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Anyone ever see the 6 part RKO documentary? And has it ever run on TCM????


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I recall this running on AMC back in the late 80's(A quick check of IMDB shows it's from 1987)

It was called, Hollywood The Golden Years: The RKO Story., and was hosted by Ed Asner. Folks like Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Pando S. Berman were still alive and well, and were interviewed for the documentary.(So was Jane Greer, who was still beautiful well into her 60's!) It covered Merian C. Cooper's time with the studio, showed the rise and fall of Katherine Hepburn at the studio( I still remember that they tried to put her in the film Mother Carey's Chickens, one way to get someone to leave a studio!)

To me, it was one of the best Documentaries about the movies that I have ever seen. IMO, better then the MGM one done years later. It had that edge of your seat feel that you get from watching the great documentary they did on Gone with the Wind, and that is pretty hard to do in a documentary about movies.

Anyway, I saw I had this spread out over several beta tapes(Don't seem to have it all anymore) and that got me thinking about it again. I am sure a few here remember seeing it back then(Did it also run on A&E a few years later?) But I don't seem to recall seeing it run on TCM, did it ever? If not, it would be a great choice before and/or after several classic RKO films. If they can't run it for some reason, it should at least be on DVD!

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> Is it really better than MGM: When the Lion

> Roars?

 

Honestly, I thought it was. Perhaps since I feel MGM was the Rolls Royce of studios, I thought MGM: When the Lion Roars was going to be as interesting if not a more interesting documentary than the one on RKO was. I felt like the RKO one informed me more than the MGM one did. But, I haven't seen it in years either, perhaps another viewing would change my mind....

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I think it's the best documentary on Hollywood ever made, and my tapes are broken! It's so intelligently organized, and they talked to EVERYONE (I think my favourite interview moment--out of hundreds of memorable bits--is Hepburn's discussion of SYLVIA SCARLETT). It's not a disguised commercial for a studio and its films, like so many of these things wind up being. It uses the films, and the memories of the people who made them, in order to discuss American culture from the early thirties to the early fifties in a really sophisticated way!

 

The attention paid to preview screening cards was an especially nice touch.

 

I'm dying to see it again, and I can't believe that copyright issues or whatever have barred the series' way to DVD. Someone really ought to sort that out immediately!

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> I think it's the best documentary on Hollywood ever

> made [....] It's not a disguised commercial for a

> studio and its films, like so many of these things

> wind up being.

 

Could it be simply because RKO is no longer a major Hollywood studio, therefore no need to get RKO execs to give their approval to the project, authorize the clips, etc.?

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Over the years, I've collected most of the studio documentaries and the RKO one wins hands down. The interviews are great and the file footage is well chosen. I believe this played only once on AMC quite a few years ago. AMC also did a great (but much shorter) documentary on Republic Pictures. I transferred these to disc a few years ago and still watch them with great regularity.

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> I think it's the best documentary on Hollywood ever

> made [....] It's not a disguised commercial for a

> studio and its films, like so many of these things

> wind up being.

 

Could it be simply because RKO is no longer a major Hollywood studio, therefore no need to get RKO execs to give their approval to the project, authorize the clips, etc.? >>

 

The RKO film library was owned by Ted Turner at the time this documentary was made. So, they would have had to license the clips from Turner.

 

I believe the documentary was based on the book: The RKO Story by Professor Richard Jewell. Rick is the head of the Film History/Criticism department at USC as well as teacher. His class on Westerns is great. He wrote the book back in the late 1970s/early 1980s I believe. It is out of print but if you can find a copy, I highly recommend it.

 

He is great guy and a great teacher.

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It would be great if TCM could get these documentaries and run them:

 

MGM: When the Lion Roars

 

The RKO Story

 

Here's Looking at You: The Warner Bros. Story

 

The Universal Studio Story

 

Was there one done for Columbia?

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I've never heard of the RKO documentary. If anyone locates tape or disk copies, please post a message on this forum.

 

I searched a couple of places (eBay, Amazon), but no listing for tape or disk. I did find the Richard Jewell book on eBay. I'm going to bid on the item. No bids on the book. A couple of days left before end of auction. So, no one else bid on the item...okay?

 

I read the RKO documentary may have been broadcast on AMC (sorry, amc) a few years ago. Maybe, petition amc to schedule a future broadcast on the cable channel...oops, I made a funny.

 

Rusty

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Wow sounds like a great documentary.

 

I see someone is going to bid on the Richard Jewel book on the topic so i'll wait a week and see if another auction with the same book is up. I'd love to read the source material for such a grand documentary.

 

Too bad it isn't on TCM. :(

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> Looks like the BBC has a hand in the ownership of the

> documentary, according to IMDb. Warner releases both

> RKO- and BBC-owned productions on home video, so

> maybe that's a good sign, synergistically (is that a

> word?).

 

We can only hope so. Synergy rocks when it means more classic films & docs on DVD =D

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