Building a DVD library: hauls, charity shops and collecting trends

Share this Article:

How many films – some classic, some, er, less so – can you get for £35? AJ Black finds out as his plan to build the ultimate DVD and Blu-ray library continues.

Welcome back to my odyssey through the world of DVD film (and a bit of TV) collecting.

Truth be told, I’ve had a couple of hauls since I wrote my first piece, so my overall number has jumped a bit since it was published on the 12th January. My most recent haul, however, is probably the largest I’ve done in quite a while, as I had a morning available to trawl multiple charity shops in my hometown of Devizes, scooping up various and sundry in the process.

What interested me was how I noted one new charity shop that was emblazoned with the title of ‘thrift store’. I understand this is American terminology, and their name for an equivalent of our charity shops, and frankly the traditionalist in me was disappointed to see the term festooning the main high street of a middle England market town. Can’t imagine an Oxfam popping up in the Bronx, so keep your charity tanks off our neatly clipped hedges and lawns, Americanisms, please!

With that Daily Mail rant out of the way, to the haul! And a couple of quick observations beforehand, if you will. Firstly, I’ve noticed prices going up. British Heart Foundation’s brilliant 3 for 50p deal seems to be going for a burton quite fast, replaced with a ‘half price’ sticker in some occasions. This roughly equates to 50p per DVD, as most tend to be around either £1 or £2 (though I did see a Flags Of Our Fathers and Letters From Iwo Jima double bill priced at a whopping fiver!). This suggests to me that BHF is starting to realise its deal is a bit too good to be true.

A fellow collector I spoke to this weekend also suggested that some charity shops aren’t stocking physical media right now. I haven’t noticed this in Devizes, but I have seen something of a decline in the amount at points. There seems to be no slow down of people donating DVDs and even Blu-rays – one chap who runs a stall in the Shambles, our town’s indoor market, told me he has 10,000 discs in a garage he’s waiting to process, and gets loads coming in every week (and yes, I did ask to see his garage) – but certainly charity shops seem to be angling more toward books lately.

Clint Eastwood took on the war epic with Flags Of Our Fathers (2005, pictured) and Letters From Iwo Jima (2006). Credit: Paramount/Warner Bros.

I wonder why this is. Less demand for DVDs and CDs maybe? I explained my rationale for this (see previous post) to the stall guy, about streaming, and so on, and he understood my thinking, but I don’t think for a moment this is mainstream at all. I still think consumers are in the process of dispensing with old DVD collections rather than considering whether they’d be smarter to hold on to physical media. This week, a work colleague gave me a solid 20 or more Disney and Pixar movies her daughter has grown out of, happy to get them out of the house. While they do, prices will remain on the floor for collectors like me (which is no bad thing), but I wonder if charity shops can’t shift them in the way they can with a cheap second hand book.

I’m not sure. I have no statistical data on this. If anyone does, let me know. But it does make me wonder. Nevertheless, there remained plenty of films on the table for me to scoop up, around the copious amounts of similar titles that seem to haunt every charity shop in existence. So many copies of Casino Royale. So many The Queens. So many John Wayne films. So many old fitness DVDs. Even an interactive Telly Addicts game, which I can’t tell you how strongly I had to resist buying.

Anyway, the haul. Let’s rattle through what I picked up, shall we?

2000’s Romeo Must Die, starring Jet Li, kicks us off, closely followed by a two disc version of Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd from 2007, which I’ve never seen (I’m a bit Johnny Depp averse these days). I was delighted to grab a packed two-disc Planet Terror from 2005 – I love that film and this has loads of extras, including a Robert Rodriguez commentary. Two great filmmakers next – Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center from 2006 (never seen) and Michael Mann’s Manhunter from 1986, a cracking film. I did a podcast about that which I don’t think has ever been released. Must get on that.

American Pie 2 from 2001 is next, stacked with extras. I’m sure it dates horribly now, but I loved that film growing up, perhaps even more than the original. Kill Bill Part 1 from 2003 is next – I’d picked up Part 2 of Tarantino’s opus, so I was glad to grab the first (and let’s face it, better) part. Bend It Like Beckham next, from 2001, a film I’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen and must correct once the Euros kick off this summer. The original Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo from 2009 is another I’ve not seen – I love the David Fincher remake, but I hear this is better. I’ve also never fully sat through Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth from 2006, which again I must one day correct. Not always into his dark whimsy, but I know it’s a blind spot.

Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley star in Bend If Like Beckham. Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

One I feel is a bit of a find is 1999’s Love, Honour And Obey, a Brit film by Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis (behind the wonderful and now sadly forgotten Operation Good Guys), stacked with cool British actors from that period – very happy to pick that up, still in the cellophane too. Super excited to grab The Rock from 1996, a good two-disc version – the only Michael Bay film I have any time for, and one of Sean Connery’s great performances. 2015’s Trainwreck I like way more than I ever imagined I would, coming from Judd Apatow, but Amy Schumer is great in that. 2006’s dark Brit horror Severance (not to be mistaken with the Apple TV show) is also a lot of fun and one I’m glad to have nabbed.

A couple of never-seens next from 2004 – Hidalgo, starting Viggo Mortensen and from Joe Johnson, and Pawel Pawlikowski’s My Summer Of Love from 2004, perhaps now best remembered for starring a fresh faced, pre-stardom Emily Blunt. Another never-seen classic, the Doris Day musical western Calamity Jane from 1953, which is another cellophane job. Very happy to grab Duncan Jones’ Source Code from 2011. 1992’s Indecent Proposal, from Adrian Lyne, is another I’ve never seen but doing a 90s podcast, I’m sure I’ll be suggestively rubbing my things to Demi Moore in earnest sooner rather than later. 

I picked up Superman Returns from 2006, which is a bit of a tainted beast these days on several fronts, and 1997’s fun Sphere, with Dustin Hoffman and Sharon Stone investigating alien weirdness at the bottom of the sea. Funnily enough, I also ended up getting Wag The Dog from 1998, a great satire that Barry Levinson only got made after he agreed to do Sphere. Grabbed the excellent Coen brothers remake of True Grit from 2010, plus the Heath Ledger-starring version of Ned Kelly from 2002, and speaking of westerns, I nabbed James Mangold’s fine 2007 remake of 3:10 To Yuma. In a semi-connection to Ledger, I also grabbed Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989, a film I was really surprised to not already have. That’s way overdue a rewatch for me.

Remember the Stephen King adaptation of 1408? Always felt that could have been a better film, but I picked it up anyway. A fun Brit flick I saw was 2006’s Son Of Rambow, which I look forward to watching after hearing excellent things. Danny Boyle’s Trance from 2015 isn’t one I’d write home about, but it was worth getting. Ditto the Matt Damon (sorry, Maaaaaat Daaaamonnnn) starring The Great Wall from 2017, a silly historical monster film. I think I’m the only person in the whole world who enjoyed that. Nobody much liked Oliver Stone’s Alexander either, from 2004, but I nabbed the director’s cut and I’m curious about that one. Tell you one I do love – 2004’s About Schmidt from Alexander Payne, perhaps the last great performance by Jack Nicholson.

Bill Mlilner and Will Poulter in Garth Jennings’ delightful Son Of Rambow. Credit: Optimum Releasing.

I’ve never been the greatest fan of Ben Affleck’s directorial efforts, but I grabbed 2010’s The Town anyway, as I did 2004’s Hotel Rwanda, which I’ve never seen. On a similarly dark theme, I was happy to get John Boorman’s Deliverance from 1972, which I’ve never properly sat through. I have watched Kong: Skull Island from 2017, which I didn’t love as much as most. A couple of middling films that have some virtues are Michel Gondry’s 2008 film Be Kind Rewind and George Clooney’s 2014 war drama The Monuments Men. On a brighter note, lovely to grab Henry Selick’s charming 1996 version of James And The Giant Peach, which I very much remember as a teenager. You’ll be shocked that teenage Tony never watched Space Jam (1997), though, so I must correct that now I have it.

One I did watch, and really liked back in the day was the Kevin Costner-fronted Thirteen Days from 2000, a film that would make a tremendous bridge between Oppenheimer and JFK. Speaking of American classics, I took a punt on a TV version of Moby Dick starring Patrick Stewart from 1998 – can’t imagine it’ll best John Huston’s mid-50s opus, but it does have Gregory Peck, if not this time as Ahab. A less classic film is the 1998 Godzilla, which I recently podcasted about (to be released in April), which while as bobbins as it ever was is important to have in the catalogue. 

Sticking with the all-American theme, a couple of Clint Eastwood flicks – the aforementioned Flags Of Our Fathers from 2006 (which I’ve never seen) and 2014’s American Sniper, which while solid is a bit right-wing for me to be honest. 2012’s Jack Reacher I like more, even if Tom Cruise as Lee Child’s taciturn hero is hilarious, especially now we have Alan Ritchson on TV! One I like more than I did before is Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium from 2013, which I recently wrote about if you want a bit more from me on that. Getting back to greatness, Steve McQueen’s harrowing 12 Years A Slave from 2014 was a must buy, and one I very much look forward to revisiting eventually.

Matt Damon in Neill Blomkamp’s 2013 sci-fi, Elysium. Credit: Sony.

Always felt that Lawrence Kasdan’s 2003 adaptation of Dreamcatcher was a bit underrated, and I seem to remember it has a batshit mad ending. If not underrated then certainly underestimated is 2011’s Contagion, from Steven Soderbergh, which obviously was the great horror film of 2020 – who knew it would end up so prescient? I’m about to shock you with the next one, 1988’s Beetlejuice, as I’ve never seen it. Gasp! I know. No idea why. I’ll correct this before the sequel arrives. I have seen Starred Up, a prison drama from 2014, and the only one here I grabbed on Blu-ray as it was cheap.

Finally, I picked up 2006’s quirky Little Miss Sunshine, 1994’s version of Little Women (which will do well to best Greta Gerwig’s great recent take), 2010’s delightful Morning Glory (which I write more about in the upcoming latest Film Stories magazine…) and finally, a film I genuinely adore but is marmite to many – 2016’s lovely La La Land, with some fine bonus features and the chance to have a great singalong once again.

So phew! There we go. 56 films in total. A cost of £35 spread across various shops and a stall. Great economy I think! They’ve all been added to my spreadsheet, which I invite you to take a look at once again. All of the yellow highlighted films are ones I’ve yet to watch. 

Current collection number after this haul: 1,536.

As before, if you wanted to send me any DVDs of films you no longer need or are happy to dispense with, I can promise them a good home. Please contact me via this link and we can discuss getting them sent my way.

And again, I would love to know what you’ve been collecting lately and what you think of the films listed here, and what you think about physical media, collecting, and so forth. Let’s get a dialogue going in the comments.

You can find A J. on social media, including links to his Patreon and books, via here.

Share this Article:

More like this