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The Bootleg Files: Care of Hair and Nails

BOOTLEG FILES 649: “Care of Hair and Nails” (1951 educational film about good grooming).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube and Archive.org.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: In anthologies of old instructional films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The copyright may have expired.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

From the late 1940s into the 1970, American schoolchildren were bombarded with a series of 16mm educational films designed to encourage proper behavior. By contemporary standards, the films are rather hokey – and one would imagine that the smarter kids of a distant era were quietly snickering at these well-intentioned but daffy cinematic efforts.

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The Bootleg Files: Mack the Knife

BOOTLEG FILES 648: “Mack the Knife” (1989 film version of “The Threepenny Opera” starring Raul Julia and Roger Daltry).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: VHS and LaserDisc releases only.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Out of circulation for many years

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

One of the minor mysteries of the movie musical genre has been the failure to create a satisfactory screen adaption of the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill theatrical landmark “The Threepenny Opera.” Not that there haven’t been several attempts. In 1931, director G.W. Pabst simultaneously helmed a German- and French-language version. (An English-language version, to be distributed in the U.S. by Warner Bros., was planned but never shot.) Those films, unfortunately, jettisoned much of the glorious score and were burdened by the stodginess that permeated many of the early sound-era films.

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The Bootleg Files: Odd Man Out

BOOTLEG FILES 647: “Odd Man Out” (1977 British television series starring John Inman and Josephine Tewson).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
Never broadcast in the U.S.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

In last week’s column, we considered a failed attempt to Americanize the long-running British comedy series “Are You Being Served?” This week, we stay on the subject by focusing on the unsuccessful effort by one of the stars of “Are You Being Served?” to start his own series.
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The Bootleg Files: Beane’s of Boston

BOOTLEG FILES 646: “Beane’s of Boston” (1979 CBS television pilot based on the BBC series “Are You Being Served?”).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A one-shot failure.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nope.

Beginning in the early 1970s, American television producers began to eyeball long-running British series with the hope that they could transplant those offerings into new Americanized versions. A few of those efforts paid off brilliantly: Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin reworked “Till Death Us Do Part” as “All in the Family” and “Steptoe and Son” was Americanized as “Sanford and Son,” while ABC took “Man About the House” and turned it into “Three’s Company.”
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The Bootleg Files: Tetched in the Head

BOOTLEG FILES 645: “Tetched in the Head” (1935 animated short film featuring Barney Google).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A semi-lost film.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Not until the original version is located.

In 1930, Columbia Pictures was a relatively minor player in the Hollywood scene. The studio’s cred received a boost that year when it signed an agreement with Walt Disney to distribute his popular animated short films. However, in 1933 Disney ended his relationship with Columbia due to a financial dispute.
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The Bootleg Files: Hitler Lives

BOOTLEG FILES 644: “Hitler Lives” (1945 short film that won the Academy Award).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
A mistaken belief that it is in the public domain.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

When the 18th Academy Awards were presented in March 1946, much of the attention was devoted to Joan Crawford winning the Best Actress Oscar for her comeback performance in “Mildred Pierce” and to Billy Wilder’s “The Lost Weekend” winning the Best Picture honors. Less attention was given to the Warner Bros. short “Hitler Lives,” which won the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar. Unknown to the Oscar audience that night, “Hitler Lives” was not an original film, but rather a rehash of an Army training film. And calling the film a documentary was charitable, as the film was clearly more of a propaganda essay than a serious nonfiction production.
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The Bootleg Files: The Search for Bridey Murphy

BOOTLEG FILES 643: “The Search for Bridey Murphy” (1956 drama starring Louis Hayward and Teresa Wright).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS video only.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A film that fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

The name Morey Bernstein may not resonate with most people today, but back in 1956 he created a global sensation as the author of a book called “The Search for Bridey Murphy.” Bernstein was not a professional writer – he was the manager of a plumbing and mining supply company in Pueblo, Colorado, but his interest in hypnotism led him on an adventure that changed how the Western world considered the concept of reincarnation.

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The Bootleg Files: Let’s Go Collegiate

BOOTLEG FILES 642: “Let’s Go Collegiate” (1941 comedy with Frankie Darro, Keye Luke and Mantan Moreland).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube and other video sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright doomed this to public domain hell.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Wouldn’t it be nice if The Criterion Collection offered it as a digitally restored presentation?

During the 1940s, the low-rent Monogram Pictures reigned as the king of the second features. Back in the day, this studio churned out scores of B-movies that helped support the major studios’ prestige productions. (In that era, you didn’t just go to the theater and see a single flick, but you got a main feature plus a second feature and an assortment of newsreels, cartoons and short subjects.)

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