NEW YORK — Turner Classic Movies has negotiated the copyright to six RKO Radio movies for the 1930s featuring such stars as William Powell, Ginger Rogers, Joel McCrea, Irene Dunne and Lionel Barrymore, which haven’t shown up on TV in more than 40 years.
The six movies were never included in the buyout of the RKO theatrical-movie library by Ted Turner in 1986 because the producer Merian C. Cooper had received them in 1946 as part of a settlement with RKO, which owed Cooper money on contracts from 1933-34.
Charlie Tabesh, senior VP of programming for TCM, and his expert on the movie library, Dennis Millay, took on the role of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in tracking down the copyrights, which Cooper had sold to Ernest Scanlon, a one-time controller for Selznick Intl. Pictures.
The pictures are: “Double Harness” (1933), with William Powell and Ann Harding, directed by John Cromwell; “Rafter Romance” (1933), with Ginger Rogers, directed by William A. Seiter; “One Man’s Journey” (1933), with Lionel Barrymore and Joel McCrea, directed by John S. Robertson; “Stingaree” (1934), with Irene Dunne and Richard Dix, directed by William Wellman; “Living on Love” (1937), with James Dunn, directed by Lew Landers; and “A Man to Remember” (1938), with Anne Shirley, directed by Garson Kanin.
TCM, in association with the Library of Congress and the BYU film archive, has commissioned a company called Film Technology to strike new 35mm prints of all six pictures. The supervisor is Richard P. May, former VP of preservation for Turner Entertainment Co. and Warner Bros.
With great fanfare, TCM will play the movies next year.