King Brothers Productions was a film production company active from 1941 to the late 1960s. It was founded by the Kozinsky brothers, Frank (1 April 1913 - 12 February 1989), Maurice (Maury) (13 September 1914 - 2 September 1977), and Herman (4 July 1916 - 20 July 1992), who later changed their surname to "King". They had notable collaborations with such filmmakers as Philip Yordan and William Castle and are particularly remembered today for employing a number of blacklisted writers during the Red Scare of the late 1940s and 1950s. Some of their films include Dillinger (1945), Suspense (1946), Gun Crazy (1949), Carnival Story (1954), The Brave One (1956—which earned writer Dalton Trumbo a Best Screenplay Academy Award), Gorgo (1961), Captain Sindbad (1963), and Heaven With a Gun (1968).
Joseph Kozinsky (d 1950) was a New York fruit merchant who fathered five children, the brothers Frank, Maurice and Herman, and two sisters. The family moved to Los Angeles in the 1920s.
The brothers did various odd jobs including selling newspapers and shining shoes before getting into slot machines. They borrowed $250 and built an empire up to 19,000 machines. They also branched into race horses.
Entering the Film Industry
The same year, Maurice Kozinsky looked at getting into slot machine movies. They formed Hollywood Quality Pictures Incorporated to develop slot machine projectors and met with Cecil B. De Mille to source films. Morris later recalled:
De Mille, he has an inferior complex. It takes two weeks to get into see him. Well, we didn't like that. We're just plain businessmen. We finally told him we had to get some pictures. He said he was going to get Sally Rand to make some. Then he said he had a deal with some trapeze artists. Well, you know yourself, you're out with a gal relaxing in a bar, you don't want to see no bubble dancer or acrobat. You want to hear some good music. You want something with class. You want to see Bing Crosby maybe. That was the trouble. De Mille might make big epics but for us he didn't have no class.
The Kozinskys decided to abandon slot machine projecting for actual film production. Morris said he told his brother Frank:
What is this racket, anyway? If De Mille can do it, why can't we? We're clever guys, we couldn't lose more than ten or twenty thousand dollars. Maybe we should make a movie. Then maybe we can forget how he made us look like mugs.
The brothers knew Hollywood personalities like Louis B. Mayer and Frank Capra from the racetrack and asked them for advice. "So we had to go ahead," said Morris. "Or else we would have looked cheap to Mayer and Capra because we'd told them about it."
They formed KB Productions and made the film Paper Bullets, releasing through Producers Releasing Corporation in exchange for $19,500 and 50% of the profits. The movie was shot at Talisman Studios over six days. It was a success and the brothers were launched as film producers.
In 1942 the Kozinskys changed their name to "King".
They had an enormous success with Dillinger (1945). Morris told the press at the time:
Nobody discovered us - we discovered ourselves. We didn't come in to this business as paupers and we won't go out of it as paupers ... It's like this- we're honest and our door is open to everybody. We've got no overhead - our overhead begins when we start shooting and ends the day we put the film in the can. That's the way we do business and we're not going to stop until we get an Academy Award and land one of our pictures in the Radio City Music Hall.
Dillinger was written by Philip Yordan, who would work for the brothers on numerous occasions. He later described them:
Frank was like a 300-pound Chinaman. Always a big cigar in his mouth and a drawer full of Hershey bars. Always wondering why he was so fat because, he says, "I don't eat." Maurice had been a prize fighter and would always have black coffee, but he was heavy too. When I first met them ... they weren't gangsters but they had [investments in] slot machines and they were probably running something [illegal] in town. Nobody questioned it. They had a few bucks, not rich, but they had a few bucks ... They were very honest. And they always paid me.
The Kings had a production assistant, Arthur Gardner, who later recalled "Frank was the smartest brother and the leader. Maurie watched the money and Hymie just kind of tagged along ... Frank had a good story mind and supervised everything ... I believe Frank King would have succeeded in any business. He was a sharp as a tack."
In September 1950 the King Brothers changed how they financed their films. They publicly floated their company, getting permission to use a million $1-par shares. They issued $300,000 worth of shares and used it to finance Drums in the Deep South. $300,000 was later raised for The Syndicate. The King Brothers paid $70,000 for 70,000 of their own shares. There were over 700 shareholders and the King Brothers took 50% of the profits.
- Paper Bullets (1941)
- I Killed That Man (1941)
- Klondike Fury (1942)
- Rubber Racketeers (1942)
- I Escaped from the Gestapo (1943)
- The Unknown Guest (1943)
- Johnny Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1944)
- When Strangers Marry (1944)
- Dillinger (1945)
- Suspense (1946)
- The Gangster (1947)
- The Dude Goes West (1948)
- Bad Men of Tombstone (1949)
- Gun Crazy (1949)
- Southside 1-1000 (1950)
- Drums in the Deep South (1951)
- Mutiny (1952)
- The Ring (1952)
- Carnival Story (1954)
- Circus of Love (1954)
- The Brave One (1956)
- Rodan (1956)
- Gorgo (1961)
- Captain Sindbad (1963)
- Maya (1966)
- Return of the Gunfighter (1967)
- Maya (1967–68) - TV series
- Heaven With a Gun (1968)
- Wire Service (1942) - the life of Moe Annenberg
- A Million Spies (1942)
- Blood Money (1942)
- Money Talks (1942)
- Mr Celebrity (1942)
- I Was a Prisoner of Japan (1944)
- I Killed Hitler by Robert Kehoe (1944)
- Absent Without Love (1945) by Niven Busch
- Lady Member (1944) based on story by Damon Runyon
- The Honest Gambler (1945) by Philip Yordan
- Payment Due (1945) with Lawrence Tierney
- I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes by William Irish (1945)
- Golden Girl (1945) by Philip Yordan - with Belita
- The Hunted by Steve Fisher
- Focus (1946) based on novel by Arthur Miller
- The Dark Road (1946) by Doris Disney
- Tijuana (1947)
- The Syndicate (1951)
- The Backlash (1952) - about the Angola Prison Farm
- Memo to Mike (1952) - a musical with Dimitri Tiomkin
In popular culture
- Thompson, Howard (March 30, 1961). "The Amazing Transparent Man (1960) Two Horror Films". The New York Times.
- HITTING THE JACKPOT: The Kozinsky Brothers Muscled Into the Movies to Get Even With De Mille By THOMAS BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 12 Oct 1941: X4.
- Obituary 2 -- No Title Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 28 Jan 1950: 10.
- The Home Front Treanor, Tom. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 Nov 1941: 1A.
- He's Been Around For a Long Time By Richard L. Coe. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 24 Apr 1954: 21.
- U.S. Will Delve Into CAMOA: Grand Jury Summons Lawyer and Kent Parrot in Income Tax Inquiry U.S. Will Delve Into CAMOA Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 May 1940: A1.
- Tax Evasion Laid to Three: Two Brothers and Sister Indicted After Inquiry Into CAMOA Member Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 09 May 1940: A1
- RAISED EYEBROWS DEPARTMENT New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 11 Jan 1942: X4.
- BY WAY OF REPORT: The King Brothers Hit the Film Jackpot --C. Bennett, Producer, Etc.--Addenda Bennett, Inc. The 'Spider's' Webb Close Shave By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 03 June 1945: X3.
- McGilligan, Patrick. Backstory 2: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1991. http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/ft0z09n7m0/
- Belita, Ice Star, Veers to Film Dramatic Roles: Skating Ballerina in New Picture Makes Impressive Shift to Serious Portrayals Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Nov 1945: B1.
- BELITA, JILL OF ALL TRADES: Experiment Garlogs Girl Competition? By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 10 Mar 1946: X3.
- Tim Holt Leatherneck; Directors Pick Huston; King Bros. Celebrating Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Sep 1950: A11.
- HOLLYWOOD AGENDA: Capra and Stevens Will Leave Paramount In Production Policy Change--Addenda Poor Starts Turning Point Stock Dealings More Color By THOMAS F. BRADY. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 08 Apr 1951: 101
- FILM GROUP FILES SUIT OF $6,030,000: King Brothers Alleges Trust Violations in 3 Releases -- Doris Day in Musical By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Nov 1958: 43
- DRAMA: Susan Hayward to Vie With Ghostly Veronica Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 06 Apr 1942: 8.
- SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Warners to Make Movie About Variety and Its Founder -- to Revive 'Our Town' Film Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 Feb 1944: 17.
- Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 05 Feb 1943: 17.
- Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 Apr 1943: 13.
- Paramount Buys Rights to 'Immortal Wife' Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 Mar 1945: 17.
- Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Feb 1945: 21
- SCREEN NEWS: Wanger Pays $200,000 for New Lehmann Novel Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 24 Apr 1945: 30.
- Letter From Hollywood By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current file) [Boston, Mass] 14 Sep 1945: 4.
- Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 July 1945: 7
- Tufts, Bendix, Hayden and Lund Feel 'Blaze' Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 Aug 1946: A7.
- 'Salome' to Star Welles, New British Sensation Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Sep 1946: A3.
- DRAMA AND FILM: Peggy Cummins' Mama Authors Peters Story Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 18 Aug 1947: A3.
- George Murphy Does Cop; Eddy Deal Negotiated; Madison Signed by Kings Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 11 Oct 1950: B13.
- Drama: George O'Brien to Star in Science Story; Tony Martin Festival Guest Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 31 July 1951: B5.
- Drama: Gloria Swanson Likes Dress Designer Yarn; Kings Boost Tiomkin Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 03 Sep 1951: A7.
- "Trumbo reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
- Debruge, Peter (September 13, 2015). "'Trumbo' Review: Bryan Cranston Clears Blacklisted Writer's Name". Variety. Retrieved December 6, 2015.