Republic Pictures

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Republic Pictures Corporation
Typecorporation
Founded1935 (original)
1985 (relaunch)
Owner(s)Viacom
ParentParamount Pictures
 
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Republic Pictures Corporation
Typecorporation
Founded1935 (original)
1985 (relaunch)
Owner(s)Viacom
ParentParamount Pictures

Republic Pictures was an American independent film production-distribution corporation with studio facilities, operating from 1935 through 1959, and was best known for specializing in westerns, movie serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action.

The studio was also responsible for financing and distributing one Shakespeare film, Orson Welles' Macbeth (1948), and several of the films of John Ford during the 1940s and early 1950s. It was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers.

Corporate history[edit]

DVD front cover for The Adventures of Captain Marvel film serial (1941), the most celebrated of Republic's serials.

Created in 1935 by Herbert J. Yates, a longtime investor in film and music properties and founder and president of film processing laboratory Consolidated Film Industries, Republic was the result of a union of six smaller Poverty Row studios.

In the depths of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Yates' laboratory was servicing many Poverty Row studios. In 1935 Yates saw a chance to become a studio head himself. Six established Poverty Row companies (Monogram Pictures, Mascot Pictures, Liberty Pictures, Majestic Pictures, Chesterfield Pictures and Invincible Pictures) were all in debt to Yates' lab. He prevailed upon these studios to merge under his leadership (or otherwise face foreclosure on their outstanding lab bills). Yates' new company, Republic Pictures Corporation, was established as a collaborative enterprise focused on low-budget product.

Acquiring and integrating these six companies allowed Republic to begin life with an experienced production staff, a company of veteran B-film supporting players and at least one very promising star, a complete distribution system and a functioning and modern studio. In exchange for merging, the principals were promised independence in their productions under the Republic aegis, and higher budgets with which to improve the quality of the films.

After he had "learned the ropes" of film production and distribution from his partners, Yates began asserting more and more authority over their film departments, and dissension arose in the ranks. Carr and Johnston left and reactivated Monogram Pictures; Darmour resumed independent production for Columbia Pictures; Levine left and never recovered from the loss of his studio, staff and stars, all of whom now were contracted to Republic and Yates. Freed of partners, Yates presided over what was now his film studio and acquiring senior production and management staff who served him as employees, not experienced peers with independent ideas and agendas.

Republic also acquired Brunswick Records to record their singing cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and hired Cy Feuer as head of their music department.[1]

Types of films[edit]

In its early years Republic was itself sometimes labelled a "poverty row" company, as its primary products were B movies and serials. Republic, however, showed more interest in, and provided larger budgets to, these films than many of the larger studios were doing, and certainly more than other independents were able to. The heart of the company was its westerns, and many western-film leads, among them John Wayne, Gene Autry, Rex Allen and Roy Rogers, became recognizable stars at Republic. However, by the mid-1940s Yates was producing better-quality pictures, even mounting big-budget fare like The Quiet Man, Sands of Iwo Jima, Johnny Guitar and The Maverick Queen.

In 1947 Republic incorporated animation into its Gene Autry feature film Sioux City Sue. It turned out well enough for the studio to dabble in animated cartoons. After leaving Warner Bros. in 1946 (reportedly due to angering his peers at the studio's cartoon division for taking credit that was not really his), Bob Clampett approached Republic and wound up directing a single cartoon, It's a Grand Old Nag, featuring the equine character Charlie Horse. Republic management, however, had second thoughts due to dwindling profits, and discontinued the series.[2] Clampett took his direction credit under the name "Kilroy".

From the mid-1940s Republic films often featured Vera Hruba Ralston, a former ice-skater from Czechoslovakia who had won the heart of studio boss Yates, becoming the second Mrs. Yates in 1949. She was originally featured in musicals as Republic's answer to Sonja Henie, but Yates tried to build her up as a dramatic star, casting her in leading roles opposite important male stars. Yates billed her as "the most beautiful woman in films," but her charms were lost on the moviegoing public and exhibitors complained that Republic was making too many Ralston pictures. Years later John Wayne admitted that the reason he left Republic in 1952 was the threat of having to make another picture—he had endured two—with Miss Ralston. Yates remained Ralston's biggest supporter, and she continued to appear in Republic features until its very last production.

Republic produced many "hillbilly" and rural musicals and comedies featuring Bob Burns, The Weaver Brothers and Judy Canova that were popular in many rural areas of the United States.[3]

With production costs increasing, Yates organised Republic's output into four types of films: "Jubilee", usually a western shot in seven days for about $50,000; "Anniversary", filmed in 14 to 15 days for $175,000 to $200,000; "Deluxe", major productions made with a budget of around $500,000; and "Premiere", which were usually made by top-rank directors who did not usually work for Republic, such as John Ford, Fritz Lang and Frank Borzage, and which could have a budget of $1,000,000 or more.[4] Some of these "Deluxe" films were from independent production companies that were picked up for release by Republic.

Although Republic made most of its films in black and white, it occasionally produced a higher-budgeted film, such as The Red Pony (1949) and The Quiet Man (1952), in Technicolor. During the late-1940s and 1950s Yates utilized a low-cost Cinecolor process called Trucolor in many of his films, including Johnny Guitar (1954), The Last Command and Magic Fire (1956).

In 1956 Republic came up with its own widescreen film process, Naturama, with The Maverick Queen the first film made in that process.[5]

In the television era[edit]

Republic was one of the first Hollywood studios to offer its film library to television. In 1951 Republic established a subsidiary, Hollywood Television Service, to sell screening rights in its vintage westerns and action thrillers. Many of these films, especially the westerns, were edited to fit in a one-hour television slot. Hollywood Television Service also produced television shows filmed in the same style as Republic's serials, such as The Adventures of Fu Manchu (1956). Also, in 1952 the Republic studio lot became the first home of MCA's series factory, Revue Productions. While it appeared that Republic was well suited for television-series production, it did not have the finances or vision to do so. Yet by the mid-1950s, thanks to its sale of old features and leasing of studio space to MCA, television was the prop holding up Republic Pictures. During this period Republic produced Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe; unsuccessful as a theater release, the 12-part serial was later sold to NBC for television distribution. Talent-agent MCA exerted influence at the studio, bringing in some high-paid clients for occasional features, and it was rumored at various times that either MCA or deposed MGM head Louis B. Mayer would buy the studio outright. From 1953–1954 Republic produced The Pride of the Family, a situation comedy on ABC starring Paul Hartman, Fay Wray and Natalie Wood. From 1954–1955 the studio produced Stories of the Century, starring and narrated by Jim Davis. The syndicated series was the first western to win an Emmy Award.

As the demand and market for motion pictures declined with the increasing popularity of television, Republic began to cut back on its films, slowing production from 40 features annually in the early 1950s to 18 in 1957. A tearful Yates informed shareholders at the 1958 annual meeting that feature-film production was ending; the distribution offices were shut down the following year. In 1959, Victor M. Carter, a Los Angeles businessman and turn-around specialist,[6] acquired controlling interest in the floundering company, becoming its president. Carter turned Republic around, building it into a diversified business which included plastics and appliances, in addition to its film and studio rentals and Consolidated Film Industries, renaming the company Republic Corporations.[7] Having used the studio for series production for years, Republic began leasing its backlot to other firms in 1963, including CBS. In 1967 Republics' studio was purchased outright by CBS [8] and, having more than quadrupled the stock price for shareholders, Carter sold his controlling interest.[6] Today it is known as CBS Studio Center. In 2006 it became home to the network's Los Angeles stations KCBS-TV and KCAL-TV. In 2008 the CBS Network relocated from its Hollywood Television City location to the Radford lot. All network executives now reside on the lot.

The studio's parent company, Republic Corporation, survived for some years on Consolidated Film Industries and the company manufacturing household appliances. Other than producing a 1966 package of 26 "Century 66" 100-minute made-for-TV movies edited from some of the studio's serials to cash in on the popularity of the Batman television series, Republic Pictures' role in Hollywood ended with the sale of the studio lot. Republic sold its library of films to National Telefilm Associates (NTA).

Aftermath[edit]

During the early-1980s NTA re-syndicated most of the Republic film library for use by then-emerging cable television, and found itself so successful with these product lines that, in January 1985, the company was renamed Republic Pictures Corporation.[9] A television-production unit was set up under the Republic name, and offered, among other things, the CBS series Beauty and the Beast and game show Press Your Luck (the rights to the latter series have since acquired by FremantleMedia). There were also a few theatrical films, including Freeway, Ruby in Paradise, Dark Horse, Live Nude Girls and Bound. The "new" Republic also began marketing the original's serial library on videotape.

In 1993 Republic won a landmark legal decision reactivating the copyright on Frank Capra's 1946 RKO film It's a Wonderful Life (under NTA, they had already acquired the film's negative, music score, and the story on which it was based, "The Greatest Gift").

On April 27, 1994, Spelling Entertainment (headed by Aaron Spelling) acquired Republic Pictures. Soon after, Spelling consolidated its many divisions, reducing Republic Pictures to a marketing brand-name. Republic's video division shut down in 1995, allowing the video rights to the Republic library to be leased to Artisan Entertainment, while the library itself continued to be released under the Republic name and logo. By the end of the decade, Viacom bought the portion of Spelling it did not own previously; thus Republic became a wholly owned division of Paramount. Artisan (later sold to Lionsgate Home Entertainment) continued to use the Republic name, logo and library under license from Paramount. Republic Pictures' holdings consist of a catalog of 3,000 films and TV series, including the original Republic library (except for the Roy Rogers and Gene Autry catalogs, owned by their respective estates) and inherited properties from NTA and Aaron Spelling.

In 2012, library holder Richard Feiner & Company sued Paramount for the unauthorized exploitation of 17 films from the 1940s and 1950s originally released by Warner Bros. Feiner sold Republic Pictures the "rights, and interest of every kind, nature, and description throughout the Universe" to the films in 1986, but retained the license to exploit the films in major U.S. markets (New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, etc.). Plaintiff claimed that the films aired on cable several times without their knowledge. The case was later settled, with Feiner now sharing in the royalties.[10][11]

Republic has since folded, and as of the present is part of Melange Pictures, LLC, established by Viacom as a holding company for the Republic library. The video rights, in turn, shifted from Lionsgate to Olive Films (under license from Paramount). However, both the Republic name and its logo are still being used on its in-house reissues on DVD and Blu-ray through Olive as they remain licensed trademarks of Viacom.

Notable Republic Pictures[edit]

1930s[edit]

Release DateTitle
May 15, 1935The Headline Woman
July 10, 1935Born to Gamble
August 19, 1935Westward Ho
September 5, 1935Tumbling Tumbleweeds
September 12, 1935Two Sinners
September 24, 1935The Crime of Dr. Crespi
September 25, 1935Cappy Ricks Returns
October 5, 1935Forbidden Heaven
October 5, 1935The New Frontier
October 9, 1935The Spanish Cape Mystery
October 21, 1935Melody Trail
October 22, 19351,000 Dollars a Minute
November 4, 1935Lawless Range
November 19, 1935Racing Luck
December 2, 1935Forced Landing
December 2, 1935The Sagebrush Troubadour
December 3, 1935Frisco Waterfront
December 16, 1935The Singing Vagabond
December 28, 1935Hitch Hike Lady
January 18, 1936The Oregon Trail
January 20, 1936Dancing Feet
January 20, 1936The Leavenworth Case
February 15, 1936The Lawless Nineties
February 17, 1936The Leathernecks Have Landed
February 22, 1936The Return of Jimmy Valentine
March 2, 1936Red River Valley
March 4, 1936Laughing Irish Eyes
March 9, 1936King of the Pecos
March 27, 1936Doughnuts and Society
April 3, 1936The House of a Thousand Candles
April 13, 1936Comin’ Round the Mountain
April 14, 1936Federal Agent
April 18, 1936The Harvester
April 20, 1936The Girl from Mandalay
May 1, 1936Frankie and Johnny
May 11, 1936The Singing Cowboy
May 22, 1936Burning Gold
May 25, 1936The Lonely Trail
May 26, 1936Hearts in Bondage
May 30, 1936Down to the Sea
June 2, 1936Navy Born
June 16, 1936Go-Get-'Em, Haines
June 22, 1936Guns and Guitars
June 25, 1936Ticket to Paradise
July 6, 1936Winds of the Wasteland
August 11, 1936Follow Your Heart
August 15, 1936The Gentleman from Louisiana
August 19, 1936Oh, Susanna!
September 11, 1936Sitting on the Moon
September 13, 1936Bulldog Edition
September 22, 1936The Three Mesquiteers
September 24, 1936Undercover Man
September 28, 1936The President's Mystery
September 30, 1936Ride Ranger Ride
October 5, 1936Cavalry
October 26, 1936Ghost-Town Gold
November 9, 1936Country Gentlemen
November 16, 1936The Big Show
November 18, 1936The Gun Ranger
December 1, 1936The Bold Caballero
December 9, 1936Roarin' Lead
December 14, 1936Happy Go Lucky
December 21, 1936Beware of Ladies
December 21, 1936The Old Corral
December 23, 1936The Mandarin Mystery
December 28, 1936A Man Betrayed
January 4, 1937Riders of the Whistling Skull
January 11, 1937Larceny on the Air
January 25, 1937Join the Marines
February 15, 1937The Gambling Terror
February 15, 1937Two Wise Maids
February 22, 1937Paradise Express
February 28, 1937Round-Up Time in Texas
March 1, 1937Circus Girl
March 3, 1937Hit the Saddle
March 22, 1937Bill Cracks Down
March 24, 1937Lightnin' Crandall
March 27, 1937Git Along Little Dogies
March 29, 1937Navy Blues
March 29, 1937Trail of Vengeance
April 5, 1937Jim Hanvey, Detective
April 6, 1937Lawless Land
April 22, 1937Bar-Z Bad Men
April 26, 1937Hit Parade of 1937
May 4, 1937The Trusted Outlaw
May 5, 1937Gunsmoke Ranch
May 12, 1937Rootin' Tootin' Rhythm
May 13, 1937Guns in the Dark
May 15, 1937Michael O'Halloran
May 18, 1937Gun Lords of Stirrup Basin
May 24, 1937Affairs of Cappy Ricks
May 24, 1937Come on, Cowboys
June 7, 1937Border Phantom
June 7, 1937Dangerous Holiday
June 14, 1937Yodelin' Kid from Pine Ridge
June 21, 1937A Lawman Is Born
June 21, 1937Rhythm in the Clouds
June 28, 1937It Could Happen to You!
June 30, 1937Range Defenders
July 7, 1937Doomed at Sundown
July 12, 1937Meet the Boy Friend
July 19, 1937The Red Rope
July 31, 1937Bulldog Drummond at Bay
August 2, 1937Boothill Brigade
August 20, 1937Sea Racketeers
August 22, 1937Tenth Avenue Kid
August 23, 1937Public Cowboy No. 1
September 1, 1937Escape by Night
September 1, 1937Ridin' the Lone Trail
September 6, 1937Heart of the Rockies
September 6, 1937The Sheik Steps Out
September 8, 1937All Over Town
September 24, 1937Arizona Gunfighter
October 4, 1937Boots and Saddles
October 4, 1937Youth on Parole
October 11, 1937The Wrong Road
October 18, 1937The Trigger Trio
November 8, 1937Portia on Trial
November 13, 1937Springtime in the Rockies
November 26, 1937Manhattan Merry-Go-Round
November 29, 1937The Duke Comes Back
December 6, 1937The Colorado Kid
December 6, 1937Wild Horse Rodeo
December 15, 1937Glamorous Night
December 20, 1937Exiled to Shanghai
December 22, 1937Lady Behave!
December 22, 1937Mama Runs Wild

1930s and 1940s[edit]

1950s[edit]

Release DateTitle
October 6, 1951Adventures of Captain Fabian
October 26, 1956Above Us the Waves
December 21, 1956Accused of Murder
January 25, 1957Duel at Apache Wells
February 15, 1957Affair in Reno
March 8, 1957Hell's Crossroads
April 5, 1957Spoilers of the Forest
May 31, 1957The Lawless Eighties
June 21, 1957Journey to Freedom
June 28, 1957The Unearthly
June 28, 1957Beginning of the End
July 15, 1957The Last Stagecoach West
September 7, 1957Pawnee
September 15, 1957Taming Sutton's Gal
September 22, 1957The Wayward Girl
October 6, 1967Hell Canyon Outlaws
October 18, 1957Panama Sal
November 1, 1957Raiders of Old California
November 11, 1957The Crooked Circle
November 15, 1957Eighteen and Anxious
November 25, 1957Man from Tangier
December 6, 1957Hell Ship Mutiny
December 13, 1957Gunfire at Indian Gap
December 25, 1957West of Suez
January 10, 1958Outcasts of the City
February 7, 1958Scotland Yard Dragnet
February 28, 1958The Notorious Mr. Monks
March 21, 1958Morning Call
April 24, 1958Juvenile Jungle
April 24, 1958Young and Wild
May 1, 1958Showdown at Boot Hill
May 30, 1958Man or Gun
June 1, 1958Girl in the Woods
June 6, 1958The Man Who Died Twice
June 11, 1958Street of Darkness
October 3, 1958No Place to Land
December 2, 1958Invisible Avenger
January 23, 1959Plunderers of Painted Flats
February 13, 1959OSS 117 Is Not Dead
February 25, 1959Hidden Homicide

Republic Serials[edit]

1990s[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Feuer, Cy and Gross, Ken I Got The Show Right Here: The Amazing, True Story of How an Obscure Brooklyn Horn Player Became the Last Great Broadway Showman Simon & Schuster 2003
  2. ^ Beck, Jerry; Amidi, Amid. "It's a Grand Old Nag". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved October 30, 2009. 
  3. ^ p.161 Harkins, Anthony Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon" 2005 Oxford University Press
  4. ^ p.276 Roberts, Randy & Olson, James Stewart John Wayne: American 1997 University of Nebraska Press
  5. ^ Naturama - Republic's New Wide - Screen Process. Widescreenmuseum.com. Retrieved on 2013-08-18.
  6. ^ a b Tugend, Tom (April 1, 2004). "Victor M. Carter Dies at 94". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  7. ^ Staff Writer, Times (April 2, 2004). "Victor Carter, 94; Businessman Gave Time, Money to Southland Charities". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  8. ^ Hurst, Richard M. (2007). Republic Studios: Beyond Poverty Row and the Majors, p. 222. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ RICHARD FEINER v. PARAMOUNT 95 A.D.3d 232 (2012) 941 N.Y.S.2d 157 2012 NY Slip Op 2593 RICHARD FEINER AND COMPANY INC., Respondent, v. PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION, Appellant. 6227 Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department. Decided April 5, 2012.
  11. ^ Gardner, Eriq. Paramount Gets Mixed Rulings in Legal Cases Over 'La Dolce Vita,' 'Johnny Come Lately.' The Hollywood Reporter (April 24, 2012)
  12. ^ [2]

References[edit]

External links[edit]