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 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:38 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

Turning this around, my favorite commentary is from Michael Winner on the DVD of "I'll Never Forget What's 'Isname". He never stops talking, one great story after another. I know he directed some clunkers, but this mid-sixties film is rather good.

 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:39 AM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

And it's especially tedious when critics constantly list credits and bio details on every two-bit actor that shows up on screen. Boring.

Disagree. Those are the times when historian commentaries rise to the forefront because often I learn things I wasn't aware of that are interesting (more so than some boring subjective analysis of the symboilsm of a shot).

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.

True, though a moderator didn't help in Mickey Rooney's case on TZ! An example of a bad one of silence are Marlo Thomas's on "That Girl" where long bursts of silence are punctuated by a random chuckle and "That's nice".

 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

Bob Gilpin's commentary for Criterion's My Man Godfrey is not very good. He claims to have been teaching Godfrey "for years." He comes off as a complacent, tenured, academic hack with his overly-prepared notes and bland, montonous reading. He also makes a mistake early on, claiming that Powell was nominated for an Oscar in 1936 for *both* Godfrey and The Great Ziegfeld, winning for the latter. Powell was NOT nominated for Ziegfeld, so he sure didn't win the Oscar for it, as Gilpin states. An easily-avoidable error on his part.

On the other hand, Eddie Muller on the Fox film noir series is outstanding, especially on Where the Sidewalk Ends and Fallen Angel. I wish he'd done one for Laura. He clearly loves this stuff and knows about those "two-bit" character actors like no one else.

 
 Posted:   Apr 29, 2009 - 8:50 AM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

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.

True, though a moderator didn't help in Mickey Rooney's case on TZ! An example of a bad one of silence are Marlo Thomas's on "That Girl" where long bursts of silence are punctuated by a random chuckle and "That's nice".


I don't think anybody could have helped the Rooney situation. He was full of bile and ready to spew before he even sat down. Zicree tried. I'm still amazed they bothered to include the commentary. I woulda scrapped it.

Oh, and one critic/historian who does good commentaries IMO is Roger Ebert. His enthusiasm really comes through and he has interesting comments that keep me hooked. His CITIZEN KANE commentary was great.

 
 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

Unless I missed it, I don't think anyone has mentioned "interviews with directors who can't remember anything about the film". One that springs to mind is Freddie Francis on DR TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS -

"So, Freddie, how did you achieve that particular effect?"

"Oh, just lighting probably."

"I think that this is one of Christopher Lee's best performances, much more naturalistic than many of his others."

"I never noticed that before."

"Eh... (sweating), why did you choose to do that scene that particular way?"

"Hmm, I can't remember, but I think the budget was quite low."

"Oh, now, that actor later became famous on TV, didn't he?"

"Did he?" (etc)

And, Allardyce, you mention that Christopher Lee is often quite interesting in his DVD commentaries. Now, I'm the biggest Hammer film fan in the world, but I think that Christopher Lee is one of the WORST commentators on his films. The one that immediately comes to mind is CITY OF THE DEAD (a good film, not Hammer though), but Chris is excruciating - "And that is an interesting shot, black and white, which is what it was shot in, for budgetary reasons, but quite appropriate, when you think that there is black, and white, in the world, evil is black, good is white, and black magic DOES exist, and it is dangerous and very very real, and there in this scene you can see the black and the white, and you're thinking, was that a person there, perhaps ten seconds ago, perhaps eleven, twelve, thirteen seconds ago, and it's all done through the power of suggestion, which for me is far more horrific, more suggestive, far more interesting than the blood which we see in films nowadays, which are nonsense, there's no other word for it, nonsense, absurd, and there's no other word for it, absurd, and that's why I've never made a horror film, these are fantasy films, fairy tales if you like, and the best film, the best performance I ever gave was in THE WICKER MAN, because it was written, by Shaffer, for me, with me in mind, and it wasn't a horror film, I did one horror film once, never again, and Orson Welles told me that he would love to have me in his film, but they wouldn't listen, they said, no, he acts in horror films, which is absurd and stupid, there's no other word for it, and in this scene you can see a very dear friend of mine, and the black and white photography accentuates what I call the polarisation of evil, which means that there is no black without white, no God without the Devil, and it's a very real threat, black magic, which does exist, mark my words, and of course it's probably the greatest performance I've ever given, Joe Dante told me so, and John Huston and Fellini, and John Belushi, so where's the typecasting, but they wouldn't listen..." (etc)

 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 5:07 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

Worst commentary is Friedkin's for THE EXORCIST. Boring, beyond words.

 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 6:26 PM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Similarly, Gene Hatcher on "Ben Hur" is both pompous, worthless not to mention inaccurate (asserting that Tiberius was not Emperor at the time of Christ but that "Pomponius" was. First off, not only was Tiberius the actual emperor, but there was no Roman emperor named Pomponius before or after Tiberius!)

There is hope for the world ... I finally agree with Eric Paddon on something.

That was the worst commentary imaginable. His stuff on the historical background was no worse than his production notes. He asserted that Hugh Griffith, a great British stage actor was unhappy working with horses because he probably felt the four animals UPSTAGED him !!!!!!!!??????!!!!!

And whereas all the Romans were played by British actors and the Jews by Americans, Stephen Boyd was an exception to that with his 'strange Americanish sort of accent, even though he was British'. Boyd was in fact from Ulster, had a County Antrim accent in the film, was half-Canadian, and went to my old school!

But you knew it was going to be absurd when he opened the commentary with, 'Many people ask me if Judah Ben-Hur was a biblical character.'

And then disc 2's howler for an opener in a similar vein, very earnestly delivered: 'Many people ask me just what the word 'Entr'Acte' actually means...'

I'm not sure I'd agree to call him 'pompous' though. 'Imbecilic' is closer.

 
 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 6:55 PM   
 By:   The Man-Eating Cow   (Member)

Universal did bang-up jobs with the commentary tracks on their classic horror titles, with a single exception: THE MUMMY (which is one of my favorite movies, actually, which makes it that much more disappointing). It's a case of telling me what I'm watching on-camera. Boring, boring, boring.

Generally speaking, most actors shouldn't be allowed to provide commentary tracks. However, one absolutely delightful exception is Raquel Welch's commentary track for the movie MYRA BRECKINRIDGE. Seriously, the disc is worth at least a rental just to hear it.

 
 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 8:36 PM   
 By:   antipodean   (Member)

The ones I found difficult to listen to were the ensemble cast commentaries for "Babylon 5" and "Red Dwarf", both for the same reasons: with a group of actors and nobody "moderating" the discussion, often it is simply a directionless free-for-all, or worse, degenerates into several people talking over each other at the same time. I remember on some of the B5 commentaries, Bruce Boxleitner would be trying to say something, then someone else would be constantly interrupting.

 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 9:23 PM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)



Generally speaking, most actors shouldn't be allowed to provide commentary tracks. However, one absolutely delightful exception is Raquel Welch's commentary track for the movie MYRA BRECKINRIDGE. Seriously, the disc is worth at least a rental just to hear it.


Yes, because watching the movie isn't worth a rental.

 
 Posted:   May 2, 2009 - 9:43 PM   
 By:   LeHah   (Member)

The BEST commentaries IMO have been from Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, Terry Gilliam, John Frankenheimer, Oliver Stone and a small number of others.

I'd like to add Lem Dobbs and Steven Soderbergh's commetary on The Limey - "Those m*therf*ckers at Variety!"

 
 
 Posted:   May 3, 2009 - 12:35 AM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

I'd like to take this moment to recommend The Onion's recurring "Commentary Tracks Of The Damned" feature, where DVD commentaries on massively unsuccessful and/or awful movies get the once-over (most recent entry: The Spirit with Frank Miller and co-producer Deborah Del Prete).

 
 
 Posted:   May 3, 2009 - 7:14 AM   
 By:   The Man-Eating Cow   (Member)

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

I wish he'd take his stupid Alfred Hitchock impression out behind the barn and shoot it.

 
 Posted:   May 4, 2009 - 7:58 AM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

The BEST commentaries IMO have been from Ridley Scott, John Carpenter, Terry Gilliam, John Frankenheimer, Oliver Stone and a small number of others.

I'd like to add Lem Dobbs and Steven Soderbergh's commetary on The Limey - "Those m*therf*ckers at Variety!"


YES! I think that was the first commentary I'd ever heard in which the commentators were arguing with each other and disagreeing every coupla minutes. Fun stuff.

 
 Posted:   May 4, 2009 - 2:24 PM   
 By:   DavidinBerkeley   (Member)


However, one absolutely delightful exception is Raquel Welch's commentary track for the movie MYRA BRECKINRIDGE. Seriously, the disc is worth at least a rental just to hear it.


Thanks. This would make it worth renting, since I could just turn off the picture and avoid Rex Reed's [*urp!*] infamous scene!

 
 Posted:   May 4, 2009 - 2:43 PM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)


However, one absolutely delightful exception is Raquel Welch's commentary track for the movie MYRA BRECKINRIDGE. Seriously, the disc is worth at least a rental just to hear it.


Thanks. This would make it worth renting, since I could just turn off the picture and avoid Rex Reed's [*urp!*] infamous scene!


*urp* is right. Watched the film not that long ago and I was horrified by said scene. I wish I could erase it from my memory. (Be sure to turn off the sound as well; that's even more gross than the visuals)

 
 Posted:   May 4, 2009 - 2:48 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

In spite of my opinions of Raquel, not even a good commentary by her would make me want to see that film (maybe someone could just rip the commentary track and let me listen to it with no visuals but that would be it!). That forever remains the one project of hers I have no intention of ever subjecting myself to.

 
 Posted:   May 4, 2009 - 3:32 PM   
 By:   Eric Paddon   (Member)

I'm not sure I'd agree to call him 'pompous' though. 'Imbecilic' is closer.

Pompous to me was when he decided to liken the power of the Crucifixion scene to some kind of symbolic statement about blacklisting. I don't care what your view of the latter subject is, but anyone who wants to try to liken the former to the latter should have his head examined because this is Ivory Tower elitism at its absolute worst.

Because of his worthless commentary, not all of Charlton Heston's scene specific commentary from the first DVD release got duplicated which necessitates my keeping that earlier DVD release of the film.

To me it is frustrating that for me, the greatest movie in the history of cinema that I've seen, has not gotten *any* decent supplementary treatment on LD or DVD. The 1994 documentary is worthless because of how it subjected us to the self-centeredness of Gore Vidal trying to cackle with glee about inserting a homosexual subtext in the Judah-Messala relationship and not soliciting Heston's version of this story at all (Heston's absence from the documentary in light of how much he had written on this experience, and for that matter on the subject of who really was responsible for the final version of the script, was inexcusable). And the less said about any of the supplements on the recent DVD, the better. Not just the worthless commentary track, but also the documentary with the likes of Lucas plugging the "influences" on "Phantom Menace" for his stupid pod race scene.

 
 
 Posted:   May 5, 2009 - 4:49 AM   
 By:   Senmut   (Member)

The commentary on War of the Worlds was a bit disappointing. Gene Barry seemed as if he wasn't even there, when dubbing.

 
 Posted:   May 5, 2009 - 5:00 AM   
 By:   GreatGonzo   (Member)

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

I wish he'd take his stupid Alfred Hitchock impression out behind the barn and shoot it.


Why is it that Bogdanovich can't talk about ANYBODY - Hitch, Welles, Jimmy Stewart - without doing an impression of that person? Is this a medical condition?

 
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