Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It really is MGM's 90th anniversary

If you've been watching TCM, you'll know that TCM has been promoting a special programming marathon in honor of MGM's 90th anniversary, starting tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. April 17 really is the anniversary of MGM, when Marcus Loew, owner of a chain of theaters, purchased Louis B. Mayer Pictures. Back then, it was still possible for a studio was able to own the movie theaters in which its movies were shown, which changed in the late 1940s when Paramount was found in violation of the antitrust laws for its vertical integration. Loew had already bought Metro back in 1920 and Goldwyn in between, but Louis B. Mayer was apparently the right person in Hollywood to oversee the California side of production. At any rate, this explains why you'll see Loew's mentioned in smaller print on the title screen of a lot of early MGM movies.

I'm sure you all know the basic history of the movie studios, though, and that's not really why I'm posting on the 90th anniversary of MGM, or even posting a day before. TCm is running 49 hours of movies from the first 40 years of the studio, which are the best. The real end probably ought to be with That's Entertainment! in 1974, although the decline really set in sometime after Ben-Hur in 1959. The 1959 version of Ben-Hur will be concluding the marathon at 2:00 Saturday, while kicking it off will be... the 1925 silent version of Ben-Hur. So if you'd like you can compare and contrast both of them. And when you watch the silent version in all its 4:3 aspect ratio glory, you can think about Sydney Pollack and whether he would have gotten the heebie-jeebies watching the chariot race scene. Both versions have been released to DVD, although the 1925 version isn't available from the TCM shop and only a limited number of copies are available from Amazon.

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