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Producers Releasing Corporation

 

Producers Releasing Corporation was one of the less prestigious of the Hollywood film studios. It was considered a prime example of what was called "Poverty Row", a term originally applied to a stretch of Gower Street in Hollywood known for being the headquarters of a plethora of low-budget production companies, mainly because the rents were cheap. Many of these companies would make only a few low-budget "B" pictures, then disappear; others, like PRC and Monogram, lasted for a longer period of time and some even had their own studio facilities (though most only rented studio space on larger studios' lots). PRC lasted from 1939-47, churning out low-budget B-movies for the lower half of a double bill or the upper half of a neighborhood cinema showing second-run films. The company was substantial enough to not only produce but distribute its own product and some imports from the UK, and operated its own studio facility, first at 1440 N. Gower St. (on the lot that eventually became Columbia Pictures) from 1936–43, then the complex used by the defunct Grand National Pictures from 1943-46, located at 7324 Santa Monica Blvd. This address is now an apartment complex.
A notable film for the studio was Baby Face Morgan, a tongue-in-cheek gangster epic with Mary Carlisle, Robert Armstrong and Richard Cromwell, directed by German emigre Arthur Dreifuss. According to B Movies by Don Miller, "Most of the remainder of the 1942 PRC product dealt with gangsters, crime or whodunit puzzles, reliable standbys of the indie companies catering to action and grind theater houses. Baby Face Morgan played it for laughs, with Cromwell as a rube posing as a tough racketeer. Armstrong, [co-star] Chick Chandler and Carlisle lent strong support, and while it never scaled any heights it was a passable spoof of the genre.
PRC was purchased by Pathe Industries, though the only noticeable change was of the name of the company's production arm to PRC Pictures Inc. The company otherwise continued to flourish within its own element until after World War II, with two series΄the Michael Shayne detective series with Hugh Beaumont (six entries) and Eddie Dean with a series of singing cowboy westerns in Cinecolor, the first western series to be filmed in color.
The distribution arm of the company was disbanded with the formation of Eagle-Lion Films Inc. in 1946; the production arm (and with it the entire company) followed suit shortly thereafter in 1947. PRC's final production was James Flood's The Big Fix (1947).
Madison Pictures Inc. released PRC's product for both television showing and cinema re-releases until 1955. Madison was formed in late December 1945 and, headed by Armand Schenck, a former supervisor of PRC's branch operations and previously an executive with Commonwealth Film Corporation and later Pathe Laboratories, a subsidiary of Pathe Industries. Madison was bought by United Artists.
As early as 1950 the American CBS Television network was screening PRC films on television. Many PRC films are now in the public domain and appear on budget DVDs.

 

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