A Guide to Buying Classic Films on DVD

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A Guide to Buying Classic Films on DVD

It is a cold, snowy day and the perfect day to relax and watch a film. The advancements in home theatre technology, coupled with a decrease in most model prices, have prompted many people to change their film viewing habits. Of course, the cost of buying popcorn and sweets makes sitting at home to watch a film even more appealing. DVDs are still the most popular form of delivering films, and they represent the bulk of films found in video libraries throughout the world. When cinema fans begin to assemble a collection of films for a video library, they usually choose classic films that have stood the test of time. Classic films encompass so many variables, most of which are subjective, so that it is nearly impossible for two people to agree on a classic film list, much less a group of 10 cinema fans.

Film buffs can find classic films at most video shops, but the best way to shop for classic films is to go online and search for titles. However, eBay possesses the most comprehensive inventory of classic films just based on the sheer number of sellers. Before shopping for classic films, consumers should learn about classic film characteristics, genres, and how to find classic films on DVD.

What Defines a Classic Film?

Cinemagoers can walk away from a theatre and comment about just having watched a "classic". Yet most film critics and film historians claim a certain amount of time must pass before a film receives the "classic" label. While they agree about time passing, film buffs cannot agree on how long a film must stand the test of time before it receives the "classic" designation. Should 10, 15, or even 50 years pass before a film becomes a classic? Time is just one of the many subjective parameters used for designating classic films. However, the following criteria provides a more objective analysis that involves awareness of filmmaking concepts.

Classic Film Dialogue

Dialogue cements the relationship between characters, and it often determines whether a film goes on to become a classic. Moreover, it is dialogue that often reveals the underlying film themes that add richness to a film's storyline. Classic films also contain at least one memorable quote that people use in their daily vernaculars. Clark Gable's infamous, "Frankly dear, I don't give a damn", has withstood the passing of multiple generations. The key to great dialogue is the quality of a script, which means great writers create compelling and memorable dialogue.

Social Statement of Classic Films

Many film classics have made profound commentaries on events that mould a particular era. "Dr. Strangelove" is the quintessential film commentary about the ludicrous escalation of the Cold War. "Gone with the Wind" captures the prevailing mood during the Civil War. "Catch-22" presents stinging rebukes on the insanity of war. Classic films that make thought-provoking social statements transcend the film medium. They reflect society, usually during the time they were created.

Watch Again and Again

What makes "The Wizard of Oz" a classic film? It is a classic because many people watch the film over and over again. For years, this classic made an annual appearance on network television and the ratings were always near the top of the programming list. Classic films excite viewers, regardless if it is the first or 20th time they have seen the film. Most classic films present something new that viewers may have missed before, or they prompt another line of critical thinking. Some classic films require multiple viewings just to understand an intricate plot.

Superior Acting in Classic Films

Acting performances are another parameter that require a high degree of subjectivity. However, it is clear that most classic films contain at least one performance that has people talking years after the film's release. Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone, Tom Hanks' Forrest Gump, and Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly are just a small sampling of the great performances that helped to create classic films. Some film buffs believe terrible acting can elevate a film to classic status, such as in the film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". However, these types of film should be considered more cult than classic.

Recognition of Classic Films

Classic films receive acclaim in the form of awards and numerous film industry expert commendations. They earn multiple Oscar nominations that cross the award spectrum, from costume design to best actress. Some classic films have earned multiple awards at other highly-respected award ceremonies. Most important, many classic films garner their reputations by the recognition bestowed upon them by professional film critics and industry insiders.

Classic Film Categories

The best way to build a classic film collection is to list the film genres that are most appealing. Every genre, from gripping dramas to lighthearted romantic comedies, have produced classic films. The following list includes the most relevant film genres and a few examples of classic films within each genre.


Film Examples


"The Godfather"

"Citizen Kane"

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"

"It's a Wonderful Life"

"The Silence of the Lambs"

Science-fiction and fantasy

"A Clockwork Orange"

"2001: A Space Odyssey"

"Star Wars"

"The Andromeda Strain"


"Breakfast at Tiffany's"


"Doctor Zhivago"

"Gone with the Wind"

"When Harry Met Sally"


"Monty Python and the Holy Grail"

"Annie Hall"

"The Graduate"

"Animal House"


"Dr. Strangelove"



"Rosemary's Baby"

"The Shining"



"Strangers on a Train"


"The Birds"

"Our Mother's House"



"Old Yeller"

"The Little Prince"

"The Princess Bride"

Foreign language

"La Dolce Vita"


"The Seventh Seal"

"The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari"

After choosing favourite genres, write down the first films that come to mind. None of the films chosen have to be part of a notable film critic's list of classic films. The films chosen just need to be those that become a regular part of a film viewing routine.

What About the DVD Player?

DVD players provide much more DVD clarity than VCRs have provided for VHS tapes. Buyers need to purchase a DVD player as an essential part of any home theatre system. Consumers who purchase classic film DVDs, but do not buy high-quality DVD players, do not receive the full benefits of watching classic films on DVD. Here are some viewing choices for DVD classic films.

Basic DVD Player

Basic DVD players typically connect to televisions and high-fidelity home theatre receivers. The video and sound quality far surpasses anything developed using VCR technology. Most basic DVD players play one classic film at a time, which limits the scope of a home theatre system. This type of DVD viewing medium allows users to perform basic remote control functions, such as accessing menus and changing audio options.

Upconverting DVD Players

Many newer DVD players utilise video enhancement technology called upconverting. This type of DVD player increases screen classic film resolutions to about 1080 pixels, which allow users to maximise the advantages of watching classic films on high-definition televisions.

DVD Changer

The capability of newer home theatre systems to run more than one classic film at a time means consumers should consider DVD changers. This device holds at least five discs for continuous and simultaneous play. Users can programme DVD changers to replace DVD players and seamlessly integrate the current home entertainment centre.

Progressive Scan

As another great option of HDTVs, progressive scan creates sharper video images by redistributing the consecutive horizontal lines. Progressive scanning represents a huge improvement over interlaced scanning technology, although the pace of innovation may soon render progressive scanning obsolete.

How to Buy Classic Film DVDs

One important note to make is that brick and mortar film shops only carry the most popular film classics. Consumers looking for a relatively obscure, yet classically made, film may have a better chance of finding the film online. Many online film shops offer a wide selection of classic films, which can be found by typing the name of the classic film DVD into the portal's search engine. Online film shops are also more likely to offer discounts on featured classic films, as well as bundle classic films in a package that costs less than if the films are purchased individually. In addition, online film shops provide visitors with blogs and other useful information that may be utilised to make buying decisions.

The process for buying classic films online does not differ much among online shops. Besides typing keywords into a search engine, website visitors can also click on a film's genre and navigate through the list of classic films presented in a database. Make sure any classic films considered for purchase are labelled with the edition available. Some editions augment the film by adding director cuts and actor interviews. The best online film shops present visitors with a summary of the film. Finally, after verifying the film selected with the DVD cover, consumers click an "add" button that places the classic film in a shopping cart. The "checkout" button facilitates payment for a classic film.

How to Buy Classic Film DVDs on eBay

eBay sellers offer a wide selection of classic film DVDs that cross virtually every type of genre. All buyers have to do is utilise eBay's search engine, and then navigate through the search result pages until they find a seller that offers their classic films. You can type "classic film DVDs" into the search engine, and then navigate through the results to get an idea of the classic films available. Alternatively, typing specific keywords into the search engine narrow the search results. For instance, typing "The Sting" only takes you to sellers who are selling that film classic. After you find a seller who meets your buying criteria, navigate to the seller's product page to review accepted payment methods and delivery terms.

The key to buying a classic film on DVD is finding sellers who offer the films in near mint condition. You can type the keywords "mint condition classic film DVDs" and look for eBay's Top-Rated Sellers in the search results. eBay's Top-Rated Sellers have established strong reputations for selling high-quality products and running fair transactions. You can also review customer feedback located on seller product pages. Look for sellers who have garnered positive feedback for over the past year and preferably have some experience selling DVDs.


Cinemagoing costs and the advancements in video technology have merged to form a potent market for home theatre systems. At the heart of most home entertainment centres is an electronic device that plays favourite films. After garnering years of popularity, DVD players are still the preferred film delivery device for a majority of consumers. Users can now watch multiple film DVDs via home theatre systems and purchase DVD players that possess the latest technology for enhancing audio and video. Contemporary DVD players and classic film DVDs are the perfect match.

What defines a classic film? In many cases, defining a classic film is all in the eyes of the beholder. However, there are some criteria that help film fans create a list of classic films. The first factor to look for is how long the film has been around. Time-tested classics have superior dialogue, outstanding acting, memorable scenes, and long-lasting social impact. Some of the genres that produce the most film classics include drama, comedy, horror, and romance. The best way to start compiling a classic film library is to purchase titles in one genre, and then move onto another favourite genre.

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