Monday, 29 December 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #209: A Black & White Issue?

Very interesting.

It seems the winning TV broadcast of the holidays was NBC's airing of It's A Wonderful Life, beating all comers and doing surprisingly well among young viewers. This beats just about all the expectations and assumptions of the powers that be in network television. For years they have been casting classic black & white movies to the outer wastes of cable, and only allowing perennial holiday films like
It's A Wonderful Life, or in Canada, A Christmas Carol (1951), to have any time on a mainstream broadcast network.

It's almost as bad as the local stations, who rarely allow their air-time to be cluttered by the likes of Abbot & Costello, Bogart & Bacall, Hope & Crosby, or any others that dwell in the alluring black and white world of Golden Age Hollywood.

Their excuses are all the same, the kids won't watch them, they want colour, they want lots of action, and special effects, and hopefully a loud hip-hop soundtrack.

Yet when given the chance the kids will watch it, and the kids will enjoy it.

So what does this mean?

It means that the combined brainpower of every broadcast TV executive in North America couldn't light a single LED bulb on a set of Xmas lights.

It's a strange idiotic situation. The media companies that own the networks have massive libraries of black and white movies that they exile into cable specialty channels, leaving their broadcast networks and local stations with nothing to show, and then you have the kids, who would most likely see the b&w movies as exotic and novel, missing out on real classics.

I was lucky, I grew up with the last generation that was able to regularly see black and white classics on broadcast TV. I have especially fond memories of The Great Money Movie out of Bangor Maine, which showed comedy, horror, sci-fi, film noir, romance, western, and adventure movies. Sure, they're old fashioned, but in a good way. They show today's generation if not exactly how past generations lived, at least how they viewed the world.

So I say bring back the black and white movies on broadcast TV, start getting the DVDs in stores, and get people to relearn how to appreciate classic filmmaking.

(And Silverman, if you start showing B&W classics on NBC, you owe me royalties)

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