The One about The Monogram Checklist: The Films of Monogram Pictures Corporation, 1931-1952

monogram

I watch and review a lot of films each year and each time I sit down and watch a Monogram Pictures film, I get a little excited and that is because I’m a big fan of B-films made from the 1930’s-1940’s.  More specifically, I’m a fan of films from Monogram Pictures.

For those not familiar with Monogram Pictures and those who do know the company and roll their eyebrows and the mention of the Hollywood Studio,  Monogram Pictures is a known for producing and releasing low budget films between 1931-1953.

Considered a leader among the smaller studios at the time (which have received the distinction of being called “Poverty Row”), Monogram Pictures was created in 1931 by the merger of two companies, Sono Art-World Wide Pictures and Ray Johnston’s Rayart company.

And while the Hollywood Studio will be known for its Charlie Chan films or films featuring the Bowery Boys, as MGM and other companies are releasing Monogram Pictures films they acquired through their made-on-demand DVD services or for those who have discovered Monogram Pictures films from those huge Mill Creek classic DVD sets or released by other public domain companies, after watching a few of these films, some that are fun and a sign of the times to films that are just so terribly written that you can’t help but laugh at the production quality or horrid writing.

Fortunately, I have seen more of these rare gems rather than craptastic low-budget cinema that I have begun to enjoy them.

From the fun and crazy adaptation of “The Shadow” in the second Monogram Pictures “Shadow” 1946 film titled “Behind the Mask”, the silly murder in a department store in the 1945 film “Role Model”, the Private Investigator who will take the job for the right price in the 1942 film “The Living Ghost” to one of my favorite music-driven romantic comedies in the 1943 film “Campus Rhythm”.

Suffice to say, I have seen probably on two dozen Monogram Pictures film and I have been wanting to watch more and some that I do during my non-reviewing days, where I just want to sit back and laugh.

But I want to watch more and with so many collections being released by Mill Creek, DVD’s via the major companies through Made-on-Demand services, I just need to make sure what I’m getting is actually Monogram films or find out which are Monogram films.

And similar to silent films which I tend to look for indexes and review collections as reference, it’s not easy to find information on Poverty Row films because frankly, a lot of these films are just inaccessible and because they weren’t big blockbuster films, you just feel lucky if you ever find any DVD releases.

But for Monogram Pictures, while there is no review book for these films, there is an index book titled “The Monogram Checklist: The Films of Monogram Pictures Corporation, 1931-1952” courtesy of Ted Okuda published back in 1997 through McFarland Classics.

“The Monogram Checklist: The Films of Monogram Pictures Corporation, 1931-1952” is a book that lists every Monogram Pictures films by date of release from 1931-1952 and features information on who directed, who wrote, who starred in the film with a brief synopsis, duration and release date.  Also, included are the short subjects released by Monogram Pictures.

Also, included in the book are some photographs and posters of the films, which is a nice addition as most cinema indexes that I own are just straight text and no images.

For any Monogram Pictures fans, Ted Okuda’s “The Monogram Checklist: The Films of Monogram Pictures Corporation, 1931-1952” is a wonderful reference guide to all films released by Monogram Pictures.

While it would have been nice to have a book with reviews of these films, as mentioned, accessibility to these films are difficult.  But as more and more are being released via DVD collections or made-on-demand services, hopefully by using this book as a reference can possibly help in looking for these films and obtaining them on video.

If anything, Okuda’s book is well-researched and while I’m not an erudite to know if every films released by Monogram Pictures are in this book, I wouldn’t be surprise if most of them are.  Okuda did a thorough job in featuring these films in the index.

Once again, this is an index, not a review book.  It’s a straight-up reference book and something that I have been looking for as I become more and more interested in obtaining Monogram Pictures films.  And while index books for silent films to classic Hollywood films are typically never cheap, with this book being published over 15-years ago, you may be able to find it used.  But still, it’s worth the investment if you are wanting to watch and obtain Monogram Pictures films.

If you are looking for a valuable reference book on Monogram Pictures, “The Monogram Checklist: The Films of Monogram Pictures Corporation, 1931-1952” by Ted Okuda is highly recommended!

Dennis A. Amith