Sam Katzman

An old-style Hollywood producer in the mid 20th century, Sam Katzman was a master of budget, helping to create and distribute a big portfolio of low-cost films that often made high returns for his employers. Born poor in New York City, he went to work at the age of 13 on local film sets. When Fox, his first company, let him go, Katzman became an independent producer while still in his early 30s. Within several years, he had gained enough of a reputation to be lured by other studios. He worked for low-budget production houses Victory Pictures and Puritan Pictures, making numerous films on the cheap, such as the 1938 horse opera "Lightning Carson Rides Again." He then graduated to that era's King of Cheapies, Monogram Pictures, and had a long and mutually fruitful working relationship with them. It was during this time that he helped form the East Side Kids, a comedy troupe that cranked out a host of low-cost comedies in a long series. His effectiveness as a budget-scraper came at a price, however; he developed a strong reputation as a "schlock" producer, to the point where Columbia president Harry Cohn would break an actor's contract by presenting him with the script to a Katzman movie. Despite that, the producer had a long and successful career, and over 250 titles have his name in the credits.