Back in October, we posted about Paramount Pictures’ making available more than a hundred movies free to watch on Youtube. They call the project The Paramount Vault, a digital cinematic storehouse sorted into playlists of Classics, Comedy, Action/Adventure, Drama, Horror, Westerns, Science Fiction, and Thrillers, containing such pictures as Ironweed, Hamlet, Paris When It Sizzles, King Creole, Dark City, Funny About Love, and Margot at the Wedding — all of which, unfortunately, you can only watch in the United States. (BTW, we have a big list of unrestricted films here.)
The geographical constraint still holds, at least for now, but the Paramount Vault people have kept at work filling it with movies. Most recently, they’ve added a selection of classic films originally put out by “B-movie” house Republic Pictures, the independent production and distribution company which specialized in crime pictures, Westerns, and other fast-moving genre pieces to which audiences of the mid-1930s to late 1950s thrilled. (As a cinema-history side note, Republic also financed and distributed Orson Welles’ Macbeth.) The ones you can watch free right now on the playlist above include Train to Alcatraz, Gangs of Chicago, Stagecoach Express, Trail of Kit Carson, and the seasonally appropriate Christmas Eve.
Paramount tells us they have even more in the works for their Vault, including, beginning in the new year, limited-engagement postings of their more recent films such as 2004’s The Machinist, the Dostoyevskian nightmare starring an emaciated Christian Bale, starting on January 1st. On January 15th, they plan to do a run of 1995’s Jade, the erotic thriller that William Friedkin, despite acknowledging it as a “disaster,” has also named as his favorite among all the films he’s directed. The era of the true B-movie may have long ended by the 1990s, but if any sentiment keeps more with the enthusiastic B-movie spirit than that, I haven’t heard it.
Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.