The Bootleg Files: Ben Hur

BOOTLEG FILES 634: “Ben Hur” (1907 short film).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube and Internet Archive.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: It has been included in anthologies of early silent films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A groundbreaking example of copyright infringement.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is out there, but why would you want to find it?

One of the most important films in the legal history of intellectual property is also one of the least interesting productions ever captured on camera. If anyone pays attention to this bad old movie today, it is strictly to appreciate its place in copyright protection and not to pay tribute to its artistry.
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Francis X. Bushman: King of the Movies

100 years ago, Francis X. Bushman was one of the top stars of the movie industry. Today, he is either mostly forgotten or only remembered for his least characteristic role as the villainous Messala in the 1925 version of “Ben-Hur.” On this episode, film historian Lon Davis recalls Bushman’s turbulent film career – which was full of amazing scandals – and his late-life comeback on TV, including appearances on “You Bet Your Life” and “Batman.”

“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.

The episode can be heard here.