post

The Bootleg Files: The Battle of China

BOOTLEG FILES 748: “The Battle of China” (1944 documentary in the “Why We Fight” series).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It never had a copyright, so anyone can make a crummy dupe.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Condemned to public domain hell.

In 1942, the U.S. government commissioned Oscar-winning filmmaker Frank Capra to create a series of films that would explain the nation’s involvement and goals for World War II to both the American public and the servicemembers being sent into battle. The “Why We Fight” films became a seven-part series that primarily focused on the threats that Nazi Germany posed to the U.S. and to its British and Soviet allies.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: The Laundromat

BOOTLEG FILES 747: “The Laundromat” (1985 HBO drama directed by Robert Altman).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
Most likely due to a problem with rights clearance.

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

During the early 1980s, Robert Altman seemed intent on creating his own version of the American Film Theatre by taking theatrical works and creating adaptations that were closer in style to the original proscenium-framed productions than to works of cinema. With “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean” (1982), “Streamers” (1983) and “Secret Ceremony” (1984), Altman was plumbing dramatic emotions from claustrophobic chamber pieces rather than using the widescreen canvas to explore a greater world of tumult and chaos.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Cow on the Moon

BOOTLEG FILES 746: “Cow on the Moon” (1959 animated short by Dušan Vukotić).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most likely due to a problem with rights clearance.

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

During the mid-1950s, Yugoslavia began to make its presence known on the global cinema scene through the output of Zagreb Film, a Croatian-based studio specializing in offbeat animated shorts. At the time, animated shorts were still dominated by the Hollywood studios and their line-up of beloved zany characters. But the Zagreb Film animators slowly found their way into major film festivals and theatrical release thanks to inventive, stylish and subversively funny mini-productions.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: To Die in Madrid

BOOTLEG FILES 745: “To Die in Madrid” (1963 Oscar-nominated documentary by Frédéric Rossif).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube, albeit without English subtitles.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most likely due to a problem with rights clearance.

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

In March 1962, the Spanish government of Generalissimo Francisco Franco received a request from French producer Nicole Stephane for permission to shoot a travelogue-style documentary called “Eternal Spain.” Stephane identified French director Frédéric Rossif as the creative talent behind the camera.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown

BOOTLEG FILES 744: “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” (1973 television production of the Off-Broadway musical).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Most likely due to a problem with rights clearance.

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

One of the big entertainment stories this week was the announcement that the classic year-end holiday specials featuring the characters from Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic strip will not be shown on broadcast television, but will instead be seen on a streaming service. Many fans of these productions were deeply disappointed, as these specials have been an integral part of the holiday season television line-up for decades. However, there is another television special based on “Peanuts” that has not been broadcast since its only offering 47 years ago.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Legend of Superman – Covid Response

BOOTLEG FILES 743: “Legend of Superman – Covid Response” (2020 fan film by Frank Palangi).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A fan film based on copyright-protected characters.

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

Fan films occupy a curious place in the movie universe. Clearly, these films are the ultimate in bootlegging because they borrow copyright-protected characters and put them into new films made without the blessings of their creators. On the other hand, they offer an affirmation of the popularity of the franchises being pilfered. For the most part, the makers of these films are rarely harassed by the lawyers representing the companies whose intellectual property is being used without permission.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Harry & Lena

BOOTLEG FILES 741: “Harry & Lena” (1970 television special starring Harry Belafonte and Lena Horne).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
Problems in clearing music rights.

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

If you were watching television variety shows and specials from the 1950s through the 1970s, it was nearly impossible not to see either Harry Belafonte or Lena Horne turn up in a guest starring role. The charismatic and versatile Belafonte would offer anything from calypso music to folk tunes to protest songs reflecting the ongoing turmoil of the times, while the regal Horne provided incomparable beauty and a distinctive styling of the Great American Songbook.
Continue reading

post

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.
Continue reading