Cinema: Mute Major

The penny-pinching proclivities of Republic, largest of the independent studios, have been a longstanding joke to spendthrift Hollywood. Example: mute extras earn $7.50 a day; those who speak so much as one word get $25. In many a Republic Western the hero rides up to a corral character and asks: "Did so-and-so pass here?" The extra nods. "Which way?" The extra points. "How many with him?" The extra holds up the necessary number of fingers. Total payroll saving: $17.50.

When Republic became a "major" studio recently by joining the Association of

Motion Picture Producers, the laugh was on Hollywood. Unlike its corpulent new...

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