B-Movie Actors and Movies: Where do We Draw the Line?
Defining a B movie is not necessarily easy to do. Generally, a B movie is considered a low-budget production. There have been certain movie studios that were associated with the production of B movies, Monogram and Republic Pictures among them. B movies might be training platforms for directors who subsequently moved to more well-known works (Edward Dmytryk) or actors who moved on (John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart). The term associated with more modern-day B movies is direct-to-video, which is an indication a film is not good enough for theatrical release. Direct-to-video has, in some ways, replaced films that were shown only at drive-in theaters in an earlier era.
Bruce Campbell ("The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.," and "Evil Dead") wrote "If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Actor." There is a site titled "bmovies," where one can get their fill of B movies (interestingly "Hillbilly Elergy" is listed along with "Sky Sharks"). One Internet site lists "The 100 1 Best ‘B Movies’ of All Time." Another site lists "1000 Cult B-Horror Movies." Where is the line between B actors, actresses, and movies and whatever is not in that category? "Plan 9 from Outer Space," "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes," or "Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead," might be easily considered as B movies and never in contention for an academy award, but how do we categorize these movies and who acts in them?
Someone agreeing to write on this topic should address: 1) What characteristics distinguish B movies (and those acting in them) from whatever is on the other side; 2) What changes have taken place in B movies since there are movies as far back as the 1930s, and even earlier, that can be categorized as B movies, and 3) How might B movies be understood regarding their impact on both Hollywood and American culture.