Astute readers of this particular Newsreel feature may have noticed that for the past two weeks, every featured film has been drawn from the schedule of Turner Classic Movies. That hasn’t been a coincidence. This month—today in fact—marks the 20th anniversary of TCM, so I thought I’d pay a little tribute to my favorite cable channel. (Tomorrow, “cable pick of the day” will go back to channel-hopping.) I’ll have a longer appreciation of TCM going up in Newsreel later today; in the meantime, it makes sense to give the pick of the day to Gone With The Wind, which was the first movie to air on TCM back on April 14, 1994. As a lifelong Southerner who worries about my region’s history and public image, I confess to having conflicted feelings about Gone With The Wind; and after Ted Turner’s long flirtation with colorization, his decision to launch his new channel with a paean to the plantation South didn’t exactly inspire confidence that TCM was going to be anything special. But as with everything TCM has done in the past 20 years, the airing of Gone With The Wind had to be viewed in context. As a piece of filmmaking, Gone With The Wind is one of the major achievements of the early sound era: a true epic, mobilizing some of Hollywood’s top craftspeople to tell the story of a romantic quadrangle set against the backdrop of the American Civil War. The movie’s part of a larger picture, and a stunning piece of that picture in its own way. Gone With The Wind airs tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, immediately after a one-hour special saluting TCM’s twenty greatest moments.
April 14, 2014 newsreel