My ideas for posts come to me in a very organic way. Doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, if a thought comes to mind I immediately write it down. (if I don’t, it can be lost in the ether forever:) This time, sitting under the dryer at the salon, I came up with the idea for a flashback look at the revolutionary video format from “back in the day”and some of my favorite titles from the hundreds of tapes in my VCR library.
The Video Home System (VHS) is a standard for consumer-level use of analog recording on videotape cassettes. It was developed by Victor Company of Japan (JVC) in the 1970s. (Wikipedia)
Over the years, I’ve been upgrading my VHS tapes to DVDs because of the quality. But, I’d also kept my VCR because of my extensive VHS collection and besides, it was in perfectly good condition. That is until about a year ago. The rewind ceased to function and upon ejecting the tape it became a projectile, hurling itself across the room.
I recently celebrated my birthday and received an Amazon gift card which I was very excited to use in purchasing a new, used VCR. As I started taking inventory of tapes I hadn’t been able to or just forgot about watching over the years, I was like a kid in a candy store, discovering these titles all over again.
Anyone who knows me understands I’m a movie junkie. As a kid, my mom and I went to the “show” (as we called it) on a weekly basis. And on Saturdays, I’d tag along with my sister to the monster matinees.
Growing up in the sixties, I only had access to my favorite films at the movie theater. However, I always believed the day would come when I’d assemble a film library and be able to watch my faves as often as I’d like. It would take another decade, but I got my wish when in 1977 the VCR player became available to the general public.
From the 1950s, magnetic tape video recording became a major contributor to the television industry, via the first commercialized video tape recorders (VTRs). At that time, the devices were used only in expensive professional environments such as television studios and medical imaging (fluoroscopy).
In the 1970s videotape entered home use, creating the home video industry and changing the economics of the television and movie businesses. The television industry viewed VCRs as having the power to disrupt their business, while television users viewed the VCR as the means to take control of their hobby. (Wikipedia)
In the beginning, there were few titles available and the tapes were expensive. ($60-$80) It would take until the early eighties before the format was feasible as prices came down.
The first theatrical film ever released to the public on VHS was the South Korean drama, The Young Teacher, in 1976. The first three titles to become available in the U.S were – The Sound of Music, Patton, and M*A*S*H (at an average retail cost of $50-$70, each).
I have such happy memories of watching The Sound of Music (1965) for the first time and being swept up in the majestic opening number and loving every song. At that moment, Julie Andrews became my favorite songstress and I would forever perform as a soprano!
West Side Story (1961) also made an impression and was one of the coolest musicals of the 1960’s. Winner of ten Academy Awards including Best Picture, this electrifying musical sets the ageless tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in the slums of 1950s New York.
My personality is the type that will watch a movie over and over again and I’m so thankful for the advent of the VCR which has allowed me to collect and enjoy my film library anytime I desire. These films have also impacted and inspired me to take my love of musicals and eventually perform in community theater productions.
It’s so wonderful to be able to relive fond big screen memories, and relish home movies of when my kids were young. Starting my video collection was a wish come true and I often enjoy revisiting these special films and moments of days and times gone by.
Often considered an important medium of film history, the influence of VHS on art and cinema was highlighted in a retrospective staged at the Museum of Arts and Design in 2013. In 2015 the Yale University Library collected nearly 3,000 horror and exploitation movies on VHS tapes, distributed from 1978 to 1985, calling them “the cultural id of an era.” (Wikipedia)