Back in the early days of home video, when the concept of owning and rewatching movies at home was still a novelty, Stagecoach and High Noon emerged as pioneers. These two classic Westerns, renowned for their excellence in the genre, were among the first films made widely available for purchase, allowing audiences to enjoy them from the comfort of their own homes. The choice of these films was a strategic move, as they represented the cream of the crop in terms of critical acclaim and popularity.
While streaming services have largely replaced physical media in today’s digital age, it’s worth noting that in the 1970s, there was a surge of enthusiasm for accumulating various forms of art in physical formats. Books and records had already become commonplace, but the emergence of home video provided a new and exciting way for people to access and experience their favorite movies. As a result, the initial offerings in the world of home video became highly sought-after commodities.
Stagecoach and High Noon were impeccable choices for launching home video. Both films had achieved monumental success at the box office, garnered multiple Academy Award nominations, featured legendary actors like John Wayne and Gary Cooper, underwent frequent re-releases, and were directed by iconic filmmakers John Ford and Fred Zinnemann. It would be hard to find a more fitting pair of movies to inaugurate the era of home video in the 1970s.
In their time, Stagecoach and High Noon were part of the Western genre’s golden era. While they may not hold the same level of contemporary popularity today, during that period, Westerns dominated the entertainment landscape. Almost every week brought forth a new Western movie or television show, solidifying the genre’s place in the hearts of audiences.
In addition to Stagecoach and High Noon, the first wave of movies released on home video included Hamlet and Bridge on the River Kwai. These selections were equally beloved by global audiences, boasting stellar lead actors in the form of Alec Guinness and Laurence Olivier, and achieving considerable success at the box office upon their initial theatrical release. Sears, Roebuck, USA took the initiative to release these four films on home video in 1972, showcasing them on the Avco Cartavision video player, which retailed at a premium price of $1,600. At the time, watching movies at home was considered a luxury, marking the beginning of a transformative era for home entertainment. Subsequently, VHS and Betamax players and tapes became more affordable and widely accessible, propelling the home video industry to unprecedented heights in the 1980s.
In today’s digital landscape, where movies and TV shows can vanish from streaming services and physical copies are more affordable than ever, there’s a growing appreciation for owning movies. While the convenience of streaming is undeniable, investing in physical media can provide a sense of permanence and a tangible connection to beloved films.