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Maury M. Cohen

Maury Cohen
Maurice Cohen

c. 1913
Chicago, Illinois, United States
DiedMarch 15, 1979
Los Angeles, California, United States
Years active1932–77
SpouseBonnie Jean Williams (1950-1979, his death)

Maury Cohen (ca. 1913 - March 15, 1979), also known as Maury M. Cohen, was an American film producer most active during the 1930s. He owned one of the Poverty Row studios, Invincible films, which specialized in making low-budget feature films. After leaving film in the early 1940s, Cohen founded and ran the historic dance club in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Palladium.


In the early 1930s, Cohen founded one of the major Poverty Row studios, which specialized in low-budget films, Invincible Films. His company teamed with Chesterfield Pictures, headed by George R. Batcheller, and they were often referred to as "C and I" or "Chesterfield and Invincible". The two companies co-mingled both personnel and equipment.[1][2][3]

Poverty Row production companies had budgets of around $10,000, and shot pictures in a matter of days, rather than weeks. They would utilize rented facilities, and would incorporate stock footage and musical numbers in order to lengthen their pictures.[4] Low-budget companies like Chesterfield, Invincible, Mascot, and Tiffany were used by theater bookers for the lower half, or "B position", on a double bill.[5] The combined company of Chesterfield-Invincible, was one of the longest-surviving Poverty Row companies, producing over 100 features, and giving a start to directors Richard Thorpe and Charles Lamont.[4]

By 1933, C and I had a production and distribution deal with Universal Pictures which allowed them to use the resources of the major studio, including the studio's sets, film and recording equipment. The latter was especially important, enabling C and I to exceed the audible quality of the other independent studios.[1] In 1936, Cohen led a contingent which negotiated a deal with Allied Pictures Corporation, whereby Allied would provide Chesterfield and Invincible with financial support allowing them to create a higher caliber of picture than then had been producing during the early 1930s.[6][7] Also in 1933, Cohen was at the forefront of a movement by independent producers to change the NRA code, in order to assure the validity of theaters being able to show a second feature on a program. Second features, or "B"-films, were the staple of independent film companies.[8]

Cohen and Batchellor ended their deal with Universal in 1934, and entered into an agreement with Pathe, to utilize their facilities and equipment.[9] Cohen announced in August 1934 that C and I would produce 18 films in the 1934-35 schedule.[10] In early 1935 Cohen survived a health scare, when he had to undergo emergency appendectomy procedure.[11] Rumors began circulating in May 1935 that Cohen's company, along with Batchellor's, were to merge with Republic Pictures. Cohen denied those rumors.[12] In December 1936, it was reported that Cohen was seeking to sell Invincible and begin producing for one of the major studios.[13][14] Less than two weeks later, Cohen had signed agreements with Samuel J. Briskin to leave Invincible and had signed on with RKO to produce, which led to Invincible being disbanded.[13][15][16] The remnants of Invincible were one of a number of Poverty Row studios taken over by Herbert Yates in 1936 and merged into his newly formed Republic Pictures in an attempt to create a dominant low-budget producer with enough power to take on the major studios.[17] His first film at his new studio was 1937's Living on Love (originally titled Love in a Basement), directed by Lew Landers.[18] Cohen's stay at RKO was short-lived however, and after his year-long contract expired, he left RKO.[19]

At the end of 1938, Cohen signed an agreement with Meglin Kiddies, to produce a series of films for the company.[20] In 1939 Cohen was hired by United Artists to produce a Spanish language film, slated solely for the foreign market.[21] The film was titled La Inmaculada, and starred Fortunio Bonanova.[22] In 1940, Cohen was part of a government anti-trust lawsuit against the major film production companies, which claimed that independent producers were systematically excluded from producing by the majors.[23]

In 1941, Cohen opened a dance venue in Hollywood, the Palladium,[24] located on the site of the original Paramount Pictures.[25] The Palladium opened on October 29, 1940, with an opening act headlined by Frank Sinatra, along with Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra.[26] During World War II it was an extremely successful endeavor, particularly among military personnel,[24] and it remained a popular dance spot through the 1940s and 1950s.[26] Cohen would work on the production for one last film, 1977's Damnation Alley, on which he was the associate producer. The film stars Jan-Michael Vincent and George Peppard.[27]

Cohen married Bonnie Jean Williams in 1950. The couple had two children, Jonathan and Richard. The couple remained married until Cohen's death on March 15, 1979.[28]


(Per AFI database)[29]

An * denotes a featured or starring role


  1. ^ a b Conlan, Mark Gabrish (April 16, 2012). "Forgotten (Chesterfield/Invincible/Universal, 1933)". Movie Magg. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  2. ^ "First Division to Get 12 More". The Film Bulletin. August 28, 1935. p. 7. Retrieved September 9, access
  3. ^ "Reach West Coast Today". Motion Picture Daily. November 18, 1933. p. 2. Retrieved September 9, access
  4. ^ a b Parkinson, David (May 28, 2014). "A Crash Course In ... Poverty Row". Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "The Economics of B Movies". Film Reference. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  6. ^ "Allied to Back Indie Producer". The Film Bulletin. May 27, 1936. p. 9. Retrieved September 9, access
  7. ^ "Things We Like for '36 - '37". The Film Bulletin. August 5, 1936. p. 1. Retrieved September 9, access
  8. ^ "To Work At Pathe". Motion Picture Daily. November 20, 1933. p. 8. Retrieved September 9, access
  9. ^ "To Work at Pathe". Motion Picture Daily. August 28, 1934. p. 10. Retrieved September 9, access
  10. ^ "Ready to Launch 18". Motion Picture Daily. August 22, 1934. p. 7. Retrieved September 9, access
  11. ^ "Cohen Out of Danger". Motion Picture Daily. March 26, 1935. p. 2. Retrieved September 9, access
  12. ^ "No Merger Intent". Motion Picture Daily. May 10, 1935. p. 2. Retrieved September 9, access
  13. ^ a b "Report Maury Cohen Will Join Major Co". The Film Daily. December 28, 1936. p. 1. Retrieved September 6, access
  14. ^ "New York Tip-Off". The Film Bulletin. December 30, 1936. p. 4. Retrieved September 9, access
  15. ^ "New York Tip-Off". The Film Bulletin. January 6, 1937. p. 4. Retrieved September 6, access
  16. ^ "Maury Cohen Joins RKO as Producer". Motion Picture Daily. December 31, 1936. p. 1. Retrieved September 9, access
  17. ^ Balio, Tino (1995). Grand Design: Hollywood as a Modern Business Entertprise 1930-1939. University of California Press. p. 322.
  18. ^ Wilk, Ralph (August 6, 1937). "A "Little" From Hollywood "Lots"". The Film Daily. p. 15. Retrieved September 6, access
  19. ^ "Maury Cohen to Quit". Motion Picture Daily. December 7, 1937. p. 5. Retrieved September 9, access
  20. ^ "Smith With Meglin-Fanchon". Motion Picture Herald. December 31, 1938. p. 70. Retrieved September 9, access
  21. ^ "Lesser to Concentrate on UA Deal, Breen to RKO; Wagner After Ford". Variety. March 29, 1939. p. 3. Retrieved September 9, access
  22. ^ "La Inmaculada". American Film Institute.
  23. ^ "U.S. Bares 550 Witnesses for Trust Trial". Motion Picture Daily. March 7, 1940. p. 7. Retrieved September 9, access
  24. ^ a b Thomas, Robert (August 24, 1944). "When Hollywood Shakes a Leg, It's Colossal!". Pottstown Mercury. p. 4. Retrieved August 9, 2015 – via open access
  25. ^ Rasmussen, Cecilia (October 7, 2007). "Palladium keeps in swing of things". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 9, 2015.
  26. ^ a b "Hollywood Palladium - 1940 - 1961". Go-Go Notes. January 1, 2009. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  27. ^ "Damnation Alley". American Film Institute. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  28. ^ "Bonnie Key". February 20, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2015.
  29. ^ "Maury M. Cohen filmography". American Film Institute. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
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Maury M. Cohen
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