I do read the article, of course - it's part of my service to you, the loyal reader. And the consensus is: television is hurting the theaters. As our story opens, theater bigwigs are gathered in Mike Romanoff's Beverly Hills restaurant trying to figure out how to keep "new" movies - defined as those produced since August 1, 1948 - from making it to TV. The Sindlinger research organization estimates that movie exhibitors have lost $50,000,000 due to movies being shown on TV, and that to release the post-'48 movies would be "'suicide' for the entire movie industry."
TV Guide, of course, isn't so sure about that. Yes, it's "probably true" that old movies on TV have had an effect. But there's also the high price of movie tickets (which in 1961 was $0.69), the increasing number of "boisterous youngsters" turning a trip to the theater "into an unpleasant experience," and that movies just might not be as good as they used to be. And then there's the "dilemma" for talent guilds (actors, writers, producers, etc.) - on the one hand, they'd love to get the revenues that would come from selling newer movies to TV. At the same time, they fear the effects on their business if television really is that harmful to the industry, so much so that if the studios decide to sell newer movies to TV, the guilds could strike. In between are the television stations themselves. They want the new movies, yes, but they point out that with over 10,000 already available, they can afford to wait for awhile.
Who knows where it will all end? Well, of course, we do. As I said at the top, I wonder if they could have imagined it?
*And what a clumsy thing that seems to be. The opening credits contain both The Gale Storm Show and Oh! Susanna. It's hard enough to come up with a title for a program, let alone two.
In the pages of this week's TV Guide, she's conducting interviews with five journalists - entertaining, cajoling, firing off one-liners, and using her considerable charm. In between, she consults with her maid, deals with press agents and photographers, asks her mother to put on a pot of coffee, all while tossing off amusing bon-mots. Pete Rahm, of the st. Louis Globe-Democrat, notes that "Miss Storm is as wordy and polite as she is beautiful," and notes her diplomatic answer to his question about the popularity of her two series - My Little Margie and Oh! Susanna - "What she really said in her roundabout way was: 'You dope - nobody liked Margie but the people. You bonehead - nobody but the same people watch Susanna.'"
It's no surprise that Storm is able to handle things with such a positive manner. In her later years, Gale Storm fought an ultimately successful battle against alcoholism. According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, she once made the remarkable statement that "During my struggle, I had no idea of the blessing my experience could turn out to be! I've had the opportunity to share with others suffering with alcoholism the knowledge that there is help, hope, and an alcohol free life awaiting them." As I say, remarkable - I have great, great admiration for anyone who can embrace suffering and turn it into a positive, not only for herself, but for others as well. An admirable, remarkable woman indeed.
Some highlights from this New York edition of TV Guide:
Saturday: NBC presents Bob Hope's latest special, his trip to Moscow. The monologue takes place at the American embassy, while Bob narrates films of Russians skiing and sledding, takes a look at modern apartments, tours St. Basil's, and chats up three popular (and, knowing Hope, good-looking) Russian actresses.
Sunday It's the final round of The Masters, and CBS' cameras will be covering the final four holes, with John Derr and Jim McKay behind the mics. Up against The Masters, NBC's Omnibus presents a 90-minute adaptation of Christopher Fry's elegant verse comedy "The Lady's Not For Burning," starring Christopher Plummer and Mary Ure in the story of a lovely young woman believed to be a witch. The title makes for a memorable pun by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher many years later when, in assuring the Conservatives that she will not make a U-turn away from her economic agenda, she tells them that "The lady's not for turning."
|Tuesday: In the day, Lonesome|
George Gobel was big stuff.
Wednesday: The King of Swing, Benny Goodman himself, stars in a color special on NBC, hosted by Today's Dave Garroway and featuring Harry James, Ella Fitzgerald, the McGuire Sisters, Jo Stafford, Ray Eberle, Teddy Wilson, Red Norvo, and Bambi Linn and Rod Alexander. If you don't recognize all those names, trust me - this is one major league big-name cast. As my wife would say, "too bad they couldn't get someone famous."
Friday: Speaking of movies on television, as we were at the start, WCBS presents the New York television premiere of James M. Cain's noir classic The Postman Always Rings Twice (from, ironically, 1946), starring John Garfield and Lana Turner. Even though neither Garfield nor Turner are among my favorites, it's miles ahead of the Nicholson-Lange remake. There's a real elegance to the movie's ending, a noir ending if ever there was one. Garfield and Turner have gotten away with the murder of Turner's husband (played by Cecil Kellaway), when an auto accident kills Turner and leaves Garfield on trial for supposedly murdering her. Even though he's innocent of this crime, he realizes that both he and Turner are paying the just price for Kellaway's murder - after all, as he puts it, "the postman always rings twice."
Regular readers know that Christmas editions of TV Guide are among my very favorites, particularly because of how TV used to program for the season; Christmas Eve in particular was filled with church services. Easter, on the other hand, always seems to have had a lower profile - or so I thought. But this edition gives us a look at how Easter was covered in 1958, and I daresay it's going to present quite a different picture from what we'll be seeing in about three weeks. Some of that could be because this is a New York edition, but I think a lot of it has to do with how the culture itself has changed over 55+ years.
The day starts at 7am (ET) with WCBS' coverage of the Easter service from St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Manhattan. They follow this at 10 with the Solemn Pontifical Mass at Holy Cross Cathedral in Boston, presided over by Archbishop (and future Cardinal) Richard Cushing. At 11, WCBS carries another Episcopal service, this time from Washington's National Cathedral, while WRCA, the NBC affiliate, broadcasts from Christ Episcopal Church in Cincinnati. Later on, WRCA presents a 30-minute feature on Easter Vigil* services throughout France. Later in the evening, WNHC in New Haven carries a Solemn Benediction and Easter music from the Channel 8 studios. Oh, and then there are some of the regular Sunday religious shows, such as the Christopers program on various stations.
*A note for Catholic liturgical buffs - we're so conditioned to the "New Mass" being that introduced following the Second Vatican Council, we might be puzzled to see reference here to the "restored" liturgy - in fact, the liturgical services for Easter week had recently been heavily revised by Pius XII.
In addition to those church services, there are plenty of Easter-themed programs. For example, WCBS has Hill Number One, which still pops up from time to time, a story about GIs preparing to storm a hill during the Korean War, known primarily as the film debut of James Dean, while WRCA's Frontiers of Faith presents "This Prisoner Barabbas," starring Richard Kiley and Vera Allen, with George C. Scott as Pilate(!)*.
*Not to be confused with Hallmark Hall of Fame's "Give Us Barabbas," seen in the last couple of issues.
All is not so heavy, though. WOR's The Easter Story tells the history of Easter-egg dying (not really the "Easter story," if you ask me), and then WPIX has live coverage of the traditional "Easter Parade" up and down Fifth Avenue, while WRCA has a celebrity Easter luncheon from the Hotel Gotham, hosted by commentator Arthur Van Horn and his wife, columnist Phyllis Battelle. And later that afternoon, NBC Opera Company presents Mozart's delightful comedy Cosi Fan Tutte, which doesn't have anything to do with Easter or religion, but is a fun special nonetheless.
|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
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