Book Review: Poverty Row Studios 1929-1940

As I mentioned on Monday, this is the book that inspired me to take a closer look at Poverty Row studios and seek out more of those films. However, the book itself does deserve some highlighting.

Clearly, when you’re dealing with non-fiction film writing there will be some occasions when an opinion will be espoused that you don’t agree with, but the only way you agree with everything is if you write it yourself. The book is informative, engaging, at times funny, and very well cross-referenced, which is good when many of these studios had crossover actors, studio heads, writers and the like.

The introductory paragraphs give you a great overview of the company’s history, as long or short as it may have been. There are synopses and cast and crew listings for most all titles included in the volume and occasional synopsis/reviews for some films.

The introduction to the book itself states that it does not include Mascot or Monogram films (for the purposes of my theme I may seek those out myself) mainly because dedicated volumes to said studio were put out by the same publisher so it would prove redundant. Also not included is Republic Pictures who was close to being in between a major studio and a Poverty Row studio absorbing many debt-ridden indies and having some big budget films later in its existence.

The stories both on the business end and of the films are told conversationally, cordially and with enthusiasm, which makes it a very fun read indeed.