B級片（英語：B movie或B film）是指低成本製作的商業電影，而非文藝片。在最初定義裏，B級片指在好萊塢黃金時代以雙片連映形式發行的電影中相對鮮為人知的電影，類似唱片行業里的B面歌。現今美國電影產業中，雙片連映的製作發行方式在1950年代末逐步消失，但B級片卻有了更廣泛的定義。在後黃金時代，B級片的定義出現歧義：一方面，B級片被認為是剝削電影，特色為淫穢內容；另一方面，B級片被認為展示出電影的高工藝水準與美學創造力。
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 quickly for around $50,000. These cheaper films (not yet called B movies) allowed the studios to derive maximum value from facilities and contracted staff in between a studio's more important productions, while also breaking in new personnel.
Studios in the minor leagues of the industry, such as Columbia Pictures and Film Booking Offices of America (FBO), focused on exactly those sorts of cheap productions. Their movies, with relatively short running times, targeted theaters that had to economize on rental and operating costs, particularly small-town and urban neighborhood venues, or "nabes". Even 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 soon became standard practice: a newsreel, a short and/or serial, and a cartoon, followed by a double feature. The second feature, which actually 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 timely access to top-quality films for independant theaters; the second feature allowed them to promote quantity instead. The additional movie also 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 specifically 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 (rather than the box office percentage basis of A films), rates could be set virtually guaranteeing the profitability of every B movie. The parallel practice of blind bidding largely 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 (20th Century Fox as of 1935), Warner Bros., and RKO Radio Pictures (descendant of FBO) — also belonged to companies with sizable theater chains, further securing the bottom line.
Poverty Row studios, from modest outfits like Mascot Pictures, Tiffany Pictures, and Sono Art-World Wide Pictures down to shoestring operations, made exclusively B movies, serials, and other shorts, and also distributed totally independent productions and imported films. In no position to directly block book, they mostly sold regional distribution exclusivity to "states rights" firms, which in turn peddled blocks of movies to exhibitors, typically six or more pictures featuring the same star (a relative status on Poverty Row). Two "major-minors" — Universal Studios and rising Columbia Pictures — had production lines roughly similar to, though somewhat better endowed than, the top Poverty Row studios. In contrast to the Big Five majors, Universal and Columbia had few or no theaters, though they did have top-rank film distribution exchanges.
In the standard Golden Age model, the industry's top product, the A films, premiered at a small number of select first-run houses in major cities. Double features were not the rule at these prestigious venues. As described by Edward Jay Epstein, "During these first runs, films got their reviews, garnered publicity, and generated the word of mouth that served as the principal form of advertising." Then it was off to the subsequent-run market where the double feature prevailed. At the larger local venues controlled by the majors, movies might turn over on a weekly basis. At the thousands of smaller, independent theaters, programs often changed two or three times a week. To meet the constant demand for new B product, the low end of Poverty Row turned out a stream of micro-budget movies rarely much more than sixty minutes long; these were known as "quickies" for their tight production schedules—as short as four days.
As Azam Patel describes, "Many of the poorest theaters, such as the 'grind houses' in the larger cities, screened a continuous program emphasizing action with no specific schedule, sometimes offering six quickies for a nickel in an all-night show that changed daily." Many small theaters never saw a big-studio A film, getting their movies from the states rights concerns that handled almost exclusively Poverty Row product. Millions of Americans went to their local theaters as a matter of course: for an A picture, along with the trailers, or screen previews, that presaged its arrival, "[t]he new film's title on the marquee and the listings for it in the local newspaper constituted all the advertising most movies got", writes Epstein. Aside from at the theater itself, B films might not be advertised at all.
The introduction of sound had driven costs higher: by 1930, the average U.S. feature film cost $375,000 to produce. A broad range of motion pictures occupied the B category. The leading studios made not only clear-cut A and B films, but also movies classifiable as "programmers" (also known as "in-betweeners" or "intermediates"). As Taves describes, "Depending on the prestige of the theater and the other material on the double bill, a programmer could show up at the top or bottom of the marquee."
On Poverty Row, many Bs were made on budgets that would have barely covered petty cash on a major's A film, with costs at the bottom of the industry running as low as $5,000. By the mid-1930s, the double feature was the dominant U.S. exhibition model, and the majors responded. In 1935, B movie production at Warner Bros. was raised from 12 to 50% of studio output. The unit was headed by Bryan Foy, known as the "Keeper of the Bs". At Fox, which also shifted half of its production line into B territory, Sol M. Wurtzel was similarly in charge of more than twenty movies a year during the late 1930s.
A number of the top Poverty Row firms consolidated: Sono Art joined another company to create Monogram Pictures early in the decade. In 1935, Monogram, Mascot, and several smaller studios merged to establish Republic Pictures. The former heads of Monogram soon sold off their Republic shares and set up a new Monogram production house. Into the 1950s, most Republic and Monogram product was roughly on par with the low end of the majors' output. Less sturdy Poverty Row concerns—with a penchant for grand sobriquets like Conquest, Empire, Imperial, and Peerless—continued to churn out dirt-cheap quickies. Joel Finler has analyzed the average length of feature releases in 1938, indicating the studios' relative emphasis on B production (United Artists produced little, focusing on the distribution of prestigious films from independent outfits; Grand National, active 1936–40, occupied an analogous niche on Poverty Row, releasing mostly independent productions):
工作室 類別 平均片長 MGM Big Five 87.9 minutes Paramount Big Five 76.4 minutes 20th Century Fox Big Five 75.3 minutes Warner Bros. Big Five 75.0 minutes RKO Big Five 74.1 minutes United Artists Little Three 87.6 minutes Columbia Little Three 66.4 minutes Universal Little Three 66.4 minutes Grand National Poverty Row 63.6 minutes Republic Poverty Row 63.1 minutes Monogram Poverty Row 60.0 minutes
Taves estimates that half of the films produced by the eight majors in the 1930s were B movies. Calculating in the three hundred or so films made annually by the many Poverty Row firms, approximately 75% of Hollywood movies from the decade, more than four thousand pictures, are classifiable as Bs.
The Western was by far the predominant B genre in both the 1930s and, to a lesser degree, the 1940s. Film historian Jon Tuska has argued that "the 'B' product of the Thirties—the Universal films with [Tom] Mix, [Ken] Maynard, and [Buck] Jones, the Columbia features with Buck Jones and Tim McCoy, the RKO George O'Brien series, the Republic Westerns with John Wayne and the Three Mesquiteers ... achieved a uniquely American perfection of the well-made story." At the far end of the industry, Poverty Row's Ajax put out oaters starring Harry Carey, then in his fifties. The Weiss outfit had the Range Rider series, the American Rough Rider series, and the Morton of the Mounted "northwest action thrillers". One low-budget oater of the era, made totally outside the studio system, profited from an outrageous concept: a Western with an all-midget cast, The Terror of Tiny Town (1938) was such a success in its independent bookings that Columbia picked it up for distribution.
Series of various genres, featuring recurrent, title-worthy characters or name actors in familiar roles, were particularly popular during the first decade of sound film. Fox's many B series, for instance, included Charlie Chan mysteries, Ritz Brothers comedies, and musicals with child star Jane Withers. These series films are not to be confused with the short, cliffhanger-structured serials that sometimes appeared on the same program. As with serials, however, many series were intended to attract young people—a theater that twin-billed part-time might run a "balanced" or entirely youth-oriented double feature as a matinee and then a single film for a more mature audience at night. In the words of one industry report, afternoon moviegoers, "composed largely of housewives and children, want quantity for their money while the evening crowds want 'something good and not too much of it.'"
Series films are often unquestioningly consigned to the B movie category, but even here there is ambiguity: at MGM, for example, popular series like the Andy Hardy and the Dr. Kildare–Dr. Gillespie chronicles had leading stars and budgets that would have been A-level at most of the lesser studios. For many series, even a lesser major's standard B budget was far out of reach: Poverty Row's Consolidated Pictures featured Tarzan, the Police Dog in a series with the proud name of Melodramatic Dog Features.
By 1940, the average production cost of an American feature was $400,000, a negligible increase over ten years. A number of small Hollywood companies had folded around the turn of the decade, including the ambitious Grand National, but a new firm, Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC), emerged as third in the Poverty Row hierarchy behind Republic and Monogram. The double feature, never universal, was still the prevailing exhibition model: in 1941, fifty percent of theaters were double-billing exclusively, and others employed the policy part-time.
In the early 1940s, legal pressure forced the studios to replace seasonal block booking with packages generally limited to five pictures. Restrictions were also placed on the majors' ability to enforce blind bidding. These were crucial factors in the progressive shift by most of the Big Five over to A-film production, making the smaller studios even more important as B movie suppliers. Genre pictures made at very low cost remained the backbone of Poverty Row, with even Republic's and Monogram's budgets rarely climbing over $200,000. Many smaller Poverty Row firms folded as the eight majors, with their proprietary distribution exchanges, now commanded about 95% of U.S. and Canadian box office receipts.
In 1946, independent producer David O. Selznick brought his bloated-budget spectacle Duel in the Sun to market with heavy nationwide promotion and wide release. The distribution strategy was a major success, despite what was widely perceived as the movie's poor quality. The Duel release anticipated practices that fueled the B movie industry in the late 1950s; when the top Hollywood studios made them standard two decades after that, the B movie was hard hit.
Considerations beside cost made the line between A and B movies ambiguous. Films shot on B-level budgets were occasionally marketed as A pictures or emerged as sleeper hits: one of 1943's biggest films was Hitler's Children, an RKO thriller made for a fraction over $200,000. It earned more than $3 million in rentals, industry language for a distributor's share of gross box office receipts. Particularly in the realm of film noir, A pictures sometimes echoed visual styles generally associated with cheaper films. Programmers, with their flexible exhibition role, were ambiguous by definition. As late as 1948, the double feature remained a popular exhibition mode—it was standard policy at 25% of theaters and used part-time at an additional 36%.
The leading Poverty Row firms began to broaden their scope; in 1947, Monogram established a subsidiary, Allied Artists, to develop and distribute relatively expensive films, mostly from independent producers. Around the same time, Republic launched a similar effort under the "Premiere" rubric. In 1947 as well, PRC was subsumed by Eagle-Lion, a British company seeking entry to the American market. Warners' former "Keeper of the Bs", Brian Foy, was installed as production chief.
In the 1940s, RKO stood out among the industry's Big Five for its focus on B pictures. From a latter-day perspective, the most famous of the major studios' Golden Age B units is Val Lewton's horror unit at RKO. Lewton produced such moody, mysterious films as Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and The Body Snatcher (1945), directed by Jacques Tourneur, Robert Wise, and others who became renowned only later in their careers or entirely in retrospect. The movie now widely described as the first classic film noir—Stranger on the Third Floor (1940), a 64-minute B—was produced at RKO, which released many additional melodramatic thrillers in a similarly stylish vein.
The other major studios also turned out a considerable number of movies now identified as noir during the 1940s. Though many of the best-known film noirs were A-level productions, most 1940s pictures in the mode were either of the ambiguous programmer type or destined straight for the bottom of the bill. In the decades since, these cheap entertainments, generally dismissed at the time, have become some of the most treasured products of Hollywood's Golden Age.
In one sample year, 1947, RKO produced along with several noir programmers and A pictures, two straight B noirs: Desperate and The Devil Thumbs a Ride. Ten B noirs that year came from Poverty Row's big three—Republic, Monogram, and PRC/Eagle-Lion—and one came from tiny Screen Guild. Three majors beside RKO contributed a total of five more. Along with these eighteen unambiguous B noirs, an additional dozen or so noir programmers came out of Hollywood.
Still, most of the majors' low-budget production remained the sort now largely ignored. RKO's representative output included the Mexican Spitfire and Lum and Abner comedy series, thrillers featuring the Saint and the Falcon, Westerns starring Tim Holt, and Tarzan movies with Johnny Weissmuller. Jean Hersholt played Dr. Christian in six films between 1939 and 1941. The Courageous Dr. Christian (1940) was a standard entry: "In the course of an hour or so of screen time, the saintly physician managed to cure an epidemic of spinal meningitis, demonstrate benevolence towards the disenfranchised, set an example for wayward youth, and calm the passions of an amorous old maid."
Down in Poverty Row, low budgets led to less palliative fare. Republic aspired to major-league respectability while making many cheap and modestly budgeted Westerns, but there was not much from the bigger studios that compared with Monogram "exploitation pictures" like juvenile delinquency exposé Where Are Your Children? (1943) and the prison film Women in Bondage (1943). In 1947, PRC's The Devil on Wheels brought together teenagers, hot rods, and death. The little studio had its own house auteur: with his own crew and relatively free rein, director Edgar G. Ulmer was known as "the Capra of PRC". Ulmer made films of every generic stripe: his Girls in Chains was released in May 1943, six months before Women in Bondage; by the end of the year, Ulmer had also made the teen-themed musical Jive Junction as well as Isle of Forgotten Sins, a South Seas adventure set around a brothel.
In 1948, a Supreme Court ruling in a federal antitrust suit against the majors outlawed block booking and led to the Big Five divesting their theater chains. With audiences draining away to television and studios scaling back production schedules, the classic double feature vanished from many American theaters during the 1950s. The major studios promoted the benefits of recycling, offering former headlining movies as second features in the place of traditional B films. With television airing many classic Westerns as well as producing its own original Western series, the cinematic market for B oaters in particular was drying up. After barely inching forward in the 1930s, the average U.S. feature production cost had essentially doubled over the 1940s, reaching $1 million by the turn of the decade—a 93% rise after adjusting for inflation.
The first prominent victim of the changing market was Eagle-Lion, which released its last films in 1951. By 1953, the old Monogram brand had disappeared, the company having adopted the identity of its higher-end subsidiary, Allied Artists. The following year, Allied released Hollywood's last B series Westerns. Non-series B Westerns continued to appear for a few more years, but Republic Pictures, long associated with cheap sagebrush sagas, was out of the filmmaking business by decade's end. In other genres, Universal kept its Ma and Pa Kettle series going through 1957, while Allied Artists stuck with the Bowery Boys until 1958. RKO, weakened by years of mismanagement, exited the movie industry in 1957.
Hollywood's A product was getting longer—the top ten box-office releases of 1940 had averaged 112.5 minutes; the average length of 1955's top ten was 123.4. In their modest way, the Bs were following suit. The age of the hour-long feature film was past; 70 minutes was now roughly the minimum. While the Golden Age-style second feature was dying, B movie was still used to refer to any low-budget genre film featuring relatively unheralded performers (sometimes referred to as B actors). The term retained its earlier suggestion that such movies relied on formulaic plots, "stock" character types, and simplistic action or unsophisticated comedy. At the same time, the realm of the B movie was becoming increasingly fertile territory for experimentation, both serious and outlandish.
Ida Lupino, a leading actress, established herself as Hollywood's sole female director of the era. In short, low-budget pictures made for her production company, The Filmakers, Lupino explored taboo subjects such as rape in 1950's Outrage and 1953's self-explanatory The Bigamist. Her best known directorial effort, The Hitch-Hiker, a 1953 RKO release, is the only film noir from the genre's classic period directed by a woman. That year, RKO released Split Second, which concludes in a nuclear test range, and is perhaps the first "atomic noir".
The most famous such movie, the independently produced Kiss Me Deadly (1955), typifies the persistently murky middle ground between the A and B picture, as Richard Maltby describes: a "programmer capable of occupying either half of a neighbourhood theatre's double-bill, [it was] budgeted at approximately $400,000. [Its] distributor, United Artists, released around twenty-five programmers with production budgets between $100,000 and $400,000 in 1955." The film's length, 106 minutes, is A level, but its star, Ralph Meeker, had previously appeared in only one major film. Its source is pure pulp, one of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer novels, but Robert Aldrich's direction is self-consciously aestheticized. The result is a brutal genre picture that also evokes contemporary anxieties about what was often spoken of simply as the Bomb.
The fear of nuclear war with the Soviet Union, along with less expressible qualms about radioactive fallout from America's own atomic tests, energized many of the era's genre films. Science fiction, horror, and various hybrids of the two were now of central economic importance to the low-budget end of the business. Most down-market films of the type—like many of those produced by William Alland at Universal (such as Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)) and Sam Katzman at Columbia (including It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955))—provided little more than thrills, though their special effects could be impressive.
But these were genres whose fantastic nature could also be used as cover for mordant cultural observations often difficult to make in mainstream movies. Director Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), released by Allied Artists, treats conformist pressures and the evil of banality in haunting, allegorical fashion. The Amazing Colossal Man (1957), directed by Bert I. Gordon, is both a monster movie that happens to depict the horrific effects of radiation exposure and "a ferocious cold-war fable [that] spins Korea, the army's obsessive secrecy, and America's post-war growth into one fantastic whole".
The Amazing Colossal Man was released by a new company whose name was much bigger than its budgets. American International Pictures (AIP), founded in 1956 by James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff in a reorganization of their American Releasing Corporation (ARC), soon became the leading U.S. studio devoted entirely to B-cost productions. American International helped keep the original-release double bill alive through paired packages of its films: these movies were low-budget, but instead of a flat rate, they were rented out on a percentage basis, like A films.
The success of I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) thus brought AIP a large return—made for about $100,000, it grossed more than $2 million. As the film's title suggests, the studio relied on both fantastic genre subjects and new, teen-oriented angles. When Hot Rod Gang (1958) turned a profit, hot rod horror was given a try: Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959). David Cook credits AIP with leading the way "in demographic exploitation, target marketing, and saturation booking, all of which became standard procedure for the majors in planning and releasing their mass-market 'event' films" by the late 1970s. In terms of content, the majors were already there, with films about juvenile delinquency such as Warner Bros.' Untamed Youth (1957) and MGM's High School Confidential (1958), both starring Mamie Van Doren.
In 1954, a young filmmaker named Roger Corman received his first screen credits as writer and associate producer of Allied Artists' Highway Dragnet. Corman soon independently produced his first movie, Monster from the Ocean Floor, on a $12,000 budget and a six-day shooting schedule. Among the six films he worked on in 1955, Corman produced and directed the first official ARC release, Apache Woman, and Day the World Ended, half of Arkoff and Nicholson's first twin-bill package. Corman directed over fifty feature films through 1990. As of 2007, he remained active as a producer, with more than 350 movies to his credit. Often referred to as the "King of the Bs", Corman has said that "to my way of thinking, I never made a 'B' movie in my life", as the traditional B movie was dying out when he began making pictures. He prefers to describe his metier as "low-budget exploitation films". In later years Corman, both with AIP and as head of his own companies, helped launch the careers of Francis Ford Coppola, Jonathan Demme, Robert Towne, and Robert De Niro, among many others.
In the late 1950s, William Castle became known as the great innovator of the B movie publicity gimmick. Audiences of Macabre (1958), an $86,000 production distributed by Allied Artists, were invited to take out insurance policies to cover potential death from fright. The 1959 creature feature The Tingler featured Castle's most famous gimmick, Percepto: at the film's climax, buzzers attached to select theater seats unexpectedly rattled a few audience members, prompting either appropriate screams or even more appropriate laughter. With such films, Castle "combine[d] the saturation advertising campaign perfected by Columbia and Universal in their Sam Katzman and William Alland packages with centralized and standardized publicity stunts and gimmicks that had previously been the purview of the local exhibitor".
The postwar drive-in theater boom was vital to the expanding independent B movie industry. In January 1945, there were 96 drive-ins in the United States; a decade later, there were more than 3,700. Unpretentious pictures with simple, familiar plots and reliable shock effects were ideally suited for auto-based film viewing, with all its attendant distractions. The phenomenon of the drive-in movie became one of the defining symbols of American popular culture in the 1950s. At the same time, many local television stations began showing B genre films in late-night slots, popularizing the notion of the midnight movie.
Increasingly, American-made genre films were joined by foreign movies acquired at low cost and, where necessary, dubbed for the U.S. market. In 1956, distributor Joseph E. Levine financed the shooting of new footage with American actor Raymond Burr that was edited into the Japanese sci-fi horror film Godzilla. The British Hammer Film Productions made the successful The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958), major influences on future horror film style. In 1959, Levine's Embassy Pictures bought the worldwide rights to Hercules, a cheaply made Italian movie starring American-born bodybuilder Steve Reeves. On top of a $125,000 purchase price, Levine then spent $1.5 million on advertising and publicity, a virtually unprecedented amount.
The New York Times was not impressed, claiming that the movie would have drawn "little more than yawns in the film market ... had it not been [launched] throughout the country with a deafening barrage of publicity". Levine counted on first-weekend box office for his profits, booking the film "into as many cinemas as he could for a week's run, then withdrawing it before poor word-of-mouth withdrew it for him". Hercules opened at a remarkable 600 theaters, and the strategy was a smashing success: the film earned $4.7 million in domestic rentals. Just as valuable to the bottom line, it was even more successful overseas. Within a few decades, Hollywood was dominated by both movies and an exploitation philosophy very much like Levine's.
Also playing rounds during this time was K. Gordon Murray, known for distributing international matinee fare like the 1959 Mexican kids' movie Santa Claus.
Despite all the transformations in the industry, by 1961 the average production cost of an American feature film was still only $2 million—after adjusting for inflation, less than 10% more than it had been in 1950. The traditional twin bill of B film preceding and balancing a subsequent-run A film had largely disappeared from American theaters. The AIP-style dual genre package was the new model. In July 1960, the latest Joseph E. Levine sword-and-sandals import, Hercules Unchained, opened at neighborhood theaters in New York. A suspense film, Terror Is a Man, ran as a "co-feature" with a now familiar sort of exploitation gimmick: "The dénouement helpfully includes a 'warning bell' so the sensitive can 'close their eyes.'" That year, Roger Corman took AIP down a new road: "When they asked me to make two ten-day black-and-white horror films to play as a double feature, I convinced them instead to finance one horror film in color." The resulting House of Usher typifies the continuing ambiguities of B picture classification. It was clearly an A film by the standards of both director and studio, with the longest shooting schedule and biggest budget Corman had ever enjoyed. But it is generally seen as a B movie: the schedule was still a mere fifteen days, the budget just $200,000 (one tenth the industry average), and its 85-minute running time close to an old thumbnail definition of the B: "Any movie that runs less than 80 minutes."
With the loosening of industry censorship constraints, the 1960s saw a major expansion in the commercial viability of a variety of B movie subgenres that became known collectively as exploitation films. The combination of intensive and gimmick-laden publicity with movies featuring vulgar subject matter and often outrageous imagery dated back decades—the term had originally defined truly fringe productions, made at the lowest depths of Poverty Row or entirely outside the Hollywood system. Many graphically depicted the wages of sin in the context of promoting prudent lifestyle choices, particularly "sexual hygiene". Audiences might see explicit footage of anything from a live birth to a ritual circumcision. Such films were not generally booked as part of movie theaters' regular schedules but rather presented as special events by traveling roadshow promoters (they might also appear as fodder for "grindhouses", which typically had no regular schedule at all). The most famous of those promoters, Kroger Babb, was in the vanguard of marketing low-budget, sensationalistic films with a "100% saturation campaign", inundating the target audience with ads in almost any imaginable medium. In the era of the traditional double feature, no one would have characterized these graphic exploitation films as "B movies". With the majors having exited traditional B production and exploitation-style promotion becoming standard practice at the lower end of the industry, "exploitation" became a way to refer to the entire field of low-budget genre films. The 1960s saw exploitation-style themes and imagery become increasingly central to the realm of the B.
Exploitation movies in the original sense continued to appear: 1961's Damaged Goods, a cautionary tale about a young lady whose boyfriend's promiscuity leads to venereal disease, comes complete with enormous, grotesque closeups of VD's physical effects. At the same time, the concept of fringe exploitation was merging with a related, similarly venerable tradition: "nudie" films featuring nudist-camp footage or striptease artists like Bettie Page had simply been the softcore pornography of previous decades. As far back as 1933, This Nude World was "Guaranteed the Most Educational Film Ever Produced!" In the late 1950s, as more of the old grindhouse theaters devoted themselves specifically to "adult" product, a few filmmakers began making nudies with greater attention to plot. Best known was Russ Meyer, who released his first successful narrative nudie, the comic Immoral Mr. Teas, in 1959. Five years later, Meyer came out with his breakthrough film, Lorna, which combined sex, violence, and a dramatic storyline. Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), made for about $45,000, ultimately became the most famous of Meyer's sexploitation pictures. Crafted for constant titillation but containing no nudity, it was aimed at the same "passion pit" drive-in circuit that screened AIP teen movies with wink-wink titles like Beach Blanket Bingo (1965) and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1966), starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. Roger Corman's The Trip (1967) for American International, written by veteran AIP/Corman actor Jack Nicholson, never shows a fully bared, unpainted breast, but flirts with nudity throughout. The Meyer and Corman lines were drawing closer.
One of the most influential films of the era, on Bs and beyond, was Paramount's Psycho. Its $8.5 million in earnings against a production cost of $800,000 made it the most profitable movie of 1960. Its mainstream distribution without the Production Code seal of approval helped weaken U.S. film censorship. And, as William Paul notes, this move into the horror genre by respected director Alfred Hitchcock was made, "significantly, with the lowest-budgeted film of his American career and the least glamorous stars. [Its] greatest initial impact ... was on schlock horror movies (notably those from second-tier director William Castle), each of which tried to bill itself as scarier than Psycho." Castle's first film in the Psycho vein was Homicidal (1961), an early step in the development of the slasher subgenre that took off in the late 1970s. Blood Feast (1963), a movie about human dismemberment and culinary preparation made for approximately $24,000 by experienced nudie-maker Herschell Gordon Lewis, established a new, more immediately successful subgenre, the gore or splatter film. Lewis's business partner David F. Friedman drummed up publicity by distributing vomit bags to theatergoers—the sort of gimmick Castle had mastered—and arranging for an injunction against the film in Sarasota, Florida—the sort of problem exploitation films had long run up against, except Friedman had planned it. This new breed of gross-out movie typified the emerging sense of "exploitation"—the progressive adoption of traditional exploitation and nudie elements into horror, into other classic B genres, and into the low-budget film industry as a whole. Imports of Hammer Film's increasingly explicit horror movies and Italian gialli, highly stylized pictures mixing sexploitation and ultraviolence, fueled this trend.
The Production Code was officially scrapped in 1968, to be replaced by the first version of the modern rating system. That year, two horror films came out that heralded directions American cinema would take in the next decade, with major consequences for the B movie. One was a high-budget Paramount production, directed by the celebrated Roman Polanski. Produced by B horror veteran William Castle, Rosemary's Baby was the first upscale Hollywood picture in the genre in three decades. It was a critical success and the year's seventh-biggest hit. The other was George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, produced on weekends in and around Pittsburgh for $114,000. Building on the achievement of B genre predecessors like Invasion of the Body Snatchers in its subtextual exploration of social and political issues, it doubled as a highly effective thriller and an incisive allegory for both the Vietnam War and domestic racial conflicts. Its greatest influence, though, derived from its clever subversion of genre clichés and the connection made between its exploitation-style imagery, low-cost, truly independent means of production, and high profitability. With the Code gone and the X rating established, major studio A films like Midnight Cowboy could now show "adult" imagery, while the market for increasingly hardcore pornography exploded. In this transformed commercial context, work like Russ Meyer's gained a new legitimacy. In 1969, for the first time a Meyer film, Finders Keepers, Lovers Weepers!, was reviewed in The New York Times. Soon, Corman was creating nudity-filled sexploitation pictures such as Private Duty Nurses (1971) and Women in Cages (1971).
In May 1969, the most important exploitation movie of the era premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Much of Easy Rider's significance owes to the fact that it was produced for a respectable, if still modest, budget and released by a major studio. The project was first taken by one of its cocreators, Peter Fonda, to American International. Fonda had become AIP's top star in the Corman-directed The Wild Angels (1966), a biker movie, and The Trip, as in taking LSD. The idea Fonda pitched combined those two proven themes. AIP was intrigued but balked at giving his collaborator, Dennis Hopper, also a studio alumnus, free directorial rein. Eventually they arranged a financing and distribution deal with Columbia, as two more graduates of the Corman/AIP exploitation mill joined the project: Jack Nicholson and cinematographer László Kovács. The film (which incorporated another favorite exploitation theme, the redneck menace, as well as a fair amount of nudity) was brought in at a cost of $501,000. It earned $19.1 million in rentals. In the words of historians Seth Cagin and Philip Dray, Easy Rider became "the seminal film that provided the bridge between all the repressed tendencies represented by schlock/kitsch/hack since the dawn of Hollywood and the mainstream cinema of the seventies."
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, a new generation of low-budget film companies emerged that drew from all the different lines of exploitation as well as the sci-fi and teen themes that had been a mainstay since the 1950s. Operations such as Roger Corman's New World Pictures, Cannon Films, and New Line Cinema brought exploitation films to mainstream theaters around the country. The major studios' top product was continuing to inflate in running time—in 1970, the ten biggest earners averaged 140.1 minutes. The Bs were keeping pace. In 1955, Corman had a producorial hand in five movies averaging 74.8 minutes. He played a similar part in five films originally released in 1970, two for AIP and three for his own New World: the average length was 89.8 minutes. These films could turn a tidy profit. The first New World release, the biker movie Angels Die Hard, cost $117,000 to produce and took in more than $2 million at the box office.
The biggest studio in the low-budget field remained a leader in exploitation's growth. In 1973, American International gave a shot to young director Brian De Palma. Reviewing Sisters, Pauline Kael observed that its "limp technique doesn't seem to matter to the people who want their gratuitous gore. ... [H]e can't get two people talking in order to make a simple expository point without its sounding like the drabbest Republic picture of 1938." Many examples of the blaxploitation genre, featuring stereotype-filled stories about African Americans and revolving around drugs, violent crime, and prostitution, were the product of AIP. One of blaxploitation's biggest stars was Pam Grier, who began her film career with a bit part in Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). Several New World pictures followed, including The Big Doll House (1971) and The Big Bird Cage (1972), both directed by Jack Hill. Hill also directed Grier's best-known performances, in two AIP blaxploitation films: Coffy (1973) and Foxy Brown (1974).
Blaxploitation was the first exploitation genre in which the major studios were central. Indeed, the United Artists release Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970), directed by Ossie Davis, is seen as the first significant film of the type. But the movie that truly ignited the blaxploitation phenomenon was completely independent: Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) is also perhaps the most outrageous example of the form: wildly experimental, borderline pornographic, and essentially a manifesto for an African American revolution. Melvin Van Peebles wrote, co-produced, directed, starred in, edited, and composed the music for the film, which was completed with a loan from Bill Cosby. Its distributor was small Cinemation Industries, then best known for releasing dubbed versions of the Italian Mondo Cane "shockumentaries" and the Swedish skin flick Fanny Hill, as well as for its one in-house production, The Man from O.R.G.Y. (1970). These sorts of films played in the "grindhouses" of the day—many of them not outright porno theaters, but rather venues for all manner of exploitation cinema. The days of six quickies for a nickel were gone, but a continuity of spirit was evident. In 1970, a low-budget crime drama shot in 16 mm by first-time American director Barbara Loden won the international critics' prize at the Venice Film Festival. Wanda is both a seminal event in the independent film movement and a classic B picture. The crime-based plot and often seedy settings would have suited a straightforward exploitation film or an old-school B noir. The $115,000 production, for which Loden spent six years raising money, was praised by Vincent Canby for "the absolute accuracy of its effects, the decency of its point of view and ... purity of technique". Like Romero and Van Peebles, other filmmakers of the era made pictures that combined the gut-level entertainment of exploitation with biting social commentary. The first three features directed by Larry Cohen, Bone (1972), Black Caesar (1973), and Hell Up in Harlem (1973), were all nominally blaxploitation movies, but Cohen used them as vehicles for a satirical examination of race relations and the wages of dog-eat-dog capitalism. The gory horror film Deathdream (1974), directed by Bob Clark, is also an agonized protest of the war in Vietnam. Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg made serious-minded low-budget horror films whose implications are not so much ideological as psychological and existential: Shivers (1975), Rabid (1977), The Brood (1979). An Easy Rider with conceptual rigor, the movie that most clearly presaged the way in which exploitation content and artistic treatment would be combined in modestly budgeted films of later years was United Artists' biker-themed Electra Glide in Blue (1973), directed by James William Guercio. The New York Times reviewer thought little of it: "Under different intentions, it might have made a decent grade-C Roger Corman bike movie—though Corman has generally used more interesting directors than Guercio."
In the early 1970s, the growing practice of screening nonmainstream motion pictures as late shows, with the goal of building a cult film audience, brought the midnight movie concept home to the cinema, now in a countercultural setting—something like a drive-in movie for the hip. One of the first films adopted by the new circuit in 1971 was the three-year-old Night of the Living Dead. The midnight movie success of low-budget pictures made entirely outside the studio system, like John Waters' Pink Flamingos (1972), with its campy spin on exploitation, spurred the development of the independent film movement. The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), an inexpensive film from 20th Century Fox that spoofed all manner of classic B picture clichés, became an unparalleled hit when it was relaunched as a late show feature the year after its initial, unprofitable release. Even as Rocky Horror generated its own subcultural phenomenon, it contributed to the mainstreaming of the theatrical midnight movie.
Asian martial arts films began appearing as imports regularly during the 1970s. These "kung fu" films as they were often called, whatever martial art they featured, were popularized in the United States by the Hong Kong–produced movies of Bruce Lee and marketed to the same audience targeted by AIP and New World. Horror continued to attract young, independent American directors. As Roger Ebert explained in one 1974 review, "Horror and exploitation films almost always turn a profit if they're brought in at the right price. So they provide a good starting place for ambitious would-be filmmakers who can't get more conventional projects off the ground." The movie under consideration was The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Made by Tobe Hooper for less than $300,000, it became one of the most influential horror films of the 1970s. John Carpenter's Halloween (1978), produced on a $320,000 budget, grossed over $80 million worldwide and effectively established the slasher flick as horror's primary mode for the next decade. Just as Hooper had learned from Romero's work, Halloween, in turn, largely followed the model of Black Christmas (1974), directed by Deathdream's Bob Clark.
On television, the parallels between the weekly series that became the mainstay of prime-time programming and the Hollywood series films of an earlier day had long been clear. In the 1970s, original feature-length programming increasingly began to echo the B movie as well. As production of TV movies expanded with the introduction of the ABC Movie of the Week in 1969, soon followed by the dedication of other network slots to original features, time and financial factors shifted the medium progressively into B picture territory. Television films inspired by recent scandals—such as The Ordeal of Patty Hearst, which premiered a month after her release from prison in 1979—harkened all the way back to the 1920s and such movies as Human Wreckage and When Love Grows Cold, FBO pictures made swiftly in the wake of celebrity misfortunes. Many 1970s TV films—such as The California Kid (1974), starring Martin Sheen—were action-oriented genre pictures of a type familiar from contemporary cinematic B production. Nightmare in Badham County (1976) headed straight into the realm of road-tripping-girls-in-redneck-bondage exploitation.
The reverberations of Easy Rider could be felt in such pictures, as well as in a host of theatrical exploitation films. But its greatest influence on the fate of the B movie was less direct—by 1973, the major studios were catching on to the commercial potential of genres once largely consigned to the bargain basement. Rosemary's Baby had been a big hit, but it had little in common with the exploitation style. Warner Bros.' The Exorcist demonstrated that a heavily promoted horror film could be an absolute blockbuster: it was the biggest movie of the year and by far the highest-earning horror movie yet made. In William Paul's description, it is also "the film that really established gross-out as a mode of expression for mainstream cinema. ... [P]ast exploitation films managed to exploit their cruelties by virtue of their marginality. The Exorcist made cruelty respectable. By the end of the decade, the exploitation booking strategy of opening films simultaneously in hundreds to thousands of theaters became standard industry practice." Writer-director George Lucas's American Graffiti, a Universal production, did something similar. Described by Paul as "essentially an American-International teenybopper pic with a lot more spit and polish", it was 1973's third-biggest film and, likewise, by far the highest-earning teen-themed movie yet made. Even more historically significant movies with B themes and A-level financial backing followed in their wake.
Most of the B-movie production houses founded during the exploitation era collapsed or were subsumed by larger companies as the field's financial situation changed in the early 1980s. Even a comparatively cheap, efficiently made genre picture intended for theatrical release began to cost millions of dollars, as the major movie studios steadily moved into the production of expensive genre movies, raising audience expectations for spectacular action sequences and realistic special effects. Intimations of the trend were evident as early as Airport (1970) and especially in the mega-schlock of The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Earthquake (1973), and The Towering Inferno (1974). Their disaster plots and dialogue were B-grade at best; from an industry perspective, however, these were pictures firmly rooted in a tradition of star-stuffed extravaganzas. The Exorcist had demonstrated the drawing power of big-budget, effects-laden horror. But the tidal shift in the majors' focus owed largely to the enormous success of three films: Steven Spielberg's creature feature Jaws (1975) and George Lucas's space opera Star Wars (1977) had each, in turn, become the highest-grossing film in motion picture history. Superman, released in December 1978, had proved that a studio could spend $55 million on a movie about a children's comic book character and turn a big profit—it was the top box-office hit of 1978. Blockbuster fantasy spectacles like the original 1933 King Kong had once been exceptional; in the new Hollywood, increasingly under the sway of multi-industrial conglomerates, they ruled.
It had taken a decade and a half, from 1961 to 1976, for the production cost of the average Hollywood feature to double from $2 million to $4 million—a decline if adjusted for inflation. In just four years it more than doubled again, hitting $8.5 million in 1980 (a constant-dollar increase of about 25%). Even as the U.S. inflation rate eased, the average expense of moviemaking continued to soar. With the majors now routinely saturation booking in over a thousand theaters, it was becoming increasingly difficult for smaller outfits to secure the exhibition commitments needed to turn a profit. Double features were now literally history—almost impossible to find except at revival houses. One of the first leading casualties of the new economic regime was venerable B studio Allied Artists, which declared bankruptcy in April 1979. In the late 1970s, AIP had turned to producing relatively expensive films like the very successful Amityville Horror and the disastrous Meteor in 1979. The studio was sold off and dissolved as a moviemaking concern by the end of 1980.
Despite the mounting financial pressures, distribution obstacles, and overall risk, many genre movies from small studios and independent filmmakers were still reaching theaters. Horror was the strongest low-budget genre of the time, particularly in the slasher mode as with The Slumber Party Massacre (1982), written by feminist author Rita Mae Brown. The film was produced for New World on a budget of $250,000. At the beginning of 1983, Corman sold New World; New Horizons, later Concorde–New Horizons, became his primary company. In 1984, New Horizons released a critically applauded movie set amid the punk scene written and directed by Penelope Spheeris. The New York Times review concluded: "Suburbia is a good genre film."
Larry Cohen continued to twist genre conventions in pictures such as Q (a.k.a. Q: The Winged Serpent; 1982), described by critic Chris Petit as "the kind of movie that used to be indispensable to the market: an imaginative, popular, low-budget picture that makes the most of its limited resources, and in which people get on with the job instead of standing around talking about it". In 1981, New Line put out Polyester, a John Waters movie with a small budget and an old-school exploitation gimmick: Odorama. That October The Book of the Dead, a gore-filled yet stylish horror movie made for less than $400,000, debuted in Detroit. Its writer, director, and co-executive producer, Sam Raimi, was a week shy of his twenty-second birthday; star and co-executive producer Bruce Campbell was twenty-three. It was picked up for distribution by New Line, retitled The Evil Dead, and became a hit. In the words of one newspaper critic, it was a "shoestring tour de force".
One of the most successful 1980s B studios was a survivor from the heyday of the exploitation era, Troma Pictures, founded in 1974. Troma's most characteristic productions, including Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986), Redneck Zombies (1986), and Surf Nazis Must Die (1987), take exploitation for an absurdist spin. Troma's best-known production is The Toxic Avenger (1984); it's hideous hero, affectionately known as Toxie, was featured in three sequels, an upcoming reboot and a TV cartoon series. One of the few successful B studio startups of the decade was Rome-based Empire Pictures, whose first production, Ghoulies, reached theaters in 1985. The video rental market was becoming central to B film economics: Empire's financial model relied on seeing a profit not from theatrical rentals, but only later, at the video store. A number of Concorde–New Horizon releases went this route as well, appearing only briefly in theaters, if at all. The growth of the cable television industry also helped support the low-budget film industry, as many B movies quickly wound up as "filler" material for 24-hour cable channels or were made expressly for that purpose.
在放映B級片的戲院消失的同時，獨立電影運動興起；結果就是低預算類型電影和「精緻」藝術電影之間的各種交叉。導演阿貝爾·費拉拉以暴力B級片（如《電鑽殺手》（1979）和《45女士》（1981））聞名，他在90年代初拍了兩部電影，將剝削電影常見的的性、毒品和一般猥褻描寫與對榮譽和救贖的複雜審查相結合：《紐約之王》（1990）得到了一群主要為小型製作公司的支持，《流氓幹探》（1992）的180萬美元成本則完全獨立出資。賴瑞·費森登的小預算怪獸電影，如《No Telling》（1991）和《Habit》（1997），分別重構經典類型主題——科學怪人和吸血鬼——以探索與當代相關的議題。大衛·柯能堡的《慾望號快車》（1996）預算為1000萬美元，雖然不算A級，但也算不上B級。這部電影的意像是另一回事：「大衛·柯能堡的《慾望號快車》在其令人震驚的表面上暗示了剝削片最令人不安的病態」評論家珍妮特·馬斯林寫道。如同《紐約之王》由一個製作公司財團資助，它由佳線電影公司在美國發行。此結果反映了電影對定義的混亂：佳線影業是新線影業的子公司，最近併入華納媒體——具體來說，它是舊剝削片發行商的藝術部門。由昆汀·塔倫提諾以850萬美元預算執導的《黑色追緝令》（1994），藉由非線性敘事成為極具影響力的大片，正如詹姆士·莫特拉姆（James Mottram）所描述：「憑藉其實驗電影的敘事結構、B級片主題和好萊塢演員陣容，這部電影是三種不同電影傳統相交的軸心。」
C級片（C movie）指品質比B級片更差的電影類型；在某些電影分類法中，C級片指僅次於B級片的低等電影類型。1980年代，隨有線電視興起，C級片漸漸被視為低品質類型電影的代名詞，而這些電影大多進入有線電視市場。此後，C級片中的「C」有了雙重含義：一方面指該類影片品質低於B級片，另一方面指有線電視英語「Cable Television」的首字母。電視劇《神秘科學劇院3000》（1988-99）C級片的概念家喻戶曉，該劇第一年就在全國有線頻道播出（先是Comedy Central頻道，然後是Syfy頻道）。該劇更新了電視女主持人邁拉·魯米30多年前提出的概念，展示廉價、低等級的電影，主要是1950年代和1960年代的科幻題材及點出電影缺陷的配音評論。導演艾德·伍德在這個意義上被稱為「C級片大師」，儘管Z級片可能更適用於他的作品。1990年代和2000年代，諸如Sci Fi（及其Sci Fi Pictures製片公司）和 HBO的類型節目頻道等利基有線和衛星頻道的迅速擴張，意味著當代C級片的市場，其中許多是直接在有線電視發行的電影——低預算類型電影從未在戲院上映。
Z級片（Z movie或grade-Z movie）被用來描述品質遠低於大多數B級片甚至C級片的低預算電影。大多數被稱為Z級片的電影都是由電影界的邊緣運營商以極低預算製作的。1930年代貧困行製作的微預算電影被認為可能是Z級片的前衛（avant la lettre）。導演艾德·伍德的電影，例如《忽男忽女》（1953）和《外太空九號計劃》（1959）——後者經常被認為是史上最糟電影之一——是經典Z級片的例子。後來的Z級片往往以暴力、血腥或色情內容為主打特色，幾乎沒有藝術追求，使得其中多數電影註定只能收費頻道上發行。
精神病電影（Psychotronic movie）是影評人邁克爾·J·韋爾登創造的術語——他被同行影評人稱為「邊緣電影歷史學家」——代表那些常被評論機構鄙視或完全忽略的低成本類型片。該詞源於1980年的芝加哥邪典電影《The Psychotronic Man》，該片主角為理髮師，他開發了以精神能量殺人的能力。根據韋爾登的說法，「我一開始對這個詞的想法是它是由兩個部分組成的詞。『Psycho』代表恐怖電影，而『tronic』代表科幻電影。我很快地將這個詞的含義延伸為包括任何形式的剝削電影或B級片。」該詞在1980年代開始流行，隨著韋爾登的著作相繼出版，如《精神病電影百科全書》（The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film）、《精神病影片指南》（The Psychotronic Video Guide）和《精神病影片》（Psychotronic Video）雜誌，該詞陸續被粉絲和其他評論家引用。若遇到能作為坎普風欣賞的B級片，通常會以此術語強調對這些電影的關注與喜愛。
B級劇（B-television）是德國媒體學者海德瑪麗·舒馬赫在她的文章《從真、善、美到真正美的商品》（From the True, the Good, the Beautiful to the Truly Beautiful Goods）中使用的術語——德國「B-Television」節目的觀眾識別策略，用B級片來比喻德國商業電視的發展，採用「廣告美學」、「每個參與者都散發著空虛的積極性，包含剪輯、柔焦和朗朗上口的音樂」，以及「通過置入性行銷宣傳商品」。舒馬赫指出，在1984年放鬆管制後，德國公共電視正要從巔峰滑落並逐漸被邊緣化，而新成立且在沒有社會合法性負擔的情況下運營的商業電視台只關注盈利能力。為了建立和維持觀眾的忠誠度，這些電視台播放真人秀、聳動新聞、每日肥皂劇、資訊娛樂節目、脫口秀、遊戲節目和軟調色情片。舒馬赫還在文中提及美國文化評論家尼爾·波茲曼的著作《娛樂至死》，作者將電視節目比喻為廣告衍生品，並會形成「一種應被假訊息的訊息——錯置、無關、破碎或膚淺的訊息讓人以為自己懂了，實際上卻更加不懂」。
- B-film. Encyclopædia Britannica. [2020-05-09]. （原始內容存檔於2020-05-13）.
- Hirschhorn (1999), pp. 9–10, 17.
- Finler (2003), pp. 41–42; Balio (2003), p. 29.
- See, e.g., Taves (1995), p. 320.
- Balio (1995), p. 29. See also Schatz (1999), pp. 16, 324.
- See Finler (2003), pp. 26, 41–43, 47–49.
- Finler (2003), pp. 18–19.
- Taves (1995), pp. 326–27.
- See, e.g., Balio (1995), pp. 103–4.
- Epstein (2005), p. 6. See also Schatz (1999), pp. 16–17.
- Taves (1995), p. 325.
- Taves (1995), p. 326.
- Epstein (2005), p. 4.
- Finler (2003), p. 42.
- Taves (1995), p. 317. Taves (like this article) adopts the usage of "programmer" argued for by author Don Miller in his 1973 study B Movies (New York: Ballantine). As Taves notes, "the term programmer was used in a variety of different ways by reviewers" of the 1930s (p. 431, n. 8). Some present-day critics employ the Miller–Taves usage; others refer to any B movie from the Golden Age as a "programmer" or "program picture".
- Balio (1995), p. 102.
- Finler (2003), pp. 26, 111, 116.
- Tuska (1999), pp. 183–84.
- See Taves (1995), pp. 321–29.
- Adapted from Finler (2003), p. 26.
- See Taves (1995), p. 323; McCarthy and Flynn (1975), p. 20. In its peak year, 1937, Grand National did produce around twenty pictures of its own.
- Taves (1995), p. 313.
- Nachbar (1974), p. 2.
- Tuska (1974), p. 37.
- Taves (1995), pp. 327–28.
- Taves (1995), p. 316.
- See, e.g., Taves (1995), p. 318.
- Quoted in Schatz (1999), p. 75.
- Naremore (1998), p. 141.
- Taves (1995), p. 328.
- Schatz (1999), p. 73.
- Schatz (1999), pp. 19–21, 45, 72, 160–63.
- Schatz (1999), p. 16.
- Schatz (1993), p. 11.
- See, e.g., Finler (2003), pp. 4, 6.
- Jewell (1982), 181; Lasky (1989), 184–85.
- Schatz (1999), p. 78.
- Schatz (1999), pp. 340–41.
- Schatz (1999), p. 295; Naremore (1998), p. 142.
- Robert Smith ("Mann in the Dark," Bright Lights 2, no. 1 [fall 1976]), quoted in Ottoson (1981), p. 145.
- Schatz (1999), p. 173, table 6.3.
- Schatz (1999), p. 232; Finler (2003), pp. 219–20.
- Finler (2003), p. 216.
- See, e.g., Dave Kehr, "Critic's Choice: New DVD's," The New York Times, August 22, 2006; Dave Kehr, "Critic's Choice: New DVD's," The New York Times, June 7, 2005; Robert Sklar, "Film Noir Lite: When Actions Have No Consequences," The New York Times, "Week in Review," June 2, 2002.
- Jewell (1982), pp. 218, 219.
- For a detailed consideration of classic B noir, see Lyons (2000).
- Finler (2003), pp. 214–15.
- Jewell (1982), p. 147.
- Schatz (1999), p. 175.
- Naremore (1998), p. 144.
- See Mank (2001), p. 274.
- Strawn (1974), p. 257.
- Lev (2003), p. 205.
- Lasky (1989), p. 229.
- See Finler (2003), pp. 357–58, for top films. Finler lists The Country Girl as 1955, when it made most of its money, but it premiered in December 1954. The Seven Year Itch replaces it in this analysis (the two films happen to be virtually identical in length).
- See, e.g., Matthews (2007), p. 92; Lyons (2000), p. 53.
- Lev (2003), pp. 60–61.
- Hurd (2007), pp. 10–13.
- Muller (1998), p. 176; Cousins (2004), p. 198.
- Jewell (1982), p. 272.
- Maltby (2000).
- Schrader (1972), p. 61; Silver (1995).
- Shapiro (2002), p. 96. See also Atomic Films: The CONELRAD 100 （頁面存檔備份，存於網際網路檔案館）.
- Kinnard (1988), pp. 67–73.
- Lev (2003), pp. 186, 184; Braucort (1970), p. 75.
- Auty (2005), p. 34. See also Shapiro (2002), pp. 120–24.
- Davis, Blair. The Battle for the Bs: 1950s Hollywood and the Rebirth of Low-Budget Cinema. Rutgers University Press. 2012-04-06 [2022-04-01]. ISBN 9780813553245. （原始內容存檔於2022-04-01） （英語）.
- Strawn (1974), p. 259; Lev (2003), p. 206.
- Lentz (2002), p. 17.
- Cook (2000), p. 324. See also p. 171.
- Denisoff and Romanowski (1991), pp. 64–65, 95–100, 105.
- Di Franco (1979), p. 3.
- Corman (1998), p. 36. It appears Corman made at least one true B picture—according to Arkoff, Apache Woman, to Corman's displeasure, was handled as a second feature (Strawn , p. 258).
- Rausch and Dequina (2008), p. 56.
- Heffernan (2004), pp. 102–4.
- Heffernan (2004), pp. 95–98.
- Segrave (1992), p. 33.
- Heffernan (2004), p. 161.
- Matthews (2007), p. 91.
- Cook (2000), p. 324.
- Nason (1959).
- Hirschhorn (1979), p. 343.
- Miami New Times|. [2022-04-01]. （原始內容存檔於2022-04-14）.
- Thompson (1960).
- Quoted in Di Franco (1979), p. 97.
- Per Corman, quoted in Di Franco (1979), p. 97.
- Quoted in Reid (2005a), p. 5.
- Schaefer (1999), pp. 187, 376.
- Schaefer (1999), p. 118.
- Schaefer (1992), p. 176, n. 1.
- Gibron, Bill. Something Weird Traveling Roadshow Films. DVD Verdict. July 24, 2003 [November 17, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於October 20, 2006）.
- Halperin (2006), p. 201.
- Frasier (1997), pp. 7–8, 13.
- Frasier (1997), pp. 9–11, 90; Denisoff and Romanowski (1991), pp. 116–18.
- Frank (1998), p. 186; McGilligan (1996), p. 183.
- Cook (2000), p. 222.
- Paul (1994), p. 33.
- Rockoff (2002), pp. 32–33.
- Langford (2005), p. 175.
- Heffernan (2004), p. 221; Cook (2002), pp. 70–71.
- Cook (2000), pp. 222–23.
- Heffernan (2004), pp. 190, 200–1.
- Cook (2000), p. 223.
- Canby (1969).
- Di Franco (1979), pp. 162, 165.
- See, e.g., Mathijs and Mendik (2008), p. 167; James (2005), pp. 282, 398; Cagin and Dray (1984), pp. 66–67.
- Cagin and Dray (1984), pp. 61–66.
- Financial figures per associate producer William L. Hayward, cited in Biskind (1998), p. 74.
- Cagin and Dray (1984), p. 53.
- See Finler (2003), p. 359, for top films. Finler lists Hello, Dolly! as 1970, when it made most of its money, but it premiered in December 1969. The Owl and the Pussycat, 51 minutes shorter, replaces it in this analysis.
- From 1955: Apache Woman, The Beast with a Million Eyes, Day the World Ended, The Fast and the Furious, and Five Guns West. From 1970: Angels Die Hard, Bloody Mama, The Dunwich Horror, Ivanna (aka Scream of the Demon Lover; U.S. premiere: 1971), and The Student Nurses. For purchase of Ivanna: Di Franco (1979), p. 164.
- Di Franco (1979), p. 160.
- Kael (1973), p. 269.
- Willis (1997), p. 254, n. 30.
- Lawrence (2008), p. 27.
- Cook (2000), p. 260.
- Van Peebles (2003).
- Haines (2003), p. 69; Landis and Clifford (2002), pp. 117–21.
- Haines (2003), p. 49; Landis and Clifford (2002), pp. 3–4.
- Merritt (2000), p. 229.
- Quoted in Reynaud (2006). See Reynaud also for Loden's fundraising efforts. See also Reynaud, Bérénice. For Wanda. Sense of Cinema. 1995 [December 29, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於2011-03-19）.
- Williams (1996), pp. 171–73.
- Wood (2003), pp. 118–19.
- Kauffman (1998), pp. 118–28; Williams (1996), pp. 198–200.
- See, e.g., Milne (2005), p. 389.
- Greenspun (1973).
- See, e.g., Stevenson (2003), pp. 49–50; Hollows (2003); Staiger (2000), p. 112.
- Merritt (2000), pp. 254–57.
- Hoberman and Rosenbaum (1983), p. 13.
- Cook (2000), pp. 266–71; Desser (2000).
- Ebert (1974).
- For the film's cost: West (1974), p. 9; Rockoff (2002), p. 42. For its influence: Sapolsky and Molitor (1996), p. 36; Rubin (1999), p. 155.
- For the film's cost and worldwide gross: Harper (2004), pp. 12–13. For its influence and debt to Black Christmas: Rockoff (2002), pp. 42–44, 50–55; Paul (1994), p. 320.
- Waterman (2005), pp. 38–39.
- Schaefer (1999), p. 224; Goodwin (1987), p. 341.
- Levine (2007), pp. 114–15.
- Paul (1994), pp. 288, 291.
- Paul (1994), p. 92.
- Heffernan (2004), p. 223.
- Superman (1978). Box Office Mojo. [December 29, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於2019-07-18）.
- See Major film studio#Organizational lineage for a record of the sales and mergers involving the eight major studios of the Golden Age.
- Finler (2003), p. 42. Prince (2002) gives $9 million as the average production cost in 1980, and a total of $13 million after adding on costs for manufacturing exhibition prints and marketing (p. 20). See also p. 21, chart 1.2. The Box Office Mojo website gives $9.4 million as the 1980 production figure; see Movie Box Office Results by Year, 1980–Present. Box Office Mojo. [December 29, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於December 30, 2006）.
- Lubasch (1979).
- Cook (2000), pp. 323–24.
- Collum (2004), pp. 11–14.
- Canby (1984).
- Petit (2005), p. 1481.
- Cost per Bruce Campbell, cited in Warren (2001), p. 45
- David Chute (Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, May 27, 1983), quoted in Warren (2001), p. 94.
- Kraus, Daniel. Tromatized!. Salon. October 30, 1999 [January 8, 2010]. （原始內容存檔於2011-02-06）.
- Morrow (1996), p. 112.
- Berra (2008), p. 74.
- Movie Box Office Results by Year, 1980–Present. Box Office Mojo. [December 29, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於December 30, 2006）.
- 1990 Yearly Box Office Results. Box Office Mojo. [December 29, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於December 6, 2006）. Dick Tracy literally had been B movie material—the character was featured in four low-budget RKO films in the 1940s. For how espionage and crimebusting thrillers were long "widely regarded as nothing more than B-movie fodder," see Chapman (2000), pp. 46–50.
- Heffernan (2004), p. 225.
- Finler (2003), p. 379.
- Finler (2003), pp. 287, 290.
- O'Connor (1995).
- Johnstone (1999), p. 16.
- King (2005), pp. 167, 170–75.
- Maslin (1997).
- Mottram (2006), pp. 197–98; Wyatt (1998), p. 78. For details of the film's distribution, see Lewis (2002), pp. 286–88.
- Mottram (2006), p. 75.
- 2005 Yearly Box Office Results. Box Office Mojo. [January 2, 2007]. （原始內容存檔於January 17, 2007）.
- See, e.g., Rausch, Andrew J. Roger Corman on Blair Witch Project and Why Mean Streets Would Have Made a Great Blaxploitation Film. Images. 2000 [August 13, 2010]. （原始內容存檔於2017-09-01）.Saroyan, Strawberry. King of the Killer B's. Telegraph. May 6, 2007 [August 13, 2010]. （原始內容存檔於January 11, 2022）.
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- Rabiger (2008), pp. 7, 10; Davies and Wistreich (2007), p. 5.
- Nashville Film Institute. What is CGI? – Everything You Need to Know. NFI. 2021 [January 7, 2021]. （原始內容存檔於2022-04-19）.
- Suddath, Claire. Inventing 'Sharknado': Inside Syfy's Booming B-Movie Factory. Bloomberg. 12 July 2013 [January 7, 2021].
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- See, e.g., Campos, Eric. David Payne: Do Fear the Reeker. Film Threat. December 12, 2005 [October 20, 2006]. （原始內容存檔於March 10, 2007）.
- See, e.g., Taves (1995), p. 323.
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- See, e.g., Quarles (2001), pp. 79–84.
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- Search My Trash （頁面存檔備份，存於網際網路檔案館）
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