Gangs Incorporated (Mountain Films)

#1 by Robert Crewdson , Tue Jun 26, 2018 7:28 pm

Originally titled 'Paper Bullets', it was the first film from the Kozinsky Brothers (Frank, Maurice and Herman), who later changed their name to King Brothers. They had made their money in their 20s, and were known as the Pinball Kings of Los Angeles. They formed Hollywood Quality Pictures Incorporated to develop slot machine projectors and met Cecil B. De Mille to source films, but it took two weeks to meet him. They decided to abandone the idea of slot machine projectors and move into film production. They knew both Louis B. Meyer and Frank Capra from the racetrack, as they had also branched out into race horses, and asked them for advice.

They formed KB Productions, and 'Paper Bullets ' was to be their first film. They found a movie lot that wanted to look busier to impress the bankers. It was happy to lend them an empty office. The Kings moved right in an announced they were producers. They knew nothing about movies but learned the business from the bottom up by going out on the lot every day, going among the Cameramen, the Grips, Extras, learning how things were done.

The first thing they needed was a script, and a writer, and they found one through a common interest in horseflesh. His name was Martin Mooney and he agreed to write them a screenplay titled 'Paper Bullets'.

Their first actor was discovered at the racetrack; Maurice was putting some money on a horse, wjhen he recognised Jack La Rue, who used to be a big name in gangster pictures. La Rue was betting with $10 bills. Maurice asked him 'How would you like to be betting $100 bills/', when La Rue said 'Yes', Mausice said 'You're in my picture'.

Then they began casting in earnest. Rochelle Hudson came in with her husband and two agents, and they didn't like that as it reminded them of De Mille, so they turned her down. Then a girl named Joan Woodbury came in, and Maurice asked her to wait while he got another chair for the bare office. She said 'Hell no', and sat on the floor. Maurice said he knew she was a trouper and signed her up. Also in the movie was a young Alan Ladd, who the King Brothers say, was paid $66 for a weeks work, all the time it took to shoot the film. Alan Ladd remembers it being $150 to do the work. The King Brothers said they were the first to cast him in the tough roles, which was to make him famous.

With story and cast ready the brothers had nothing to do but hire some technicians and get out among the rambling frame buildings on the lot and make the picture. The film was shot in six days, but with editing, was nearer to three weeks before it was ready to present to the public.. Monogram Pictures were interested in releasing it, but as the King Brothers had made a verbal agreement with the Producers Releasing Corporation, they kept to their word.

The film cost less than $20,00 , but made $200,000.

The Plot.
One day while out driving, with her boyfriend, he is involved in a hit and run accident. His lawyer says that he would be sent to the penitentiary and the publicity would ruin his father, so they persuade Joan to say that she was driving the car, and the lawyer says that she will get off with a suspended sentence, being a first offence. She is sent down for one to five years. When she learns that the playboy boyfriend, his father, and lawyer tricked her she vows vengeance. She demands a cut of the payoffs after discovering that the boyfriends father, an alleged political reformer is actually involved in the rackets. Alan Ladd plays the part of a newspaper reporter. The film ends with both Woodbury and the father going to prison.

After Alan Ladd made made a name for himself in 'This Gun for Hire', the film was re-released in 1943, and the title changed to 'Gangs Incorporated', and giving top billing to Alan Ladd. Ladd doesn't appear until the third reel, and has very little time on screen.

This was the second feature film I bought when I got a sound projector in 1975. Some films I was interested in from the Mountain Films catalogue had already been discontinued, so grabbed this while it was still available.

Believing it to be an Alan Ladd film, I was naturally disappointed to find that he played a very minor part; the male lead being Jack La Rue, who in the story is a childhood friend of Joan Woodbury's, they grew up in an orphanage together. However, if you forget about this being an Alan Ladd film, but just watch it as a crime movie, you won't be disappointed. I've always been fully satisfied with both picture quality and sound on this release.

The King Brothers, as they became known after the release of this film, were highly successful makers of quickies. Big time writers and directors liked to work for them as there was less interference from them than on other lots. Between 1940 and April 1945 they made nine films. They were all made in 16 days or less, and only one cost more than a quarter of a million dollars, whereas at that time the major studios were spending one million per picture. Not one of them lost money. 'Dillinger', starring Lawrence Tierney, brother of Scott Brady, earned five dollars for every dollar spent on it. They frequently made 100% and 200% profit on their pictures. They later moved into bigger budget production, and ceased in the late 60s.

The King Brothers with some of their films, showing the production costs and the box office receipts.

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Last edited 06.26.2018 | Top

RE: Gangs Incorporated (Mountain Films)

#2 by Don Cunningham , Tue Jun 26, 2018 9:57 pm

Excellent history Robert.

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RE: Gangs Incorporated (Mountain Films)

#3 by Greg Perry , Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:56 am

Seems like the brothers were keen businessmen and found a nice little niche making these quickie films as opposed to competing directly with the big studios. And quite shrewd of them--although very misleading---to take advantage of Alan Ladd's rising reputation by giving him top billing and re-releasing the film.

I do enjoy some of these old B&W films as they relied on the story and the acting back then. Now it is just way too many special effects--I don't mind some effects but many films nowadays are so far fetched because of all of the effects that you just shake your head....

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