Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Singular Case of the Missing Cinematic Essay

My screenwriting pal Lloyd Fonvielle had posted a wonderful piece (at his blog, mardecortesbaja.com) on John Ford’s Wagon Master (1950), which was released on Region 1 DVD two weeks ago and because I didn’t have time to peruse it thoroughly I bookmarked it for a later look-see. Now, when I try to bring it up I get an error message that reads: “This blog is on hold because its bandwidth has been exceeded. Please contact your blog provider.”

Okay, in the first place—I don’t know who my blog provider is. I suppose in the case of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear it would be Blogger, but I don’t know what the hell they can do about this since Lloyd uses another host for his blog (something called www.blogware.com, since I had to sign up with it one time in order to post some heady praise for something he wrote). Second, how does one put a blog “on hold”? And if they’re on hold, do they play music while you’re waiting to make a connection? (I don’t even want to get started on the phone tree.)

I mention Lloyd’s piece because I had originally planned to watch and do a write-up on the film as part of this blog’s rapidly-becoming-so-popular-it’s-now-eating-at-the-kewl-kidz-table feature, Region 2 Cinema. This idea was, of course, kicked around when the only available evidence of Wagon Master being on DVD was part of the R-K-O Collection at editions montparnasse (Le Convoi des Braves). So, now that the chore of writing an essay has been rendered moot on my end, I can check it off my “To Do” list—along with these other interesting articles:

Stacia, the classic movies doyenne who toils (and as a result, shames practically every classic film blogger in the process) at She Blogged by Night, has a nice essay on the Perry Mason film series churned out by Warner Bros. from 1934 to 1937. Again, I had planned to do something along similar lines so I’m glad she took the initiative—it’s a most worthwhile read.

“Uncle” Sam Taylor takes the WABAC machine to 1973 for a well-written look at Emperor of the North (1973; a.k.a. Emperor of the North Pole)—the Depression-era battle o’wills between King Hobo Lee Marvin and railroad conductor Ernest Borgnine. It’s one of my favorite Robert Aldrich films, and I had every intention of revisiting it when I bought it on DVD back in 2006. So a special shout-out to Samuel for doing the heavy lifting.

In breaking television news, Rick Brooks just e-mailed (via Facebook) to inform me Encore Westerns is adding a slew of vintage Westerns to the lineup beginning in January 2010 (this news was originally posted on the Classic Horror Film Board by none other than Lon Chaney expert Michael Blake). Encore is adding seasons 7-11 of Gunsmoke (the hour-long black-and-whites), plus Have Gun – Will Travel and The Virginian. The classic half-hour oater Lawman will join these shows in July, with Wagon Train to follow in January 2011 (you like how I tied this to the original Wagon Master news?) and Rawhide and Laredo in January 2012. The news about Virginian, Wagon Train (I hope they have more episodes than RTV does right now) and Laredo does not bode well, however—it sounds as if RTV will be dropping some of the shows on their current schedule and going the Nick at Nite/TV Land route by featuring those “golden oldies” like Growing Pains and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

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10 comments:

Lloydville said...

Ivan -- I think that "error" message on my site is instructing me to contact my blog provider, but I haven't been able to get them on the phone. I've apparently exceed my allotted bandwidth for the month, but the site should be back up on 1 October. Sorry for the inconvenience. Meanwhile, the "Wagon Master" piece can be accessed in the "Notes" section on my Facebook page.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Lloyd. As for the rest of the TDOY crowd -- they'll have to wait a couple of days, but it will be well-worth the wait.

Lloydville said...

You are too kind.

hobbyfan said...

Ivan,

When is RTV changing their schedule again? They've had the same lineup over a year, and while that's cool beans IMPO, switching to WB programming would only work best if it's vintage shows like Maverick & 77 Sunset Strip. Modern programming makes it just another channel and takes away its niche factor, a mistake that other "niche" channels have made in the last couple of years (i.e. Syfy, Cartoon Network adding live-action programming it doesn't need).

When RTV does make changes, the cable providers are always slow to acknowledge. Thanks for the warning.

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Hob:

RTN/RTV has made a few changes in the programming that they now offer—among the additions that I’ve heard about are The Adventures of Robin Hood (the 1955-58 version), Daniel Boone, I Spy, Peter Gunn and The Rifleman. But it mostly comes down to the network’s affiliates; if they want to switch over to something different they can…but they also have the option of hewing to the status quo. Frequent TDOY commenter Doc Quatermass informed me that his RTV affiliate is now showing Spy and Gunn; I checked the listings for WSB-DT (the Atlanta affiliate) to see if they were any changes and they’ve added Hood, Rifleman and Boone to the Saturday afternoon lineup. (They’ve also dumped Emergency! from its 2pm weekday slot and replaced it with…wait for it…more Airwolf reruns. Sheesh!)

I didn’t mean to sound alarmist when I wrote that Encore Westerns’ upcoming acquisitions don’t bode well for RTV, but if they’re getting the rights to run shows like The Virginian, Wagon Train and Laredo it’s going to decimate some of Retro’s programming (all three of these shows are available to run right now) in the future—and because they’ve sort of been sending out vibes about concentrating on more recent reruns I just have a sinking feeling their attention span to the classic shows will dissipate. I hope I’m wrong about this, but it’s a harbinger of doom that just won’t go away.

hobbyfan said...

I have to check the listing for RTV in Albany, NY, my home area. I think right now it's status quo, and the only changes they made this year were to dump Unreliable Sources back in January in favor of extra It Takes A Thief repeats (ITAT runs weekends at 1, weeknights now at 11), and canned Off-Beat Cinema for some other schlock movie show.

If Gunn, Boone, & Rifleman come to Albany's RTV, I'll be very happy. Any other Four Star shows (i.e. Honey West, Burke's Law, Big Valley) would be welcome, too!

Laura said...

Do the Encore channels show their TV shows and movies commercial free? We've never had those channels since they are premium channels but we just switched to a new cable provider which is a little less expensive, and I've been debating splurging on the package with several Encore channels. I see they show MAVERICK and CHEYENNE...and they are going to be showing Ray Milland's A MAN ALONE, a Western I love, in the next few days. (My copy is a used video which is a pretty poor, scratchy print...wonder what the print looks like that Encore is showing...)

Thanks for any relevant info you might be able to provide!

Incidentally, I don't believe we get RTV in CA. I may be incorrect but I have not seen it listed in the guides for either Time Warner (our old provider) or Verizon FiOS (our new provider).

Best wishes,
Laura

Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

Laura:

The last time I caught the Encore Westerns channel (I was over at my sister Kat's, watching a Bat Masterson rerun) there were no commercial interruptions--and that was the case when I had all of the Encore channels on my DirecTV system before I moved back to Georgia in 2000. Rick Brooks is also a fan of Verizon FIOS, and if I can get it in my area I'm going to make an effort to sign up with the system.

Laura said...

Thanks so much for the info, Ivan. THE VIRGINIAN added to the other shows Encore is currently showing sure tempts me. :)

We had been happy with Time-Warner until they decided they didn't want to pay the licensing fee on their old DVR system and rolled out a terribly inferior new product. We have been very impressed so far with the service from Verizon FiOS -- after we ordered it online one evening, someone was out by noon the next day to do the exterior work needed; the interior service man showed up on time to the very minute, and the DVR is much more professional and user-friendly than Time-Warner's. What a relief to be able to scroll quickly through the guide or fast-forward through a show at warp speed again. :) Have only had it for a few days but so far I give Verizon FiOS a thumbs up. Hope you can get it at some point.

Thanks again for sharing your experience with the Encore channels!

Best wishes,
Laura

Stacia said...

Thanks Ivan, I felt a little silly writing so much about the series, but dang I enjoyed it. The Perry Mason series really sparked my interest in other series' and serials. Somewhere around here I have several Nancy Drew and some Saint episodes, too.

The only complaint I have about the Encore channels is that the movies are almost never widescreen, but for the older films that doesn't matter a bit.