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The Bootleg Files: Keeping Fit

BOOTLEG FILES 680: “Keeping Fit” (1942 all-star short film).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: Not to my knowledge.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Rare World War II-era film that had no postwar reissue value.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Maybe in an anthology of wartime shorts or as a special feature on a DVD.

After the United States entered World War II, the Hollywood studios churned out a series of morale-building films were created to keep civilian audiences engaged in supporting the war effort. The studios often put their biggest names into these films to add a level of star wattage to the messaging.
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The Bootleg Files: Nimbus Libéré

BOOTLEG FILES 676: “Nimbus Libéré” (1944 propaganda animated short).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: It was included in the 1993 Claude Chabrol documentary “The Eye of Vichy.”

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
Unauthorized use of copyright-protected animated characters.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It is in “The Eye of Vichy,” but it is also posted online without authorization.

By early 1944, Nazi Germany saw its control over Europe weaken dramatically due to Soviet advances from the East and the arrival of Allied forces into Italy. An invasion of France was expected, and the Germans were not eager to see their brutal control over the French removed.

In one of the weirdest attempts to convince an occupied nation that they should not welcome liberation, the German authorities commissioned an animated short designed to show the stupidity and recklessness of the liberating Allied forces.

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The Bootleg Files: Kokoda Front Line!

BOOTLEG FILES 671: “Kokoda Front Line!” (1942 Australian newsreel).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No perceived commercial value for the U.S. market.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It can be found on Australian DVD, but it is not likely to be released on a U.S. label.

If you are an Academy Award trivia buff, you will recognize “Kokoda Front Line!” as the first Australian film to win an Oscar. If you are World War II history buff, you will be familiar with the importance of “Kokoda Front Line!” in covering an important battle in the Pacific combat. But if you are not up to speed on either your Oscar factoids or your World War II knowledge, then hopefully you might come away from this week’s column with something worth learning.
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The Bootleg Files: Report from the Aleutians

BOOTLEG FILES 669: “Report from the Aleutians” (1943 U.S. Army documentary directed by John Huston).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube and other online video sites.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: On public domain labels.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: There was no copyright filed.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Stuck in public domain hell, but it would be great if this little was digitally restored.

Everyone knows that the Japanese bombed the U.S. military base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. But few people seem to know that the Japanese invaded and occupied Kiska and Attu in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands in June 1942, which marked the only section of North America was taken over by the Axis forces in World War II.
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The Bootleg Files: Hitler Lives

BOOTLEG FILES 644: “Hitler Lives” (1945 short film that won the Academy Award).

LAST SEEN: It is on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS:
A mistaken belief that it is in the public domain.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Not likely.

When the 18th Academy Awards were presented in March 1946, much of the attention was devoted to Joan Crawford winning the Best Actress Oscar for her comeback performance in “Mildred Pierce” and to Billy Wilder’s “The Lost Weekend” winning the Best Picture honors. Less attention was given to the Warner Bros. short “Hitler Lives,” which won the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar. Unknown to the Oscar audience that night, “Hitler Lives” was not an original film, but rather a rehash of an Army training film. And calling the film a documentary was charitable, as the film was clearly more of a propaganda essay than a serious nonfiction production.
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The Bootleg Files: A Bell for Adano

BOOTLEG FILES 624: “A Bell for Adano” (1945 drama starring John Hodiak and Gene Tierney).

LAST SEEN: On cable television.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: Never commercially released in the U.S. home video market.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: It deserves it.

Watching Hollywood’s war films produced during World War II is often unsatisfactory, if only because much of the gung-ho patriotism that permeated those movies feels corny and propagandistic today. But one film from that era stands out for offer a somewhat harsh and often unpleasant consideration of how the U.S. Army operated in Europe: the 1945 production of “A Bell for Adano.”

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Law Not War: Ben Ferencz’s Fight for Justice (2015)

In the realm of jurisprudence, Benjamin Ferencz is truly an icon. He is the last surviving Chief Prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials and a primary force in the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC). And at 95, he shows no signs of slowing down – at least, not in Ullabritt Horn’s documentary on his remarkable life and career.

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