Turner Classic Movies Makes Cable Worthwhile


As the only person at Frock Flicks HQ who still keeps a terrestrial cable line going (IDK why, maybe because I’m old?), let me sing the praises of Turner Classic Movies. This is my secret weapon for finding movies that are ignored by all the streaming services because, let’s face it, Netflix thinks a “classic” movie is something made in the 1980s and starring Chevy Chase. Um, no. An article on Newsweek from September 2017 analyzed the problem with Netflix and classic movies, noting:

As of this month, the streaming platform offers just 43 movies made before 1970, and fewer than 25 from the pre-1950 era (several of which are World War II documentaries). It’s the sort of classics selection you’d expect to find in a decrepit video store in 1993, not on a leading entertainment platform that serves some 100 million global subscribers.

Netflix doesn’t think old movies are worth the trouble of securing the rights. Millennials don’t watch black-and-white flicks, do they? Amazon Prime is a little bit better when it comes to pre-1980s fare, but if you really want to indulge in movies from the golden and silver ages of Hollywood, from black-and-white masterpieces to technicolor marvels, you need to tune in to TCM.

Olivia de Havilland, The Heiress

People often comment on my Throwback Thursday posts, ‘where can I watch that movie?’ and the answer is frequently Turner Classic Movies. Nope, you probably can’t stream it anywhere, sorry. You’re going to need cable and a DVR and plan ahead, like I did. Sounds hopelessly old-fashioned, but it’s still better than braving the crowds at an actual movie theater, amirite?!?

Bette Davis, Little Foxes

Obviously not everything on TCM’s schedule is Frock Flick worthy, but a solid third of my to-watch queue is culled from these classics. Whether it’s 1968’s Romeo and Juliet or 1934’s The Barretts of Wimpole Street or 1994’s Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Turner Movie Classics delivers.

Lion in Winter

I’m not saying you should reconsider cable just for this one channel. But don’t knock those of us who still have it because, hey, we might be on to something. And I suppose there are ways you can tune into TMC through Roku or somesuch, if you’re all techie about it. That’s not my jam. I’m plenty content to cruise through with my remote, setting my DVR to record a month’s worth of fabulous old movies so I can watch and review them for y’alls later.



Are you a fan of Turner Classic Movies? How do you watch?




About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

27 Responses

  1. Susan Pola Staples

    Yes. It’s perfect for those movies that I remember as being excellent when I was young and as you posted in this article, it has the best Romeo and Juliet (Zeffirelli’s 1968) and I can always count on it for my Olivia de Havilland fix (not just her movies with Errol Flynn, but one of my favourite films – The Heiress) and my Bette Davis fix (Jezebel, Little Foxes & All About Eve).

  2. MoHub

    I’m always stymied by the younguns’ fear of black-and-white movies and television. I have a hard time convincing them that lack of color doesn’t equate to lack of quality.

  3. thestoryenthusiast

    Thank God for TCM. It disappeared from my cable offerings for about a month due to a dispute with my cable provider. It was one of the worst months of my life.

  4. Rhonda Stannard

    I actually own The Heiress. Olivia is wonderful in that movie as you watch her transform.

  5. broughps

    Unfortunately TCM is one tier up from what I can afford. Spectrum – expect to pay extra for the good channels. When I did have TCM years ago I recorded a ton of movies, especially the old musicals.

  6. Melanie Clark

    Oooh, oooh! Have you heard of Filmstruck?! Turner Classic Movies teamed up with Criterion to create a streaming service and it’s FABULOUS. They don’t have the whole backcatalog, of course, but the rotation is good. I always find more and more to watch, both English language and other language classics. AND it’s cheaper than Netflix.

  7. Amanda

    My house finally downgraded to basic BASIC cable just a few days ago (after a knock-down-drag-out fight with the Verizon rep who insisted we DID want to pay $40 MORE a month than we already were. F you, sir), and literally the only channel I will miss is TCM! Where else was I going to find those hilarious-yet-entertaining silent movies from the late 20s that would come on at, like, 1am?? (And OH MY GOD, THE CLOTHES. I will watch a trash movie from the 30s or 40s just for the damn hats!)

  8. Steve

    I appreciate that you appreciate a great channel like TCM, but you might get the name of the channel right. It’s Turner Classic Movies NOT Turner Movie Classics. Plus further confusion is added by calling it TMC instead of the correct TCM because if any one calls up their cable/satellite provider and asks about TMC the provider will think they’re asking about The Movie Channel, an entirely different entity.

  9. mari

    Definitely like TCM. As Elizabeth mentioned, the local library is a good source for classic movies too. I also get DVDs from Netflix, not just the streaming service. There are a lot of hidden gems in the DVD selection.

  10. Joseph Keeton

    TCM also has it’s own streaming app in addition to Filmstruck. You need to be a cable subscriber though, but it’s convenient for watching on your own schedule.

  11. Harold Spacey

    If TCM were available without cable It would be reason enough to cut the cord.

  12. Alys Mackyntoich

    TCM and BBC America are the only reasons I still pay for cable.

    • MoHub

      I gave up on BBCA when it stopped being about bringing more rarely seen UK program(mes) to American audiences.

  13. Jillian

    I’m a millennial and I love TCM ;) They do a lot right. And a tip for those who get it–you can log into the website with your cable provider for streaming. Everything they play on TV is available to stream for a week after it airs. I just watched the 1938 Marie Antoinette on there!

  14. Saraquill

    Now I’m curious how many TCM movies are in the public domain. Those of us without cable can then stream them legally on archive.org and such. I’ll keep this thought in mind.

    Dear Frock Flicks, I have a humble request. One day for a Tangential Yet Interesting, might you consider Janet Stephens’ YouTube channel? Plenty of well research period hair styles to consider.

  15. Karen K.

    On the wrong side of the pond now but I loved TCM and AMC back in the day when they actually showed classic films uncut. I remember watching Batchelor Mother simply because it came in after It’s a Wonderful Life. Meant to watch 5 minutes but sat through the whole thing and loved it.