Friday, February 1, 2008

The programming philosophy of the Fox Movie Channel

Fox has a cable channel to show its own movies: the Fox Movie Channel. It appears to me, having looked at the schedule on a regular basis for quite some time, that they have a curious programming strategy: show a fairly limited number of their (older) movies over and over for a period of several months, and then phase out those movies in favor of a different set of classic Fox films.

I mention this because FMC are airing Dragonwyck at noon ET on February 2. As you might have guessed from my commentary on Leave Her to Heaven, I'm a big fan of Gene Tierney. Searching through FMC's site for her movies has been disappointing over the past several months, as the search on their site was only showing three of her lesser movies: The Return of Frank James, The Iron Curtain, and The Left Hand of God. But Tierney is one of the stars of Dragonwyck, being teamed up again with Vincent Price.

What does this mean? I believe it's been at least a year and a half since FMC aired Dragonwyck, and I'm fairly confident that some of Tierney's classics haven't aired since 2005 -- I've been writing a weekly look at classic movies on TV since the end of 2005, and would definitely have recommended Leave Her to Heaven and Laura if either of them had shown up on FMC. (I believe they have shown up rarely on the Encore channels or other premium channels.) Likewise, Tierney's version of Heaven Can Wait (not to be confused with the Warren Beatty football movie) and The Razor's Edge have been missing in action for almost two years. But, if Dragonwyck is returning to the FMC schedule, there's a good chance that we'll finally get another chance to see some of the other classics that have been out of the FMC rotation for years.

(For the record, a search through the next two weeks also shows The Egyptian showing up on FMC on February 6 at 10:00 AM ET, and Son of Fury at 10:00 AM ET on February 13.)

It's not just Tierney's movies here; other Fox classics from the 1940s and 1950s that haven't shown up in a long time include: A Letter to Three Wives (with a great ensemble cast who helped win Joseph L. Mankiewicz a Best Director Oscar), Gentelman's Agreement (Best Picture of 1947, and another Best Director Winner, for Elia Kazan), No Way Out (Sidney Poitier's film d├ębut), Pickup on South Street, James Stewart's Call Northside 777 and a whole host of other classics. There are also the more recent movies that would be more likely to show up in prime time, such as The Poseidon Adventure.

1 comment:

Sugarpuss said...

Hi!

I was searching through the TCM forums this afternoon and was surprised to find that you had a blog. I've been reading through your entries and you have some really good stuff here. Very good writing and very interesting subject matter as well!

I do believe that "Laura" and "The Razors Edge" have been in rotation on the HBO/Cinemax channels. I'm not sure if they're still on though. They usually show them during the wee hours of the morning, which I know because I've taped both movies in the last month or so. "A Letter To Three Wives" was just on PBS this month.

Seriously though, FMC squanders their potential. Do we really need to see a movie three times in a row? I think not!