Turner Classic Movies: One Reel Wonders

08 May

TCM’s ‘TCM Extras’ may be the most well known way that the network contributes to short film, and this method allows them to do it on a regular basis, without disrupting their broadcasts of feature films. Unlike most channels, TCM schedules their programming with 15 minute gaps between each of their films. Inside the 15 minute gap is a segment known today as TCM Extras. Here is how TCM originally presented the segment, courtesy of YouTube and TCM Asia.

Originally titled ‘One Reel Wonders,’ the segment shows its viewers both classic short films and theatrical movie trailers. As of 2007, TCM has added a number of shorts from their TCM extras series to view online, even further allowing the popularity of short films to expand. Some of the short series’ that TCM has shown via TCM Extras are: The Passing Parade, Crime Does Not Pay, Pete Smith Specialties, and Robert Blenchley films. Here are a few links to One Reel Wonders Shorts, as well as my analysis of them.

This film, simply titled ‘Menu,’ is one from the Pete Smith Specialties series of films, that are shown periodically on TCM’s unique segment. This isn’t a normal film by any means, but you can definitely tell its an early one. Created in 1933, Menu is essentially a cooking video with a plot. Director Nick Grinde uses a husbands sickness to kick the whole thing into gear. With Pete Smith narrating, the whole thing is really pretty funny. A random chef saves the day in the end, teaching the man’s wife how to cook a duck to ease his stomach pain.

This 1938 film is another one from the Pete Smith Specialty collection, although it goes in a completely different direction. This time, with David Miller behind the camera, the film follows former Heavyweight Boxing Champion Max Baer, and it is appropriately titled Fisticuffs. The film is different than most I’ve seen, its mostly just a showcase of Baer’s ability in the boxing ring. Slow motion is used to highlight some things, which I thought was probably the most interesting thing about the film, it was something I haven’t ever seen before

The upcoming post will have a focus on what I thought was the most interesting part of my exploration of TCM Shorts; The controversial, and bizarre series of films still supported by TCM, The Dogville Comedies.


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