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Sep 3, 2008

American Movie...Classics?!?!

I don't watch much AMC, or at least I haven't in the past. Chalk it up to my distaste for older films, which are usually defined by many (myself included) with the "classics" label. Whether it's due to that or just the placing within DirecTV's channel lineup (somewhere around 260, also known as "the dead man's zone" in my head, due most likely to it's proximity to Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, Oxygen and god knows what other awful channels), AMC's never been on my radar.

Since you're reading this, you should know that that has changed, at least somewhat. Flipping through on Monday, I came across Escape From New York. The 1981 Kurt Russell actioner is undoubtedly a new classic, but something about the myriad commercials I saw for upcoming items on their schedule screamed "Not classic!" Now, don't get me wrong - I love Road House more than most rational people (watched it last night, mijo), but even I would be labeled a witch if I started touting it as an American Movie Classic.

The thing is, though, compared to some of the other films on this month's lineup, Road House is a classic. Here's a small sampling of some of the, shall we say, lesser movies (in alphabetical order):

* Blues Brothers 2000
* Celtic Pride
* Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
* Eddie
* Ladder 49
* Missing in Action 2: The Beginning
* Pearl Harbor
* Striking Distance
* Teen Wolf
* The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
* The In-Laws
* The Karate Kid, Part II
* Troy
* Two Weeks Notice

That's not to say that there certainly aren't some classics being shown as well. Amongst my forte of contemporary classics, I saw The Princess Bride, Stand By Me, Wall Street, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day to go along with all of the classic classics.

Still, it came as no surprise to me when I read on the Wikipedia entry for AMC this morning that, "since 2003, the full name has been de-emphasized as a result of a major shift in programming." Months back, I ranted about The History Channel airing a documentary series called Ice Road Truckers, wondering what exactly it was about that profession that deemed it worthy of History? It would appear that this is just more of the same.

What started as a premium, commercial-free channel that showed primarily films from the 50s and before has sold its soul like so many other "niche" channels. It's become yet another clone in the cable universe, an indistinct destination that leans slightly to its original intent, all the while attempting to pull in more viewers. What we're left with is a thousand TNTs and USAs - sure, AMC might rein me in with an airing of Road House or snag awards with its hit show Mad Men, but apart from being a specific number on the dial, how can one tell these channels apart? I fear for them should the cable providers ever hit the "Shuffle" button.

But please, call me when Lifetime starts airing Wild Things. Thanks.


17 people have chosen wisely: on "American Movie...Classics?!?!"

Jess said...

Fletch, I totally agree. AMC has more commercials and more 'odd' choices than I can believe sometimes. TCM still shows constant commercial free classic movies (not all are good, but it's neat to see all the movies done by a particular actor or actress in a row). I'm not sure where AMC is trying to move toward, though Mad Men is definitely a step in the right direction.

Moviezzz said...

Since AMC changed its format years ago, it has ceased to be relevant.

TCM is the best channel out there. They are what AMC used to be.

And Fletch, really, you should start watching some of these "classics". Better than what you will find at the multiplex.

Chivid said...

Basically in order to gain revenue and ratings, they went form one extreme with a bunch of classic movies very few people watched to the other extreme with a lot of really crappy movies that slightly more people watched.

Fletch said...

Jess - Good as Mad Men may be, it's only a step - I wouldn't say it's in any right direction, though. After all, what does "AMC" mean anymore?

Moviezzz - I agree. My larger problem is how we were fed the line about HUNDREDS OF CHANNELS on cable, with NICHE PROGRAMMING...but in the end, they all sell out and play The Mummy eight times a day and informercials at 1 AM. What a crock of shit.

And I've tried with the classics, I really have. I'm sure I'll see them here and there (my Mom is waiting on me to watch East of Eden), but I can only be let down so many times before I stop seeking them out. We just don't mesh well together.

Chivid - yeah, it might work to get me to watch their channel now and then where I wouldn't have before, but how many die-hards have been alienated by moves like this over the years? I love ESPN, but I ain't watching their original programming.

Jeep Parts said...

yeah TMC is the best channel out there , i agree.

The Mad Hatter said...

I've wondered about AMC from time to time...

Sometimes I think the movie they WERE going to play didn't arrive, and they send an intern to the nearest Blockbuster and say "Grab anything".

They do show Mad Men though, so I'll turn a blind eye...for now.

David S. said...

Yeah, the name AMC definitely doesn't apply anymore. A few years back, they were showing Rambo III on it, and i lost all hope.

elgringo said...

"due most likely to it's proximity to Lifetime, Lifetime Movies, Oxygen and god knows what other awful channels"

Is there any TV for women you don't hate? Haha, just kidding, these channels are TV equivalents to outhouse contents.

I would consider Karate Kid II (the best of the series) a classic. Celtic Pride is damn funny but nowhere near a classic.

I was really excited to get extended cable for AMC...until I realized that what I wanted was actually called TMC. One letter makes a HUGE difference.


T.S. said...

My love for TCM is splashed all over my blog, and I could not agree more about AMC, Fletch.

Case in point: I'd never seen "Jaws: The Revenge" (a.k.a. Jaws IV) until I saw it on AMC.

Thanks for the excellently snarky assessment of a channel-gone-wrong.

Fox said...

I remember one October when I saw Halloween III on AMC and was very confused as to why.


I slowly lost respect for AMC and now I just think it's pure shit.

I'll stand by TCM as the greatest channel of all time!

Except for THE Z CHANNEL, which I never experienced, but it sounded awesome.

This comment has been removed by the author.


HALLOWEEN III SEASON OF THE WITCH is the second best film in the series. I know that's not saying much, but it's still pretty neat.

Fletch said...

Keep in mind, folks - as a result of their programming shift, I'm probably much more apt to watch AMC now, I just hate it when these channels veer away from their original purpose and we end up with homogenized cable.

TCM certainly ain't my bag. But TMC probably is... (seems like there's a lot of transposing going on here)

WaywardJam said...

Road House is a classic in my mind. My dad will stop and watch it whenever and on whatever channel it's on, as will I. Teen Wolf, also a classic by the RW standards.

That said, I totally agree about AMC punking out for more viewership. I've seen that happening with lots of channels. Eventually cable programming will implode upon itself...right around the time Ellen gets her own channel.

Friend Mouse said...

Blues Brothers 2000 is a "new classic?" *shudders uncontrollably* Heh to Wild Things on Lifetime, tho' - nice one.

Piper said...

Yeah AMC is a little loose on this stuff. But damn Roadhouse rocks. I don't care what anyone says.