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 Audio commentaries on Golden Age H'wood films..., How many feature the original creators?
Brian Camp
Posted: Mar 3 2012, 06:36 PM


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I recently watched a film noir double bill on DVD: CRIME WAVE (1954) and DECOY (1946). DECOY had an audio commentary in which DVD Savant’s Glenn Erickson talks with Stanley Rubin, the author of the story on which DECOY was based. I was stunned. This has to be the oldest film I have with commentary by one of the original creators. I’m not sure that the commentary was recorded as they were watching the film. It may be that Erickson simply interviewed Rubin and then edited it to run alongside the film. They talk about Rubin’s career and about DECOY but never address what’s happening onscreen. Rubin was nearing 90 when he recorded it and sounds pretty sharp throughout. (He's 94 now and still with us.)

I only have a handful of other DVDs from the Golden Age of Hollywood with commentary by the original creators:
THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951), with Robert Wise, who, IIRC, actually is watching the film as he speaks.
WINCHESTER ‘’73 (1950), with James Stewart, who, I believe, was interviewed separately.
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (1960), with Eli Wallach, James Coburn, Walter Mirisch (producer), Robert Relyea (assistant director). They don’t sound as if they're watching the film at the time.
X-THE MAN WITH THE X-RAY EYES (1963), with Roger Corman

If we cap the “Golden Age” at 1970, then I can include:
MYRA BRECKENRIDGE (1970), with Raquel Welch and Michael Sarne, who do two separate audio commentaries, for obvious reasons, but are, in fact, each watching the film as they speak.

I imagine that there were plenty of laserdiscs of older titles that had stars/directors doing commentary. Some of these have probably been ported over to DVD, some haven’t.

To be honest, I’m kind of late to the game of audio commentaries and really only began listening to them in earnest in the last year or so. (It was Marty McKee’s recommendation of Burt Reynolds’ LONGEST YARD commentary that lit the fire under me.)

What are the oldest titles on DVD with commentary by the original creators that you guys have?

Anything by Billy Wilder? John Huston? Blake Edwards? Sidney Lumet? John Frankenheimer? Arthur Penn? Vincent Sherman? Irving Rapper?
Kirk Douglas? Lauren Bacall? Ernest Borgnine?

Is there a website that tallies this kind of info?

Thanks.

This post has been edited by Brian Camp on Mar 3 2012, 06:40 PM


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Bob Cashill
Posted: Mar 3 2012, 07:00 PM


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Vincent Sherman recorded several commentaries before his death, at age 99, in 2006. One I recall is for THE RETURN OF DR. X, his debut feature, which he had made 67 years before, in 1939. Here's a five-year-old Home Theater Forum thread about his commentaries. (And, no, those rumored NORA PRENTISS and UNFAITHFUL commentaries never made it onto the Warner Archive MODs.)

Douglas is on the SPARTACUS Criterion LD and DVD commentary track. Lumet recorded several for his films, but I believe the oldest credit was 75's DOG DAY AFTERNOON. Frankenheimer recorded commentaries for THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, THE TRAIN, and SECONDS, maybe others. Penn recorded one for his debut, THE LEFT HANDED GUN.

And it was Gloria Stuart's commentary for an LD of THE OLD DARK HOUSE, in 92 as I recall, that brought her to the attention of James Cameron, who then cast her in TITANIC and reactivated her long-dormant career. She had made the film 60 years earlier.

A commentaries website is a good idea.

This post has been edited by Bob Cashill on Mar 3 2012, 07:01 PM


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Hal Horn
Posted: Mar 4 2012, 12:14 PM


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Val Guest recorded a commentary for the DVD of 1957's THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE HIMALAYAS. A British film, but fits the timeline.


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Brian Camp
Posted: Mar 5 2012, 12:30 PM


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I'm listening to the James Stewart commentary on WINCHESTER 73 and he's being interviewed by Paul Lindenschmidt--as they're watching the movie together! A pleasant surprise. So he wasn't interviewed separately.

Anyone know who Paul Lindenschmidt is? What are his credentials? A Google search doesn't show up any relevant info.


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Bob Cashill
Posted: Mar 5 2012, 06:41 PM


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TITANIC (53) is being reissued on Blu-ray, with a commentary track from a 2003 DVD that includes actors Robert Wagner and Audrey Dalton, recorded 50 years after the fact.

Stewart's WINCHESTER '73 commentary originally appeared on a laserdisc, issued about 1990 or so if I recall. (He died in 1997.)

This post has been edited by Bob Cashill on Mar 5 2012, 06:50 PM


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Patrick Lefcourt
Posted: Mar 6 2012, 09:13 AM


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Jack Lemmon did scene-specific commentary for MISTER ROBERTS. Also, director John Sturges did one for the laserdisc of BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK.

This post has been edited by Patrick Lefcourt on Mar 6 2012, 11:15 AM
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Pete Fitzgerald
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 04:30 AM


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Terry Moore & Ray Harryhausen on MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (1949)

Angela Lansbury on THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945)

Richard Fleischer on NARROW MARGIN (1952) and 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954)

Christopher Lee on CITY OF THE DEAD/HORROR HOTEL (1960)

Stanley Donen and Peter Stone on CHARADE (1963)

David Raksin on LAURA (1944)

J. Lee Thompson on THE GUNS OF NAVARONE (1961)

Maureen O'Hara on HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1939, a recorded interview, I think), THE BLACK SWAN (1942), MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET (1947), RIO GRANDE (1950), THE QUIET MAN (1952) and (with Stephanie Powers, Michael Pate and Andrew McLaglen) MCLINTOCK! (1963)

Sidney J. Furie and Peter Hunt on THE IPCRESS FILE (1965)

Peter Yates on BULLITT (1968)

Val Guest on HELL IS A CITY (1959) and THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1962)

Jules Dassin (via recorded interview) for the Roan Group LD of BRUTE FORCE (1947)

Several cast and crewmembers on the 1960s James Bond films.

John Phillip Law on DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968)

Robert Wise on THE BODY SNATCHER (1945), BORN TO KILL (1947), THE SET-UP (1949), THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965) and the LD of BLOOD ON THE MOON (1948)... and with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Russ Tamblyn and Richard Johnson and screenwriter Nelson Gidding on THE HAUNTING (1963)

Gene Barry & Ann Robinson on WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953)

James Whitmore on THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950)

Audrey Totter on TENSION (1950)

Farley Granger on THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1949)

Darryl Hickman on LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1946)

Harry Carey, Jr. on WAGONMASTER (1950)

Tab Hunter on TRACK OF THE CAT (1954)

Jane Russell on MACAO (1952)

Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh on the preview version of TOUCH OF EVIL (1958)

Ken Annakin on THE LONGEST DAY (1962) and THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES (1965)

Guy Hamilton on THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN (1969)

Robert Mulligan and Alan Pakula on TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)

Omar Sharif and Rod Steiger on DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)

Terence Stamp on BILLY BUDD (1962)

Norman Jewison on THE CINCINNATI KID (1965), (along with with Rod Steiger, Lee Grant and Haskell Wexler) IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967) and THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1968)

Paul Mazursky and Jamie Farr on THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE (1955)

Karen Sharpe and Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzales on THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (1954)

Jim Brown and Trini Lopez on THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967)

Roy Ward Baker and Nigel Kneale on QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967)

Eli Wallach on HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966)

John Boorman on POINT BLANK (1967)

Malvin Wald on THE NAKED CITY (1948)

Ernest Lehman on NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)

Curtis Harrington and Dennis Hopper on NIGHT TIDE (1963)

Yvette Vickers on ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT Woman (1958)

Lori Nelson on REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (1955)

Laurie Mitchell on QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (1958)

Roman Polanski and Catherine Deneuve on REPULSION (1965)

Anna Lee on HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY (1941)

Michael Powell on THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (1943) and BLACK NARCISSUS (1947)...

This post has been edited by Pete Fitzgerald on Mar 7 2012, 04:30 AM
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Brian Camp
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 09:25 AM


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Wow! What a great list, Pete. There isn't a single one there I wouldn't want to listen to.
Now how many of those are on DVD? And how many are in print? And which ones are the best? biggrin.gif

I do have DANGER DIABOLIK and did listen to it.
(I'm totally intrigued by Karen Sharpe and Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzales on THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY and Laurie Mitchell on QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE.)


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Mark Tinta
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 01:18 PM


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I recall reading that Henry Silva is on the RETURN OF MR. MOTO (1965) disc in the MR. MOTO box set.


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John Charles
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 02:42 PM


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Silva does indeed do a commentary. It's a very strange and scattered track (the moderator has been ineptly edited out), but it's probably all we'll have with him.
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Marty McKee
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 05:16 PM


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QUOTE (John Charles @ Mar 7 2012, 02:42 PM)
Silva does indeed do a commentary. It's a very strange and scattered track (the moderator has been ineptly edited out), but it's probably all we'll have with him.

Reynolds, Silva, and Durning on a SHARKY'S MACHINE commentary has to happen.


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Pete Fitzgerald
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 07:46 PM


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QUOTE (Brian Camp @ Mar 7 2012, 09:25 AM)
Wow! What a great list, Pete. There isn't a single one there I wouldn't want to listen to.
Now how many of those are on DVD? And how many are in print? And which ones are the best? biggrin.gif

I do have DANGER DIABOLIK and did listen to it.
(I'm totally intrigued by Karen Sharpe and Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzales on THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY and Laurie Mitchell on QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE.)

Thanks, Bob! Except for the ones I specifically mentioned as from LD (BLOOD ON THE MOON, BRUTE FORCE), they are/were all on R1 DVD (some are ports of commentaries originally done for LD editions). I imagine most of the DVDs are still in print, though it's getting tough to say for certain these days, as we all see the majors, especially, dropping catalog titles by the barrel.

Several of these I haven't yet listened to myself yet, as I have too many movies & TV series to watch, but they are a stockpile, so I'll get to most/all of them, eventually. Some that I have listened to were quite awhile ago (years), but I can say--

Good:

MIGHTY JOE YOUNG

PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA

CITY OF THE DEAD

CHARADE

The Maureen O'Hara films (she's been busy! laugh.gif )

THE IPCRESS FILE (really good, one of my fave commentaries... this is hard-to-get now, fetching collector's prices, as it's an old OOP Anchor Bay disc, back when they licensed some titles from Universal)

HELL IS A CITY

THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE

The Robert Wise films (another busy one)

The 007 films (most are essentially audio interview pastiches, but are well-done, and the ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE commentary is dominated by screen-specific commentary by Peter Hunt)

THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY (the majority of the time, it's Leonard Maltin & William Wellman, Jr... but separate, screen-specific commentary sessions with Maltin talking with Sharpe and with Gonzales-Gonzales are mixed in, when their characters are in focus)

TOUCH OF EVIL (full-length & screen-specific with both Heston and Leigh together with restoration producer Rick Schmidlin... the DVD packaging on the "three versions" R1 DVD set erroneously lists their commentary as being for the Preview version on Disc 2, when it's actually for the Restored version on Disc 1)

THE LONGEST DAY

THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES

POINT BLANK

NIGHT TIDE

ATTACK OF THE 50 FT WOMAN (great, moderated by Tom Weaver)

REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (ditto)

QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE (ditto)

THE LIFE & DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (Powell was clearly in frail condition when recording this, but it's good, and is helped considerably by his friend & fan, Martin Scorsese)

BLACK NARCISSUS (ditto)

S'okay:

WAR OF THE WORLDS (Ann Robinson is great & enthusiastic, Gene Barry... not so much --probably a combo of creeping dementia and allegedly being a jerk...)

THE NARROW MARGIN (good audio-interview input from Fleischer, but the track is dominated by screen-specific commentary by William Friedkin, which is pedestrian)

QUATERMASS & THE PIT (either Baker was carrying Kneale, or vice-versa, I forget)

Mehhh:

GUNS OF NAVARONE (Thompson was sadly quite frail and forgetful)

--The rest I either haven't listened to yet, or have forgotten.

There's a John Cork-produced pastiche commentary on THE GREAT ESCAPE 2-disc Collector's Edition version, with James Coburn, James Garner, Donald Pleasance and David McCallum, several production people, and a 1974 audio interview with Sturges. It's like much of the 007 commentaries and THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, where it's all or mostly audio interviews, rather than screen-specific.

David Hedison did a commentary, for THE FLY (1958), in the 3-film boxed set release of the original FLY series.
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Bob Cashill
Posted: Mar 7 2012, 08:45 PM


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It's Brian you want to thank...but I'm not disinterested. smile.gif

Any commentary moderated by Tom Weaver is recommended. He's very good. The 50 FT. WOMAN track is poignant given Vickers' lonely passing.

The TOUCH OF EVIL commentaries are retained on the amazing Region B Blu-ray, which just arrived. Good to have them (as well as the track on the equally stellar QUATERMASS AND THE PIT R2 BD).

I have THE IPCRESS FILE LD, and that it is a nice track. Apparently the R2 DVD (in print) has other extras; the region-free BD (which looks to have gone OOP) has a trailer, not much else.

The in-print R2 DVD of FASTER, PUSSYCAT, KILL KILL! has a track with the three pussycats.

ETC. Two more I have: Richard Attenborough on OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR (his only track I believe) and Paul Mazursky an ALEX IN WONDERLAND.

This post has been edited by Bob Cashill on Mar 8 2012, 08:18 AM


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Pete Fitzgerald
Posted: Mar 8 2012, 07:33 PM


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Whoops! Sorry for the name/poster mix-up, Brian and Bob!
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Hal Horn
Posted: Mar 22 2012, 08:42 PM


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CAT BALLOU (1965) has a commentary from Dwayne Hickman and Michael Callan.


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Check out the full length versions of all of my reviews at:

http://hornsection.blogspot.com/
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