Hollywood Renegades Archive

The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers

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THE SIMPP RESEARCH DATABASE

COBBLESTONE ENTERTAINMENT

"Poverty Row"

Independent Distributors: The Indy Studios of Old Hollywood

  • Monogram
  • Allied Artists
  • Also: the Rise of the Mirisch Company

Excerpt from Hollywood Renegades by J. A. Aberdeen


Monogram Becomes Allied Artists

Some of the old Poverty Row distributors tried to use the independent movement to launch their studios into the majors. B-movie company Monogram formed a subsidiary in 1945 called Allied Artists Pictures Corporation, which sounded not-so-coincidentally like the United Artists tradename that was already synonymous with prestige filmmaking.

The Monogram Studios of Hollywood's "Poverty Row" independent distributors.

Steve Broidy

The president of Allied Artists was Steve Broidy who headed IMPPA, the Independent Motion Picture Producers Association—the organization that served as the independent-distributor equivalent of SIMPP. (IMPPA older than SIMPP, and with a confusingly-similar name, lacked the clout of SIMPP since it was mostly an organization of low-budget studios which concentrated on Westerns and "action dramas." But the 35-member independent distributor association still had a deal of influence in the industry in the 1930s and 1940s.)

Allied had an auspicious beginning as an A-movie producer-distributor, but like the other Poverty Row studios, was unable to make the conversion into the ranks of the majors. William Wyler produced and directed his classic Friendly Persuasion (1956) at Allied Artists. Walter Wanger, who signed with them 1951, praised the structure of Allied which had studio administration and filmmakers on the same coast. Without the split authority between east-coast executives and west-coast talent, filmmaking was less cumbersome and studio overhead decreased.

The Mirisch Company

Allied Artists also spawned one of the most important independent production companies of the post-SIMPP era—the Mirisch Company, formed in August 1957 by the three brothers Harold, Marvin, and Walter Mirisch. The Mirisches controlled production at Allied for many years before going independent. They took some of the important Allied talent with them, promising their directors creative freedom in addition to liberal profit participation.

They envisioned the Mirisch Company as a haven for independent filmmakers who did not wish to deal with the business duties of an independent production company. Many actors, directors, and even other producers found stability and creative autonomy under the umbrella structure of the company. The brothers signed a 12-picture deal with United Artists in 1957, which was extended to 20 films two years later. The Mirisch Company moved to the Samuel Goldwyn Studios where they became the largest tenant, creating such films as Some Like It Hot (1959), The Magnificent Seven (1960), West Side Story (1961), and The Pink Panther (1964).


SOURCES:

Wanger at Allied Artists: "William R. Weaver, "Wanger's Allied Artists Deal Excites Interest," MPH, August 4, 1951.
IMPPA: Fred Stanley, "More About the Hollywood Scene," NYT, August 27, 1944, sec. II, p. 3.

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