BOOTLEG FILES 733: “Hollywood” (1980 British television documentary series).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On VHS and LaserDisc.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Difficulties in clearing the rights to the films in the series resulted in its absence from DVD and Blu-ray.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Maybe someday it will occur.
One of the most impressive documentaries on film history was Kevin Brownlow and David Gill’s “Hollywood,” which was produced by Britain’s Thames Television for broadcast on ITV. Spanning 13 50-minute episodes, the series included interviews with many of the on-screen and behind-the-camera talent who were active in film production before the coming of the talkies. Continue reading →
BOOTLEG FILES 727: “Down Memory Lane” (1949 compilation film of Mack Sennett comedy shorts).
LAST SEEN: In a truncated form on YouTube and Internet Archive.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.
By the late 1940s, silent movies had mostly disappeared from public viewing. Some Charlie Chaplin shorts occasionally turned up in kiddie matinees and museums and film societies would sometimes dust off an old print for one-time screenings. But for the most part, the films created prior to rise of “The Jazz Singer” were rarely on the big screen. Continue reading →
For too many years, filmmaker William Beaudine’s reputation was maligned with false stories of sloppy work and a “one-shot” approach to shooting. In reality, Beaudine was a talented and versatile creative artist who began his career with D.W. Griffith, directed such icons as Mary Pickford, Jean Harlow and W.C. Fields, and worked in the British film industry and for Walt Disney. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
This documentary focuses on Michael Zahs, a retired history teacher in rural Iowa who was responsible for rescuing rare nitrate films from the beginning of the 20th century that once belonged to William and Indiana Brinton, a pair of pioneering cinema exhibitors. The Brinton collection consisted of 130 films plus numerous magic lantern slides, and it also included a long-lost fantasy work from Georges Méliès called “The Triple-Headed Woman.” Continue reading →
In the second of a two-part episode, Lon Davis, author of the critically acclaimed “Silent Lives,” returns to “The Online Movie Show” to discuss the transition from silent films to the talkies, focusing on stars who made the leap into the new medium (including Garbo, Neil Hamilton and Laurel and Hardy) along with now-forgotten performers who did not (including Madame Olga Petrova, Karl Dane and Mary McLaren).
In the first of a two-part episode, Lon Davis, author of the critically acclaimed “Silent Lives,” offers a fascinating insight on the tumult and career disruptions brought about when the microphone entered the movie studio and the silent film stars were expected to talk on the screen.
For the past century, Jamaica has been the setting for scores of classic films. On this episode, we are joined by Peter Polack, author of “Jamaica, The Land of Film,” who discusses the role played by this Caribbean gem in filmmaking from the silent movie era through today’s digital age.