post

The Bootleg Files: The Lost Starfighter

BOOTLEG FILES 622: “The Lost Starfighter” (2017 “Star Wars” fan film).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Not unlike all fan films, it is based on an unauthorized use of copyright protected material.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Maybe in a galaxy far, far away, but not in this one.

I have not seen the latest installment in the “Star Wars” saga, nor do I have any plans to watch it. For that matter, I have no plans to see any more films released under the “Star Wars” banner.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Myrt and Marge

BOOTLEG FILES 621: “Myrt and Marge” (1933 feature film with the Three Stooges).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Possible, but not likely.

Fans of the Coen Brothers may recall a scene from “O Brother, Where Art Thou” where the central characters pause from their shenanigans to watch a corny musical movie. The film within the film was a 1933 musical comedy called “Myrt and Marge,” though most people would probably not have recognized it. So why did the Coen Brothers pick this, of all films? Well, it was because the Three Stooges were in that film, but due to rights clearance issues to the Stooges’ imagery the Coens could not use their footage – thus, they were forced to use a non-Stooges segment from that flick.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: The Story of the Kelly Gang

BOOTLEG FILES 620: “The Story of the Kelly Gang” (1906 Australian production that is widely credited as the first feature-length narrative film).

LAST SEEN: A reconstruction using the surviving film fragments is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It is nearly unknown outside of Australia.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: There is an Australian DVD of the reconstructed version, but it is not commercially available in the United States.

On December 26, 1906, film history was made in Melbourne, Australia, with the premiere of “The Story of the Kelly Gang,” a cinematic retelling of the rise and fall of that nation’s most colorful 19th century outlaws. At the time, however, no one realized they were witnessing history in the making. And even at this late date, many people are not aware of the film’s importance to the development of the motion picture industry.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: The Wizard of Id

BOOTLEG FILES 619: “The Wizard of Id” (1970 animated short based on the long-running comic strip).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube and the Internet Archive.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nope.

For every “Peanuts” or “Garfield” that made the successful transition from newspaper comic strip to film and television productions, there are plenty of other comic strips that failed in their efforts to get off the printed page. This is not difficult to understand: what can be charming and droll in a three-panel strip is often labored and contrived when voices are added and stories are stretched out to greater lengths.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Christmas Holiday

BOOTLEG FILES 618: “Christmas Holiday” (1944 noir drama starring Deanna Durbin and Gene Kelly).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It is unclear what happened.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It’s possible.

During the late 1930s and early 1940s, Deanna Durbin was the reigning teen queen of Universal Pictures’ musicals – which made her something of a big fish in a small pond, considering musicals were not really that studio’s forte. Nonetheless, audiences loved the pretty Canadian-born star with the peerless soprano singing voice, and Universal loved that audiences loved her. But the love did not extend to Durbin herself, who bristled at the saccharine persona created by her employers. She derided her screen image as “Little Miss Fixit who bursts into song,” claiming that films like “One Hundred Men and Girl” and “Mad About Music” created a corny image that “represented the ideal daughter that millions of fathers and daughters wished they had.”

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Julie’s Christmas Special

BOOTLEG FILES 617: “Julie’s Christmas Special” (1973 television production starring Julie Andrews).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube and Vimeo.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It’s possible.

In 1972, Julie Andrews sought to re-energize her career by focusing on television. This migration from big screen to small screen followed a string of big-budget flop films that damaged her viability as a movie star. But she still had name value, and the less expensive and more intimate parameters of a television variety seemed perfect for her distinctive talents. “The Julie Andrews Hour” was produced in England by ATV and distributed internationally by Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment, with ABC picking up the U.S. rights.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files – Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music

BOOTLEG FILES 616: “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music” (filmed version of award-winning 1981 Broadway show).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: A VHS release in 1984.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most likely due to music rights clearance issues.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It’s possible.

In March 1980, Lena Horne announced that she would be retiring from show business. That did not last very long. In May 1981, she was back in what became the crowning commercial achievement of her long and often tumultuous career: the Broadway production “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music.” The show ran for 333 performances, earned Horne a special Tony Award, then successfully toured North America and played in the West End to standing ovations.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: The Spirit of Charles Lindbergh

BOOTLEG FILES 615: “The Spirit of Charles Lindbergh” (1984 short directed by and starring Orson Welles).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The rarest and least known of Welles’ output.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: The full short deserves to be a special feature on a future DVD release.

Everybody is aware that Orson Welles began his filmmaking career with the biggest bang imaginable – you know, that film about the megalomaniac newspaper publisher obsessed over his childhood sled. However, few people are aware that Welles ended his filmmaking career with a whisper: a three-minute short intended as a private video for an ailing friend.

Continue reading