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How I Came to Love Classic Movies

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by atfree, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Cinematographer

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    I loved KHOU's The Late Show and can still sing its theme song ("The Late Show, first the news and weather, then The Late Show..."). Right up until his untimely death between newscasts, weatherman Sid Lasher would sit at his drawing board (pre-patterned maps were notated with up-to-the-minute weather patterns using a Magic Marker!) and introduce the old classic that would follow and tell us what what a wonderful old chestnut it was. Enthusiasm such as his helped inspire my love of old movies.

    One of the short-lived UHF stations out of Galveston, Ch. 16, had an old geezer with a 16mm projector who was supposedly running old movie house on his show. They only had a package of Monograms, but before flipping the switch to start that old prop of a projector, the old projectionist would tell us all about the likes of Judy Canova and even Yakima Canutt!

    Saturday afternoons between baseball and football seasons meant that KPRC Ch. 2 had to fill the afternoon airwaves with The Marx Bros, Mae West and W.C. Fields, along with some MGM classics.

    And, as David mentioned, sometime in the early seventies, KHOU had the novel idea of not signing off on Friday but rather running a themed movie package all night long. I remember spending the night with Gene Tierney once watching "Leave Her to Heaven", "Dragonwyck," and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir." it was eerie watching the sun come up as Mrs Muir exited her front door into that ghostly light at the end.

    I remember CBS splitting a re-run of Ben-Hur over two consecutive Sundays and they still managed to trim it. The prologue would be the first thing to go.

    I remember ABC running blockbusters like Cleopatra, Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The King and I and many more. They still run The Ten Commandments and The Sound of Music, the last remnants of that era.

    Of course, I wouldn't trade my blurays for those cut-up old 16mm local TV prints, but it's still a shame that classic movies are lost to the maze of so many more mundane TV choices today. I wouldn't go back, but I'm glad I grew up when I did.
     
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  2. atfree

    atfree Producer

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    Not exactly "classic" films as I originally posted about, but last night I started thinking about the other movies I remember from TV......especially the old ABC "Movie of the Week".

    Killdozer
    Moon of the Wolf
    Duel
    Tribes

    2 that left distinct impressions on me were A Cold Night's Death starring Robert Culp and Eli Wallach as researchers at an Arctic research station plagued by strange occurences (I will NEVER forget the final shot), and The Challenge with Darren McGavin and Mako, which was about the US and another power (China maybe), deciding to settle their differences by placing single combatants on a deserted island, winner take all.

    I've always thought ABC could make a killing by putting all these movies into a box-set collection (I guess ownership rights play a part). I don't think many of these movies have ever been released on home video.
     
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  3. David Weicker

    David Weicker Producer

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    +1
     
  4. dana martin

    dana martin Producer

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    Born in 63, so like so many others, yes it started in childhood and continued, but I think honestly where the first big bite happened is in the world of animation and what would have been deemed as children’s programing by the local affiliates. We are all in the same ballpark as to the era of programing, or should we refer to it as counter programing by local affiliates at that time, back when you had the Big Three networks and PBS somewhere off in the distance.

    Short story, long; how else would you describe and almost 43 year love affair with film and animation.

    Growing you about 50 miles south of Columbus, OH, the three affiliates were great back then with utilizing film libraries, and creating their own brand of programing, that wasn’t reruns of syndicated TV shows. At 4 PM, when you would get home from school you had 3 choices, (CBS) WBNS CH 10 had The Early Show, daily Monday thru Friday, and the host was Flippo, The King of the Clowns this was a two hour slot so Flippo was filler for the shorter features, but if the film was longer than the two hour slot, you would catch the first half on day and the second half the next.

    (NBC) WCMH (WLW-C) the NBC affiliate did it a little different, you got a package of The Little Rascals, I swear I don’t think some of these were edited, and what got me hooked, a cat and a mouse named Tom & Jerry and the Classic MGM shorts, as the shorts would play I would I would notice the differences in the animation, that the older cartoons had more detail, and what I think of as that MGM gloss. This only would run for maybe an hour daily, so, sometimes if you didn’t like the movie that was on the other channel; you could switch over and burn an hour, then switch back.

    (ABC) for that two hour slot had an odd collection of HB material, now I look at it as classic TV animation, but Quick Draw was no Tom & Jerry, that block ran for an hour or so to be followed by Mod Squad,

    So a two hour block, every afternoon, and then there was the affiliate programing after prime time as well the CBS affiliate did a local Movie every night after the news, first was Dan Immel’s Armchair Theater, and he was replace by Fritz The Night Owl, Nite Owl Theater. The only constant was that both had Chiller Theater on Friday nights, a double feature of horror films.

    The NBC affiliate also had a late night creature feature but that normally ran on late, late Friday nights after Tomorrow Coast To Coast With Tom Snyder, and was hosted by none other than Jerry Beck , yes that Jerry Beck!

    The ABC affiliate did a creature feature on Saturday nights after the news for a while, With Sinister Seymour, so the horror/ scifi genre, was definitely taken care of. But where they made up for that was the weekends, Saturday and Sunday with films of all kinds, the first time I saw The Producers, A Star Is Born (Judy Garland), Marjorie Morningstar, Three Coins in the Fountain. But there best deal was making events, during prime time programing, going against the network, buy not airing network programing and setting up a “Special Event”, with StopNGo stores the worked to get out 3D glasses and did two that I remember 3D presentations, Creature From The Black Lagoon and Gorilla At Large. I thought that was so cool back then, and still do today.

    CH 4 would show old Republic and Lone Star westerns as soon as the Saturday morning cartoon block was over.

    All these fond memories, of what got me passionate about film, like them programing half an hour of Loony Tunes shorts, followed by half an hour of Lantz cartoons weekly to go up against Hee Haw, thank god, for small miracles.

    Not to look at all this with rose colored glasses, but it defiantly did have its drawbacks, snowy pictures, or total outages from storms.

    The other part that got me hooked was re-releases, which maybe Hollywood should have sort of kept going, I will keep this part short, in 4 grade we went on the one class field trip to the Columbus Zoo in the morning, and the afternoon we saw a film at a theater this must have been probably the last time this screened nationally, the film we saw that day was Song of the South. A theater full of children, with adult Supervision, it was as quiet as a church; We as a group were all enthralled.

    Thru the years it grew to the point that in college I was working on my Broadcast Engineering degree, in 1982, at that point the instructor was already talking about 16 x 9 aspect ratio and HD TV, and what was cut when something was presented. Too bad I never finished.

    Thru the years the taste as expanded to foreign films, and lots of differing genre, and I have tried to pass that appreciation on to my children and hope that they pass it on as well. It is an art form, in and of its time, and history is told thru a civilizations art.



    as a side note, forget the year exactly when the happened maybe 75 or 76, but remember it was a summer night Wednesday or a Thursday, CBS the Network itself, advertised the hell out of it, Showed Animal Crackers, and all we could do was sit, smile, laugh and watch the pure genius of the Marx Brothers at work. :D
     
  5. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

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    More memories: The local CBS affiliate used to show quickie cheap horror movies e.g. The Killer Shrews, Attack of the Giant Leeches, on a show called "5 Star Shock" which aired from about 4-5:30 pm M-F (very conviently after school) and on Sat afternoons as well. In addition to this they always showed horror/Sci-Fi on Friday nights after the 10 o'clock news on "Project Terror" (awesome title) with great 1st class horror/Sci-fi like "Them", "House of Wax", "War of the Worlds", "When Worlds Collide", etc. It was a great time to be a kid with a love for horror and sci-fi films.
     
  6. SteveSs

    SteveSs Stunt Coordinator

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    Born in '57, and grew up outside Chicago. Loved dredging up memories about the old movie nights. In addition to what was already mentioned, I gained an appreciation for the old monster movies. On Saturday nights, we had Creature Features, which showed all the old Universals. But the real highlight for me occurred whenever the ABC station had no sports programming on a Saturday afternoon. They would run a movie. I remember seeing a whole bunch of Hammer horror films that way. I distinctly remember the first time I saw Christopher Lee melt at the end of "Horror of Dracula"!
     
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  7. Cinescott

    Cinescott Supporting Actor

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    Born in '64 and raised near Milwaukee, I clearly remember the local affiliates (NBC, CBS, ABC, and two independents). That was it. I was a big sci fi fan (still am), so clearly remember "Apes Week." POTA was such a huge series of movies back in the 70s.

    Fantastic Voyage was a big event movie, too. Funny how the effects seemed so real, then. I have that one on pre-order for nostalgia (and for Raquel, of course :P ). Weekends and late afternoons after school were big for Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, etc.

    Before VHS came into being, I remember audio taping Close Encounters off my parents old 200 lb. piece of furniture color set. I literally had a cassette recorder and hung the mic by the speaker and insisted everyone be quiet so there was no background noise. Yes, commercials and all. I must have worn that tape out with my new Walkman. If I had known then that 35 years later I would meet Vilmos Zsigmond and have a signed Blu-ray copy of the UCE, I probably would have passed out. Not only that, but having been to Devil's Tower twice has been a big thrill for me.

    Then VHS and everything changed. My parents were totally against it. "Why would anyone want to watch a movie more than once?", they said. Wow, were they spectacularly wrong. I saved up and bought my own machine for about $700. My first VHS purchase? CE3K, for $89.99, in all its pan and scan hideousness. And people today complain about Blu-ray pricing...........................

    But yeah, all the anticipation for films that "might" get shown once a year. It's a different world now, that's for sure.
     
  8. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    I grew up in Milwaukee in the 70's and it was Channel 18's Saturday Night at the Movies where they'd run classic horror films; cycling through Universal, Hammer and others in order, then a run of Godzilla films, etc. Some of my earliest memories were of watching The Wolf Man in my parents room as they got ready to go out for the night. Then, Sunday mornings at noon were the comedies (Blondie, Ma and Pa Kettle, Bowery Boys, etc), followed by either a Charlie Chan or Tarzan film. Saturday afternoons often saw Abbott and Costello and the Marx Bros. I loved watching all these films when I was a kid. Here's a treat, at least for me. I just found Ch 18's bumper for the Saturday Night Movie. That tarantula gave me the creeps when I was five or six, but it never stopped me from watching.



    I can't figure out how to embed video so you'll just have to deal with the link.
     
  9. Ed Lachmann

    Ed Lachmann Screenwriter

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    I'm another Wisconsin kid who's a bit older and grew up with NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, which I remember showing some of the first color broadcasts of films like THE EGYPTIAN, DEMETRIUS AND THE GLADIATORS, AUNTIE MAME and SCARAMOUCHE. I still love those films today and, to a great extent, it is because of the excitement of seeing them on television with my folks back then. We had great holiday films that played every year, including the more unusual COME TO THE STABLE, which was (and is still) my favorite. One that I loved but has yet to make it to DVD at all is YOU CAN NEVER TELL which has a murdered dog reincarnated as a detective played by Dick Powell. I remember that it was a hoot.
     
  10. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    I often get ribbed on this forum for not knowing classic film as well
    as everyone else. It doesn't bother me, for I am grateful that this

    environment exists where I can ask my fellow HTF members which
    classic films are worth purchasing and then share my experiences
    with them afterwards.

    At least you are willing (and interested) in exploring our film past, so kudos to you!

    My love of the classics - particularly the black and white ones - was born when I began watching Million Dollar Movie on WOR TV in NY, a channel I am sure you also had but which, assuming you are of a much younger age than I, had long-since dropped this amazing program. Every week, one single movie was shown 16 times (twice each weeknight at 7:30 and 9 p.m., and three times on Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30, 3 and 4:30 p.m. It was as close as one could get to having a movie theater in your own home in the 50's and 60's. Of course, the time slots for all of their movies was 90 minutes, ands there were 10-12 minutes of commercials, so most of their films were (sometimes heavily) trimmed. It wasn't until I bought a super 8mm print of THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939), for example, that I discovered an entire sub-plot I had never seen on t.v. SINBAD THE SAILOR (also 1939) also had about a half-hour of footage I was unfamiliar with when I finally watched a full-length print. But, hey, MDM gave us the classics (RKO and Warner Bros, at any rate), and I watched them all multiple times as a kid. To this day I prefer black and white over color (with a few exceptions), and classic films over more recent ones (also with exceptions).

    I wish there was an online data base of all the films that were run on MDM, but I haven't found one yet. In any case, it was that program that introduced me (and many thousands of other film aficionados and future filmmakers) to movies such as KING KONG (1933) and its sequel, GODZILLA, RODAN, WHITE HEAT, THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR, CAT PEOPLE (1942), THE BODY SNATCHER, THE THING (1951), and countless others. MDM was a dream come true for any kid of the era who could receive its broadcast signal, and then play-act the entire movie from memory alone or with friends, having seen it multiple times. In those days, it was rare that you had the opportunity to return to a theater for a second showing of a given movie, but it was almost mandatory with a great old flick run on channel 9!
     
  11. Bob_S.

    Bob_S. Screenwriter

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    Wonderful thread! I grew up around the same time as most of you guys. I fell in love with classic movies basically because I fell in love with that whole entire era. 30's through the 50's I loved the clothes, cars, music, radio programs, the entertainers, and of course the movies. I remember watching Creature Double Feature on Saturdays and watching Dr. Shock as the host (I live in NJ so I got all the Philly stations). Yes, The Killer Shrews, I remember that movie well! It scared the crap out of me! We had channels 3, 6, 10 (CBS, ABC, NBC), 12 (PBS Philly), 23 (PBS NJ) and UHF stations 17, 29 and 48. I remember one time channel 29 was playing King Kong continuously all night long.I begged my mom if I could stay up and watch it. She said yes only if I didn't fall asleep and leave the tv on. Well, I ended up falling asleep half way through the movie and she ended up having to turn off the tv.
    I watched many musicals on Sunday afternoons and one movie I remember watching on a weekend afternoon was Robinson Crusoe On Mars!

    It wasn't until vhs came around that I really started to appreciate the classics. I remember buying Babes in Arms and couldn't believe I actually owned a whole entire movie from the golden age of Hollywood that I could play anytime I wanted to! When vhs first came out people didn't buy them, they rented them. I remember paying $80 for Empire Strikes Back.

    Getting back to PBS, does anyone remember watching Matinee at the Bijou? They would show short subjects and serials I think. I remember watching a James Cagney short that I really liked and was happy to see it put on the Yankee Doodle Dandy dvd.
     
  12. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Lead Actor

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    +1. :)

    - Walter.
     
  13. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Cinematographer

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    I remember "Matinee at the Bijou." They would show shorts, serials and a feature, all of which were apparently in the public domain. I remember seeing "Look Up and Laugh" with Gracie Fields and a young Vivien Leigh.
     
  14. rich_d

    rich_d Cinematographer

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    I was a child of the 60's. In the early 60's outside Hartford, CT we had 4 channels. Channel 3 Hartford (CBS) Channel 30 New Britain (NBC) Channel 8 New Haven (ABC) and Channel 24 Hartford (PBS) and if conditions were right .. Channel 22 (ABC) Springfield Mass.

    My biggest classic movie outlet by far was Channel 3's morning movie called "Homemaker's Movie." It ran every weekday morning. Thankfully, the programmer knew when kids were off from school or the summer and showed stuff other than what the intended female audience may have watched (I really don't know) as he rarely put on romantic dramas or melodramas when I was watching. More likely we got something like The Yellow Cab Man with Red Skelton or The Long, Long Trailer or The Secret Garden (1949) and the like. Great stuff and fond memories.

    Btw, we always got Jason and the Argonauts (1963) like clockwork on Thanksgiving night (I think ABC). I always thought it was a local market thing because it never was on the other ABC channel but I'm certainly not sure. Either way, that became a tradition in my house to watch that each year. Did anyone else get that?
     
  15. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    I was a teen in the '70s...and our local PBS station, one summer, played various Bergman films on the weekends (IIRC, Saturday afternoons).

    While part of the draw for an adolescent boy would have been the chance to see the occasional scantily-clad Swedish actress, I remember also being mesmerized by the style of acting, the sound of the voices (they showed dubbed versions) and trying to understand what the heck was going on half the time! :D

    To this day, I am a fairly linear thinker and my wife (with her creative writer's mind) will often reference an abstract plot point (or metaphor) after we watch a film that was totally lost on me. So I found the Bergman films to be a real challenge (still do!)...and I also figured that Max Von Sydow must have been the only male actor available to Mr. Bergman. :laugh:
     

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