I've written before about the fabulous film school education I receieved--not at the American Film Institute (whose masters graciously bestowed an MFA upon me before tossing me into the mean streets of early 1990's Hollywood)--but from staring glassy-eyed, hour after hour, at local Los Angeles television in the 1970's and early 80's. Every local station aired movies--old features, old shorts, good and bad fifties and sixties television...in the days before cable, it was possible to catch almost all the necessary to be seen movies on local TV--brutally cut up, yes, and if in Scope featuring horrible pan-and-scan work (I often wondered if the job of panning-and-scanning the scope prints fell to the drunkards...it seems like the kind of job somebody would think they would be able to perform while inebriated--and if they were no good at it, who could say? For there is truly no such things as a "good" pan-and-scan).
What I didn't realize until recently was how emotional my identification with the actual stations that showed these movies was. It makes sense, I suppose, that a young television watcher would find comfort and familiarity with certain trademarks that indicate something enjoyable that's coming up. But until discovering, on good old youtube, the following cache of logo's, ID's and intro's to movie shows, I had no idea that my real nostalgia for my childhood was centered on something so...bitesize, unsubstantial...let's face it, so utterly without artistic redemption. And yet, judging by the number of hits a lot of these clips get, apparently I'm not the only child of television eager to revisit these iconographic snatches of the pre-cable, pre-DVD, pre-internet, pre-blackberry, pre-download, pre-Obama years.
First up is the ID from what I considered my "home station"--KTTV, Metromedia Channel 11. Although the below is technically from a mid-western affiliate, it's the same logo and music that I recall from thirty years ago. Viz:
Ahhhh, those pulsating "eleven, eleven, elevens". I am twelve and eating a complete box of doughnuts, drinking a carton of chocolate milk and awaiting "I Love Lucy". KTTV also had a strange sign-on, filled with facts and figures about their transmission which I used to occasionally catch--if awake too early or up too late--and was always perversely thrilled by. Did I ever think, though, that I would be watching this again, aged forty-three...and on a computer? (warning: it's proceeded by a commercial for a gambling/dining establishment in Gardena, California--a brief forty-five seconds is all it runs...)
KTLA, Channel 5, had several different movie programs--the Eight O'Clock Movie was a regular evening event for me for many years, usually featuring a Paramount film from the forties or fifties. Though they retained the logo for the Channel 5 movie theater, they updated the music and the graphics in the late seventies and made an effort to show more recent films. The below is an ID during a showing of "Harry And Tonto"--not exactly a Hope/Crosby movie, though by now as distant from our current culture as H&C were from the world I was growing up in. In spite of, or perhaps because of the Georgio Moroder-influenced disco bed, the below brings me back to the "my homework's not done but screw it I'm watching whatever's on Channel 5" phase of my adolescence, circa 1978.
So deeply did I associate the theme from "Gone With The Wind" with the Channel 9 "Million Dollar Movie" theme that I apparently threw a fit when I finally saw "Gone With The Wind" because I thought they'd stolen the music from "my show", which I'd been watching for a long time prior to my first viewing of "Wind". I was a strange child in some ways.
I'll close this increasingly suspect trip down memory lane with the coolest of all opening movie-program logos--for the worst of all movie programs. At 4:30 in the afternoons, ABC used to air a two hour movie in a ninety minute time slot with a half hour of commericals. Thus did I see any number of films--mostly sixties product and a good helping of Jerry Lewis (and strangely the George Hamilton starring "Evil Knievel" which seemed to never stop airing)--in "tab" versions. Imagine, editing a film down by fifty percent? The results were toothpicks out of what had once been lawn furniture--the films made little sense and often times the combination of late afternoon sloth, un-followable narrative and constant commericials, led me to simply doze through what was left of the movie. Nevertheless, the intro--and my desire to avoid Algebra homework--kept me coming back for more: