It’s a well known fact that I’m a sucker for collecting movies, movie memorabilia and the various formats to play movies on. Like most collectors my stack of movies mainly consist of blu rays and DVD’s. Thankfully there are still companies out there that cater to those of us who prefer to own rather than stream our selections. Among them I salute the folks at Kino Lorber Studio Classics, Shout/Scream Factory, Severin, Indicator, Arrow Video, Vinegar Syndrome, Criterion, Code Red, Scorpion Releasing and the Warner Archive to drop a few names. Heck even Mill Creek have upped their game.
Please feel free one and all to send me review copies. A bold hint I know.
With more titles than I care to admit too in my collection, the vast majority are of course on the blu ray and DVD format. I still have boxes upon boxes of VHS tapes in the garage that I generally buy and sell but the only market that seems steady are the Horror and Sci-Fi titles. Then there’s my laser disc machine and a few titles I have kept for either sentimental reasons or in some cases the only way one can watch a specific title due to it’s never being released on formats still to come making them hard to find and collectible. Like the original cuts of the Star Wars films before Mr. Lucas began to tinker with them. In this case I’ve been told by my two sons I can’t sell them off.
Video Scan Discs? Yeah I’ve one of those heavy burdens here as well and again a few boxes of discs buried somewhere in the garage. But the one thing that has basically eluded me for years is a Beta Machine. Kind of….. I picked one up about two years ago for a couple dollars but it’s life span had long past and it was promptly dropped off at an electronic recycling station.
Which brings me to the present.
I’m minding my own business at the office when a co-worker lets me know that a local store has put an ad on Facebook that they have in their possession a fully functional Sears model Beta Max machine with a “saddlebag” of mostly westerns to go with it. All I had to do was win the bidding war. Boy did they see this sucker coming in the door so to speak. By the time my workday was over I had won the bid and picked up my latest find on my return trip home. While the Beta System may have lost the war to the VHS tape, I wasn’t about to let this rare opportunity out of my grasp.
In the “saddlebag” were plenty of “B” westerns from the 1940’s and 50’s starring the cowboys that The Statler Brothers sang of in their hit song, Whatever Happened to Randolph Scott? The movies featured the likes of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Sunset Carson and Alan “Rocky” Lane.
Even Joan Crawford’s Johnny Guitar was among them.
I should point out that these tapes and the machine itself are in “like new” condition. It’s as if they were just taken off the shelf for the first time.
How about a James Dean classic?
So what did I watch first once I got the machine up and running?
The King himself. Elvis, Aloha From Hawaii.
Remember the machines with the top loader?
Perhaps the ’68 Comeback Special is next on my playlist.
Something tells me that in the not too distant future a Johnny Mack Brown and Tex Ritter western might be hitting my TV screen here in the movie room.
I’ve come across a few Beta tapes over the years and even have a few Bronson titles on display in my office along with other pop culture items. Guess I might have to take them home and see if they work. Secondly I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled in the Antique malls for some other titles. Such is the life of a collector.
So tell me, who else out there has a working machine and collects these long forgotten tapes that kids today probably know nothing about?