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 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 4:18 PM   
 By:   Odlicno   (Member)

I remember the Dodgeball commentary being very very deeply unfunny and they were all trying to be hilarious.

The commentaries for the Fawlty Towers tv series, not worthless but not very interesting.

On the other hand i like John Boorman commentaries. I watched Zardoz the other night and appreciated it a lot more after hearing the cash he had to spend and interesting ideas he was trying to get across.

 
 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 4:21 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

He WAS reading them. What did you expect him to say in the intros? I thought they were adequate (except his Burgess Meredith/Joker gaffe)

That Meredith/Joker gaffe only revealed how worthless the intros were in that they were all scripted for him. Robert Conrad at least on his S1 WWW intros injected a few things of his own (like calling attention to how Trek ripped off one episode).

 
 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 4:29 PM   
 By:   Charles Thaxton   (Member)

He WAS reading them. What did you expect him to say in the intros? I thought they were adequate (except his Burgess Meredith/Joker gaffe)

That Meredith/Joker gaffe only revealed how worthless the intros were in that they were all scripted for him. Robert Conrad at least on his S1 WWW intros injected a few things of his own (like calling attention to how Trek ripped off one episode).


Roy does ad lib some spots...like his X-FILES episodes reference in "The Spores" intro. Also talking about "The Vise" and Roscoe Lee Browne.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 5:09 PM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

Yes as Eric P mentioned Mickey Rooney on the TWILIGHT ZONE DEFINITIVE DVD.

What a pompous idiot Rooney. He spends 80 percent of the time berating the co-audio commentator/questioner, yelling out crap like,

"I'll don't remember anything about it!"

"Never met Serling!"

"I just did it!"


"I don't need to be directed!" or something like that.

"The viewers of today don't care about this crap!"

"You're asking the impossible!"


And so many more negative outbursts.

Obviously he just showed up for the "paycheck" here.

He did nothing to enhance the episode accept enhance the viewers perceptance of what a jaded a-hole he has become.

But I loved it! I truly loved it.

Very entertaining. It's like the acting equal to Bernard Herrmann on a wild self-indulgent tirade. Great stuff!


And then he says the stupidest things like.

"Look at the lighting. The lighting is brilliant!"

And it's of course in goregeous black and white but just lit as bright as possible, no shadows no contrast at all. Yeah Rooney knows his "lighting".

This commentary alone is worth the price of the collection.

So for me, I guess it's not really worthless as such.

Here's some funny Mickey outtakes back in the day:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBQMYxWX_Dk&feature=related


Zoob

 
 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 7:23 PM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

I hate Tim Burton's commentaries that sound like tracked in interviews, even though they are recorded live as he watches the film! He can disconnect himself from the film and not tell you any anecdotes about what is on screen even when it's the most important moment in the film.

Agreed. I'm a huge Burton fan, but I'm baffled at how such a visually gifted filmmaker can be so crushingly boring as a commentator on his own films.

"This is a cool shot. I'm not exactly sure why..." [long pause, laughs] roll eyes

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 9:19 PM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

One of the things I most hate about commentary tracks is the mispronunciation of names by people who should know better.

Strangely enough, this seems to happen most with the "film historians/scholars" or "university professors" of film who, presumably, have been studying these films and the talents involved for a long time and cast themselves as eminent authorities.

The worst mispronunciation for me was probably the discussion of legendary producer Walter Wanger by the commenter on the INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS disc, with his endless references to Wanger, incorrectly, as "Wang-er", instead of "Wayne-jur", which it should be.

On another track, a person continuously referred to Oscar-winning cameraman, Winton Hoch, as Winton "Hotch", instead of "Hoke", which it should be.

The most ridiculous one was probably a recent track I listened to in which the narrator kept talking about one of the performers, Skip "Skippy" Homeier. He must have thought Skip Homeier was French, because he kept calling him "Ho-mee-yea"! It should be "Ho-myer", of course.

Many, many of these "authorities" have absorbed their information from books and articles written by others, and have never lived in the world they teach or talk about at all.

Sometimes this academic analysis is absurd.
I'll never forget the day at UCLA back in the fifties when a student was commenting on the dramatic camerawork and staging of a scene in a classic film. He went on and on about the fine performance of the actor, the cleverness of the staging, the drama in the use of shadows, etc., until the cameraman who'd shot it said, "Oh, yeah! That's the day (the actor) came in drunk, looked terrible, and couldn't stand up. We were behind and we had to find a way to get through the scene and get it on film!"

Another time, someone asked about the significance of the final leaf blowing off a tree in a scene. Did it signify death---a final ending---the end of an age? The director piped up and said, "Oh, that happened when the grip accidentally panned the big Ritter fan over onto the tree and blew off the leaf which wasn't wired on very well. We had to go with that take because we'd done six already and everything else in the scene was OK. The leaf falling is meaningless!"

Sadly, a lot of this commentary analysis is malarkey and stands in for the reality of the situation. And, unfortunately, we're teaching our film students a lot of fanciful and false information. But it's a good aesthetic tale, I guess.

I think it was someone reviewing an Antonioni film who once said, "There's less there than meets the eye!" Scenes in films often have less meaning than many wish to imagine.

 
 Posted:   Apr 27, 2009 - 9:43 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

John Frankenheimer in his "Manchurian Candidate" commentary revealed a similar story that dispelled the malarkey "scholars" will put into a film, citing a scene how when Frank Sinatra deprograms Laurence Harvey, Sinatra is blurry from Harvey's POV. He talked of how people would call that great symbolism to show Harvey's POV in which Sinatra would be blurry from his angle but as Frankenheimer said, what happened was the camera had been accidentally out of focus, and the reason why they had to use that take was because Sinatra was notorious for being a one-take performer who never did better than on the first try and as a result all subsequent takes they tried with the camera in-focus his whole performance was flat by comparison.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 12:55 AM   
 By:   riotengine   (Member)

Frankenheimer and John Carpenter always make great commentaries.

And Joe Dante. His commentary for Piranha is great. Tons of anecdotes about cast, crew, how they got shots. He does a great job deconstructing what he does.

His commentary for The Howling is very good, also.

Greg Espinoza

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 1:16 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Another time, someone asked about the significance of the final leaf blowing off a tree in a scene. Did it signify death---a final ending---the end of an age? The director piped up and said, "Oh, that happened when the grip accidentally panned the big Ritter fan over onto the tree and blew off the leaf which wasn't wired on very well. We had to go with that take because we'd done six already and everything else in the scene was OK. The leaf falling is meaningless!"

Fortunately, films have a life of their own once the film crew has finished with it, so we're really free to interpret things whichever way we feel is reasonable. It's sometimes useful to know what the filmmakers were or were not thinking or intending, but it's not the final truth.

Sometimes, you'll find UNreasonable examples of over-analysis, of course, but the examples you cite seem perfectly reasonable. And just as valid as the filmmaker's purely practical descriptions.

A great example of this is of course Bergman's GJØGLERNES AFTEN, wherein the esteemed cinematographer Sven Nykvist overexposed a scene by accident. However, when it was played back, the over-exposure gave the scene a dreamy quality appropriate to the narrative. Even Bergman himself loved this.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 2:13 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Fortunately, films have a life of their own once the film crew has finished with it, so we're really free to interpret things whichever way we feel is reasonable. It's sometimes useful to know what the filmmakers were or were not thinking or intending, but it's not the final truth.

Sometimes, you'll find UNreasonable examples of over-analysis, of course, but the examples you cite seem perfectly reasonable. And just as valid as the filmmaker's purely practical descriptions.

A great example of this is of course Bergman's GJØGLERNES AFTEN, wherein the esteemed cinematographer Sven Nykvist overexposed a scene by accident. However, when it was played back, the over-exposure gave the scene a dreamy quality appropriate to the narrative. Even Bergman himself loved this.....


I don't believe this story. In a professional situation the dailies are timed and the over-exposed shot would have looked perfectly normal. Of course, you didn't say it was a shot, you said it was a scene, which means Nykvist would have to have overexposed every shot in the scene accidentally.

But it's a nice fiction.



As to reasonable and unreasonable personal interpretations, if a film is interpreted in a way the filmmakers did not intend, then that film and their work on it has failed in its overall intent.

We see a lot of positive critical sleight-of-hand adulation, particularly on films admired for their directors or their subject matter when, in fact, the films are pretty awful.

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 5:20 AM   
 By:   Ray Faiola   (Member)

I did the DVD commentary for ALEXANDER'S RAGTIME BAND. One thing I would have loved to have discussed but obviously couldn't was the shameful way that Fox mishandled the materials and had been working from multi-generational dupe negatives and poorly re-recorded soundtrack elements. As in so many cases, the trailer looks and sounds ten times better than the feature!

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 5:39 AM   
 By:   Tobias   (Member)

Disturbia is one of the worst commentaries I have heard.

One of the best I have heard was to the first Final Destination.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 10:19 AM   
 By:   LRobHubbard   (Member)

I find that most commentaries on recent comedies, esp. group commentaries, are pretty worthless. They try to be funny and are usually not.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 11:01 AM   
 By:   ahem   (Member)


As to reasonable and unreasonable personal interpretations, if a film is interpreted in a way the filmmakers did not intend, then that film and their work on it has failed in its overall intent.


Doesn't make the end result any less valid. You of all of this board's forum members must appreciate that. I am sure a cunning editor has salvaged an unsuable by you many a time in your long career. As we both know, no matter how much you plan it's always just a guide.

Here's an example of filmmakers misfiring and then restoring their intent by fluke later on:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh6ohRiv--s

Does this story invalidate the end result, even though they outdid their original intention? No.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 11:18 AM   
 By:   John McMasters   (Member)

Frankenheimer and John Carpenter always make great commentaries.

Yes !

The Carpenter/Kurt Russell commentary track, at least for the LD, on "Escape from New York" is a total blast -- especially during the scenes in which their former wives appear...

 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 11:48 AM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)

I got really bored during the commentary of TENSION and gave up.

I did want to hear more of Audrey Totter, but she was edited in from an interview, so wasn't appearing much.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 28, 2009 - 11:51 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....Doesn't make the end result any less valid. You of all of this board's forum members must appreciate that. I am sure a cunning editor has salvaged an unsuable by you many a time in your long career. As we both know, no matter how much you plan it's always just a guide.

Here's an example of filmmakers misfiring and then restoring their intent by fluke later on:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lh6ohRiv--s

Does this story invalidate the end result, even though they outdid their original intention? No.....



We're not talking about a work in progress, which is what a film is, while it's being shot, edited, timed and printed. Once the final film is out there and released, it represents what the filmmakers intended, good or bad.

If an audience reads something into it that was not intended, then the film has failed with reference to the filmmakers' intent.

If you believe that a film's intent can be re-analyzed or changed after its release, or the physical trappings of a film can be improved or changed, then you believe in re-editing, re-scoring, and, of course, colorization.

You will certainly want to bring up the hack job done to THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS or GREED before its release, but I would suggest to you that the producer and the studio have ALWAYS been one of the "creators" of a film, and if it were their final intent, good or bad, to make a film for sales purposes, which is, after all what film companies are all about---being in the film BUSINESS---then that intent was valid, good or bad, no matter what the critics say.

We can wish for a better film, and criticize the creators, the studio, and the producers for their misguided intent as WE see it, but we must also recognize that their intent was valid and final and is the only reading related to the material, itself. All the rest is the application of our own creative instincts and wishful thinking.

I'm sounding a lot like our own Ford Thaxton here but, beyond his sometimes unfortunate way of couching things, he is often right about "the business" and how it actually works---even though the "fanboys" cry.

There will always be a conflict between the people who make the films and the people who wished they could have, or wished they could have made them better---from film students to film critics. Fortunately there is a method to do this---with the remake. But the remakes often prove the original concepts, even when flawed, worked better.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:18 AM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

There will always be a conflict between the people who make the films and the people who wished they could have, or wished they could have made them better---from film students to film critics. Fortunately there is a method to do this---with the remake. But the remakes often prove the original concepts, even when flawed, worked better.

This seems particularly true when remakes are made of good films rather than bad ones. I'm not sure what "betterments" were supposed to be in the remakes of Psycho, Planet of the Apes, Charade, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Day of the Jackal, The Music Man, The Omen, Stagecoach, etc.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:25 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

The worse commentary ever would have come from John Ford.....silence.

 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:30 AM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

Peter Bogdanovich - one of the most boring, monotone, sleep-inducing commentators ever.

Jeffrey Lyons - his commentary to Orson Welles' The Stranger is just plain annoying.

William Friedkin - whereas his commentary to the theatrical cut of The Exorcist is okay, his commentary on "The Version You've Never Seen" is absolutely awful. He literally describes every little thing on screen, as if we're stupid, and that's ALL he does for 2 hours! One of the worst.

Film Historians - I find commentaries done by historians who do a lot of theorizing and interpretation are not enjoyable. Some are okay if they have interesting trivia and facts, but I'm more interested in commentaries by people who were THERE when the film was made. Who cares what some critic thinks about ALL ABOUT EVE? And it's especially tedious when critics constantly list credits and bio details on every two-bit actor that shows up on screen. Boring.

Tim Burton - "That's a set." . . . "That's a location." . . . "That's a set." . . . "That's a location." . . . "He was great to work with." . . . "That's a set." . . . "She was great to work with, too."

Vintage TV Commentary - from elderly actors who literally can't remember anything and more or less sit there gaping at the screen in silence or occasionally saying, "I don't remember doing that scene." Moderators are needed for these sorts of commentaries.

The BEST commentaries IMO have been from Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, Terry Gilliam, John Frankenheimer, Oliver Stone and a small number of others. Also, the commentary to SOLARIS from Steven Soderberg and James Cameron is one of the most fascinating I've ever heard. Finally, commentaries to Hammer Films are usually interesting and fun from the likes of Christopher Lee, Jimmy Sangster and many of the surviving cast/crew members.

 
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