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The Bootleg Files: Know Your Ally – Britain

BOOTLEG FILES 740: “Know Your Ally – Britain” (1944 U.S. War Department documentary).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The absence of a copyright allows anyone to make dupes.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It’s been on DVDs featuring wartime documentaries.

In 1944, the U.S. War Department (the forerunner of today’s Department of Defense) produced “Know Your Ally – Britain,” a 45-minute documentary to be shown to American servicemembers. From today’s perspective, it might seem peculiar that this type of a film would be made relatively late in the war.
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The Bootleg Files: Diana

BOOTLEG FILES 739: “Diana” (1973-74 sitcom starring Diana Rigg).

LAST SEEN: One episode is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Unavailable for many years.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

Yesterday brought the sad news of the passing of Dame Diana Rigg at the age of 82, and there were countless tributes to her glory days as Emma Peel on the cult television series “The Avengers” along with her performances in film classics “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and “Theater of Blood” and her late-career success in “Game of Thrones.” Much less attention was paid to one of Rigg’s more curious endeavors: an American sitcom called “Diana” that ran for 15 episodes in the 1973-74 television season. In a career that was rich with artistic and commercial successes, “Diana” was a very rare misfire for the gifted actress.
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The Bootleg Files: Inside Magoo

BOOTLEG FILES 738: “Inside Magoo” (1960 public service film for the American Cancer Society featuring Mister Magoo).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: Not to my knowledge.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The status of the copyright is uncertain.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Either in a Mister Magoo anthology or in a collection of classic public service films.

Public service films run the risk of either being too solemn and preachy or trying too hard to sell their message in an emotional manner. Health-related public service films are particularly problematic, as the sponsoring organizations don’t want to scare the audience but also don’t want to trivialize diseases with inappropriate humor.
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The Bootleg Files: Lucky Ghost

BOOTLEG FILES 737: “Lucky Ghost” (1942 comedy starring Mantan Moreland).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright allows anyone to make dupes of this animated short.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is unlikely anyone will do a 4K restoration of this title, which is a shame.

During the 1940s, most Americans enjoyed Mantan Moreland’s presence in B-level productions from Monogram Pictures where was the comic relief sidekick in a series of light entertainments starring Frankie Darro and he stole the show as the jittery chauffeur in the Charlie Chan mysteries. Outside of Monogram, the other Hollywood studios had relatively little use for Moreland, giving him bit parts (often uncredited) in their A-list and B-grade productions.
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The Bootleg Files: Tokio Jokio

BOOTLEG FILES 736: “Tokio Jokio” (1943 Looney Tunes cartoon).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright allows anyone to make dupes of this animated short.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: The folks at Warner Bros. aren’t particularly proud of this one!

Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of V-J Day, when Japan’s surrender to the Allied forces brought World War II to a long-overdue close. To help observe this important occasion, we are presenting a short film that generated relatively little attention when it was first released during World War II but has since taken on greater visibility for some of the most impolite examples of political incorrectness captured in an animated short.
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The Bootleg Files: Bobbie Gentry

BOOTLEG FILES 735: “Bobbie Gentry” (1968-71 British television series starring Bobbie Gentry).

LAST SEEN: Bits and pieces can be found on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most of the episodes from the series are considered lost and the surviving episodes would require restoration and the clearing of music and performance rights.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: None.

This week marked the 78th birthday of Bobbie Gentry, the genre-spanning singer who became a major star in 1967 with her mysteriously melancholic ballad “Ode to Billy Joe.” Gentry was a remarkable vocal talent who was equally at home in the folk, country and pop worlds, and she was also a charming on-camera presence who graced many U.S. television variety programs from the late 1960s into the early 1970s.
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The Bootleg Files: Dolly

BOOTLEG FILES 734: “Dolly” (1976-77 television variety series starring Dolly Parton).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: Six of the 26 episodes were released on DVD.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Difficulties in clearing music and performance rights, along with the star’s lack of enthusiasm for the endeavor.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It seems unlikely that the full series will get a release.

Most Americans got their first look at Dolly Parton in her appearances on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” a syndicated TV variety series. Parton joined the program in 1966, two years into its run, and left in 1974 when her star was beginning to rise as she sought to broaden her appeal from a country music fanbase to a wider mainstream audience.
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The Bootleg Files: Hollywood

BOOTLEG FILES 733: “Hollywood” (1980 British television documentary series).

LAST SEEN:
On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and LaserDisc.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Difficulties in clearing the rights to the films in the series resulted in its absence from DVD and Blu-ray.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Maybe someday it will occur.

One of the most impressive documentaries on film history was Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s “Hollywood,” which was produced by Britain’s Thames Television for broadcast on ITV. Spanning 13 50-minute episodes, the series included interviews with many of the on-screen and behind-the-camera talent who were active in film production before the coming of the talkies.
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