I watched Only Angels Have Wings last night — on videocassette. I still own a VCR. Beyond the fact that I don’t want to subject myself to the time and expense of replacing some favorites I’ve owned since the early nineties (Blockbuster’s used movie bin was a godsend), the medium’s unwieldiness has its own attraction. When I’m at the market and want to listen to King Sunny Ade’s Aura, I can’t upload it onto my iPod or play it on my car’s CD deck — I have to get home and dig out my vinyl copy; the same goes for His Girl Friday, Tootsie, and a couple of others on VHS (Earrings of Madame De… is no longer an option, alas, thanks to this). Thus, as long as we’re not subjected to things like Be Kind, Rewind, the sad death of the VCR is (slightly) exaggerated.
Anyone else still own one?
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Well, I have a busted one I need to replace, if only to rewatch old MST3K episodes that I have neither on DVD nor downloaded. But most of my tapes just collect dust anyway at this point!
Seattle has an amazing rental place, Scarecrow Video, that has a ton of otherwise-unavailable stuff on VHS. My girlfriend had (still has, I believe) one of those ’90s-model TVs with the VCR built in, so we used that a lot to watch rentals. We used it to watch the absolutely gut-wrenching Make Way for Tomorrow (Leo McCarey, 1937), maybe the most heartbreaking movie I’ve ever seen, and one I highly, highly recommend. (I saw in Sight & Sound recently that it’s now available on DVD, but that could just be in England.)
I envy you! Make Way For Tomorrow is super-obscure.
I watch library tapes on mine, rarely.