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The Bootleg Files: The Hitler Videos

BOOTLEG FILES 614: “The Hitler Videos” (viral video parodies based on the 2004 film “Downfall”).

LAST SEEN: They’re all over YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Hijacking copyrighted material for fun, although some argue this qualifies as fair use.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nein!

If you’ve ever spent time on YouTube, there’s an excellent chance that you’ve stumbled over a series of videos featuring an uber-irritated Hitler confronting pop culture inanity. These videos have achieved the unlikely result of turning the most horrible person of the 20th century into the most outrageous buffoon of the 21st century.

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The Bootleg Files: Bat Pussy

BOOTLEG FILES 613: “Bat Pussy” (early 1970s porn flick).

LAST SEEN: At this year’s Fantastic Fest.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and DVD.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A rather inane violation of copyright protection.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Actually, there is a newly restored Blu-ray edition.

During the 1960s, DC Comics began to flex its litigation muscles when it discovered creative artists were borrowing its beloved Batman character without clearing permission. The company forced Andy Warhol to withdraw his “Batman Dracula” film, which was only being presented in art exhibitions and not theaters, while director/producer Jerry Warren fended off DC Comics’ lawyers after he put forth “The Wild World of Batwoman.” The threat of lawsuits also helped to keep several Philippines-based productions with their own unauthorized Batman characters from being imported across the Pacific, including the now-lost 1967 “Batman Fights Dracula.”

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The Bootleg Files: Braverman’s Condensed Cream of Beatles

BOOTLEG FILES 612: “Braverman’s Condensed Cream of Beatles” (1974 film essay).

LAST SEEN: A copy can be found on Veoh.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The Liverpool lads had it pulled.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

A few weeks back, this column dug up “The Compleat Beatles,” a popular documentary on the Fab Four that can only be seen today via unauthorized online postings or out-of-print VHS videos and laserdiscs. Today, the Beatles are back with another once-ubiquitous film that has also been removed from commercial release. But whereas “The Compleat Beatles” offered a traditional straightforward nonfiction film approach, today’s offering is something much more fanciful.

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The Bootleg Files: Halloween Safety

BOOTLEG FILES 611: “Halloween Safety” (1977 educational film).

LAST SEEN: A copy can be found on several online video sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely as a standalone work.

It’s a little easy to dump on the old-time educational films. These works were shot on shoestring budgets and aimed at school children in a less sophisticated era, so the financial and intellectual poverty of these productions immediately disqualifies them from being taken seriously as cinematic art.

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The Bootleg Files: Hello London

BOOTLEG FILES 610: “Hello London” (1958 British feature starring Sonja Henie).

LAST SEEN: A copy can be found on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
Never released in the United States.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

During the late 1930 and early 1940s, the Norwegian ice skating champion Sonja Henie became an unlikely star in Hollywood movies. While she was no rival to Bette Davis or Barbara Stanwyck in terms of acting ability, she had a pert and bouncy personality that appealed to audiences, and her elaborate ice skating numbers helped to inspire the sport’s popularity among Americans. Her films, most notably “Second Fiddle” (1939) and “Sun Valley Serenade” (1941), were usually packed with musical and comedy co-stars that helped distract the audience from the stretches when Henie was not on the ice.

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The Bootleg Files: Angel Puss

BOOTLEG FILES 609: “Angel Puss” (1944 Looney Tunes cartoon directed by Chuck Jones).

LAST SEEN: The cartoon can be found on DailyMotion.com and Vimeo.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It has been removed from all commercial channels.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

When you think of family-friendly entertainment, it is not likely that you would consider productions full of attempted murder, emotional torture and racial intolerance. Back in 1944, the cartoon “Angel Puss” incorporated those unfortunate elements into its story – and even in that distant era, its excessive unpleasantness created controversy.

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The Bootleg Files: Spree for All

BOOTLEG FILES 608: “Spree for All” (1946 animated short featuring Snuffy Smith).

LAST SEEN: A French black-and-white print can be found on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It was lost for decades due to intentional destruction of all copies.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

When considering the subject of lost films, most people fixate on productions made during the silent movie era. However, a surprisingly large volume of sound era films is considered lost, including Hollywood films made as late as the 1940s.

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The Bootleg Files: Babes in Bagdad

BOOTLEG FILES 607: “Babes in Bagdad” (1951 romp directed by Edgar G. Ulmer).

LAST SEEN: It can be found on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It is not entirely clear why.

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

One does not approach a film titled “Babes in Bagdad” expecting a provocative cerebral challenge. But, at the same time, one should not expect an unfocused mess of half-baked feminist politics and burlesque antics molded together by several great talents who hit respective career lows with this nonsense.

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