When browsing through a well-stocked video store or turning about the pages of a video catalog or surfing through online video sites, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the quantity of films available on home video. Yet separate from the seemingly infinite number of titles currently on sale, there is a small but substantial number of well-regarded classics, near-classics and curios which have never been released in any home entertainment format: not VHS or Betamax video, not laser disc, and not DVD. Call them “missing” movies…they are not physically lost, but they have been absent for so many years that they are technically missing from circulation and appreciation.
In tracking down the top 20 “missing” movies for this article, some considerations needed to be addressed. This list needed to include films which never found their way into home entertainment release. Obviously, the list could not include films which had a brief video release at one time but have since been unavailable for many years; this would rule out sought-after titles like “The High and the Mighty,” “Let it Be” and the productions from the American Film Theatre series. Also, this list needed to addres titles that were never released on home video anywhere in the world. Some films may not have been released in the United States but were available in other countries. Classics of the European and Asian cinema including Visconti’s “The Leopard,” Kurosawa’s “Sanshiro Sugata Part 2″ and the French slapstick classic “The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob” were widely released on home video almost everywhere except the United States; in an odd switch, American classics including “Song of the South” and “Hellzapoppin” are unavailable in the United States but are sold in other countries.
Furthermore, the list could not include films which were never theatrically released. Intriguing but elusive titles such as Orson Welles’ “The Other Side of the Wind” and Jerry Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried never made it into a projector, which is the pre-requisite first step for consideration here.
This list of “missing” movies spans the history of the cinema, from the silent era to as recently as 1999. The list covers a wide variety of titles and subjects, including some of the most respected directors and beloved stars in the history of motion pictures. Diehard movie buffs may recognize some of these titles as being available in unauthorized bootleg videos (usually created by private collectors transferring unrestored 16mm prints to video). However, this list is focusing on films which were never officially released on home video. While it is impossible not to acknowledge that bootleg videos are frequently the only way to see a “missing” movie, it would be ludicrous to acknowledge a film being officially released by someone kicking about copyright laws with less-than-superior quality merchandise.
For the top 20 “missing” movies which have yet to find their way into the homes of film lovers anywhere in the world, we offer the following selection of elusive productions…
Get the complete list in the next part of NEVER ON VIDEO: THE TOP 20 “MISSING” MOVIES>>>
Posted on July 31, 2001 in Features by Phil Hall
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