Throwback Thursday: WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie” intro!

This will probably be a pretty obscure Throwback Thursday post, but the segment below should be recognized by people who grew up in the New York metropolitan area in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  It’s none other than the intro for WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie.”  (That music you hear is a particularly brassy rendition of Max Steiner’s “Tara’s Theme” from 1939’s “Gone With the Wind.”)

If you were in the New York area at that time, it ought to bring back memories of the old days of broadcast television.  (It’s actually surprising how much nostalgia people online report at seeing this 44-second clip.  And it’s amazing what you can find on the Internet.)  A few commenters note sardonically that the clip makes Manhattan look like a nighttime paradise — while The Big Apple in the 1970’s was not always an easy place to be.  (The city if far cleaner and safer today.)

Some of the comments I read were befuddling.  There is one blogger who wrote that he remembers this intro from as far back as the 1950’s.  (Had they really used it for more than two decades?)  And a populous minority of commenters remember being unsettled by the clip.  (They describe it as ominous, and the music as creepy, which mystifies the rest of us who remember “Million Dollar Movie.”)

This intro had an indelible effect on me.  While it recalls monster movies like “King Kong” (1939) and “Godzilla” (1954) for a lot of others, it will always remind me of my father watching war films and cowboy movies on his days off — along with the occasional Charles Bronson flick.   “The Great Escape” (1963), “A Bridge Too Far” (1977) and “Shane” (1953) all spring to mind.

When I was in the first or second grade, I habitually enhanced my Dad’s enjoyment of the “Million Dollar Movie” by peppering him endlessly with questions about whatever was playing — even if I had only wandered into the room for a few minutes.  “Why did they call it ‘a bridge too far?'” “Why did they fight World War II?” “The British and French were good guys in the war, right?” “Why did the cowboy drop his gun on purpose?”  “Why did the guy fake his death?”  (Bear in mind, folks, this was broadcast television — long before the days of Netflix and DVD’s.)

If any kid did that to me when I was watching my favorite movies, I’d go nuts — even if I had a pause button.  My father was a saint.


17 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: WOR-TV Channel 9’s “Million Dollar Movie” intro!”

  1. Love these Throwback Thursday posts when I see them. Though we had different ones in Austin, TX, they were still just as memorable.
    I was thinking, though: Do you remember the Wide World of Sports intro? Maybe you could do a post on that sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is not the original MDM clip. The one I remember was from the early sixties in black and white and showed NY from the forties and fifties. But I cannot find it anywhere and would love to see it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks, I too am searching for the original clip which was much more striking and included a long segment of men on the Bowery warming themselves by a fire. Many thanks, please let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Okay … now *I* want to see that longer clip as well! I can’t tell if I am remembering this one from my childhood or the longer clip that you guys are talking about!


    2. As a boy, I remember WOR displaying a clapboard with MDM on it. This was in the mid to late 1950s. When King Kong premiered in March 1956, the clapboard was replaced by an image of Kong over Manhattan.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. I too have been longing to reconnect with what I recall as the “original” Million Dollar Movie theme. It had the same “Tara” music from Gone With the Wind, but the B & W scenes were of a man in a white raincoat, a solitary figure walking the streets of Manhattan – the epitome of urban loneliness amid crowds and bright lights. I’d give anything to know what that was! Did it come from a film, or was it prepared especially for the Million Dollar Movie opening credits?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is definitely worth seeing. Strictly black and white with no signs of Broadway Tourism. I am tempted to write the Museum of Broadcasting and WOR if they even still exist

    Liked by 1 person

  4. M.D.M. premier broadcast was 1955 or 56 I remember it because of King Kong. I was a child and never forgot all those films that aired twice Monday thru Friday and Joe Franklin broadcast between showings. The films aired on weekends in continuous showings like the regular cinema.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The linked video here is of what I’m fairly certain is the second version of the MDM title; the one that is permanently etched into my consciousness as a New York kid watching WOR-TV from the late fifties and early sixties was in 16mm black and white rather than video, and either included or ended on a dangling pay phone receiver, swaying upside-down in the night, which gave the whole sequence a darker feeling, suffused with a Hitchcockian melancholy and dread. It took me years before I realized that the music was from “Gone With The Wind,” rather than composed for the series—it was so completely tied to the Million Dollar Movie title sequence in my mind…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes — I’ve had several people tell me that what I’m remembering is the second version. The first one might have been a little before my time.

      Like you, I’ll always associate the music with MMM before “Gone With the Wind!”


  6. I VE found the wwor-9 Sons of Hercules intro-looking for the super natural theater intro a crawling eye, crab monsters intro music the Martian Bop..2= Saturday mornings Super Action theater with Comando Cody,Mask Marvel,SPY Smasher 1958-1972.. any one has info post it please searching 63 years.

    Liked by 1 person

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