post

The Bootleg Files: Heil Honey I’m Home!

BOOTLEG FILES 653: “Heil Honey I’m Home!” (1990 British sitcom that ran for one episode before being cancelled).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: One of the most notoriously bad productions in British television history.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nein.

Imagine “I Love Lucy” with Adolf Hitler as Ricky Ricardo, Eva Braun as Lucy and an obnoxious Jewish couple as the Mertzes. Welcome to the production that makes “The Day the Clown Cried” seem like the pinnacle of fine art: the 1990 British sitcom “Heil Honey I’m Home!”
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: In Search of Historic Jesus

BOOTLEG FILES 652: “In Search of Historic Jesus” (1979 feature from Sunn Classic Pictures).

LAST SEEN: On DailyMotion.com.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and LaserDisc.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It was never released on DVD or Blu-ray.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It could happen.

During the 1970s, movie audiences were bombarded with a parade of weird documentaries and docudramas from a Utah-based company that went by the names Sun International Pictures, Schick Sunn Classic Pictures and Sunn Classic Pictures. This company tapped into the growing public interest in the paranormal and historical revisionism by offering films aimed at challenging scientific and scholarly traditions.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Rabbit Every Monday

BOOTLEG FILES 651: “Rabbit Every Monday” (1951 animated short with Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam).

LAST SEEN: On DailyMotion.com.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and LaserDisc only.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It was never released on DVD or Blu-ray.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It could happen.

Believe it or not, a surprisingly substantial number of classic Bugs Bunny cartoons were never released on DVD or Blu-ray. We’re not talking about the politically incorrect shorts that have been kept of circulation for very obvious reasons, but the knockabout cartoons that were a staple of kiddie television for decades and were part of the initial VHS and LaserDisc release of the old-time Warner Bros. output.

One of Bugs Bunny works not on DVD or Blu-ray is the 1951 “Rabbit Every Monday.” It may not be a classic of the genre, but it has enough goofy charm to generate smiles and light chuckles.

Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Freddie and Max

BOOTLEG FILES 650: “Freddie & Max” (1990 British sitcom starring Anne Bancroft and Charlotte Coleman).

LAST SEEN: Three of the series’ six episodes are on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A flop that never turned up in America.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

In the spring of 1990, the British newspapers were aflutter over some extraordinary news: Thames Television had signed Hollywood legend Anne Bancroft to star in her first sitcom. Bancroft was to receive a $175,000 salary for appearing in six episodes of “Freddie and Max,” a production that carried a budget of $1.4 million, the largest (at the time) for a British television series. And with the writing team of Dick Clement and Ian Le Fresnais – the creative force behind the popular British TV comedy “Porridge” starring Ronnie Barker – the project seemed very promising.
Continue reading

post

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.

Continue reading

post

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.

Continue reading

post

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.
Continue reading

post

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.”
Continue reading