Sunday, June 21, 2009

Channel 11 Film Festival - WPIX-TV Channel 11



To me, the Channel 11 Film Festival has always been a perplexing movie showcase program. Many people who I have conversed with and who were of viewing age during it's run seem split on it. What I mean is, half remember it very well while the other half cannot seem to recall it. I for one, remember it quite well as it's theme music has stayed in my memory to this day. As a matter of fact, when I was young, it's theme music creeped me out for whatever reason. However, it was one of those theme songs that you knew instantly.

Truth be told, I do not know the specifics regarding the Film Festival, in terms of when it exactly started and when it ended. I do know that it was a WPIX staple throughout the 1970's and, arguably, one of it's most popular movie showcases at the time save for Chiller and maybe The Sunday Morning Movie which featured Abbott & Costello films. Almost exclusively housed in a 90 minute time slot, the Film Festival featured a wide variety of films from various genres. At certain times, you could see "high end" films like John Brahm's THE LODGER while other times you would come across minor "B" crime films like PORT OF NEW YORK. Certain weeks would give you a theme to look forward to. Mae West could strut in your living room for a full week or you could laugh to Italian comedies featuring Marcello Mastroianni. As a matter of fact, the Channel 11 Film Festival deserves kudos for featuring quite an array of "foreign" films during it's run. The movie showcase proved quite versatile for channel 11 as it appeared in various time periods throughout the years. Whenever 'PIX decided they needed to combat another stations movie with their own, in came the Film Festival. If they needed a boost in the early afternoon, the Film Festival was there to help. If they needed better late night programming, why not the Film Festival? It was a workhorse. You could see it at 11PM or 11:30PM or Midnight. You could also view it during late night after the late news wrap-up. Heck, you could even get your daytime fix at Noon or 12:30PM! You get the picture.

All in all a well remembered movie showcase, by this fan at least, that more then served it's purpose for Channel 11 over the years. BTW, the aforementioned 1944 film THE LODGER, was the first movie I recall seeing on the Film Festival. I also recall seeing 1948's NAKED CITY. What are your thoughts and memories of THE CHANNEL 11 FILM FESTIVAL? I'd love to read them!

17 comments:

  1. "The Channel 11 Film Festival" began around 1970, and when originally started, the logo seen within the title was the "circle 11" (the 1976-82 variation, one-half of the "11 Alive" logo, was superimposed over the old logo during the period as seen on this clip). The bongo-, tympani- and harpsichord-dominated theme music was a library music piece, "Cuban Presto" by British composer Syd Dale, originally recorded in 1966; another snippet from this same tune was used for the trailer of the 1967 film "The Comedians." This and the six-fingered hand "Chiller" opening were probably the last opening titles (and bumpers) of WPIX movie shows to be shot on film; within a few years, opening titles and bumpers for future movie showcases on WPIX were created on videotape (most notably those for the "Sunday Morning Movie," "Sundays[sic] Best Movie," "Sunday's Great Movie," "Sunday Movie Showcase," "Saturday Afternoon Movie" and, of course, "The Eight O'Clock Movie," all courtesy of the late, lamented Dolphin Productions).

    For the week of May 22-26, 1972, as another example, there was a "Betty Grable Week" of old late 1930's/early '40's musicals the legendary "Pin-Up Girl" starred in.

    It should also be noted that for a few years prior to the unveiling of the "circle 11" logo in February 1969, and for a few months afterward, WPIX's late-night movie showcase was called "Tonight at the Movies." By the fall of 1969, that time slot was briefly reserved for a talk show from a young chap based out of Ohio by the name of Phil Donahue (this was in the period when newspapers were floating around the idea that local stations were running out of movies). Yes, boys and girls, Channel 11, for a few months in 1969-70, was the first NYC station to air "The Phil Donahue Show."

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  2. Fantastic information! Particularly the Donahue angle. Love that title "Tonight At The Movies". Very nice. Can you expand on the "newspapers floating around the idea that local stations were running out of movies" way of thinking. I'm not familiar with it at all.

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  3. In August 1968, The New York Times actually had an article in its TV section with the headline, "Local TV Stations Are Running Out of Movies," and cited one New York TV station (didn't say which one) that ran the same film 75 times. The Times cited how certain "desirable" movie titles were increasingly being hoarded by the three networks for years of repeats, and "good" movies were becoming increasingly scarce for local TV stations. Only a year or two later, The Times and other papers were going on about how replacing old movies with talk (i.e. Joey Bishop) was more or less a failure, and cited WNEW-TV starting up its "11:30 Movie" in 1969 after news that WPIX and WCBS were ending their respective weeknight late movies (said nothing about WOR's "The Late Movie," though).

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  4. Thanks for that. Almost makes me want to head to the local library and check out some old NY Times microfilm.

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  5. Does anyone know who composed the library music piece,which is used for Sunday's Great Movie?

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  6. Let me further elaborate: "The Channel 11 Film Festival" title was first used the night of Monday, Oct. 5, 1970 (the first film shown under this umbrella: the 1933 Cary Grant/Mae West film "We're No Angel"). Following the end of WPIX's run of "The Phil Donahue Show" in April of 1970 after four months, they resumed showing movies late at night, first under "Movie Favorites" (April 13-May 1, 1970), then by its old "Tonight at the Movies" banner (May 4-Oct. 2, 1970).

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  8. bring back the old movies on channel 11.

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  9. i wish that channel 11 showed dick tracy, batman, robocop, back to the future, who framed roger rabbit, ferris bueller, planes trains and automobiles conan the barbarian, beastmaster, rocky movies and so many others.

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  10. i miss the days when channel 11 showed great movies back in the day. personally it was great then. nobody showed good movies like channel 11. nobody showed movies like blue steel, one good cop, dick tracy, rocky series, terminator 1 and 2, robocop 1 and 2, star wars, batman (1989),raiders of the lost ark, total recall, twins, basic instinct and so many others i forgot to mention. It was the best then. now it sucks. nobody announces the movies that they show or show the monthly movie promos of great films.

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  11. channel 11 was known as new york's movie station. now it's new york's crap station. they don't show good movies like they used to.

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  12. i still think channel 11 should bring back the old movies to get more viewers.

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  13. channel 11 should bring back the old movies so people can watch them again.

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  14. if there were days when people would watch good movie, wpix 11 was one of the channels that showed the best. i miss the days when good movies were announced and shown on channel 11. i even miss the monthly movie promos. i wish that they show and announce good movies like they used to even for people who don't have cable.

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  15. I have to imagine that back in the late 60s/early 70s we had a much smaller backlog of movies available for broadcast. As a result, we got to see many great and obscure films from the 30s to the 60s. Now, with so many films glutting the archives, the chances of seeing flicks like those are pretty slim. Heck, many may not even be in existence anymore. It was a nice time time for TV viewing...

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  16. i miss the days when showed great movies even when it was the wb 11. now that it is the pix 11, it sucks. there is no 8 o'clock movie like they used to have years ago.

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  17. if channel 11 showed great movies like they used to most people would watch them again and again.

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