Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is premiering an all-new original documentary series, The Power of Film, which explores some of the most popular and memorable American films of all time. New episodes of the six-part series will premiere every Thursday beginning January 4 at 8pm ET. Hosted and curated by renowned UCLA professor emeritus, founding chair of UCLA’s Film and Television Producers Program, and one of the founders of the UCLA Film Archive, Howard Suber, each 40-minute episode dives deep into the art of storytelling by examining the defining principles and inner workings of beloved films.
Executive produced by Doug Pray (Netflix’s hit series Arnold, HBO’s Grammy-winning, 5x Emmy-nominated series The Defiant Ones) and Laura Gabbert (IFC/Hulu’s City of Gold, Greenwich Entertainment’s Food and Country), and based on Suber’s book of the same title, The Power of Film goes far beyond an online masterclass by intertwining his structured framework, teachings and insights with dozens of dramatic movie scenes to create a uniquely engaging narrative through humor, emotion and human experience.
Suber’s impact on the entertainment industry and deep understanding of cinema have inspired countless careers throughout his 53 years of teaching. His efforts resulted in the Dickson Emeritus Professorship Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a retired faculty member. Having an extensive history of analyzing films and television, Suber has uncovered the mysteries surrounding what makes a film not only popular, but also memorable across generations.
The Power of Film is directed by Laura Gabbert, written by Howard Suber and Doug Pray, who also serves as supervising editor. Pray and Gabbert previously studied under and worked closely with Suber at the UCLA School of Film, Theater, and Television where they received their MFA.
The following is a complete schedule for The Power of Film:
Thursday, January 4 at 8pm ET | Part 1 – Popular and Memorable
A large proportion of the most commercially successful American films are quickly forgotten. A tiny fraction, however, are truly memorable, lasting from one generation to another. Using iconic scenes from many of these classic films, this series explores films that were both popular and memorable. In this episode, Howard Suber asks why this small minority continues to have such power.
Thursday, January 11 at 8pm ET | Part 2 – Trapped
Nearly all memorable stories, whether told in movies or in real life, are about traps. The most memorable are generally about the loss, sacrifice, and ultimate triumph the central character must engage in to escape their trap.
Thursday, January 18 at 8pm ET | Part 3 – Character Relationships
There’s no such thing as an interesting character; there are only interesting character relationships. But, as is true for religions, myths, and the longest-lasting dramas, the structure of most memorable dramatic plots centers on a single individual, around whom all the most important action and the other characters revolve.
Thursday, January 25 at 8pm ET | Part 4 – Heroes and Villains
Memorable films tend to be a compensation for what we don’t see much of in the real world— justice, commitment, and altruism. Film drama frequently treats the central characters as if they were heroes or villains, but often the two are very much alike.
Thursday, February 1 at 8pm ET | Part 5 – The Power of Paradox
In almost every memorable film, things are not what they seem, and learning the truth about characters and situations creates much of the tension in the film. Often, the truth of the film is quite paradoxical, which is what makes us want to keep watching.
Thursday, February 8 at 8pm ET | Part 6 – Love and Meaning
Although it’s often said that in order to succeed, a Hollywood film has to have a happy ending, when you look at the most memorable love stories it’s astonishing how many of them end with the separation or death of one or both lovers. Often, the paradox underlying the film helps explain why they stick in our memories.