TCM’s Private Screenings Tribute
to Robert Osbourne
by Phil Boatwright

TCM airs a special tribute to its longtime host, Robert Osborne. For film buffs and fans of the Turner Classics movie channel this is a must see. Alec Baldwin (yeah, I know, but he’s in a good mood here) hosts a conversation with Osborne, the program premiering Monday, Jan. 6 at 8:00pm (ET/PT). It will be followed by a night of four films hand-picked by Mr. Osborne.

A most interesting and revealing look at the man who has become the face of TCM with the launch of that network on April 14, 1994. Osborne has been an actor, a writer, a columnist, a critic and a confidant of several movie and TV stars. This special look at the film buff will give you an appreciation of his dedication to film preservation and refresh your fondness for films that have influenced moviemakers and our culture. Osborne doesn’t want you to forget the great films. You’ll understand why after viewing Private Screenings: Robert Osborne on Monday, Jan 6. Click for more information from TCM's website

What TCM be showing after the interview:

The Third Man

4-star film noir/atmospheric thriller about a manipulative expatriate Harry Lime (Orson Welles) during the Cold War. Brilliant filmmaking. Harry Lime’s speech concerning the merits of crime: "You know what the fellow said – in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Libeled Lady

William Powell (another class act), Myrna Loy, Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow star in this robust comedy from 1936 about a newspaper editor who uses his fiancée and ex-friend to win over a fiery heiress, with many a mix-up along the way.

Love Letters

Melodrama concerning a woman with amnesia. Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotton (Yep, that’s how you spell it). My least favorite of this selection.

The Band Wagon

Fred Astaire stars as a washed-up movie star attempting a Broadway stage comeback. 4-star musical comedy. It will not only seem dated to this generation, but other worldly. But they should view it just to see how classy Mr. Astaire really was.

Band Wagon trivia: When I was in high school I was an unabashed John Wayne fan. But at 5’10”, and 118 lbs., I wisely chose not to imitate my screen idol. So, one day when I was sixteen, I happened across a TV showing of The Band Wagon. Fred Astaire gets off a train and walks into the station, singing and moving as only he could. I noticed how he conducted himself. Though he was a little guy and not all that handsome, he was the personification of class. He was elegant, charming, a well-dressed gentleman. I can only tell you that being straight and a gentlemen, well it was catnip to the opposite sex.

Trivia about Bob Osborne and The Movie Reporter, Phil Boatwright:

About 15 years ago I was watching Bob on TCM. And suddenly it dawned on me that I knew him. I’d met him somewhere. I kept racking my brain. I finally got up and went to my office and began looking through a scrapbook. And there it was, a 8 by10 of Osborne in a play at the Little Theatre on the Square, in Sullivan, Illinois, where I was the youngest apprentice (15) the summer of 1968. Bob was touring in a play called Generation, which starred Robert Cummings (Love that Bob). I ran errands and did backstage work on that play. during a production party, I began talking to Bob (guess what about? MOVIES!!) Though it was long ago, I remember him being a nice guy. He had been befriended and helped by veterans such as Lucille Ball and I think he was passing along helpful suggestions to a wannabe actor.

While I guess I am somewhat of a film historian, I hesitate calling myself one. There’s no way to compare my cinema awareness with that of the great Robert Osborne.