Public Domain Movie Roundup: Comedies of the 1970s

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When you hear the words public domain, you probably think of scratchy old movies from the 1930s with bad audio and jumping cuts. In fact, a number of movies allowed to fall into the public domain-or, at least, movies that have found their way onto DVD collections and Roku private movie channels-were released at a time when the bottoms of jeans were belled and Joan Rivers could count her number of facelifts on one hand.

The Great Brain

The year was 1978 and for some reason a few people in Hollywood thought it would be a good idea to cast Jimmy Osmond in a movie based on a somewhat popular series of children's books by John Dennis Fitzgerald. "The Great Brain" disproves the conventional wisdom that all comedy movies you come across on sites like Pub-D-Hub are in black & white, but also disproves the less conventional wisdom that among these movies one can find brilliant treasures of great filmmaking. Still, "The Great Brain" is a great candidate for those who invite over friends for an evening of snarky riffing on bad movies.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Who would ever have thought that a John Candy movie would wind up on public domain movie distribution channels for the Roku and other devices so soon after his death? "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" is not really a John Candy movie. He plays a minor role in this movie made a few years before he hit the big time, but in its public domain repackaging, it seems like a John Candy movie. Other packaging prominently features the movie's real star, Stefanie Powers, in nothing but bra and panty. How well you enjoy this late 1970s comedy may well depend on how ticked off you are by how little Candy appears at all or Powers in her underwear.

Evel Knievel

Here is a 1970s movie that pops up on more than a few public domain channels like Movie Vault that is actually about a 1970s icon. If you are looking for historical accuracy in "Evel Knievel" then you have two problems. One, you are looking in the wrong place. Two, you must not know much about its titular character who was the very quintessence of fabricated personality. The whole point of making a movie about Evel Knievel starring George Hamilton is that factual accuracy is absolutely the least important consideration. The only thing Knievel ever promised in his career was that you didn't walk away bored. You won't walk away bored from "Evel Knievel." George Hamilton nails the character. That character isn't necessarily Evel Knievel, but who cares?

For more from Timothy Sexton, Yahoo!'s first Writer of the Year, check out:

Roku Channels Providing More Choice for Comedy Movie Fans

Pub-D-Hub Offers Instant Streaming of Public Domain Movies

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