The Inside Scoop on TCM Classic Movie Trivia

We’re excited to have Shannon Clute, Brand Activation Manager at Turner Classic Movies, guest posting about TCM Classic Movie Trivia today. To celebrate the launch of the book, we’re giving away a copy to one lucky commenter. To enter, just let us know your favorite classic film by Friday, October 14th. Good luck!

The staff at Turner Classic Movies is a diverse bunch. Within our small Brand Activation group, which is responsible for TCM’s publications, there is a film studies grad with a background in running film festivals, a fine arts photography major with experience in consumer marketing, a broadcast communications major with experience in mass communications and journalism, and a romance studies grad who quit a position as a French and Italian professor to write fiction and film reviews. Just about every division at TCM looks like that, which would seem to suggest a sort of fragmented eclecticism.

But beneath these superficial differences, we’re all united by a passion for movies. We recognize that films are likely the most powerful and enduring pop culture history of the 20th century and, despite the proliferation of media in recent years, that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. So while there is a tremendous amount of collaboration between these very diverse folks at TCM, there is rarely a “low stakes” film conversation. Mention that you’re not a fan of such underappreciated stars as Richard Basehart or Ann Savage, and you’ll get an earful from someone. Attend one of the “Top Ten” list meetings, as TCM staffers try to hash out their favorite films in any given category, and you’ll feel like you’ve entered the gladiatorial arena. It’s not that we don’t love working with each other—what could be better, after all, than working with others who love film as much as you do? It’s just that nothing is more important to us than movies.

In this context, you’ll understand that the production of the new TCM Classic Movie Trivia book took time, and a little good old-fashioned politicking, because everyone had opinions on what should be included. In the end, it blossomed into a book with more than 4,000 questions, organized under 18 different topics and given context with some 50 editorial features and 200 photographs.

By the time it got internal signoff, it was bound to be an eclectic mix sure to satisfy casual movie fans and diehards alike. So it is that the “Early Hollywood” chapter has spotlight features on such icons as John Barrymore and Marion Davies, but also on Anna May Wong. So it is that you’ll find questions any movie fan can appreciate: “Cary Grant plays a chemist in what comedy opposite Ginger Rogers and Marilyn Monroe?” (A: Monkey Business). But you’ll also find questions for those fanatics who believe that movie history and History, with a capital H, are largely one and the same: “Woody Strode posed for a painting commissioned by whom? (A: Adolf Hitler).

In other words, it’s the movie trivia book for those who believe that movie history is anything but trivial. We hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed creating it.

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  • Jenn October 7, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Am I really the first? My favorite classic movies: Twelve O'clock High, and Giant.


  • Cupboard Love October 7, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    I love Bringing Up Baby- love, love, love the screwball comedies!


  • Erin S. October 8, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    This is always a hard question for me, but I usually resort to Top Hat – it was one of the first classic movies that I fell in love with and introduced to me the great Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 🙂


  • Charmaine October 10, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    It Happened One Night is one of my favorites. I also loooove screwball comedies.


  • holly cooper October 11, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    The original Mr & Mrs Smith (1941) with Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery. A comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock? Absolutely and Ms. Lombard is at her screwball best. This movie is hilarious and smart.


  • Gretchen October 11, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    To Catch a Thief or Charade.


  • Maria David Castro October 11, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    The Man who Killed Liberty Valance, with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, not to mention Lee Marvin. A wonderful film about physical and moral courage and how they don't always necessarily go together!!


  • Debbie Wolosky October 11, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    The Philadelphia Story, Holiday, The Bandwagon, Singin in the Rain, Summer Stock, Swingtime, The Desk Set, Duck Soup, Horsefeathers, Casablanca, All About Eve. I could go on, but I won't. Oh I hope I win!!!


  • Allison October 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Oh, The Philadelphia Story, by far, because it's one movie starring my three favorites…but I'm perfectly happy with any comedy starring just one of them.


  • Al Maynard October 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    I totally love “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” Betty Davis & Joan Crawford


  • Janine L. October 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I grew up watching classic movies on Sat and Sun afternoon. Some of my fondest memories. That helped nurture and grow the love of movies I still have today. All the greats – The Marx Bros, The Thin Man, Bogey and Bacall, Astaire and Rogers. But if I had to choose just one classic film, it’d be “The Philadelphia Story. Such a legendary ensemble – James Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant … and just the right mix of comedy, romance, and drama.


  • tati October 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Oh, there are TOO many to choose from. I’m going to go down my list a bit and choose Laura 🙂


  • Megan Bickel October 11, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Singing in the Rain!


  • donna October 11, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    There are many, but I especially like Now, Voyager with Betty Davis.


  • jennie October 11, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Casablanca. Every time I see it, it's like the first time.


  • Joann October 11, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    What ever happened to Baby Jane


  • Patricia October 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Singin' in the Rain for sure 🙂


  • cdbetz October 11, 2011 at 7:15 pm

    “Back Street” (1961) Susan Hayward, John Gavin


  • Maria Esposito October 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    When I was a kid, I would watch classic movies on local PBS with my Dad. I remember which movies made him laugh the most and which ones he said were some of his favorites. Watching movies with him was a special part of my childhood and a treasured memory, and I have a fondness for some of the movies he loved most. It’s been 20 years since I have been able to watch a movie with him, but whenever I do watch one I remember him sharing with me, I feel as if he’s with me. My very favorite movie is The Maltese Falcon, and I do feel it is because he shared it with me when I was young. My favorite comedy is Bringing Up Baby (both because of watching it with my Dad, but also because of my love of Cary Grant). I’m a huge film noir fan (and musicals, comedies…etc, etc, etc!), and another favorite is The Blue Dahlia, which I saw for the first time on TCM (which is, incidentally, my favorite channel!). I know my Dad would have LOVED TCM. I.. did you say you only wanted ONE favorite?!! [Reading everyone else’s favorites, I thought, ‘that’s my favorite, too!’ after seeing everyone else’s favorites]


  • Crystal October 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I lovelovelove Singing in the Rain. Gene Kelly is amazing. Charade is a close second…


  • Kristen M. October 12, 2011 at 12:17 am

    This looks like a great book! It's hard to choose one classic but the one I watch the most often is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I love Gene Tierney!


  • Jennifer Lies October 12, 2011 at 11:45 am

    I think I'll have to go with All About Eve.


  • sarah diehl October 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Good Night, and Good Luck (if I had to just choose one. I am a Bogart and Bacall freak!


  • Jason Ehrich October 14, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    I tend to watch film noir more than anything, with “The Set-up” probably my top choice. But my favorite movies are those which combine multiple elements (comedy, drama, romance). “The Shop Around the Corner” and “Here Comes Mr. Jordan” both, in their own way, do this successfully. They’re feel-good movies that I could watch over and over again. Another recent discovery (thanks to TCM, of course) is “Hobson’s Choice”, which similarly combines these elements, is inspiring and encourages self-evaluation. Honorable mention to Buster Keaton, but it’s so hard to pick just one.


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