Hello! This is my first blog and - who knows? - it may be my last. We'll have to see how it goes with this site.
I became a fan of the 'Classic Movie' (for the purposes of my interest, this is any film made before 1967) back in 1978 when we first got a colour television in our house. When we switched it on, the first thing we found to watch was the definitive Robin Hood, Errol Flynn in the 1938 Technicolor swashbuckler The Adventures of Robin Hood. It became my favourite movie at that moment and has remained so ever since.
Back then, and throughout the 1980s and 1990s, our TV schedules were littered with classic movies, and I watched thousands upon thousands. Don't forget, this was when the UK only had three main TV channels, and later (after 1982) four. The BBC would show all sorts of delights that I was forever grateful for. By the end of the millennium, cable and satellite began to take off, and we had channels dedicated to movies spring up; which, you would think, would mean that the number of classic movies for a nerd like me would shoot up, right?
For some reason, TCM never supported its UK channel. For a short while, the schedule over here matched the US one, but in October 2000, for a reason that I have never been able to get them to admit, they stopped screening about 98% of their classic movies. This literally happened overnight. It was a Friday morning, and I switched on with great anticipation to see what I needed to record that day, only to discover that all scheduled films had been dropped, in favour of crud such as Jerry Stiller's A Fish in the Bathtub. I kid you not. On Christmas Day you might get a screening of Gone With the Wind, Casablanca or Ben-Hur (1959), but that was about it. Worse, they would repeat the previous night's schedule in the mornings, so you would only really get half a day's programming at best, and that's if you wanted to watch A Fish in the Bathtub or Gunsmoke reruns (out of sequence). Worse even than that, they introduced COMMERCIALS. Yes, folks, the network that prided itself on commercial-free programming did the dirty on us and broke up A Fish in the Bathtub every 15 minutes to try and sell us stuff.
It seems almost incomprehensible to me, but the Hollywood studios seem intent on preventing their great films of yesteryear being screened outside the US. With luck, however, at around the same time as the TCM meltdown, some clever dick invented the internet, which meant movies could either be bought, sold, swapped or downloaded all over the world. Then eBay sprung up, and all was right with the world. I bought hundreds of VHS and later DVD copies of all my favourite films. Someone would record a film off TCM and then sell it online. Later, of course, eBay tightened their rules to prevent 'copyright' being breached (on films where every single person involved in its production were now dead).
Now, of course, the studios, following Warner Bros.' lead, all sell their films online, and most now have an 'Archive Collection' or similar, which are on-demand DVDs produced independently each time an order comes in. This is where it gets really silly. The studios won't sell their DVDs to me directly because I'm in the UK and it would breach copyright. But they don't mind if you go to a site such as Oldies.com and buy them there. Indeed, Warner Bros. even recommended it to me. So that is what I do. It's expensive, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
It's a bit lonely in the UK being a classic movie fan, I'll be honest. There are not that many people around that share my interest. Maybe that's why the studios won't have anything to do with Britain. Not enough money in it to sort out the copyright issues, which were created decades ago by short-sighted moguls with no thought for their own legacy. So I communicate a great deal with like-minded souls in the US, the place where it all began. I spent a total of six happy months (and all of my savings) in Hollywood, digging through archives of paperwork from the many productions of the 1930s and 1940s. I also went through the music scores made by the greats: Steiner, Korngold, Deutsch, Stothart, Newman, Rozsa, Tiomkin, and many others. I hope, in future blogs, to write reviews and other vignettes about the movies and my experiences with them.
Happy days. x