Garry and I both grew up in New York in the 1950s. That was before cable. It even preceded UHF. Television was black and white. We had seven channels: 2 (CBS), 4 (NBC), and 7 (ABC), the network flagship stations. Then, there was channel 9 (WOR RKO), the premium rerun and old monster movie channel along with channel 11 (WPIX). Channel 9 won my heart because it ran Million Dollar Movie.
Ah, the memories. You could say the Million Dollar Movie was an educational channel, if you consider movies educational. Which I do. Old movies, all in black and white because television was all black and white. I was, later in life, surprised to discover how many of these movies were made in color. Who knew?
My mother did not let my brother and I watch TV on school nights. Nor were we allowed to watch television during the day, even on weekends. She believed in fresh air, sports, and reading. What it really meant was I had to go to a friend’s house to catch the Saturday morning cartoons and great shows like “My Friend Flicka.”
Eventually, TV won and we all watched whenever and whatever we liked, but that was years in the future. Even early on, there were exceptions to the rules. The main exception was if we were home sick from school, we got to watch television all day. Upstairs in my parent’s bedroom and out of my mother’s hair.
That was when Million Dollar Movie came into its own. They showed one movie a week, but they showed it all day until midnight. For seven days in a row. The music theme for Million Dollar Movie was the Tara’s Theme from Gone With the Wind. The first time I really saw Gone With the Wind, I leapt from my seat shouting “Hey, that’s the Million Dollar Movie theme!”
I got tonsillitis with boring regularity. With it, came with a full week at home. Antibiotics and whatever was showing on (you guessed it) Million Dollar Movie. Which is how come I saw Yankee Doodle Dandy several hundred times. My bouts of tonsillitis coincided with their showings of Jimmy Cagney’s finest performance.
I didn’t know he made any other movies until I was an adult. That was when I discovered he had played gangsters. I was surprised. I thought all he did was dance and sing.
Why am I writing about this? Because we are watching Yankee Doodle Dandy. Again. Even though both of us can still sing all the songs and know every piece of dialogue. I think they made a “fake color” version of Yankee Doodle maybe 20 years ago. It was AWFUL. If you see it on one of your movie channels, do not watch it!
Does anyone know why this movie was made in black and white? It screams for color. It’s was not an el cheapo movie, either. They put a lot of money into the production. Someone really wanted it in black and white. I’d like to know why. Just saying.