B Movies

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.

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