Dang! Where Did I Put That Movie???

Recently the guys over at Criterion Cast were discussing their movie collections and how to shelve them. I’m sure these guys have way more films than I do, but I thought that I’d share how I organize my collection of both movies and graphic novels. Keep in mind two things: (1) Although my wife thinks otherwise, my movie/graphic novel collections aren’t that large and (2) I am a librarian and tend to organize things as a librarian.

(In an earlier post, I discussed collecting in general and my thoughts about it.)

So, let’s take a look at just the movies today. Again, one of the Criterion Cast guys recently tweeted asking how people catalog their James Bond movies, under B or under J? For me, it’s easy: I shelve almost all my movies alphabetically by the first word (other than an article) in the title. That excludes TV shows and most multi-disc sets. (More on that shortly.) I only own four James Bond films, the only ones I think I’ll want to watch over and over. (If you’re interested, those are Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Casino Royale [2006]). If I had more, I’d probably file them under B. (Our library system files them all under J.)

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I place DVDs and Blu-rays side-by-side. No, I don’t like how they look, like a messed up architectural skyline, but it is what it is. Unlike most libraries, however, I put all the “number” titles together before the A titles start, films like 12 Angry Men, The 39 Steps, rather than putting those titles under T. (I’m pretty anal about keeping the cardboard slipcovers if at all possible. You’ll also see DVD and Blu-ray versions of the same film side by side.)

I don’t have that many documentaries, but soon I will separate those out. TV shows, of course, are separated out, alphabetically by title. Since my film noir collection is growing, I will probably soon pull those titles out and create a separate section.

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Box sets are a problem, unless they’re all related titles, like the Back to the Future trilogy. But even related sets can be a problem. What do you do with The Man with No Name trilogy? I have them under M. I’m not wild about it, but I’m not going to the trouble to split them up and place them in their own individual cases (which I would have to buy), download the cover art, etc. I know some people that do that and God bless ‘em. Not for me.

If a box set such as the Warner Brothers Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 1, each of those films has its own individual case, so I can put them on the shelf alphabetically with everything else. Some of those later volumes, however, contain two films on a disc. In that case, I have those volumes in my box set collection which starts after the individual films. (Of course, if I put my film noir collection in a separate place, I might just put the individual movies back in their boxes.)

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I keep up with everything old-school in a book and not on a computer. I write down everything I own listed alphabetically. (Since I’m always adding to it, this method obviously isn’t in strict alphabetical order. I know, I could do that on a computer, but I like having in a book. I told you: old school.) I get really nerdy (as if I’m not already there) by writing the titles of DVDs in black ink, and the titles of Blu-rays in blue ink. Like I said, I live in Nerdtown. I might just run for mayor.

If the film is part of a set, I’ll have an abbreviation/acronym after the title designating which set it belongs to. I have a legend in the book that gives the title of each set, so that when I see The Body Snatcher (1945) and the letters VL, I know that film is included in the Val Lewton box set.

I use this book in two ways: (1) when I’m shopping online or in stores to make sure I’m not buying something I already have (which, however, is no guarantee that I won’t make that mistake anyway) and (2) to show friends when they’re looking for something to borrow. Plus I can go all old-school librarian and write down who borrowed a movie and when. Hey, I could even charge fines….

That is what works for me. I’m not saying it will work for you. Plus, I’ll probably change things around. Again, keep in mind that my collection is only a few hundred DVDs/Blu-rays. Many of you reading this will have that many films in your A-C collections (or less).

So, let me know how you organize/catalog.

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