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cujas

DVD Commentaries

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A few Thoughts--The commentaries on DVD's really vary according to the individual DVD.

 

In the "Criterion" Series most all of them are good.

 

There's no way of knowing.--

 

Recently I've gotten several that made me think a bit. In "Leave Her To Heaven", Darryl Hickman uses his commentary to trash Gene Tierney and to promote his drama school. His current insights seem as if he's still a juvenile.

 

I particularly enjoyed the commentaries of Jeffrey Vance and Tony Maietta on the pre-code films dvd for "Night Nurse".

 

And nothing was more fun than to hear a little Hollywood dirt with the director of "Old Acquaintance", Vincent Sherman, talking about the hatred between Hopkins and Davis and his subsequent affair with the latter.

 

 

Do you have any favorite commentaries--or ones that weren't worth the trouble?

 

Edited by: cujas on Nov 29, 2010 3:34 PM

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The guy who did the commentary for ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES didn't know who Ann Sheridan was. You'd think at least a casual familiarity with the WB roster at the time would be a prerequesite.

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I was going to start a thread like this, but I forgot. (sheeping grin) So I'm glad you did.

 

As far as classic movie DVD commentaries, here are some awesome ones, and some fairly awesome ones can I just say that is fantastic, and so is .

 

Awesome commentaries:

1. Roger Ebert's commentary on *Citizen Kane*

2. Norman Jewison's commentary on *Fiddler on the Roof* --really, though, Norman Jewison pretty much always has fantastic commentary

3. Group commentary on *Mary Poppins*

 

Fairly awesome (meaning they say incredibly interesting things, but they take huge pauses)

1. David Raskin on *Laura*

2. John Frankenheimer on *Manchurian Candidate*

3. Peter Bogdonovich on *Bringing Up Baby*

 

I'm sure there are more but that's what comes to mind

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The commentator for the Cagney film G - Men called Magaret Lindsey, " Margaret Livingstone ", twice and the actor Davis Brian was called Brian David. Mr Brian did an introduction for a G - Men re - realease in the 1940s.

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I really dig commentaries! I prefer sets and films that have them!

 

I have pretty much liked all the commentaries I've heard except for anything Drew Caspar does, man that dude, I don't know! The rest, even if they aren't that knowledgeable about one aspect or another, they still seem pretty interesting to me, and I really did listening!

 

I have thoroughly enjoyed the commentaries on the Chan sets, the Sherlock Holmes set, and two of the Universal Horror Legacy series (Frankenstein and Dracula) sets. Also the MGM Horror collection, those are all really good. And most of the Gangster and Noir sets.

 

I also loved the Pre-code commentaries, and the one you mentioned, NIGHT NURSE, I just listened to this past weekend and really enjoyed it also!

 

Basically I prefer them to not having them. If they suck, you can just turn them off, but I have found them pretty much always a decent listen!

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*The guy who did the commentary for ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES didn't know who Ann Sheridan was. You'd think at least a casual familiarity with the WB roster at the time would be a prerequesite.*

 

I too don't like it when the commentarist doesn't have a very good knowledge of the main members of the cast. Or when they compare angles, cranes shots, lighting or whatever, and state that a director nowadays would not do it that way. I can't think of titles off the bat, but it is annoying that it would be pointed out throughout a good chunk of the movie.

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The Robert Wagner commentary on LET'S MAKE IT LEGAL has been my favorite so far...he was describing how some of the scenes in the film were shot; plus he talked about the different departments of the Fox studio at the time the film was made and he had very good, insightful things to say about his costars and the director. I got the feeling that the studio system was an extremely positive experience for RJ and made a life-long impact on him. He was very articulate and he talked about some of his other films, too...going above and beyond the usual scope of these commentaries.

 

Also, tonight I looked at the special features for the BRIGHAM YOUNG disc from Fox. There is commentary by an LDS scholar, which I can't wait to get to later...and also, there was interesting realia: a letter written by Vincent Price in 1972 was included in its entirety, wherein he describes his role in the picture (he played Joseph Smith).

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Vincent Sherman (who was nearly 100 at the time) also did a great commentary for *The Return of Dr. X*. The film features an elaborate mad scientist lab in which creatures are brought back to life. It looks like a great deal of thought went into constructing the set. The interviewer on the DVD asked director Sherman if any research was done into how the lab should be constructed. "No," replied Vincent Sherman. "I just called up the prop guy and said, 'bring me alot of stuff, I have to bring a rabbit back to life!'"

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*The guy who did the commentary for ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES didn't know who Ann Sheridan was. You'd think at least a casual familiarity with the WB roster at the time would be a prerequesite*.

 

Lest anyone think it was Rick Jewell (who does a lot of commentaries for gangster, western and RKO films), I think it was Dana Polan. Rick knows who Ann Sheridan is and most other stars of the classic era.

 

Edited by: lzcutter for clarification

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> {quote:title=arlenemccarthy wrote:}{quote}

> One film that I have the " expert " says that Ann Sheridan prayed " brassy blondes ". MsSheridan was a redhead.

 

Well, if the film is in B&W, I'm sure a redhead would play a better "brassy blonde" than a blonde would... :)

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I enjoy commentary tracks if they're by the filmmakers or by film scholars and serious critics. Cast commentaries I generally find useless.

 

David Kalat's commentary on the Eureka/Masters of Cinema Blu-ray of City Girl is probably the best commentary track I've listened to.

 

I also enjoy video essays, especially Tag Gallagher's contributions to various Criterion releases.

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cujas, I love commentaries on dvds. It's fun to watch the movie first, the usual way, and then (obviously not the same night, might be too much of a good thing) - watching the film again, this time with the commentary. It does vary, of course, depending on the film and on who the commentator is. I find I especially enjoy this dvd extra on film noir dvds; often it's a "noir" expert, and their contributions add a lot to the enjoyment and understanding of the film.

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Having audio commentary is often the reason I buy a DVD (of course liking the movie or the star helps too). I especially like it when the commentary is from someone connected to the movie. John Frankenheimer gives a terrific commentary to the Burt Lancaster film "The Train" for example. Jack Lemmon gives some commentary to "Mister Roberts"; this must have been close to the time of his death. Jack rambles on a little, but who cares, I enjoy hearing some insight from someone who actually made the film. Some of the so called experts and critics leave a lot to be desired for me, I'll judge them on an individual basis. Its pretty bad when the commentator can't get the basic facts right ; who was Ann Sheridan?????

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I was just looking through some of my collection of movies and remembered that James "Jimmy" Stewart (I never know what to call him) gives a commentary/interview on the dvd of Winchester 73. As with Jack Lemmon on Mister Roberts, Stewart is really up in years and kind of stumbles and rambles along, but it is great hearing his views and recollections, I wouldn't replace his commentary with anyone elses.

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The BRIGHAM YOUNG commentary by James D'Arc is perhaps the single finest commentary track I've heard. He must have studied reams of info from Fox archives -- he covers every single aspect of the film including special effects shots, location shooting, the musical score, casting decisions, sets, as well as a comparison of the film with the historical record. It truly is "film school in a box."

 

Also in my top five: LOVE IS A MANY-SPLENDORED THING which skillfully interweaves comments by Jon Burlingame (Alfred Newman expert), Michael Lonzo (who covers cinematography, process shots, and locations), and Sylvia Stoddard (who provides a wealth of information on Han Suyin and the original book). It was absolutely fascinating. I wasn't a particular fan of the film but gained a much greater appreciation learning so much detail about its creation.

 

Eddie Muller and Susan Andrews (daughter of Dana) also do a particularly fine commentary on FALLEN ANGEL, and I especially like Muller's track for I WAKE UP SCREAMING as well.

 

Finally, Ian Christie's track for I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! (from Criterion) was extremely informative.

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The commentary on BRIGHAM YOUNG was very informative. I felt like I was right there with them during the making of the movie.

 

I skipped Susan Andrews' audio on FALLEN ANGEL...now I regret it. I will have to rent it again from Netflix. I have I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING on my Netflix queue...and it looks good.

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I will admit, I'm a commentary junkie now!!! :) As someone already mentioned, it's often a reason that will sway a purchase for me. For example, I still haven't purchased Vol 5 of the WB Film Noir sets, as that is the only one sans commentaries. Same with Vol 1 of the Pre-Code Hollywood TCM Archives series, the other two have commentaries! I dig them!

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