I’ve been collecting movies for about 20 years. I limit myself pretty exclusively to the DVD format, although if I want a movie badly enough I’ll purchase it on Blu-ray or even VHS. Since I began collecting, I’ve accumulated nearly 1900 movies — which isn’t as many as you might think. I’ve run into people with collections more than twice that size.
I’ve focused on different genres at different times; but, for the last several months, I’ve focused on Hallmark channel movies. I know, I know, many people probably think Hallmark movies are insipid; but they almost always leave me feeling better than I felt before watching them, and that kind of a reliable pick-me-up is increasingly hard to find in today’s world. So, laugh if you must, but I like Hallmark.
There are a couple of specialty categories one can focus on when collecting Hallmark movies. There’s the Hallmark Hall of Fame category, which includes movies going back to the 1950s. This category contains the earliest film I’ve been able to find on DVD thus far: “Kiss Me Kate” (1958), starring Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison and Julie Wilson. There is also the Christmas category, which is probably what many people think of first when they think of Hallmark movies. And there are a lot of those. In addition to these, I have made a point of collecting movies with certain actors who are or have been in the Hallmark stable.
Hallmark DVDs frequently disappear from the shelves — even the on-line shelves — and can even be tough to find in the aftermarket. I’ve seen some unbelievable prices on those. Some people find hidden treasures in thrift stores and garage sales, but I always try to buy new, if I can. It’s not always possible; and, even when it is, the price for a new copy can be so high that I’ll settle for a used copy in decent shape. I am on a budget, after all. I have an all-region Blu-ray player that will play any commercial DVD or Blu-ray from anywhere in the world, because I sometimes have to send to Europe or Australia in order to buy a DVD I want and those are formatted differently. I have even found one Hallmark title that has been released in both Europe and Australia but has never been released in the US — one of the better ones, too. Strangely, there are some very good Hallmark movies that have never been released at all; and, although some vendors create pirated DVDs from VHS copies of movies or from broadcasts, I don’t buy them for ethical reasons.
Used DVDs can be found on Ebay, Mercari, Bonanza and even Amazon, but I stick pretty exclusively to the first and the last. Ebay can be a little dicey sometimes, with people selling what appear to be pirated copies — pretty good ones, too. I always inquire before buying one that raises my suspicions. Usually, if the item is genuine, I get a good response from the seller; but, just today, when I sent such an inquiry, the seller banned me from dealing with him permanently. I guess I got my answer!
Often, Hallmark movies are released in more than one edition of DVD, e.g., both singly and in combination with others. So, I am careful when selecting my purchases to buy movies in the most economical combinations possible. Nevertheless, once in a while I really screw the pooch. Not only do some Hallmark movies undergo a change of title, it can also require creativity to find them on Amazon. For example, if you search for a title one way, it will bring up the DVD you’re looking for, and if you search for it another way, it won’t. A few days ago, I paid $40 on Ebay for DVD I had to have to complete a category. Today, I found the same movie as part of a 4-film set, none of which I already owned and which I could have purchased for what I had paid for the DVD on Ebay. Thankfully, I don’t make many mistakes of that kind; but they still sting when I do.
I was very disappointed by the departure from Hallmark of a number of its high-profile actors, who moved to the Great American Family (GAF) network. I think the loss of so much talent at once has damaged the reliability of the quality of the brand, though I expect it to improve with time. I have only tried to watch one or two of the movies put out by GAF. I tried to watch one their Christmas movies from 2022 just last night, “A Royal Christmas on Ice”; and, heavens, what a stinker. I wish I were more of a film critic and could be more adroit in my analysis. It did not, however, have any of the ex-Hallmark performers I had been sorry to see go.
I don’t know if we DVD collectors are a scarce breed or merely a quiet one, but I only encounter others with my hobby online. Perhaps everyone is simply occupied, watching movies!