Kroger Babb

The Life & Times of Kroger Babb: Early Exploitation Film Pioneer

Howard “Kroger” Babb didn’t care about the art of cinema. Neither blessed by talent or plagued by inclination, Babb’s future lay not as a creative. Instead, his future lay on the business side of the growing industry. Nicknamed “Kroger” by his father, he ventured to Los Angeles to get into the film industry. Babb found his way into the movie industry through the sales and marketing of smaller “exploitation” films. Through these so-called “Exploitation” films, Babb distinguished himself. He would become a pioneer of the genre.

Kroger Babb Studio Portrait

The history of Hollywood has always relied on our technical evolvement. . One of the most important evolvements remains that of the motion picture camera. From a laborious hulking beast that couldn’t be moved very easily; to cellphones that fit into your pocket, and can produce cinematic-like video whenever you want. The evolution of film followed.

Kroger Babb would be one of the early beneficiaries.

Studio Poster

Meet Kroger

Kroger Babb would enter the movie industry in the 1930s. It was both a good and bad time. Cinematically speaking, it was the so-called Golden Era of Hollywood. New opportunities for people like Babb were available, in the small independent production companies as well as the major studios. With the motion picture camera free from the grip of Thomas Edison’s copyright grip, the camera became more readily available.

However, the United States and the rest of the world was not as lucky. The Great Depression ravaged the globe. People were hungry and homeless. Another world war and death loomed on the horizon.

Along with a couple of friends, Babb would set up a production/slash distribution company. It was 1938 and the production code mandated certain content.

The independent producer didn’t have to follow these rules, if they didn’t want. They could make their films and out whatever they wanted. However, they had to look for other theater that would play it. If no alternative theaters bit, the truly enterprising producers had alternatives. He could rent a big tent, find a suitable screening surface and go into business for himself. Unpredictable law enforcement officials, especially in the southern United States.

Kroger Babb and a Naked 12 Yr Old Actress?

Child Bride Kroger Babb

Kroger Babb’s first foray into cinema would be one to remember. Wikipedia describes the Babb method –

“Babb was involved in the production and marketing of many films and television shows. He promoted each according to his favorite marketing motto: “You gotta tell ’em to sell ’em.”[3] His films ranged from sex education-style dramas to “documentaries” on foreign cultures. The intent to titillate audiences rather than to educate them. He maximized profits via marketing gimmicks.”

Babb’s first picture, and probably most famous, was the 1938 Child Bride. The entirety of the film’s fame derives from –

-“Child Bride was the first film produced by exploitation film producer and promoter Kroger Babb. He marketed it as an educational film and who would reissue it under various titles. The movie is perhaps best known for the lengthy nude child swimming scene, which Allmovie described as “completely gratuitous.

The Child Bride and Ingmar Bergman

However, Babb would diversify as his career go on. At that time, foreign films films were difficult to release in the US because of the adult content. Thusly, the films from directors such as Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman would be available to Babb to distribute.