Here’s the schedule for NBC’s experimental station W2XBS in New York City for the week starting Sunday, July 30th, 1939, straight from television listings printed in The New York Times. The paper reported that W2XBS planned to shake up its weekly, ten-hour schedule by focusing more on sporting events (thanks to the return of its mobile truck) and adding several nights of “full-length motion pictures” . Furthermore, the station’s studio at Radio City would be closed until August 29th for remodeling, so live shows from that location were out. For the first week of August, however, there weren’t any sporting events and only a few full-length movies.
An outdoor pick-up scheduled for Friday, August 4th from 4-5PM was included in the weekly listings but wasn’t part of the day’s daily listings, suggesting it never took place.
Tuesday, August 1st, 1939
12:00-1:00PM – Melville Clark, Irish harp; films; Gloria Grant, singer, and news.
8:30-9:30PM – Jean Murat, Claude May, Saturnin Fabre and Serge Grave, in “Generals Without Buttons,” a French film with English subtitles.
Wednesday, August 2nd, 1939
12:00-1:00PM – The storytone, a new musical instrument; films; George Ross, Broadway columnist, and news.
4:00-5:00PM – Life-saving demonstration by the American Red Cross at Astoria Pool.
Thursday, August 3rd, 1939
12:00-1:00PM – Fashion show; films; info from the American Hair Design Institute on correct coiffures; news.
8:30-9:30PM – “Edge of the World,” with John Laurie, Bell Chrystall, Eric Berry, Kitty Kerwin and Nial MacGinnis.
Friday, August 4th, 1939 
12:00-1:00PM – Bernice Allstock, Songs; Films; Cigar-Etiquette, Rose Marie Bourdillon; News.
8:30-9:45PM – Film, Pearls of the Crown.
Saturday, August 5th, 1939
4-5:00PM – Water ballet at Manhattan Beach.
1 “Television Plans for August.” New York Times. 30 Jul. 1939: X10.
2 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 4 Aug. 1939: 9.
One Reply to “W2XBS Schedule, Week of July 30th, 1939”
Sure, W2XBS was going to schedule more “full-length motion pictures”- just don’t expect any CURRENT Hollywood features, because the major studios, for the most part, considered television the way most people examine a dirty latrine: you can look at it, but KEEP YOUR DISTANCE! This attitude (even though Paramount Pictures gave finanical support to DuMont’s experimental TV broadcasts at the time, but withdrew it after 1939} persevered until the mid-’50s, when most movie studios began to resemble “ghost towns”, and some of those studios, after suffering considerable financial “hardship” due to television over a seven-year period, saw what great success Walt Disney was having with his weekly “DISNEYLAND” series, and declared, “We want HIS kind of business, too!”.
But that was in the future. NBC’s experimental New York station would have to settle for several foreign films (most with subtitles), cheap “B” and “C” Westerns filmed several years earlier, and equally obscure “B”, “C” [and any kind lower than “D”] pictures from “Poverty Row” studios that no longer existed, such as Chesterfield, Tiffany, and smaller companies.
The choice of foreign films, however, were interesting: “The Edge Of the World” (1937), shown on August 3rd, was a British film (mostly shot on the island of Foula, at Shetland Isles) directed by Michael Powell, who later partnered with Emeric Pressburger to create some well-known films in the ’40s and ’50s- a 1978 BBC documentary, “Return To the Edge Of the World” reunited Powell and most of his cast.
“Pearls of the Crown”, shown on August 4th, was a 1937 French film (with subtitles) that’s now considered a “cult classic” in some circles.
“Generals Without Buttons” (1936, released in the U.S. in 1938), on August 1st [that was also the day Glenn Miller recorded “In the Mood” for RCA’s Bluebird label], was another French feature that earned acclaim when first exhibited stateside. The “film booker” providing these features for W2XBS either had esoteric tastes or was a “art house fan”…or both!