TopBilled

TCM and Other Sources for Classic Film

3,701 posts in this topic

Actually Singing in the Rain is one of the few musicals between Footlight Parade and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg that I can watch without falling asleep or groaning in agony.  I like the Garland version of A Star Is Born even more, but maybe that's because I don't really think of it as a musical in the same way.

Really?  Even with that wall-hitting vanity number (Broadway Melody) that stops the film dead in its track?

 

This isn't probably the best way to express what I'm trying to get at, but the reason I don't think of Garland's A Star Is Born as a typical Hollywood "musical" is that in A Star Is Born the songs are all within the context of a realistic setting, i.e. an after hours jam session or a production.  Same goes for the three great Berkeley musicals from 1933, all of which I could watch a hundred times over.  While there are exceptions like Singing in the Rain and  (even more) My Fair Lady, for the most part I can't stand movies where the actors just start breaking into song for no apparent reason.

 

And then there's also the fact that Garland's Vicki Lester character is one of my many Platonic ideals of what a woman should be like.  Solid, down to Earth, loving, understanding, and not incidentally brimming with talent and spontaneous enthusiasm for life, all distilled within that final line that still wells me up every time I hear it.  Norman Maine was a bleeping idiot.

 

Also, you don't get even the slightest bit droopy-eyed by the thousandth time you've hear "I Will Wait for You", in CHERBOURG?

 

Nope, that film will never be old for me.  Can't really explain my love for it, other than that it melts my heart and charms my socks off, in spite of its sad ending.  Not that Catherine Deneuve's presence exactly hurts the cause, either.  It's the exception to almost every rule I have that I can think of in terms of my movie likes and dislikes, but you know what Wiki says about what Emerson said about consistency and hobgoblins. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been watching quite a bit of GetTV lately. Owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, most films are pre-1970s classics from their Sony Pictures Television library. There are only a couple I've seen so far which I can remember seeing here on TCM - for me, almost all have been rarely seen films. It's like a whole new world of film. I suppose TCM has some sort of restricted access to this library.

 

Yes,  I'm having the same type of experience with the MOVIES station.   In fact just the other night my wife asked me why I changed the channel.   She asked "aren't we missing parts of this movie?'    I had to tell her NO since the movie wasn't on TCM.   She just assumed that since the movie was an 'old' Black and White movie that we were watching TCM.

 

So yea it would be great if TCM could get access to more films.    TCM could then honor stars like Susan Hayward as SOTM or show some of those Jean Arthur Columbia gems etc...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy,  what you mention about variety is a key point and valid as it relates to the title of this thread.   Do other stations like Me-TV offer films that TCM does NOT?     As I noted stations like MOVIES do offer American Studio era films,  mostly from Columbia and Fox that TCM does NOT offer.

 

I've just gone over the MOVIES! network schedule for the next two weeks, and it looks a lot like the old Fox Movie Channel before it went completely into the tank.  Didn't see any movies I care about that would qualify as TCM premieres, but there were a fair number of noirs that only show up on TCM once every year or two.  Absence of Malice and Dead Reckoning were the two highlights, though I've already gotten both of them on DVD via TCM.

 

Key question:  Does MOVIES! interrupt its films with commercials?  If so, forget it.  But if not, it's great to know, since it's included in my FIOS package, and I'll start checking it out more carefully.  Glad you mentioned it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really?  Even with that wall-hitting vanity number (Broadway Melody) that stops the film dead in its track?

 

I hate the new quoting system.

 

JohnM0001 said that to ANDYM108 

 

  iT'S A (very valid) observation about Singin' in the Rain, not A Star is Born. You (Andy) answered it referring to Star and not Rain,  very well, I might add, I agree 100%.

 

I also agree with John about The Broadway Melody number being a total vanity moment for Kelly that derails Rain.

 

God this new quoting and reply system is IMPOSSIBLE to make sense of. Why can we not REPLY TO ONE ANOTHER DIRECTLY??????

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy,  what you mention about variety is a key point and valid as it relates to the title of this thread.   Do other stations like Me-TV offer films that TCM does NOT?     As I noted stations like MOVIES do offer American Studio era films,  mostly from Columbia and Fox that TCM does NOT offer.

 

I've just gone over the MOVIES! network schedule for the next two weeks, and it looks a lot like the old Fox Movie Channel before it went completely into the tank.  Didn't see any movies I care about that would qualify as TCM premieres, but there were a fair number of noirs that only show up on TCM once every year or two.  Absence of Malice and Dead Reckoning were the two highlights, though I've already gotten both of them on DVD via TCM.

 

Key question:  Does MOVIES! interrupt its films with commercials?  If so, forget it.  But if not, it's great to know, since it's included in my FIOS package, and I'll start checking it out more carefully.  Glad you mentioned it.

 

Sorry but MOVIES does have commercials.    Now they do NOT cut their movies to fit into a,  say,  two hour time slot and they cut to their commercials between scenes (unlike say AMC which will cut to a commercial right in the middle of an actor's lines).  

 

So yea,  the commercials stink but I found myself watching both of the movies you mention as well as many other noirs, comedy films and series (e.g.  Mr Moto movies),  since TCM was showing something I had already seen multiple times.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd love to have seen Curse of the Werewolf again. But whichever side of the argument one is on, this thread does make the point that there are still rarities out there that we'd like to see on TCM, and that I don't think it's always a question of the complexities of licensing and fees. I don't think that ME-TV is a particularly rich network, and if they could show Curse of the Werewolf, TCM should certainly be able to get hold of it, for cheap. There are a lot of old cheapies out there, just waiting for TCM to program them!

exactly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Svengoolie is able to broadcast the films he does because WCIU, the station that produces his show, obtained broadcast rights to Universal-International titles as well as the Hammer titles distributed by them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

exactly

I have never seen the 1957 Arthur Gardner-Jules V. Levy sci-fi B movie The Flame Barrier on tcm...ever. Yet they have shown other Arthur Gardner-Jules V. Levy B flicks like The Monster That Challenged The World, The Vampire and Return of Dracula. I say some nite highlight the work of screenwriter Pat Fielder. 

 

 

 

Ill-fated scientist encased in electric field generating alien protoplasm exuding from a downed satellite in a mexican jungle cave...wow!  :)

 

2h6emvo.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never seen the 1957 Arthur Gardner-Jules V. Levy sci-fi B movie The Flame Barrier on tcm...ever. Yet they have shown other Arthur Gardner-Jules V. Levy B flicks like The Monster That Challenged The World, The Vampire and Return of Dracula. I say some nite highlight the work of screenwriter Pat Fielder. 

 

 

 

Ill-fated scientist encased in electric field generating alien protoplasm exuding from a downed satellite in a mexican jungle cave...wow!  :)

 

2h6emvo.jpg

I understand that Gerald Fried's music score to this film is gone...acetate deterioration don't ya know.  :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry but MOVIES does have commercials.    Now they do NOT cut their movies to fit into a,  say,  two hour time slot and they cut to their commercials between scenes (unlike say AMC which will cut to a commercial right in the middle of an actor's lines).  

 

So yea,  the commercials stink but I found myself watching both of the movies you mention as well as many other noirs, comedy films and series (e.g.  Mr Moto movies),  since TCM was showing something I had already seen multiple times.

 

Thanks for letting me know, and if I see something there that I don't have already recorded I may watch it "live".  So far in looking I haven't seen any movies that meet that description, but then I was recording off the FMC for several years when they were showing films like Thieves' Highway and others that TCM doesn't ever seem to get. Clara Bow's fabulous pre-code Call Her Savage is just now beginning to get some TCM play come this September, but I must have seen that movie on the FMC a dozen times a few years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well what are they using? Tarot cards?

 

 

This answer is just too complicated to give you one or two sentences or one or two paragraphs. So I have included questions from the Silver Screen Oasis where Director of Programming for TCM, Charlie Tabesh appeared a couple of years ago to answer questions from the fans there. I know that these q and a's go on for a while but I think it bears repeating here on this thread. (I had posted these awhile back on another thread).

 

He answered the following questions as to how they program films at TCM:

 

Q: Once you have a kind of working agreement with a studio is there a package you lease or can you pick a certain number of titles in the deal?

 

A: We actually have pretty substantial agreements in place with every major studio. Traditionally networks license films for a set period of time (1 to 2 years, sometimes more, sometimes less) and a set number of runs during that time. There are real budget issues, so a model like that provides the incentive to play a film as many times as possible during that license period (because that means you could license fewer films).

 

We've tried to work with each studio to provide greater access to their so we could play some films only once or twice - that allows us to dig deeper and play titles that are rarely seen. As you know, when we do any sort of festival (star-of-the-month or anything else) we like to showcase films that might not be as well-known but that are important to the theme we're highlighting. We still have plenty of limits and by no means do we have access to every film from every studio but on any particular month I think you'll see films from all of them.

 

Q: How has arranging the broadcast of films on TCM changed since you've been with the network? Thanks in advance for your reply.

 

A: I've been with TCM for almost 12 years and I don't think my philosophy as the programmer or the overall philosophy of the network has changed at all. But, as I said in my reply to Chris, we do have access to more films than we used to because we've been able to work with all of the studios. And we're always trying to provide interesting and unique angles on film history.

 

For example, we did a month-long tribute to Japanese filmmaker/animator Hayao Miyazaki. Several people thought we were on our way to becoming an anime network. We've done a Bollywood festival, Tarkovsky festival, etc. At the end of the day we program very thematically and those themes are often very different, but the basic underlying philosophy is the same.

 

Q: Besides rights issues, what are some of the other problems you encounter when trying to book older, lesser known titles?

 

A: Other than rights the biggest issue, by far, is quality of materials. A lot of films are in very bad condition, some aren't playable at all. And even if a studio does have film elements, they still need to be transferred to video which can be very expensive (and cost-prohibitive).

 

Q: I don't have to tell you that TCM has a very loyal core audience and we all have varied tastes when it comes to films and what we expect from TCM. It has to be very challenging to try and program something for everybody. Are there times when you're working on a schedule and just pounding your head on your desk trying to decide whether to add a lesser know, seldom seen, classic for all of us serious film buffs or another run of some well know film (like "Singing in the Rain") in an effort to get viewers who may tune in because they've seen it before or at least have heard of it? How do you do it?

 

A: That is really the balance that we try to achieve. As you suggest, our hardcore fans, and I assume most people here at Silver Screen Oasis, are excited about the rare or obscure titles. But we're also a place that many people discover classic movies for the first time. In addition - because there are so few options out there for classic movie fans - some people are watching TCM almost all the time and, to them, any repeat is annoying because they might have seen that film on the channel a month or two ago.

 

One more point: if we play a title 5 or 6 times a year, that's a whole lot for us; that might happen with less than a dozen titles each year and the average title plays between 1 to 2 times in a year. And even when we play a film 5 or 6 times, it's almost always at different times of the day. But if you've seen those films a few times you want something new and different. So we're trying to please a lot of people and different levels of classic movies fans. I'm sure we get it wrong sometimes but we do take pride in our role and try to do our best.

 

Q: Three questions from one fan:

What market research is considered when selecting films and themes?

What are the demographics of the "typical" TCM viewer and how important is that "typical" viewer when programming?

Is there a theme that you, personally, have been wanting to program, but haven't for reasons other than film availability?

 

A: No, we've never done any sort of research at all on what festivals or films we want to play. We've done some marketing research here and there to see how the brand is doing but never anything to help determine what to play. As for the "typical" TCM viewer, I think we have two primary audiences: 1. older people that remember a lot of these films from when they were younger and have a nostalgic feeling for them, and 2. hardcore film fans, people that just love movies, a group that spans all ages; of course this doesn't capture everyone and there's a lot of overlap between them, but that seems to be a broad description of the TCM fans.

 

As for festivals I've always wanted to do, there are several. Filmlover (from the TCM message boards) had suggested a festival devoted to filmmakers that immigrated and came through Ellis Island, something that I've always thought was interesting. I'd like to do Iranian films at some point because they have such a rich film heritage that isn't seen here very much; comprehensive festivals of some Fox stars would be great (Monroe, Power, Grable, etc.); a festival devoted to revenge in the movies; there are a whole lot, those are just a few off the top of my head and I'm sure we will get to some or all of them in the future. There's just only so much space for all of the great possibilities.

 

Q: Does Warners strike new prints or make new transfers of films for viewing on TCM or do you have to simply have to program what you are told is available?

 

A: No studio strikes new prints for us, including WB. And if a film hasn't yet been transferred to video, they usually will only do the transfer themselves if there's a dvd market for the film, our license fee is high enough to cover that cost (plus a little more), or if we pay for it ourselves. There are some exceptions, but economics certainly drives a lot of the decision-making, as you might expect. With regard to WB specifically, many of the films were transferred years ago by Ted Turner. In the '90s WB acquired the TEC library but for a lot of films we still use transfers that were made many years ago. We're in conversations now with WB on the best way to update the library, and I should say there are some people there (one in particular) who are very passionate about that and they're taking a leading role in the process.

 

This past February I emailed Mr. Tabesh to see if he could answer some of my questions and he replied that it would be better if I called him directly at his office.

 

Q: Explain a little bit about how TCM programs. And do the programmers ever read the message boards to glean ideas from posters here?

 

A: Films are shown on average 4 or 5 times per year. Some films are shown 6 or 7 times per year. Half of all the movies contracted for are shown once per year. There are many different themes and franchises that require a film to be shown multiple times. For instance if North By Northwest is contracted to be shown 6 times throughout the year, it might show up during a Cary Grant SOTM, or it might show up during a salute to Hitchcock, or James Mason.

 

Then the film will be shown sporadically the rest of the year. It might even be a part of the Essentials which could mean one or two showings per season. The programmers spend a lot of time and energy trying to gain access to many films from many different studios. It can be very costly to get a film shown, that is why TCM usually contracts for about 50 films per studio per year. They don't always get 50, most times it is around 20 to 30 per year from each studio.

 

It's all about economics - but also about the type and quality of films TCM can license. And we have to license every film we get. We license films on 12 or 24 month contracts. If during negotiations they want to get To Kill a Mockingbird which might command a $1 million dollar fee, they will then get another batch of films to show just in order to get TKAMB. In other words the studio may want a contract that guarantees one or two showings of TKAMB but they then would want TCM to show 14 other lesser known fils 4 times each year.

 

There is also a cap. There is only so much money available to rent high quality films each year. So TCM has to be careful how they are going to license the films and how many they can afford from each studio.

 

As far as just how many older films are available to show on TCM, TCM can show films with film stock, we just have to convert the film to a digital format. But as is the case with Universal which had a fire at their film storage facility a few years ago, many film masters were destroyed, hence they aren't available anymore. Or TCM would need to investigate with other sources to get another film from that library.

 

Again there are many films that just are not available now. Many of the studios spend a great deal of restoration dollars but again they have only so much money to go around as well. They spend most of their money developing newer films for younger audiences. You can't blame them for that. That is where the real advertising money is available.

 

As far as the message boards are concerned everyone here at TCM reads them almost everyday. Especially when it comes to the Star of the Month and Summer Under the Stars. Sometimes debates rage within the programming department to see if certain titles are available and what would be necessary to acquire those titles. Most often than not many titles are simply not available to us, but that is slowly changing. We have some staffers who read the message boards to get other ideas as well. There is a wealth of information that our fans bring to the message boards and even though it may look like we are not paying attention, rest assured we are.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been watching quite a bit of GetTV lately. Owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, most films are pre-1970s classics from their Sony Pictures Television library. There are only a couple I've seen so far which I can remember seeing here on TCM - for me, almost all have been rarely seen films. It's like a whole new world of film. I suppose TCM has some sort of restricted access to this library.

 

It's funny, back when TCM first approached Sony about airing more of the Columbia film library, it took some strong lobbying by TCM and a  film historian/preservationist to convince Sony that there was interest in the Columbia film library. Sony and TCM came to an agreement but Sony badly underestimated the amount of time and $$ it would take to digitize the films that TCM was interested in. That resulted in many of the films being initially pulled from the schedule and they had to be rescheduled.

 

As the years went on, Sony began to see that yes, there was interest in the Columbia films and now they have started their own network to capitalize on that library.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry but MOVIES does have commercials.    Now they do NOT cut their movies to fit into a,  say,  two hour time slot and they cut to their commercials between scenes (unlike say AMC which will cut to a commercial right in the middle of an actor's lines).  

 

So yea,  the commercials stink but I found myself watching both of the movies you mention as well as many other noirs, comedy films and series (e.g.  Mr Moto movies),  since TCM was showing something I had already seen multiple times.  

 

MOVIES is a joint effort between 20th Century Fox and Wiegel Broadcasting. Wiegel also owns ME-TV which is joint effort between Wiegel and Universal.

 

Antenna TV is owned by the Tribune company who has deals with Sony, Universal and the post-1986 MGM film library.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MOVIES is a joint effort between 20th Century Fox and Wiegel Broadcasting. Wiegel also owns ME-TV which is joint effort between Wiegel and Universal.

 

Antenna TV is owned by the Tribune company who has deals with Sony, Universal and the post-1986 MGM film library.

Can i just say how much I appreciate how open TCM is in telling us this? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And can I just say how appreciative I AM of your latest pic of Kate here, hepclassic.

 

(...she was never more beautiful)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry but MOVIES does have commercials.    Now they do NOT cut their movies to fit into a,  say,  two hour time slot and they cut to their commercials between scenes (unlike say AMC which will cut to a commercial right in the middle of an actor's lines).  

 

So yea,  the commercials stink but I found myself watching both of the movies you mention as well as many other noirs, comedy films and series (e.g.  Mr Moto movies),  since TCM was showing something I had already seen multiple times.

 

Thanks for letting me know, and if I see something there that I don't have already recorded I may watch it "live".  So far in looking I haven't seen any movies that meet that description, but then I was recording off the FMC for several years when they were showing films like Thieves' Highway and others that TCM doesn't ever seem to get. Clara Bow's fabulous pre-code Call Her Savage is just now beginning to get some TCM play come this September, but I must have seen that movie on the FMC a dozen times a few years ago.

CALL HER SAVAGE was on Fox last.week,.and has been shown several times in the last couple of months.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait -- I spoke too soon. I said I didn't have ME-TV, but I do. It's called WZME. Scrolling through the listings, it doesn't look very impressive. Lots of old TV shows, including many classic westerns; paid programming; not that many films. I am impressed to see that Car 54 and Phil Silvers are on, which interests me, as well as The Brady Bunch, The Love Boat, and Remington Steele, which do not.

 

Another channel -- COZITV -- seems similar, though the fact that it has the ancient TV shows The Cisco Kid with Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo and Hopalong Cassidy does impress me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And can I just say how appreciative I AM of your latest pic of Kate here, hepclassic.

 

(...she was never more beautiful)

Thank you Dargo. The Philadelphia Story is tied with The Lion In Winter in my favorite film of hers. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never quite understood the "accusation" (if you'd call it that) that Katharine Hepburn wasn't glamorous.  Other than a tiny handful of actresses like Loretta Young, Rita Hayworth or Ava Gardner, it's hard for me to think of too many who had classic features quite on Kate's level.  And other than Young or Lilli Palmer, it's hard to think of many who kept those features almost right up to the end.  I could flood this page with examples of what I'm talking about, but hepclassic's already done that for me. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wait -- I spoke too soon. I said I didn't have ME-TV, but I do. It's called WZME. Scrolling through the listings, it doesn't look very impressive. Lots of old TV shows, including many classic westerns; paid programming; not that many films. I am impressed to see that Car 54 and Phil Silvers are on, which interests me, as well as The Brady Bunch, The Love Boat, and Remington Steele, which do not.

 

Another channel -- COZITV -- seems similar, though the fact that it has the ancient TV shows The Cisco Kid with Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo and Hopalong Cassidy does impress me.

I agree.  I am more interested in these channels for their television shows, than their films.  There is an over-the-air commercial channel called MOVIES, which I quite like.  If they are showing something that interests me, then I TiVo it, and zip past the commercials, when I watch it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Need to catch up on the latest posts...but I have already decided that at some point, Svengoolie gets his own separate thread. LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never quite understood the "accusation" (if you'd call it that) that Katharine Hepburn wasn't glamorous.  Other than a tiny handful of actresses like Loretta Young, Rita Hayworth or Ava Gardner, it's hard for me to think of too many who had classic features quite on Kate's level.  And other than Young or Lilli Palmer, it's hard to think of many who kept those features almost right up to the end.  I could flood this page with examples of what I'm talking about, but hepclassic's already done that for me. :)

To that I say, thank you, and that women who displayed intelligence in their person were at the time, and even to today, were sought a demerit on their looks for being so. Marilyn Monroe played dumb- that doesn't mean she was dumb. Hepburn didn't care for looks anyway, but that added to her intelligent charm. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fxreyman-

"There is a wealth of information that our fans bring to the message boards and even though it may look like we are not paying attention, rest assured we are."

 

Then we can expect to see The Flame Barrier starring Arthur Franz and Kathleen Crowley scheduled for a tcm airing real soon. Yes?  :) 

 

 

6zshm0.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

fxreyman-

"There is a wealth of information that our fans bring to the message boards and even though it may look like we are not paying attention, rest assured we are."

 

Then we can expect to see The Flame Barrier starring Arthur Franz and Kathleen Crowley scheduled for a tcm airing real soon. Yes?  :) 

 

 

6zshm0.jpg

 

Hmmmm...can't say I've ever seen this one, ND.

 

(...so tell me...does Arthur Franz light-up the screen like he always does in movies???)

 

LOL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've had all these stations in my area. We had RTV, which was almost exactly like ME-TV and Antenna TV, but the local carrier swapped it out for a lifestyle channel, then realized their mistake and added ME. 

 

I like GET first for films because they are almost always from the studio era and rarely things TCM shows. MOVIES! is good, but does break in some newer content. THIS started out giving us studio era films when it began-it was actually the first place I saw YOUNG TOM EDISON-but now seems to be strictly devoted to mid-1960s on. 

 

ME-TV regularly changes its lineup, which is good when they are are showing reruns of weekly series five days a week!  COZI seems to do the same. I wish my cable had COZI, because its OTA signal often breaks up depending on the weather. Antenna and RTV seem to run the same lineup into the ground. Antenna was showing 1950s Columbias overnight a few years ago, but that has stopped.   

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us