What is your favorite commentary?

Looking forward to your answers and a bunch of new stuff I gotta watch. 3 Stars

I know a lot of you on the forum love the commentaries of the films. I would like to know what is your favorite(s). It may not be your favorite movie but the commentary was insightful, or thought provoking, or entertaining or ????? A commentary that stuck with you. And please let us know why you selected it (them)

I posted this in Blu Ray but if your commentary only appears on the DVD or LD please let us know.

Looking forward to your answers and a bunch of new stuff I gotta watch.

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Kevin Collins

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109 Comments

  1. Off the top of my head, the commentaries with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell on Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China are all fun because it's a couple of old buddies just having fun reminiscing together.

    And as a big fan of The Simpsons, the commentaries on every episode of that series are priceless. With about 400 commentaries, they make up what must be the most complete oral history of any TV show ever made. Plus, they're funny since they feature a bunch of comedy writers so even bad episodes play better with the commentary.

  2. Max Allan Collins commentary on the VCI DVD Slightly Scarlet. A film noir aficionado talking about a favourite film of mine. Where is the blu-ray?

    The commentary by the director and composer on the blu-ray of La La Land which is my favourite recent film. So much joy!

  3. I enjoy listening to Susan Sarandon's track on The Hunger but maybe that was a DVD? Probably carried over to Blu however. The commentary on The Lost World (25) is excellent and so are all the commentaries by Tim Lucas for various titles, most recently A Fistful of Dollars and Death Smiles on a Murderer.

  4. John Sturges' 85-minute film school masterclass from the Criterion LD of BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK is the finest commentary ever recorded, IMHO. The commentaries on Kevin Smith's films are some of my favorites, as well.

  5. One of my favorite commentaries is on the DVD of blood simple from the fake film critic. Its dry, sarcastic, pseudo-pretentious. Most people ive shared this with get bored with it after awhile, but for me that's the genius of it, that it just keeps going on and on.

    Also, the John Landis/Rick Baker commentary on Schlock is excellent. Lots of insight into how both men got into the biz, low budget filmmaking, and its really funny. Like the Carpenter/Russell commentaries, its two old friends reminiscing.

  6. Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz on "Superman: The Movie". (They reunited to do a commentary on the Donner Cut of Superman II which is also worthwhile.)

    Roger Ebert on "Citizen Kane"

    During Steven Soderbergh's hot streak from Out Of Sight through Solaris (which also included The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven and Full Frontal), he did commentaries on each of those films (except EB) with the screenwriter, and those are all incredibly insightful and entertaining.

    Nicholas Meyer on "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan" (the solo commentary for the director's cut version that was on the DVD and then BD, not the one with Manny Coto for the theatrical cut on the BD).

    There are lots of great commentaries I've heard but those consistently remain at the top of my list. I've listened to them multiple times, and even though I know what they have to say at this point, it's still worthwhile listening, like visiting with an old friend.

    Honorable mention to the Dalton Trumbo "commentary" on the Criterion edition of "Spartacus". It's not technically a commentary as Trumbo had passed long before the disc was recorded. The makers of the disc had located a very long letter that Trumbo had drafted and had a voice actor record it for the disc. After being invited to view an early cut of the film, Trumbo (who wrote the film) had notes on nearly every single scene and every aspect on the film, for the most part criticizing the choices of director Stanley Kubrick and producer/star Kirk Douglas. It's scene specific and runs the length of the film. I don't agree with a lot of Trumbo's complaints but it's a fascinating insight into the production process and how little control writers have once they've turned in their pages.

    Honorable mention also to Walt Disney "commentaries" on "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs" and "Fantasia". The disc producers used a variety of archival audio interviews, along with memos and transcripts read by an actor, to present Disney's own thoughts on two of his best films. Though the audio quality varies, the information they contain is priceless.

  7. Tom Weaver's commentary on The Creature From the Black Lagoon is really entertaining and informative. It is the first time I went back and looked for movies with commentaries by Tom and then used that to determine whether I would buy a disc or not.

  8. FACES OF DEATH has an excellent, enlightening commentary from the director. One of the very best I’ve ever heard — truly.

    Any commentary with Larry Cohen is also top-notch. A real lesson in filmmaking any time he speaks.

  9. Wow I could never name just one! I really enjoy film historian commentaries. Ones from Nick Redman, Julie Kirgo and company like Lem Dobbs are some of the best. You really can't go wrong with any they have ever done.

    Some newbie's or maybe not as well known to many yet… Kat Ellinger, Samm Deighan You can go with any of their duo or solo commentaries and their knowledge and research that goes into their commentaries are not lazy. Grab discs like Arrow's IMAGES, FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC (UK Region B Locked) Kino Lorber's Love with the Proper Stranger the list goes on!

    Tim Lucas… what can you say he is amazing at his commentaries. they are just essential.

    Many other deserve praise also I believe my most listened to audio commentary track is the Criterion one for The Tales of Hoffmann. (DVD, Laserdisc only so far)

    One person I'd like to mention that should have been featured so MUCH more and IMO was horribly underused was the great animation Historian John Canemaker! Disney should have had him and him alone create audio commentaries for all of their classic animated features. The ones he did out of my memory for FANTASIA and DUMBO (that one only was on a specific DVD release) are great. I would have loved to have heard his thoughts on so many other classics Like Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella.

  10. Josh Steinberg

    Honorable mention also to Walt Disney "commentaries" on "Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs" and "Fantasia". The disc producers used a variety of archival audio interviews, along with memos and transcripts read by an actor, to present Disney's own thoughts on two of his best films. Though the audio quality varies, the information they contain is priceless.

    Thank you for reminding us about that one. When I first got the Platinum Edition DVD in 2001 I used to just play the commentary to listen to it while I was doing other things, not even watching the movie.

  11. Josh Steinberg

    Trumbo (who wrote the film) had notes on nearly every single scene and every aspect on the film, for the most part criticizing the choices of director Stanley Kubrick and producer/star Kirk Douglas. It's scene specific and runs the length of the film.

    Is this the one where he trashes Kirk’s acting? I know someone did that and I found it refreshing though I disagreed with him.

  12. My three favorites are all from laserdiscs:

    John Fricke's for the Ultimate Edition of The Wizard of Oz. He did commentary for the DVD/Blu-ray releases, too, and some of his commentary is the same but it's interrupted with sound bites from others and not quite as effective on the DVD/Blu-ray.

    Ron Haver for Criterion's Singin' in the Rain.

    Miles Kreuger for Criterion's 1936 Show Boat. (I believe MGM re-used it for their Show Boat laserdisc box set, too.)

  13. The commentary on Inside Out comes to mind. As usual with Pixar commentaries, It's really informative and fun to listen to, and also has that really funny bi where they call Michael Giacchino to talk about the music, but he's not in. So the commentary actually includes Michael Giacchino's voicemail message as part of the track, which is hilarious.

  14. Speaking of the spinal tap criterion commentary, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest give an excellent commentary to Criterion's Sullivan's Travels. Even though it is 95% McKean talking it is still quite good.

  15. The absolute best commentaries are done by the late Mike Nichols. His best is The Graduate, followed by Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, and Catch-22.

    Some of my upper favorites are the two-person one done in Conan the Barbarian by Arnold and director John Milius. I also love the John Carpenter ones with Kurt Russell in The Thing, Escape from New York, and Big Trouble.

    There are countless others. My head is swimming with about 50.

  16. By of a parochial one for an international forum, but the cast commentaries on the 1970s kids sci-fi TV series The Tomorrow People are laugh out loud funny. They mock some of the acting and effects, share behind the scenes gossip, and for good measure constantly joke that the producer/writer was always including scenes of scantily glad young boys being tied up and/or whipped.

    The View Askew and League of Gentlemen commentaries are also really funny.

    In terms of serious critical insight, the one for Criterion’s L’Avventura shone light on a film that’s subtleties had escaped me on first viewing.

    And all of the above are commentaries from 10-15 years ago, back in the days when I had time to listen to them – *sigh*

  17. What a great thread. Thanks for starting it, Mysto! I'm now inspired to start a new word file to log in the audio commentaries I've listened to (and my reactions) and inventory the ones I own and add suggestions for acquisitions from the previous posts, many of which sound intriguing.

    However, I have to sheepishly admit that I've only listened to a fraction of the audio commentaries in my collection. I've listened to between 40 and 50 audio commentaries so far, plus TV shows and cartoon shots with commentaries.

    The ones I remember the most fondly (all on DVD):

    Burt Reynolds and producer Albert Ruddy on THE LONGEST YARD (1974). Burt has incredible recall and knows a great deal about each of the cast members and whatever football background they had. He's very enthusiastic and Ruddy has the good sense to let him talk and simply ask questions or guide the discussion at occasional points.

    Raquel Welch on MYRA BRECKENRIDGE (1970). She is very funny and recalls the horrors of making the film with a caustic wit. "John Huston! Why couldn't HE have directed this movie?" She does it solo and the disc provides a second audio commentary by the pompous British director, whose memory of some of the off-camera incidents doesn't quite match Raquel's. But then, he's more interested in defending the indefensible.

    Nancy Kwan and Nick Redman on FLOWER DRUM SONG (1961): Redman is a great moderator and Kwan is full of glowing reminiscences and a love of her career. She's a delight to listen to, but you won't hear a critical word about anybody she worked with. She has kind words about all of them. The one time she got scornful is when she recalled younger people in the industry who don't know film history. "How can you say you know anything about film when you don't know who John Wayne is?" Amen, sister!

    https://briandanacamp.wordpress.com/2014/10/19/an-evening-with-nancy-kwan/

  18. Vic Pardo

    Burt Reynolds and producer Albert Ruddy on THE LONGEST YARD (1974). Burt has incredible recall and knows a great deal about each of the cast members and whatever football background they had. He's very enthusiastic and Ruddy has the good sense to let him talk and simply ask questions or guide the discussion at occasional points.

    Ah I have the DVD, I've just checked it, & damnit, the commentary isn't on the UK DVD.

  19. I am really at the point where I think twice about buying any disc without a commentary. The classic movies are the best, especially those for silent movies. The latest ones usually just deteriorate into “she was wonderful to work with”. It is interesting to hear the commentary recorded just after the movie was made, telling

  20. TJPC

    I am really at the point where I think twice about buying any disc without a commentary. The classic movies are the best, especially those for silent movies. The latest ones usually just deteriorate into “she was wonderful to work with”. It is interesting to hear the commentary recorded just after the movie was made, telling

  21. One of the only commentaries that I have listened to multiple times is the commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of “Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments”. She fills up the almost 4 hours of the film with wonderful anecdotes and information. It's obvious she loves the movie. Her book on the filming is also a great read if you're a fan of the film.

  22. For me, there's just so many great commentaries. The ones that spring to mind at the moment are the two Richard W Bann/Rich Correll tracks for the 1930 Laurel and Hardy two reel comedy, HOG WILD, on the 10 DVD set of LAUREL AND HARDY: THE ESSENTIAL COLLECTION, from 2011. I always find the fun they were clearly both having so infectious, while also being very informative!

    CHEERS! 🙂

  23. I have to second the nomination of Katherine Orrison's. She knows the film well, she knows the participants well and her love for and knowledge of the movie comes through in a most entertaining manner.

    I also loved the commentaries by Ron Haver, Miles Kreuger, Rudy Behlmer, Randy Skretvedt on the L&H films and Charley's Aunt, and Nick Redman, with or without Julie Kirgo.

  24. TravisR

    Off the top of my head, the commentaries with John Carpenter and Kurt Russell on Escape From New York, The Thing and Big Trouble In Little China are all fun because it's a couple of old buddies just having fun reminiscing together.

    they are just fun, to listen to

  25. Roger Waters' commentary track for Pink Floyd: The Wall (1982, starring Bob Geldof) had me in stitches. I had no idea he was so funny. The movie is just so freaking dark, I didn't expect it. Roger just sits there wittily dismantling it scene-by-scene, just riffing on stuff left and right.

  26. I'll second Dave's recommendation of Roger Ebert on Dark City with the caveat that the revised commentary is a bit distracting due to Mr. Ebert's health issues. It is pretty noticeable (at least to me) when you are hearing the original track and the new sections. (Obviously from the content of the scenes, but I am referring to Mr. Ebert's voice and diction and perhaps energy level.)

    One of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard was on Black Hawk Down where four members of Task Force Ranger discuss the mission and contrast it with the film's version of events. I believe it was in this track that we learn that one of the stunt pilots who flew one of the 'Little Birds' for the film actually flew that same craft and mission in real life in Mogadishu.

    – Walter.

  27. I've been enjoying this thread, and so I started looking deep into my collection for stuff I haven't watched in a long while. And I came across Breech.

    Wonderful film, but the commentary by the actual FBI agent from the true story is excellent. So many times in based on true stories you wonder what is real and what was embellished. This commentary expounds on this and amazingly some the more bizarre behaviors in the film were actually toned down some.

  28. sleroi

    I've been enjoying this thread, and so I started looking deep into my collection for stuff I haven't watched in a long while. And I came across Breech.

    Wonderful film, but the commentary by the actual FBI agent from the true story is excellent. So many times in based on true stories you wonder what is real and what was embellished. This commentary expounds on this and amazingly some the more bizarre behaviors in the film were actually toned down some.

    I’ve never listened to it, but now I want to. It sounds like it would be fascinating.

  29. sleroi

    I've been enjoying this thread, and so I started looking deep into my collection for stuff I haven't watched in a long while. And I came across Breech.

    Wonderful film, but the commentary by the actual FBI agent from the true story is excellent. So many times in based on true stories you wonder what is real and what was embellished. This commentary expounds on this and amazingly some the more bizarre behaviors in the film were actually toned down some.

    Curse you. 😉 I had to go and buy the DVD because there’s no blu. BTW it’s “Breach”.

  30. The Disney film "Brother Bear" has a hilarious commentary by Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis. They are doing it in character as Ruk and Tuk, the moose they voiced in the film but it might as well be Bob and Doug Mckenzie from "Strange Brew" It's a great commentary.

  31. The absolute best commentaries I've heard are for 'Charade' (Stanley Donen and scriptwriter Peter Stone) …. totally hilarious, and George Stevens for 'The Harvey Girls' .. packed with info and priceless nostalgia. The first is of course already on Blu ray .. and I'm hoping the second commentary gets ported across when Warners gets around to a Blu ray of that classic Judy Garland movie.

  32. TJPC

    I am really at the point where I think twice about buying any disc without a commentary.

    A commentary track has become my single most significant "trigger-puller." I tend to buy mostly movies that have commentary tracks, and tend shy away from ones without.

  33. AnthonyClarke

    The absolute best commentaries I've heard are for 'Charade' (Stanley Donen and scriptwriter Peter Stone) …. totally hilarious, and George Stevens for 'The Harvey Girls' .. packed with info and priceless nostalgia. The first is of course already on Blu ray .. and I'm hoping the second commentary gets ported across when Warners gets around to a Blu ray of that classic Judy Garland movie.

    I think you mean George Sidney.

  34. Admittedly, I have listened to a fraction of the commentaries I have on various discs but out of the ones I listened to, probably the Criterion LD James Bond (first three movies) are my favorite thus far. Lots of great info there and seeing how the expensive looking sets are really not so.

  35. TravisR

    And as a big fan of The Simpsons, the commentaries on every episode of that series are priceless. With about 400 commentaries, they make up what must be the most complete oral history of any TV show ever made. Plus, they're funny since they feature a bunch of comedy writers so even bad episodes play better with the commentary.

    I think the "Simpsons" tracks started out pretty well but got less interesting as the series continued.

    On the other hand, early "Futurama" commentaries weren't very good but they improved a lot as time progressed.

    The "Futurama" tracks are way funnier and more fun – especially because that series' actors are much more extroverted. Dan Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith sound like fine book club members, whereas John DiMaggio and Billy West seem like guys who'd take you out for the wildest night of your life! 😀

  36. AshJW

    I love the commentary with Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez an the DVD/BD of From Dusk Till Dawn.

    I need to listen to it again. When I heard it way back in 2000, I thought it was very good but Tarantino was so hyper that he could be extremely annoying!

  37. Bob Cashill

    I enjoy listening to Susan Sarandon's track on The Hunger but maybe that was a DVD? Probably carried over to Blu however.

    It was – it's on the DVD and the BD.

    And I agree Sarandon was a gem on that track – too bad she didn't talk more than she does!

  38. Colin Jacobson

    I think the "Simpsons" tracks started out pretty well but got less interesting as the series continued.

    I've been listening to them for so many years now, it's like getting back together with old friends when I hear a new round of tracks. What kind of amazingly crazy world do I live in where I know what Al Jean and Tom Gammill sound like? 🙂

    On the other hand, early "Futurama" commentaries weren't very good but they improved a lot as time progressed.

    The "Futurama" tracks are way funnier and more fun – especially because that series' actors are much more extroverted. Dan Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith sound like fine book club members, whereas John DiMaggio and Billy West seem like guys who'd take you out for the wildest night of your life! 😀

    Yeah, those Futurama tracks are a ton of fun.

  39. skylark68

    Kurt Russell in Used Cars. Also Trey Parker and Matt Stone in Orgazmo. I believe they were completely drunk. If you are in a bad mood these two commentaries will change that in a hurry!

    They did the same thing for "Cannibal" previously and it worked much better there. For "Orgazmo", it felt like they were trying to stage a re-enactment of the earlier track and it feels forced – the "Cannibal'' tracks is gloriously nuts.

    The "Used Cars" track is very good!

  40. TravisR

    I've been listening to them for so many years now, it's like getting back together with old friends when I hear a new round of tracks.

    I admit that I suspect part of the reason – much of the reason? – I think the commentaries get worse over time is thhat the series gets worse over time. I'm not one of those guys who says "all 'Simpsons' sucks after 1999" (or whenever) but I can't deny the first 10 or so years easily beat almost everything since then.

    Since the episodes interest me less, the commentaries interest me less – sort of. I do admit I've heard lots of great commentaries for movies I hated, so I can enjoy/appreciate a good commentary even if I don't like the event or product..

    What kind of amazingly crazy world do I live in where I know what Al Jean and Tom Gammill sound like? 🙂

    Few people exhibit a bigger difference between how they "sound like they'll look" and how they actually look than Jean. Based on his voice, I thought he'd be a short, chubby, nerdy bald guy – I was totally wrong!

    On the other hand, Gammill looks exactly like his voice! 😀

  41. Josh Steinberg

    Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz on "Superman: The Movie". (They reunited to do a commentary on the Donner Cut of Superman II which is also worthwhile.)

    Oh, I thought that one was a major disappointment! From my review:

    "If this feels a lot like a conversation about making the first Superman and less about Superman II, I guess that makes sense since Donner shot both sides simultaneously.

    Unfortunately, that’s not really what I want from a commentary about this version of SII. We hear a little about the conflicts connected to the movie, and we also get a few notes about issues related to the reconstruction of the Donner cut. I hoped to get a full accounting of what parts were shot by Richard Lester and learn more about that side of things, but not a lot of that occurs. Though occasionally Donner provides hints as to what Lester did, he doesn’t get into those topics in depth. The most detail comes during the climactic battle, but even then, there’s not a lot of specifics.

    Donner just seems happy to see this version of the film, and that tone dominates. In addition to a fair amount of dead air, he and Mankiewicz offer lots of praise for the actors and other participants. They do gripe about some of the decisions made for the Lester edition; in particular, they’re unhappy – and perhaps rightly so – that Susannah York replaced Brando for the Lester version. Despite occasional useful nuggets of info, however, I can’t say I learned a whole lot from this chat."

  42. Mark-W

    Tom Weaver's commentary on The Creature From the Black Lagoon is really entertaining and informative. It is the first time I went back and looked for movies with commentaries by Tom and then used that to determine whether I would buy a disc or not.

    Weaver's great – his "Wolf Man" is terrific, too!

    I've always been a Rudy Behlmer fan as well….

  43. Johnny Angell

    Is this the one where he trashes Kirk’s acting? I know someone did that and I found it refreshing though I disagreed with him.

    I haven't heard the Trumbo "commentary" in years, but according to my review, it's Tony Curtis he attacks the most harshly….

  44. TJPC

    I am really at the point where I think twice about buying any disc without a commentary. The classic movies are the best, especially those for silent movies. The latest ones usually just deteriorate into “she was wonderful to work with”. It is interesting to hear the commentary recorded just after the movie was made, telling

    I love commentaries too, but if I only bought BDs with commentaries, there'd be massive gaps in my collection!

    No Spielberg!

  45. Walter Kittel

    One of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard was on Black Hawk Down where four members of Task Force Ranger discuss the mission and contrast it with the film's version of events. I believe it was in this track that we learn that one of the stunt pilots who flew one of the 'Little Birds' for the film actually flew that same craft and mission in real life in Mogadishu.

    In the same vein, the Jim and Marilyn Lovell track for "Apollo 13" is very good.

    And the track with 9/11 survivors/rescuers on "World Trade Center" is amazing!

  46. I've always absolutely loved the David Warbeck / Catriona McColl commentary on The Beyond.

    It's probably partly due to the bittersweet nostalgia of hearing Warbeck being charming & hilarious despite being so ill and with so little time left to live, but it's also due to the sheer entertainment value of it. Absolutely fantastic.

  47. MielR

    The Victor/Victoria commentary with Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews was great.
    Edit: I'm referring to the DVD; I don't know if if the same commentary is on the blu-ray(?)

    No, it's a different commentary on the Blu-ray – they brought Edwards back from the dead to record it! 😉

    I think the "VV" tracks works pretty well for an hour or so, but it becomes a deflating balloon after that. Edwards essentially goes MIA, and Andrews doesn't carry the load well on her own…

  48. Race Bannon

    I've enjoyed the Junior Bonner commentary over the past few days. Nick Redman moderating a bunch of Peckinpah historians.

    Yes, any of the Redman-moderated commentaries with those three Peckinpah scholars are great. They also did 5 or 6 commentaries on Peckinpah's short-lived TV series The Westerner which were well worth listening to!

    I love Tom Weaver's commentaries, but prefer him solo or moderating with a older film star. The ones where his commentary is interrupted by David Schechter talking about film music for 20 minutes straight (i.e. The Monster That Challenged the World) put me right to sleep (no offense to Schechter fans). Conversely, I enjoy listening to Jon Burlingame talk about film music. Perhaps his delivery is less dry.

    I like the packed audio commentaries by Tim Lucas, Rudy Belhmer (where has he been lately?) and Stuart Galbraith IV, among others by film scholars, where they balance their deep knowledge of film with enthusiasm.

    Agreed about the James Bond commentaries; patchwork though they are, they have tons of great information in them.

    Basically, I prefer little to no "dead space" in my commentaries.

  49. It's important to have moderators when the actual participants are discussing the film, because someone is needed to ask crucial questions, steer the discussion back to the film, keep things going when the energy level of the participants starts to flag, and correct misinformation or misremembering of details from the set. When this doesn't happen, the results can be a chore to sit through. I was so happy to get the STALAG 17 DVD because two of the actors plus one of the co-writers of the original play were sitting together to do the commentary, but there was no moderator and the conversation went all over the place. Very frustrating.

  50. Jeff Flugel

    Basically, I prefer little to no "dead space" in my commentaries.

    My number one pet peeve. I can cut commentators a lot of slack (different delivery styles, varying degrees of enthusiasm, etc.)—- but dead air frustrates me to no end.

  51. Mysto

    I know a lot of you on the forum love the commentaries of the films. I would like to know what is your favorite(s). It may not be your favorite movie but the commentary was insightful, or thought provoking, or entertaining or ????? A commentary that stuck with you. And please let us know why you selected it (them)

    I posted this in Blu Ray but if your commentary only appears on the DVD or LD please let us know.

    Looking forward to your answers and a bunch of new stuff I gotta watch.

    One of the few movie commentaries I enjoyed was the one to Henry Fonda's "My Darling Clementine", which was Fonda playing Wyatt Earp. The commentary was from Earp's grandson. In one particular scene where Earp came in and clobbered a disorderly person over the head with a pistol stock, grandson commented, "That's pretty accurate. Wyatt was too cheap to waste a bullet on someone when assault and battery would achieve the same purpose."

  52. Craig Beam

    My number one pet peeve. I can cut commentators a lot of slack (different delivery styles, varying degrees of enthusiasm, etc.)—- but dead air frustrates me to no end.

    I often bitch about dead air in my reviews.

    I'd take an excellent commentary that only fills half the film over a crappy one that occupies the whole running time, though! 😀

  53. actionsub

    One of the few movie commentaries I enjoyed was the one to Henry Fonda's "My Darling Clementine", which was Fonda playing Wyatt Earp. The commentary was from Earp's grandson. In one particular scene where Earp came in and clobbered a disorderly person over the head with a pistol stock, grandson commented, "That's pretty accurate. Wyatt was too cheap to waste a bullet on someone when assault and battery would achieve the same purpose."

    That commentary's more from historian John Eyman than from Earp III. The grandson really didn't say much.

    I like the track, but that's 99% because of Eyman's contributions…

  54. schmo

    John Frankenheimer talking The Manchurian Candidate. In fact, any Frankenheimer commentary is pretty good.

    Frankenheimer's "TMC" track is indicative of what I mentioned above: a great discussion that fills only part of the film is superior to a bad discussion that fills the WHOLE film.

    JF goes quiet more than I'd like, but when he talks, he offers good info…

  55. MielR

    The Victor/Victoria commentary with Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews was great.
    Edit: I'm referring to the DVD; I don't know if if the same commentary is on the blu-ray(?)

    Oh, that was a good one. One of my favorites.

  56. A helpful tip offfered: get set-up to where you can listen to them in bed as you fall asleep. They're great for that — it's like you're hearing an interesting conversation, but you don't need to stay awake and watch the screen if you get sleepy. (You can resume the next night where you left off).

  57. Don't know if it's still available, but Terry Gilliam's commentary on the old criterion laserdisk of Monty Python and the holy Grail made my heart sing. He starts out with a really negative attitude toward the film and really picks it apart. But slowly the silliness of the film wins him over and by the end he's giggling along like one of his own fans.

  58. Colin Jacobson

    No, it's a different commentary on the Blu-ray – they brought Edwards back from the dead to record it! 😉

    Lol. I don't actually own the blu-ray so I didn't know if they carried the old commentary over or not. That's what I meant to say.

  59. Ken Russell's commentary for his Lair of the White Worm. I was listening to it and my wife, who doesn't care to listen to commentaries, walked by asked who was the interesting speaker and stayed on to listen to the whole thing. Utterly fascinating.

  60. cinemel1

    One of the only commentaries that I have listened to multiple times is the commentary by Katherine Orrison, author of “Written in Stone: Making Cecil B. DeMille’s Epic, The Ten Commandments”. She fills up the almost 4 hours of the film with wonderful anecdotes and information. It's obvious she loves the movie. Her book on the filming is also a great read if you're a fan of the film.

    This is my favorite commentary as well. Katherine does a fantastic job of balancing the technical aspects of the film with behind the scene stories. Not one boring minute in it. I would love to contact her just to say how much I love the commentary (and her book) but I can't find any info on her anywhere. Upon reading her book about the making of The Ten Commandments, I found out the story behind the "George Washington Praying at Valley Forge" painting I have hanging on my living room wall. The painter Arnold Friberg was hired by DeMille as an artist for The Ten Commandments. Friberg used Henry Wilcoxon as the model for George Washington.

    Since I'm a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, I've listened to all the commentaries multiple times.

    A helpful tip offfered: get set-up to where you can listen to them in bed as you fall asleep. They're great for that — it's like you're hearing an interesting conversation, but you don't need to stay awake and watch the screen if you get sleepy. (You can resume the next night where you left off).

    Sometimes after working the night shift, I'll pop in a commentary and go to sleep to it.

  61. I tend to like Oliver Stone's commentary tracks. Sometimes he goes off on a tangent, but he is very informative and he is watching the movie while the commentary was done. Scorsese did 2 where he was watching the movie, Raging Bull and Taxi Driver and I love those. His other tracks you could tell he recorded them without watching.

  62. My favorite? Well, I’ve got about 187 more to go. What I can say is thus far is that, collectively, the Twilight Time discs have been by far the most consistent, informative and engaging. Great topic; but this one’s as hard as trying to choose my top 5 favorite films. Will report back on this one, as more are heard.

  63. John Carpenter commentaries have been mentioned and I would agree. One of my faves is his commentary on the UK DVD of “The Thing From Another World” from 1951.

  64. 24fpsNinja

    John Carpenter commentaries have been mentioned and I would agree. One of my faves is his commentary on the UK DVD of “The Thing From Another World” from 1951.

    Do you have a link to the one with the commentary?

  65. I used to listen to commentaries all the time, but I don't think I've listened to one since my son was born back in '14. Now I have a daughter also almost a year old, may be a while before I get caught up. There are several movies in my collection I still want to listen to the commentaries for. But thinking back in the day when I had all the time in the world, I remember all the Evil Dead movies having the greatest commentaries. Bruce Campbell in particular was great on them.

  66. Johnny Angell

    Sadly, at 40 pounds it’s out of my price range. Thank you for the info.

    Huh? You don't have to buy the most expensive copy on offer, you know. The price usually hovers around the £5-8 mark and I paid 80p for mine just a few years ago. 😉

  67. I really like the fragmented commentaries of the Star Wars movies(original trilogy). At first I was not a fan of them, but they have grown on me.

    I was most excited for the planned lone commentary with Sigourney Weaver over all the Alien films. Sadly it got scrapped due to her schedule, and given the state we are in with home video will never happen now. Sad.

    Funny thing is commentary tracks were so much the norm on DVD that I used to think I was cheated if a "special edition" was released without one. A couple really bad commentaries squashed that feeling though, after that I didn't really care as much.

  68. I really like the fragmented commentaries of the Star Wars movies(original trilogy). At first I was not a fan of them, but they have grown on me.

    I was most excited for the planned lone commentary with Sigourney Weaver over all the Alien films. Sadly it got scrapped due to her schedule, and given the state we are in with home video will never happen now. Sad.

    Funny thing is commentary tracks were so much the norm on DVD that I used to think I was cheated if a "special edition" was released without one. A couple really bad commentaries squashed that feeling though, after that I didn't really care as much.

  69. Brent Reid

    Huh? There are many waaay cheaper than that; you don't have to buy the most expensive copy on offer, you know. 😉 The price usually hovers around the £5-8 mark and I paid 80p for mine just a few years ago.

    Your link highlighted the expensive one and I assumed that was the only one with the commentary. There are 5 items for sale, two of which don’t ship to the US. There is one for 9.85 that does. Are you saying that all these sellers are selling the same disc?

  70. I just listened to a commentary of a Twilight Zone episode staring Leonard Nemoy as a soldier. I had watched the episode, and then with commentary and something happened that I never saw before. The commentary version was abridged so it only lasted 12 minutes or so. At first I thought the disc was skipping, but there was no interruption of the commentary, and wavy lines were used when parts were cut out. This is much better than long minutes of dead air you often get.

  71. Bryan^H

    I really like the fragmented commentaries of the Star Wars movies(original trilogy). At first I was not a fan of them, but they have grown on me.

    I love the ones that were pulled from interviews done at the time they were making the movie.

    TJPC

    I just listened to a commentary of a Twilight Zone episode staring Leonard Nemoy as a soldier. I had watched the episode, and then with commentary and something happened that I never saw before. The commentary version was abridged so it only lasted 12 minutes or so. At first I thought the disc was skipping, but there was no interruption of the commentary, and wavy lines were used when parts were cut out. This is much better than long minutes of dead air you often get.

    Yeah, I like that too and considering that Nimoy has a fairly small part in the episode, it makes sense to do that.

  72. One of my favorite ones is from the DVD (I don’t have the Blu Ray, so I don’t know if it is on there or not) of Bubba Ho Tep, where Bruce Campbell does the commentary in character as Elvis.

  73. Josh Steinberg

    Honorable mention to the Dalton Trumbo "commentary" on the Criterion edition of "Spartacus". It's not technically a commentary as Trumbo had passed long before the disc was recorded. The makers of the disc had located a very long letter that Trumbo had drafted and had a voice actor record it for the disc. After being invited to view an early cut of the film, Trumbo (who wrote the film) had notes on nearly every single scene and every aspect on the film, for the most part criticizing the choices of director Stanley Kubrick and producer/star Kirk Douglas. It's scene specific and runs the length of the film. I don't agree with a lot of Trumbo's complaints but it's a fascinating insight into the production process and how little control writers have once they've turned in their pages.

    Johnny Angell

    Is this the one where he trashes Kirk’s acting? I know someone did that and I found it refreshing though I disagreed with him.

    Josh Steinberg

    I believe so.

    I thought it was "Spartacus" novelist Howard Fast who was critical of Kirk Douglas' acting in his commentary on that disc, not Dalton Trumbo. I could be misremembering it and maybe Trumbo denigrated Douglas' performance, too. But it was definitely Fast who was very critical of many scenes in the move, sniffing discontent with scenes that were not in his book, grousing that he thought Jean Simmons was all wrong for the role, that Kirk's face showed too little emotion, that the slaves were not dirty, grubby and ugly enough and so on.

    And I disagreed with almost every word of it. lol. However, his notes on it apparently did inspire Kubrick and producer Douglas to add a few scenes of dirtier, grubbier and, well, uglier slaves here and there. So there is that.

    Fast certainly knew how to write a compelling novel. But Kirk Douglas knew how to be a movie star and draw a mass audience into the world of just about any character he tackled on film. He knew very well that flapping his face muscles all over the place in those gigantic close-ups as Howard Fast seemed to want him to do would have done more to drive audiences away than to identify with him. In the movies. And he knew how to save it for the big payoff. When that time comes, Kirk knew the slightest move of a lower lip, a blink or tiny smile would be like landing a neutron bomb exactly when and where it was intended. Not to mention how in the world do you take those awesome, almost scary facial features and "overdo" one emotion after another without beating your audience up with them?

    And, sorry, but Varinia must be beautiful with an elegant, well-presented core (elements Fast balked at with regard to the casting of Simmons) in order for us to accept Crassus being so smitten and impressed by her, among other things. Again, in the movies. You can justify this and that in detail in a novel. But in a movie you need a different skill set of sometimes ruthless short hand.

    Still, I agree that this commentary is worth hearing for the reasons cited.
    btw, some sources like Amazon might not mention there is a Howard Fast commentary on this disc, only a Dalton Trumbo commentary. But it is there.

  74. Still the best ones are the frail Michael Powell and very excited Martin Scorsese commentaries for Criterion's Black Narcissus and The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp. In fact, any commentary that Criterion did for their laserdiscs in the 1980's and early 1990's, when they were the only ones bothering to do it. Scorsese's machine gun commentaries on the laser discs of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull are also sensational. Before the "Commentaries do not express the views of the studio" disclaimers now standard, it was great to hear the totally off-the-cuff, candid and potentially libellous diatribes by the film makers or historians. I was never able to obtain the deleted Criterion Bond commentaries at the time, but have been able to listen to these posted on the web in later years. After watching serious, and sometimes impenetrable Criterion art-house fare, it was most revealing listening to commentaries by guys who knew their art house, explaining what the hell I'd just seen. Then at least I could pretend I knew.

  75. 24fpsNinja

    John Carpenter commentaries have been mentioned and I would agree. One of my faves is his commentary on the UK DVD of “The Thing From Another World” from 1951.

    I ordered this and it just arrived. I ordered from Amazon UK and when the package said it was from Korea I had no idea what was inside. Most of the box is in English except the back which has the details in what I assume is Korean.

    I will be checking this out tonight. I sure hope it has the commentary. It’s the only reason I bought it.

  76. Johnny Angell

    I ordered this and it just arrived. I ordered from Amazon UK and when the package said it was from Korea I had no idea what was inside. Most of the box is in English except the back which has the details in what I assume is Korean.

    I will be checking this out tonight. I sure hope it has the commentary. It’s the only reason I bought it.

    I didn’t wait to check it out. No commentary. I tried the menu, I tried the audio button on my Oppo remote (which worked, but there’s only one audio track, which is English.). No commentary, but I can get Korean subtitles.

    On the positive side, I wondering if the transfer isn’t a bit better than my current dvd.

  77. Johnny Angell

    I didn’t wait to check it out. No commentary. I tried the menu, I tried the audio button on my Oppo remote (which worked, but there’s only one audio track, which is English.). No commentary, but I can get Korean subtitles.

    On the positive side, I wondering if the transfer isn’t a bit better than my current dvd.

    I used the link again, and the selected version is the expensive one, which I didn’t get. There are 6 or so to choose from. Not all ship to the US. The one I selected was the wrong one.

  78. cadavra

    Hey, no love for that fabulous 3 1/4-hour commentary for Criterion's IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD? :laugh:

    Mike S. (who's totally without shame)

    Be shameless – it's a good track!

    From my review:

    "The piece moves well and delivers a great deal of useful material. I like this commentary a lot and think it serves the movie nicely. "

  79. I finally got mylaserdisc player hooked up and operational. I have been trying to acquire discs that have commentaries not available elsewhere. I am so glad I did! Last night I listened to Ronald Haver's commentary on the Criterion Singin' in the Rain. It was informative and well presented. I've seen the film dozens of times and he pointed out little things that I'd never noticed.

    I don't have a favorite yet, but I am taking notes from this thread to find new ones.

  80. Suzanne.S

    I finally got mylaserdisc player hooked up and operational. I have been trying to acquire discs that have commentaries not available elsewhere. I am so glad I did! Last night I listened to Ronald Haver's commentary on the Criterion Singin' in the Rain. It was informative and well presented. I've seen the film dozens of times and he pointed out little things that I'd never noticed.

    I don't have a favorite yet, but I am taking notes from this thread to find new ones.

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