Remember When?

TCM edited for content warning circa 1995I thought this was interesting: Today I was going through some old VHS tapes to get to some “Ultra 7” episodes I recorded in about 1995 or 1996, when I found a copy of “Victor/Victoria” I’d recorded off TCM at the same time. Did you remember that TCM used to show edited versions of films? I didn’t! This notice (shown at left) appeared when “Victor/Victoria” aired, between Robert Osborne’s intro to the film and the movie itself.

Again, I can’t specifically date this, but the other things on the tape make me think this was about the summer of 1995. (EDIT: notes that “Ultra 7” started showing on TNT again back in 1994, meaning this movie could have been taped as early as 1994. However, we didn’t get TCM on cable until it had been around for at least several months, so I’m sticking with 1995 for a date. And as a serious tangent, I’d like to point out that an Internet friend of mine started a write-in campaign to get TNT to show “Ultra 7” and I participated, so I’d like to think I was part of the reason they showed the reruns. Ha!)

What’s interesting is that someone who claimed to work for TCM posted to Usenet at around the same time, i.e. the mid-1990s, I think to alt.movies.silent — these posts aren’t archived, this was in the days before Deja News or Google Groups — and they insisted movies weren’t shown edited. Any time an edited print was shown, they said, it was a case of the wrong print being shown and not a case of editing.

Robert Osborne on TCM circa 1995I’ve heard this since then so, even if this was someone just pretending to be a TCM employee, it’s obvious that TCM’s policy now is to show unedited copies of films. And as I’ve mentioned before, TCM back in the mid-1990s once showed a half-edited print of “Rich and Famous” which had to have been an error. Why else edit some profanity but not all?

But this intro warning shows that TCM once did show purposely edited for content prints on their channel. How odd.

And because I felt like it, here is a really bad screencap of Bob on the outro to this showing of “Victor/Victoria”. It was a 14-ish year old VHS tape, recorded on the worst quality possible, so this was the best I could do.



  1. hey, your screenshot from 1995 on a bad vhs tape is STILL better than mine on vhs from two years ago.. not fair! Mine are so bad I can’t even hear the sound anymore.

    your title reminds me of a show on AMC I used to watch (probably around the mid-late 90’s too) called Remember Wenn, I wonder if it’s on dvd…

  2. Actually, I think VHS tapes made nowadays and in the last few years are much poorer quality than they used to be. I have some tapes from 1991 that had Garfield episodes on them and which were in better condition than some shows I recorded just a couple years ago. The tapes themselves feel heavier, too, and don’t rattle so much.

  3. As to the editing, yes, depending on the source of their print, it could’ve been edited by the owner of that print, and I seem to remember a recent dust-up about something of the sort. I kinda remember that notice, myself, but I don’t remember seeing it often. If they only had access to an edited print, they prolly felt obliged to ad a disclaimer.

    My oldest VHS tapes, altho they aren’t that old, do not age well. I was one of the Beta Brigade, and still have a player for them because they are still very viewable. The first one I taped, “The Naked Prey” with Cornel Wilde, was in the early 1980s, and is still quite acceptable viewing, prolly because the image was such a high quality in the first place.

    I know it sounds like the same old battle cry, but Beta was so much better for watching, and you could edit commercials out on the fly – I’ve had people think it was broadcast TV, and when I fast forward, they jump.

  4. Well I’ll be damned – I Googled for edited film references on TCM, and they showed an edited version in 2008 of… “The Naked Prey” !!!! That’s karmic somehow.

  5. They also showed an edited print of “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” which I complained about back in March. Apparently there was a censored version that WB put out on VHS years ago, unaware that the movie was censored. They are apparently still unaware.

    With Victor/Victoria, though, that opening warning shows they deliberately showed edited prints back in the mid-1990s. Maybe they only had the TBS/TNT version of Victor/Victoria to show or something.

    I do know that on rec.arts.movies.past-films, there was a big kerfluffle when TCM scheduled Zabriskie Point and then withdrew it for content concerns. TCM isn’t required to show us what we want, of course, but there are some TCM fans who claim TCM never censors, and I think we all know that simply isn’t true. Whether inadvertent or not, they do show censored prints of some films.

  6. Yes, I remember the days when TCM edited and I’m so grateful that they stopped. They are actually the best place for me to see certain films, as pay movie channels sometimes don’t even show films in their original format. Thanks for sharing.


  7. TCM is indeed a great place to watch films. Sundance is okay but you can’t record films to watch later, and I rarely have time to schedule a 2-hour block to watch the film as it airs. IFC shows great stuff, but with these huge bugs in the corner that have 15-word advertisements for some upcoming program.

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