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Film Genres: B movies

This guide highlights library resources for some of the more popular film genres.

A short definition

1. A low-budget film shown as part of a double bill alongside a major studio release.

2. A second-best film comparing unfavourably with the main attraction. Associated with US cinema in the 1930s (though appearing from the late 1910s), the rise of the double bill was in part a consequence of Depression-era innovation, with filmmakers and exhibitors having to work harder to maintain their audience. B-movies were often but not always genre films, with the western, science fiction, the crime film, and the horror film predominating. The term B-actor is sometimes used to refer to a performer who finds work primarily or exclusively in B-movies. The major Hollywood studios (see studio system) made some B-movies, which enabled resources to be used as efficiently as possible, with sets, costumes, etc., recycled from other higher-budget films. A number of dedicated B-movie studios were also established: these were known as the ‘B-Hive’ or Poverty Row, and included Republic Pictures, Monogram Productions, and Grand National Films.

Kuhn, A.and Westwell, G. (2012). "B-movie." In A Dictionary of Film Studies. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 16 Feb. 2017.

Finding library resource about B movies

Below are several subject headings to help you search the online catalog:

Introductory reading(s)

Selected book titles

Finding articles & journals

Articles and other writings about B-movies can be found in many publications. You can use Film & Television Literature Index to find articles or use the Summon box below. However, to see what titles there are, you can search in Worldcat. Use a subject search with the terms "b movies" or "low budget films" and "periodicals."

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Selected movie titles

For more B movies, click here.

Keeping up with the journal literature

Want an easy way to keep up with the journal literature for all facets of Film Studies? And you use a mobile device? You can install the BrowZine app and create a custom Bookshelf of your favorite journal titles. Then you will get the Table of Contents (ToCs) of your favorite journals automatically delivered to you when they become available. Once you have the ToC's you can download and read the articles you want.

You can get the app from the App Store or Google Play.

Don't own or use a mobile device? You can still use BrowZine! It's now available in a web version. You can get to it here. The web version works the same way as the app version. Find the journals you like, create a custom Bookshelf, get ToCs and read the articles you want.