CBS Thursday Night Movie
|CBS Thursday Night Movie|
Still frame from the animated CBS "color" logo, used by the network at the start of each broadcast of the Thursday Night Movie that featured a color film.
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||2 hours or more (depending on feature's length)|
|Original release||September 16, 1965 –|
November 20, 1975
CBS Thursday Night Movie was the Columbia Broadcasting System's first venture into the weekly televising of then-recent theatrical films, debuting at the start of the 1965–1966 season, from 9:00 to 11 p.m. (Eastern Time). CBS was the last of the three U.S. major television networks to schedule a regular prime-time array of movies. Unlike its two competitors (NBC and ABC), CBS had delayed running feature films at the behest of the network's hierarchy. Indeed, as far back as 1960, when Paramount Pictures offered a huge backlog of pre-1948 titles for sale to television for $50 million, James T. Aubrey, program director at CBS, negotiated with the studio to buy the package for the network. Aubrey summed up his thinking this way: "I decided that the feature film was the thing for TV. A $250,000 specially-tailored television show just could not compete with a film that cost three or four million dollars." However, the network's chairman, William Paley, who considered the scheduling of old movies "uncreative", vetoed the Paramount transaction.
It was not until after Aubrey's departure from CBS in early 1965 that Paley finally conceded on the issue and cleared the way for the network to embark on its own prime-time weekly movie broadcast. After completing negotiations with various studios that year, the network acquired exclusive rights to televise a total of 90 titles from Columbia Pictures, United Artists, Paramount, and Warner Brothers—news of which resulted in rumors that the network would actually slate films for two prime-time nights rather than just one. This scheduling addition, however, would not be made until a season later; but reports of further meetings between CBS and Columbia over the acquisition of 20 more titles signaled that the network was now a serious movie-night contender. The Thursday Night Movie thus began on September 16, 1965, with the TV debut of the original The Manchurian Candidate (1962), starring Frank Sinatra and Laurence Harvey.
CBS's new anthology was not to escape notoriety, as the network learned the evening of September 30. During its running of the Jack Lemmon-Kim Novak comedy, The Notorious Landlady, someone at the controls of the film's broadcast inadvertently got the reels mixed up, and it was with some chagrin that a network announcer issued an apology during a commercial break before a substantial portion of the movie was then replayed just to get the continuity back on track. What started out, therefore, as a 2-hour-and-15-minute airing wound up lasting approximately three hours. Then a month later, when the Burt Lancaster film Elmer Gantry (1960) was televised with approximately 30 minutes total in various deletions from its original 146-minute length, viewers complained that because of all the omissions, the movie made little sense. In fact, quite a few entries in the Thursday night anthology during the first season were over 2 hours long—and this was without commercial interruptions. These included The Counterfeit Traitor (1961; 140 minutes), Parrish (1961; 138 minutes), Ocean's 11 (1960; 127 minutes), Mary, Mary (1963; 126 minutes), and Sunrise at Campobello (1960; 144 minutes). Before their broadcast, each of these films was cut to accommodate what CBS executives deemed a feasible running-time. Sunrise at Campobello, in particular, suffered a loss of nearly an hour from its footage after the network pared it down to a 2-hour broadcast including advertisements. Even so, CBS's affiliated stations were still forced on more than a few occasions to delay the start of their local 11:00 (ET) nightly newscasts.
In one case, however—that of the Anthony Quinn film Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)—the network considered the entry too short. Requiem had a running time of 85 minutes, but this was judged untenable by CBS executives. Columbia Pictures, the film's theatrical distributor, was contacted and arrangements were made to "pad" the film with extra footage. According to the movie's producer, David Susskind, there were 40 minutes of outtakes from the film in the studio's vault that had to be located. It was from these that an extra 10 minutes was assembled and added to the CBS print. In fact, this is believed to be "the first time television has added footage to a movie."
First season (1965–66)
- 1965-09-16: The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
- 1965-09-23: The Counterfeit Traitor (1961)
- 1965-09-30: The Notorious Landlady (1962)
- 1965-10-07: Parrish (1961)
- 1965-10-14: Houseboat (1958)
- 1965-10-21: Ocean's 11 (1960)
- 1965-10-28: Mary, Mary (1963)
- 1965-11-04: Elmer Gantry (1960)
- 1965-11-11: The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960)
- 1965-11-18: Experiment in Terror (1962)
- 1965-11-25: Mysterious Island (1961)
- 1965-12-02: The Bramble Bush (1960)
- 1965-12-09: Merrill's Marauders (1962)
- 1965-12-16: Two Rode Together (1961)
- 1965-12-23: Sunrise at Campobello (1960)
- 1965-12-30: Rome Adventure (1962)
- 1966-01-06: Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962)
- 1966-01-13: Cry for Happy (1961)
- 1966-01-20: The War Lover (1962)
- 1966-01-27: The Running Man (1963)
- 1966-02-03: Guns of Darkness (1962)
- 1966-02-10: A Fever in the Blood (1961)
- 1966-02-17: Susan Slade (1961)
- 1966-02-24: Harvey (1950)
- 1966-03-03: The Devil at 4 O'Clock (1961)
- 1966-03-10: The Interns (1962)
- 1966-03-17: The Notorious Landlady (1962) (Rerun)
- 1966-03-24: The Ladies Man (1961)
- 1966-03-31: Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961)
- 1966-04-07: The Best of Enemies (1961)
- 1966-04-14: Elmer Gantry (1960) (Rerun)
- 1966-04-21: A Majority of One (1961)
- 1966-04-28: Houseboat (1958) (Rerun)
- 1966-05-05: John Paul Jones (1959)
From here through the summer, the remaining broadcasts consisted of reruns of many of the above films. The series' initial season thus comprised a total of 31 movies–12 from Warner Brothers, 13 from Columbia, 3 from Paramount, 2 from United Artists, plus one classic (Harvey) from Universal Studios in a transaction involving an aborted TV-movie deal. (See the article section below on the "Rise of the Made-for-TV Movie.") The next season, CBS would add a second anthology on Friday nights. The network's movie schedule for the 1966-67 season would begin in September with the Thursday Night Movie's television debut of the first half of The Music Man (1962), starring Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. The concluding half of the film would be televised the following evening as the premiere offering of the new CBS Friday Night Movie.
The 1966–67 and '67–68 seasons: Thursdays and Fridays
Among the films CBS had acquired from Paramount Pictures in 1965, there included the Alfred Hitchcock shocker Psycho (1960), which was scheduled for premiere the night of Friday, September 23, 1966. However, just days before the film was to air, U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy's (R-Illinois) college-aged daughter, Valerie, was reported slain by an unknown assailant, and details of the crime went viral in the national print and TV-radio media, including one news article that described the "blonde and pretty" Miss Percy as having been "beaten and stabbed to death in her bed." The inevitable analogy between Valerie Percy and a "blonde and pretty" Janet Leigh, plus the fact that both the senator's daughter and the Leigh character in the film were both murdered while in a vulnerable state (Miss Leigh in the shower, Miss Percy while asleep) became too much of a coincidence for some of the network's affiliates in the Midwest who announced they would not carry the film. Thus, shortly before Psycho's broadcast, CBS, without notice, yanked it in favor of a Frank Sinatra war film Kings Go Forth (1958). Later that year, CBS decided not to air Psycho at any future date. The film was thus cancelled altogether despite the hefty $500,000 price that CBS had paid Paramount for exclusive rights to televise the movie.
The preemption of Psycho aside, however, the 1966-67 season saw an increase over the previous season in the number of Paramount films televised on CBS. These included Grace Kelly's Academy Award-winning performance in The Country Girl (1954), Marlon Brando's only directorial effort, One-Eyed Jacks (1961), and the Jerry Lewis comedy, The Delicate Delinquent (1957). Columbia Pictures also made a strong showing during the Thursday Night Movie's second season with such entries as Sam Peckinpah's Civil War epic Major Dundee (1964) and the Jack Lemmon comedy, Good Neighbor Sam (1964). But Warner Brothers output, so prominent throughout the anthology's first season, consisted of only five features—and one of those was the animated Gay Purr-ee (1963), a film targeting the pre-teen audience and broadcast just two days before Christmas. Additionally, United Artists pictures during the season also totaled only five; however, the televising of one of those entries, Lilies of the Field (1963), became of particular interest when it was reported that its director, Ralph Nelson, was "given the privilege [by CBS] of editing his own movie for television presentation." Further, Nelson was allowed to insert commercial breaks anywhere he wanted. He was even successful in negotiating a bit of risque dialogue delivered by Sidney Poitier, the film's star. Given that this occurred just a year after producer-director George Stevens had sued NBC over its telecast of his movie A Place in the Sun (1951), arguing that "the network would damage the film by interrupting the narrative with a series of commercials", this move by CBS to collaborate with a filmmaker on the broadcast of his own work suggested that commerce could, on occasion, co-exist with art. Also of note, the religiously-themed film aired on Good Friday.
The broadcast of Toys in the Attic in late April was the final CBS premiere of a theatrical film during the season. From May through August of that year, the series consisted of reruns. For the most part, features that had premiered on a Thursday night were rebroadcast months later on a Friday night, while Friday's premieres aired later in the season on a Thursday.
The following September, the CBS Thursday Night Movie began its third season with a film from a new package of Metro-Goldwyn Mayer movies—Jack Cardiff's Young Cassidy (1965), a bio-pic on the life of Irish playwright Seán O'Casey. Then the next evening, the Friday Night Movie kicked off its sophomore year with an oddity: American-International Pictures' Beach Party (1963), the first of a series of zany romantic comedies featuring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. Additionally, the network poured forth the remainder of United Artists titles acquired two years earlier—a balance of 20 motion pictures, including Stanley Kramer's tense racial drama The Defiant Ones (1958), Jules Dassin's caper classic Topkapi (1964), as well as the inspirational One Man's Way (1964), based on the life of the influential pastor, Norman Vincent Peale. In fact, CBS aired this film the night of Martin Luther King's assassination; it seemed an especially apt gesture by the network, even if the film had been scheduled months earlier for just that very evening. Among the network's other offerings, Warner Brothers movies maintained their steady minority presence, among them actor Vic Morrow's eccentric interpretation of Prohibition-era bootlegger Dutch Schultz in Portrait of a Mobster (1961)—a film so violent that its repeat performance in June 1968 had to be postponed for a later broadcast, as it had been scheduled just two days after the slaying of presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. It was replaced by a rerun of the aforementioned One Man's Way.
As the CBS Thursday (and Friday) Night Movie entered the 1967-68 season, media critics took increased notice of the mature topics and risque themes explored in network movies—subject matter heretofore considered taboo in TV-land. For example, Jack Gould of the New York Times, singled out the network's September 1967 broadcast of Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960), with its frank yet satirical treatment of office politics and adultery. Gould noted "[t]he paradox...that in shows expressly produced for TV there continues to be the traditional concern over the preservation of blandness to suit all age groups. Matters of sex, let alone hints of extramarital relationships, are skirted like the plague." But with the showing of The Apartment (an Academy Award-winner for Best Picture) and other movies that tackled risky subjects, Gould concluded that "as the networks buy even more recent films, the trend [to challenge previous taboos] will very likely increase." A week later, Gould observed that "there appears to be no denying that films of feature length...have established themselves as the most stable form of TV program"—stable, at least, in the sense that all three major networks had, by then, each committed two nights per week of their prime-time schedules to old but recent films. And Gould's colleague, George Gent, writing on the same page and same issue of the Times, confirmed this sentiment after "national Nielsen figures" revealed that CBS's two-part TV-premiere of the prisoner-of-war drama The Great Escape (1963) had been ranked #1 and #2 of that week's most-watched programs. "Audience taste," concluded Gent, "continues to run in the direction of feature-length movies."
Not all critics, however, were receptive to this new trend in viewership. Syndicated entertainment writer Cynthia Lowry, for example, noted that CBS, as well as its two competitors, were engaged in the programming practice of front-loading—in other words, "piling in early the best feature-films." She warned that later "they will have to put on some of the turkeys—and there are those in every package." Lowry further complained that as a result of the popularity of old movies, new TV programs were "suffering seriously this season from the competition" while attempting to establish a loyal fan base of their own during the crucial first weeks of their broadcast. Ms. Lowry's objections notwithstanding, however, as long as movie anthologies continued to deliver better-than-average product, superior viewer ratings would continue to endure—which they did. Below is listed the entire CBS roster for a season that began with bubbling confidence.
From May through August 1968, many of the above films were re-issued as CBS prepared a new schedule for its two anthologies. In terms of quality and viewer attention, it was to mark the beginning of a dismal time for network movies.
The 1968–69 and '69–70 seasons: A decline in audience
Just as the previous season had begun with the biography of a playwright (Seán O'Casey), CBS followed up in early September 1968 with another film based on a stage author's life. This time, it was Moss Hart, and the movie was Act One (1963), based on Hart's best-selling autobiography of the same title. Act One had already aired on local stations in a few markets, but this was its first network showing. Thus, CBS declared the actual premiere date of the Thursday Night Movie's fourth season as September 26, when another biographical picture, the musical Gypsy, starring Natalie Wood as burlesque queen Gypsy Rose Lee, made its television bow. The next evening, a second Natalie Wood attraction, Sex and the Single Girl (1964), initiated a third year's roster for the CBS Friday Night Movie. This entry garnered a lot of box-office in its heyday, but critics had labeled it a dud. In fact, similarly harsh judgments had been passed by critics on most of the other films CBS ran that season. With the exception of John Ford's Cheyenne Autumn (1964)—and even some of Ford's biographers refused to rank this among the director's best—the movies offered by the network's anthology in the fall of 1968 were by and large an inferior collection. Warner Brothers contributions, for example, ranged from soap-opera pathos (Youngblood Hawke, which the New York Times called "as thin and glossy as wax paper") to wooden heroics (the Troy Donahue western, A Distant Trumpet, with a story that "looked implausible or just plain hollow.") Additionally, such MGM fluff as Quick Before It Melts (1964) could hardly be called a game-saver. Top it off with the Thanksgiving night showing of the same studio's Marco the Magnificent (1965), described by one critic as "long on spectacle and short on plot", and you have the ingredients to a disastrous season.
Meanwhile, the movies ABC and NBC offered their viewers appeared to be equally unattractive because when the Nielsen ratings for the November 1968 sweeps were released, not a single network movie telecast finished in the Top 20—an interesting predicament considering the lofty pronouncements made a year earlier by top media observers concerning the popularity of feature films on television. But as CBS vice-president Michael Dann noted, "There has been a decided shift [in audience] since the opening of the season. I think you will see a decline in all movies for television." And as Rick Du Brow, UPI's television critic, confirmed:
The drop in audience occurred almost immediately after the season began. And there is no sign that televised network movies will recoup their former popularity, except for an occasional blockbuster, a fluke hit, or a film starring a personality who happens to be a tremendous favorite. The national video ratings for the week ending December 8, for instance, indicated that of 6 motion pictures shown on the three networks, the highest-ranked one among all television shows listed came in 35th.
Furthermore, Du Brow offered an explanation for this negative trend, one that went far beyond the inferiority of the films themselves. In short, he believed that audiences were "getting weary of the old-style approach" and that adherence to conventional modes of presentation by the networks had become constrictive, obsolete, and irrelevant for modern audiences. By means of contrast, the columnist held up newer, hip, innovative variety shows (like NBC's topical and sardonic Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) as a means of advancing toward that "new-style approach" that in the late 1960s attracted the most viewers. As for 3-year-old feature-films like some of those listed below, however, they were declared old-hat.
The 1968-69 TV season finally witnessed a network prime-time movie for each night of the week. As author Robert Beverley Ray neatly summed up, "television had an NBC Monday Night Movie, an NBC Tuesday Night Movie, an ABC Wednesday Night Movie, a CBS Thursday Night Movie, a CBS Friday Night Movie, an NBC Saturday Night Movie, and to complete the week, an ABC Sunday Night Movie." Critic Jack Gould wondered whether a "battle of film-against-film may not be as remote as some in TV had originally thought." And upon the arrival of 1969, another media critic made a hopeful New Year's prediction that "[s]ome network will bravely drop one of those nightly two-hour movie reruns" and replace it with "two half-hour situation-comedies plus a one-hour variety show [whose star is] a very young singer with a Southern accent and a guitar". That forecast proved only half-correct—the singer with the Southern accent and guitar turned out to be Glen Campbell, whose weekly variety show premiered on CBS two weeks into January 1969. Campbell's broadcast, however, replaced neither of the network's movie anthologies.
The beginning of the 1969-70 season saw a brief surge in audience numbers with CBS's two-part world TV premiere of The Guns of Navarone (1961), based on the Alistair MacLean best-seller. Then 14 days later, the comedy Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding (1966) qualified as the sixth most-watched program of the Nielsen's rating period, while the Glenn Ford thriller Fate is the Hunter (1964) scored at #16 during the same week. And in the season's fifth week, the Gothic thriller Two on a Guillotine and another Glenn Ford picture, The Last Challenge, both wound up in the Top 20. But another trend became evident in CBS's film-anthologies as viewers began to notice a sharp increase of repeat broadcasts. As a result, there was a corresponding decrease in new films available for showing, and there was a good reason for this. Production of new theatrical films had slackened to a near-standstill in Hollywood and as a result, some studios, among them 20th Century Fox and Paramount, were "waiting to unload their expensive backlog of films" to the networks. Indeed, CBS had completed a deal with Fox a year earlier for exclusive rights to televise some of its most recent films (Rio Conchos and Guns at Batasi, to name some), but the network had been allowing those to merely trickle through to viewers at a rate of 5 or 6 per season. This was becoming CBS's programming strategy with product leased from other studios as well. Consequently, the films listed below for the new season, 1969–70, included a greater number of reruns than in previous years.
Upon the arrival of the summer months, many of the above titles were re-broadcast. However, there was also a smattering of premieres on CBS throughout this period. Island in the Sun (1957), based on Alec Waugh's best-selling post-WWII novel about interracial tensions on a Caribbean island, was shown for the first time the evening of June 11, 1970. And on August 14, there was the TV debut of Nine Hours to Rama (1963), starring Horst Buchholz as the Hindu extremist who assassinated Gandhi. Moreover, to fill out its summer movie fare, the network followed through on a surprise April announcement that it would add yet a third movie anthology on Tuesday nights (7:30-9:30 pm, ET). It featured a combination of reruns plus some novel offerings, like the 1962 fantasy Five Weeks in a Balloon, with Barbara Eden (on June 30); a 1968 doomsday thriller Panic in the City, featuring Howard Duff (on July 7); and the 1965 remake of the classic She, starring Ursula Andress (July 21). For film fans, however, this third movie-night proved to be only a summer fling, for at the beginning of the 1970-71 season, CBS cancelled its Tuesday anthology to make room for its customary sitcom fodder with new episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres
The 1970–71 season: The rise of the made-for-TV movie
With the scheduling of more recent films from Hollywood, the three major networks were faced with the question of how best to present increasingly risque material without offending the mainstream tastes of their audiences. Up until 1970, censors would simply bleep salty dialogue or edit shots, trusting that such excisions would not detract from a film's storyline. In some cases, however, it became necessary to remove so much of a film that additional scenes had to be written and produced by a network and then inserted into the movie so that its telecast not only filled a 2-hour time slot but also made sense to viewers. NBC, for example, had contracted with Universal to run the R-rated Three into Two Won't Go (1969) during the fall of 1970. Questionable scenes from this British-made thriller were either severely chopped or completely eliminated and replaced with 17 minutes of new footage produced in a Hollywood studio and featuring actors who had not appeared in the original conception. As a result of such practices, the networks were "beginning to smart under the criticisms of their cutting and re-shaping" of additional films such as Secret Ceremony (1968) and The Night of the Following Day (1968). This was a consequence of the displacement impact of broadcast television. Motion picture studios, having withstood the long decline of theater-attendance by families (who presumably preferred to stay home and watch TV), had increasingly re-crafted their product during the 1960s to appeal to a smaller, more mature (adult) audience in both theme and presentation. Consequently, some films became essentially impossible to re-cut or revise into family broadcast-ready entertainment. Recognizing this, NBC soon abandoned these attempts at the bowdlerization and/or alteration of a theatrical film's content. But at the same time, it became apparent to all three networks that if some movies could not be successfully repackaged for family viewing, then perhaps a stronger emphasis should be focused on producing more films specifically for television. As a result, this hybrid genre began to exert a larger presence on American home screens.
The origin of the American network TV-movie had actually occurred years earlier, when NBC had entered into an agreement with Universal wherein the studio produce films approximately 98 minutes long to be broadcast initially on the network. Universal, however, retained the distribution rights to re-release these productions in overseas theatre and television markets. Moreover, NBC agreed to pay "from 30 to 65 percent of the production costs" in return for U.S. theatrical and syndication rights as well as "the right to show the films first." This pact resulted in such successful TV-films as the disaster movie The Doomsday Flight (1966) starring Jack Lord; The Borgia Stick (1967), an industrial spy drama with Don Murray and Inger Stevens; and Prescription: Murder (1968), the original manifestation of Peter Falk's police detective/character, Lt. Columbo. NBC thus remained the acknowledged pioneer in TV-movies until 1969, when the ABC network produced and premiered its new weekly series of made-for-TV films, The ABC Movie of the Week. Some of these features were so popular that they were later released to theaters in America and Europe for further exhibition, among them Joseph Sargent's Tribes (1970), Buzz Kulik's Brian's Song (1971) and Steven Spielberg's Duel (1971). As a result, ABC planned a second anthology of new offerings under the title, Movie of the Weekend.
By contrast with its competitors, CBS had contributed a scant number of made-for-TV feature-length films; and what little they had scheduled were mostly produced in association with independent companies like QM Productions or the network's own theatrical film-producing arm, Cinema Center 100. However, four years earlier, CBS had entered into an agreement with Universal to contribute $340,000 to the studio's million-dollar budgeted remake of the classic western The Plainsman (1966). In return, CBS was granted the right to exclusively premiere the film as a Thursday Night Movie telecast. However, once production was completed and The Plainsman was screened for Universal's top brass, they concluded they had a hit movie on their hands. Thus, the studio re-negotiated with CBS to drop its commitment to run the film first so that Universal could instead open The Plainsman in theaters. The network agreed, but only on condition Universal promise in return "to give [CBS] an existing feature film from their backlog." (That replacement feature turned out to be the 1950 fantasy Harvey, starring James Stewart.) Nevertheless, CBS vice-president Michael Dann, a fan of the TV-movie innovation, predicted two months afterward that in the near-future "the studios will be making 50 to 75 such pictures a year." The 1970-71 season would prove him correct. And when the Thursday Night Movie opened its fall schedule with the premiere of a low-budget, made-for-TV movie, rather than a proven Hollywood blockbuster guaranteed to lure mass viewership, it became CBS's way of declaring its commitment to product that, although cheaply manufactured, was nevertheless new and topical. In this case, the movie was The Brotherhood of the Bell, and the film's star was Glenn Ford, a movie actor who had never appeared in a television-film. In fact, before shooting on the project even began, Ford had been warned by friends in the industry that he would hate the experience. Instead, the actor reported that "it was five of the most enjoyable weeks I've ever spent working...it was a good solid script with people like Maurice Evans and Dean Jagger working with me." The film received respectable notices from the critics, and its reputation has grown ever since. In 1986, for example, critic David Deal would label Brotherhood "one of the very best television movies of the era...a first-rate production." And in recent years, it has acquired the reputation of a conspiracy-theory cult classic. As a result of the film's success, the new season would witness CBS's determination to increase its output of works produced directly for television—especially during late February to early April 1971, when 5 out of 11 features shown were made-for-TV world premieres.
The above schedule was augmented by the Wednesday, November 25, 1970 TV premiere of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, starring Debbie Reynolds. And on February 14, 1971, there was a special Sunday-night world TV premiere of the film Ben-Hur (1959), featuring Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd. This Academy-Award winner for Best Picture was five hours long when aired with commercial interruptions, running from 7 pm to midnight (ET). In addition, just as the network had done during the previous year, CBS premiered a handful of movies throughout its summer schedule. Among those were included: The Violent Ones (1967; shown June 3), Night Must Fall (1964; debuting June 10), The Wrong Box (1966; premiering Sunday, June 20), The Frozen Dead (1967; June 24), Doctor Faustus (1968; June 25), The Money Jungle (1968; July 1), and An American Dream (1966; July 2).
The 1971–72 season: Thursdays and Sundays
Throughout the summer of 1971, CBS prepared its own weekly series of TV-movies for the new fall season. It was dubbed The New CBS Friday Night Movies. but one network representative advertised it as "nothing more than an old-fashioned suspense anthology series," much like the old U.S. Steel Hour or Playhouse 90—only "tricked out with film," as opposed to live studio broadcasts, the norm for presentation during the early 1950s. This new project was originally envisioned by producer Philip Barry, Jr. (son of the playwright Philip Barry) to exclusively consist of "all-suspense of various sorts." Barry further promised viewers that the new anthology would avoid "doing any law enforcement shows, no doctors, no lawyers, none of the usual things." Director Alf Kjellin, who had learned his craft under fellow Swede Ingmar Bergman, was hired to helm one of the show's premiere entries, The Deadly Dream. Though Kjellin responded positively to the 90-minute television format for filmmaking, he was bothered by certain impractical restrictions, telling one interviewer, "Ten days is not a long time to make a picture." Nonetheless, the New CBS Friday Night Movie began its run in September 1971, occupying the 9:30–11:00 time slot (Eastern Time). It was not to be a successful outing, chiefly because it was scheduled opposite NBC's own World Premiere series, which began one hour earlier.
In order to accommodate its new suspense anthology, CBS shuffled its Sunday night line-up to make room for its alternative presentation-format for old movies. Thus what had been known for the past 5 years as the CBS Friday Night Movie became the CBS Sunday Night Movie, airing from 7:30 to 9:30 pm (Eastern Time). This was a highly publicized programming change because it necessitated the cancellation of CBS's signature variety series, the long-running Ed Sullivan Show. After 23 successful years, this icon of the airwaves was ordered to vacate the premises and beginning in September, the CBS Sunday Night Movie launched its 1971-72 season with the TV premiere of the Spencer Tracy-Katharine Hepburn 1967 comedy-drama, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. But this would be remembered as the year the holiday classic The Homecoming: A Christmas Story (1971), a TV film starring Patricia Neal, was first aired. Critics lavished unqualified praise, including one writer who labeled it "a lovely pre-holiday program—sweet but never cloying and sparked with humor." Not only was this production repeated each year at Yuletide throughout the decade, but it also served as the genesis for the long-running family-drama series The Waltons.
Summer premieres included the Vince Edwards crime drama Hammerhead (1968; airing on June 15), the spy melodrama Assignment K (1968; on June 22), with Stephen Boyd and Camilla Sparv, and the surreal comedy The Tiger Makes Out (1967; on June 29), featuring the husband-and-wife team, Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson. There was also the TV debut of the Danny Kaye military comedy On the Double (1961; telecast on June 8), which included a bawdy sequence in a wartime Berlin cabaret where the comedian/hero, in drag, impersonates Marlene Dietrich and is later "seduced" in a dressing room by a drunken Luftwaffe officer. In earlier years, these scenes would have been considered too racy for prime-time audiences, what with their satire of transvestism and gay sex. As it happened, however, CBS had broadcast another film with similar scenes, albeit in a more serious framework, less than four months prior—Luchino Visconti's The Damned (1969), originally rated X when it first opened in theaters. Obviously, the film had to "undergo some severe editing to conform" with a TV audience's acceptance and the resulting presentation, which was pre-screened for affiliates via closed-circuit, was so incoherent that many stations refused to run it.
The Damned was never intended for prime-time airing. Instead, it was among the initial presentations by CBS for television's first late-night network film anthology, for on the evening of Valentine's Day 1972, the network mailed a love-letter to America's film fans when it broke with network late-night tradition by cancelling its Merv Griffin talk-show to make way for The CBS Late Movie. In so doing, the organization that years earlier had spurned the scheduling of old movies as "uncreative" was suddenly running a total of 7 feature-films each week. The axing of the Griffin show was of little consequence when one considers that his program was being broadcast on only 129 affiliates, whereas the CBS Late Movie debuted on 179. It was also a wise business decision when taking into account that the network was paying, on average, only $30,000-40,000 for each of the 220 movies leased from Warner Brothers and MGM. At such cheap rates, CBS was clearing $100,000 per late-night broadcast.
Meanwhile, in prime time, the CBS Sunday Night Movie appeared to be holding its own in terms of audience shares, especially during the first half of October when it was rated the third most-watched network telecast. Unfortunately, those numbers did not hold up; and with ratings for the New CBS Friday Night Movie also sagging, it was decided the upcoming season to return the Sunday Night Movie to its original Friday night time slot and to transfer the Friday made-for-TV movie anthology to Tuesdays. However, one trend introduced late in 1971—the sporadic pre-emption of CBS's Thursday films for news specials—would continue into the next season. This was largely due to the fact that 1972 was not only an election year, but it was also a time when an American president made important overseas state visits to both China and the Soviet Union. It is during such events that information programming enjoys its most receptive audience. And in the next season, with the Watergate scandal gathering steam despite President Nixon's landslide re-election, television documentaries and network panel discussions would draw better-than-usual ratings. Thus, news specials would continue to pinch-hit for the Thursday Night Movie on select occasions.
The 1972–73 season: Return to Thursdays and Fridays
In the fall of 1972, the issue dominating most discussions on matters related to TV and radio involved on-air obscenities. It even preoccupied lawmakers in Congress, where Sen. John Pastore (D-Rhode Island), chairman of the Commerce Committee, led an investigation into alleged broadcast profanity. He later told one reporter, "Frankly, there have been some things that have shocked me. There have been four-letter words used on radio. Of course, they haven't gone that far on television...the networks have bleeped them out." Apparently the senator overlooked network film-telecasts, for it was the potty-mouth controversy that cost the CBS Thursday Night Movie half its audience. It occurred on an evening in mid-November when roughly 100 affiliates refused to air the true-crime film In Cold Blood (1967) "on the grounds of explicit content"—specifically, the uncensored use of the word "frigging" by one of its two lead characters. ABC, however, experienced viewer wrath of a different kind when John Wayne's most famous line of dialogue ever was altered by network censors. This is how Chicago news columnist Mike Royko illustrated the situation:
The other day, True Grit came to television. The big scene developed. Ned Pepper issued his insult. John Wayne looked furious. Then Wayne uttered his famous line. He said: "Fill your hands, you." That's all. The rest of it, the important SOB, had been snipped or blurred from the sound track...What kind of line is "Fill your hands, you?".
What perplexed viewers about ABC's censorship was that a week later, the same network would show the movie Patton (1970), leaving George C. Scott's swear words intact—a move that may have emboldened CBS to retain the double entendres and much of the blue language in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. New York Times critic Howard Thompson praised the telecast, especially the manner in which the network's commercial breaks were carefully placed so as not to detract from the power of Edward Albee's drama. As for the questionable dialogue, Thompson noted that every 'hell' and 'damn' prevailed. He added, "Sharp ears may have caught an early 'goddamn' from Miss Taylor [and] she bellowed the same word later...an agonized shriek underscoring the despair of a drama that by then had many viewers riveted to their chairs." In fact, CBS slated the film for broadcast during the all-important sweeps month of February 1973. However, the strategy backfired; the film finished at #38 for the week it was shown. This prompted columnist Rick DuBrow to call out TV executives who persisted in programming a "comfortably predictable list of motion pictures and determine by title and category how they will do in the ratings game." In other words, an Oscar-winning movie that features a hot tabloid item like Liz and Dick exchanging curse-laden insults will not always guarantee a huge TV audience—and unfortunately for the network, it didn't.
But if CBS's roster of theatrical features failed to match programming expectations, its Tuesday night made-for-TV product was a disaster. As writer Norman Mark noted, "CBS has flopped with almost all of its [new] films this season, an unequaled record." One exception, however, was the much-touted A War of Children, starring Jenny Agutter as an Irish-Catholic girl in war-torn Belfast who falls in love with a British/Protestant soldier. According to New York Times critic John J. O'Connor, the film "got off to a fine start and came to a convincingly moving end. It was somewhere around the middle that the drama failed [and became] almost fatally vague." But CBS's Thursday-night world premiere of Gay Talese's Honor Thy Father in March 1973 received rave notices, including one that bestowed high praise on the film's star Joseph Bologna for "a highly fascinating portrayal" of Salvatore Bonanno, heir to legendary crime boss Joe Bonanno. These works, however, were the only two high points of a disappointing season.
There was also the animated Beatles film, Yellow Submarine (1968), which debuted as a special Sunday-evening presentation on October 29, 1972. Additionally, CBS had scheduled the rock-festival documentary Woodstock (1970) for late April 1973, but then reversed course due to nervousness over "what it regard[ed] as raciness in the film." As a result, it would not be televised until several years later by another network, NBC. But the Thursday (and Friday) Night Movie did manage intermittent summer premieres, including The Last of the Secret Agents? (1969), featuring the comedy team of Allen and Rossi, on June 7, plus the French film Secret World (1969), aka The First Time, starring Jacqueline Bisset, a week later. Also, there was the debut of the Merchant-Ivory production The Guru (1969), with Rita Tushingham and Michael York, on June 22, as well as the July 19th TV premiere of the Michael Caine film, Deadfall (1968). CBS wrapped up its summer season of first-time showings on September 7 with the telecast of The Vatican Affair (1968), starring Walter Pidgeon and Klaus Kinski.
The 1973–74 and '74–75 seasons: Violence, movies, and censorship
In an October 1973 address to the Better Business Bureau in Nashville, CBS president Robert D. Wood discussed "the changing tastes and standards of society and the growing maturity" of television audiences that influenced his network's decision to air such controversial films as In Cold Blood and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Wood confirmed that he had deliberately taken "certain calculated risks." However, he felt those gambles were justified. Later, as if to echo Wood's sentiment, NBC president Herbert S. Schlosser stated that "television will never lead any parade of permissiveness. But it should [never] be chained to the past by a few hundred letters of complaint." Yet to critic John J. O'Connor, the entire issue was irrelevant. He felt that "despite the injection of 'contemporary' and 'mature' situations, the mix of regular prime-time TV is no less banal or blatantly manipulative than it ever was." However, another critic, Ron Power of the Chicago Sun-Times, cited a new troubling trend in network programming—violence and sadism. Adopting a highly alarmist stance, Power published what was, in essence, an angry manifesto blasting the networks:
A guy falls out of a high-rise building, his arms flail and his necktie flaps...and you know that in the next second he is going to be an ex-human being—a horribly broken spill of bones and blood. A race car spins, crashes, and bursts into flame, and you know the driver felt the skin being fried away from his body...An airplane explodes in mid-flight; a yacht is ripped apart in a harbor. Something has happened to the people inside...something sudden and cruel and dreadful and final. To the sensitive observer, the reaction is of depression and loss. To the insensitive, there is the strengthening of a condition that human life is cheap. And all the above incidents happened in a single episode of the CBS action-drama Hawaii Five-O.
Power called for "organized reform" by both the media as well as those who viewed their product and patronized their sponsors—and his was not a lone voice. TV/movie director Buzz Kulik stated: "I don't care what anyone says. I think there's a connection between television violence and real violence. You just can't differentiate between the real and the unreal." That connection between the reality of violence and the illusion of fictional mayhem on TV reverberated in news headlines throughout the fall of 1973. For example, there were a number of reports about youth gangs pouring gasoline on helpless victims and setting them aflame. These incidents occurred in various parts of the country. In one instance, a young Boston woman was forced by 6 youths to "douse herself with two gallons of gasoline" before they "then set her afire." In the South, "four teenagers set fire to a sleeping derelict" in Miami. Even an interracial couple in Fort Lauderdale suffered the same cruel fate. Furthermore, it was pointed out that these attacks occurred almost immediately after "a television showing of the movie Fuzz (1972) which depicted similar violence"—specifically, a scene in which one of the characters is doused with a flammable fluid and then ignited. Thus, as in the year before, the stage was set for more debates centering on the issue of censorship and network film telecasts.
Amid such controversy, CBS ordered its film cutters to work. The Thursday Night Movie's slate for the 1973-74 season included two of the most violent films of the Sixties—Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (1969). Both of these works had been championed by critics as masterpieces that used violence to make valid artistic statements about the American contemporary scene. In spite of this, however, the two movies underwent radical cutting. But according to some in the audience, the network went too far, especially with the Peckinpah film. One viewer complained that "when the censors at CBS snipped, they snipped without thinking, blindly...CBS did not show The Wild Bunch at all. Instead they showed some mutilated mess that once had been a masterful original." Another viewer protested that the network's broadcast of the controversial western "amounted to little more than showing snippets, rather like coming attraction footage...I have never seen any film so extensively cut." For CBS, therefore, the new fall season of 1973 got off to a very rocky start.
But ultimately it was also a successful one. Screenings of the first two Planet of the Apes films shot CBS to the top of the charts during that same period. And with Steve McQueen's box-office smash, Bullitt (1968), as well as Dustin Hoffman's breakthrough performance as The Graduate (1967) and the Clint Eastwood action-adventure Kelly's Heroes (1970) leading a pack of hit premieres, it was one of the Thursday Night Movie's most robust seasons. It was also a good year for the network's made-for-TV films, largely due to the January 31, 1974 premiere of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, which was greeted with near-unanimous praise by critics like Jay Sharbutt, who called the work "profoundly moving...it's the only description that seems to fit this production." And Pauline Kael of the New Yorker, who devoted her entire weekly column to the film, praised John Korty's understated direction as well as Cicely Tyson's performance, for which she would win the Emmy Award for Best Actress in a Special Program.
Thus, for the 1973–74 season, from mid-September until the end of May, The CBS Thursday (and Friday) Night Movie premiered only 22 theatrical titles. The remainder of the total 76 telecasts were either (a) reruns of theatrical films from previous seasons; (b) reruns or premieres of made-for-TV films; (c) TV pilot episodes for projected series; or (d) pre-emptions for CBS news, sports, or variety specials. When compared with the total of 52 theatrical-film premieres that the network aired during the 1966-67 season, one can observe that the number of available films for first-time broadcast had dropped by well over 50 percent. However, CBS did schedule four additional new titles to fill its roster during the summer of 1974. These included the June 6 TV premiere of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), featuring Maggie Smith's Academy Award-winning performance as an unorthodox teacher in a 1930s Edinburgh girls' school. There was also the June 14th television debut of The Looking Glass War (1970), based on a John le Carré spy novel and starring Christopher Jones. And to round out its list of the season's newcomers, the Richard Burton film Villain (1971) premiered June 27, while the medieval drama Alfred the Great (1969), with David Hemmings in the title role, made its bow the next evening.
In the fall of 1974, one of CBS's competitors, NBC, premiered the TV-movie, Born Innocent. The film was the beneficiary of an intense promotional campaign by the network, as well as a provocative disclaimer just before its broadcast. And when it finally aired, viewers were exposed to what, up until then, was one of the most graphic depictions of sadism and cruelty ever presented on the small screen. The story's heroine (played by Linda Blair), a teen-ager serving time inside a juvenile detention center for young women, becomes the victim of sexual assault when she is forcibly violated with a foreign object by a gang of the institution's most violent inmates. A few weeks after the film's broadcast, a 9-year-old girl, walking with a friend along a San Francisco beach, was subjected to a similar act by a trio of teen-age boys. When the young perpetrators were questioned by authorities as to the reason they had chosen this method of attack, they freely admitted having been inspired by the film's controversial scene. Later that year, the mother of the victim sued NBC, claiming the organization was "responsible for this rape because the network had studies showing that children and susceptible people might imitate crimes seen on TV." The case was eventually thrown out of court, and an appeals panel would later affirm the lower court's judgment to nonsuit, but by then NBC had re-edited the scene for the movie's repeat airing. This case represented one of several legal skirmishes resulting from the television industry's decision to accommodate what CBS president Robert Wood had earlier described as "the changing tastes and standards of society and the growing maturity" of a 1970s audience.
In a way, Born Innocent represented a trend with which American cineastes had become all too familiar—specifically, the W.I.P. subgenre of films. Exploitation of the lucrative "women in prison" premise had reached a point where advertisements for theatrical B-movies, with titles such as Caged Heat (1974), The Big Bird Cage (1972), and Women in Cages (1971), became a familiar and titillating sight on just about every newspaper's amusement pages. Of course, a film like Born Innocent, a work produced specifically for television, could hardly resort to the kind of explicit sadism characteristic of the usual drive-in movie fodder. But NBC's film was sensational enough for CBS to program a copycat version that was aired on the Friday Night Movie just 6 months later. This new TV-film was titled Cage Without a Key and, again, it was set in a prison for young women. The heroine (this time, played by Susan Dey) is unwittingly involved in a crime planned and carried out by others. Convicted and sentenced, she is incarcerated in a venue where the inmates' favorite pastime is gang activity. Although St. Petersburg TV critic Charles Benbow argued that this new TV-film "differs significantly" from Born Innocent, author Elana Levine observed that "Cage features a post-shower, same-sex sexual assault scene that leaves its victim shaken and distraught, and in that respect it clearly follows Born Innocent's formula." And author Stephen Tropiano noted the attempt by both films to marginalize lesbians as predatory sex offenders.
As for the rest of its 1974-75 roster, the CBS Thursday (and Friday) Night Movies started well enough with Robert Altman's original film version of M*A*S*H (1970), along with an amiable trio of satirical westerns. But aside from that, there was little the network could offer its viewers. Hollywood product that could be suitably packaged for TV audiences was becoming a rare commodity. And as a result, this would be the final full season for CBS's Thursday night movies.
Since 1970, it had become customary for CBS to sprinkle its summer movie-rerun schedule with occasional first-time showings. Thus, in addition to the eight premieres in early June (as listed above), there was also the July 18 TV debut of The Wicked Dreams of Paula Schultz (1968), starring Elke Sommer as an East German athlete who fantasizes pole-vaulting over the Berlin Wall to the other side. If this movie seemed like an extended TV comedy, it may have been due to the presence of several actors from the defunct Hogan's Heroes television series, including Ms. Sommers's co-star Bob Crane, along with the show's other regulars, Werner Klemperer, John Banner, and Leon Askin.
Fall 1975: The end
During the summer of 1975, all three networks decided to cut one movie night per week from their fall prime-time schedules. For CBS, it was a choice of keeping either a Thursday-night or a Friday-night anthology. The network chose to retain Thursday. As CBS program director Fred Silverman explained, "There aren't that many good pictures to begin with...We'd rather take those 2 hours [on Friday nights] and do original television programming. Because finally that's what television is all about: Creating new material for the viewer at home." Apparently, Mr. Silverman's idea of "creating new material" was the programming of more episodes for two old crime serials, Hawaii Five-O and Barnaby Jones—because beginning in September, that was what Friday night viewers were offered. But in cutting back the airing of theatrical films to its original movie-night, CBS may have provided some consolation for film buffs. There were fewer reruns of old product and less pre-emptions for news and variety specials. In that respect, the Fall 1975 season of The Thursday Night Movie would resemble the format of its maiden Fall 1965 schedule—one where viewers could feel reasonably confident that Thursday's 9:00-11:00 pm (ET) time slot would be reserved only for movies.
To be sure, there were still occasional made-for-TV premieres, such as the sports biography Babe (1975), starring Susan Clark as the multi-talented athlete Babe Didrikson. In fact, this production was nearly doomed before it began. Earlier, when Babe's co-producer Stanley Rubin tried repeatedly to convince Didrikson's widower/husband George Zaharias to sell him the exclusive rights to her story, he flatly refused. As Rubin later recalled, "He said he had several opportunities to sell Babe's story. Once, he had gotten badly burned in some deal. So he was understandably leery of the whole thing." One Saturday, however, Zaharias relented and phoned Rubin, granting him permission for the story, but only if he hand-delivered a cashier's check by that very afternoon. Since few banks were open for business on weekends, Rubin was barely able to make it to Zaharias's residence in time with the necessary check to close the deal. As it turned out, Babe's reviews were quite good. Syndicated columnist Joan Hanauer, for example, praised writer Joanna Lee's scenario. She stated that even if Babe's story "loses in suspense because the end is preordained, [it] gains in poignancy because Babe was a real woman...whose beautifully functioning body was no more able to conquer cancer than those of her weaker sisters." It was positive critical reaction such as this that made Rubin's persistence pay off.
There was also the world premiere of the TV-movie Fear on Trial, which has been described by film critic James Monaco as "CBS's mea culpa about how it contributed to the anticommunist blacklisting" of media personalities during the 1950s. But as author Robert Sherill pointed out, "No matter how much pain they inflicted on individuals, corporations could always find a way to profit from their Cold War perfidy." Sherill further argued that CBS's new film did exactly that—by taking the real-life case of persecuted radio entertainer John Henry Faulk (played by William Devane) and dramatizing his battle in court, where he is ably represented by high-powered lawyer Louis Nizer (George C. Scott). Although the film carries an upbeat message, the reality of the trial's aftermath was far different. Faulk's cash judgment of $3.5 million was later reduced considerably on appeal. After paying his attorney, Faulk wound up with only $75,000, most of which was spent on alimony payments. Later, as if to atone for its past mistreatment, CBS offered Faulk a job as a regular on Hee Haw.
- 1975-09-11: Cahill: U.S. Marshal (1973)
- 1975-09-18: Red Sun (1972)
- 1975-09-25: Conrack (1974)
- 1975-10-02: Fear on Trial (1975) (Made-for TV premiere)
- 1975-10-09: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)
- 1975-10-16: They Only Kill Their Masters (1972) (Rerun from '74-75)
- 1975-10-23: Babe (1975) (Made-for-TV premiere)
- 1975-10-30: The French Connection (1971)
- 1975-11-06: Mr. Majestyk (1974)
- 1975-11-13: Pre-empted for CBS Special Presentation
- 1975-11-20: Hannie Caulder (1972)
And that was it. At mid-season, CBS made a change. Friday, it was decided, would become the lone designated prime-time movie night for the network, beginning December 5. Thus, after over ten consecutive seasons on the air, The CBS Thursday Night Movie would come to an end. Perhaps it was just as well because at the same time, VHS and Betamax videocassette recorders were just being introduced into the American marketplace, enabling consumers to either rent or purchase copies of movies for in-home viewing, uncensored and without commercial interruptions. The so-called "video revolution" had begun. Moreover, there were the recent start-ups of pay-TV networks such as Home Box Office and The Movie Channel, both showcasing uncut versions of recent movies on cable systems across the country. Such attractive innovations in programming were sounding a death knell for network prime-time film anthologies; they had become essentially obsolete and were on a slow path to extinction. Therefore, in a historical context, the cancellation of the CBS Thursday Night Movie was more than just another programming strategy. It was a move that signaled the end of one television era and the beginning of the next.
Notes and references
- Edgerton, Gary T. The Columbia History of American Television. New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2007. p. 250.
- Segrave, Kerry. Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1999. p. 75.
- Cited in Oulihan, Richard and William Lambert. "The Tyrant's Fall That Rocked the TV World". Life (magazine). Vol. 59, No. 11. (Sept. 10, 1965): p. 94.
- Cited in Oulihan, Richard and William Lambert. "The Tyrant's Fall That Rocked the TV World," etc.
- Adams, Val. "CBS May Offer 2 'Movie Nights': $8 Million Deal Suggests Plan for 2d Series in '66." New York Times. (August 27, 1965): p. 59.
- "A.B.C. and M-G-M Close 21-Film Deal." New York Times. (August 23, 1965): p. 51.
- Erickson, Hal. "Movies on Network TV: 1961 Onward (Part 3)." Radio Discussions.. See also Trivia for The Notorious Landlady at the Internet Movie Database.
- Erickson, Hal. "Movies on Network TV," etc.
- Adams, Val. "10 Minutes Will Be Added to Feature Film for TV." New York Times. (December 28, 1965): p. 55.
- "Clues Studied in Girl's Slaying." Corpus Christi Times. (September 19, 1966): p. 2. To this day, the identity of Valerie Percy's murderer remains unsolved.
- "'Psycho' Date Up in Air." Corpus Christi Caller Times. (October 9, 1966): p. 15F.
- Adams, Val. "CBS Drops 'Psycho' from Film List." (New York Times News Service) Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (December 18, 1966): p. 22G.
- Kleiner, Dick. "New Specter Rising in TV-Movie Marriage." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (March 26, 1967): p. 11F.
- Rich, John. Warm Up the Snake: A Hollywood Memoir. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2006. p. 98.
- Before CBS aired this film, censors deleted several comedy sequences that poked fun at the Hertz car-rental TV commercials, which ran on TV throughout the early 1960s. See Segrave, Kerry. Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland & Co., Inc., 1999. p. 94.
- Before CBS premiered the film, network censors softened all mention of the homosexual theme to such an extent that the film's director, Otto Preminger, found it necessary to lodge a complaint, hoping to cancel the film's showing. See Segrave, Kerry. Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. Jefferson, N. C.: McFarland & Co., Inc., 1999. p. 89.
- On Dec. 8, 1966, the Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted by a CBS Playhouse special presentation of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie, featuring Shirley Booth and Hal Holbrook.
- When The Victors premiered earlier in the season, 70 minutes had been chopped from its 3-hour running time. This repeat broadcast restored many of those cuts. (See Segrave, Kerry. Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television, p. 94, source listed above.)
- "Thursday Highlights." (View TV Magazine Supplement) Gettysburg Times. (June 1, 1968): p. 4.
- "Movies on TV: Friday." (View TV Magazine Supplement.) Gettysburg Times. (July 13, 1968): p. 5.
- "Regular TV Schedule is Suspended." Corpus Christi Times. (June 6, 1968): p. 6D.
- Gould, Jack. "TV Chipping Away at Well-Entrenched Taboos." New York Times. (October 2, 1967): p. 95.
- Gould, Jack. "Television: The Movie Revolution." New York Times. (October 8, 1967): p. D27
- Gent, George. "Everyone Wants to Stay Home—And Watch Steve McQueen." New York Times. (October 8, 1967): p. D27.
- Lowry, Cynthia. "After the Better Films, TV May Test Out Turkeys." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (October 13, 1967): p. 4B.
- This was not a television premiere. NBC's Wednesday Night at the Movies had already aired Torpedo Run during the 1964-65 season. See advertisement in Gettysburg Times. (October 14, 1964): p. 14.
- "Drama Puts Spotlight on Halls of Congress." Corpus Christi Times. (September 12, 1968): p. 6B.
- Weiler, A. H. "Screen: Promoting Those Scenic Castles in Spain:'The Pleasure Seekers' and Other Films Bow 'Sex and Single Girl' Tenor's Biography." New York Times. (December 26, 1964).
- Whitman, as cited in Sullivan, Rebecca. Natalie Wood. London, UK: Palgrave, 2016. p. 90.
- McBride, Joseph and Michael Wilmington. John Ford. New York: Da Capo, 1975. p.99. With regard to the film, the authors quote Ford directly: "I've long wanted to do a story that tells the truth about [the Indians] and not just a picture in which they're chased by the Cavalry." McBride and Wilmington then proceed to point out the irony that Cheyenne Autumn was indeed just another western about the Cavalry chasing Indians, suggesting that the director failed his intended purpose.
- "'Youngblood Hawke' Opens at 2 Theaters." New York Times. (November 6, 1964)
- Moss, Marilyn Ann. Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood's Legendary Director. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 2011.
- Thompson, Howard. "Movie Review: Antarctic Comedy." New York Times (April 1, 1965)
- Harty, Kevin J. The Reel Middle Ages: American, Western, and Eastern European and Middle European and Asian Films About Medieval Europe. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2006. p. 177.
- Gould, Jack. "Too Many Flicks Spoil the Ratings." New York Times. (December 29, 1968): p. D21.
- Cited in Buck, Jerry. "Movies Lose Footing in Rating Race". St. Petersburg Times. (October 26, 1968): p. 7-B.
- Du Brow, Rick. "TV in Review." The Daily Banner. (Dec. 20, 1968): p. 7.
- First time on CBS; however, Westward the Women had been previously shown on NBC during the 1965-66 season. See "View TV Magazine." Gettysburg Times. (January 8, 1966): p. 2.
- First time on CBS, but this Doris Day family comedy actually had its TV premiere on NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies in 1965. See "View" supplement. Gettysburg Times. (November 20, 1965): p. 4.
- This was the two-hour pilot episode for the CBS-TV series Medical Center, which debuted the following season.
- The Friday Night Movie was pre-empted for the premiere of the two-hour pilot episode of Hawaii Five-O, starring Jack Lord.
- Previously shown on NBC during an earlier season: See "Area Coverage of Television." Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (October 23, 1965): p. 9.
- The scheduled premiere of the TV-movie The Challengers was pre-empted for a network news special on the death of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower.
- Previously run by NBC during the 1964-65 season. See "View TV Magazine." Gettysburg Times. (October 10, 1964): p. 2.
- Ray, Robert B. How a Film Theory Got Lost and Other Mysteries in Cultural Studies. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001. p. 151.
- Gould, Jack. "In the Fall, Movies May be All." The New York Times. (Feb. 28, 1968): p. D21.
- Lowry, Cynthia. '"Reviewer Predicts Future: Says It's Easy Because TV Seldom Changes." Corpus Christi Times. (January 7, 1969): p. 3B.
- ""Advantage of an Early Start." Broadcasting (Magazine). (October 6, 1969): p. 42.
- "ABC Blasts to Top In Incredible Week." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (October 18, 1969): p. 13A.
- "CBS Tops Nielsens." Broadcasting (Magazine). (November 3, 1969): p. 9.
- Thomas, Bob. "Stars Lose Their Allure." Corpus Christi Times. (November 17, 1969): p. 4C.
- First time on CBS. However, Hatari's TV premiere had occurred 2 years earlier on ABC's Sunday Night Movie. See "TV Listings", Gettysburg Times, (January 13, 1968): p. 2.
- First time on CBS. But Hud's TV debut was in the Fall of 1967 on the ABC network. See "TV Watchwords." Amarillo Sunday News-Globe. (October 29, 1967): p. 14-B.
- First time on CBS. But A New Kind of Love was first shown by ABC on September 27, 1967 on its Wednesday Night Movie broadcast. See "View." Gettysburg Times. (September 23, 1967): p. 4
- Originally, the unsuccessful one-hour TV pilot project Crisis (1968) was scheduled. The other hour was anticipated by the CBS network to feature the Apollo 13 astronauts walking and exploring the moon's surface. The mission, however, was aborted in mid-flight earlier that week, so the 60-minute pilot was replaced by the 2-hour Where Angels Go, Trouble Follows.
- CBS Friday Night Movie was pre-empted for two one-hour variety specials featuring, in order, Don Knotts and Dinah Shore.
- Buck, Jerry. "Some Original Shows Slated This Summer." Corpus Christi Times. (April 22, 1970): p. 6C.
- Ferreti, Fred. "CBS Shuffles Its Fall Lineup." The New York Times. (July 22, 1970): p. 83.
- Canby, Vincent. "TV's Movie Butchery." (New York Times News Service) Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (November 8, 1970): p. H-17.
- Trivia for Three Into Two Won't Go at the Internet Movie Database.
- "NBC Makes Midseason Changes." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (December 6, 1970): p. K-10.
- Losey, Joseph and Michel Ciment. Conversations with Losey. London, UK: Methuen, 1985. p. 296. Also see Trivia for Night of the Following Day on the Internet Movie Database
- Bart, Peter. "TV Moviemaking Begins in Earnest." New York Times. (March 10, 1966): p. 26.
- See trivia for Tribes (1970) at the Internet Movie Database.
- McKenna, Michael. The ABC Movie of the Week: Big Movies for the Small Screen. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press, 2013. p. 50.
- Buckland, Warren. Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. New York: Continuum, 2006. p. 72.
- Lowry, Cynthia. "Season of Change." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (August 15, 1971): p. H-10.
- Adams, Val. "CBS Won't Show 'The Plainsman'." New York Times. (Jan. 19, 1966): p. 83.
- Adams, Val. "CBS Won't Show 'The Plainsman'", etc.
- Cited in Bart, Peter, "TV Moviemaking Begins in Earnest," etc.
- Cited in Lowry, Cynthia. "The Ford Festival." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (October 25, 1970): p. D-11.
- Deal, David. Television Fright Films of the 1970s. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., Inc., 1986. p. 15
- Ford, Peter. Glenn Ford: A Life. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011. p. 253.
- Though this was the movie's first time on CBS, A Place in the Sun had been previously run on NBC the evening of March 12, 1966. See Merck, Mandy. Hollywood's American Tragedies: Dreiser, Eisenstein, Sternberg, Stevens. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2007. p. 147.
- First time on CBS. Bridge on the River Kwai, however, originally premiered on ABC the evening of September 25, 1966. See "View Magazine" supplement. Gettysburg Times. (Sept. 24, 1966): p. 2.
- This was the 2-hour pilot episode for the successful CBS series, Cannon, starring William Conrad.
- This was the 2-hour pilot episode for the short-lived series O'Hara, U.S. Treasury, starring David Janssen
- This was the 2-hour pilot episode for the ill-fated 1971 CBS western series, Bearcats!, starring Rod Taylor and Dennis Cole.
- Kliener, Dick. "Borrowing from the Past." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (June 20, 1971): p. H-13.
- Cited in Kliener, Dick. "Borrowing from the Past", etc.
- Cited in Buck, Jerry. "Grab the Audience and Run." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (August 8, 1971): p. H-10.
- Buck, Jerry. "CBS Changes Schedule Drastically." Corpus Christi Times. (March 17. 1971): p. 12B.
- Lowry, Cynthia. "Story Warm and Moving." Corpus Christi Times. (Dec. 20, 1971): p. 9D.
- The Dirty Dozen was shown over two nights -- Part One, a 2-hour broadcast on Thursday; Part Two, a 90-minute airing on Friday, pre-empting the New CBS Friday Night Movie.
- The Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted by two editions of CBS Reports: One segment on Pablo Picasso at 90 years old, the other on the burgeoning Chicano political movement.
- For the second time this season, CBS pre-empted the Thursday Night Movie with news specials. This time, there was a 60-minute documentary on "The World of Crime'", followed by a CBS Reports broadcast on difficulties in obtaining "The American Dream".
- In place of the Thursday Night Movie, CBS ran a "Correspondents' Report," a one-hour panel discussion by CBS journalists. This was followed by a 60-minute documentary on the use of surveillance devices by the Philadelphia Police Department.
- For the second week in a row, CBS ran information programming instead of a movie. This time, it was the second-part of a "Correspondent's Report" panel discussion, followed by "To the Top of Everest." a documentary hosted by Charles Kuralt.
- This news special offered an interview with former president Lyndon B. Johnson, followed by "A Night in Jail, A Day in Court," a documentary on the American justice system.
- A one-hour special on President Nixon's historic trip to China, followed by a 60-minute documentary on school busing.
- A rerun of Arrivederci, Baby! (1968) was pre-empted for Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, featuring the Boston Bruins and the New York Rangers
- The special was titled "Clowning Around," hosted by Ed Sullivan and featuring Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cosby.
- "Television Today." San Antonio Express. (Feb. 28, 1972): p. 6-D.
- Levine, Elana. Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007. p. 52.
- Mark, Norman. "Feeling Superior to 'The Green Slime.'" (Chicago Daily News Service) Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (May 7, 1972): p. 6-D.
- Segrave, Kerry. Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 1999. p. 87.
- Mark, Norman. "Feeling Superior to 'The Green Slime.'", etc.
- Gould, Jack. "NBC Drops to Third in Ratings." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (October 17, 1971): p. H-4.
- Richter, Richard. "Commentary." The Future of News: Television, Newspaper, Wire Services, Newsmagazines. Eds. Philip C. Cook, Douglas Gomery, and Lawrence H. Lichty. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Press Center, 1992. p. 38.
- Cited in Sharbutt, Jay. "Senator Keeps Eye on TV 'permissiveness.'" Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (December 3, 1972): p. F20.
- Stanich, Dorothy. "Around the Dial." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (November 26, 1972): p. 3F.
- See the film's transcript of dialogue. Despite the massive affiliate boycott of the movie, its broadcast finished at #18 in the Nielsen ratings for the week it was shown. See "Patton, NBC in Nielsens." Broadcasting (Magazine). (December 4, 1972): p. 44.
- Royko, Mike. "To Cuss or Not to Cuss." (Chicago Daily News Service). Corpus Christi Times. (November 22, 1972): p. 2B.
- Stanich, Dorothy, "Around the Dial", etc.
- Thompson, Howard. "TV: Film of Albee's 'Virginia Woolf' Is Adult Earful." New York Times. (February 24, 1973): p. 59.
- DuBrow, Rick. "Movie Goers Differ from TV Watchers." Boca Raton News. (March 9, 1973): p. 10.
- Mark, Norman. "A 'Vintage Year' for Television?" Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (December 3, 1972).
- O'Connor, John J. "Drama is Hurt by Mother's Role." (New York Times News Service). Corpus Christi Times. (December 7, 1972): p. 15C.
- DuBrow, Rick. "'Honor Thy Father' on Tonight." Boca Raton News. (March 1, 1973): p. 7B.
- First time on CBS. But "How to Murder Your Wife" originally ran on NBC Monday Night at the Movies, September 30, 1968. See "Monday." Gettysburg Times. (September 28, 1968): p. 5.
- The network substituted an entry from its CBS Children's Film Festival series, the Peabody Award-winning J.T. (1969), followed by a CBS Reports segment on The Elusive Peace, about the ongoing Vietnam War.
- First time on CBS. However, Vertigo's TV premiere occurred November 13, 1965 on NBC. See "Area Coverage of Television." Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Nov. 13, 1965): p. 9.
- First time on CBS, but this Burt Lancaster epic actually had its television premiere on NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies, October 19, 1968. See "View: TV Magazine." Gettysburg Times. (October 19, 1968): p. 2
- CBS commentator Eric Sevareid "interviews" Peter Ustinov, acting the role of King George III in "The Last King of America". This was followed by a CBS Reports segment on "What Are We Doing to Our Children?"
- This made-for-TV film was the genesis for the hit detective series Kojak, starring Telly Savalas.
- The Broadway hit, Applause, starring Lauren Bacall in the TV adaptation of the musical remake of the film All About Eve (1950).
- First, a special Easter entry of the TV series The Waltons, followed by a 60-minute folk-rock musical, featuring the group Up with People.
- Excerpts from interviews with ex-Presidents of the United States were edited and spliced together for the documentary "Five Presidents on the Presidency", followed by a 60-minute presentation, "You and the Commercial".
- Documentaries of two families were presented in "We're O.K. in Brick, New Jersey" and "But What If the Dream Comes True?"
- Substitute programs included a special presentation on recent skyjackings, "The Air Pirates: Can They Be Stopped?", and a Smithsonian adventure special, "99 Days to Survival".
- First time on CBS. However this Alfred Hitchcock thriller premiered on NBC the evening of November 12, 1966. See "Area Coverage of Television." Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (Nov. 12, 1966): p. 10.
- A telecast of a theatre presentation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, produced on stage by Joseph Papp.
- A special presentation of David Rabe's play, Sticks and Bones. was scheduled originally for this time slot, but was pulled due to possible "unnecessary abrasiveness", according to a network executive. See Sharbutt, Jay. "'Sticks and Bones' Film is Postponed by CBS network." Gettysburg Times. (March 9, 1973): p. 14.. The play was later re-scheduled and ran on CBS in August.
- A variety special on the history of Broadway, hosted by Ed Sullivan, followed by an hour of variety-comedy featuring Lily Tomlin
- This film of Mark Twain's classic book was produced for CBS by Hal Roach Studios and should not be confused with the Reader's Digest-financed Tom Sawyer musical version that was released for theatrical exhibition in the summer of 1973.
- Repeat showing of a New CBS Tuesday Night Movie entry, this made-for-TV film first ran on January 9, 1973.
- The network's first ever double-feature of two theatrical films shown back to back.
- TV Schedule. Boca Raton News. (October 29, 1972): p. 11A
- DuBrow, Rick. "TV Networks Fail to Keep Promises". Boca Raton News. (April 12, 1973): p. 7B.
- "CBS Executive Defends Programming." (New York Times News Service). Corpus Christi Caller. (October 17, 1973): p. 7C.
- Cited in O'Connor, John J. "TV: New 'Permissiveness' in Prime-Time Fare." New York Times. (October 25, 1973): p. 95.
- O'Connor, John J. "TV: New 'Permissiveness'", etc.
- Power, Ron. "Some New Words for TV Violence". (Chicago Sun-Times News Service). Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (November 11, 1973): p. H-4.
- Cited in "'Remember When' Director Swears Off TV Violence." Corpus Christi Caller. (March 21, 1974): p. 13F.
- Television and Social Behavior: Beyond Violence and Children. Eds. Stephen B. Withey and Ronald P. Abeles. Hillside, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 1980/2013.
- "Fla. Gang Burns White Husband of Black Woman." Wilmington Morning News. (November 13, 1973): p. 4.
- "Six Youths Burn Woman to Death in Boston Attack." New York Times. (October 4, 1973): p. 93
- Spak, Michael I. "Predictable Harm: Should the Media Be Liable?" Ohio State Law Journal. Vol. 42, Issue 3 (1981): p. 676.
- "Gang Douses Man With Fluid, Sets Him Afire." Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (November 13, 1973): p. 9-A.
- "Blacks Burn White Man Who Wed Black Woman." Corpus Christi Times. (November 12, 1973): p. 6C. The movie Fuzz was broadcast by The ABC Sunday Night Movie on September 30, 1973. See "TV Week: Sunday Evening." Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (September 30, 1973): p. 4.
- Kael, Pauline. "Onward and Upward Into the Arts: 'Bonnie and Clyde.'" New Yorker. (October 21, 1967): p. 147.
- Canby, Vincent. ""Violence and Beauty Mesh in 'Wild Bunch'. New York Times. (June 26, 1969).
- Novak, Tom. "Mailbag: Why Pretend It Was 'The Wild Bunch'." New York Times. (October 28, 1973): Section II, P. 21.
- Nocente, Martin. "Mailbag: Why Pretend It Was 'The Wild Bunch'." New York Times, etc.
- "New TV Shows Absent from Top 20 Ratings." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (September 23, 1973): p. H-10.
- "'Ape' Movie Tops Ratings." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (November 11, 1973): p. H-10.
- Sharbutt, Jay. "'Jane Pittman' Is Fine Show Of Black Life." Gettysburg Times. (January 31, 1974): p. 18.
- Kael, Pauline. "Cicely Tyson Goes to the Fountain." New Yorker. (January 28, 1974): p. 73.
- The Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted for (1) "The Great One", a one-hour musical-comedy revue starring Jackie Gleason; and (2) A CBS Reports 60-minute documentary, "A Boy Named Terry Egan", a case-study of infantile autism. (See Part 1 of the documentary here.)
- The Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted for (1) the last hour of a two-hour special Thanksgiving episode of The Waltons and (2) a country-and-western variety show, "The Orange Blossom Special."
- First time on CBS, but Duel at Diablo had originally had its TV premiere September 29, 1969 on NBC's Monday Night at the Movies. See "Television Listings." Daytona Beach Morning Journal. (September 29, 1969): p. 19.
- Substitute programming: (1) A Playhouse 90 presentation of Brian Moore's Catholics; (2) A CBS Reports 30-minute presentation, "Making It Through This Winter."
- The Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted for a taped holiday presentation, The House Without a Christmas Tree, followed by a CBS Reports documentary, "The Corporation", about the workings and political influence of Philips Petroleum.
- First time on CBS. However, this classic western was first shown on television September 18, 1965 on NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies. See "View" supplement. Gettysburg Times. (September 18, 1965): p. 2.
- Substitute programs: (1) "One More Time," a musical-comedy revue featuring Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey; (2) A 60-minute CBS News Special focusing on President Nixon and the Watergate scandal.
- This 90-minute TV-movie originally debuted as a New CBS Tuesday Night Movie on February 13, 1973.
- Rather than an actual movie, the title refers instead to a program consisting of four unsold pilot projects, each a 30-minute domestic comedy: Ma and Pa, starring Bruce Davison; We'll Get By, which would become a Spring 1975 replacement series featuring Paul Sorvino; Another April, with Barnard Hughes; and Moe and Joe, starring Louise Lasser.
- A rerun of a TV-movie, first shown on The New CBS Tuesday Night Movie on January 30, 1973.
- This was a 90-minute made-for-TV comedy-drama that duplicated the plot situation from the 1971 James Garner/Lou Gossett satire Skin Game. It was followed by Slither (1974), a 30-minute unsold pilot project, based on the 1973 James Caan/Sally Kellerman movie comedy.
- Four half-hour unsold pilot projects, all situation comedies: (1) The Fess Parker Show; (2) Dominic's Dream; (3) Pete 'n' Tillie; and (4) Change at 125th Street
- Later re-titled Crosscurrent, this TV movie debuted on The New CBS Friday Night Movie, November 19, 1971.
- An NBA playoff game was televised, featuring the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics.
- Terror on the Beach was a 90-minute TV-movie that had premiered the previous September on the New CBS Tuesday Night Movie. Its rerun here was followed by a 30-minute pilot project Mr. and Mrs. Cop, starring Anthony Costello and Marianne McAndrew.
- The Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted for four half-hour situation comedies about bachelors: (1) Friends and Lovers, which starred Paul Sand and was later made into a series beginning Fall 1974; (2) Jerry with Robert Walden (3) The Boys featuring Tim Conway and Herb Edelman; and (4) Sonny Boy, with Allen Garfield.
- Substitute programming consisted of (1) "The Shape of Things", an entertainment special made by and for women and (2) a CBS Reports documentary, "The Israelis."
- The Friday Night Movie was pre-empted for a musical variety program, Barbara Streisand and Other Musical Instruments, followed by a Lily Tomlin comedy special simply titled Lily.
- A two-hour CBS Reports documentary on past and current members of the American family dynasty, "The Rockefellers".
- This film was drastically cut from its original 3-hour-plus running time to fill a 150-minute broadcast including commercials. See the IMDB website for alternate versions of Hawaii
- A 60-minute documentary about the city of "New York, New York", followed by Democratic senate majority leader Mike Mansfield's response to President Nixon's 1974 State of the Union address.
- The premiere of It's Good to Be Alive, a TV-film adaptation of major-league baseball catcher Roy Campanella's autobiography.
- Originally, the film The Sweet Ride (1968) was slated to appear on this date, but its broadcast was postponed until a later date.
- Programs consisted of (1) Really Raquel, a one-hour variety special starring Raquel Welch, and (2) a CBS Reports special on the city of Shanghai and the role it played in China's cultural revolution.
- The 90-minute pilot project for the short-lived CBS-TV series Sons and Daughters. This broadcast was followed by a half-hour projected pilot episode for a series that failed to acquire a sponsor. It was titled If I Love You, Am I Trapped Forever?
- Not to be confused with the George Hamilton 1971 biopic, Evel Knievel, this 90-minute version featured actor Sam Elliott as the notorious daredevil/showman who becomes involved in a battle-of-the-sexes competition with a female stunt-rider. This film was followed by a 30-minute TV pilot, Aces Up.
- This 90-minute film was followed by a half-hour TV pilot for a projected series, The Michelle Lee Show.
- When CBS first broadcast the film in 1971, it took up a 5-hour time-slot. This repeat version, however, ran for 3-1/2 hours (8:00-11:30 pm, Eastern Time), suggesting there was extensive cutting before its airing.
- Four Portraits in Black, a documentary depicting the lives and struggles of four African-American families. Live commentary was provided by panelists Rev. Jesse Jackson and U.S. Representative Andrew Young (D-Georgia).
- The CBS Friday Night Movie was pre-empted for the NBA Finals, featuring the Boston Celtics at the Milwaukee Bucks.
- The movie was pre-empted for another game in the NBA Final championship series with the Milwaukee Bucks playing the Celtics in Boston Garden.
- Rerun of a 90-minute TV-movie that premiered the previous September on the New CBS Tuesday Night Movie. It was followed by a half-hour pilot project Young Love with Meredith Baxter and Michael Burns.
- Christians, Clifford G., Mary Fackler, Kathy Brittain Richardson, Peggy J. Kreshel, and Robert H. Woods, Jr. Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. (9th ed.) London: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2016. p. 285.
- Cowan, Geoffrey. See No Evil: The Backstage Battle Over Sex and Violence in Television. New York: Touchstone/Simon $ Schuster, 1978. p. 287.
- Doerkin, Maureen. Classroom Combat: Teaching and Television. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Educational Technology Publications, 1983. p. 69.
- Sadler, Roger L. Electronic Media Law. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2005. p. 222.
- 126 Cal.App.3d 488 (Cal. Ct.App. 1981),cert. denied, 458 U.S. 1108(1982)
- Brown, Les. "NBC Plans Replay of 'Born Innocent'. New York Times. (September 27, 1975): p. 61.
- Cited in "CBS Executive Defends Programming", etc.
- Schubart, Rikke. Super Bitches and Action Babes: The Female Hero in Popular Cinema, 1970-2006. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2007. pp. 43-49.
- Benbow, Charles. "Drama Exposes Breakdowns in Reform School." St. Petersburg Times. (March 14, 1975): p. 12-D.
- Levine, Elana. Wallowing in Sex: The New Sexual Culture of 1970s American Television. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2007. p. 94.
- Tropiano, Stephen. The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV. New York: Applause Theatre & Cinema, 2002. p. 159.
- Pre-empted by the last hour of a 2-hour season premiere of The Waltons and a one-hour Perry Como variety special.
- Pre-empted by the first episode of The Lives of Benjamin Franklin (1974), entitled The Ambassador, with Eddie Albert and Alexis Smith.
- Pre-empted by the last hour of a special Thanksgiving episode repeat of The Waltons; and a Shirley MacLaine special, "If They Could See Me Now".
- Pre-empted for an American Parade historical special on the life of General George C. Marshall, simply titled The General.
- Pre-empted by another installment of The Lives of Benjamin Franklin series, "The Rebel", starring Richard Widmark.
- Pre-empted by the premiere of the two-hour film special Queen of the Stardust Ballroom, starring Maureen Stapleton and Charles Durning.
- Pre-empted by the G.E. Theater production of In This House of Brede, starring Diana Rigg.
- Pre-empted by a 90-minute film of George Furth's Broadway play, Twigs. The cast included Carol Burnett, Ed Asner, and Gary Burghoff. It was followed by a 30-minute pilot project Love Nest, featuring Dee Carroll and Dana Elcar.
- The CBS Thursday Night Movie was pre-empted for the last hour of a 2-hour Waltons special and the 60-minute CBS news special "A Tale of Two Irelands".
- CBS substituted a 1-hour Perry Como variety special and a Smithsonian Institution historical documentary on the "Legendary Curse of the Hope Diamond."
- Followed by the rerun of the 1974 30-minute pilot project Mr. and Mrs. Cop
- Originally, the film Generation (1969) had been scheduled for this date. However, it was pre-empted for a speech by President Gerald Ford to a joint session of Congress. Thus the broadcast of Generation was postponed until May.
- Rerun of a 90-minute TV-movie that aired originally on CBS in April 1974. On this night, it was followed by Stat!, a 30-minute failed pilot project with Frank Converse.
- Rerun of a CBS TV-movie that was originally broadcast January 8, 1974.
- Pre-empted for a repeat of the 1972 holiday special, The House Without a Christmas Tree.
- Pre-empted by the last hour of the two-hour presentation, Stowaway to the Moon, and a CBS Reports broadcast, "Prescription: Take With Caution."
- Telecast as one 3-hour presentation, 8:00-11:00 pm (Eastern Time)
- Pre-empted by the Smithsonian special, Flight: The Sky's the Limit, followed by a CBS Reports broadcast, "The Best Congress Money Can Buy."
- (1) A 30-minute pilot project, The Supercops, based on the 1974 theatrical feature, The Super Cops, with Ron Leibman and David Selby; (2) the 90-minute pilot episode for the Eddie Albert/Robert Wagner detective series, Switch.
- (1) The pilot episode for the 1975-77 CBS series Kate McShane, starring Anne Meara; (2) A rerun of a half-hour animated special, The 2000 Year Old Man, with voices provided by Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks.
- CBS Friday Night Movie was pre-empted for broadcast of an NBA playoff game between the Washington Bullets and the Buffalo Braves.
- The Blue Knight was a 90-minute pilot episode for the TV series The Blue Knight, starring George Kennedy.
- CBS Friday Night Movie was pre-empted by an NBA Finals telecast of the Washington Bullets at the Golden State Warriors.
- Cited in Marguiles, Lee. "Bad News Due for TV Film Addicts." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (June 1, 1975): p. E-8.
- Cited in Kleiner, Dick. "Story of Babe Didrikson Made into TV-Movie." Corpus Christi Caller-Times. (June 29, 1975): p. F-7.
- Hanauer, Joan. "Babe's Life Makes Poignant Drama." Boca Raton News. (October 23, 1975): p. 9A.
- Monaco, James. Celebrity: The Media as Image Makers. New York: Dell, 1978. p. 59
- Sherill, Robert. First Amendment Felon: The Story of Frank Wilkinson, His 132,000-Page FBI File, and His Epic Fight for Civil Rights and Liberties. New York: Nation Books, 2005. p. 23.
- Sherill, Robert, etc.
- Premiere of the two-hour drama special Foster and Laurie (1975), based on a real-life incident resulting in the brutal murder of two New York policemen. Starring Perry King and Dorian Harewood.
- Brown, Les. "CBS Is Switching Some Shows". The New York Times. (November 5, 1975): p. 87.