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TCM- What happened?


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26 minutes ago, Oneeyeopen said:

let's see if they take the number out where Fred Astaire is wearing Black Face as a tribute to Bill BoJangles Robinson

They haven't taken it out before. It's a part of their long between-movies piece about why TCM keeps airing these things. But I suspect the on-air host will mention its existence prior to the movie's airing and warn viewers it will appear, which no doubt will make posters on here very angry.

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9 hours ago, LsDoorMat said:

Just out of curiosity I looked at MovieCollector's big schedule of everything ever shown on TCM. Specifically I was looking for "Babes on Broadway" (1941) which has a big blackface number as the finale. It was last shown in October 2018. The time before that it was shown December 2017. It has been shown a total of 38 times since TCM came on the air.  This means that from the time TCM came on the air until October 2018 it was shown once about every seven or eight months, but hasn't been shown in over three years. I'd say that this film will probably never be on TCM again because of that number. And I sure am glad Criterion put out Swing Time when they did, because they probably for sure would not release it now. 

So what would be the reason TCM hasn't shown other movies in a long time that don't have blackface numbers?

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2 hours ago, slaytonf said:

So what would be the reason TCM hasn't shown other movies in a long time that don't have blackface numbers?

Seems an odd question to ask. I think after a transitory phase where they had the self-justifying sorta-documentary running between movies in which they said "This is offensive, but it's part of film history, so we feel obligated to air these movies, albeit by placing them in the context of racial history" that they've now decided to go one step farther and not show these movies at all. No doubt many on here think I'm a total snowflake, but I"m sorta weirded out by this. I'm unsure Gone With the Wind will receive many (or any) more TCM or HBO Max airings.

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2 minutes ago, sewhite2000 said:

Seems an odd question to ask. I think after a transitory phase where they had the self-justifying sorta-documentary running between movies in which they said "This is offensive, but it's part of film history, so we feel obligated to air these movies, albeit by placing them in the context of racial history" that they've now decided to go one step farther and not show these movies at all. No doubt many on here think I'm a total snowflake, but I"m sorta weirded out by this. I'm unsure Gone With the Wind will receive many (or any) more TCM or HBO Max airings.

What's so odd?  You are claiming the movie hasn't been shown in a long time because of its content.  I'm saying it hasn't been shown in a long time for the same reason a lot of other movies haven't been shown in a long time.  That is, it just hasn't.  

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2 hours ago, slaytonf said:

What's so odd?  You are claiming the movie hasn't been shown in a long time because of its content.  I'm saying it hasn't been shown in a long time for the same reason a lot of other movies haven't been shown in a long time.  That is, it just hasn't.  

But it is odd if it was shown regularly and now is AWOL. I gave the example of Babes on Broadway. WB owns it. There is a cleaned up digital copy. It showed every 7-8 months for years and now is suddenly absent for three years. There is no copyright problem, so I imagine TCM now finds the extended blackface number problematic. It's the same reason that with the exception of the Jazz Singer, Al Jolson's films never air on TCM anymore. With the exception of 1929's Say it With Songs which has no blackface number in it. 

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11 minutes ago, LsDoorMat said:

But it is odd if it was shown regularly and now is AWOL. I gave the example of Babes on Broadway. WB owns it. There is a cleaned up digital copy. It showed every 7-8 months for years and now is suddenly absent for three years. There is no copyright problem, so I imagine TCM now finds the extended blackface number problematic. It's the same reason that with the exception of the Jazz Singer, Al Jolson's films never air on TCM anymore. With the exception of 1929's Say it With Songs which has no blackface number in it. 

And the same can be cited for many a movie without the same content.  How do you know there is no copyright problem?  How do you know there even was a decision not to show it?  Does it have to be shown?  If so, why?  Maybe it's just not a good movie.  Maybe whoever chooses the movies just forgot about it.  Maybe a new programmer came on board a few years ago and just doesn't think about them, like all the other movies that used to air and now don't.  

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I think any censorship needs to be taken seriously.  It usually starts off small, but look at what's happening in San Francisco. It used to be a cool city, now it resembles the Third Reich with its destruction of artwork, censorship and "re-naming" frenzy.     Article in The Atlantic:

The Holier-Than-Thou Crusade in San Francisco

"This debacle is just the latest example of “progressive” cultural censorship in a city once renowned as a bastion of free speech."

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5 hours ago, Katie_G said:

I think any censorship needs to be taken seriously.

Agreed.

There are many old movies that regularly ridicule all sorts of people-Jews, Italians, Chinese, Japanese. I cringe hearing any racial or cultural slur in an old movie, but realize people weren't as enlightened or "global" thinking.

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT '67 is a movie about racism, could you imagine every insulting word bleeped out? Honestly, re-watching BLAZING SADDLES a few years ago, I was shocked hearing the N word, used for comedic effect rather than insulting the hero.

When I hear a racial slur directed towards MY people's heritage, it makes me bristle but I realize it slips past most people's consciousness. (I even had to enlighten MrTiki about it) When Canadians or Brits make fun of Americans, I can usually see the humor and can laugh along with it.

Same for female stereotypes, I may roll my eyes or stop watching the movie, but how can you be angry over it or demand it be stricken from history? The world is not going to conform to whatever makes you comfortable. 

I'm tired of people moaning over words being offensive. Grow up. You can't change the past & I'm disappointed TCM would capitulate & edit their movies.

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7 hours ago, slaytonf said:

And the same can be cited for many a movie without the same content.  How do you know there is no copyright problem?  How do you know there even was a decision not to show it?  Does it have to be shown?  If so, why?  Maybe it's just not a good movie.  Maybe whoever chooses the movies just forgot about it.  Maybe a new programmer came on board a few years ago and just doesn't think about them, like all the other movies that used to air and now don't.  

  • How do you know there is no copyright problem? Because the Warner Archive has it in print. Because MGM made this film and Warner Brothers owns it.
  • How do you know there was even a decision not to show it? - Easiest question.  Because they are NOT showing it at the same average rate that they did the first 24 years TCM was on the air.
  • Does it have to be shown? If so why? Maybe it is not a good movie - I really don't care for the late 30s/early 40s MGM musicals. But Mickey Rooney has always been a staple of TCM programming, and TCM shows all of his other MGM films. Funny they should just start NOT showing this one. 

It seems you want to make every excuse imaginable as to why this film is not being shown when the most obvious answer is that TCM can't cut an entire finale out of a film, so they have decided not to show it because of the blackface number.

And surely you don't think TCM programmers just take a look around the vault and say, Hmmmm what should we show next month? Like they are picking out something to watch on Movie Night? There is probably software used that shows the last time films were shown.

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22 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

So .... you WANT to hear white people saying that word?

I don't suppose it would do any good at all to point out the monumental double standard in such a statement. It's farcical, man.

The word in question is now simply not allowed to be used- in any context- by any "non-person-of-color" but black people can throw it around as a term of affection, or an epithet, or whatever they want. Can you not see the glaring, outrageous double standard, not to mention, the hypocrisy of this attitude?

A word is either acceptable in polite company, or it's not, and it is or is not for everyone, no matter what your race.

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47 minutes ago, LsDoorMat said:

It seems you want to make every excuse imaginable as to why this film is not being shown when the most obvious answer is

Don't assume. The person may have wanted each "excuse" eliminated with an explanation to better decide the exclusion is intentional. Personally I'd be offended if TCM Programmers used "it's a rights issue" as an excuse but it was really because they were afraid to broadcast it.

50 minutes ago, LsDoorMat said:

And surely you don't think TCM programmers just take a look around the vault and say, Hmmmm what should we show next month? Like they are picking out something to watch on Movie Night?

No need for snarkyness...until you mentioned it, it never occurred to me TCM Programmers would use statistics software to base their decisions.

 

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First, I saw (and noticed) this when it aired. I was actually coming here to see if there was anywhere to complain, and I'm overjoyed to see that several others have beat me to it.

Uncut and commercial free... Well, they get half of it right. But in all seriousness, this is a VERY frightening development. 

As for:

Quote

So .... you WANT to hear white people saying that word?

ABSOLUTLY beside the point. Presentation does not equal endorsement. And if you want to go further, the scene plays as

Popeye: Never trust a n****

Cloudy: It doesn't matter that he was black

Popeye: Never trust anyone

So it's not merely "white people saying that word". It's a joke, a character beat, it destroys how the scene plays, and it's censorship. 

Quote

Probably because William Friedkin was on he had to have asked since they've never done this before to my knowledge

I SERIOUSLY doubt it. A few years ago I read Friedkin's autobiography where he talks about having to fight with the studio for them to not cut that very scene (they thought it would make people hate Popeye and check out of the movie), so it seems strange that suddenly he would request it cut. Not to mention, he has fought MANY battles regarding the censorship of his movies, including his most recent Killer Joe. So I highly doubt that he would now request them to be cut. He probably doesn't have any idea, so I reached out via twitter to let him know (and to see if it was indeed his doing)

REGARDLESS. if that was the case, TCM should have said so during the opening thus letting the audience choose whether or not to watch a censored movie

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7 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Don't assume. The person may have wanted each "excuse" eliminated with an explanation to better decide the exclusion is intentional. Personally I'd be offended if TCM Programmers used "it's a rights issue" as an excuse but it was really because they were afraid to broadcast it.

No need for snarkyness...until you mentioned it, it never occurred to me TCM Programmers would use statistics software to base their decisions.

 

Not trying to be snarky. I'm just saying I'm sure they have a database of films they have rights to broadcast that can be sorted by last date shown. Some they probably decline to show because they are in bad shape and not digitized. One I can think of is "Divorce Among Friends" (1930). I have an old VHS copy of a very old TCM broadcast of that film. I don't think it has been shown since the 1990s. What was broadcast was in very bad shape, has no stars that anybody would recognize, and I can see why TCM would not broadcast it. On the other hand, "The Divorcee", from the same year, won Norma Shearer a Best Actress Oscar, and has been restored.  I would expect to see that from time to time. 

And don't expect TCM, with its history of showing everything uncut, to be honest about why some films are just not being shown anymore. Because they realize that can of worms only opens from the inside. 

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1 minute ago, LsDoorMat said:

I wouldn't expect Al to be selected for SUTS either. 

Al Jolson doesn't have a large enough film legacy for SOTM and I don't believe enough high quality movies for even SUTS.

Joan Bennett;  She is a Fox star and like Monroe and Brando that is the main reason for no SOTM honor.

 

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51 minutes ago, JamesJazGuitar said:

Al Jolson doesn't have a large enough film legacy for SOTM and I don't believe enough high quality movies for even SUTS.

Joan Bennett;  She is a Fox star and like Monroe and Brando that is the main reason for no SOTM honor.

 

You're right about Big Al's filmography. He has a significant role in only nine films:

The Jazz Singer

The Singing Fool

Say It With Songs

Mammy

Big Boy

Hallelujah I'm A Bum

Wonder Bar

Go Into Your Dance

The Singing Kid

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16 minutes ago, LsDoorMat said:

You're right about Big Al's filmography. He has a significant role in only nine films:

The Jazz Singer

The Singing Fool

Say It With Songs

Mammy

Big Boy

Hallelujah I'm A Bum

Wonder Bar

Go Into Your Dance

The Singing Kid

If TCM does feature Al Jolson (maybe a one-day tribute?) they should include the 1946 bio-musical The Jolson Story.  Oscar nominated Larry Parks portrays Jolson, lip syncing to Jolson who was still alive and who recorded the songs once again  for the movie.  Parks performs the songs in black face for about half of the film, and, thankfully, the last half he performs without the dark make-up.  It received 6 Oscar nods with 2 wins, including Scoring of a Musical Picture.   Entertaining sidebar:  Ruby Keeler, who had divorced Jolson in 1940, threatened a law suit if her name was used in the film.  So she was re-named Julie Benson and was played very well by Evelyn Keyes.  The movie was a big hit at the box office and was followed in 1949 by a sequel Jolson Sings Again.  Jolson died the following year.

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7 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

No need for snarkyness...until you mentioned it, it never occurred to me TCM Programmers would use statistics software to base their decisions.

If this is truly so, I don't see any benefit whatsoever after they add their "golden touch" to it.  A random-generated schedule would give more variety, even across just the MGM and WB entries.

edit: yes, TB, it is "sad"...  ;)

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