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  1. #1
    Hal Erickson


    Although NBC and ABC were both going strong with prime-time telecasts of theatrical features throughout the early 60s, CBS resisted the trend until the 1965-66 season, which was also the first season since 1958-59 that CBS began regular nightly colorcasts. For several years, the network had ignored color TV as a response to NBC's aggressive marketing of RCA entertainment products, but by 1965 CBS realized that the only way to remain competitive was to phase out its black-and-white manifest. By 1966, all three networks were broadcasting in "full" color, with the exception of a few black-and-white movies.
    While both NBC and ABC limited their movie packages to one or two major studios (by 1965 NBC was running MGM and Paramount features, while ABC focused on 20th Century-Fox), CBS had inked deals with several different companies: Columbia, Warner Bros., Paramount and UA. CBS was even more ruthless than the other two webs in cutting its films for time and content, splicing out profanity and "questionable" sequences in a manner that often suggested the films had been edited with a meat cleaver (unlike ABC, which at least reprocessed their films to make for smoother transitions). ELMER GANTRY, for example, was virtually incomprehensible on CBS, and many viewers complained vehemently.
    The most memorable moment during Season One of THE CBS THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE occured during the telecast of Columbia's THE NOTORIOUS LANDLADY. Thanks to a mistake in the control room, the reels were mixed up and the climax of the film began unspooling approximately thirty minutes ahead of schedule. CBS hastily stopped the telecast, then went back to the "missing" reel and started all over again--and thus the telecast went way, way past its scheduled two-hour timeslot!

    Here's the first season of THE CBS THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE:

    The Manchurian Candidate (United Artists) (9/16/65)
    Counterfeit Traitor (Paramount) (color) (9/23/65)
    The Notorious Landlady (Columbia) (9/30/65)
    Parrish (Warner Bros.) (color) (10/7/65)
    Houseboat (Para.) (color) (11/14/65)
    Ocean's 11 (WB) (color) (10/21/65)
    Mary Mary (WB) (color) (10/28/65)
    Elmer Gantry (UA) (color) (11/4/65)
    The Wackiest Ship in the Army (Col.) (color) (11/11/65)
    Experiment in Terror (Col.) (11/18/65)
    Mysterious Island (Col.) (color) (11/25/65)
    Bramble Bush (WB) (color) (12/2/65)
    Merrill's Marauders (WB) (color) (12/9/65)
    Two Rode Together (Col.) (color) (12/16/65)
    Sunrise at Campobello (WB) (color) (12/23/65)
    Rome Adventure (WB) (color) (12/30/65)
    Requiem for a Heavyweight (Col.) (1/6/66)
    Cry for Happy (Col.) (color) (1/13/66)
    The War Lover (Col.) (1/20/66)
    The Running Man (Col.) (color) (1/27/66)
    Guns of Darkness (Col.) (color) (2/3/66)
    A Fever in the Blood (WB) (color) (2/10/66)
    Susan Slade (WB) (color) (2/17/66)
    Harvey (CBS' only Universal-International acquisition of the season) (2/24/66)
    The Devil at 4 O'Clock (Col.) (color) (3/3/66)
    The Interns (Col.) (3/10/66)
    The Ladies' Man (Para.) (color) (3/24/66)
    Gidget Goes Hawaiian (Col.) (color) (3/31/66)
    The Best of Enemies (Col.) (color) (4/7/66)
    A Majority of One (WB) (color) (4/21/66)
    John Paul Jones (WB) (color) (5/5/66)

  2. #2


    It was also in 1965 (prior to the start of The CBS Thursday Night Movies) that the network's New York flagship, WCBS-TV, began regular telecasting of color movies in color, starting in the summer. It was gradual, at first; I noticed from a mid-1965 TV Guide that apparently Auntie Mame, originally in color, had been shown on The Late Show in B&W.

    As for this cornucopia shown in 1965-66 on The CBS Thursday Night Movies, many of the WB films were shown for years, starting in 1966-67, by New York's WNBC-TV on Movie 4 and/or the Saturday/Sunday Film Festival, then migrated by 1973-74 to WABC-TV where most got play on The 4:30 Movie but for at least one, Sunrise at Campobello, which was aired on The Morning Movie. The Columbia and certain Paramount portions of the package, however, went right to WABC - as did at least one of the two UA films, Elmer Gantry (can't say for certain about The Manchurian Candidate), and the one Universal film, Harvey. However, I saw at least one Paramount offering, Houseboat, airing on WCBS's Late Show as of the mid-1970's.

    B.T.W., someone had put up a five-minute promo of the films slated for airing on CBS's movie shows (Thursday plus a Friday offering) in 1966-67, with the original version of Morton Stevens' theme that would be updated twice over (first in 1971 and again in 1977, both of which are familiar to aficionados of The CBS Late Movie) - many who heard this for the first time were stunned about how way different this original arrangement sounded:

    But what you described about CBS's showing of The Notorious Landlady sounds not too dissimilar to the mixup around 1977-78 during NBC's screening of Loose Change. I wonder, though, did WCBS's sign-off time on the night of that Landlady snafu get pushed past its intended time (roughly 5:30 A.M., as was the norm since Feb. 26-27, 1963) - or did they sacrifice one of their scheduled Late Late Show screenings?

  3. #3


    The other factors that pushed CBS towards "going color," besides the obvious competitive reasons, were the introduction by Philips of Norelco's 3-Plumbicon PC-60 camera, Ampex's high-band VR-2000 quad VTR, and General Electric's 4-vidicon PE-24 film chain cameras (superseded in 1966 by the PE-240). All three pieces of equipment also made it possible for CBS to maintain its years-long broadcast equipment purchase policy that could be summed up in three words: "Anyone but RCA." (However, CBS's Philadelphia O&O, WCAU-TV, had RCA TK-42's in their studios when color came a-knockin' in '65.) Also, in 1966 CBS purchased a few Marconi Mark VII 4-Plumbicon color cameras, as well as the newer Norelco PC-70's.

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Erickson
    Here's the first season of THE CBS THURSDAY NIGHT MOVIE:
    Merrill's Marauders (WB) (color) (12/9/65)
    This may be of interest only to Mountain time zone schedules of the 1960s geeks
    (like me), so here goes...

    At the beginning of the 1965-1966 season, the CBS Thursday night lineup was
    (all times Eastern):

    7:30 The Munsters
    8:00 Gilligan's Island
    8:30 My Three Sons
    9:00 CBS Thursday Night Movie

    KOOL-TV Phoenix (also fed KOLD-TV Tucson) started out that season with:

    6:30 My Three Sons --live net
    7:00 CBS Thursday Night Movie --live net
    9:00 The Munsters --zero-DB, on film (most if not all of the time)
    9:30 Gilligan's Island --zero-DB, on tape

    Phoenix/Tucson times above are Mountain. Disregard the (lack of) DST
    factor as the nets then provided a one-hour delayed feed to standard
    time areas on the New York origination, so prime time came down from
    5:30-9:00pm MST year-round in AZ.

    For whatever reason(s)--perhaps complaints about the two "kidvid" shows
    being on too late?--KOOL-TV altered the Thursday lineup as of 12/09/65,
    which was the night CBS aired Merrill's Marauders on the Thursday movie,
    however in order to air the movie at 8:00, it went to a one-week delay, as at
    the time KOOL probably had no more than three VTRs (1965 yearbook shows
    two, the '67 issue lists three, our buddy DE is still looking for '66).

    The 8-10 slot on December 9 was filled with a "local" movie (The Kentuckian),
    Merrill's Marauders aired on December 16.

    The modified KOOL-TV/KOLD-TV Thursday night prime time schedule then became:

    6:30 My Three Sons --live net
    7:00 Gilligan's Island --zero-DB, on tape
    7:30 The Munsters --zero DB, on film (most if not all of the time)
    8:00 CBS Thursday Night Movie --one-week delay, on tape

    In the 1966-1967 season however, the Thursday movie slot reverted back to
    7-9pm MT, as did the new Friday movie. Jericho at 7:30 ET was something
    that could "play" easier at 9:00 than sitcoms. Wild Wild West on Fridays at
    7:30 ET aired both seasons at 9:00.

    And strangely enough, in the 66-67 season the Monday night sitcoms at 7:30
    and 8 ET--Gilligan and Run Buddy Run/Mr. Terrific--were flipped by KOOL-TV to
    9:00 (on tape) for the entire season. So much for the "kidvid on too late" theory!

    KOOL-TV's owner Tom Chauncey had a good relationship with CBS--he was known
    to have said "CBS is our most important customer"--and he did clear all net shows.

    This may have enabled KOOL to get 16mm reduction prints of certain shows or
    episodes for same-night airing, rather than a one- or two-week delay, when KOOL
    was perhaps unable to tape everything that needed to be delayed on nights when
    you couldn't just "flip the 7:30 ET hour to 9 MT and run the rest live 6:30-9."

    Maybe KOOL should have asked CBS to foot the cost of another tape machine
    instead of having to air such crummy-looking film prints. :

    In some instances, it was the sponsor of fully-sponsored shows/episodes that
    drove the decision to run a film print. General Foods, especially, used Phoenix
    and Tucson as test markets and wanted to air different spots. Why they didn't
    just send the three spots on film to do as cut-ins rather than the whole show,
    I don't know. This even happened on occasion with Andy Griffith, which was in
    a live net time slot (Monday at 7 MT). I was, believe it or not, one of those
    "you younger posters" then, and it really ticked me off as a TV geek kid sitting
    at home Monday at 7 for "Ange," to see the "trickery" performed by KOOL-TV
    master control where they took net at 7:00:00 for the bong and the CBS color
    intro...then cut to their film chain for a 16mm print of the show.
    Save AM radio...kill I-CRAP.

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