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The Bootleg Files: Capital Punishment

BOOTLEG FILES 693: “Capital Punishment” (1925 silent drama featuring Clara Bow).

LAST SEEN: On Internet Archive.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: In a crummy public domain dupe.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is unlikely that this will be digitally restored.

Unless you are a character in a Joshua Ryan story, it is safe to assume that you would probably not voluntarily submit yourself to prison incarceration. But in this obscure 1925 silent feature, the central character agrees to forsake his liberty and go behind bars as part of an elaborate ruse to call attention to the failings of the criminal justice system. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the system fails him with extraordinary brutality.
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The Bootleg Files: Uncle Croc’s Block

BOOTLEG FILES 692: “Uncle Croc’s Block” (1975-76 television series with Charles Nelson Reilly and Jonathan Harris).

LAST SEEN: Bits and pieces are on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It was considered a bomb in its time.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

I genuinely feel sorry for today’s children, as their television viewing choices are too safe and too benign for their own good. Back in the 1970s when I was a kid, television aimed at the school-age crowd was delightfully weird and funky. But even by the standards of that excessive era, there was nothing as truly bizarre as a 1975-76 ABC show called “Uncle Croc’s Block.”
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The Bootleg Files: Peter Lemongello – Love 76

BOOTLEG FILES 691: “Peter Lemongello – Love 76” (1976 TV commercial for a double-album release).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: There is no reissue channel for old TV advertisements.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

Back in the 1970s, the only way aspiring singers could achieve stardom was to go through major record labels that produced music that received constant playing on popular radio stations. But one unlikely singer made a bold attempt to buck the system and circumvent his way to stardom. His efforts ultimately failed to work, but it laid the groundwork for a bold new approach to popular music marketing.
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The Bootleg Files: Knights of the Bath

BOOTLEG FILES 690: “Knights of the Bath” (1951 short film consisting of footage from the 1944 Abbott and Costello comedy “In Society”).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The material is copyright protected.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

Beginning in the 1930s, a company called Castle Films was a dominant force in the nontheatrical home entertainment market. In the decades before video technology, movie lovers would purchase either a projector and watch their favorite Hollywood films in the comfort of their homes. However, the Super 8, 8mm and 16mm formats did not easily support feature-length films, and the productions were often edited down to fit the reels being sold to the public. In many cases, certain sequences would be excised from the larger works and sold as standalone pieces, usually for one-reel or two-reel exhibition.
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Before Stonewall (1984)

This month’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot and the launch of the modern gay rights movement marks a perfect time to bring back Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg’s groundbreaking 1984 documentary, which details the LGBT experience in the decades prior to the game-changing pushback that occurred at New York City’s Stonewall Inn in 1969.
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The Bootleg Files: Storybook Squares

BOOTLEG FILES 689: “Storybook Squares” (TV game show that aired in the 1969 and 1976-77 seasons).

LAST SEEN: Three episodes are on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A mostly-lost series.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely unless the lost shows are recovered.

One of the most popular game shows in U.S. television history was “Hollywood Squares,” which placed nine celebrities in an oversized tic-tac-toe set for a game that mixed trivia questions with laughs. The series ran from 1966 to 1981 and appeared in a daytime show that aired on weekdays and a syndicated nighttime version that initially aired once a week and was later made into a twice-a-week offering.
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The Bootleg Files: Minstrel Man

BOOTLEG FILES 688: “Minstrel Man” (1944 musical).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
No one is rushing to digitally restore this title.

When one thinks of the 1940s musicals, few people will automatically cite the Poverty Row mini-studio Producers Releasing Corporation (PRC). Indeed, that cheapo endeavor gained a belated cult following for its thrillers, horror flicks and Westerns, but not for musicals. However, this scrappy little operation created at least one notable musical that snagged a pair of Oscar nominations and brought together an unlikely band of talent.
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