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The 1930s’ Female Comedy Teams

During the early 1930s, producer Hal Roach created a series of two-reel comedies that teamed Thelma Todd with ZaSu Pitts, then Thelma Todd with Patsy Kelly, and then Patsy Kelly with Pert Kelton and Patsy Kelly with Lyda Roberti. These comedies were unavailable for years, but now they are on DVD and are the subject of “The Hal Roach Comedy Shorts of Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts and Patsy Kelly” by James L. Neibaur, who is our guest on this episode of “The Online Movie Show.”

The episode can be heard here.

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The Andy Clyde Columbia Comedies

Andy Clyde starred in the second-longest series of shorts at Columbia Pictures (after the Three Stooges), with nearly 80 productions from 1934 to 1956. On this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” film historian James L. Neibaur, author “The Andy Clyde Columbia Comedies,” discusses the funnyman’s celebrated output.

The episode can be heard here.

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The Bootleg Files: The Man in the Barn

BOOTLEG FILES 665: “The Man in the Barn” (1937 short film directed by Jacques Tourneur).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No commercial home entertainment release.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

On the evening of January 13, 1903, an elderly house painter in Enid, Oklahoma, named David E. George laid dying in a hotel room from an attempted suicide. Before he passed away, George told the few people gathered at his bedside, “I killed the best man that ever lived.” The man who was killed, according to George, was Abraham Lincoln – and George insisted that he was John Wilkes Booth, the president’s assassin. Before he could explain how he could be someone who had been killed 38 years earlier, George slipped into a coma before dying.
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The Bootleg Files: The Apple-Knockers and the Coke

BOOTLEG FILES 663: “The Apple-Knockers and the Coke” (1948 stag film).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: Not believed to be included in any commercial release.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A naughty film that circulated underground for decades.

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

For a number of years, rumors circulated that Marilyn Monroe appeared in pornographic movies. Much of the fuel for that belief came from her 1949 nude calendar art photo shoot, for which she only received $50. After all, if the great MM could disrobe for a still photographer during the period when she was a struggling actress, why wouldn’t she go one step further and go clothing-free for an adult film?
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The Bootleg Files: Alice the Fire Fighter

BOOTLEG FILES 657: “Alice the Fire Fighter” (1926 animated short by Walt Disney).

LAST SEEN: On several online video sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A lapsed copyright opens it up to endless duping.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Although it has been restored, it is stuck in public domain hell.

In 1924, an aspiring animator from Kansas City named Walt Disney caught his first big break when he signed with the independent Winkler Pictures to create a series of short films that combined animation with live action. Disney came up with the concept of a having a then-contemporary riff on “Alice in Wonderland,” with a live action little girl interacting with comic cartoon characters. This series became known as the Alice Comedies, and 57 one-reelers were created over the next three years.
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The Bootleg Files: Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy

BOOTLEG FILES 654: “Anderson’s Own Gang Comedy” (1926 fan film inspired on the Our Gang series).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Partially-lost film with no perceived commercial value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

For every Hollywood franchise that gets screen time at the multiplex, it seems there are an endless number of fan films created by overenthusiastic movie lovers who want to be part of cinematic fun. But fans films are not a recent phenomenon. Indeed, the earliest known fan film was made back in 1926, and it was also part of a strange trend that brought a mix of filmmaking and hucksterism to small town America.
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The Bootleg Files: Tetched in the Head

BOOTLEG FILES 645: “Tetched in the Head” (1935 animated short film featuring Barney Google).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: A semi-lost film.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Not until the original version is located.

In 1930, Columbia Pictures was a relatively minor player in the Hollywood scene. The studio’s cred received a boost that year when it signed an agreement with Walt Disney to distribute his popular animated short films. However, in 1933 Disney ended his relationship with Columbia due to a financial dispute.
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