Sargent Video is no more! Most of the summer I was deluged with screeners on DVD, or else looking for obscure titles at the better-stocked video store over at the Plaza. Must have driven or biked past Sargent Video 50 times this summer, but because of my action-packed schedule I didn't stop by at my neighborhood's only vid store. Madame and I were on our way back from seeing Hairspray at this happy place, and she was calling out for a rematch with Saturday Night Fever. We pulled in to the parking lot and found the store empty except for a few shelves of blue sun-bleached movies for sale, cheap. Next day I got busy with some shopping bags and my credit card and tried to clean out as much decrepit VHS as I could. $30 later I had She's Gotta Have It, still not on DVD; Monsieur Verdoux, which I still haven't seen, and four bags full of lesser titles. And of course, Saturn 3. Its producer, Lord Lew Grade -- better known in his native UK as "Lord Low Greed" -- had once again assembled a package of international financing, over-the-hill talent, younger flesh, and ripped-off high concept to create an interplanetary love triangle complete with giant rapacious homicidal robot. And it's all directed by Stanley "Singin' in the Rain" Donen.
As for the Sargent, he watched over the looting of his store from several memorial photos on display. In one, he stood next to his favorite motorcycle. In another, he stood by a river, cradling an obese trout. Never a smiler, there was a certain relaxed gleam in his eyes in these photographs. There he was, one of the last of the indie video store owners, on holiday from his turbulent livelihood, safe from armed-to-the-teeth neighborhood thugs and the financial threat of Netflix. "Yeah, it happens," said the late Sarge's business partner as she rang me up. Though she actually said the word that rhymes with 'it'. "It happens especially if you smoke like a chimney."