Q & A: Is The NBC Saturday Night at The Movies Opening Online?

I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me about television shows, made-for-TV movies or miniseries they remember from years or even decades past. I try to answer each question as best I can. Every now and then I like to pull out a few e-mails to answer here at Television Obscurities for everyone to enjoy. Keep reading for today’s questions and answers.

I remember the NBC Saturday Night at the Movies starting with rolling footlights. The announcer would begin by saying. “N.B.C. presents, Saturday Night at the Movies, which brings you the finest in recent film, entertainment…” (ie.) “Tonight, Colossus: The Forbin Project: Starring Eric Braden and Susan Clark.” (I have asked NBC what happened to that trailer, and they are clueless?) At 11 years old, I did record it onto cassette tape, and the theme was done by Composer: Skitch Henderson (ASCAP). Anyway, my question is? Is there anyplace on the world wide web, that you can get a clip of the opening narration? I’m 61, and have been searching since 21. Any help would be appreciated?
Cristopher

I hadn’t planned on turning this question into a post but then my e-mail was bounced back so I’m hoping Cristopher sees this post. Never let it be said I don’t go to great lengths to make sure questions get answered. I was able to track down an MP3 of the NBC Saturday Night at the Movies opening theme/narration–for the movie Help! starring The Beatles–at the website of sound technician Eddie Ciletti. Help! first aired on NBC Saturday Night at the Movies on October 12th, 1968 and was repeated on December 27th, 1969.

The opening narration matches almost exactly Cristopher’s recollection. I’m often impressed with how well people remember theme song lyrics and opening narrations from 40 or 50 years ago.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be video of the NBC Saturday Night at the Movies opening from the 1960s available anywhere online. I should say openings, because I believe there were at least two different openings during the 1960s. The first version was introduced in September 1961 when NBC Saturday Night at the Movies premiered.

The second version started in the mid-1960s and was used until 1971 or 1972 (I think). It’s this version that Cristopher remembers. The best I can do is offer this still from the 1966 NBC fall preview special:

Still of the NBC Saturday Night at the Movies opening title graphic.

NBC Saturday Night at The Movies Opening Graphic – September 1966

The earliest version of the opening on YouTube is from 1972. I can’t believe that either of the NBC Saturday Night at The Movies openings from the 1960s are truly lost. They may be unavailable online but hopefully the original film elements exist somewhere. It was a movie series, so it wasn’t syndicated, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t 16mm prints floating around (or even 2″ quad tapes). However, there were no VCRs in the 1960s so of course there are no home video recordings circulating. Audio recordings exist because reel-to-reel audio recorders were available in the 1960s.

(The Paley Center for Media has in its collection five minutes of “various opening titles only” from NBC Saturday Night at the Movies, dated 1976. Whether this is a compilation of opening titles from that year or from the series as a whole is unknown.)


5 Comments

  • Joseph says:

    Wasn’t there a slightly later version of this open where the on-screen title had been amended to “NBC Saturday Night At The Movies”, but with the same font (and music) as the older opening?

  • Mike Johnson says:

    This is somewhat off subject, but I would love for someone to find and post any of the openings for “The Wizard of Oz” from between 1968 and 1975 (the years “Oz” was telecast on NBC) or some of the very early CBS telecasts when “Oz” had a host. There are several openings and full sets of commercials from later years (when people had access to home recorders to record “Oz”) but none from before 1980. As many times as “Oz” has been on TV and as popular as it has been, someone somewhere has to have an intro for one of the 1960’s or ’70’s telecasts!

  • normadesmond says:

    i recall a timpani roll entering & exiting commercial breaks.

  • Michael Skaggs says:

    There’s an audio of it on you tube from 1970. (?)

  • Rocketboy says:

    I’ve seen that “Various Opening Titles” compilation. All it was is the graphics package that NBC had used for 3 seasons from early 1976 to 1978.

    http://logos.wikia.com/wiki/NBC_Motion_Pictures

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