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The Bootleg Files: Afrique 50

BOOTLEG FILES 591: “Afrique 50” (1950 French documentary short by René Vautier).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
Never officially released in the U.S.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
It would be welcomed.

In 1949, a newly-minted film school graduate named René Vautier received his first big break when the Ligue de l’enseignement commissioned him to create a nonfiction film highlighting its educational mission in France’s West African colonies. Upon arriving in the French African colonies, the 21-year-old Vautier did not find evidence of French benevolence in Africa. Instead, he witnessed a degree of economic exploitation and repressive rule over people who were slowly simmering in their resentment of colonial occupation. As a decorated member of the French Resistance during World War II and a Communist Party member, he was not about to sit back and just tsk-tsk this situation.

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The Bootleg Files: Murder in the Cathedral

BOOTLEG FILES 590: “Murder in the Cathedral” (1951 British feature based on the T.S. Eliot drama).

LAST SEEN: We cannot confirm the last public exhibition of this film.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Out of circulation in the U.S. since its original theatrical release.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is possible.

The 12th century political battle between England’s King Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket was the subject of two magnificent dramas: T.S. Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral” and Jean Anouilh’s “Becket.” Today, most Americans are familiar with the Academy Award-winning 1964 film version of “Becket,” starring Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. Sadly, there is much less familiarity on this side of the Atlantic with the 1951 film adaptation of “Murder in the Cathedral.”

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The Bootleg Files: At Home, 2001

BOOTLEG FILES 589: “At Home, 2001” (1967 television news special hosted by Walter Cronkite.).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
None, although at one time it was made available on 16mm for the educational market.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: CBS News will not make it commercially available.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not in the immediate future.

Fifty years ago, CBS News debuted “The Twenty-First Century” as a documentary series designed to look ahead to the future. The series replaced “The Twentieth Century,” which set its sight on events and personalities that shaped the first six decades of the then-current century.

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The Bootleg Files: The Gay Nighties

BOOTLEG FILES 588: “The Gay Nighties” (1933 short starring the comedy team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough plus James Finlayson).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: In a public domain label collection of the team’s films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
No one is going to restore this orphaned gem.

Unless you are a near-rabid devotee to old-time comedy, you are probably unfamiliar with the team of Bobby Clark and Paul McCullough. They began their careers as circus acrobats before working their way through vaudeville and burlesque until they reached stardom on the New York and London stages during the 1920s. When sound came to movies, Clark and McCullough were recruited by Hollywood to star in a series of two-reelers, first under Fox and then under RKO.

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The Bootleg Files: A Place to Stand

BOOTLEG FILES 587: “A Place to Stand” (Academy Award-winning 1967 short).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived U.S. commercial value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

Fifty years ago, Montreal became the center of international attention with Expo 67, a World’s Fair that attracted more than 50 million visitors. And one of the most popular attractions at that event was a short film exhibited at the Ontario Pavilion called “A Place to Stand.” While mostly forgotten today, “A Place to Stand” was briefly influential in changing the visual style of late 1960s and 1970s film and television productions – and it even won an Academy Award.

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The Bootleg Files: Another Nice Mess

BOOTLEG FILES 586: “Another Nice Mess” (1972 comedy film starring Rich Little).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Even the film’s producers admitted it stank.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

Humorist Leo Rosten once commented, “Satire is focused bitterness.” It is hard to find a more accurate description of satire – and in view of today’s surplus of Alt-Left comedians going out of their way to denigrate the president and his family, the level of bitterness has become hopelessly poisoned.

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The Bootleg Files: Mason

BOOTLEG FILES 585: “Mason” (1975 TV pilot starring Mason Reese and Barry Nelson).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Nobody wants this thing.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
God, I hope not!

During the early 1970s, American television suffered from a surplus of excessively precocious little boys – tykes including Moosie Drier, Rodney Allen Rippy, Ricky Segall and John Gilchrist (a.k.a. Mikey from the Life Cereal commercial) were ubiquitous small screen mini-stars. Most of these kids were tolerable and nearly all of them vanished from view once they reached the pre-teen years.

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The Bootleg Files: How Did You Happen to Get Snoopy, Charlie Brown?

BOOTLEG FILES 584: “How Did You Happen to Get Snoopy, Charlie Brown?” (2017 fan film based on the Charles M. Schulz characters).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The unauthorized use of copyright-protected characters.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

There has been so much talk about childhood bullying in recent years that it is difficult not to recognize the role that Charles M. Schulz played in encouraging this negative environment. Yes, the creator of the long-running and beloved “Peanuts” comic strip used the concept of casual bullying as a light comedy theme focused on the character Charlie Brown. But let’s face it, the idea of a young boy constantly being harassed and insulted for his alleged stupidity, lack of personality, lack of athletic ability and overall clumsiness is not exactly hilarious in principle – and the fact that Charlie Brown’s tormentors are never punished or are very rarely remorseful for their malice is equally problematic.

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