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The Bootleg Files: Disney’s 3 Days in the County Jail

BOOTLEG FILES 677: “3 Days in the County Jail” (1976 nontheatrical short film distributed by Walt Disney Educational Media Company).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On a gray market DVD with other imprisonment-related short nonfiction films.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Never made available for commercial home entertainment release.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Nope.

Back in the mid-1970s, when Walt Disney Pictures was stuffing theaters with such happy nonsense as “The Apple Dumpling Gang” and “Escape to Witch Mountain,’ the company’s nontheatrical subsidiary Walt Disney Educational Media Company was attempting to convince America’s youth that crime didn’t pay. Through a four-part series called “Under the Law,” the sons o’ fun at the mouse factory offered a grim and gritty – at least by Disney standards – view of the mishaps that befell naughty young people who thought they were above and beyond the reach of law enforcement.

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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.

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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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