As you have probably already heard from the triumphant fanfare around the interwebs, TCM’s beloved host Robert Osborne is returning to his hosting duties this Thursday (December 1). Bobby O (as I call him) has been on vacation these past few months to the chagrin and dismay of many a classic film fan. His short absence only served to prove how much we truly need him because though some of the hosts were superb (and others need to be quickly forgotten…) no one even came close to replicating the charm, charisma, sincerity and sheer brilliance of Robert Osborne.
I know the universal love for Bobby O is hard to understand for people who are deprived of TCM. Let me try to explain. You see, every night Robert Osborne introduces the movies starting at 8pm. The introductions are quite short, considering the impact they have on viewers – usually between 5-7 minutes. But in those short moments, Bobby O shares trivia, stories, history and tidbits about the movie about to be shown. It’s like having a window into the time the movie was made, just to hear him talk. He’ll explain what else was happening at the time the film was made, who else was considered for the parts, why the cast was picked and who was in love with who at the time. He’ll point out scenes not to be missed or bit part appearances of yet-to-be stars. And he shares all this with a genuine warmth of feeling and care not only for the films but for you as a viewer. Robert Osborne is your amazingly knowledgeable friend who loves talking about movies and dropping film facts for you to enjoy.
I owe all my initial knowledge of 1939 as a landmark film production year to him and his introductions of the TCM Spotlight on 1939 some years ago. Even now, I can never watch Gone With the Wind, The Women, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Gunga Din or Ninotchka without thinking of him and remembering his comments on the films at the time.
My other favorite Bobby O memories are those little spots TCM used to play where he read viewer questions and answered them. I assume as the channel grew, it became too difficult to continue making those, but I was smitten with them. It was a little moment where the great Robert Osborne interacted with us as viewers and took the time to discuss what interested us.
His appeal for me is his unshakable devotion to classic films. When he stands in front of the camera and introduces a movie, you know he really cares about what he is saying. He gets it that these movies are incredibly special and need to be treated with respect. Plus, it’s pretty obvious he is as fervent a classic film fan as any of us. I just adore him and am so happy he is returning to his rightful place at the head of TCM. Welcome back, Bobby!
12/1/11 Edit – This post was quoted in a Slate.com blog article here!