Streaming services are where movies go to die. But we’ll still have crew merch

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As physical media becomes increasingly scarce and companies like Warner Bros. Discovery bury movies deep in their vaults, the crew jackets handed out at wrap parties might be all we have left of the movies that defined us. (Kayla James/For The Time)

Los Angeles is the ancestral home of cinema, but it is also a cemetery. LA is where old movies go to die. In the case of Warner Bros.’ “Batgirl” might be too literal – the movie was almost done when the studio scrapped it for a tax deduction. But when it comes to business, I’m talking about a more metaphorical death: the death of cultural relevance. When films lose their appeal to audiences, become cult items, or simply go out of home video stock, what remains of the work? A ghost of a memory in the mind of an obsessive. More and more, people desperate to remember the films that aired repeatedly on pay cable in the 20th century are turning to the detritus of show business: the crew jackets handed out at closing parties.

Crew jackets and movie set memorabilia are littered all over LA-area thrift stores and antique stores. They are small shreds of tangible nostalgia and conversation starters in social settings. A flashy movie logo slapped on the front or back of a bomber jacket. But as physical media becomes increasingly scarce and companies like Warner Bros. Discovery bury movies deep in their vaults, these memories might be all we have left of the movies that defined us and made us move to LA (or kept us here, for natives) in the first place . A crew jacket, often made of soft satin and sporting lunch stains and cigarette burns from the Teamster who owned it, can be a conversation piece, collector’s item or status symbol. For me, it’s all three.

I came into possession of an authentic crew jacket in 2010. A friend found a jacket from the 1979 film “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” at a thrift store in Pasadena. The movie is slow, overly intellectual, and filled with bizarre disco-era costume choices, like Dr. “Bones” McCoy in a skin-tight jumpsuit that exposed most (if not all) of his chest hair. Unlike most humans, this is my favorite “Star Trek” movie.

The jacket was in pretty bad shape. Some of the stains on the arm looked like blood smears. I did my best to disabuse myself of the idea that the former owner of the jacket was a serial killer turned serial killer. “It’s a nice shade of paint, I’m sure,” I thought to myself. There were also other random stains on the jacket. This jacket had been new for decades, so some wear and tear was to be expected. But that was the 2010s. You could get away with looking slightly disheveled. Today I barely wear the thing. The stains will never come out. Elastic cuffs are uncomfortable. I’ve gained enough pandemic weight that my chances of fitting in comfortably are much slimmer than I am now.

However, the possession of the thing is as important as the usefulness of the object.

The crew jacket is one of many gifts given to cast and crew to commemorate the completion of a movie or TV show. This is not a fashion item for the first owner. It might not even be worn as often in public. After all, how many times do you need to remind people that you worked in craft services on “The narrowing next doora TV show that came out last year? I was gifted a Patagonia sweater for the third season of the AMC series “Halt and Catch Fire” and it’s taking up space in my closet, but I’ll probably never wear it again, unless it’s laundry day. . Or if every one of my other jackets was stolen.

These jackets — and the hats, t-shirts and other ephemera that keep Hollywood’s giftware industry alive — are about preserving a memory. When that keepsake ceases to matter to the owner, he goes to the thrift store, eBay, Grailed or any other thrift store to wait for a savvy customer to decide that he wants to represent the Clint Eastwood/Burt Reynolds vehicle”city ​​heat.” No, I don’t remember that movie either. I assure you that it’s true.

“City Heat” was released on December 7, 1984. It was written by cinematic comedy legend Blake Edwards and directed by actor Richard Benjamin, perhaps best known for playing the lead role in the original “Westworld “. The film has a poor 22% on Rotten Tomatoes and is infamous for a story in which Burt Reynolds was hit in the face with a steel chair and had to be restricted to a liquid diet while his jaw healed, causing him to lose 30 pounds. For $3, you can watch this movie on Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, or YouTube. The last time the movie was released on physical media was in 2010. If I were a bettor, I’d bet a full wage that “City Heat” would never again be released on a record of any kind in the history of human civilization. . A thought-provoking achievement.

“City Heat” still exists as a beautiful bomber jacket. The back of the jacket features the stylized cartoon faces of Eastwood and Reynolds, before Burt had to shut his jaw. “With Love & Luck, Burt Reynolds” is embroidered on the front. As films like “City Heat” fall deeper into obscurity, these crew jackets become more of a lifeline for LA history and bizarre stories like Burt Reynolds getting pulled over a style chair. WWE head on a film set. While movies go out of fashion and are harder to find in the streaming media galaxy, jackets never do.

In the not-too-distant future, these jackets could be all we have left of an entire generation of filmed entertainment. They represent the hard work, creative energy and care that goes into making a film, even if that film has ended be terrible. Los Angeles isn’t considered a blue-collar city, but the city is full of men and women who carry heavy things for a living and are just as important to the film industry as any star, writer or director. When movies disappear from streaming or are, like “Batgirl,” buried for a small profit, these jackets might be the last thing that represents months of work and millions of dollars of effort. Plus, they look great too.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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