TCM debuts series about ‘problematic’ classic films like ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’

Hattie McDaniel was a major Hollywood star by the time she won the Oscar in 1940 for her role in the film Gone with the Wind. But many African-Americans at the time felt that she had been typecast in roles that perpetrated many difficult-to-accept racial stereotypes.
Hattie McDaniel was a major Hollywood star by the time she won the Oscar in 1940 for her role in the film Gone with the Wind. But many African-Americans at the time felt that she had been typecast in roles that perpetrated many difficult-to-accept racial stereotypes.

Dubbed ‘Reframed Classics,’ the series will air Thursdays in the month of March.

In this current environment, the way some people were portrayed in films from decades ago wouldn’t pass muster today.

But that doesn’t mean those movies should be locked away from view forever. Atlanta-based Turner Classic Movies starting this Thursday at 8 p.m. is airing a series called “Reframed Classics” where TCM experts discuss various classic movies from the 1920s through the 1960s from a modern contextual standpoint.

The network hopes the series will help people properly frame films from a different era, rather than cancel them.

The first film they will look at is “Gone With the Wind,” which caused controversy last year when it debuted on the new HBO Max streaming service. The service took it down for a week, then added opening commentary from a TCM host about the film’s viewpoint of slavery. This particular series was inspired by that maelstrom.

“We’re not saying this is how you should feel about ‘Pyscho’ or this is how you should feel about ‘Gone With the Wind,’” said Jacqueline Stewart, the network’s first African-American host, to the Associated Press. “We’re just trying to model ways of having longer and deeper conversations and not just cutting it off to ‘I love this movie. I hate this movie.’ There’s so much space in between.”

Stewart, a University of Chicago professor, will be joined by Ben Mankiewicz, Dave Karger, Alicia Malone and Eddie Muller for the conversations.

The series will explore Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of an Asian man in 1961′s Audrey Hepburn film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and the issue of gender fluidity and wearing women’s clothing in the 1960 Hitchcock thriller “Psycho.” And was Henry Higgins being misogynistic in his treatment of Eliza Doolittle in the 1964 film “My Fair Lady”?

They will also talk about the complicated issues facing Sidney Poitier representing the Black man in the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”

WHERE TO WATCH

“Reframed Classics,” 8 p.m. Thursday on TCM

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