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When wrap-arounds do not match the schedule's theme


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After a recent screening of A WOMAN'S FACE, the usually classy Robert Osborne launched into an unflattering remark about Joan Crawford that director George Cukor supposedly made to Osborne. What purpose does it serve, except to sprinkle the proceedings with a bit of gossip that basically has nothing to do with the film? Maybe Osborne was trying to provide some insights about Cukor, but it came at the expense of Crawford and I found it distasteful. I would much rather have heard about how professional she was on the set during all four of their movies together, and leave it at that, instead of having that extra comment about why Cukor did not socialize with her away from the set. Completely unnecessary...and I am sure that when Cukor made that statement it was in confidence and not meant for the masses to learn about on TCM years later. So thumbs down on that.

Next, we get to last night's host comments by Ben Mankiewicz during a slate of Mamie Van Doren films. Correct me if I am mistaken, but wasn't the evening dedicated to Miss Van Doren? Why, then, after THE BEAT GENERATION, do we get a quick run-down of Jackie Coogan's film credits and a reference to his role on TV's The Addams Family? While he did play a supporting role in this Van Doren picture, he is not the reason we tuned in to TCM to see THE BEAT GENERATION last night. We tuned in because of our girl Mamie.

If there was truly nothing else to say about her (though this was the first film aired last night and surely they could not have run out of trivia about the actress or this film)-- then show some modern-day photos of her, or photos of her working on the set of THE BEAT GENERATION. Anything to remain on topic and keep the focus on Mamie Van Doren and the film that we had just watched. Otherwise, what we are getting is just random commentary about anything other than what the focus of the night's tribute was intended to be.

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I thought it was odd that Ben condemned Jackie Robinson for his condemnation of Communism in his 1951 film. Millions of people had been murdered by the Communists in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Korea, and China, and this was a well-known fact of history in 1951. This would be like Ben condemning some baseball star in a 1940 movie for condemning Fascism.

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I probably run the risk of seeming anti-TCM starting and fostering a thread of this nature. But I believe in my heart of hearts that many of the wrap-arounds could be improved.

 

After I posted this thread, the thought of Tom Rothman came to me. He is no longer in charge at Fox, but the segments he filmed where he talked about some of the studio's legacy pictures like HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY or CLEOPATRA really focused on the films being presented. And it wasn't two to three minutes of just a talking head on screen...we would hear him continue speaking but they would cut away to photos or clips of the film. TCM does some of this for the Essentials program, but not for the everyday evening themes.

 

Recently, Osborne said that Esther Williams would give TCM a rap on the knuckles when she felt they did something wrong or could do something better.

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This is really much ado about nothing, don't you think?

 

First of all, didn't at one time Robert Osborne say that he had met Crawford? I can't remember specifically, but I do know he knew quite a few of the old Hollywood stars from the classic era. He might have had some insight about her or had research done that may have supported what he had to say about her.

 

Whenever Osborne or Mankiewicz introduce a film they mostly speak about the main actor or the film itself. The ending comments are sometimes about secondary actors, or similar stories about something related to the movie possibly indirectly.

 

I really do not see why you think it is imperative that they continue to talk about the main actor of the film or whatever is associate with the film. As far as I am concerned the mere fact that the evening is devoted to a particular actor or theme should not dissuade Robert or Ben from introducing other interesting anecdotes about the film or the actors in the film.

 

To me I think its fascinating to learn of these little anecdotes and actually I think it helps let people understand just what it was like to work in Hollywood back then.

 

Your finding that what Osborne had to say about Crawford to you feeling it was distasteful, to me just reinforces what I have already read about Crawford. Including the book about her by her daughter.

 

Yes, she was an absolutely great classic film star. But just like many others back then and like so many others of today, she had some evil demons hidden away within herself.

 

Edited by: fxreyman on Jun 21, 2013 4:52 PM

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First, _all_ the introductions were going to reference the theme. In last night's case, that's _four_ intros about Mamie Van Doren. I can't say that she was being slighted if the outros focused on a different topic from the particular film that was just shown. Makes sense to me to speak about other co-stars, etc. instead of returning to the "star" with the four intros for the night.

 

Second, don't forget that there is a BIG website here and TCM typically provides a very good selection of articles, etc. for most high profile week-night events -- like last night's.

 

http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/614581%7C0/Starring-Mamie-Van-Doren.html

 

These materials probably include all anyone would like to know about Mamie Van Doren.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}I thought it was odd that Ben condemned Jackie Robinson for his condemnation of Communism in his 1951 film. Millions of people had been murdered by the Communists in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Korea, and China, and this was a well-known fact of history in 1951. This would be like Ben condemning some baseball star in a 1940 movie for condemning Fascism.

I just read his article about this in Now Playing, and he doesn't exactly condemn Robinson. He more or less stated that the tacked on ending re: what was going on in the country at the time was incongrous wiith the rest of the movie. He writes

 

"The film also has a bizarre, but timely, 1950 ending. Brooklyn Dodgers President Branch Rickey encourages Robinson to go to Washington, DC to talk about comjunism (and Robinson was hauled in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee as part of its investigation of Paul Robeson.)

We 'have too much invested in ou country's welfare,' says Robinson in the film final scene, 'to throw it away or to let it be taken from us.' The line has nothing to do with baseball, little to do with civil rights and seems wildly out of place as the closing act to this bio-pic, but it frames the picture perfectly in the context of its time, a simeltaneous moment of great acclaim and terrible shame in American history, all part of what makes The Jackie Robinson Story well worth seeing."

 

Edited by: helenbaby on Jun 22, 2013 7:26 AM

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>"The film also has a bizarre, but timely, 1950 ending."

 

Hi helenbaby, :)

 

I don't think the ending of the Jackie Robinson film was "bizarre" at all. It was indeed timely, and it was appropriate and similar to the endings or the beginnings of a lot of other films of that era, and other films at various times in history, that spoke up about the preservation of freedom and liberty, both in the United States and in England, such as the comments at the end of SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGTON (1943), see 6:30 into this clip:

 

 

Here's the Jackie Robinson film. See his ending speech, starting at around 1:14:15:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gNm-UlJmKUg

 

Note the similar scene of the US Capitol building that was like the similar scene of the Capitol building in the Sherlock Holmes film.

 

I think these are all appropriate messages in films, including Robinson's 1950 movie, especially since Stalin had just recently blockaded West Berlin in 1948/49 in an attempt to take control of all of the city on behalf of the Soviet government, as part of their continued conquest of small Eastern European nations. See THE BIG LIFT with Montgomery Clift, 1950. A newsreel type of documentary introduction starts at about 1 minute into the film:

 

 

None of these messages are "bizarre" or out of place in any of these films.

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Thanks, everyone, for the replies (so far). I see this as a long-range thread. The wrap-arounds deserve as much attention and (constructive) criticism as the films that are programmed. This will be an on-going open commentary...

 

Again, I want to reiterate that the guest hosts have been bringing their A-game. They have been completely focused and steering clear of gossip and random useless trivia. In one case, a guest host has been coming on to this General Discussions Forum and providing additional feedback-- taking the TCM-viewer relationship to a whole new level. Thumbs up on that, Eddie Muller. This makes the experience even more worthwhile-- and relevant. Thank you!

 

Edited by: TopBilled on Jun 23, 2013 11:13 AM

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Hi, I didn't shoot you. That's why the smiley face in my greeting. :)

 

I just wanted to show the historical background of such material in movies. Ben made out like there was no such historical background in films, but I saw this type of stuff in films a good 20 years before he was born.

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Fred,

 

I think we are getting into a subtopic when it comes to the Now Playing write-ups. In a magazine article attributed to someone, we can assume that they wrote the entire piece. Or else came up with the rough draft before an editor smoothed it out.

 

But I have often wondered how much of what is spoken during the wrap-arounds is actually written by the hosts. I would think very little. When Eddie Muller started referencing pre-code film in his wrap-arounds for THE MALTESE FALCON '31, I felt like he did not write that, but TCM's staff probably did.

 

Edited by: TopBilled on Jun 23, 2013 11:34 AM

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>The quote I quoted from the article was pretty much the same thing he said on the air.

 

What is the consequence of this? Does it make you not want to watch Ben Mankiewicz on TCM or listen to his other host comments? Do you find him less credible? Is this a case of immature writing, because he is from a later generation commenting on something he did not actually experience?

 

Obviously, you are taking 'issue' with that particular brand of commentary from Mankiewicz. Or, does it ultimately not matter to you?

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Ultimately, what I am looking for in the intros and outros is information that maybe I did not know about or may never have realized about a director, producer, writer, actor or whatever, even about the studio or anything else that could be relevent to the film.

 

I have always maintained that the films shown at night should have someone introduce the films to the public. As far as being accurate is concerned, to me that is less important than having Robert or Ben or anyone else impart a little background info about the film. Whether or not it is inaccurate or not does not faze me.

 

And as far as I am concerned it is not even remotely like being credible. As I wrote, These people are introducing the films not writing a thesis on them. If accuracy is what you are looking for, then television is not the place to be.

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Although I get annoyed sometimes when RO goes off on a tangent on his wraparounds, I'm sorry I missed that piece of Joan gossip! Can anyone tell me what he said?

 

Edited by: Hibi on Jun 25, 2013 12:00 PM

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Just about all the presenters mention some piece of gossip, even if it is of

the non-salacious variety. So and so was supposed to be in the move but for

some reason they weren't, something changed between the time the film

was green-lighted and the time it came out, etc. It's all rather harmless anyway.

 

And right after Jackie Robinson spoke about communism, Pee Wee Reese got

up and gave a short lecture on opera.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Want to continue documenting this.

 

On July 3rd, AND SO THEY WERE MARRIED aired on TCM. The second the film was over Robert Osborne came on the screen and launched into gossip about star Mary Astor's scandal which occurred months after the film premiered. As soon as he got the first sentence out, I pressed 2-8-8 on the remote which took me to the Encore Westerns Channel.

 

Do not have time for Osborne's gossip about movie stars' private lives. Stick to the film and aspects of production, please.

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Well, the story of Mary Astor and her little diary is one of the most famous

of Hollywood scandals, right up there with Errol Flynn's and Charlie Chaplin's,

so I'm not surprised it was mentioned. The well known scandals are a part of

Hollywood history, so I see no problem with talking about them on occasion.

Uncle Bob does this every once in a while and always has.

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It had no relationship to the film that was screened on TCM (the incident mentioned had occurred months after the film was made and after it had premiered). If it had interrupted filming or the release of the picture, that would be relevant.

 

Stick to the facts surrounding the film's production. That's what a journalist and historian should do and would do.

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>Do not have time for Osborne's gossip about movie stars' private lives. Stick to the film and aspects of production, please.

 

I agree. I don't want to hear any gossip.

 

All of that stuff can be made up by anyone, and Hollywood reporters were notorious for telling lies about people.

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