Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Documentary after documentary after documentary

Documentaries about the stars can be a good way of introducing people who aren't necessarily movie buffs to some of hte old stars. Indeed, I generally post fairly positively any time TCM runs a new documentary as part of their prime time lineup. That having been said, I find tonight's particular prime time lineup a bit baffling.

In short, it's one documentary after another about the stars. The night kicks off at 8:00 PM with James Stewart: A Wonderful Life, which as you can probably guess is about the actor James Stewart, made 10 years before he died, which tells you something about how old it is. I suppose it will be interesting to see if the post-1953 movie clips will show up in the proper aspect ratio, seeing as how many of these documentaries are made-for-TV things done at a time when TV still had the 4:3 aspect ratio as the standard. I'm sure it's a fairly good program that would fit in well on Stewart's birthday in May with a day of his movies, or during Summer Under the Stars.

But... it's followed at 9:45 PM by The Spencer Tracy Legacy: A Tribute By Katharine Hepburn. I'm not the biggest Katharine Hepburn fan, so I don't know how much I'd particularly like this one, but I'm sure that for those of you who do like her and think about the Tracy/Hepburn relationship as some sort of tragic, doomed romance might well find it interesting. (At this point I should probably make the disclaimer that I don't think I've seen any of these in their entirety.) It's not as if Tracy and Stewart have that much in common, despite having worked a couple of years together at MGM. I think the only movie they made together was Malaya.

And then we get even more documentaries. Jane Fonda talks about her father in Fonda on Fonda, which comes on at 11:30 PM. Fonda, at least, starred with Katharine Hepburn, who is the subject of Katharine Hepburn: All About Me, at 12:30 AM, in On Golden Pond. The last of the documentaries is Bacall on Bogart at 2:00 AM.

Each of these may be an interesting documentary, but putting all of them together? I'm not so sure. Perhaps it's a sign of the times and how TCM has been facing belt-tightening. Or perhaps it's easier to put a night like this up once in a while on the theory that it's easier to talk about a documentary on a star -- there's not much to say -- and they're trying to make life easier for Robert Osborne, who has been facing more health issues lately. At any rate, I find a programming decision like this a bit strange.

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