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The Bootleg Files: The Hollywood Greats – Groucho Marx

BOOTLEG FILES 762: “The Hollywood Greats – Groucho Marx” (1979 episode of a British television series).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Fell through the proverbial cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

Zeppo Marx is one of the most mysterious figures in film history. He appeared with his brothers Groucho, Harpo and Chico in their first five feature films at Paramount (and in a segment of a promotional film for the studio), but the union within his zany siblings’ antics was always tenuous. He was barely on screen in their first film, “The Cocoanuts,” and snagged a single memorable segment with Groucho in “Animal Crackers.” Zeppo got more screen time as the romantic interest in “Monkey Business” and “Horse Feathers,” but by their final film “Duck Soup” he was back to being an elusive on-screen presence.
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The Bootleg Files: The Carpenters…Space Encounters

BOOTLEG FILES 761: “The Carpenters…Space Encounters” (1978 television variety special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Music clearance rights are probably at the root of the problem.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

When it comes to kitsch, nothing beats the television variety specials of the 1970s. Between the none-too-special guest stars performing musical numbers for which they were ill-suited, the flashy polyester costuming, the overbaked choreography and the manic need to appear hip, these productions often represent the best of the worst elements from the decade that good taste forgot.
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The Bootleg Files: The Euell Gibbons Grape Nuts Commercials

BOOTLEG FILES 760: “The Euell Gibbons Grape Nuts Commercials” (series of 1970s television advertisements).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived commercial value for a DVD full of old breakfast cereal commercials.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

If you were watching American television in the early 1970s, you probably remember Euell Gibbons and the series of commercials he did for the Grape Nuts breakfast cereal brand. If so, you might recall the bizarre line that turned Gibbons into one of the most unlikely figures of pop culture in the decade that good taste forgot.
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The Bootleg Files: Castle of Doom

BOOTLEG FILES 759: “Castle of Doom” (mid-1930s re-edited version of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “Vampyr”).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
On a VHS label in the 1980s.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Missing materials and a lack of commercial value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nope!

It is not uncommon for a film be considered a flop when it first opened, only to be re-evaluated years later and belatedly declared a masterwork. One of the most striking examples of this scenario is Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “Vampyr,” which opened in 1932 to withering reviews and dismal box office returns – the failure of the film caused Dreyer to have a nervous breakdown and not direct another film for a decade. Today, the film is considered a horror masterpiece – and not only did it survive its rough opening, but it also moved beyond a wretched re-edit for American audiences.
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The Bootleg Files: The Crunch Bird

BOOTLEG FILES 758: “The Crunch Bird” (1971 Academy Award-winning animated short).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: It was part of a Goodtimes Home Video VHS release at one point.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It seems to have fallen through the proverbial cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Only in an anthology of Oscar-winning shorts.

Here is a great question for Oscar trivia buffs: which Academy Award-winning production had the shortest running time? If you are reading this column, the answer is a bit obvious: it is “The Crunch Bird,” the 1971 winner of the Best Animated Short Subject Oscar, which only ran a mere two minutes.
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The Bootleg Files: The Baboons of Gombe

BOOTLEG FILES 756: “The Baboons of Gombe” (1974 documentary by Jane Goodall).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On a 1978 laserdisc release.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Unavailable for many years.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is not likely.

I have a Facebook friend named John Rosa who posts New York-area TV Guide listings from the 1960s and 1970s, and today he shared the selection of programming that was available on February 1, 1974. Over on ABC at 8:00 p.m. was a one-shot special called “The Baboons of Gombe” that featured animal behaviorist Jane Goodall studying a troop of 40 baboons that lived along the shore of Lake Tanganyika.
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The Bootleg Files: Circus Capers

BOOTLEG FILES 755: “Circus Capers” (1930 animated short).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A copyright infringement lawsuit, coupled by a lapsed copyright on the film.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Hopefully not.

Everyone’s heard of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, but did you ever hear about Milton and Rita Mouse? If not, that’s because Walt Disney heard about them first and put a stop to them before they caught on with the public.
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The Bootleg Files: The New Scooby-Doo Movies – Wednesday is Missing

BOOTLEG FILES 754: “The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries – Wednesday is Missing” (1972 episode of the animated television series).

LAST SEEN: On DailyMotion.com.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A rights clearance issue is preventing its release.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Unlikely at this time.

In September 1969, Hanna-Barbera premiered its animated series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” on CBS. The show placed four teenagers and a talking oversized dog in wacky mysteries that involved a supposedly supernatural element. The series was immediately popular and attracted a large following among the Saturday morning cartoon-absorbing kiddie audience.
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