We're thrilled to announce the upcoming TCM lineup for a flood of forgotten gems from the bygone days of Hollywood, most of which have never been aired on American television.
Raunchy sailor literature and vaudeville acts were all the rage in turn-of-the-century England. Many film scholars have argued the popularity of bawdy seafaring shorts shown in Kinetoscope peephole viewers are what finally heralded the commercial viability of film as a medium, and as an art form.
First up, we have the British classic that signaled the incoming tide of high-seas smut: 1922’s All Hands on Dick, a film that pioneering French director Georges Méliès called, “The most stimulating cinematic treasure since my 1912 globetrotting masterpiece The Conquest of the Pole.”
Rounding out our selections for the first week, we’ll be airing one-time showings of:
Virginity on the Bounty
Stem to Stern and Willing To Learn
and the John Steinbeck-penned Circlejerk Lifeboat.
In the mid-1930s, as the lusty sailor niche was poised to break into the mainstream, writers were struggling to find new takes on the old storylines, delving deeper into pirate lore for inspiration. In week two we’ll be showing the rousing pirate adventure Scrimshaw Rimjob, as well these classics:
Slobber Me Timbers
Sink, Swim, or Suck
Swabbin’ Hard: Prince of Skeeves
Dropping Anchor on the Captain’s Chest
and the unlicensed sequel torpedoed by Herman Melville’s estate, Moby Dick 2: Leviathanus
Here in America, the wave was met with some resistance. Most of you film fanatics are probably familiar with the motion picture production codes of early Hollywood that limited and censored what was considered unacceptable content in movies. Years of unwanted scandals and public debauchery had the Hollywood elite looking to clean up the industry’s image, but they went a bit “overboard” when they cast a wide net of puritanical regulations, jettisoning many of these films to brief theatrical runs or locking them away all together in a cavernous vault of forbidden material.
Well, history’s on our side; as we approach the 50th anniversary of a landmark Supreme Court ruling effectively demolishing what was left of the old code, we’ve dusted off some rare and stunning jewels from the TCM library.
The fun continues in our third week with exclusive runs of:
All Ashore Who's Going to Score
Chock-a-Block and Full-of-Cock
Making Waves in the Private’s Quarters
as well as the action-packed Rear Admiral and its lesser-known sequel, Rear Admiral: Lower Half.
By 1940, the production code had become a ubiquitous witch hunt and threatened to not only sink the genre but to take down innocent films assumed to be “nautical naughties,” a term coined by film censor Joseph Breen. The coming-of-age sailor film Cumshaw starring a young Henry Fonda was forced to halt production over a misunderstanding of the word “cumshaw,” a shipmate’s term referring to a bribe or payoff. Also wrongfully shut down was the Humphrey Bogart vehicle Loose Lips At The Scuttlebutt—“scuttlebutt” being slang for a drinking fountain on a ship.
Shortly before his death, renowned director Alfred Hitchcock famously told a member of the Hollywood Foreign Press, “The fervor during that time was so alluring and consuming. My agent ludicrously anticipated these self-righteous constables targeting me and recommended I quickly change my last name to something less ‘problematic.’ I suggested using my mother’s maiden name—Gobblecrotch—and that ended the discussion.”
Regrettably, dozens of harmless features were cancelled simply by the censor board taking issue with their titles. For our final week, TCM will profile these unfinished and abandoned films by showing you incomplete film reels, unused footage and behind-the-scenes photos from the productions of:
Well, Blow Me Down!
What Sally Saw in the Galley
He Ran a Tight Ship
Going Below Deck
He Came Through Thick and Thin
The Tiniest Porthole
and The Loneliness of the Replenishment Oiler
All those and more make this one exciting “shipshape and Bristol fashion” month here at TCM! Stay tuned throughout the oncoming weeks for a special sneak peek at our summer tribute to the unfinished meals of Orson Welles.