The Million-Dollar Movie and So Much More

Once upon a time, before the availability of an abundance of movie-viewing options via cable television, video streaming, Red Box, and our neighborhood video stores, the only means of watching movies at home was on the handful of stations which existed back in the day. In the dark ages of my New Jersey youth, we had only seven stations: 2 (CBS), 4 (NBC), 5 (WNEW), 7 (ABC), 9 (WOR), and 11 (WPIX).

I recall coming home after school to watch movies, which aired each day at 4:30. In the beginning, we could sit down for two hours with your after-school cookies and milk, and then within less than two years, the time was reduced to 90 minutes. The decrease in time was a result of the expansion of Eyewitness News by an additional thirty minutes, which clearly resulted in major portions of films ending up on the editing-room floor.

Usually the weeks were themed: Planet of the Apes Week, Elvis Week, or Beach Movie Week.

I particularly liked the beach movies, many of which had a particular emphasis on bikinis: How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Beach Blanket Bingo, and Bikini Beach—all starring the former Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello.

Teenage girls learned about romance via the Gidget series: Gidget, Gidget Goes to Rome, Gidget Goes Hawaiian, and finally, Gidget Gets Married.

In addition to the afterschool movies, we had evening movies, which eventually aired every day of the week. Dad reminded me of the “Million Dollar Movie” which aired on WOR-channel 9. In the beginning, the same film could be viewed twice each night for the entire week, so you really had to go out of your way to miss a showing of a favorite flick.

Of course, for those nights when you just couldn’t get to sleep, we had the CBS Late-Night movies which were shown in the Seventies until sometime in the Nineties when the David Letterman show replaced it. For anyone around to watch those films, I guarantee you will remember the opening theme song:

  So don’t tell anyone of my generation that there is nothing to watch.


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