Collecting and Purging



I now have a few gaps in my movie collection. Here's why:


In late July, I began a purging project which I detailed in a post called “When Collecting Gets Out of Control.” Long-story-short, I decided to evaluate several of the unwatched DVDs and Blu-rays that had been sitting on my shelf for years. Sometimes those evaluations consisted of looking at the back cover descriptions of previously seen movies, thinking, “Nope. Don’t really need to see that one again.” With others, I watched the first 15 or so minutes and had the same thought: not necessary to revisit this one.


Those were all movies I’d seen years ago. I also watched some previously-seen movies in their entirety and was very surprised by the results (which I’ll share with you in a few moments). You can view the “When Collecting Gets Out of Control” post for the details, but I’ll give you the abbreviated version of the late-July portion of the project before moving on. After that, I’ll share some discoveries with you.



The Andromeda Strain (1971) Last watched about 25 years ago

Keeper.


Aliens (1986) Last watched 30 years ago

Purge.


Attack! (1956) New to me

Keeper.


Duel (TV 1971) Last watched at least 40 years ago

Purge.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) New to me

Purge.


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) New to me

Purge. (But replaced by an upgrade, so I still have the title.)


And continuing into August:



Howards End (1992) New to me


I’d owned this Criterion Blu-ray for years before finally sitting down to watch it, waiting to get myself in the “Merchant Ivory mood.” I shouldn’t have waited. It was exquisite: class struggle in Edwardian England with a strong element of the unavoidable changing of the times with superb performances from Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Vanessa Redgrave and so much more, another expertly done Merchant Ivory production. This one’s not going anywhere. Keeper.



The Man from Laramie (1955) New to me


I previously reviewed this outstanding Anthony Mann Western, his fifth and last collaboration with James Stewart. I’m keeping it only until I can get my hands on the Masters of Cinema Blu-ray. Keeper.



French Connection II (1975) New to me


I never for a second bought the premise of this film, that Popeye Doyle (Gene Hackman) would travel to Marseilles to track down the drug smuggler (Fernando Rey) who slipped through his fingers in the original film, The French Connection, and if he had, he should’ve been smart enough to figure out what was really going on. Much of the film (especially the ending) is unbelievable, but Hackman has a few good moments. Purge.



Lost Horizon (1937) New to me


A little Frank Capra goes a long way, so I was hesitant to sit down and spend over two hours with this one. Yet I found it charming and often delightful, cognizant of its 1937 limitations (and how it often rises above them) and despite the missing footage. I do, however, hope we see a fully restored version someday. Keeper.



The Wild Bunch (1969) New to me


Absolutely knocked me out. Keeper.



The Hitcher (1986) Last watched over 30 years ago


I had fun revisiting this one, but realized I had largely forgotten nearly all of it except for the french fries scene. Enjoyable, but I won’t watch it again. Purge.



The Vampire (1957) New to me


Low-budget horror film with low-level scares, but some interesting moments and concepts. It’s not your typical vampire story, but its generic title did nothing to separate itself from other vampire movies, so it’s not exactly at attention-getter just from its title. I do like parts of it, especially a weird performance by James Griffith as a lab technician. Part of me wants to keep this one, but for now I’m going to say Purge.



Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) New to me


As my friends and co-workers know, I am not a fan of musicals, but I’m learning to appreciate them. I really enjoyed this one, not only the famous (and spectacular) barn-raising scene, but the entire film. I plan on eventually giving up this DVD for the new Warner Archive Blu-ray, so the verdict on this DVD release will be a Purge.



Mean Creek (2004) New to me


Previously reviewed here. The more I think about this movie, the more I want others to see it. Even though it’s currently streaming on Amazon Prime, I’ve already loaned the DVD to a co-worker. Keeper.



Man of the West (1958) New to me


Wow, what a tremendous Western… This Anthony Mann film stars not James Stewart, but Gary Cooper as a man who inadvertently stumbles upon his outlaw uncle (Lee J. Cobb), who wants him to return to a life of crime as his right-hand man. The only way I’m giving this one up is at gunpoint from Lee J. Cobb. Or maybe Jack Lord. Keeper.



Drifters (2003) New to me


Somewhat quiet and understated, Drifters is the story of a Chinese man who loses custody of his son and wants to get him back. I’ve actually seen very few Chinese films and this one is both a fascinating look at that culture and is also a compelling story. This watch came from a DVD that was given to me by a co-worker (whose daughter had given it to her), a disc from Film Movement, a company I’m strongly considering supporting. If you’ve never heard about Film Movement, I’d encourage you to check them out. Although I liked the film, I probably won’t revisit it. Purge.



All of Me (1984) Last watched over 30 years ago


I’ve always been a Steve Martin fan, enjoying some of his movies more than others. Going into this re-watch, I would’ve considered All of Me one of my favorites, but this time I think I appreciated it more than I actually liked it. Purge.



The above picture shows everything that I’m purging from this project. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t re-watch all of these. Some I just knew I no longer needed to hang on to. The fact that I am purging them doesn’t necessarily speak to their quality as films. There’s some great stuff in that picture, but I either don’t plan on re-watching them, or I have (or plan to have) some of them on Blu-ray. So that’s 28 movies out the door. I’ll find a good home for them, I promise.


This purging project has taught me several things. Maybe you can relate. Here are some of the things I learned and the questions I asked myself:


Some memories should just be left alone. Of the five films I re-watched after at least 25 years, I discovered that I hadn’t really missed them. In fact, their memories would’ve remained more pleasant had I not re-watched them. I think there’s something about the time I first watched them that lingers, good memories you really don’t want to mess with. I can’t be sure why The Andromeda Strain is different, but I do want to see that one again. The others, not so much.


The movies I regularly re-watch deliver an additional payoff. During this project, I began to think about the movies I watch over and over and why. In some cases, they’re comfort movies (North by Northwest, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Maltese Falcon) but with others, I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of their greatness, demanding re-watches. Watching for comfort or nostalgia is fun, like visiting an old friend, but those films can also take you back to the time when you first saw them, bringing up both joy and, sometimes, regret. Other movies just speak to you or challenge you. Those are keepers.


Some of the movies I watched and enjoyed for the first time this year could be sitting on my shelf unwatched during the next 20+ years. I absolutely loved The Man from Laramie and Man of the West, but will I still love them 20 years from now? No one can predict whether those films that were favorites today will remain favorites even next year, to say nothing of long-term. “That movie? Will I like it enough to keep it next year when I do another purge?” We’ll see.


Why do I collect what I collect? Some people simply keep what they like or love. Others are completionists. I do want to collect as many film noir titles as I can, but other than that, I want to keep the films I can’t live without. (You’ll find very little in the above photo that could be considered film noir. I don’t even think I could get rid of a bad noir.) Sometimes, however, I’m guilty of keeping a film that didn’t speak to me, but might speak to someone else. To be honest, it usually doesn’t speak to them, either, but sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised.


Will I do this purging project again? Yes. Won’t you join me?


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