The Biograph Company, was a motion picture company founded in 1895 and active until 1916. It was the first company in the United States devoted entirely to film production and exhibition, and for two decades was one of the most prolific, releasing over 3000 short films and 12 feature films. During the height of silent film as a medium, Biograph was America’s most prominent film studio and one of the most respected and influential studios worldwide.
Hard times fell on the firm in the mid teens. Biograph was slow to migrate away from short productions to full length feature films. Additionally most of its talent move to Hollywood, the new emerging film capital. This would hamper Biograph’s ability to prosper.
Biograph shut down operations in 1916, the studios would be used for other commercial productions on a contract basis until WWII. The studio remained dormant from 1945 until 1956.
Biograph Studio facilities and reopened it in 1956 as the Gold Medal Studios. Gold Medal Studios became the largest film studio in the United States outside of Los Angeles at the time of its 1956 reopening.
Now what does this have to do with Checkers? Well, we all know that Checkers are prominent props used in film production. That said, most of the prominence comes from Hollywood productions and the Checker is typically featured in all their yellow glory. But would you like to get a heavy dose of Checkers in there pre 1968 non yellow NYC liveries? If you do, then you might want to watch a TV show that was produced in Biograph Studies from 1958-1963. The Naked City.
The Naked City, was filmed on location in New York City and the Biograph Studios. The series concerned the detectives of NYPD’s 65th Precinct, although episode plots usually focused more on the criminals and victims portrayed by guest actors, characteristic of the “semi-anthology” narrative format common in early 1960s. This format allowed for various storylines feature the real streets of New York’s five boroughs and the surrounding areas.
The filming techniques used required minimum production capabilities and allowed the show to be filmed mid-day in the city while real New Yorkers conducted there daily business. The show, emphasized a very real look and feel, so of course Checkers can be seen everywhere conducting business. In several storylines taxicabs are used as a means to transport characters and again, Checker as well as other taxicabs are used to transport criminals and victims. In several episodes Taxicabs are used as undercover items for criminals conducting robberies and kidnappings. In one episode and entire scene is filmed in an NYC Taxi fleet garage.
So as the winter sets in and our Checkers are packed away, maybe some binge watching of The Naked City is in order. Virtually all episodes can be found on YouTube.
Episode 1 Season 2 starring Susan Oliver and Luther Adler “A Memory of Crying”