BOOTLEG FILES 673: “The Jack Benny Birthday Special” (1969 TV special).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.
During the mid-1960s into the early 1970s, Jack Benny made a number of TV specials that aired on NBC. Most of these offerings were pleasant but entirely forgettable, and Benny often seemed to be dialing in his performances.
Always prone to giving the consumer more bang for their bucks, Mill Creek Entertainment compiles a six DVD set of the best of Martin and Lewis. And while it may not have their all time greats, it still manages to be a solid set that can mesh in with any collection of a Martin and Lewis fanatic. The set comes packed in the usual slip case and compiles a lot of past releases for one fine compendium you can entertain yourself with for hours. In this case, it’s almost thirty hours total of Martin and Lewis shenanigans with five movies and twenty eight episodes of “The Colgate Comedy Hour.”
BOOTLEG FILES 603: “The Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon” (a 1966-2010 annual televised fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association).
LAST SEEN: Bits and pieces can be found on YouTube and other video sites.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No attempt was made to release the entire telethon broadcasts in their entirety for home entertainment viewing.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: None.
For many people, this week’s passing of Jerry Lewis was followed by commentary and articles on his classic films. But for my generation – those who grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s – the emotional connection to Lewis was less about his movies and more about the bizarre, elephantine mayhem that he unleashed annually on the American public over the Labor Day weekend that became known as the “Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.” Never in the history of fundraising has a greater display of slapstick, vulgarity and pathos been slapped together around the personality of someone who was certainly the most brilliant egomaniac in show business.
Gregory Monro’s documentary offers a scattershot overview of Jerry Lewis’ life and career, with a heavy emphasis on the funnyman’s peaks while carefully avoiding the controversies and failures that he generated. Lewis was the son of entertainers who put their careers before his childhood needs, and an emotional low point occurred when his parents managed to miss his bar mitzvah because they had stage engagements. The film notes that Lewis’ meteoric success in the late 1940s when he was barely out of his twenties created friction with his father Danny Lewis, a singer who never achieved stardom.
The ego! The vulgarity! The love/hate relationship with Dean! Those wonderfully awful telethons! That clown-in-the-concentration-camp movie! Has there ever been a more bizarre, aggravating and (yes) invigorating force of malevolent comedy than Jerry Lewis? Even at 90, he continues to amaze and astonish – usually, for the wrong reasons, but that’s why we can’t get enough of him. Today, the funniest man on Facebook, Anthony “The Kingfish” Vitamia, joins us to discuss all things Jerry.
“The Online Movie Show” is produced at the Platinum Wolfe Studios.
You can listen to the episode here.
For the Mill Creek compilation “Scared Silly,” the company brings together the roots of horror comedy with a thirteen movie set that’s well worth the cash. Some of it is the same old material you’ll find in other collections, but considering the sub-genre, that’s nothing to sneeze at. On Disc One there’s 1961’s Creature from the Haunted Sea starring the googly eyed sea weed monster, as directed by Roger Corman. It’s a classic you can’t help but giggle through.