Monday, January 7, 2013

Coming distractions: 31 Days of Oscar on TCM (2013 edition)

This February 1 thru March 3, The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ throws its annual celebratory bash in tribute to the Oscars—dotting their schedule with a festival of films that either won or were nominated for Academy Awards.  31 Days of Oscar is loved by many—particularly those people who are new to discovering classic movies; they’re able to satisfy their jones with practically one-stop shopping.  But the celebration is also reviled in some quarters—particularly if one believes (holds hand up) that the gratuitous back-patting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been doing since their formation in 1927 often rewards the wrong movies for cinematic excellence.  (And let’s be honest, friends and neighbors—this organization was originally set up for the purpose of union busting, if you’ve read Nancy Lynn Schwartz’s excellent The Hollywood Writers' Wars.)

So the interest in Oscar-winning films is never really at a fever pitch around Rancho Yesteryear—though there are some interesting titles on the 31 Days schedule.  My pal Laura at Miscellaneous Musings, who as always is good enough to give me a shout-out when Tee Cee Em has their tentative schedule up, notes that Hold Back the Dawn (1941) is scheduled to be shown on February 20th at 8pm.  Laura, passionate Paulette Goddard fan that she is, got to view this one at UCLA back in December; I’ve seen it myself but it has been ages (either on AMC or a local Savannah station—not sure I remember which) so I will definitely want another go-round.  There are also some movies that to my knowledge I don’t recall making the rounds on TCM (or if they have, it’s been a while): the 1944 biopic Wilson (February 8, 8pm), The Long Voyage Home (1940; February 21, 3:45pm) and The Moon and Sixpence (1942; March 1, 7:30am), to name a couple off the top of my head.

I’m also amused by the double feature potential of The Deer Hunter (1978) and Smokey and the Bandit (1977), scheduled for February 7 (at 1am and 4:15am, respectively).  February 25 in prime time will bring on some fairly recent contenders in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988; 8pm), Dead Poets Society (1989; 10pm), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987; 12:30am) and The Color of Money (1986; 2:45am)—I know there are many people out there who find the presence of these kinds of films a blot on the Turner Classic Movies landscape but I think they’re a refreshing change of pace.  (And if you’re one of those people, you’re probably going to react with revulsion to see Cocoon [1985; 2/10, 5:45am] and Heaven’s Gate [1980; 3/3, 12mid] on the schedule as well.)  If you missed This is Cinerama (1952; 2/20, 5:30pm) when it was on a couple of months ago you’ll get another chance to see it (though if you don’t see this on the big screen[s] it just won’t be the same).  (Sadly, the February 5th 3:30am showing of TDOY fave Last Summer [1969] doesn’t appear to be letterboxed again.)

To make the event a bit more palatable for the cynical among us (waves hand frantically), the three individuals responsible for last year’s What a Character! Blogathon will be hosting another auspicious event…and here be the details:

The winners, the losers, the snubs, the backstories, the gossip, the players and the games…this time it’s all about Oscar!

We’re back – Kellee (@IrishJayHawk66) of Outspoken and Freckled, Paula (@Paula_Guthat) of Paula’s Cinema Club and Aurora (@CitizenScreen) of Once Upon a Screen – hosting a new, mammoth blogathon event.  To coincide with Turner Classic Movie’s (TCM) 31 Days of Oscar it’s a February filled with fabulous tales and screen wonders.  But this one is not just for classic film fare, we want to see and hear it all from the golden man’s more than eighty-year history, including this year’s nominees.

The details:

- Submit one entry or ten on any of the following due dates throughout the month to any of the hosts either on comments or by email:

January 31

February 7

February 14

February 21

February 28

We’ll promote entries for an entire week after each due date.

-       Submissions should include as much information about you as possible: First name, Twitter tag, link(s) to your site(s) and email address.

-       If you have a preferred submission date, please make a note of that as well.  However, we welcome all submissions on any of the dates specified.

Cowabunga—some fun, huh, cartooners!  I don’t know just what exactly I’m planning to contribute for this one (though I am toying with something along the lines of Alternate Oscars) but I hope everyone who reads this kicks in their own copper pennies in order to make this one every bit a raging success as the What a Character! ‘thon.

It will be a busy blogathon month for yours truly because February will also see the first ‘thon from the Classic TV Blog Association: The Classic TV Variety Show Blogathon, scheduled from February 3-5.  The topic, which you have clearly discerned from the title, will be on those TV shows that featured a mixture of comedy, music, big name guest performers, etc.—the type of show that, sadly, can’t seem to find a place on the small screen today.  I’ve already committed a piece to this one (it will be on The Jerry Lewis Show), and much studio applause is in store for Rick of The Classic Film and TV Café, who floated the idea to a few CTVBA members via e-mail.

The previously mentioned Laura at Miscellaneous Musings hatched an interesting idea for the month of January: having various bloggers offer their takes on one of the classic comedy films of silent cinema, Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last (1923).  (It originated with a list that she whipped up for 2013 of films she has not yet seen but plans to do within the year, which includes TDOY faves like Cat People and Letter from an Unknown Woman.)  Because I never turn down an opportunity to chat up one of my movie passions (silent comedy), I asked her to deal me in and will hopefully have something completed by next week (got a project or two that needs to be completed).  Paul of Lasso the Movies mentions in Laura’s comments section of that post that Criterion is planning to re-release Safety Last to DVD soon…so I need to start hitting the couch cushions for that.

One DVD release that I caught wind of the other day and that I am juiced to hear about is that Olive Films, the company that has been resurrecting many of the OOP titles previously released by Artisan (Force of Evil, Rio Grande, High Noon), is bringing the 1945 Fred Allen classic It’s in the Bag to digital versatile disc on January 22.  Naturally, my curiosity has been stoked because as I discussed in a post for the first For the Love of Film blogathon back in 2010, there are actually two different versions of this movie: one of which features a sort of running DVD commentary from Fred throughout.  So I’ll be looking to see which one makes the cut.

While I’m on the subject of DVDs, there are a couple of upcoming TV-on-DVD releases that will be of interest to classic television fans.  In 2012, Timeless Media Video/Shout! Factory (or as we call it around here, Timeless Factory) released the entire series of Peter Gunn (1958-61) to disc, along with a bonus CD of the hit Henry Mancini album.  I didn’t commit to purchasing this set because I already owned the first two seasons, which I bought several years earlier on Region 2…but lamented that it looked as if I might have to if I wanted to complete my collection.  But the news from that the company is releasing the first season of the show separately on March 5 might be an indication that Seasons 2 and 3 are not far behind.  I certainly hope so.

One release that I will be able to capitalize quickly on is the news that Timeless will also make separate the fourth and final season of Route 66 available April 2 with a 5-disc package (TSOD says the sixth bonus disc included in The Complete Series set will be excised from this collection…but I’m not too concerned about that) priced at a SRP of $29.93.  This pleases me to no end, because I was contemplating selling my earlier sets via eBay in order to pick up the complete collection…and I won’t go near that jernt (at least not without provisions and a sherpa) if I absolutely do not have to.

Still, not all is peaches-and-cream in the DVD world.  Late breaking news from TSOD reports that plans for a complete collection of The Rifleman are underway—which will be put together under the aegis of “North Fork General Merchandise” at  As I mentioned back in March of 2009, I purchased all the Rifleman sets from MPI Home Video that were released from 2001 to 2006—a total of one-hundred-and-twenty episodes over six sets.  So I’m missing the remaining forty-eight…and I’m really not wild about having to re-buy this collection.  According to the press release, though, the first collection will be a “Season 1” set of episodes to be released in 2013…so maybe there’ll be a way where I’ll only have to buy what I need to save any additional expense.

Other TV-on-DVD items of interest include an announcement that the thorny music copyright battles interfering with a possible China Beach release have been surmounted and that a complete series collection of the cult 1988-91 Vietnam War-era drama will become a reality via Time Life Entertainment this year.  There’s also news that Visual Entertainment Inc. (VEI) is working on complete series sets of The Mod Squad (whose releases stopped at two seasons in 2008) and Diagnosis: Murder (three seasons in 2007), though the dates, pricing, etc. have not been finalized yet.

TSOD also notes that a single box set of Combat!: The First Season will be released by Image Entertainment on April 30—previously the first season of the hit ABC WW2 drama was released in split-season sets, “Campaign I” and “Campaign II.”  (There’s no mention as to whether these newer releases will fix the problems of the previous ones, what with the poor quality masters and time-compression issues taken from the syndicated copies.)

In the “I-Can’t-Believe-This-Is-Coming-to-DVD” department, Timeless Factory Video is announcing a March 26th release for a 4-DVD set of The Lawbreakers (also known as Lawbreaker), a 1963-64 syndicated anthology that starred Lee Marvin as its host, and featured “true crime” cases narrated by his Leeness with recreations of same.  This one is so obscure I had to look it up at the Classic TV Archive; I am, of course, familiar with Marvin’s M Squad (1957-60) but this one is new to me.  Might be worth a look; the pricing is $29.93 SRP for the set.

Our last item on the Coming Distractions menu: a TSOD announcement of an upcoming MPI release that was mentioned in a flyer with the Season 6 set of Here’s Lucy.  Entitled Petticoat Junction: Return to Hooterville, the collection will include, according to the website, “never-before-seen and behind-the-scenes material from the archive of series creator Paul Henning, in additional to vintage promotional TV appearances by stars Bea Benaderet and Linda Kaye Henning, cast commercials and "The History of Hooterville" documentary containing interviews with original series actors and production personnel. Also Bea Benaderet on Lucille Ball's radio show ‘Let's Talk To Lucy.’”  TSOD doesn’t know if any actual episodes will be included…which is kind of a shame; I was looking forward to the uncut European episodes in which we learn the real reason why Uncle Joe “is moving kinda slow.”


Dan in Missouri said...

I am excited to see "It's in the Bag" as my VHS copy passed away many years ago.
For such a "modest" budget film is it worth a Blu Ray purchase?
My Blu Ray player does a very nice job with normal DVD's

Stacia said...

Hey, speaking of Peter Gunn, I was listening to an episode of the Bachelor Pad Radio Show from last March where the DJ, Jason Croft, not only plays Mancini's "Peter Gunn" music, but said he always got to go home Friday nights after the show and watch the show on ME-TV. Everybody loves ME-TV!

You know so much about television, it's daunting. I'm threatening to do a TV show for my "serial" after Raiders of Ghost City, and I keep thinking of you laughing and laughing.

Stacia said...

After scanning the movies again, I can see this is going to be 31 days of not recording anything off TCM. This month I am recording an epic amount of films, so the break is welcome.

It's possible Last Summer might be letterbox, my cable guide said California Split wasn't going to be last night, but it was. (It was still a stinky print, though. TCM is showing a lot of stinky prints lately.)