Friday, March 2, 2007

"I Wonder if Best Buy Sucks." "I Wonder if You Wonder."

This post is part of Filmscreed's Billy Wilder Blog-a-thon.

I have never had a good experience at Best Buy. My most recent nightmare—which was nowhere near the worst—grew out of an attempt to use a Christmas gift card to purchase the two-disc edition of Billy Wilder's masterful noir "Double Indemnity." I assumed this wouldn't be difficult, until I couldn't find the DVD. It wasn't in drama, so I looked for a classics section, a thriller section—maybe a WIlder section?

Eventually, I asked an employee, who immediately started fiddling with his computer. "Who's in it again? Michael Caine?" Michael Caine? What the fuck was he thinking of? I could have taken this opportunity to mock this numbskull and tell him that he should have a basic sense of cinema history if he wants to work at a video store. Instead, I just told him that Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck starred in it. "Anyone else?" he asked.

He eventually concluded that Best Buy once had the DVD, but they sent them back to the warehouse and now no Best Buy locations carry it. If "Double Indemnity," one of the canonized Wilder films, wasn't available, I wondered if non-film-obsessives would ever have the chance to experience Wilder's lesser-known gems like "Ace in the Hole," "Witness for the Prosecution," Howard Hawks's "Ball of Fire" and many others. It's easy to forget, wrapped in my cinema bubble, how many great films most people will never see.

"Sorry we have such a low quantity of good stuff," the employee said snidely and inexplicably as he walked off. Then my sister ran over to ironically show me a special edition of "Grease," with the a special little leather jacket case cover sleeve. I'm afraid the employee doesn't even begin to understand how sorry he is.


Unknown said...

That "Grease" wrapped in a leather jacket was on sale for a mere $9.99. What a store!

Jeff Duncanson said...

Good story. I think most cinephiles have something similar to tell. It's a sign of the times, sadly - You can get 25 copies of the latest juvenile blockbuster, but if you wanted say, The Searchers, you're out of luck.

Thanks for the post.

odienator said...

Damning words: I have never had a good experience at Best Buy.

Yet you still go there.

Double Indemnity, for all its brilliance, is 63 years old, and a specialty buy if anything. Super-duper-megalo-conglomerate stores like Best Buy don't stock things that one or two people would want. You go to Best Buy to buy stuff made by Britney Spears, not Barbara Stanwyck.

This was a very amusing story, but I have to take you to task on it. Had I been working at Best Buy, I would have probably looked at you as if you were a damned fool and sent you to "Why the hell are you here?" I would have asked after you protested that I didn't know what Double Indemnity was (assuming I was the 17 year old iPod wearing kid behind the computer, not the considerably older film buff I currently am). "Look, old timer," I'd continue. "Why don't you go someplace that actually sells quality movies, not Best Buy? You're complaining that we don't have old Michael Caine movies like Triple Indemnify?! Why dontcha go to McDonalds and kick Ronald in the teeth for not selling Duck a l'Orange McNuggets? While you're at it, go across the way to Wal-Mart and ask for some Versace! Here's your complimentary copy of Jackass Part Two."

Funny story, easy target. Speaking of Target, that's where I got my Double Dose of Double Indemnity.

Jeremy Mathews said...

Please note that I was given a gift card. and was trying to use it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been there in the first place. Best Buy does have what looks like a decent collection of DVDs—certainly bigger than Target—until you actually investigate them. They also seem more likely to have specialty boxed sets than specialty regular releases.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeremy,

Great to see one of my comrades from Film Threat Sundance '05 bunker in the blogothon-osphere.

I always support kvetsching of any kind about the mass ignorance of older films. There's big a world out there where "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Fight Club" are the last word in film classics, and it scares me.

Janean said...

I call it 'Worst Buy.' Remember the first time we swore we'd never go back?

Janean said...

Here's another go at putting the link in.

Squish said...

1.) What did you ending Buying with your Gift Card
2.) What did you to unto the person who gave you the gift card
3.) Why do you waste your money buying movies again?