Preview: Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

When we first got cable in the early 80s, before HBO was an option to us, my dad subscribed to a channel called the Z Channel. I don’t remember too much about it except that everytime I tuned in they were showing one of two films: “Agatha” with Dustin Hoffman and Maggie Smith, and “The Great Train Robbery” with Sean Connery. If you made it all the way to the end of one of these, there was a good chance you’d run into “Hardware Wars.”
Well, apparently Z Channel was much more important than that–an L.A.-based channel run by a troubled film buff who, ahead of his time, insisted on director’s cuts and restoration. Filmmakers like Verhoeven say it lead to their success by screening their early works. Tarantino got an education in foreign film.
Xan Cassavettes, daughter of John, now has a documentary that examines the channel and the fall of its owner Jerry Harvey.
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession was the hit of the Los Angeles Film Festival is making the rounds soon.

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