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The Bootleg Files: Gabe Kaplan as Groucho

BOOTLEG FILES 729: “Gabe Kaplan as Groucho” (1982 television special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and LaserDisc.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Out of circulation for many years.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

In 1976, the producers of the popular sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter” planned to have Groucho Marx make a cameo appearance in an episode called “Sadie Hawkins Day.” The script called for Gabe Kaplan to do an impression of Groucho, only to have the real Groucho come in and react to the unreasonable facsimile. Unfortunately, the 86-year-old comedy icon was in extremely frail health and it was decided that he would not go on camera. Instead, Groucho posed for publicity photographs with the show’s cast – but these were not released to the media and only surfaced many years later.
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The Bootleg Files: Jane Russell Playtex Commercials

BOOTLEG FILES 728: “Jane Russell Playtex Commercials” (series of television advertisement featuring the buxom star selling bras and girdles).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: All old-time commercials get bootlegged.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

Jane Russell became a movie star in the 1940s thanks to producer Howard Hughes’ infantile preoccupation with bosoms. But she maintained her stardom as a result of her droll talent for light comedy and a tough-broad-with-a-heart-of-gold persona that captivated audiences.
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The Bootleg Files: Down Memory Lane

BOOTLEG FILES 727: “Down Memory Lane” (1949 compilation film of Mack Sennett comedy shorts).

LAST SEEN: In a truncated form on YouTube and Internet Archive.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

By the late 1940s, silent movies had mostly disappeared from public viewing. Some Charlie Chaplin shorts occasionally turned up in kiddie matinees and museums and film societies would sometimes dust off an old print for one-time screenings. But for the most part, the films created prior to rise of “The Jazz Singer” were rarely on the big screen.
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GoodTimes Home Video: Adjust Your Tracking

This week’s episode of “The Online Movie Show” goes back to the 1980s in a celebration of the GoodTimes Home Video, the king of the bargain basement VHS videos. Facebook’s funniest man, Anthony “The Kingfish” Vitamia, recalls the breezy and cheesy world of those wonderfully zany videos.

The episode can be heard here.

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The Bootleg Files: Sing a Song of Six Pants

BOOTLEG FILES 726: “Sing a Song of Six Pants” (1947 Three Stooges short).

LAST SEEN:
On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO
: On too many public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
A lapsed copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is doomed to public domain hell forever.

Every Three Stooges fan knows that four shorts starring the slapstick icons are in the public domain because Columbia Pictures failed to renew their copyrights. Three of those films are among the trio’s best: “Disorder in the Court” (arguably the greatest courtroom comedy ever), “Brideless Groom” (my pick for the finest Stooges short) and “Malice in the Palace” (a masterwork of surreal mayhem).
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The RKO Legacy

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, RKO offered the most innovative and invigorating mix of films. In this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” we discuss the studio’s rise and fall with film historian James L. Neibaur, author of “The RKO Features: A Complete Filmography of the Feature Films Released or Produced by RKO Radio Pictures, 1929-1960.”

The episode can be heard here.