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A Twenty-Something's TCM Musings...


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I've long been a fan of Turner Classic Movies, or TCM, for short. If you look back on the maelstrom of cable activity in the early/mid '90s, it was amazing. You had new cable channels popping up all over the place. Cartoon Network, E!, Game Show Network, The Sci-Fi Channel, and Turner Classic Movies were just a few new faces on the cable landscape. Each sought to carve out a special niche in the marketplace, one that until then had largely gone unfufilled.

 

Now it's almost two decades later and what has happened? Cartoon Network has turned into a repetitive noise-machine of regurgitated "original series" while forsaking the classic cartoons they originally aired (so much so they had to create a sister channel, Boomerang, just to air said cartoons!), E! resembles The Paparazzi Channel, save for their weekly series The Soup, Game Show Network is now called gsn - the network for games and throws in reality series and poker, poker, poker, and The Sci-Fi Channel now dubs itself simply SCI FI while upon closer inspection, the channel could not be any less devoted to science fiction, as it constantly eschews the genre it's named for in lieu of demos, ratings, and the almighty dollar.

 

But in the loud din of the money-hungry claptrap that the race for viewers causes, one channel has stood the test of time by staying true. One channel has remained committed and devoted to its founding principles: classic movies 24/7. They've proven that they can make money and yes, Bonnie Hammer at SCI FI, *still* retain a hefty viewership. That channel is, of course, Turner Classic Movies.

 

I will turn 25 later this year and Turner Classic Movies is truly like a breath of fresh air. I've ignored this channel for far too long. On May 22nd, they'll be airing the Orson Welles-made documentary F for Fake! That's never shown on television! I look forward to seeing it and after glancing at what's ahead on TCM's schedule in the coming months, I am continuously amazed and very excited.

 

In September, select episodes of The Dick Cavett Show will air, each featuring interviews with legends of film including Groucho Marx and Alfred Hitchcock, to name a few. Some bemoan the fact that they'll be airing this show; I welcome it as an added bonus to hear candid and in-depth interviews with some of Hollywood's best and brightest who are no longer with us.

 

I'm really enjoying rediscovering TCM and am kicking myself and wondering what the hell took me so long to put down the remote and enjoy the vast richness of treasures this channel offers, and as long as Time Warner keeps TCM's mission statement in mind, with its wonderful on-air style, sophistication, and presentation, this amazing, amazing, treasure of a cable channel, with its great films that harken back to the silver's screen's best and brightest of yesteryear, will truly remain the one and ONLY crown jewel on cable television - PERIOD.

 

So there are my thoughts. After lurking for the past several days, I've now delurked and I look forward to discussing TCM and classic cinema with all of you! :)

 

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jasoncinema1

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A stunning and absolutely PERFECT analysis of the cable scene Jason! I hope some of the so-called 'purists; here read it, soak it up and realize how lucky we are to have TCM....

 

I too, am looking forward to the Cavett shows.....especially Groucho,of course!

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Some of us "purists" do realize this that is why we get so upset when TCM gets away from the classic movies and starts showing cartoons and tv shows. This is the only channel we have left for the old classic movies.

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Here's another welcome to you jasoncinema1. You have a powerful task ahead of you and that's educating your peers to the joys of classic films. It's so important that TCM developes new and younger viewers and that shouldn't be done by just showing newer films. As you found out there is so much to enjoy in the oldies and it's really a shame that so many younger people today find it so "uncool" (or whatever the term is nowadays) to watch anything older than a few years or god forbid in black and white. They are missing so much. Thanks for making my day and please become a regular on these boards.

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Another cable channel that has jumped the shark in a big way is AMC, which used to show commercial free classic movies just like TCM. Then they started putting ads between movies, which was disturbing, but hey, they have to pay the bills.

 

But when they started putting commercials in the middle of movies, I wrote to them and complained. They sent me a form letter telling me that the commercials were an audience feature. Apparently there was a huge outcry demanding an "intermission."

 

Judging from the number of "intermisions" they have on there now, most of their audience apparently has pretty severe prostate trouble.

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"Judging from the number of "intermissions" they have on there now, most of their audience apparently has pretty severe prostate trouble." LOL that's great!!

 

I remember when I first got cable and AMC was called Montage,it came on at 8pm ran two movies twice and was off until the next day. Commericals bring in money,but with the amount that AMC has someones getting Real Fat on some Island living quite large. TG4TCM (Thank God For Turner Classic Movies)

 

vallo

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What's really annoying about AMC is the promos they run across the bottom of the screen during the movie. As if commercials weren't enough..! I was so glad when my cable provider finally started carrying TCM a few years ago.

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Another channel that severely changed is Bravo. I used to love watching the biographies/documentaries on artists, actors, writers, etc. And now it's nothing but celebrity poker and that whiny jackass hair stylist. A&E is another channel that's changed--they used to show Biography and good original programming (I used to really like the Sidney Lumet directed, 100 Centre Street starring Alan Arkin) and now, it's just another reality wasteland. E! should be called "The Ryan Seacrest Network." Everything is reality, reality, reality (I'm not saying that I don't enjoy some of the programs--I'm of the idea that everyone needs a few guilty pleasures in their life), but for the most part I don't even watch much television anymore because most of it is total crap.

 

Anyway, a fantastic post jasoncinema1. Welcome to the boards. I'm in my mid-20's as well and I love TCM because it's everything the other channels aren't. Not every 20 something wants to see nothing but reality junk and current movies. I'm always looking forward to the new schedules, and while I may have some grumblings here and there, for the most part, TCM shows movies that you can't see anywhere else! People are always talking about the downfall of TCM, which I can understand. After seeing channel after channel go down in flames, I'm worried about TCM as well. You can't help it. While TCM does choose some movies that are more mainstream, the majority of tributes and festivals are obscure to the average person. A month long tribute to James Wong Howe? Last month's SoTM's Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy and even this month's, Deborah Kerr? There are no other channels that even come close! And I'm not even mentioning the morning long birthday salutes, the letterboxing of most movies post 1953 and more.

 

I love TCM as much as everyone else here, or else I wouldn't be posting and discussing and checking back each day to see what everyone else has to say.

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Jason:

 

Welcome. Don't be so hard on yourself. Find joy in that you have found movie Nirvana. Others out in the world still wander in darkness. Here you will find fun, people with similar interests and possibly more information than you will ever be able to use. It will be fun knowing though. (You become the deciding factor in settling arguments.)

 

You assess the cable world well. After AMC one of my biggest disappointments is A&E. From concerts and "arts" specials down to shows like "Dog: The Bounty Hunter" we are left to scratch our head over what has become of whatever we once enjoyed. Thankfully, we still have TCM. It may not be perfect. It's hard to please everyone but imagine not having it at all. (It gives me pause.)

 

P.S. Classic films lovers can live in a solitary world. On the whole we are few. But, we are fun. Good luck.

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Are they more accessible? When I was growing up many television stations played classic movies. All the independent channels did. That's where I grew to love the Busby Berkeley movies. Now it seems that only cable channels (like TCM) that are devoted to movies show these films. Local stations never play movies anymore.

 

As my bio notes when I first moved to San Francisco there were so many movie houses, and many of them were revival houses: Cento Cedar, Surf, Mercury, Richlieu, Gateway, Strand, Electric. They're all gone now. Luckily, we still have the Balboa, Castro, Red Vic and the Roxie.

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I'm not so sure based on my own experience. When I was younger, back in the 70's and 80's there were quite a few local stations that aired old movies as part of their regular prime time and afternoon programming. Living in Balt/DC area we had more stations than most areas. Of course then what are classics now were only 20-30 years old.

 

We have TCM (thankfully) and the occasional showing on a pay channel but almost nowhere else on TV do we get a classic. In my area we hardly have any chance to go to a theater to see a classic unless it's at a college. Once in a while our movie house "The Senator" will show one but it's rare.

 

For someone who's interested there's certainly the chance to buy or rent from Netflix or our local library that was never there but I don't think TV has been much help.

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I tend to agree with JackBurley. In the past, I'm talking the late Sixties and early Seventies, there were several revival cinemas, particularly on-campus movie nights at universities, which appealed to so many diverse people. And a point raised was that there were more local channels showing old movies. That is so true. I remember every late night at least one local channel was playing some old film. And a Seattle station used to have a thing called The Big Show that would start around 5:00 PM or so (and I suddenly had a recollection that they used to interrupt the film for the news for 30 minutes at 6:30).

 

We are lucky in that with TCM we get more great films than anywhere else all the time.

 

One thing I had also been thinking lately was there was more scholarly interest in old movies back in the Sixties and Seventies than now. For example, there was such a great nostalgia that there were tons of books on "The Films of Humphrey Bogart" and others from Citadel Press and other publishers, all with hundreds of photos. Movie bios were aplenty. Nowadays, hardly any books are published on the old films or stars. And the ones that do come out are sparsely illustrated. Has anyone else noticed this?

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You're right about the books. I have nearly all, I think, of those "The FiIms of..." books and several bios. I think we haven't had many recently because most have been dead so long. We got them maybe after they just died or had retired. They were still in the public's mind. Now they are just too far removed.

 

I have some books on Hitchcock that deal with his craft more than him. Others like Olivier, Cagney and Fonda have an interesting enough background that would seem to be more interesting than the current stars. More books on the craft using old actors would be interesting.

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I'd like to think you're right about this, too, John, but I think the "accidental" way that youngsters used to discover old films, back when television stations used them as filler, may have brought more converts to the fold than today. Now a great many young people are introduced to classics in a university setting, and I'm not always sure all the class members are there because they want to be! I hope I'm wrong. I do notice that more kids seem to be aware of the popular culture of the past than they used to be (thinking of that scene with George M. Cohan {James Cagney} and the teenagers in Yankee Doodle Dandy).

 

I once read a beautifully poignant essay on the fact that we used to watch old movies that were full of people who were middle-aged or old, but now we watch people who are dead--yet they are still so alive in their movement and emotion that has been captured on the screen. The article was so much better than the way I'm describing it--I will make an effort to find it and post it. But I've met people who are bothered by watching the "lively dead." I wonder if this also plays a part in the perceived rarity of interest amongst the very young.

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