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The Bootleg Files: Mack the Knife

BOOTLEG FILES 648: “Mack the Knife” (1989 film version of “The Threepenny Opera” starring Raul Julia and Roger Daltry).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: VHS and LaserDisc releases only.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Out of circulation for many years

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely, but not impossible.

One of the minor mysteries of the movie musical genre has been the failure to create a satisfactory screen adaption of the Bertolt Brecht-Kurt Weill theatrical landmark “The Threepenny Opera.” Not that there haven’t been several attempts. In 1931, director G.W. Pabst simultaneously helmed a German- and French-language version. (An English-language version, to be distributed in the U.S. by Warner Bros., was planned but never shot.) Those films, unfortunately, jettisoned much of the glorious score and were burdened by the stodginess that permeated many of the early sound-era films.

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“Across the Universe”: An Underrated Tribute to the Beatles

Coming Back to theaters July 29, July 31 and Aug. 1. For Showtimes and Tickets check Fathom Events.

I still remember going online back in 2006 and watching the trailer for “Across the Universe.” As a budding Beatles fan making himself familiar with their catalogue at the time, the prospect of a movie built around their music made me excited and over joyous. I mean if they can build a whole storyline around ABBA, they can surely do the same with the Beatles, whose music tell stories of their very own and even had interesting commentaries on where the group were at the time. I was quite crestfallen when the movie landed with a thud and was generally dismissed by audiences.

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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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Fags in the Fast Lane (2017)

When his mother’s magical golden dildo is stolen, Beauregard is sent on a mission to retrieve it.

Written by Josh Collins and Steven G. Michael with Collins directing, Fags in the Fast Lane is a low-brow, tongue-in-cheek comedy that goes for a style and universe that would make John Waters proud. The humor and the story are in your face, over the top with just about everything and the glittery kitchen sink thrown at the viewer. The story is one that includes something to shock or offend everyone. The trashploitation sub-genre is well represented here and viewers who won’t have been stopped by the film’s title should find something to have fun with here.

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Fags in the Fast Lane (2017)

I remember a time where it was nearly impossible to get a film like “Fags” made, but now we’re in a glorious time where the LGBT community is allowed to be fun and unleash their creative visions. “Fags in the Fast Lane” is Andy Warhol, John Waters, Russ Meyers, and a dash of Frank Henenlotter thrown in to a blender and given some pretty fun tweaks here and there allowing Josh Collins and writer Steven G. Michael to go as far out there as he wants. Thankfully he never loses track of the narrative or the film’s genuinely weird sense of humor once. “Fags” is a very LGBT aimed action comedy but it also has an admirable sense of self-awareness always looking for any reason to poke fun at itself.

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Scumbag (2017)

Mars Roberge’s comedy is “Office Space” with a bit of “Fear and Loathing” with a dash of mumblecore thrown in for good measure. It’s definitely rough around the edges, but it’s also a movie that I had a good time with. The movie just drips charisma and enthusiasm and Roberge creates a comedy that’s filled to the brim with eccentric characters and a ton of sub-plots. While it wasn’t always easy to follow, Robrerge is able to derive a lot of fun moments from his entire cast.

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The Bootleg Files: Myrt and Marge

BOOTLEG FILES 621: “Myrt and Marge” (1933 feature film with the Three Stooges).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Possible, but not likely.

Fans of the Coen Brothers may recall a scene from “O Brother, Where Art Thou” where the central characters pause from their shenanigans to watch a corny musical movie. The film within the film was a 1933 musical comedy called “Myrt and Marge,” though most people would probably not have recognized it. So why did the Coen Brothers pick this, of all films? Well, it was because the Three Stooges were in that film, but due to rights clearance issues to the Stooges’ imagery the Coens could not use their footage – thus, they were forced to use a non-Stooges segment from that flick.

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