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By Elisabeth Rappe Author Page Twitter Page Facebook Page
What I’m Thankful For
What I admire most about this Summer under the Stars (besides the neat, almost-Mondo level of artwork that comes with it) is that it’s a defiantly retro throwback in an age where every cable channel has gone reality and shlocky, especially by summer. Once upon a time, cable television was all about old and obscure movies. It’s how a lot of us got started. Talk to any film geek, and they have tales of watching some gem at 2am. Maybe it was so-bad-its-good stuff like Troll 2, or maybe it was Yojimbo, but the important thing was that it was a movie. That doesn’t happen anymore. Scan the channels at 2am and AMC will probably be playing Catwoman for the gazillionth time, and STARZ will be running the 387th rerun of The Pillars of the Earth. In between, it’s a wasteland of Jon and Kate ripoffs.
But TCM remains defiant. And Summer under the Stars is when they quit playing nice and go A Clockwork Orange on the world, determined to educate the whippersnappers on the finer points of Henry Fonda or Lauren Bacall. The fact that they haven’t given in and camped it up is astonishing. Robert Osborne still occupies that same set with its mid 1990s furniture, and he’s always there, giving you some quirky fact about them. He’s like a kindly version of your grandpa. “You like movies, do you? Well, sit here for 24 hours. You watch, I’ll talk. You say you like westerns and that Eastwood punk? Let me show you something — The First Traveling Saleslady when he was working for peanuts. Got an original print here, somewhere.”
It’s cheesy, I know — most of us have seen a lot of these movies, most of us own them. With Netflix Instant, many of them are even streaming online. But I can’t help but be thankful for a channel that still celebrates the old and obscure as everyone else races to the loud and sloppy ratings line. Where else are you going to find a Steve McQueen day?