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A Passion for Movies Thrives at Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee

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The independent North Hollywood shop is the oldest video rental store in Los Angeles.

Before Hollywood Video or Blockbuster Video had set up shop, Eddie Brandt was renting videotapes. In the late 70s, his store was the first in Los Angeles to offer video rentals.

At the time, it cost $50 to buy a film on videotape and video players went for $2,500 said Brandt's widow, Claire. Hugh Hefner was an early customer who had enough money to afford a viewer. He shared Eddie Brandt's love for B-Westerns and old serial TV shows, Claire said.

Though the shop's namesake passed away in February, his passion for old films and TV continues to thrive at the North Hollywood shop he opened in 1969. Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee on Vineland Avenue started as a memorabilia and thrift store and expanded into a video rental business. The shop also has an extensive archive of movie, TV and news photos for sale.

It was always a business that included members of the Brandt family. Their children started working there at ages nine (Heidi) and 11 (Donovan). In fact, the store's unusual hours were originally set to accommodate the schedules of the Brandt children back when they were in school in the 1970s and 80s. The shop is open 1-6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Like Claire Brandt, Donovan still works for the shop, though mostly from home as the business manager, said employee Alex Van Dyne.

With the demise of many national chains, Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee survives by offering the largest selection of tapes in the country at one location -- 82,000 videos and 20,000 DVDs, Van Dyne said.

In just one small area of the store a shopper can find Klute, La Cage Aux Zombies, and Ann Margaret in Kitten with a Whip. For those inclined to dip into classic TV, The Adventures of Kit Carson, Adam-12 and My Favorite Martian are among the vast available inventory.

"The future (of film viewing) is all downloading, but there are still people who want a bricks and mortar store," Van Dyne said.

In addition, the shop's employees have a vast knowledge of movie history, which is part of how they secured their jobs. Both Van Dyne and colleague Tony Nittolli were long-time customers before they joined the small staff.

They love to have their familiarity with film history tested, which provides an invaluable service to customers who might only know an obscure detail about a film. For example, if someone was looking for 1946 film noir with Burt Lancaster, the shopper would be quickly pointed to The Killers.

The inventory includes many rare and hard-to-find films and programs, which has attracted directors like Quentin Tarantino, who has credited the shop in his movies, Van Dyne said. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is another customer who was first brought to Eddie Brandt's by his parents when he was a child.

Other frequent customers include costume designers who want to research old films for period productions, and children of famous actors who want to see their parents in films that are no longer readily available. Talk show producers also troll the store searching for clips from films that feature upcoming guests on their shows. The clips are generally of the most embarrassing variety possible, Van Dyne said.

And while the shop can boast customers who place orders from as far away as England and New Zealand, locals come in as often as twice a week to rent videos they can't find anywhere else.

Among the store's regulars is 24-year-old Sabrina Parke.

"My family was coming here before I was born," she said. So it's natural for staff members to greet her warmly, ask how her dad is doing or tease her about her loyalty to the shop.

"Parents bring in their children and those children grow up and love movies," Claire said. "It's like one big family. You don't have places like that anymore."

Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee

www.ebsmvideo.com

5006 Vineland Ave.
North Hollywood, CA 91601
818-506-4242

This story originally ran on North Hollywood - Toluca Lake Patch.com.