The Criterions, Collected (But Not As You’d Think)

radio days

I was walking down the street one day…

So, this happened a few months ago, but I took my time in writing it because well, among other things, I didn’t have any photos for the article and I want to NOT reveal the location of where the shop noted is because they do have some nice pre-owned movies from time to time. Just not these movies as you’ll soon see. ‘Other things’ would be needing to look up photos on the Criterion site and fitting in references and links, something I didn’t want to do initially because I do need to get some of these films and that reminder pokes at my poor wallet each time I look at the site.

Note: I initially chopped down the story significantly because it’s the holidays and you really don’t need to read a lot here because you’ll be putting a bike together, or setting a digital clock on something, and you won’t have time to do more than throw your hands up and throw a badly written instruction manual in the trash, only to retrieve it when you realize the layout was backwards or a page was printed out of order and upside down. I restored the text because when I thought about it, you may as well have a hearty laugh today at my expense because someone will likely roll over your foot with that new bike or attempt to shoot your eye out like Moe Green in The Godfather (or was it in A Christmas Tale?*) if you got them that BB gun they wanted so badly.

Anyway, take a leap below the jump, and prepare for a fall in which we stick the landing, just not the landing we expected.

chimes at midnight

“We will sell no film before its time…”

Back around early summer, I was out for a walk one early evening and strolled by a local pawn shop that I sometimes pop into to check out the DVD and Blu-Ray selection. They usually set the prices to about $5 each for common Blu-Ray titles and sell some box set DVD’s at that same low price. As it was closing time when I was passing by, I didn’t go inside, but as I was walking past the slowly closing metal gate, something caught my eye. Were those… Criterion Collection spines?

The eyes have it

My face was probably very much like this one…

Yes, indeed they were, and after nearly getting decapitated by that slow-moving gate, I practically levitated home in one piece with an initial plan to go to the bank in the morning, withdraw some money and take care of my Christmas shopping early. Granted, these would be MY presents to myself, but that’s the single life these days, right? Shut up and agree with me, please – it’ll make me feel better. I actually took a slight Detour and stopped at the bank that evening just to make sure I had the cash on hand ready to go the next day. With visions of some visionaries dancing in my head, I slept pretty well that night. I might have even had some interesting Dreams, or perhaps The Bad Sleep Well because I was about to make The Killing of the decade?

The next morning was indeed, A Special Day. I got an early call on the home line from a friend who’d borrowed a few films from me and wanted to swing by and return them. “Perfect.” I thought, as in my over-excitement during the last night I’d cleared out what I thought was enough room, but I’d neglected to get a box or boxes to transport the movies in. Oops. Having access to a ride both ways not only saved me the trouble of taking the bus, it gave me the excuse to spend the fare I’d be using on those rides to get another inexpensive Criterion added to the collection. I asked my friend if he didn’t mind the extra drive and he noted that he had the day off and sure, he was up for a little excitement. I had to tell him what was up, as I wasn’t sure if he’d be interested in those films, but he really didn’t care one way or another as long as he got to swing by and borrow something I recommended. Some friends are Medium Cool like that.

Digging For Fire

It was going to be like stealing candy from a baby. Well, more like paying a few pennies for a few dollars worth of candy,

He actually noted that as he was driving from a certain direction, he could get the shop and wait in his car while I either took the bus or walked. These options worked for me because it wasn’t a long trip there, the bus was often a bit spotty in this area, and sure, I could Walk Cheerfully there, nab what I wanted and still make it home for lunch. About 40 minutes later, he was parked in front of the shop and rang me up, noting that he just got there a few Seconds ago and there was some guy already in front of the store with two big boxes. With a raised eyebrow, I asked if he knew what was in the boxes, and of course, he didn’t, venturing a guess that “Maybe it’s MORE movies?”, which had me practically falling over if it were true and falling over twice as fast if it wasn’t.

It was just after 9am, I was out the door less than five minutes later and decided to hoof it over to the shop as the bus was leaving from its stop across the street as soon as I got downstairs. It figures. It would take about 20 minutes to walk there normally, but I sped walked it in about 14 minutes. I saw the boxes outside, but no guy, but my friend said that he went to move his car and actually tapped on his window to ask if was going to be there for about three minutes (he was) and if he could watch his boxes while he was gone (yes, indeed). I think hope was springing quite eternally at this point.

fiendish

Me, trying to decide what I was going to buy. My brain was vacillating between a few genres, as usual…

The guy zips back maybe a minute and a half later with a smile and a wave, and from inside the car, we both wave back. I think it was about 9:40. The pawn shop didn’t open for another 20 minutes, but we decided to wait in front just in case other people maybe took a look inside during the past night and were thinking like I was. I figured I’d be polite and hold the door open for the guy with the boxes just as my friend whispered HE’D  hold the door and I’d go make a beeline for the movies. I gave him a thumbs up, but just then, a woman with a young kid walks up to us and asks if we’re waiting for the shop to open, asking if she could go in first because she needed to pick up for something for her kid, who was sick. Ruh-Roh!

I was about to tell her she’d have to ask the guy with the boxes, but he looked up and noted that it was okay and she smiled, expressing her thanks and noting that her kid liked Power Rangers a lot. I was internally fist-bumping myself and noting inside my head that I hoping there were no Godzilla or similar themed Criterion discs in that selection, and that she’d not take a look. My friend asked if her kid was okay, pointing at the cheery-looking lad accompanying her, but she noted that The Kid in question was ill at home in bed with a relative keeping an eye on him while she got him something to watch because they didn’t have cable or satellite TV.

I'm not lion

“If I’m Lion, I’m dyin’!”

A few minutes later, a lanky man walks up to open the store. He’s on a cell phone, but stops talking on it, looks at the guy with the boxes to his right and asks him “Are they with you?”, to which the guy replies we aren’t. He asks everyone to step away from the gate so it can come up, then opens the front door goes inside the shop to likely enter the alarm code and raise the gates. After he does this, he pops his head outside and beckons the man with the boxes inside, telling us he needed to “take care of him first” The woman is a bit annoyed, but she says something like he probably needed to see what the guy had in those boxes because they just opened and likely don’t have a large amount of cash on hand. I agree and my friend nods with a “Yeah, I guess so.” The front door is closed, so it’s hard to guess what’s going on. The kid looks back at me, smiling with a bored yawn.

About ten minutes pass, and the owner finally pops his head out and says “Okay, we’re open. Sorry for the wait” before popping back inside. A young woman quickly walks past us and enters, but I recognize her because she works there and seems to be a tad tardy. My friend lets the other woman in and as predicted, she heads for the window racks and the cheaper films on offer. Me, I zip to ahead to the rear of the store and to those Criterion discs I saw and… they’re all gone, every single one of them. Did you know there’s a button made for exactly this situation? Oh yes, there is. YES. THERE. IS.

hell

You know that old saying “Hell is other people?” Well, it’s true in this case.

On my right, the guy with the boxes was finishing filling them up, muttering something about Marie Kondo being a menace. I make a mental note to look her up at some point so I have an idea of who she is and why that guy thought she was one. You could say I was in Hell at the moment, going rapidly from High and Low, if you will, But I managed to make my way to the counter and squeak out a weak “what happened?” It turns out the guy was a movie collector but away from his beloved library for a few days on a work-related trip. His mother-in-law happened to be an avid and super-enthusiastic Marie Kondo fan, read her books and decided that her son-in-law could use some paring down in his life. So while he was away, she convinced his wife to start getting rid of what she saw as “clutter”, and as he had duplicates of some movies, yep, guess when went out to the nearest pawn shop? Sealed Criterion Collection discs, anyone? Go press the button, please. I’m busy holding the pose of a masked guy screaming.

The guy finished packing up, turned to the guy who opened the place and asked if he dad his number and to call him “if he ever got that Bardot film back in” I guess someone got a film last night before they closed after all. My friend held the door open for him as he left, and came up to me with a “Well, I guess you saved a little money, right?”, which got him a glare of Contempt from me, but it didn’t last long because we ended up helping that woman who wanted Power Rangers stuff out with some recommendations for a 10-year old who, it turns out liked that show but had never seen a Star Wars movie before and they had Episodes IV through VI there for a good price. Well, one good deed done, so that’s a win. My Weekend was going to be bereft of me counting and posting pictures of all the films I missed out on, but I guess you can’t win them all, right?

-GW

*Yes, I know it’s A Christmas Story, but I was keeping as many references as I could to what’s in the Criterion Collection as possible.)

5 thoughts on “The Criterions, Collected (But Not As You’d Think)

  1. Worst. Christmas. Haul. EVER! But a great story, with or without the O. Henry ending…too bad you couldn’t score at least one of those titles. But then, I know how I’d feel if I was in that guy’s shoes, and came home to discover my entire Criterion collection had been dumped off at a Goodwill, never to be seen again. But don’t fret…I know for a fact that every one of those discs was scratched to hell and unplayable, so be happy knowing you just saved yourself a hundred bucks to spend elsewhere!

    Like

    • Yeah, them’s the breaks, as they say. But I’d not want to be writing the post where some guy goes loopy because his expensive movies were sold off and he manages to dispatch a few unlucky buyers after he acquires a list of folks who bought them from the owner, who’s also on the list.

      Wait, Wasn’t that a Colombo episode? Or was it Cannon? Banacek?

      Like

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