Monday, July 21, 2014

Spotlight (1950)

Yesterday evening, I tuned into TCM to see if they'd come up with a TCM Remembers piece for James Garner, since I figured just before 8:00 PM would be a good time for it to air. (Well, that, and I wanted to see which order the shorts were airing in.) TCM was running an odd short that looked as though it could have been a Traveltalks short if it had been in color, about women making lace in Bruges, Belgium. However, the short fairly quickly cut to a segment about a man in London whose rabbits walk on their front legs. Weird stuff.

So I went to the TCM's online schedule page to see what was up. The schedule listed something called Spotlight, from 1950. Off to IMDb, which didn't have a match for any 1950 short called Spotlight. TCM's page on the short didn't have much information, except for the name of the director, Ronald Haines, which was a big help. That indicated that the short in question was actually called Spotlight on the World We Live In, which is listed at IMDb as a 1951 short.

But here's where it got interesting, at least for me. Ronald Haines is listed at IMDb as having directed four other similar shorts called Spotlight on the World We Live In, except that they're numbered #1, #3, #5, and #16. Sure, MGM could have had different people direct these, but a look at the filmography for the production company (Gordon Films; presumably MGM's British arm got the distribution rights from them) only lists these same five shorts! And an IMDb title search on Spotlight on the World We Live In doesn't indicate any shorts other than these five.

The other odd thing is the reviews on TCM's page for Spotlight (1950). IMDb's lone reviewer gets it right, but the two reviewers on the TCM page are for something completely different than what TCM showed yesterday, as both of them talk about offensive stereotypes and African-American actors. The bit of what I saw last night didn't have anything like that, and a reading of the user review on IMDb as well as the user-generated plot summary indicates no such racial stereotype. There's apparently a scene of horse racing in what is now Ghana that I tuned in too late for, but that wouldn't fit the two reviews on TCM. So I wonder what short these two people were reviewing. Obviously, they must have been reviewing something else in good faith, but I can't figure out what.

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