Magazine article American Cinematographer

Poverty Row Studios, 1929-1940

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Poverty Row Studios, 1929-1940

Article excerpt

Poverty Row Studios, 1929-1940 by Michael H. Pitts McFarland & Co., 534 pps., library binding, $75

A fascinating aspect of the Great Depression was the struggle of small independent production companies to get their movies made and exhibited despite overwhelming odds. Since the majority of films from Poverty Row were very inexpensive affairs that offered little competition to the major studios, this tome provides a largely unchronicled aspect of the industry. In Poverty Row Studios, Michael Pitts offers historical notes on most of these companies, along with complete filmographies. Monogram, Mascot, Grand National, Republic and PRC were omitted because they have been covered in other McFarland books. Incidentally, all but a few of the Poverty Row outfits were not actually studios, but merely offices whose proprietors rented studio space when necessary.

Arranged alphabetically, the chronicle begins with (Victor) Adamson Productions, where the house specialty was a series of Westerns starring Art Mix (the ads half-concealed a tiny Art and emblazoned a huge MIX for obvious reasons), and ends with Sam Katzman's Victory Pictures Corporation, where features were pushed through for $8,000, more or less, usually the latter. …

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