In the 1920's, films were silent and only learning to walk as an art form in America (while running well in Russia). During The Great Depression, movie palaces and small town theaters provided an escape from the harsh realities of day to day life. By 1939, in the height Hollywood's Golden Age, the abundance of great films released was staggering -- Gone With The Wind, Gunga Din, Wuthering Heights, and The Wizard of Oz, all released in 1939. And in each decade since, the world's film industry has continued to mature, both technically and artistically. But it was only with the advent of VCR, cable, and DVD technology that enjoying these great films at home became practical. Basic cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM) takes access to great film another step forward.
If you want to be a student of American film, with enough British work to fill out your education, TCM is your cable channel, and their websites' full days' movie schedule is a page to have handy. All this month, TCM conducting it's annual 31 Days of Oscar festival. Every film shown on TCM this February is either an Academy Award winner or nominee. While the Oscars are far from a perfect gauge of film quality, it certainly helps folks like me who want to learn to separate the wheat from the chafe. Bottom line: I've seen a lot of great movies so far this month on TCM.
The TCM film database is also a handy online tool. Not only does it contain a quite comprehensive catalog of the vital information on films both in and outside the TCM library, it's a handy tool to have while watching or discussing almost any film -- and certainly comprehensive when it comes to learning about older films. One of my favorite uses of the database goes as follows: you're watching a film and wondering who directed it, or who a particular actor is. The film database contains an overview page, with a link to the full cast and crew of the film. Mystery solved -- film information at your fingertips. Used in conjunction with Wikipedia, you database becomes even more powerful.
So if you a classic movie fan, keep an eye on what TCM has to offer. And speaking of classics, it appears a modern classic was born last night with No Country For Old Men winning Best Picture at this year's Oscars. Congratulations to long-time favorites of mine, the Coen Brothers, and their team.