Republic Pictures

Republic Pictures Corporation was an American motion picture production-distribution corporation in operation from 1935 to 1967, that was based in Los Angeles, California. It had studio facilities in Studio City and a movie ranch in Encino. It was best known for specializing in Westerns, serials and B films emphasizing mystery and action. Republic was also notable for developing the careers of John Wayne, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. It was also responsible for the financing and distribution of several John Ford-directed films during the 1940s and early 1950s and one Shakespeare film, Macbeth (1948), directed by Orson Welles.

Republic Pictures Corporation
Motion pictures
Founded1935 (original), 1985 (reboot)
Defunct1958 (Sold to National Telefilm Associates) (original), 1996 (reboot)
HeadquartersStudio City, Los Angeles, California
OwnerNational Amusements

Company history

Adventures of captain marvel
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 (having invested in 20th Century Pictures at its founding in 1933)[1] and owner of the film processing laboratory Consolidated Film Industries, Republic was initially formed by Yates' acquisition of six smaller independent Poverty Row studios.[1][2]

In the depths of the Great Depression, Yates' laboratory was no longer servicing the major studios, which had developed their own in-house laboratories for purposes of both economy and control, while the small, independent producers were going under in the face of Depression-born increased competition from the majors combined with the general impact of the depressed economy. In 1935 he thus decided to create a studio of his own to insure Consolidated's stability. Six surviving small 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 else face foreclosure on their outstanding lab bills. Yates' new company, Republic Pictures Corporation, was presented to their producer-owners [1] as a collaborative enterprise focused on low-budget product.

  • The largest of Republic's components was Monogram Pictures, run by producers Trem Carr and W. Ray Johnston, which specialized in "B" films and operated a nationwide distribution system.[1]
  • The most technologically advanced of the studios that now comprised Republic was Nat Levine's Mascot Pictures Corporation, which had been making serials almost exclusively since the mid-'20s and had a first-class production facility, the former Mack Sennett-Keystone lot in Studio City. Mascot also had just discovered Gene Autry and signed him to a contract as a singing cowboy star.
  • Larry Darmour's Majestic Pictures had developed an exhibitor following with big-name stars and rented sets giving his humble productions a polished look.
  • Republic took its original "Liberty Bell" logo from M.H. Hoffman's Liberty Pictures (not to be confused with Frank Capra's short-lived Liberty Films that produced his It's a Wonderful Life, coincidentally now owned by Republic) as well as Hoffman's talents as a low-budet film producer.
  • Chesterfield Pictures and Invincible Pictures, two sister companies under the same ownership, were skilled in producing low-budget melodramas and mysteries.

Acquiring and integrating these six companies enabled 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 basics 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 in 1937;[1] 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. Meanwhile, Yates installed a staff of new, "associate" producers who were loyal to him. 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 its singing cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers and hired Cy Feuer as head of its music department.[3]

At the 1958 annual meeting, Yates announced the end of motion picture production.[1]

Movie studio

Types of films

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 its many western-film leads — among them John Wayne, Gene Autry, Rex Allen and Roy Rogers — became recognizable stars at Republic. However, by the mid-'40s Yates was producing better-quality pictures, mounting big-budget fare like The Quiet Man, Sands of Iwo Jima, Johnny Guitar and The Maverick Queen. Another distinguishing aspect of the studio was Yates' avoidance of any controversial subject matter, adhering to the Breen Office, in contrast to the other studios which dodged the Production Code.

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 because of 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 owing to dwindling profits, and discontinued the series.[4] Clampett took his direction credit under the name "Kilroy". Republic also made another cartoon series in 1949 (this time without Clampett) called Jerky Journeys, but only four cartoons were made.[5]

From the mid-'40s 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 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" rural musicals and comedies featuring Bob Burns, The Weaver Brothers and Judy Canova that were popular in many rural areas of the United States.[6]

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 14-15 days for $175,000-$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.[7] 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 '40s and '50s Yates utilized a low-cost Cinecolor process called Trucolor in many of his films, including Johnny Guitar (1954), The Last Command (1955), 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.[8]

Perhaps inspired by the success of American International Pictures catering to teenaged audiences, Republic released several films in the late 1950s about juvenile delinquency such as The Wayward Girl (1957), Juvenile Jungle (1958) and Young and Wild (1958).

Television era

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-'50s, thanks to its sale of old features and leasing of studio space to MCA, television was the prop supporting Republic. During this period the studio 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 1953-54 Republic produced The Pride of the Family, a situation comedy on ABC starring Paul Hartman, Fay Wray and Natalie Wood. From 1954-55 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 '50s to 18 in 1957 (on 1956--the year the company had recorded a profit of $919,000--it temporarily ceased production of features.[9])

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.[10][11]

Republic serials

Republic Corporations

In 1959 Victor M. Carter, a Los Angeles businessman and turnaround specialist,[12] acquired controlling interest in the floundering company, becoming its president. He turned Republic into a diversified business that included plastics and appliances in addition to its film and studio rentals and Consolidated Film Industries, renaming the company Republic Corporations.[13] Having used the studio for series production for years, Republic began leasing its backlot to other firms, including CBS, in 1963. In 1967 Republic's studio was purchased outright by CBS[14] and, having more than quadrupled the stock price for shareholders, Carter sold his controlling interest.[12] 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).

Today the studio lot 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.


During the early 1980s NTA resyndicated 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 acquired rights to the logos and the name "Republic Pictures Corporation", and renamed itself as such.[15] 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. There were also a few theatrical films, including Freeway, Ruby in Paradise, Dark Horse, Live Nude Girls and Bound. At the same time, subsidiary NTA Home Entertainment was renamed Republic Pictures Home Video and began remarketing the original Republic's film library.

In 1993 this new Republic won a landmark legal decision reactivating the copyright on Frank Capra's 1946 RKO film It's a Wonderful Life (under NTA, it 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 and controlled by Blockbuster Entertainment, acquired the Republic Pictures library; soon after, Blockbuster's established home video unit, Worldvision Home Video, merged with Republic's and took the latter's name.[16] Later that year, Blockbuster merged with Viacom.

In 1996, Republic shut down its film production unit.[17] In September 1997, Republic's video rental operations were taken over by Paramount Home Video; its sell-through operations remained.[18] In September 1998, Spelling licensed the American and Canadian video rights to its library to Artisan Entertainment,[19] 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 & Co. sued Paramount for the unauthorized exploitation of 17 films from the '40s and '50s 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.[20][21]

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.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Dixon, Wheeler Winston (August 28, 2012). Death of the Moguls: The End of Classical Hollywood (illustrated ed.). Rutgers University Press. p. 67, 152, 156. ISBN 9780813553788. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Stephens, E. J.; Wanamaker, Marc (2014). Early Poverty Row Studios. Arcadia Publishing. p. 8. ISBN 9781439648292. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  3. ^ Feuer, Cy (August 1, 2005). I Got the Show Right Here: The Amazing True Story of How an Obscure Brooklyn Horn Player Became the Last Great Broadway Showman. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 25. ISBN 9781557836588. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Beck, Jerry; Amidi, Amid. "It's a Grand Old Nag". Cartoon Brew. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved October 30, 2009.
  6. ^ p.161 Harkins, Anthony Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon" 2005 Oxford University Press
  7. ^ p.276 Roberts, Randy & Olson, James Stewart John Wayne: American 1997 University of Nebraska Press
  8. ^ Naturama - Republic's New Wide - Screen Process. Retrieved on 2013-08-18.
  9. ^ Option Reported Given For President's Stock In Republic Pictures: H.J. Yates Is Said to have Granted Investment Banking Concern 60-Day Option Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 May 1956: 6.
  10. ^ Republic Pictures Calls '59 Outlook Bright Wall Street Journal (1923 - Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 Feb 1959: 21.
  11. ^ Film Making to Be Ended by Republic: Studio Will Step Up Efforts to Rent Lot Use to Independents Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 Apr 1958: B1
  12. ^ a b Tugend, Tom (April 1, 2004). "Victor M. Carter Dies at 94". Jewish Journal. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help). Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  13. ^ Staff Writer, Times (April 2, 2004). "Victor Carter, 94; Businessman Gave Time, Money to Southland Charities". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 14 December 2013.
  14. ^ Hurst, Richard M. (2007). Republic Studios: Beyond Poverty Row and the Majors, p. 222. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press
  15. ^ From the Associated Press (1985-01-08). "Republic Pictures' Eagle Flies Again". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  16. ^ Lichtman, Irv (1994-05-28). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 82.
  17. ^ Carver, Benedict (1998-09-09). "Artisan to distrib Republic". Retrieved 2016-09-09.
  18. ^ Fitzpatrick, Eileen (1997-09-06). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. p. 96.
  19. ^ Nielsen Business Media (1998-09-26). Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc.
  20. ^ "RICHARD FEINER v. PARAMOU - 95 A.D.3d 232 (2012) - 20120405321 -". Leagle.
  21. ^ Gardner, Eriq. Paramount Gets Mixed Rulings in Legal Cases Over 'La Dolce Vita,' 'Johnny Come Lately.' The Hollywood Reporter (April 24, 2012)


  • Mathis, Jack Republic Confidential Volume One The Studio and Republic Confidential Volume Two The Players (1992) Empire Publishing Company

External links

Adventures of Captain Marvel

Adventures of Captain Marvel is a 1941 American 12-chapter black-and-white movie serial from Republic Pictures, produced by Hiram S. Brown, Jr., directed by John English and William Witney, that stars Tom Tyler in the title role of Captain Marvel and Frank Coghlan, Jr. as his alter ego, Billy Batson. This serial was adapted from the popular Captain Marvel comic book character then appearing in Fawcett Comics publications Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures.

Adventures of Captain Marvel was the 21st of 66 film serials produced by Republic and their first comic book character adaptation (not counting comic strips). The serial featured the Fawcett Comics superhero, placed within an original screen story. Captain Marvel fights a masked criminal mastermind called the Scorpion, who is determined to gain control of an ancient weapon. It is made in the form of a large metallic scorpion with adjustable legs, tail, and removable lenses that must be properly aligned in order to activate its powerful ray.

Angel in Exile

Angel in Exile is a 1948 American drama film directed by Allan Dwan and Philip Ford and written by Charles Larson. The film stars John Carroll, Adele Mara, Thomas Gomez, Barton MacLane, Alfonso Bedoya and Grant Withers. The film was released on September 3, 1948, by Republic Pictures.

Belle Le Grand

Belle Le Grand is a 1951 American Western film directed by Allan Dwan and written by D.D. Beauchamp. The film stars Vera Ralston, John Carroll, William Ching, Hope Emerson, Grant Withers, Stephen Chase, John Qualen and Harry Morgan. The film was released on January 27, 1951, by Republic Pictures.

Cuban Fireball

Cuban Fireball is a 1951 American musical film directed by William Beaudine and starring Estelita Rodriguez, Warren Douglas and Mimi Aguglia. An employee at a Havana cigar factory discovers that she has been left some lucrative oil wells by a relative. She travels to Los Angeles to claim her inheritance.

Driftwood (1947 film)

Driftwood is a 1947 drama film produced and directed by Allan Dwan and starring Natalie Wood as a little orphan girl who adopts a collie. The movie also stars Ruth Warrick, Walter Brennan, Dean Jagger and Charlotte Greenwood.

Havana Rose

Havana Rose is a 1951 American musical comedy film directed by William Beaudine and starring Estelita Rodriguez, Bill Williams and Hugh Herbert. It was one of a number of American films set in Havana during the era.

I Dream of Jeanie (film)

I Dream of Jeanie is a 1952 American historical musical film based on the songs and life of Stephen Foster who wrote the song "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" from which the title is taken. The film was directed by Allan Dwan for Republic Pictures and was shot in Trucolor.

The film is also known as I Dream of Jeanie (with the Light Brown Hair).

Northwest Outpost

Northwest Outpost (also known as End of the Rainbow) is a 1947 American musical film directed by Allan Dwan and starring Nelson Eddy, Ilona Massey and Joseph Schildkraut. The film was Eddy's last, and is an operetta film like his previous starring roles. He was persuaded to make it by Republic Pictures because Rudolf Friml was writing the score. It was well received by critics and had a strong box office performance.

One Exciting Week

One Exciting Week is a 1946 American comedy film directed by William Beaudine and written by Jack Townley and John K. Butler. The film stars Al Pearce, Pinky Lee, Jerome Cowan, Shemp Howard, Arlene Harris and Mary Treen. The film was released on June 8, 1946, by Republic Pictures.

Sweethearts on Parade

Sweethearts on Parade is a 1953 American drama film directed by Allan Dwan, written by Houston Branch, and starring Ray Middleton, Lucille Norman, Eileen Christy, Bill Shirley, Estelita Rodriguez and Clinton Sundberg. It was released on July 15, 1953, by Republic Pictures.

Swingin' on a Rainbow

Swingin' on a Rainbow is a 1945 American film directed by William Beaudine and starring Jane Frazee. It includes the final film appearance of Harry Langdon.

The Inside Story (film)

The Inside Story is a 1948 American comedy film directed by Allan Dwan and written by Mary Loos and Richard Sale. The film stars Marsha Hunt, William Lundigan, Charles Winninger, Gail Patrick, Gene Lockhart and Florence Bates. The film was released on March 14, 1948, by Republic Pictures.

The Kid from Cleveland

The Kid from Cleveland is a 1949 sports drama film starring George Brent, Lynn Bari and Russ Tamblyn. Directed by Herbert Kline, the film was released by Republic Pictures.

The Kid from Cleveland tells the story of a "troubled teenaged fan" being helped by his favorite baseball team – the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had just won the 1948 World Series and many of the team's players made appearances along with owner Bill Veeck, co-owner and former Major League Baseball star Hank Greenberg, and then current coach and Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tris Speaker. Also featured were the team's then current and former ballparks, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and League Park. Several Cleveland Indians and Boston Braves players also appear in the film in archive baseball footage segments from the 1948 World Series.

The Quiet Man

The Quiet Man is a 1952 Technicolor American romantic comedy-drama film directed by John Ford. It stars John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Barry Fitzgerald, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen. The screenplay by Frank S. Nugent was based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story of the same name by Maurice Walsh, later published as part of a collection titled The Green Rushes. The film is notable for Winton Hoch's lush photography of the Irish countryside and a long, climactic, semi-comic fist fight. It was an official selection of the 1952 Venice Film Festival.

The Quiet Man won the Academy Award for Best Director for John Ford, his fourth, and for Best Cinematography. In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Traffic in Crime

Traffic in Crime is a 1946 American action film directed by Lesley Selander, written by David Lang, and starring Kane Richmond, Anne Nagel, Adele Mara, Wade Crosby, Wilton Graff and Roy Barcroft. It was released on June 28, 1946, by Republic Pictures.

Trail of Kit Carson

Trail of Kit Carson is a 1945 American Western film directed by Lesley Selander, written by Jack Natteford and Albert DeMond, and starring Allan Lane, Helen Talbot, Tom London, Twinkle Watts, Roy Barcroft and Kenne Duncan. It was released on July 11, 1945, by Republic Pictures.

Under Texas Skies (1940 film)

Under Texas Skies is a 1940 American Western "Three Mesquiteers" B-movie directed by George Sherman and starring Robert Livingston, Bob Steele, and starring Rufe Davis. It was produced and released by Republic Pictures.

Wild Horse Rodeo

Wild Horse Rodeo is a 1937 American Western film directed by George Sherman and starring Robert Livingston, Ray Corrigan, and Max Terhune. Written by Oliver Drake and Betty Burbridge, based on a story by Drake and Gilbert Wright, the film is about a champion rodeo rider who returns to his home town in search of a legendary wild horse called Cyclone. The film is part of the Three Mesquiteers series of B-movies produced by Republic Pictures. Wild Horse Rodeo was the first film directed by George Sherman, who later directed numerous Western films for Republic, Columbia Pictures, and Universal Pictures.

Woman They Almost Lynched

Woman They Almost Lynched is a 1953 American Western film directed by Allan Dwan and written by Steve Fisher. The film stars John Lund, Brian Donlevy, Audrey Totter, Joan Leslie, Ben Cooper, James Brown and Nina Varela. The film was released on March 20, 1953, by Republic Pictures.

Republic serials
Pre-war serials
War-time serials
Post-war serials
Corporate directors
Viacom Media Networks
Viacom International Media Networks
Paramount Motion Pictures Group
Television stations
Miscellaneous assets
Defunct/former properties
See also

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