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How About A MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE thread....? (1 Viewer)


Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
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Some of us have mentioned in various threads that we saw this movie or that on New York's WOR-TV Channel 9 when we were growing up. This station was like a vital artery for movie lovers within the reach of its broadcast signal during the 50's-70's. WOR owned the RKO library (also a bunch of Warner Bros titles) and had a unique strategy for showing its films.

I would like to involve others who remember this wonderful program as something that actually contributed to their love of film, and even produced some filmmakers along the way.This was pre-video by decades, and therefore the best way we could re-experience favorite movies as often as our parents would allow us to during a given week. I (and I would guess many of you) wound up memorizing dialog, music cues, exact points at which a commercial would interrupt, etc.

Each week, there was a new title. It was cut to fit into 90-minute time slots, allowing for commercials. That film was then scheduled 16 times during the week. Yes, sixteen times! (more showings in one week than HBO runs in a month!) Mondays-Fridays, the film showed at 7:30 and 9:00 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, the same film was consecutively run at 1:30, 3:00, and 4:30 p.m. I watched movies like THE THING, KING KONG, and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939) back-to-back maybe 8-9 times a week (only fewer than 16 because I had to go to bed by 9:00 or so).

The program began with a skyline of New York City, behind which rose a gigantic clapstick featuring the movie's title, to the tune of Tara's Theme from GONE WITH THE WIND. The movie proper always started with the first sequence after the original credits, which had been trimmed-out so we never saw an original title sequence. The end credits were also lopped off, and replaced by a few basic credits on that same skyline clapstick. A voice over said something like, "If you missed any part of (film title) or wish to see it again, the next showing will be at..."

Now, this program was a dream come true for kids who loved movies and usually only got to see them once on t.v. or in a theater.

Million Dollar Movie was perhaps more responsible for encouraging kids to stay indoors on beautiful summer weekends than anything else in the NYC suburbs.

And, if you still wanted to see the film more than been able to on its initial run on MDM, it would eventually show up on a weekday afternoon programs called Movie Of the Week, which would air the film 5 more times.

Now, tell me that isn't Nirvana for someone who just thought RODAN was impeccable, or that WHITE HEAT was thrilling, or that THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR was magical? I wish I could find a list of all the films that show broadcast during my childhood years, but it included most of the RKO films (The Lewtons, the fantasies, the grand adventures like GUNGA DIN) and I am eternally grateful to that station for bringing me these.

The one caveat was the 90-minute time slot, although I didn't know it at the time. THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME had a theatrical running time of 117 minutes, to cite one example of many. This film had to be cut to fit into that time slot, requiring the excision of some 40 minutes. As a kid, this meant nothing. Judicious editing allowed the film to make sense to me. Later, when collecting Super 8mm films, I ordered a feature-length print of this from the UK and found there were sub-plots and characters I'd never seen before! This was a wonderful revelation. Parts of MIGHTY JOE YOUNG and GUNGA DIN and SINBAD THE SAILOR and any film that had originally run longer the 75 minutes were new to me.

But at the time, this program, which I mostly consumed via a 13" black and white set in the cellar (although I caught RODAN -- the first MDM color broadcast, I believe -- and FORBIDDEN PLANET on our well-to-do neighbor's expensive set), was an inspiration, a guideline for an aspiring filmmaker, a supreme entertainment, and a savior for kids who just couldn't get enough of the movies.

I invite others who have memories of 50's-60's NYC suburbs in general and Million Dollar Movie in particular to chime in. This was a magical time for kids who had access to only 7 channels, but one of them ran superb movies all week long and in so doing ingrained a multitude of terrific films into our impressionable little brains.
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