Monogram Pictures

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Monogram Pictures was an American film studio that was one of the best-known and longest-running poverty row studios between the 1930s and 1950s . As an independent film studio with low film budgets, Monogram was primarily specialized in B-movies , mostly westerns, adventure films, crime and gangster films. After almost 500 films under the name Monogram, it was renamed Allied Artist in 1953 , whereupon the profile of the studio was changed and, until its bankruptcy at the end of the 1970s, higher-quality films were also produced.

Monogram Pictures

Monogram was created in 1932 from a merger of the small film production companies Sono Art-World Wide Pictures and Rayart Productions, both of which specialized in low-cost productions. The producers W. Ray Johnston (1892–1966) and Trem Carr (1891–1946) are considered the founding fathers of the film studio. Monogram was one of those small Poverty Row studios that couldn't keep up with big studios like MGM or Warner Bros. with their low film budgets . The small Monogram films mostly had the task of being shown in the cinemas before the major productions of the A studios. A whole evening at the cinema was filled with these two films.

In 1935, Monogram merged with several other film studios to form Republic Pictures under the direction of producer Herbert Yates . The history of Monogram seemed to be over after only three years. But Monogram founders Johnston and Carr did not get along with Republic boss Yates in the merged studio. Therefore, Johnson reactivated his studio Monogram after a short time and left Republic Pictures with it. In 1940 Steve Broidy became the new President of Monogram and remained in that position for decades.

Films at Monogram

In the early days, Monogram mainly produced westerns, often directed by Robert N. Bradbury and with his son Bob Steele as the lead actor. Later, in addition to westerns, adventure films, crime novels, gangster films and even dramas were turned to. Overall, Monogram was mainly specialized in "suspense films". A huge hit was the 1945 gangster film Hunt for Dillinger , which grossed over $ 4 million on a budget of just $ 65,000 and earned Monogram an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Monogram won the only Oscar for the short film Climbing the Matterhorn . Most of the films, however, did not have such high box office revenues due to their low budget and were quickly forgotten. Most Monogram films are known only to a small audience today.

In addition, Monogram was specialized in many film series such as The Cisco Kid, Joe Palooka, Mexican Spitfire and the East Side Kids (later: Bowery Boys). The very popular Charlie Chan film series with Sidney Toler in the title role was also continued by Monogram after the original 20th Century Fox studio refused to continue producing it.

Stars at Monogram

Monogram Studios was never able to sign any top stars because of its limited options. Often B-Western stars like Bill Cody , Bob Steele , Tom Keene , Tim McCoy , Tex Ritter , Jack Randall , John King and Buck Jones were brought in . Even John Wayne turned in the 1930s before his big break several B-Western at Monogram. In addition to Wayne, future stars like Preston Foster , Randolph Scott , Ginger Rogers , Alan Ladd and Robert Mitchum were to be found at Monogram before their breakthrough. Monogram also relied on teen actors, including Frankie Darro and the teen screen couple Marcia Mae Jones and Jackie Moran , who appeared together in several rural family films.

In contrast, many old stars, whose careers had long since passed their zenith, also turned at Monogram. These included Edmund Lowe , Bela Lugosi , Boris Karloff , John Boles , Kay Francis , Johnny Mack Brown , Richard Cromwell , Simone Simon and Harry Langdon .

Monogram locations

Monogram's studio is located at 4401 W. Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Another movie ranch , where the westerns in particular were filmed, was located near Newhall in California. Gene Autry later bought the ranch and renamed it Melody Ranch after one of his films .

Allied Artists

In the mid-1940s, the B-movie era seemed to be drawing to a close. Therefore, Monogram founded a new division of the studio with Allied Artists, which should now also produce more expensive films. In 1946, Monogram therefore produced the lavish film The Death Tire , directed by Frank Tuttle . However, the name Monogram still stood for cheap productions in public and had a rather bad image. Therefore, these more expensive films, beginning with A Life Like a Millionaire (1947), were distributed under the new production company name Allied Artists . In 1953 the entire studio was renamed Allied Artists . The studio stayed the same while more expensive films were produced. Few of the old B-movie series were continued for a short time before they were also discontinued.

An influential name at Monogram Pictures and Allied Artists was the producer Walter Mirisch by the 1950s at the latest . Among other things, he guided the directing stars Billy Wilder and William Wyler as well as the film star Gary Cooper to Allied. While Wilder's Ariane - Love in the Afternoon had little success, Wyler brought with Alluring Temptation high box office revenues, as well as six Oscar nominations and the Palme d'Or in Cannes. By the end of the 1950s, Allied was increasingly returning to B-movies. In the 1960s, Allied specialized in the distribution of foreign film productions in America, and his own films were rarely made. After the end of the classic studio system , Allied then produced the successful films Cabaret (1972) and Papillon (1973).

As a result, however, there were a number of box office flops. These financial failures led to bankruptcy in the late 1970s and the end of the film studio. The successor is the entertainment company Allied Artists International , which is based in Los Angeles.

Interstate Television Corporation

At times, Monogram had its own television channel under the name Interstate Television Corporation , which was later renamed Allied Artists Television . Most of the old Monogram films were shown here, but there were also non-Monogram productions such as The Little Rascals by producer Hal Roach .


Jean-Luc Godard dedicated the opening credits to his classic film Out of Breath (1960) at Monogram Studios . In an interview, Godard explained his dedication to the low-budget studio: “I did this to prove that you can make films that are both interesting and cheap. In America a cheap movie is not considered interesting and I said, "Why not?" There are actually a lot of American directors who make B and C films that are very interesting. "

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. History of Monogram Studios
  2. Interview with Jean-Luc Godard