Follow-up to #TCMDriveIn (6/23/11)

Sorry about the lack of the proffered ‘insights’ during the movies last night, but in all honesty, I was too caught up in the fun of being in “Tweet Up”, with a fun bunch of folks, watching the films @TCM offered last night. I guess you could say that if you had attended #TCMDriveIn, you’d have seen my ‘insights”, as well as more than a few (dozen) riffs (a la MST3K) on the films by myself and the sizable ‘room’ of movie loving folks. It certainly made the films even more enjoyable. Stop by next Thursday night at 8PM EDT, for the last week of Drive In Double Features, if you haven’t already done so. It’s a HOOT!

I also said, at the end of the night, that I’d post an anecdote of how The Giant Behemoth was like my own “White Whale”.

Here it goes. Many years ago, when I was but a lad, my father thought…. no wait that’s the OTHER ‘White Whale”.

STILL many years ago, long before the dawn of the DVD, and barely in the midst of the failed Laserdisc revolution, most movie lovers were watching VHS tapes. And occasionally, at various Comic, Science-Fiction and Gaming Conventions, there were merchants who sold classic Sci-Fi movies from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, generally NOT available from any major home video company. The quality would vary, (as would the price) but I always sought out the best ones, mastered from film chains. I found many, but there was one I was ALWAYS looking for: The Giant Behemoth. I searched for a good FIVE years, searching many a flea market and convention -big and small- until…

Day 3 of the local annual con – I do my prelim scan of the dealers’ room and scout the movie sellers. One dealer has 35mm film cans WITH full reels in them. Then as I peruse his titles, there it is: in black and white labelmate lettering was my White Whale. I had found Behemoth.

I then asked about the quality. He said it was mastered from a film chain. He held up and HANDED me the film canister, with old faded masking tape, bearing the title. he opened it, and there was indeed a reel of film within. He then popped the tape in his table’s VCR and I saw that the quality was amazing. I handed him my $25 (one of the pricier tapes of my weekend purchases), and went on my way to make other deals, knowing that anything else would pale, as I’d conquered my demon. Then I got home.

The demon won, after all.

True, the quality of his tape WAS amazing, as evident from my watching the first 5 minutes on his machine, and though there were no breaks in the editing, no break in the flow, about a half hour in, I discovered the reason for the quality:

The logo WSBK Boston CH 38 appeared in the lower right hand corner.

I’d been had. I’d been taken advantage of. Since it was the last day, there was NO way I could attempt to return it. What pissed me off the most though, was that this assclown taped it from a channel that I got over cable!!!
*Back then, There were ‘must carry’ regulations upon Long Island’s cable companies. As a result, one that we had was the Boston UHF channel he used.*

It was after that injustice that I decided to beat him at his own game. I started selling PUBLIC DOMAIN movies the next year, at a THIRD of his price, with FIFTEEN MINUTES of trailers as well, and my guarantee of NO broadcast copies. He was not pleased, to say the least, actually going so far as to going to see the exec in charge of the dealers’ room, DEMANDING I be made to raise my prices. He was laughed off.  He then came to my table to interfere with my customers, even as much as to knock tapes from their hands. He was then thrown out of the Con, for becoming a nuisance.

At any rate, after almost eight years, once more titles started leaving the public domain, and more obscure material started appearing on DVD, my work was done. Now I have a new mission. To spread the word about these great (?) movies. Join me, won’t you?



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