post

The Bootleg Files: Bob Hope on the Road to China

BOOTLEG FILES 730: “Bob Hope on the Road to China” (1979 television special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube in a truncated form.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Out of circulation for many years.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

On January 1, 1979, President Jimmy Carter established U.S. diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. Two months later, the longtime rivals established embassies in each other’s capitals. Remarkably, the two countries retained their diplomatic ties despite NBCs ‘s broadcast of the astonishingly atrocious “Bob Hope on the Road to China” in September that year.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: The Great Radio Comedians

BOOTLEG FILES 719: “The Great Radio Comedians” (1972 documentary featuring George Burns, Jack Benny and Edgar Bergen).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It seems to have fallen through the proverbial cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Unlikely.

From the late 1920s into the late 1940s, Americans relied on radio for their home entertainment. There was a wide variety of original programming to choose from, but many listeners gravitated to the weekly comedy series. Considering the heyday of the medium coincided with the grim years of the Great Depression and World War II, the comedy shows offered much-needed happy distraction from the problems and crises taking place across the country and around the world.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood

BOOTLEG FILES 716: “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” (1960 all-star TV special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
No perceived commercial reissue value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

By the time 1960 rolled about, the film industry was in a very strange place. The studio system had mostly crumbled and many of the major Hollywood productions were being shot overseas. The movie studios learned to grudgingly live with television and a few figured out how to profit from the small screen medium.
Continue reading

post

The Bootleg Files: Going Spanish

BOOTLEG FILES 686: “Going Spanish” (1934 short comedy starring Bob Hope).

LAST SEEN:
On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright enables anyone to duplicate prints.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
The chances of a digitally restored version are nil.

Eighty-five years ago, Bob Hope made his film debut in a dinky little two-reel comedy. And thanks to an indelicate wisecrack about the film’s quality, he almost saw his film career end with that debut effort.
Continue reading

post

Is Bob Hope Funny?

We’re off on the road to laughs as the always provocative Anthony “The Kingfish” Vitamia returns to the podcast for a wild, no-holds-barred debate on whether Bob Hope should be acclaimed a great comic or whether he was the source of more groans than guffaws.

The episode can be heard here.

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

post

The Bootleg Files: Jack Benny’s First Farewell Special

BOOTLEG FILES 601: “Jack Benny’s First Farewell Special” (1973 television production featuring Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Dean Martin).

LAST SEEN: It can be found on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No one wants to put it out on commercial DVD.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: There is no great push to get this released.

I don’t know who came up with the term “special” to define the one-shot variety productions that pockmarked television broadcasting from the 1950s through the mid-1980s. For the most part, these offerings were anything but special – most were forgettable, some were dreadful, but only a handful possessed the emotional or artistic quality that truly deserved to be called special.

Continue reading

The Bootleg Files: That Certain Feeling

BOOTLEG FILES 577: “That Certain Feeling” (1956 comedy starring Bob Hope, Eva Marie Saint and Pearl Bailey).

LAST SEEN: An unauthorized video dupe is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A possible problem with rights clearance.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely at this time.

During the early 1950s, a sense of staleness began to permeate Bob Hope’s film output. Movies like “My Favorite Spy,” “Off Limits,” “Here Come the Girls” and “Casanova’s Big Night” were burdened with a mechanical indifference, and even a reteaming with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour in “Road to Bali” carried a sense of been-there/done-that. Yes, there were flashes of inspiration here and there, especially when Hope was paired with co-stars that matched his vibrancy – most notably in his instant-classic song-and-dance routine with James Cagney in “The Seven Little Foys.” But, for the most part, the fun was deflating and Hope’s star ranking at the box office was taking a slide.

Continue reading