Classic Movies · Stuff You Should Know

“Are you packing?” “Yes, dear—I’m putting away this liquor…”


I’m sure you’ve well aware of this by now—and mayhap seen it mentioned on other classic movie blogs—but TCM will ring in 2010 this evening with a festival of films featuring the original eat-drink-and-be-merry couple, Nick and Nora Charles (William Powell, Myrna Loy). The festivities start at 8:00pm with The Thin Man (1934), followed by After the Thin Man (1936, 9:45pm), Another Thin Man (1939, 11:45pm), Shadow of the Thin Man (1941, 1:45am), The Thin Man Goes Home (1945, 3:30am), and Song of the Thin Man (1947, 5:15am).

I’m certainly up for seeing as many of the Thin Man flicks as I can—I’m not certain as to what the ‘rents plan to do but I’m sure it won’t take much to convince them to spend the New Year’s with Nick and Nora. I’m scheduled to make an appearance there later this evening and while the menu was still being decided at press time, I’m sure there’ll be goodies galore (Mom was turning over the idea of hot wings and peel ‘n eat shrimp). As for recording any of the Nick & Nora films, I was blessed many Christmases ago with receiving the box set of all six movies as a gift.

bashfulbendThe question remains, though—will the films being broadcast this evening be subject to recordability? I bring this up—not to scare anybody, I assure you—but to report that my good friend Hal Erickson mentioned earlier this week on Facebook that his attempt to record the John Barrymore version of Sherlock Holmes (1922) was stymied because apparently TCM is starting to “copy-guard” their movies. Again, I don’t want the vast TDOY audience to start running in panic, but Hal—who has a Samsung DVD recorder and receives TCM via AT&T Uverse—is certainly within his rights to raise this issue. He reports that AT&T has claimed it has nothing to do with protecting the signal, and goes on further to say that other cable services have reported this problem (Cox, for example). Speaking only for myself, I haven’t had any difficulties so maybe CharredHer hasn’t gotten on the bandwagon yet. A friend of mine mentioned to me that he is unable to record that Elvis Costello series on the Sundance Channel because of copy-guarding, and I’ve heard others testify that the same practice has occurred on many of the premium movie channels as well. (I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Hal’s choice of DVD recorder might have something to do with this; I have a Toshiba recorder that’s so sensitive that when I tried to record a recently purchased used VHS of The Beautiful Blonde from Bashful Bend [1949] a voice emanated from the machine warning “Don’t even f***ing think about it!” in a tone that suggested said voice had spent a good deal of their spare time in Jersey.)

Assuming that TCM is starting to slowly phase this phenomena in, I suspect the other channels—FMC and AMC, to be sure—will no doubt follow suit; and I can hear the corporate suits defending the practice now: “We’re just protecting future sales of our own DVD collections.” I suppose that might be a legitimate offense if every single solitary movie shown on TCM were available on disc—but that is certainly not the case nor is it realistic to assume it ever will be. I shall certainly keep an eye on this and if it does take effect here at Rancho Yesteryear, rest assured that “TCM” will be a four-letter word around this household for many years to come.

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