Thursday, September 12, 2013

The MOVIES! are great medicine

Yesterday, my mother went through the onscreen schedule to see if there was anything on to justify the enormous amount of capital we give CharredHer Cable each month, and upon deciding that nothing was to her liking on The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ (it was a day filled with musicals, a movie genre that is verboten in the House of Yesteryear) I noticed that there was a station listed below it at Channel 165 (TCM is 164) that read simply “Movie.”  They were showing at that time the 1941 Lloyd Nolan “Michael Shayne” movie Sleepers West.

“I know that’s a movie,” I cracked, “but what is that channel called?”  I started to do a little hunting via the Internets but before I could track the info down the channel went to a commercial break.  During that time, they did a station I.D.—we were informed that we were watching MOVIES!

MOVIES! is a digital subchannel that went on the air this past January 2013, and is a joint venture between Weigel Broadcasting (the father of my current wife, Me-TV) and the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of 20th Century-Fox.  Its schedule is crammed with movies old and new; there’s a great deal of product from the Fox coffers but I’ve also seen contributions from the Columbia and Paramount library as well.  Mom has now adopted the channel as her new best friend in the afternoons…because the only alternatives are the bloviators on MSNBC or reruns of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

The good thing for me, however, is that because it’s a digital substation I can pick it up on my bedroom TV with very little effort (just like Antenna, Me-TV and INSP) and have it on in the background while I’m working.  I’m not able to get TCM at my work area because those rat bastards at CharredHer told me in no uncertain terms that we need an extra cable box for that…so I sent them a bucket of sand with pounding instructions.

MOVIES! is by no means perfect—as I mentioned in the above paragraph, there are commercial breaks…but I’ve become accustomed to that folderol by now—and besides, they are not as numerous and interruptive as that once-proud cable channel that now goes only by its initials (Ay Em Cee) because they don’t show anything resembling an “American Movie Classic.”  (This is a direct quote from my mother: “I won’t watch AMC anymore.  Their movies are shitty.”)  Before a showing of Hatari! (1962) this a.m., there was an honest-to-my-grandma disclaimer that read: “This movie has not been time formatted in order to show more commercials.”  (Prompting my father to ask: “What in the hell are you cheering about?”)  They will, however, edit movies that have naughty language or inappropriate nudity and/or sexual content—because there are kids watching, ferchrissake!—but if you’re a classic movies aficionado this shouldn’t matter a great deal.

The other nitpick about MOVIES! is that they don’t seem to have a standard regarding the letterboxing of movies: the showing of Hatari! was the pan-and-scan version, while last night’s Chinatown (1974) presentation was letterboxed (again, some of the language was bleeped out).  Of course, I was only interested in having Mr. Moto Takes a Vacation (1939) on while I was completing a few tasks, so those two factors do not enter into it.  I noticed on their schedule that they’ve also got Charlie Chan in Honolulu (1938) on this month; nice to see that there’s a place for the venerable sleuth since there have been many protests about those classics being shown in the past.

If you click here, you can find out if MOVIES! is available in your area—they’ve got just a handful of affiliates right now, but I imagine that number will grow within the coming year.  It’s not going to replace TCM, but for the TCM-impaired it’s better than nothing.

With the positive buzz in sales on eBay—and if any member of the TDOY faithful has purchased anything, I thank you gigantically (I know my good friend Federal Operator 99 has)—and my other outside assignments I know contributions have been spotty with regards to the blog; hopefully I’ll be able to rectify this soon.  I did want to give you a heads-up on a couple of more upcoming blogathons…

…the first coming from our good friend Rick at the Classic Film & TV Café.  It’s the Hammer Halloween Blogathon, which will get underway from October 21 through 25.  The title is pretty self-explanatory: the movies to be covered will be those wonderful horror films that were sired in the stables of Britain’s Hammer Film Productions—Horror of Dracula (1958), Curse of the Werewolf (1961), etc.  If you’re interested in participating, sashay on over to the Café for the rules and regs…but don’t tarry too long, since most of the good ones are being snapped up as I write.

And longtime TDOY compadre VP19 is going to expand on last year’s successful The Great Recasting (which was held from July 27-28 by Frankly, My Dear and In the Mood) by serving up The Great Silent Recasting (think of it as a prequel); a blogathon in which participants will take current box office hits and restyle them as entries from the silent era—sort of like this:

I found out about this at Movies, Silently by the way—I guess she had originally planned to co-host but has now dropped out in order to spend more time with her family.  (Oh, stop it—it’s a political joke…)  Again, if this is the sort of thing that stirs your creative juices (although I think there’s a state statute against that in Georgia) mosey on over to Carole & Co. and sign up.

In the meantime, here’s that wacky nephew of mine frolicking by a fountain to remind us that summer is slowly ebbing away and that soon fall will be upon us…well, except in Georgia (there’s a statute against that, too).


grouchomarxist said...

MOVIES! hasn't made it to my neck of the woods yet. Drat! But it is in Memphis, so it may pop up eventually here in the mid-state.

TCM is the only channel I truly miss, since we dropped cable tv and went to streaming and broadcast. I mean, Netflix and HuluPlus -- hmm, interesting: the in-line spell checker recognizes Netflix but not HuluPlus -- have lots of great stuff, but their catalog of classic films is rather spotty.

Brian Schuck said...

I dropped my satellite service when I moved recently, and for awhile was just subsisting on Netflix Instant Watch and Amazon Prime. The Netflix classic catalog is indeed spotty like everything else they stream, but there are some intriguing, rare titles, like British mysteries and noirs I've never seen before (no doubt costs Netflix nothing, or next to nothing, to license).

Recently got an decent indoor antenna, and to my joy and surprise discovered Movies!, Me-TV and Retro TV. I do miss TCM though. I suppose it would be prohibitively expensive for them to offer streaming on demand. Oh well...

VP81955 said...

Thanks for the plug on the blogathon! Find out more on "The Great Silent Recasting" -- plus three new promotional posters anyone can borrow -- at