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The Bootleg Files: The Jack Benny Birthday Special

BOOTLEG FILES 673: “The Jack Benny Birthday Special” (1969 TV special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

During the mid-1960s into the early 1970s, Jack Benny made a number of TV specials that aired on NBC. Most of these offerings were pleasant but entirely forgettable, and Benny often seemed to be dialing in his performances.
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The Bootleg Files: Who’s Out There?

BOOTLEG FILES 672: “Who’s Out There?” (1975 documentary short hosted by Orson Welles).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On a public domain label.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Produced for the federal government, hence the absence of a copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: One public domain label carries it, but a full-throttle digital restoration is unlikely.

During the 1970s, a great deal of attention was being paid to outer space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) kept people focused on the sky with its various lunar missions and probes into the deepest corners of the galaxy. But many people insisted that space traffic was a two-way endeavor, and sightings of UFOs along with various claims of personal encounters with intergalactic visitors became headline news throughout the decade.
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The Bootleg Files: Kokoda Front Line!

BOOTLEG FILES 671: “Kokoda Front Line!” (1942 Australian newsreel).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

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

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It can be found on Australian DVD, but it is not likely to be released on a U.S. label.

If you are an Academy Award trivia buff, you will recognize “Kokoda Front Line!” as the first Australian film to win an Oscar. If you are World War II history buff, you will be familiar with the importance of “Kokoda Front Line!” in covering an important battle in the Pacific combat. But if you are not up to speed on either your Oscar factoids or your World War II knowledge, then hopefully you might come away from this week’s column with something worth learning.
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The Bootleg Files: So This is Africa

BOOTLEG FILES 670: “So This is Africa” (1933 comedy starring Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived commercial value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely at this time.

It is a common misconception that the Pre-Code Hollywood era was a period when almost anything was possible on the screen. And while the implementation of the 1934 establishment of the Production Code Administration brought a heavy-handed degree of censorship to film production, there was plenty of censorship going on at both a national, state and city level.
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The Bootleg Files: Report from the Aleutians

BOOTLEG FILES 669: “Report from the Aleutians” (1943 U.S. Army documentary directed by John Huston).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube and other online video sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: There was no copyright filed.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Stuck in public domain hell, but it would be great if this little was digitally restored.

Everyone knows that the Japanese bombed the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. But few people seem to know that the Japanese invaded and occupied Kiska and Attu in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in June 1942, which marked the only section of North America was taken over by the Axis forces in World War II.
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The Bootleg Files: Up in the Air

BOOTLEG FILES 668: “Up in the Air” (1940 Monogram feature starring Frankie Darro and Mantan Moreland).

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: It would be great if this little film was digitally restored.

The 1940 Monogram Pictures feature “Up in the Air” may not be the best film of its era, but its surplus amount of ideas crammed into a compact 62-minute running time certainly makes it the busiest. Part-mystery and part-comedy, with musical numbers and a strange mix of egregious and progressive attitudes on race, this little B-level production has more pep than most A-grade flicks.
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The Bootleg Files: Confederate Honey

BOOTLEG FILES 667: “Confederate Honey” (1940 Warner Bros. animated short).

LAST SEEN: On DailyMotion.com

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On LaserDisc and in an edited DVD release.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Politically incorrect content.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not in its original uncut form.

During the past few years, there has been an uncommon degree of attention paid to the Confederate States of America, which died in 1865 at the end of the Civil War. On one side, a new wave of white racists is flying the Confederate flag at rallies where they spout their idiotic hatred. On the other side, left-wing revisionists are spending their time demanding the removal of statues of Confederate generals and the renaming of schools and streets named for the military leaders of that long-deceased secessionist nation.

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The Bootleg Files: The Norelco Santa Commercials

BOOTLEG FILES 666: “The Norelco Santa Commercials” (long-running television advertising campaign).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived home entertainment market for old TV commercials.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

Every Christmas season, certain programming is dusted off for an annual television broadcast. But for those of us who admit to being a certain age, there is one holiday favorite that always made the December television line-up worthwhile. No, it wasn’t a movie or a standalone special. Instead, it was a simple but effective 30-second commercial for a company specializing in electric razors.

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