The digital revolution in movie-making and movie watching is quickly making VHS look rather ancient. However, I’ve always been one to suggest to others not to get rid of your VCR so quickly. I’m amazed at just how many people have, given that many titles have still not made the transition to DVD. Turner Classic Movies has an ongoing poll of the top 200 requested titles still not on DVD. Among those are four amazing classics: Greed (1925), Wings (1927), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) and The African Queen (1951). The list has some other interesting choices as well, although some on the list have never been released on either DVD or VHS. Keep in mind, also, that this is a list of just 200 films. It’s probably just a fraction of what’s out there on tape.
I usually suggest to folks where I work (full disclosure: I work at Facets Multimedia) to make a list of films on VHS only (there’s a category of “rare” films on the rentals site). After making the list, if you feel you may have enough to justify having a VCR, try finding one inexpensively at a thrift store. Here in Chicago, The Brown Elephant usually does a pretty good job of sorting out some decent pieces, but definitely make sure you get a head cleaning tape or kit if you do decide to buy any used player. No telling when the last time those machines have been cleaned. Also, unless you get one cheaply in a thrift store or don’t mind spending the money, I would caution against buying a VHS/DVD combo. In my experience working in another video/audio equipment store some years ago, I’ve found that combos tend to have a greater breakage rate than stand-alone decks. The intricate internal makeup will make the repair costlier as well.