Edited by Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn
A magnificent down-at-the-heels companion to Andrew Sarris’ auteurist study The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, Kings of the Bs is a landmark assessment of the independent sector of American filmmaking in the postwar decades, including still-underrated auteurs Edgar G. Ulmer, Jacques Tourneur, Don Siegel, Phil Karlson, and Joseph H. Lewis. The world of the Bs consisted of scrappy outfits such as King Brothers Productions and Samuel Z. Arkoff’s American International Pictures; poetic, studio-backed filmmakers such as Samuel Fuller and Nicholas Ray; and the delightfully rancid likes of Russ Meyer and Herschell Gordon Lewis. It is a forgotten era, as lost to us now as silent cinema, but this entrancing collection of essays and interviews brings it all vividly back to life. The end result is reorienting our sense of movie history to
a time when poverty bred poetry and necessity
was often the mother of invention.