Not my thing exactly–given my almost Paleolithic attachment to the full-screen 35-millimeter format–and maybe y’all know about this already (which wouldn’t surprise me in the least), but if you’re having trouble tracking down favorite old movie titles at your friendly neighborhood Blockbuster, why not try this instead: ask Turner Classic Movies (the cable-TV channel) to schedule them for you. TCM has an online “Suggest a Movie” page that lets you do exactly that: just type in the movie(s) you want to see and maybe, if you’re really really lucky, they’ll include one or two or several in one of their upcoming cable lineups. Among the recent requests when I last looked (since apparently the site link keeps tabs) were The Mark of Zorro, Down Argentine Way, Lady in the Lake, and Jack Arnold’s ineffable Tarantula. If it were up to me I’d probably write in Powell/Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale or maybe Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (’58 version, not ’93–for Allison Hayes completists only) … but only because my imagination’s temporarily out of whack. Just make sure yours isn’t.
Incidentally, the “suggest a movie” idea was one of the main (or perhaps only) institutional amenities of the old Clark Theater, a comfortably run-down repertory/revival house in the Loop on Clark between Madison and Washington (razed in 1974, now site of Three First National Plaza). The suggestion box was off to the side of a molderingly ragtag lobby, with stacks of three-by-five cards adjacent, and if you happened to be obsessed or greedy enough, you could keep filling in titles till all the cards ran out. Which didn’t usually happen–except for the time I approached the box, presumably with yet another interminable list in tow, only to discover that all the cards were AWOL. Or actually were being held hostage, since one disagreeable old woman of indeterminable origins (couldn’t place the accent, but it sure wasn’t from Bridgeport) had decided to ration them out to anyone willing to beg, whine, or grovel for a couple, provided that each of us “write in Godard’s Contempt” on at least one ballot. Well … anti-Godardian that I was, then as now, she obviously had me over a barrel. And of course I cracked … and of course she cackled–or at least I imagine she did. Which only goes to show the abject dilemmas of being a fool pour l’art–more ballot-box stuffing, Chicago-style!