<em>Spice World</em> was 100% that bitch.
Spice World was 100% that bitch. Columbia Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection
Unstreamable is a weekly column that recommends films and TV shows you can't find on major streaming services in the United States. This week: the ultra rare 1959 version of Porgy & Bess, ass-less jumpsuits and Elton John in Spice World, gay stuff gets cut in Times Square, and the disputed origin of Spaghetti Westerns in West and Soda. Find over 100 more unstreamable films and recommendations here.

PORGY AND BESS
USA, 1959, 138 min, Dir. Otto Preminger
A rarity!
A rarity! Jasmyne Keimig
This is an Incredibly Rare™ DVD. The Samuel Goldwyn-produced, Otto Preminger-directed version of Porgy and Bess is considered one of the most expensively made "missing films." The problematic "American folk opera" by the Gershwins starring Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge was fucked from the beginning, suffering a dramatic change of directors and a fire that caused $2 million in damages. The film was released to shit reviews and wasn't widely screened because of its controversial content. Once the rights reverted back to the Gershwin estate, they supposedly ordered all copies to be destroyed because of how much they hated the film.

Complicating matters even further, MGM also apparently bought all the ancillary rights to the majority of Goldwyn's films, including Porgy and Bess, claiming that any restoration or DVD release must be done by them. Despite playing once on ABC in the late '60s, and a few specialty screenings in New York and Seattle, the film has been virtually unseen by the public. Most copies available are of poor quality or missing a few scenes. It's a mess!

Recently, it was announced that Dee Rees will direct a new adaptation of Porgy and Bess for MGM. Maybe the renewed focus on this property will help push along the restoration process of the 1959 version. I think everyone deserves the opportunity to see it. JASMYNE KEIMIG

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

SPICE WORLD
UK, 1997, 93 min, Dir. Bob Spiers
It's good. Fight me!
It's good. Fight me! Chase Burns

Like it or not, the aesthetics of Spice World are in vogue again. The Matrix glasses. The Kappa tracksuits. The girly feminism. The furry hoodies. Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh, and Sporty are even back, launching a reunion tour last year. And yet Spice World, their Razzie Award-winning '90s-defining film, is totally freaking unstreamable. Honestly, a tragedy—especially if you consider it to be a poignant take on the evils of the paparazzi. I don't, but I'm saying you could if you wanted to.

This week, I snagged a physical copy of Spice World and was struck by how well it stands up—the pacing is better than you'd expect—and also how fantastical it is. Take, for example, the famous double-decker "Spice Bus" that unfolds like a dollhouse. Each of the girls gets their own themed room—Posh has a runway, Baby has a slide, Sporty has an elliptical. Meat Loaf is the bus driver. It's gleefully impossible. There are aliens, men in ass-less chaps, celebrities like Elton John and Alan Cumming. It's peak Cool Britannia, with as much aplomb as an Olympic opening ceremony.

Last summer, The Hollywood Reporter announced that a new animated Spice Girls movie is in the works (with all five original members signed on to star in it), so maybe we'll be spicing up our lives soon enough. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.

***

TIMES SQUARE
USA, 1980, 111 min, Dir. Allan Moyle
Forgot to take a picture of the case again, but these two are definitely lesbians.
Forgot to take a picture of the case again, but these two are definitely lesbians. Courtesy of Associated Film Distribution
Forgive me for wishing that every film ever made about two girls spending a lot of time together was secretly a gay romance. I’ve been proven wrong before (Bend It Like Beckham, anyone?) and I thought I was being unreasonable thinking the same about Times Square, despite its intense Sapphic overtones. I mean, two girls of different class backgrounds meet in a psych ward and decide to run away together, creating a home in an abandoned warehouse while, by day, they both hustle in Times Square for money, by night, sleep in the same bed, and form a punk band called the Sleez Sisters. Come on! That's basically gay fanfic! But when reading about the history of the film, it turns out that all the overt lesbian scenes had been cut by the production company against the director's will, leaving a disjointed story of two suspiciously close friends. Let the girls kiss, people!

Because of the chaos that went on during post-production, Times Square is almost a really good cult movie. But the jumbled narrative (and a weird scene where the girls sing a racist song) makes the film lack a certain gut punch. However! The soundtrack is incredible (and perhaps the reason it isn't streaming) and the film captures the seedy era of Times Square before it got cleaned up by Giuliani in the '90s, practically making it a historical document. Release the gay scenes! JASMYNE KEIMIG

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Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video and Netflix DVD.

***

WEST AND SODA
Italy, 1965, 86 min, Dir. Bruno Bozzetto
A very stringy Western.
A very stringy Western. CB

Animator Bruno Bozzetto, a popular and recurring director in this column, claims to have invented the Spaghetti Western genre with his animated feature debut, West and Soda. The genre is a plucky Italian-bred western that's full of dualities: slapstick and romantic, quirky and epic, sarcastic and hellish. West and Soda, with its gorgeous water-stained backdrops and tight clowning, is definitely a leader of the genre, although A Fistful of Dollars (1964), directed by the legendary Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood in his first leading role, is usually seen as the progenitor of Spaghetti Westerns. West and Soda came out a year after A Fistful of Dollars, but Bozzetto attributes his delay to the fact that animation takes longer to create. And, anyway, he says he started working on his project before Leone worked on his. So there! The point is that West and Soda is required viewing for any fan of the genre. It's less masterful than Bozzetto's later work, like Allegro non troppo, but all the things I love about Bozzetto are there: the visual gags, the emotional backdrops, the irreverent posturing, and the way he can slip from profane to profound in an instant. CHASE BURNS

Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video.