Some movies like Song of the South are not available for viewing

 Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in the original Star Wars. Picture: Supplied
Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher in the original Star Wars. Picture: Supplied

Some movies you aren't allowed to see. They were made and exist, but are not available for various reasons (at least, not easily or legally).

George Lucas doesn't want his original Star Wars trilogy to be seen in any but the latest special editions. The 1977 film was an award-winning landmark in its original form and the dumping of inferior prints on a DVD release a few years ago might be the last chance fans have to see the original trilogy in something like the original form.

Song of the South has gone from classic to embarrassment. The 1946 Disney film, based on Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories, is set after the US Civil War but its depiction of black workers has long been controversial.

Disney wanted to have it both ways: the film was last released in 1986 but its characters and music were used at the theme parks in the flume ride Splash Mountain. Last year Disney announced the ride would be reworked at its theme parks to showcase Princess and the Frog, with African-American characters.

Jerry Lewis's serious 1972 effort The Day the Clown Cried - in which he plays a Jewish clown in a Nazi death camp who leads children to the gas chambers - was unreleased and apparently unfinished (there were legal as well as production complications). In 2015, two years before his death, Lewis gave an incomplete copy to the Library of Congress with the stipulation it not be screened until 2024.

Robert Frank's documentary Cocksucker Blues (1972), shot during a tour by The Rolling Stones, showed among other things, drug use. A deal was made that the film could be shown four times a year, always with the director present.

Frank died in 2019 but the film was screened at a New York festival last year. Maybe it will get wider circulation, before or after the Stones stop rolling.

The low-budget 1990s-shot indie Don's Plum starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire. In 1998 they sued to have the film's release blocked but settled - some raunchy lines were deleted and it was not allowed to be released in North America. But in the digital age, how effective can that really be in blocking access?

This story Why there's movies you'll never see first appeared on The Canberra Times.