NBC Movie Nights of the 1960s and Beyond

I realized after putting together broadcast logs for several NBC movie nights broadcast during the early 1960s that there might be some confusion about when each movie night aired. I’ve put together the following rough summary as a guide but do keep in mind that it is based solely on official fall schedules and thus doesn’t reflect any last minute changes and only a handful of mid-season shifts. I’ve also opted to stick with the basic “NBC [Day] Night at the Movies” title rather than try to determine what the network actually called each of its movie nights over the decades.

After the network introduced NBC Saturday Night at the Movies in September 1961, network television would never be the same. That’s only slightly an exaggeration. Movie nights soon began popping up all over the place on all three networks. NBC introduced its own second movie night on Monday evenings in February 1963. Monday Night at the Movies returned for the 1963-1964 season, then, for the 1964-1965 season, the network moved its second movie night to Wednesday and NBC Wednesday Night at the Movies was born. It, in turn, became the The NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies for the 1965-1966 season.

Things remained stable until the 1968-1969 season when NBC introduced a third movie night by bringing back The NBC Monday Night at the Movies. The NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies ended after the 1970-1971 season and NBC was back to just two movie nights. The NBC Saturday Night at the Movies ran through the 1977-1978 season and NBC shifted its original movie night by reviving The NBC Wednesday Night at the Movies for the 1978-1979 season.

Both The NBC Monday Night at the Movies and The NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies returned in September of 1979; The NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies would become The NBC Friday Night at the Movies in the spring of 1980. In September 1980 The NBC Friday Night at the Movies became The NBC Thursday Night at the Movies. At that point, it seems as if NBC began moving its second movie night around every few months. At one point during the mid-1980s the network had three movie nights again before finally settling on Sunday and Monday.

The NBC Monday Night at the Movies went off the air following the 1996-1997 season, I believe, while The NBC Sunday Night at the Movies stayed around through the 2000-2001 season or so. If I’ve made any mistakes please note them in the comments. And if anyone knows of an authoritative account of NBC’s movie nights be sure to let me know. My focus has always been on scripted network television programming so I haven’t always paid much attention to movie nights, not even made-for-TV movies.

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13 Replies to “NBC Movie Nights of the 1960s and Beyond”

  1. You pretty much nailed it. I must add that the 1977-78 season was also the last in which NBC Burbank staff announcers (who also worked at the network’s L.A. flagship KNBC, and which by then consisted solely of Don Stanley, Donald Rickles, Peggy Taylor and Victor Bozeman) opened each edition of the network movie shows; thereafter, they only handled bumpers (with the exception of the 1979-80 season where the then-“Voice of NBC,” Casey Kasem, assumed such duties), with opening trailers (at least in the 1978-79 season) being done by staff announcers from New York (such as Howard Reig). Probably the last “Saturday Night at the Movies” edition in this period was the Oct. 28, 1978 screening of the infamous TV-movie “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park”; the opening trailer for that, from what I could tell, was voiced by Fred Collins, while Ms. Taylor was on duty that night (or on the night the show was prepared for airing at that time) to do the ad bumpers.

    Ms. Taylor (a former nightclub singer who was featured on Stan Freberg’s short-lived 1957 CBS Radio show) was the first and only full-time female staff announcer for NBC on either coast, having joined NBC Burbank (and KNBC) in March 1973; Mr. Bozeman (one of only two full-time African-American staff announcers at NBC, the other being New York-based Fred Facey) joined around 1974. As for the old guard, the only other announcer known to be heard on NBC movie shows was Eddie King, whose service to the network dated back to the 1930’s when he worked out of San Francisco, before transferring to Hollywood during World War II; one of his last announcing jobs was on a 1975 “NBC Monday Night at the Movies” repeat of the ground-breaking 1974 TV-movie “A Case of Rape” which signified star Elizabeth Montgomery’s break from her “Bewitched” persona. Of the “core” quartet as heard from the mid-1970’s onwards, Mr. Rickles was the first to die, in 1985, followed by Mr. Bozeman in 1986. Ms. Taylor retired around 1989, and died in 2002; Mr. Stanley hung up his mic around 1990 or ’92, and passed away in 2003.

    Besides these movie shows, there was also the “NBC Late Night Movie” which ran on Sunday nights after the late news, from 1977 to 1984. Much like “The CBS Late Movie,” “NBC Late Night Movie” often ran films that were “too hot” for prime time television – and which was also chock full o’ public service announcements. (Sunday was the only night this program could run, because of Johnny Carson on weeknights followed by Tom Snyder before 1982 and David Letterman after; and of course, “Saturday Night Live.”) The announcers were the same as on the regular movie shows.

    1. For WB: Have you ever checked out the clip on You Tube of “The NBC Late Night Movie” in which Victor Bozeman invites the audience to watch next week’s feature…”Loving You”, starring Elvis Presley, recorded a couple of weeks before Elvis died? It’s awesome…I love the music! My favorite NBC announcer was, and is, the great Bill Wolff, who invited us to “stay tuned for the continuing story of Another World!”

      1. Have to agree about Bill Wolff, who invited us to “stay tuned for the continuing story of Another World!” Don Pardo on Price is Right was good too! and Mel Brandt, who said The Doctors was “dedicated to the brotherhood of healing.” Wolff and Brandt are 2 of my all time favorites(not to mention Jay Stewart and Johnny Olsen and Gene Wood and Jack Clark.)

  2. I am pretty certain that NBC’s movie nights were named without ‘The’ at front of their titles. I went looking on the web for some old NBC movie bumpers, and ‘The’ was never part of the title graphics. ‘The’ also never appeared in the Nielsen or Arbitron reports.

    NBC also had another umbrella title for its movies during the era of Mr. Paul Klein and Mr. Fred Silverman, and that was ‘The NBC Big Event’ used for theatricals, tv movies/backdoors and miniseries, and then later just ‘The Sunday Big Event’ when the network began to pull back on longforms.

    Technically speaking, ‘The NBC Mystery Movie’ and all its nightly variations also served as a movie umbrella night. In addition to the regular mystery movie rotation series (i.e. ‘Columbo’, ‘McLoud’, ‘The Snoop Sisters’), the umbrella was also used to program mystery-themed backdoor pilots and tv movies (I don’t remember a theatrical being played off under this title though).

  3. ‘DuMont’ would be right about NBC’s movie shows not having a preceding “The.” I don’t even think they had the network name on their movie show titles until the mid-to-late 1960’s.

  4. I had a feeling there was no “the” in the movie night titles but for whatever reason decided to use one. Based on television listings I was also unsure whether NBC was in the title or not. Personally, it’s an awkward title without the definite article.

    For example, you wouldn’t say “I’m going to watch NBC Saturday Night at the Movies” the way you would say “I’m going to watch Star Trek.” You’d say something like “I’m going to watch the NBC Saturday Night at the Movies” or probably just “I’m going to watch NBC’s Saturday night movie” and ignore the title altogether.

  5. “NBC introduced its own second movie night on Monday evenings in February 1961. Monday Night at the Movies returned for the 1963-1964 season, then, for the 1964-1965 season, the network moved its second movie night to Wednesday and NBC Wednesday Night at the Movies was born.”

    Should this be February 1963 or 1964? It could not have been 1961, since “Saturday Night at the Movies” didn’t premiere until September 1961. I have TV Guide from that week and remember that it premiered on Sept. 23 with the first broadcast of “How to Marry a Millionaire” from 1953.

  6. Can someone tell me about night at the bijou short that I believe was shown before the Saturday night movie

  7. When NBC’s “Saturday Night at the Movies” began in 1961, it had only one announcer handling the show – Don Stanley. As more movie nights were added to the network’s schedule, they folded to pressure from other announcers to get a piece of the action (much to Mr. Stanley’s chagrin, as recounted by his daughter Donna Chaffee on a Facebook tribute page to him, “Don Stanley, NBC Announcer”). Thus, thereafter Stanley would be the primary announcer – and the secondary announcers, up to 1969, would be (in order of first joining the Hollywood staff, all of whom moved to Burbank by 1962) John Storm, Frank Barton, Arch Presby, Eddy King, and Don Rickles (not the insult comic; in fact this Rickles later formalized his name to Donald Rickles in order to allow the insult comic to use the “Don” moniker, as he would reveal when he made a rare on-camera appearance on Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show on May 11, 1978). Following Storm’s 1969 retirement, Victor Bozeman first joined in 1970 (not 1974 as erroneously noted; airchecks taped off KNBC as put up by ‘Obsolete Video’ on YouTube clearly indicate Bozeman announcing for the station as early as ’70); the arrival of Peggy Taylor in 1973 (the first full-time female staff announcer for any network) followed the retirement the prior year of Presby. However, neither Barton nor King, upon their respective retirements in 1974 and 1977, would be replaced.

  8. Does there exist a clean color video of the bumper with the drumroll and unfocused color balls? I’d prefer the Saturday version if possible.

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