Robert Osborne Returns!
This is my submission for the Welcome Back, Bob! Blogathon/tribute hosted by Carley (@MissCarley) from The Kitty Packard Pictorial and Will McKinley (@willmckinley). Thanks to both for inviting me to participate.
For the past several months I have been lost without the dapper, distinguished, most knowledgeable Robert Osborne, host of Turner Classic Movies. He is more than just a host– he is a teacher. And in my ongoing education in classic film, Robert Osborne is essential.
Believe it or not, living in Atlanta does have its advantages. For instance, I can pay $16 to drink all the Coca-Cola I want at the World of Coke, or party hard with T.I. in between prison sentences. I can stand behind Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel, and act like an idiot while he reports live from Piedmont Park. I can be an extra in Tyler Perry Presents Tyler Perry’s Tyler Perry movie or be a zombie in The Walking Dead. Most importantly (and seriously), I live in Turner country. Turner Classic Movie country, that is.
Although I wish there were more special events sponsored by TCM here in Atlanta, I can’t complain. I’ve had the opportunity to attend some wonderful screenings with all of them being introduced by either Robert Osborne or Ben Mankiewicz. One of the first I attended was Gone with the Wind at The Fox Theatre. Osborne introduced the film along with Molly Haskell and Michael Sragow. As much as I love GWTW, I was more excited to see Robert. The theatre was completely sold out (4,768 seats) and the audience was loud and disrespectful. I actually heard someone say “who is this guy? I want to see Scarlett!” when Robert walked out. Die hard southern GWTW fans are an odd bunch. Many came to see an “accurate depiction” of “the good ol’ days,” wearing bedazzled denim jackets with airbrushed renditions of Tara on the back (non-ironically, mind you. And no, I’m not kidding). While some old biddy sitting behind me talked about how southern whites were really nice to their slaves (as later “confirmed” by Ashley Wilkes), I sat on the edge of my seat, clinging to every word coming out of Robert’s mouth.
In 2010 I finally had the opportunity to attend the Robert Osborne Classic Film Festival in Athens, GA. Fantastic films, introductions and Q&As by Robert, and fellow classic film fans under one roof made for an excellent experience. I was determined to finally meet Robert at the festival’s brunch. Unfortunately morning sickness got the best of me, and eggs benedict and mimosas somehow didn’t sound all that appealing–with or without Robert. Although I missed the Silver Fox, my disappointment quickly turned to delight when he himself, in the flesh, shining like a beacon of movie knowledge, chose the seat in front of me for the festival’s screening of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr. I know Robert would disapprove, but at times I found myself watching him watching Keaton, instead of watching Keaton directly.
I won’t speak for the rest of TCM’s fans, but I know that I’m guilty of taking Robert Osborne for granted. During the last five months I have realized how important he is for the appreciation and preservation of classic film. He is irreplaceable and a true classic himself. On December 1st I will be sitting on the edge of my seat, listening to his every word–thankfully without the old biddy.
Welcome back, Mr. Osborne.
Jill Blake is the owner of the classic film website Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence. She is also a co-founder and editor of the film site The Black Maria and film editor at CC2K. In 2012, she was interviewed on-air by Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz. In 2013, she was a featured guest on the TCM podcast. In her spare time Jill is a stay-at-home mom, wife, fried okra connoisseur, and the neighborhood’s own L.B. Jeffries.