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The Charlie Chan Films

The Charlie Chan film series from 1931-1949 went through three lead actors and two studios over 44 films while still maintaining consistent popularity with moviegoers. In this episode of “the Online Movie Show,” James L. Neibaur, author of “The Charlie Chan Films,” discusses the appeal of Hollywood’s most popular private eye.

The episode can be heard here.

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The Bootleg Files: Up in the Air

BOOTLEG FILES 668: “Up in the Air” (1940 Monogram feature starring Frankie Darro and Mantan Moreland).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
A lapsed copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It would be great if this little film was digitally restored.

The 1940 Monogram Pictures feature “Up in the Air” may not be the best film of its era, but its surplus amount of ideas crammed into a compact 62-minute running time certainly makes it the busiest. Part-mystery and part-comedy, with musical numbers and a strange mix of egregious and progressive attitudes on race, this little B-level production has more pep than most A-grade flicks.
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The Bootleg Files: Let’s Go Collegiate

BOOTLEG FILES 642: “Let’s Go Collegiate” (1941 comedy with Frankie Darro, Keye Luke and Mantan Moreland).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube and other video sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright doomed this to public domain hell.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Wouldn’t it be nice if The Criterion Collection offered it as a digitally restored presentation?

During the 1940s, the low-rent Monogram Pictures reigned as the king of the second features. Back in the day, this studio churned out scores of B-movies that helped support the major studios’ prestige productions. (In that era, you didn’t just go to the theater and see a single flick, but you got a main feature plus a second feature and an assortment of newsreels, cartoons and short subjects.)

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The Bootleg Files: Tall, Tan and Terrific

BOOTLEG FILES 637: “Tall, Tan and Terrific” (1946 film starring Mantan Moreland).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
The original film materials are believed to be lost and the copyright expired, which limits the opportunity to properly restore this old flick.

The 1946 film “Tall, Tan and Terrific” is among the most peculiar films within the genre known as “race films”: all-black productions created exclusively for distribution to racially segregated cinemas during the Jim Crow era. The film itself is a forgettable mediocrity, but it is notable for bringing together a number of talented individuals who rarely received a proper chance to display their considerable talents.
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