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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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