeps homosexuality in the closet on and off the screen."Russo did for film what ACT UP did for AIDS awareness... he opened up a world and a culture that had never been discussed before under any circumstances, exposing prejudices and hurts”.
The film continued to motivate the need for positive representation of homosexuals. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation held seminars for staff at Columbia Pictures and Carolco. In addition, Hollywood Supports, a service organization with the mission to combat AID
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is the major West Coast base of the United States Marine Corps and is one of the largest Marine Corps bases in the US. It is located on the Southern California coast, in San Diego County, bordered by Oceanside to the south, Cleveland National Forest, San Clemente, Orange County to the north, Riverside County to the northeast, Fallbrook to the east; the base was established in 1942 to train U. S. Marines for service in World War II. By October 1944, Camp Pendleton was declared a "permanent installation" and by 1946, it became the home of the 1st Marine Division, it was named after Major General Joseph Henry Pendleton, who had long advocated setting up a training base for the Marine Corps on the west coast. Today it is the home to myriad Operating Force units including the I Marine Expeditionary Force and various training commands. In 1769, a Spanish expedition led by Captain Gaspar de Portolá explored northward from Loreto, Baja California Sur, seeking to reach Monterey Bay, something never before done overland by Europeans.
On July 20 of that year, the expedition arrived in the area now known as Camp Pendleton, as it was the holy day of St. Margaret, they christened the land in the name of Santa Margarita; the expedition went on to establish military outposts and Franciscan missions at San Diego and Monterey. During the next 30 years, 21 missions were established, the most productive one being Mission San Luis Rey, just south of the present-day Camp Pendleton. At that time, San Luis Rey Mission had control over the Santa Margarita area. After 1821, following the Mexican War of Independence from Spain, some of the former members of the Portolà expedition who had stayed on were awarded large land grants by Mexican governors; the retired soldiers were joined as rancheros by prominent businessmen and military leaders. They and their children, the Californios, became the landed gentry of Alta California. In 1841, two brothers, Pio Pico and Andrés Pico, became the first private owners of Rancho Santa Margarita. More land was added to the grant, giving it the name of Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, which stayed with the ranch until the Marine Corps acquired it in 1942.
The design of the ranch's cattle brand is seen in the base's logo today. In 1863, an Englishman named John Forster paid off Pico's gambling debts in return for the deed to the ranch. During his tenure as owner of the ranch, he expanded the ranch house, first built in 1827, developed the rancho into a thriving cattle industry. Forster's heirs, were forced to sell the ranch in 1882 because of a string of bad luck, which included a series of droughts and a fence law that forced Forster to construct fencing around the extensive rancho lands, it was purchased by wealthy cattleman James Clair Flood and managed by Irishman Richard O'Neill, rewarded for his faithful service with half ownership. Under the guidance of O'Neill's son, the ranch began to net a profit of nearly half a million dollars annually, the house was modernized and furnished to its present form. In the early 1940s, both the Army and the Marine Corps were looking for land for a large training base; the Army lost interest in the project, but in February 1942 it was announced that the 122,798 acres of Rancho Santa Margarita y Los Flores was about to be transformed into the largest Marine Corps base in the country.
It was named for Major General Joseph Henry Pendleton who had long advocated the establishment of a West Coast training base. Construction began in April but the base was considered a temporary facility so it was built to minimum standards of wood frame construction. After five months of furious building activity, the 9th Marine Regiment, under Colonel Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr. marched from Camp Elliott in San Diego to Camp Pendleton to be the first troops to occupy the new base. On September 25, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the base. Wartime training facilities at the base included landing craft school, amphibious tractor school, beach battalion school, amphibious communications school, a medical field service school at the naval hospital at Santa Margarita Ranch; this facility was used as a base for discharging soldiers returning from Europe and Asia after World War II ended in 1945, for the processing of their discharge documents for same. During the Korean War, $20 million helped expand and upgrade existing facilities, including the construction of Camp Horno.
When Camp Pendleton trained the country's fighting force for the Korean and Vietnam Wars 200,000 Marines passed through the base on their way to the Far East. Beginning in 1954, Camp Pendleton has hosted a variation of Basic Training familiarization for teenagers age 14 to 17; this training, called "Devil Pups", promotes physical fitness, instills discipline and promotes love of country and the Marine Corps. The camp's stables display a plaque and statue commemorating a horse, Sergeant Reckless, which served with the Marine Corps in Korea. In 1975 Camp Pendleton was the first military base in the U. S. to provide accommodations for Vietnamese evacuees in Operation New Arrivals. Camp Pendleton has continued to grow through renovations, replacing its original tent camps with more than 2,626 buildings and over 500 miles of roads. Efforts today continue to preserve the heritage of Camp Pendleton's founders and the Marine Corps' history; the original ranch house has been declared a National Historic Site as well as the Las Flores Adobe.
The base's diverse geography, spanning over 125,000 acres, plays host to year-round training for Marines
Motion Picture Production Code
The Motion Picture Production Code was the set of industry moral guidelines, applied to most United States motion pictures released by major studios from 1930 to 1968. It is popularly known as the Hays Code, after Will H. Hays, the president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922 to 1945. Under Hays' leadership, the MPPDA known as the Motion Picture Association of America, adopted the Production Code in 1930, began rigidly enforcing it in mid-1934; the Production Code spelled out what was acceptable and what was unacceptable content for motion pictures produced for a public audience in the United States. From 1934 to 1954, the code was identified with Joseph Breen, the administrator appointed by Hays to enforce the code in Hollywood; the film industry followed the guidelines set by the code well into the late 1950s, but during this time, the code began to weaken due to the combined impact of television, influence from foreign films, controversial directors pushing boundaries, intervention from the courts, including the Supreme Court.
In 1968, after several years of minimal enforcement, the Production Code was replaced by the MPAA film rating system. In 1922, after several risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood's image. Hollywood in the 1920s was badgered by a number of widespread scandals, such as the murder of William Desmond Taylor and alleged rape of Virginia Rappe by popular movie star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, which brought widespread condemnation from religious and political organizations. Many felt. Political pressure was increasing, with legislators in 37 states introducing one hundred movie censorship bills in 1921. Faced with the prospect of having to comply with hundreds, thousands, of inconsistent and changed decency laws in order to show their movies, the studios chose self-regulation as the preferable option. Hays was paid the then-lavish sum of $100,000 a year. Hays, Postmaster General under Warren G. Harding and former head of the Republican National Committee, served for 25 years as president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, where he "defended the industry from attacks, recited soothing nostrums, negotiated treaties to cease hostilities".
The move mimicked the decision Major League Baseball had made in hiring judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis as League Commissioner the previous year to quell questions about the integrity of baseball in the wake of the 1919 World Series gambling scandal. In 1924, Hays introduced a set of recommendations dubbed "The Formula", which the studios were advised to heed, asked filmmakers to describe to his office the plots of pictures they were planning on making; the Supreme Court had decided unanimously in 1915 in Mutual Film Corporation v. Industrial Commission of Ohio that free speech did not extend to motion pictures, while there had been token attempts to clean up the movies before—such as when the studios formed the National Association of the Motion Picture Industry in 1916—little had come of the efforts. New York became the first state to take advantage of the Supreme Court's decision by instituting a censorship board in 1921. Virginia followed suit the following year, with eight individual states having a board by the advent of sound film, but many of these were ineffectual.
By the 1920s, the New York stage—a frequent source of subsequent screen material—had topless shows, performances filled with curse words, mature subject matters, sexually suggestive dialogue. Early in the sound system conversion process, it became apparent that what might be acceptable in New York would not be so in Kansas. Moviemakers were looking at the possibility that many states and cities would adopt their own codes of censorship, requiring a multiplicity of versions of movies made for national distribution. Self-censorship seemed a preferable outcome. In 1927, Hays suggested to studio executives. Irving G. Thalberg of Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Sol Wurtzel of Fox, E. H. Allen of Paramount responded by collaborating on a list they called the "Don'ts and Be Carefuls", based on items that were challenged by local censor boards; this list consisted of eleven subjects best avoided and twenty-six to be handled carefully. The list was approved by the Federal Trade Commission, Hays created the Studio Relations Committee to oversee its implementation.
The controversy surrounding film standards came to a head in 1929. The Code enumerated a number of key points known as the "Don'ts" and "Be Carefuls": Resolved, That those things which are included in the following list shall not appear in pictures produced by the members of this Association, irrespective of the manner in which they are treated: Pointed profanity – by either title or lip – this includes the words "God", "Lord", "Jesus", "Christ", "hell", "damn", "Gawd", every other profane and vulgar expression however it may be spelled.
Jacqueline Jane White is an American actress best remembered for her appearances in Crossfire and The Narrow Margin. White is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Floyd Garrison White and a cousin of former Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, she was from California. She attended the University of California, Los Angeles. White and actress Lynn Merrick were childhood friends, they were reunited. White's film debut resulted from her work in a drama class at UCLA. A casting director saw her in a production of Ah, Wilderness! and arranged for a screen test for her. That led in Song of Russia. White played either lead actresses in B-movies or supporting parts in A-movies, she played the main character, one of her biggest movies was Mystery in Mexico. White was under contract to both Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where she was cast in uncredited small roles RKO appearing in two classics and The Narrow Margin. On November 12, 1948, White married Neal Bruce Anderson in Westwood Hills, she retired from film in 1950. She relocated to Wyoming with her husband.
When she returned to Los Angeles for the birth of her first child, she was spotted in the RKO commissary, visiting friends, by director Richard Fleischer and producer Stanley Rubin, who offered her a co-starring role in The Narrow Margin. Still active as of 2005, White appears at film conventions. In 2013, she made an appearance at the annual TCM Film Festival. Jacqueline White on IMDb Western Clippings - Jacqueline White interview Jacqueline White in a clip from the film Mystery in Mexico, from YouTube
Film noir is a cinematic term used to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood's classical film noir period is regarded as extending from the early 1920s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression; the term film noir, French for "black film" or "dark film", was first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, but was unrecognized by most American film industry professionals of that era. Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively. Before the notion was adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic film noir were referred to as "melodramas". Whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.
Film noir encompasses a range of plots: the central figure may be a private investigator, a plainclothes policeman, an aging boxer, a hapless grifter, a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime, or a victim of circumstance. Although film noir was associated with American productions, the term has been used to describe films from around the world. Many films released from the 1960s onward share attributes with film noirs of the classical period, treat its conventions self-referentially; some refer to such latter-day works as neo-noir. The clichés of film noir have inspired parody since the mid-1940s; the questions of what defines film noir, what sort of category it is, provoke continuing debate. "We'd be oversimplifying things in calling film noir oneiric, erotic and cruel..."—this set of attributes constitutes the first of many attempts to define film noir made by French critics Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton in their 1955 book Panorama du film noir américain 1941–1953, the original and seminal extended treatment of the subject.
They emphasize that not every film noir embodies all five attributes in equal measure—one might be more dreamlike. The authors' caveats and repeated efforts at alternative definition have been echoed in subsequent scholarship: in the more than five decades since, there have been innumerable further attempts at definition, yet in the words of cinema historian Mark Bould, film noir remains an "elusive phenomenon... always just out of reach". Though film noir is identified with a visual style, unconventional within a Hollywood context, that emphasizes low-key lighting and unbalanced compositions, films identified as noir evidence a variety of visual approaches, including ones that fit comfortably within the Hollywood mainstream. Film noir embraces a variety of genres, from the gangster film to the police procedural to the gothic romance to the social problem picture—any example of which from the 1940s and 1950s, now seen as noir's classical era, was to be described as a melodrama at the time.
While many critics refer to film noir as a genre itself, others argue. Foster Hirsch defines a genre as determined by "conventions of narrative structure, characterization and visual design". Hirsch, as one who has taken the position that film noir is a genre, argues that these elements are present "in abundance". Hirsch notes that there are unifying features of tone, visual style and narrative sufficient to classify noir as a distinct genre. Others argue. Film noir is associated with an urban setting, but many classic noirs take place in small towns, rural areas, or on the open road. While the private eye and the femme fatale are character types conventionally identified with noir, the majority of film noirs feature neither. Nor does film noir rely on anything as evident as the monstrous or supernatural elements of the horror film, the speculative leaps of the science fiction film, or the song-and-dance routines of the musical. An analogous case is that of the screwball comedy accepted by film historians as constituting a "genre": the screwball is defined not by a fundamental attribute, but by a general disposition and a group of elements, some—but and never all—of which are found in each of the genre's films.
Because of the diversity of noir, certain scholars in the field, such as film historian Thomas Schatz, treat it as not a genre but a "style". Alain Silver, the most published American critic specializing in film noir studies, refers to film noir as a "cycle" and a "phenomenon" as he argues that it has—like certain genres—a consistent set of visual and thematic codes. Other critics treat film noir as a "mood", characterize it as a "series", or address a chosen set of films they regard as belonging to the noir "canon". There is no consensus on the matter; the aesthetics of film noir are influenced by German Expressionism, an artistic movement of the 1910s and 1920s that involved theater, painting and architecture, as well as cinema. The opportunities offered by the booming Hollywood film industry and the threat of Nazism, led to the emigration of many film artists working in Germany, involved in the Expressionist movement or studied wit
Edward Dmytryk was a Canadian-born American film director. He was known for his 1940s noir films and received an Oscar nomination for Best Director for Crossfire. In 1947, he was named as one of the Hollywood Ten, a group of blacklisted film industry professionals who refused to testify to the House Un-American Activities Committee in their investigations during the McCarthy-era'Red scare', they all served time in prison for contempt of Congress. In 1951, Dmytryk did testify to HUAC and rehabilitated his career. First hired again by independent producer Stanley Kramer in 1952, Dmytryk is best known for directing The Caine Mutiny, a critical and commercial success; the second-highest grossing film of the year, it was nominated for Best Picture and several other awards at the 1955 Oscars. Dmytryk was nominated for a Directors Guild Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures. Dmytryk was born on September 1908, in Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada, his Polish-Ukrainian immigrant parents were Frances and Michael Dmytryk, a severe disciplinarian who bounced between jobs as truck driver, smelter worker, motorman.
The family moved to San Francisco, to Los Angeles. After his mother died, his father remarried. Dmytryk worked as a messenger at Famous Players-Lasky for $6 a week while attending Hollywood High School, he progressed to projectionist, film editor, by age 31, a director and a naturalized citizen of the United States. Dmytryk worked in the editing department on films such as The Dance of Life, Only Saps Work, The Royal Family of Broadway, Make Me a Star, The Phantom President, If I Had a Million, he helped edit Duck Soup and Six of a Kind. He edited College Rhythm, did Leo McCarey's Ruggles of Red Gap. Dmytryk made his directorial debut with a low-budget independent Western, he returned to editing duties at Paramount, but was assigned to B films:Too Many Parents, Three Cheers for Love, Three Married Men, Easy to Take, Murder Goes to College, Turn Off the Moon, Double or Nothing with Bing Crosby, That Navy Spirit. Dmytryk edited Bulldog Drummond's Peril and Prison Farm, he moved his way back up to A movies with Zaza, directed by George Cukor.
Leo McCarey asked him over to RKO to edit Love Affair. He returned to Paramount to edit the Bob Hope comedy. Dmytryk did some uncredited directing on Million Dollar Legs with Betty Grable; this encouraged Paramount to allow him to direct Television Spy. He followed it with Emergency Squad, Golden Gloves, Mystery Sea Raider with Carole Landis. Dmytryk went to Monogram Pictures to direct a musical with Her First Romance, he went over to Columbia to direct for their B picture unit: The Devil Commands with Boris Karloff, Under Age, Broadway Ahead, Hot Pearls, Secrets of the Lone Wolf, Confessions of Boston Blackie, Counter-Espionage, a "Lone Wolf" movie. Dmytryk signed a contract to RKO, where he continued to direct B movies, starting with Seven Miles from Alcatraz. However, he made Hitler's Children, which turned out to be a massive "sleeper" hit, earning over $3 million, it did not change his career. Back at RKO, he directed a Hitler's Children-style thriller about the Japanese, Behind the Rising Sun.
It was another box-office sensation, Dmytryk was promoted to A films. Dmytryk directed RKO's biggest star, Ginger Rogers, in the melodrama Tender Comrade, a huge hit, he followed it with Murder, My Sweet, adapted from Raymond Chandler's novel, Farewell, My Lovely by John Paxton and produced by Adrian Scott. Dymtryk did a war film starring John Wayne, Back to Bataan he was reunited with Powell and Scott for the popular film noir Cornered, he did a drama about soldiers coming back from the war, Till the End of Time, a big hit, went to England to make So Well Remembered with Paxton and Scott. Dmytryk and Paxton collaborated on the hugely successful thriller Crossfire, for which Dmytryk received a Best Director Oscar nomination, he was established as RKO's leading director. After the war, many Americans were alarmed by Soviet actions in Europe, by reports of covert Communist activity in the U. S; this period has been dubbed the Second Red Scare. The House Un-American Activities Committee investigated Communist Party influence in the film industry, Dmytryk was among those called to testify about it before HUAC in 1947.
Dmytryk had been a Communist Party member in 1944 and 1945. He was persuaded by his former party associates to join nine other Hollywood figures in a public refusal to testify; the Hollywood Ten were sentenced to prison terms. Dmytryk was fired from RKO. Dmytryk was unofficially ostracized. In England, he made two films for producer Nat Bronstein: a thriller Obsession, Give Us This Day, a neo-realistic movie sympathetic to the working man, based on the novel Christ in Concrete; the latter movie, successful in Europe, was released as Christ in Concrete in the United States and suppressed. When his passport ran out, Dmytryk retu
A B movie or B film is a low-budget commercial motion picture, not an arthouse film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more identified films intended for distribution as the less-publicized bottom half of a double feature. Although the U. S. production of movies intended as second features ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continues to be used in its broader sense to this day. In its post-Golden Age usage, there is ambiguity on both sides of the definition: on the one hand, the primary interest of many inexpensive exploitation films is prurient. 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. Early B movies were part of series in which the star played the same character. Always shorter than the top-billed films they were paired with, many had running times of 70 minutes or less; the term connoted a general perception that B movies were inferior to the more lavishly budgeted headliners.
Latter-day B movies still sometimes inspire multiple sequels. As the average running time of top-of-the-line films increased, so did that of B pictures. In its current usage, the term has somewhat contradictory connotations: it may signal an opinion that a certain movie is a genre film with minimal artistic ambitions or a lively, energetic film uninhibited by the constraints imposed on more expensive projects and unburdened by the conventions of putatively "serious" independent film; the term is now used loosely to refer to some higher-budgeted, mainstream films with exploitation-style content in genres traditionally associated with the B movie. 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. Celebrated filmmakers such as Anthony Mann and Jonathan Demme learned their craft in B movies, they are where actors such as John Wayne and Jack Nicholson first became established, they have provided work for former A movie actors, such as Vincent Price and Karen Black.
Some actors, such as Bela Lugosi, Eddie Constantine, Bruce Campbell and Pam Grier, worked in B movies for most of their careers. The term B actor is sometimes used to refer to a performer who finds work or in B pictures. 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; that average reflected both "specials" that might cost as much as $1 million and films made for around $50,000. These cheaper films allowed the studios to derive maximum value from facilities and contracted staff in between a studio's more important productions, while breaking in new personnel. Studios in the minor leagues of the industry, such as Columbia Pictures and Film Booking Offices of America, focused on those sorts of cheap productions, their movies, with short running times, targeted theaters that had to economize on rental and operating costs small-town and urban neighborhood venues, or "nabes".
Smaller production houses, known as Poverty Row studios, made films whose costs might run as low as $3,000, seeking a profit through whatever bookings they could pick up in the gaps left by the larger concerns. With the widespread arrival of sound film in American theaters in 1929, many independent exhibitors began dropping the then-dominant presentation model, which involved live acts and a broad variety of shorts before a single featured film. A new programming scheme developed that would soon become standard practice: a newsreel, a short and/or serial, a cartoon, followed by a double feature; the second feature, which screened before the main event, cost the exhibitor less per minute than the equivalent running time in shorts. The majors' "clearance" rules favoring their affiliated theaters prevented the independents' timely access to top-quality films; the additional movie gave the program "balance"—the practice of pairing different sorts of features suggested to potential customers that they could count on something of interest no matter what was on the bill.
The low-budget picture of the 1920s thus evolved into the second feature, the B movie, of Hollywood's Golden Age. The major studios, at first resistant to the double feature, soon adapted. All established B units to provide films for the expanding second-feature market. Block booking became standard practice: to get access to a studio's attractive A pictures, many theaters were obliged to rent the company's entire output for a season. With the B films rented at a flat fee, rates could be set guaranteeing the profitability of every B movie; the parallel practice of blind bidding freed the majors from worrying about their Bs' quality—even when booking in less than seasonal blocks, exhibitors had to buy most pictures sight unseen. The five largest studios—Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Paramount Pictures, Fox Film Corporation, Warner Bros. and RKO Radio Pictures —also belonged to companies with sizable theater chains, further securing the bottom line. Poverty Row studios, from modest outfits like Mascot Pictures, Tiffany Pictures, Sono Art-World Wide Pictures down to shoestring operations, made B movies, ot