What were early commentaries like?

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by Metlhd3138, Dec 20, 2003.

  1. Metlhd3138

    Metlhd3138 Guest

    I know the first ever commentary was on the King Kong dvd. My question is, what
    were commentaries like before they became commonplace? Were they more
    informative,,was there lots of dead space between stories, etc
    Metlhd3138, Dec 20, 2003
    #1
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  2. Metlhd3138

    Rich Clark Guest

    "Metlhd3138" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > I know the first ever commentary was on the King Kong dvd. My question is,

    what
    > were commentaries like before they became commonplace? Were they more
    > informative,,was there lots of dead space between stories, etc


    From http://www.powell-pressburger.org/Reviews/Criterion.html:

    'The first two director commentary tracks ever produced (by any company)
    were Michael Powell's tracks for the Criterion laserdiscs of Black Narcissus
    and The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp - released in 1988! Joined by Martin
    Scorsese, Powell reminisced about his long career in the British film
    industry. Those of us who have been at Criterion since the beginning have
    always cherished his opening thought on Black Narcissus: "This is Michael
    Powell, dreaming and remembering about Black Narcissus."'

    In general, the commentary tracks introduced by Criterion were considerably
    more well thought-out than a lot of the casual stuff you hear today. More
    scholarly, more planned -- even scripted -- and much more of a Big Deal,
    such as the MIchael Haver commentary you refer to, originally recorded for
    the Crition Laserdisc in the mid-80's. It was a continuous, a scene-by-scene
    analysis by a film historian who knew exactly what he wanted to say and how
    long it would take to say it.

    These days, when half the time the commentaries seem like they're done
    either by someone who never saw (or is trying to forget) the movie, or by
    people who sound like they're just talking about their boring old day jobs,
    the passion for and deep knowledge of film exhibited on the Criterion
    commentaries is evem more worth the effort to seek out.

    RichC





    RichC
    Rich Clark, Dec 20, 2003
    #2
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  3. Metlhd3138

    Scot Gardner Guest

    "Rich Clark" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > These days, when half the time the commentaries seem like they're
    > done either by someone who never saw (or is trying to forget) the
    > movie, or by people who sound like they're just talking about their
    > boring old day jobs, the passion for and deep knowledge of film
    > exhibited on the Criterion commentaries is even more worth the
    > effort to seek out.



    I waited around until _Bride of Frankenstein_ went out of print before
    making the decision to buy it. Fortunately, a local store still had a
    new, sealed copy in stock.

    On _Bride of Frankenstein_, film historian Scott MacQueen does one of
    the best feature commentaries that I have ever heard.
    Scot Gardner, Dec 20, 2003
    #3
  4. Metlhd3138

    Richard C. Guest

    "Metlhd3138" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    : I know the first ever commentary was on the King Kong dvd. My question is, what
    : were commentaries like before they became commonplace? Were they more
    : informative,,was there lots of dead space between stories, etc

    ======================
    The first ever commentaries were on LDs....not on DVD.
    Richard C., Dec 20, 2003
    #4
  5. Metlhd3138

    jayembee Guest

    "Rich Clark" <> wrote:

    >In general, the commentary tracks introduced by Criterion were considerably
    >more well thought-out than a lot of the casual stuff you hear today. More
    >scholarly, more planned -- even scripted -- and much more of a Big Deal,
    >such as the MIchael Haver commentary you refer to, originally recorded for
    >the Crition Laserdisc in the mid-80's. It was a continuous, a scene-by-scene
    >analysis by a film historian who knew exactly what he wanted to say and how
    >long it would take to say it.


    Though in some cases -- Peter Cowie's commentary for THE SEVENTH SEAL,
    for example -- they sound like every dull, dry lecture you've ever
    heard from a boring college professor. Fortunately, those are in the
    minority.

    -- jayembee
    jayembee, Dec 22, 2003
    #5
  6. jayembee wrote:

    >>In general, the commentary tracks introduced by Criterion were considerably
    >>more well thought-out than a lot of the casual stuff you hear today. More
    >>scholarly, more planned -- even scripted -- and much more of a Big Deal,
    >>such as the MIchael Haver commentary you refer to, originally recorded for
    >>the Crition Laserdisc in the mid-80's. It was a continuous, a scene-by-scene
    >>analysis by a film historian who knew exactly what he wanted to say and how
    >>long it would take to say it.

    >
    >
    > Though in some cases -- Peter Cowie's commentary for THE SEVENTH SEAL,
    > for example -- they sound like every dull, dry lecture you've ever
    > heard from a boring college professor. Fortunately, those are in the
    > minority.


    Yep, those would be the Criterions--
    Which, back in the LD days, were interesting on a geek-scholarly level,
    but once you got out past the rich Criterion neighborhoods, the very
    idea of a living title-connected actor or director doing one?...Huh??

    (No wonder most short-memoried DVD fans think "Contact" invented it...)

    Derek Janssen
    Derek Janssen, Dec 22, 2003
    #6
  7. Metlhd3138

    Eric R. Guest

    I personally never cared for the Criterion edited commentaries. While
    they do reflect more thought and effort, they also lack the
    spontaneity of "live" commentary tracks. A lot of genuine surprises
    and candid revelations can come out of a live commentary. They also
    give you a great feel for the personalities of the commentators and
    their style of interaction (on tracks involving multiple cast and
    crewmembers). You can't get this from an edited track.

    -Eric

    "Rich Clark" <> wrote in message

    > These days, when half the time the commentaries seem like they're done
    > either by someone who never saw (or is trying to forget) the movie, or by
    > people who sound like they're just talking about their boring old day jobs,
    > the passion for and deep knowledge of film exhibited on the Criterion
    > commentaries is evem more worth the effort to seek out.
    >
    > RichC
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > RichC
    Eric R., Dec 22, 2003
    #7
  8. Metlhd3138

    Stan Brown Guest

    In article <3fe6751f$0$4736$> in alt.video.dvd,
    Derek Janssen wrote:
    >Which, back in the LD days, were interesting on a geek-scholarly level,
    >but once you got out past the rich Criterion neighborhoods, the very
    >idea of a living title-connected actor or director doing one?...Huh??


    Of course, someone _not_ associated with the film could do a good
    commentary. Ebert does well with /Dark City/, for instance. And he's
    obviously prepared, not just talking off the cuff as so many
    "commentaries" seem to be today.

    The off-the-cuff ones _can_ be interesting, but they would be a lot
    more interesting if the participants put a little planning into
    them.

    --
    Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
    http://OakRoadSystems.com
    DVD FAQ: http://dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html
    other FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/tech/faqget.htm
    Stan Brown, Dec 22, 2003
    #8
  9. Metlhd3138

    Justin Guest

    Stan Brown wrote on [Mon, 22 Dec 2003 12:04:26 -0500]:
    > In article <3fe6751f$0$4736$> in alt.video.dvd,
    > Derek Janssen wrote:
    >>Which, back in the LD days, were interesting on a geek-scholarly level,
    >>but once you got out past the rich Criterion neighborhoods, the very
    >>idea of a living title-connected actor or director doing one?...Huh??

    >
    > Of course, someone _not_ associated with the film could do a good
    > commentary. Ebert does well with /Dark City/, for instance. And he's
    > obviously prepared, not just talking off the cuff as so many
    > "commentaries" seem to be today.
    >
    > The off-the-cuff ones _can_ be interesting, but they would be a lot
    > more interesting if the participants put a little planning into
    > them.


    You mean like when Capenter and Russel get together and talk about their
    kids and call it a commentary?
    Justin, Dec 22, 2003
    #9
  10. Metlhd3138

    Ronald Cole Guest

    Stan Brown <> writes:
    > Of course, someone _not_ associated with the film could do a good
    > commentary. Ebert does well with /Dark City/, for instance. And he's
    > obviously prepared, not just talking off the cuff as so many
    > "commentaries" seem to be today.


    I found Ebert's commentary for Citizen Kane to be extremely
    repetitious...

    --
    Forte International, P.O. Box 1412, Ridgecrest, CA 93556-1412
    Ronald Cole <> Phone: (760) 499-9142
    President, CEO Fax: (760) 499-9152
    My GPG fingerprint: C3AF 4BE9 BEA6 F1C2 B084 4A88 8851 E6C8 69E3 B00B
    Ronald Cole, Dec 23, 2003
    #10
  11. Justin wrote:
    >
    >>>Which, back in the LD days, were interesting on a geek-scholarly level,
    >>>but once you got out past the rich Criterion neighborhoods, the very
    >>>idea of a living title-connected actor or director doing one?...Huh??

    >>
    >>Of course, someone _not_ associated with the film could do a good
    >>commentary. Ebert does well with /Dark City/, for instance. And he's
    >>obviously prepared, not just talking off the cuff as so many
    >>"commentaries" seem to be today.
    >>
    >>The off-the-cuff ones _can_ be interesting, but they would be a lot
    >>more interesting if the participants put a little planning into
    >>them.

    >
    > You mean like when Capenter and Russel get together and talk about their
    > kids and call it a commentary?


    Just talkin' 'bout the Criterion days, friend--
    Back when commentaries were seen ONLY as something historian/buffs would
    listen to, so you ONLY hired other published university historian/buffs
    to comment historically on AFI-inducted classics and foreigns that had
    already earned their snooty-hood...

    The idea that you get, say, the five Willy Wonka kids back together, or
    get Terry Gilliam to talk about "Holy Grail", well, you just didn't go
    around doing that--It just wasn't Citizen Kane enough! ;)

    Derek Janssen
    Derek Janssen, Dec 23, 2003
    #11
  12. Metlhd3138

    Joshua Zyber Guest

    "Derek Janssen" <> wrote in message
    news:3fe78f83$0$4752$...
    > Just talkin' 'bout the Criterion days, friend--
    > Back when commentaries were seen ONLY as something historian/buffs

    would
    > listen to, so you ONLY hired other published university

    historian/buffs
    > to comment historically on AFI-inducted classics and foreigns that had
    > already earned their snooty-hood...
    >
    > The idea that you get, say, the five Willy Wonka kids back together,

    or
    > get Terry Gilliam to talk about "Holy Grail", well, you just didn't go
    > around doing that--It just wasn't Citizen Kane enough! ;)


    Except, of course, for the fact that the Criterion laserdisc of Monty
    Python and the Holy Grail featured a commentary by Terry Gilliam and
    Terry Jones.
    Joshua Zyber, Dec 23, 2003
    #12
  13. Derek Janssen wrote:
    > Justin wrote:
    >


    > Just talkin' 'bout the Criterion days, friend--
    > Back when commentaries were seen ONLY as something historian/buffs would
    > listen to, so you ONLY hired other published university historian/buffs
    > to comment historically on AFI-inducted classics and foreigns that had
    > already earned their snooty-hood...
    >
    > The idea that you get, say, the five Willy Wonka kids back together, or
    > get Terry Gilliam to talk about "Holy Grail", well, you just didn't go
    > around doing that--It just wasn't Citizen Kane enough! ;)
    >


    Umm, the Criterion laser of Holy Grail from the warly '90's has a
    Gilliam (among others) commentary. In fact, the commentary on the
    COlumbia DVD is from the Criterion LD. Scorsese also did commentaries
    for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull on Criterion and, I understand, the MGM
    laser edition of New York, New York.
    Tallulah Blanket, Dec 23, 2003
    #13
  14. On Tue, 23 Dec 2003, Tallulah Blanket wrote:

    > Derek Janssen wrote:
    > > Justin wrote:
    > >

    >
    > > Just talkin' 'bout the Criterion days, friend--
    > > Back when commentaries were seen ONLY as something historian/buffs would
    > > listen to, so you ONLY hired other published university historian/buffs
    > > to comment historically on AFI-inducted classics and foreigns that had
    > > already earned their snooty-hood...
    > >
    > > The idea that you get, say, the five Willy Wonka kids back together, or
    > > get Terry Gilliam to talk about "Holy Grail", well, you just didn't go
    > > around doing that--It just wasn't Citizen Kane enough! ;)

    >
    > Umm, the Criterion laser of Holy Grail from the warly '90's has a
    > Gilliam (among others) commentary. In fact, the commentary on the
    > COlumbia DVD is from the Criterion LD. Scorsese also did commentaries
    > for Taxi Driver and Raging Bull on Criterion and, I understand, the MGM
    > laser edition of New York, New York.


    And Frankenheimer did a commentary for The Train, which was ported over to
    the DVD.

    Criterion launched the commentary on its King Kong laserdisc...what was
    the first "major label" release to have a commentary? Winchester '73? (Or
    was that more of an interview with J. Stewart?)

    swac
    Stephen Cooke, Dec 23, 2003
    #14
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