A B movie or B film is a low-budget commercial movie, but not an arthouse film. In its original usage, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the term more precisely identified films intended for distribution as the less-publicized bottom half of a double feature (akin to B-sides for recorded music). Although the U.S. production of movies intended as second features largely ceased by the end of the 1950s, the term B movie continues to be used in its broader sense to this day. In its postÔÇôGolden Age usage, there is ambiguity on both sides of the definition: on the one hand, the primary interest of many inexpensive exploitation films is prurient; on the other, many B movies display a high degree of craft and aesthetic ingenuity.
In either usage, most B movies represent a particular genreÔÇöthe Western was a Golden Age B movie staple, while low-budget science-fiction and horror films became more popular in the 1950s. Early B movies were often part of series in which the star repeatedly played the same character. Almost always shorter than the top-billed films they were paired with, many had running times of 70 minutes or less. The term connoted a general perception that B movies were inferior to the more handsomely budgeted headliners; individual B films were often ignored by critics.