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The first-ever 'Essentials' double?


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"To Be Or Not To Be" will be part of the "Essentials" on June 28, and on "Essentials Jr." Aug. 10. Is this the first time a film has aired on both series during the same season? I wrote about it at http://carole-and-co.livejournal.com/702797.html.

Good question and not sure what the answer is.  It certainly is proof that some titles are overplayed. I do not think this film works for the kiddie set. It is not going to appeal to children the way THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET does.

 

One thing the Essentials Jr. programmers are missing the boat on-- and this is missing the boat big time (and it surprises me)-- is that research proves kids like to watch shows that have other kids or animated characters in them.  TO BE OR NOT TO BE is a sophisticated political satire that goes over their heads and does not contain elements they can relate to-- most of the young viewers probably do not know who Hitler was, and the teens probably spent two days on der fuhrer in an eighth grade social studies text they skimmed over and barely read. 

 

What we have happening with a lot of the EJr selections is that these are films that adults at TCM think kids would like or should watch, instead of films that kids actually want to watch.  Now I know three people out of 100 will come on to this thread and try to refute what I am saying, claiming their 10 year old Johnny and 12 year old Susie loves TO BE OR NOT TO BE, but that is going to be the exception to the rule.  This film is correctly scheduled as an Essential, but incorrectly scheduled as an Essential Jr.

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Good question and not sure what the answer is.  It certainly is proof that some titles are overplayed. I do not think this film works for the kiddie set. It is not going to appeal to children the way THE INCREDIBLE MR. LIMPET does.

 

One thing the Essentials Jr. programmers are missing the boat on-- and this is missing the boat big time (and it surprises me)-- is that research proves kids like to watch shows that have other kids or animated characters in them.  TO BE OR NOT TO BE is a sophisticated political satire that goes over their heads and does not contain elements they can relate to-- most of the young viewers probably do not know who Hitler was, and the teens probably spent two days on der fuhrer in an eighth grade social studies text they skimmed over and barely read. 

 

What we have happening with a lot of the EJr selections is that these are films that adults at TCM think kids would like or should watch, instead of films that kids actually want to watch.  Now I know three people out of 100 will come on to this thread and try to refute what I am saying, claiming their 10 year old Johnny and 12 year old Susie loves TO BE OR NOT TO BE, but that is going to be the exception to the rule.  This film is correctly scheduled as an Essential, but incorrectly scheduled as an Essential Jr.

 

If TCM was going to run a Lombard film for "Essentials Jr." on Aug. 10, which should they have chosen? ("My Man Godfrey" is out of the running, as it aired on "Essentials Jr." in August 2011.) Based upon the schedule and what was available to TCM (Universal still hasn't issued or given TCM rights to some of her early Paramount programmers), I can think of two movies: "True Confession," a comedy with Fred MacMurray where Carole plays a compulsive liar who is charged with a murder she didn't commit, and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," a marital comedy co-starring Robert Montgomery (and directed by, of all people, Alfred Hitchcock!). I like both, but is either an essential? I might choose "Hands Across The Table" or "Nothing Sacred" over either of them.

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If TCM was going to run a Lombard film for "Essentials Jr." on Aug. 10, which should they have chosen? ("My Man Godfrey" is out of the running, as it aired on "Essentials Jr." in August 2011.) Based upon the schedule and what was available to TCM (Universal still hasn't issued or given TCM rights to some of her early Paramount programmers), I can think of two movies: "True Confession," a comedy with Fred MacMurray where Carole plays a compulsive liar who is charged with a murder she didn't commit, and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith," a marital comedy co-starring Robert Montgomery (and directed by, of all people, Alfred Hitchcock!). I like both, but is either an essential? I might choose "Hands Across The Table" or "Nothing Sacred" over either of them.

Well, the schedule could have been changed. Lombard did not have to be a SUTS honoree on that particular day. The truth is that none of her films seem like the kinds of movies today's kids would probably enjoy. I think Jack Benny is a more kid-friendly choice than Lombard, whose sophistication and glamour was never geared for the younger set.  

 

I would have elminated TO BE OR NOT TO BE and used GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE and built a day of Jack Benny films, or else a day of Ann Sheridan films. GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE has elements that appeal to kids: it has a wisecracking maid and horse, and it has a series of messes (kids love messes) and its concept, about money, is something they can understand. I am not saying GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE is a perfect choice-- it betrays its stage origins with several talky scenes, but overall I think kids would be much more entertained by it than TO BE OR NOT TO BE.

 

Again, as I said, most kids are not going to understand the context of Hitler being spoofed (especially when they know more about Lady Gaga than they do about the second world war). But if TCM is to persist with this theme, of Hitler and WWII, then truly THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is a much better choice and more easily defended as an Essentials Jr. selection.

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Again, as I said, most kids are not going to understand the context of Hitler being spoofed (especially when they know more about Lady Gaga than they do about the second world war). But if TCM is to persist with this theme, of Hitler and WWII, then truly THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is a much better choice and more easily defended as an Essentials Jr. selection.

 

I'd say there are two general points that might be made about "films that 21st century kids might like".

 

1. Kids like movies where kids have prominent roles.

 

2. Black & white films of any type are hard for most non-TCM 21st century viewers to relate to, adults and well as children, but children especially so.

 

The problem is that once you get past the obvious picks like The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis,  it's not that easy to find "essentials" that meet the requirements of color and kid-centric.  So you have to compromise.  Where to go from there?

 

To begin with, I'd go with more slapstick comedies like the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and Laurel & Hardy, and less with the sort of comedies that appeal mostly to somewhat more sophisticated adults who can understand the dated cultural references and lifestyle portrayals that might leave younger viewers just scratching their heads.  Yes to A Night at the Opera, no to My Man Godfrey.

 

I'd then try to put in some (though not too many) films that feature younger actors as central to the plot, but that also have a strong moral component.  Besides the aforementioned The Diary of Anne Frank, I'd feature The Search, and maybe even a more graphic movie like Germany: Year Zero, which has a teenaged protagonist who's forced by circumstances to try to figure out how to survive in postwar Germany.    These two movies would need a good introduction by someone who really understands their point, and they wouldn't be for pre-schoolers, but my wife and I have shown both of those last two movies to our 12 year old goddaughter, with appropriate post-viewing commentary regarding the rougher scenes, and she wasn't any the worse for wear because of it.  She was actually more traumatized by Bambi's mother being killed in that 1942 animated feature.

 

And then for balance I'd put it some vintage cartoons.  TCM has had Bugs Bunny festivals in the (distant) past, and with access to the Warner Brothers library I can't imagine that it couldn't be done again.  Too bad that Disney films are off limits, because those early Technicolor Donald Ducks are still the gold standard of that genre.

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Again, as I said, most kids are not going to understand the context of Hitler being spoofed (especially when they know more about Lady Gaga than they do about the second world war). But if TCM is to persist with this theme, of Hitler and WWII, then truly THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is a much better choice and more easily defended as an Essentials Jr. selection.

 

Eeh! I say throw the little tykes into the deep end and have 'em watch Kapò !!!

 

(...jus' kiddin') ;)

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I'd go with more slapstick comedies like the Marx Brothers, W.C. Fields and Laurel & Hardy, and less with the sort of comedies with dated cultural references and lifestyle portrayals. Yes to A Night at the Opera, no to My Man Godfrey.


 


I'd then try to put in some films that feature younger actors as central to the plot, but that also have a strong moral component. 


 


I have real successful experience getting a typical kid interested in classic film. I agree, the black & white thing was a barrier at first, so I showed her YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN & PAPER MOON early on (when she was like 12-13)... "new" b&w films. Now, b&w is wholly acceptable to her. Many 50's "monster" films are b&w and they are great movies to get kids interested in film.


(almost 17, the kid is just discovering Woody Allen and she LOVED PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO)


 


When I was a kid I loved Abbott & Costello and Jack Benny in THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT. These type of films have easy to follow plots with lots of entertaining comedy. Teens & adults can enjoy these too-perfect!


 


There are so many films in TCM's library that would make ESSENTIALS JR a cohesive introduction to classic film, I just don't understand why they make their choices. I tend to think whomever's in charge doesn't have kids, or even experience with kids.


I don't know many 11-16 year olds that would get excited over MEET ME IN ST LOUIS while there aren't many who wouldn't enjoy SON OF PALEFACE.

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There are so many films in TCM's library that would make ESSENTIALS JR a cohesive introduction to classic film, I just don't understand why they make their choices. I tend to think whomever's in charge doesn't have kids, or even experience with kids.

I don't know many 11-16 year olds that would get excited over MEET ME IN ST LOUIS while there aren't many who wouldn't enjoy SON OF PALEFACE.

 

I agree. I love TCM, but this is my main bone of contention with the Channel. I think the Essentials Jr. programming needs a complete overhaul. There is no way this series is even half as successful as it could be. You cannot show films that do not have kids as the main characters and expect today's kids to sit through it.  Also, as much as we hate to say it, they do not like black-and-white films (that is the reality) but fortunately, there are some wonderful Technicolor pictures that would capture their attention. Also, kids tend to prefer stories with fantasy elements and animals.  

 

But I think the other huge problem with EJr is that they are failing to capitalize on the fact that many classics that do work for kids have been remade.  A double feature of ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (where kids could compare the original b&w with the more modern remake in color) with its fantasy elements and young characters would seem like an automatic choice.  Certainly not TO BE OR NOT TO BE.

 

At any rate, EJr is a misfire in my book. it is completely out of touch with the audience it is intended to reach.

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I was raised on Duck Soup and Monty Python and the Holy Grail and I turned out okay. However remarkably, I don't remember seeing The Phantom Tollbooth as a child, so I definitely could have turned out better.

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Eeh! I say throw the little tykes into the deep end and have 'em watch Kapò !!!

 

(...jus' kiddin') ;)

I remember being enthralled by The Pawnbroker in my younger years, but then I probably was a weird child.   :wacko:  

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Has TCM shown The Adventures of Prince Achmed?   It seems a wonderful candidate for Essentials Jr., though I'm no judge of what kids today might like.  I certainly would love to see it again!

 

That could be a bit exotic for children, but I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it. I think it could be a full-on Essential.

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I think the Essentials Jr. programming needs a complete overhaul. There is no way this series is even half as successful as it could be.

 

Wouldn't it be great to pair up ESSENTIALS JR with the old Cartoon Alley? I'd really like TCM to pair up a couple of comedy shorts or cartoon before EJr to replicate the theater going experience. 

 

As for b&w (or even silents) most kids quickly forget about it. And in our case, it was used as a tool to point out frame composition & lighting to the kid. Hopefully, she appreciates the "look" of b&w.

 

Does TCM realize high school teachers often show DVDs in class to "illustrate" history? I wasn't too happy hearing they showed the recent TROY in the classroom, but certainly WAS happy hearing TikiKid saw DIARY OF ANNE FRANK in class. And when the teacher asks which version they'd like to see, MY kid said "the black & white one-it's better because it was made closer to the time it happened!" When she wanted to know more about WW2, WHY WE FIGHT was an easy choice.

 

I can think of a plethora of movies in the TCM library that could be shown to "teach" kids in conjunction with their curriculum. In the past, TCM had set up some sort of "package" available to teachers to assist classroom teaching while seeing classic film. Really, even old comedy shorts contain nifty tidbits of historical information of daily life of interest to kids.

 

Today's kids have trouble learning in the classroom. A classic film gives them a visual story as well as social perspectives on a given subject. Seeing a charactor involved in a situation makes it more "real" than reading facts. AND it nurtures future cinephiles! 

 

As you said....an untapped resource. Could be so much better.

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Eeh! I say throw the little tykes into the deep end and have 'em watch Kapò !!!

 

(...jus' kiddin') ;)

I remember being enthralled by The Pawnbroker in my younger years, but then I probably was a weird child.   :wacko:

 

When it comes to films like these, beyond considering the age and maturity levels of the child, I think a key factor is the quality of the introductions and the presence of knowledgeable adults in the room.  It'd be borderline insanity to throw a child into a film like Kapo without any sort of preparation, and it would be almost criminally negligent not to be there to discuss the film's implications once the movie was over.

 

Besides giving the background to the events depicted on the screen, such discussions should also focus on questions as well as answers, beginning with "What would you have done in the girl's place?" 

 

OTOH some movies with "dark" themes are probably too abstractly presented for any child to take in.  The events depicted in The Diary of Anne Frank or Kapo may be horrific, but at least they're linear, whereas in The Pawnbroker there are so many unexplained flashbacks that it's much more difficult to follow.  It's an "essential" movie, but more for adults than for children.

 

Of course all of this depends on answering the question of who, exactly, is the target audience for "Essentials Jr."?  Is it 8 year olds or 18 year olds?  Is the idea that this audience will be watching the movies alone, while mommy and/or daddy is occupied elsewhere?  Or is it that the whole family will be watching?  And then, is the purpose of these movies purely "entertainment", "education", or a mixture of both?  That last question is one that divides us whether we're talking about Essentials Jr. or TCM programming in general, and you can see it in other threads here every day.

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Of course all of this depends on answering the question of who, exactly, is the target audience for "Essentials Jr."?  Is it 8 year olds or 18 year olds?  Or is it that the whole family will be watching? 

 

I'd like to see EJr focus towards 10-16 year olds. Younger kids are still watching "little" kids movies like mindless fantasy cartoons. When I think back to what I watched as a kid, nothing comes to mind before about 10 yrs old or so, so this seems to be the beginning of kids following a real story.

 

Many films I saw as a kid hold up pretty well for me as an adult- early Disney, Abbott & Costello, the "Road" movies, It's A MMMM World.  

 

And then, is the purpose of these movies purely "entertainment", "education", or a mixture of both?  

 

Depending on the movie, it should be "both" in different degrees for EVERYone, shouldn't it? 

 

At almost 17, my step kid is rounding the corner to seeking out films on her own. Last night we saw ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST and she completely followed the story & charactor development. We then talked about the history of insane asylums, lobotomies, and other themes the movie presented. (we are showing her movies based on books to get her interested in reading something meatier than juvenile fantasy fiction)

Last year when we saw pure fantasy Harryhousen films, we discussed stop motion animation, so everything is a teaching/learning experience. 

 

If EJr focuses on 10-16 y/o with a really good host & even teacher packages (as I mentioned they did in the past) not only can it illustrate historical stories, but gives an opportunity to teach visual arts (composition/lighting/costume/sets) music, story arc, acting skills, and the like. 

The poor kid has been dragged along to movies WAY above her head so I've learned to include focus on other these aspects.

 

This upcoming week we'll be attending the screening of WEST SIDE STORY and 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY. (I'll have to sit in the middle and explain  what's happening to BOTH of them for THAT one)

Then a week after, we'll see YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, a family favorite needing no explanation!

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This upcoming week we'll be attending the screening of WEST SIDE STORY and 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY. (I'll have to sit in the middle and explain  what's happening to BOTH of them for THAT one)

Then a week after, we'll see YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, a family favorite needing no explanation!

 

Hmmmm...can I come over to your house TOO, Tiki? 'Cause to this DAY, once Kubrick gets to that whole "Star Baby" thing, I'M LOST, lady!!!  :wacko:

 

(...and I hear I'm not the ONLY one!!!) LOL

 

;)

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Hmmmm...can I come over to your house TOO, Tiki? 'Cause to this DAY, once Kubrick gets to that whole "Star Baby" thing, I'M LOST, lady!!!  

 

While you're always welcome at our house, we are seeing these in a theater-a grand picture palace. 

 

In a nutshell, the "gods/aliens/human forebears" chose Frank Bowman to be the first human (Adam) to start life on the next inhabitable planet. Whomever arrived to Jupiter's moon first.

 

They allowed him to live out his earthly existence, and upon death was reincarnated as the "star child". I also think this imagery was used to compare the fetus in a womb to the contained "soup of elements" beginning of life in the vastness of the universe. 

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You never know what going to appeal to a child of any age. One of the first films I remember seeing was Battleground when I was 5 or 6 and I was greatly impressed. So much so that at 60 it's still my favorite war film. I think it was re-released about 1959 and my folks took us to the drive-in to see it.

 

Maybe a lot of kids would be bored by To Be or Not To Be, but I've always thought that Essentials Jr. was supposed to be for films suitable for the entire family, not just little kids.

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While you're always welcome at our house, we are seeing these in a theater-a grand picture palace. 

 

In a nutshell, the "gods/aliens/human forebears" chose Frank Bowman to be the first human (Adam) to start life on the next inhabitable planet. Whomever arrived to Jupiter's moon first.

 

They allowed him to live out his earthly existence, and upon death was reincarnated as the "star child". I also think this imagery was used to compare the fetus in a womb to the contained "soup of elements" beginning of life in the vastness of the universe. 

 

So Tiki, in essence, what you're tellin' me here is that Kubrick would've fit RIGHT in and felt right at home livin' here in Sedona Arizona and along with all these OTHER "New Age" kinda folks around here, RIGHT?! ;)

 

LOL

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