The Bootleg Files: The Great Commandment

BOOTLEG FILES 658: “The Great Commandment” (1939 feature film inspired by the ministry of Jesus).

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: It is stuck in public domain hell.

In 1939, an Episcopal priest from Red Wing, Minnesota, named James K. Friedrich brought forth “The Great Commandment,” a $130,000 feature-length production as the first offering of his start-up company Cathedral Films. The film created a bidding war among the major Hollywood studios, with 20th Century Fox paying $200,000 for the rights to this production. However, the studio was not interested in releasing “The Great Commandment.” Instead, it planned to shoot a big-budget remake that would star Tyrone Power, its top box office attraction.
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