Last week, fans of River Phoenix learned that Dark Blood, the unfinished film he was working on at the time of his tragic death, was available in its final form on YouTube. Here’s hoping they watched it quickly — the film has been pulled, ostensibly due to “a copyright claim by Harold Jalving” (the film’s credited sound designer and re-recording mixer), though the Phoenix family reportedly wasn’t wild about the film’s release, either. Whatever the reason, this isn’t the first time a seemingly rare, officially unavailable movie was disseminated via the world’s most ubiquitous video streaming service. After the jump, you’ll find several movies unavailable via legal channels, yet somehow streaming (for now, anyway) on YouTube.
Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight)
Though recognized now as one of the 20th century’s finest filmmakers, Orson Welles’ classic directorial efforts (including Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and Touch of Evil) fared badly at the box office, forcing him to direct his later films independently, financing his efforts with his own acting appearances and scrounging up funds from a variety of shaky sources. Some of those films weren’t finished; some are locked up in rights disputes; some were released, forgotten, and subsequently rediscovered and acclaimed. Among the latter is Chimes at Midnight, a clever 1966 mash-up of scenes from Shakespeare’s Henry IV (parts one and two), Richard II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. The common thread was the comic/tragic supporting character of Falstaff, whom Welles played himself (indeed, whom he was kinda born to play). The initial reviews were mixed, though some (including Pauline Kael) pegged it as one of his best works. The film’s sketchy ownership (it was financed by a variety of international interests) has kept it from official DVD release stateside, though international DVDs have provided materials for several YouTube streams.