Spring and Classic Films
Spring has sprung and that means a lot to classic film fans. Not only does the season bare fresh fruit but it brings forth the films of the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival to the screens of Hollywood. And for me, I get the added bonus of teaching my favorite class: The History of Cinema.
I wait all year for spring. Not so much for the change in the season but for two important events. One is the opportunity to teach a class on my favorite subject that my department offers but once a year, and the other is the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival. Both occasions give me great pleasure as well as an opportunity to celebrate my favorite subject, my beloved past time, and my enduring passion: Classic Movies.
I love old movies, and have ever since I can remember. I began watching them on weekends on the local cable stations when I was a kid. When I was in college I watched a lot of AMC when Bob Dorian and Nick Clooney were hosts (back before they had commercials and actually showed classics). Then in grad school came Turner Classic Movies, and a short time later the Fox Movie Channel. There was a brief period of time when AMC, Fox and TCM all aired nothing but the classics. It was a fantastic time to be an unemployed post-grad. One cold surf back and forth between the channels and be bound to find a favorite playing, or even better; something you hadn’t seen before.
Then the formatting changed on AMC and Fox (I guess there just wasn’t enough faith in the broadcasting of commercial free classic cinema). The change fueled my interest in public access to the classics wherever they may be showing and that inspired me to launch my website devoted to classic movies. About a year after that the TCM Film Festival was born and the inaugural event was nothing less than magical. Being around so many other people who loved the classics the way I do made me want to live, eat, and breathe classic movies.
Fortunately for me I soon became a professor of film. The qualification that landed me the job was my hands-on experience in film production (Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Sound, etc.), or the actual making of films. But I knew it was just a matter of time before I got the chance to land the class I really wanted to teach: the History of Cinema. And sure enough, I’m now teaching History of Cinema for the third year and I couldn’t be happier. Unfortunately it’s only once a year, during the spring quarter, but it coincides with the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival which some how makes both experiences that much better.
I know I’m a very lucky person. Not only do I get to make classic cinema my profession, but also I get to tell the next generation how wonderful it is, and how important it is. It is an art form that has yet to truly achieve the status of admiration that it deserves. After all, most forms of art only hope to communicate some sort of meaning to its audience – films actually achieve that goal. And it’s my job to see that there are a few more admirers of that admirable ambition every spring.
The first few years I had no more than twenty-three students in my class. This year I have seventy-five. That’s seventy-five young minds eager to know more about the history of the movies. And what better way is there to convey the history than by watching it. Of course I’ll be giving extra credit to anyone who goes to the festival. Some of the students will go just for the extra credit - I know that. But I feel confident that those who do attend the TCMFF will come back with a new found respect for something they’ve taken for granted all their lives; the magic of the movies.