Perhaps the most fondly remembered movie showcase program in the New York metropolitan area, WOR-TV Channel 9′s “Million Dollar Movie” was a staple of the stations schedule for over three decades. Weeknights or weekends, the “Million Dollar Movie” entertained countless viewers with it’s varied mix of feature films.
Specifics elude me but it would seem that “MDM” started sometime in the early to mid 1950′s mostly as a replacement for when baseball season ended. Early on it appears as if WOR-TV used “MDM” as something of a movie theater in your living room by running the same film all week long, two times a night. At some point later on, probably because of RKO’s vast movie library, “MDM” began airing different movies each night in prime time. In addition, “MDM” could also be seen on weekends at various times. This versatile, workhorse of a movie showcase program is also fondly remembered for one of the most beautiful openings of any showcase at anytime. The theme from “Gone With The Wind” was used over film of nighttime shots of famous New York City locales. Perhaps, just perhaps, for some people, that opening is what makes them remember “MDM” more then the actual films the showcase used to air. Truth be told, while the title of “Million Dollar Movie” seemed to signify that the showcase aired nothing but “big time” Hollywood features, that was not the case. Oh sure, they aired their fair share of blockbusters, but “MDM” also wasn’t shy about showcasing lower budgeted, lesser known independent films. For example, I can remember, unless my mind is playing tricks on me, an airing of the 1965 film “Who Killed Teddy Bear?” starring Sal Mineo, Juliet Prowse and Jan Murray. All in all I think it’s fair to say that “MDM” aired quite a various array of films in it’s time. Sadly, as time wore on, “MDM” began to be phased out. With WOR’s move to Secaucus, NJ and the changing of the call letters to WWOR-TV, much of the older programming choices were going by the wayside. In 1987 “MDM” was relegated to just weekends before being phased out altogether afterwards.
In the end, “Million Dollar Movie” was a long running showcase that served channel 9 and the viewers in the NY Metro area very well over the course of it’s life. Many times, in this day and age, when people yearn for the TV of yesteryear, they will often cite “MDM” as a sample of great old programming and as an example of something they would like to see today. Please feel free to share your thoughts and please feel free to contribute specifics to this entry to make it more complete. Below is a clip of the most well remembered opening for “Million Dollar Movie”.