Thursday, March 15, 2012

Saturtainment: The CBS Children's Film Festival (1967)

The CBS Children's Film Festival first hit the air in 1967, airing as a series of summer specials for kids that aired on weekend or weekday afternoons. Four years later, CBS decided to move the show into a permanent slot at the bottom of their Saturday morning lineup and scale back on the repeats of older shows.

Puppeteer Burr Tillstrom revived his puppets, Kukla & Ollie, along with human sidekick Fran Allison, to serve as the show's hosts. Kukla, Fran, & Ollie had previously headlined their own series some years earlier, but the comeback for this trio lasted just a few years before the network decided to tinker with the formula and dismissed Tillstrom & Allison in favor of a shorter format and a new title, The CBS Saturday Film Festival. The series was subsequently cancelled in favor of a newsmagazine, 30 Minutes, anchored by In The News narrator Christopher Glenn, but was brought back for a 2 year run before ending for good in 1984. By then, however, the film festival was blacked out in most areas as network affiliates opted to fill the hours from noon (ET) onward with syndicated programming that would help increase local ad revenues.

The purpose of the film festival was to showcase short features from around the world that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day in this country. Today, some of those films, were they to be given another airing here, would probably air on either the Sundance Channel or IFC or some other arts-centric channel.

Tapthatt12 uploaded this open & close from 1967.

Regrettably, I didn't see this too often, largely because it was blacked out in my area for the majority of its run, for one thing, and for another, when it first aired, it was usually around nap time for a little toddler like me. No rating as a result.


magicdog said...

I'm certain I saw this sometime in the 70s. In fact it was my first exposure to Kukla Fran & Ollie! My parents saw the original show back in the 50s but I'm certain I wasn't watching that version.

I also remember the theme song which must have been carried over. I also remember the concept of foreign short films for kids that aired on late Saturday mornings/early afternoons on our CBS affliliate. I remember seeing a short film from England (no dialogue) and other from Japan (which I believe was subtitled).

Back then they really did try to entertain kids by exposing them to different art forms, rather than trash!

hobbyfan said...

As my memory serves, the Film Festival was turned aside by my local CBS affiliate in favor of Soul Train, but I do remember seeing some of it, and I think the film "JT" with Kevin Hooks was under the CFF umbrella as well at least once.

magicdog said...

I do remember "JT" although I didn't see it at home. I remember seeing it in the classroom as time filler one day.

hobbyfan said...

Ditto that, but I do remember seeing it on CBS, too.