Wednesday, June 17, 2009

WNBC-TV Sunday Film Festival Ad

A very underrated NY area movie showcase. This ad is from 8/24/69.


  1. From what I gather, the beginnings of WNBC-TV's "Sunday Film Festival" (originally "Saturday Film Festival" from 1966-67) may have had its roots in viewer discontent over the cancellation of the Saturday-night editions of "Movie 4" in January 1965 when NBC decided to put on reruns of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" in that slot. (Irrespective of the station's putting on "Festival of Thrillers" in May 1965.) While "Movie 4" may have played second-fiddle to WCBS's "Early Show" (and, later, WABC's "4:30 Movie") on weekdays, it gave "The Late Show" a run for its money on weekends - especially if Channel 4 had color films to run, something WCBS didn't even do (air films in color, that is) until 1965. As a measure of this, "Movie 4's" 1958 airing of "High Noon" (a B&W film, by the way) brought WRCA/WNBC's prime movie showcase of the time some of its highest ratings ever. They also received notice for their first airing of "East of Eden."

    A measure of how committed WNBC was in those days to showing "la creme de la creme" from Hollywood and other parts of the world was its two-page spread heralding the Sept. 17, 1966 debut of the "Saturday Film Festival" (with Fellini's "8-1/2") in the Sept. 17-23, 1966 issue of TV Guide; Channel 4 advertised itself as being "Where the Stars Are."

    However, seeing old "NBC Weeks" placed in Sunday editions of The New York Times in fall 1968 and fall 1969, WNBC only mentioned "Sunday Film Festival" and their late-night "Great Great Show" - and no reference whatsoever to "Movie 4," which by this time was beginning a long, slow slide (Al Hirschfeld's caricatures in 1972 advertising notwithstanding).

  2. I always wondered how well the SUNDAY FILM FESTIVAL did for WNBC. They ran some very interesting films, several of which I saw, and it's a movie showcase program many seem to remember though when all is said and done it could possibly be classified as underrated.

  3. I've calculated that between 1966 and its 1974 demise, "SFF" ran a total of 239 films. Of that amount, 146 of them also ran on "Movie 4."

    And apparently they did quite well for themselves, as WCBS's "Late Show" seemed a bit tired by this time, and WABC seemed to have mixed success with their "Best of Broadway." For example, the 1967 New York TV debut of "Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster" was placed against WCBS's "(Schaefer) Award Theatre" debut of the 1939 film version of "Wuthering Heights."

  4. I'm extremely impressed by the recall of the posters on this page, all of whose recollections of these movie showcases of yore both have jogged and jibe with my own.

    Although this may be delving just a bit too steeply into trivial waters -- even for those as knowledgeable as those who've visited this page -- I wonder if any of you fellow NYC Baby Boomer nostalgists might be able to answer a couple of questions that have haunted me for decades: Perchance, would any of you know the titles of the theme songs used for WNBC-TV's "Saturday/Sunday Film Festival" and WCBS-TV's "The Early Show"? Any help on this score would be greatly appreciated.

  5. I really appreciate the information about the SFF. I wanted to know what the opening theme was for that show in the sixties. I have searched and searched and have never been able to track it down. It is not Silhoutte of a Dream nor is it Petite Fleur. I am with Video Vision on this question.

  6. I am also interested in finding out the opening musical theme from SUNDAY FILM FESTIVAL. In those days they often used themes from movies for some of these shows. I am convinced this was music for one of the movies they showed during the run of the show. I always thought it was the theme from Dino Risi's THE EASY LIFE which ran on the show. But recently I saw the film and it didnt appear in it. It sounds like something from an Italian movie from the 60s. Possibly by Riz Ortolani, Armando Trovajoli or Carol Rustichelli...

  7. If anyone has any idea, please post it here. A friend of mine and I have been trying to find out what this piece of music was titled...My theory of it being from one of the movies shown during the series isnt so crazy. Various stations had libraries of film music and would use them as themes for different shows. MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE of course used GONE WITHE THE WIND. One local NY 10 O'clock news show used the theme from Z.

  8. @ wbhist — Yes fondly recall sneaking
    out into the living room, past snoring
    father, to watch the Toho 'monsterfest'
    but don't recall the date as I have had
    a brain injury in '05 and am trying to
    pick-up-the-pieces to maybe stimulate
    some recall memory.
    And & all assistance would be appreciated

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I'd love to find the theme to Sunday Film Festival too! I'll contact NBC and see if they still have the opening title. SFF ended in 1977 or '78. If you remember,the logo was a hexagon movie canister. IN 1977(78) the update it with a new font that still said "SUNDAY FILM FESTIVAL". During that time,WNBC was promoting SFF real good! Check those old local TV Guides!!! and you'll a pic of the canister!