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Good Stuff at the Goodwill Vol. 5

A Heaping Helping of Cinematic History

It’s been a while since I’ve had anything to write about regarding Goodwill pick-ups as of late. It’s not due to my lack of trying; the shelves are barren, and the films in store are lacking. These past few months have seen the well dry up—that is, until this week. I’ve mentioned that I live in a rural community with only a few thrift stores in the local vicinity. I did my usual run, and while striking out on my Goodwill stop, my local animal shelter/thrift store provided me everything I needed for another volume of Good Stuff at the Goodwill. It’s a haul amongst hauls—one of the best thrift store visits in quite some time.

The Magnificent Seven (DVD)

The Magnificent Seven stand in a line.

When you think of great westerns, The Magnificent Seven will make every person’s list. I know there isn’t anything I can add to the film that others discussed in-depth. The edition found is the two-disc special edition DVD replete with a slipcover and booklet. The entire package is mint—the discs, packaging, and booklet are pristine. As you’ll see through this article, DVDs will be the focus, but I’m not as picky as others when adding films to my physical media collection.

Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (DVD)

Pat Garrett holds a rifle in one hand and a cigar in the other.

Any time you add a Sam Peckinpah film to your collection is a good day. And while I may not be the biggest Peckinpah fan, I understand his importance to cinema and am willing to give each movie within his filmography a chance. When I saw the two-disc special edition of Peckinpah’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid on the shelf, I had to snag it. Packed with the 2005 Special Edition and 1988 Turner Preview Edition and a handful of bonus features, the $3.00 price tag was just right for me.

Walkabout (DVD)

The natives leads the boy and girl across the landscape.

In one of the last volumes of this column, I mentioned that if I come across a Criterion disc, it’s an immediate pick-up. There are multiple reasons for this: Criterion specializes in classic and significant films, and their discs are expensive, with DVDs starting at $20. Understanding that, when I saw Nicolas Roeg‘s Walkabout on the shelf, I grabbed it. It has been a while since I saw the 1971 Australian film, so what better way to revisit such a cinematic masterwork than through Criterion?

One thing needs mentioning regarding Walkabout and the rest of the films on this list come from discs withdrawn from the local library. So, while these are more worn than one might expect, all play fine and, if you can get beyond well-worn copies, are worth the price.

The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (DVD)

A man sits at a bar.

I am familiar with filmmaker/actor John Cassavetes, but I haven’t seen much of his directorial work. I’m sure I’ll get some dirty looks with that admission, but I’ve been looking to branch out of my cinematic comfort zone and seek out films that escaped me. The DVD edition I obtained is a two-disc set that includes the original 1976 cut and the re-edited 1978 version. While I haven’t seen the film, the Criterion edition The Killing of a Chinese Bookie is a pick-up that excites me. Having the two editions of the movie plus a bountiful selection of bonus features makes this one of my favorite buys as of late.

The Shop on Main Street (DVD)

A man in focus with an older man in front and a woman behind him.

Closing out my Criterion trifecta of pick-ups from the Goodwill is the film I am least familiar with: The Shop on Main Street. While the film is the winner of Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards, my not knowing the film doesn’t mean I fail at being a cinephile. Discovering a cinematic offering such as this makes being a film fan so exciting. There are others, I’m sure, who are well aware of this Czech drama, but I’ll be going into this DVD edition with little details…the way it should be.

The Story of Film (DVD)

The marketing material for The Story of Film

Closing out this excursion to my local thrift shops is the crown jewel of this volume’s findings. The Story of Film is a mammoth, 915-minute five-disc documentary collection from the British Film Institute chronicling cinema from its humblest beginnings through the 21st Century. I recall hearing about this documentary many years ago, but it always eluded my grasp. When a documentary claims to be “The Story of Film,” that’s a bold statement. And while I’ve heard mixed things about the final product, I haven’t been deterred from seeking this feature. As someone who loves film, even if I haven’t seen as many features as I would want, this documentary is a must-have. With the discs in fair shape and the 44-page booklet included, the $5.00 retail price made this a no-brainer.

And that was my latest haul! While Goodwill was a bust, the other local thrift stores picked up the slack. One of my favorite things about this collection of pick-ups is how much of a wide net these discs cast. From one of the most iconic westerns ever to a film from the legendary Sam Peckinpah, offerings from Czechoslovakia and Australia, and a rundown of cinematic history—it’s a cinematic excursion.

Totaling $16.00 for the entire lot, I have to say this thrift store visit may be the best so far. With everyone on a budget nowadays, myself included, I’ve resorted to my Goodwill and local thrift shops more often for my physical media additions. Not every visit produces such a treasure trove as this trip did, so shop with tempered expectations. It’s boom or bust—the ebb and flow of retail. If you’re a cinephile, it’s always worth checking out your local thrift stores, as you might find some good stuff at the Goodwill!

Written by Robert Chipman

Robert is a lifelong cinephile and has had an admiration with film for as long as he can remember. When he's not checking out the most recent theatrical release, viewing a movie on one of a 1,000,000,000 streaming services or picking up the latest physical media disc, he's trying and failing to make it in Hollywood as a screenwriter. He also has a weird fascination with Stephen Dorff. Make of that what you will. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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