Okay, gang, it’s Saturday again, and time for another installment of Saturday Breakfast Serial and our ongoing chapter play, Dick Tracy vs Crime Inc. And, for those of you who may be just joining us, here are the previous posts for this serial: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, 6, 7.
It’s time, I think, to wrap up our look at the history of the prolific serial producer Republic Pictures.
As is typical for a number of the smaller studios, the downfall of Republic can largely be attributed to one word: television. However, one of the things that differentiates them from some of those studios is that Republic actually at first attempted to embrace the new medium, seeing its potential, and in 1951 created a subsidiary arm, Hollywood Television Service which was tasked with repackaging and selling screening rights to its vintage westerns and action thrillers. HTS also took many of these films, especially the westerns, and edited them to fit in a one-hour television slot. At the same time, Hollywood Television Service also produced television shows filmed in the same style as Republic’s serials, such as The Adventures of Fu Manchu (1956).
During this time, Republic also paired with MCA to produce new movies and television shows, a move which allowed them to stay afloat financially for another few years, though by the mid 50s the writing was definitely on the wall. In 1957, the studio’s output dwindled to a mere 18 features, and the next year Republic’s founder and president, Herbert J. Yates informed the company’s stockholders that feature film production was ending, and the company’s distribution offices closed the following year. Finally, in 1959, Victor M. Carter, a Los Angeles businessman and turn-around specialist, acquired controlling interest in Republic, becoming its president. Carter did manage to keep Republic around, mostly by building it into a diversified business which included plastics and appliances in addition to its film and studio rentals and Consolidated Film Industries, and he renamed the resulting company Republic Corporations. Not long after, Republic began leasing its backlot to other firms, including CBS in 1963, and in 1967 Republic’s studio was purchased outright by CBS.
Today the studio lot is known as CBS Studio Center.
Okay, time to move on. Here’s the next chapter of our ongoing serial, Dick Tracy vs Crime Inc.
Next time: Chapter 9: Beheaded, and more serial history.