Classic Culture

Happy Birthday, TCM!

Today marks the 20th anniversary of Turner Classic Movies (TCM), my favorite television channel and the network most responsible for my lifelong obsession with classic film, classic stars, and classic pop culture.

TCMThe first film ever to air on TCM? Gone with the Wind. My favorite film ever? Gone with the Wind. (Well, it’s tough to take the top spot, but GWTW is certainly in the rotating top 5.)

I owe much of what/who I am to TCM. I wouldn’t be such a geek without it, and I wouldn’t have made some of my best friends without it or had as many interesting conversations with total strangers without it. It’s amazing how many lives TCM has touched and how many people watch it year after year.

Why is TCM so special? Because it’s unique. Where else on television can you find uninterrupted films, playing 24 hours a day? Where else can you learn fun, behind-the-scenes info about your favorite films, because TCM is hosted by one of the greatest film historians of all time, Robert Osborne? TCM has paid back its fans tenfold, offering a TCM Cruise, a TCM Film Festival, and even a TCM vault where you can find thousands of the best classic films and add them to your collection.

I’ve already covered the first time I discovered TCM in my post on On the Waterfront, and its importance to me has never wavered since then. I’ve got a TCM version of Trivial Pursuit, and a friend even gave me a Robert Osborne bobblehead one year. Did I mention I almost cried the time Robert Osborne and I were in the same room together? Trust me, I was pretty much the only teenager in town who loyally followed the life of a 70+ film historian. And now I might be the only 20-something to do the same, but I don’ t think so. I’ve seen TCM’s fan base grow and grow over the years. I’m not the only one who catches Singin’ in the Rain at 10:00pm on a Saturday night and forgoes going out so he/she can watch Gene Kelly tap away instead. (Don’t be ashamed, TCMers. We’re all guilty of it.)

This image pretty much sums up why August is the greatest month to own a TV.

This image pretty much sums up why August is the greatest month to own a TV.

From the Essentials every Saturday night, to Summer Under the Stars in August (where the films of a different star are featured each day), TCM always has can’t-miss specials that make it hard to keep your DVR empty. If you haven’t checked out this channel yet, try it tonight. They’re airing–what else?–Gone with the Wind in honor of the big day. If you haven’t seen the classic, now’s your chance. But if you miss it, know that TCM, no matter what time of day, is always playing a film you can trust is well worth adding to your repertoire.

Do you have a favorite film that TCM introduced to you? Tell me about it! I want to see it, too.

TCM Tonight: Eva Marie Saint & On the Waterfront

Tonight on Turner Classic Movies (TCM), my most favorite channel in the history of channels, there is an hour-long interview with the one and only Eva Marie Saint, followed by a presentation of the film On The Waterfront. It’s a special part of TCM’s Classic Film Festival, and we’re lucky enough that even if you can’t go to the actual festival, TCM still records and airs excerpts of it for the little people who want to join the fun from home.

Eva being interviewed by my main squeeze Robert Osborne.

Eva being interviewed by my main squeeze Robert Osborne.

On The Waterfront is a film I hold particularly dear because it’s the second film I ever saw on TCM. It was some time in high school, and I stumbled upon the channel as Rear Window began. I knew my grandmother had loved the 1954 Hitchcock hit, so I figured I’d stick around and watch some of it, sort of as a tribute to her. (Little did I realize that almost a decade later I’d still be “stumbling upon” the channel and “getting stuck” watching must-see classic cinema.) After Rear Window finished, TCM host Robert Osborne introduced the next film On The Waterfront. I thought, “Oh, I’ll watch the first half hour and then go to bed.” HA. That’s adorable. Like anyone could just watch the first 30 minutes of this film and walk away. You can’t even watch the WHOLE film and walk away. You’re still stuck there long after it’s over thinking, “Damn. I mean. Just damn. God, that was good.” (I never said I majored in English.)

Can you believe Saint's break out role also earned her an Oscar?

Can you believe Saint’s break out role also earned her an Oscar?

All the performances are terrific, with Marlon Brando taking the lead as Terry Malloy, a former fighter struggling to stand up against the corruption-riddled bosses of New York City’s docks. He’s joined by Karl Malden as the soul-stirring Father Barry and by Eva Marie Saint, who plays both Terry’s love interest Edie Doyle and the reminder of the guilt that tortures him daily. Guilt for his own ties to the bosses and his torturous inner struggle as he realizes the wrong that’s been done to him.

If you’re looking for something good to watch tonight, I suggest you flip to TCM at 8 pm. You’ll see an interview with a legend and you’ll see a legend of a film. Enjoy!

Film History in Pics

If your twitter feed is feeling a little stale as of late, I’ve got an account for you that is worth following. It’s called “Film History in Pics” (@FilmHistoryPics). Everyday the account tweets great photographs of actors and directors behind the scenes of unforgettable films. The rare inside glimpses these photographs give make the account feel extra special and unique. Whether it’s a cameraman getting an underwater shot of Esther Williams in Jupiter’s Darling or Alfred Hitchcock directing Teresa Wright on the set of Shadow of a Doubt, you’re bound to find an image that’ll impress you.

Here’s a particular favorite of mine, tweeted by the account on March 22. It’s Daniel Day-Lewis on the set of The Last of the Mohicans next to his transportation of choice. Who would have thought in the midst of throwing around a tomahawk, he’d be riding around on one of these?


I’ve no association with the account. It’s just so fun for me to follow that I figured I’d share the joy. (And Mindy Kaling follows them, so obviously, there’s gotta be something good here.)