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That is the best thing for you to do.
They're great fun. I got them off someone on the old forum along with many others a couple of years ago. Goldfinger does lack something though, Young was a big part of what makes them so listenable.
I've really enjoyed listening to the GF one so far. Hamilton knows how to make an exciting adventure film. His talk surrounding Oddjob is great, how from the very first time we see him Hamilton is preparing us for that final fight in Fort Kno. And when we get to the final fight, Hamilton drops in a few red herrings like Bond geting his hands on Oddjob's hat just to throw the audience off.
A great filmmaker, who really defined the Bond language.
Thanks for linking that! I listened to the DN one today. I'm a bit disappointed that it's another "cut-job," with the different contributors not in the room together. But it's an improvement over the Eon-approved ones, because the guys are actually watching the film and doing scene-specific commentary, and because the smaller number of contributors makes it feel more personal. (Also, you don't have John Cork butting in every 35 seconds to list the entire filmography of every actor onscreen).
I didn't hear anything too "objectionable" in the DN one. I guess the worst offenders would be the ballsy (and, in light of later court cases, inaccurate) contention that Monty Norman had NOTHING to do with the creation of the Bond Theme; Maibaum's rather odd statement that Sean could be "rough" with female costars (I know about his domestic abuse, but I've never heard a costar call him anything but professional and courteous); and Young telling a story about Chris Blackwell being high.
I was disappointed that Maibaum didn't have much of a presence (just two quick soundbytes - I think he was the only one not actually watching the film). I'm a writing-oriented guy, so I was most interested to hear from him. I like Peter Hunt, but he tends to go on and on. I've already gotten his side of the story from the Eon-approved discs, and I was more excited to hear from Young and Maibaum, who were gone by the time Eon assembled their materials. Maibaum does tell a funny story about Fleming.
Young was fantastic. I particularly liked hearing about his relationship with Fleming, and the casting of some of the series regulars (he cast Lois Maxwell because she was a friend of his; he also loved hanging with Anthony Dawson, and would frequently cast him just to have him around, which explains his role as Blofeld; Bernard Lee was cast last-minute; Peter Burton, another friend of Young's, always regretted giving up the role of Q).
Young claims that he gave Johanna Harwood a writing credit largely on the strength of one gag - the Goya painting, which she came up with. (He says he gave her a credit in lieu of his own - apparently, Young rewrote the script substantially over several days holed up in a hotel. It's interesting how, despite Maibaum being the writer they always brought back, his contributions on any given film ALWAYS seem to be downplayed by his collaborators).
It was also refreshing to hear them being a bit more honest about the work than they might be on an official release (Young is clearly disappointed with the crummy-looking dragon, and Ken Adam admits his sets look somewhat dated - I imagine Eon would have edited those bits out).
Can't wait to listen to FRWL, my favorite Bond film!
Young liked having Dawson around, so he cast him as hidden Blofeld. That's funny.
On the commentaries being banned, John Cork has said:
Well, from what I heard (as best I remember), the problem with the commentaries was that when Cubby sat down to listen to them, he heard Ian Fleming referred to as an alcoholic. Cubby hit the roof. He said that after making millions off of Ian Fleming’s novels, he wasn’t going to have him disparaged on the very films themselves. This set off a chain reaction that ended up with Danjaq demanding a whole list of changes, Criterion refusing to pay to have the laserdiscs remastered and, thus, the commentaries being banned. And Cubby had a point—the place to casually disparage the author of the books may not be in the audio commentary for one of the Bond films.
Young definitely steals the show here. He seems to be getting more comfortable with the commentary format, and I really wish he'd gotten to do one for TB. I particularly enjoyed him describing the pre-title sequence as a jab at Last Year at Marienbad (a film that I love, but clearly NOT Young's type of movie), and talking about Fleming's reaction to the gypsy fight ("He was disappointed because in the book they're naked, and one bites the other's nipple. I said, 'Ian, what kind of film do you think.....!'"). He even does a hilariously accurate Matt Munro impression, singing a few bars of the end credits song!
It's poignant listening to Young talk about Pedro Armendariz. I loved his story about the infamous "car crash" deleted scene. When Young tried to comfort Armendariz over his cancer diagnosis, Armendariz replied by quoting a line from the scene: "My friend, that is life." Young wistfully says that they should have left the scene in the film.
The libelous material is creeping in a bit more, mostly in Young's commentary (the reference to Lotte Lenya "screwing left and right," the producers "throwing money around like drunken Indians," etc). It's all in such good fun, though, you'd have to be pretty up-tight to be offended by any of it. He talks about Connery starting to get paunchy and having to suck in his gut, but it's clearly said with the greatest affection.
I haven't heard Fleming referred to as a drunk yet. Maybe it's in the GF one, unless Cork is misremembering. I get the sense that all the contributors have a lot of respect for Fleming (Maibaum calls him a snob, but also a genius; Young chalks his snobbery up to shyness).
I really need to listen to these! I wish Sean was involved in the commentaries for his early Bond films; it would have been legendary to heard him speak about the films and his experiences.
As for any others that stand out. I'd say Martin Campbell and Michael Wilson speaking on the CR commentary is a good listen. As is the very enjoyable Sam Mendes commentary for Skyfall. Some nice nuggets of info are learned, but also the real pride it appears he got from making this film. He comes across as a very genuine, and nice person.
At least that's what I got from his commentary track. Seemed like a guy, you could sit down with and have a really good talk with.
I don't know when I'll get a chance to hear his Skyfall commentary *sigh* but I've gotten the same impression about him from watching his interviews, and I'm convinced he'd be an absolute pleasure, and very easy to talk with.
I'm listening to the GF one now. It's pretty excruciating. "Film historian" Bruce Eder just will not....stop.....talking. It's even worse than the Eon/John Cork ones. When Hamilton actually gets a chance to talk for a few minutes, he sounds like he's reading from prepared notes. Most of his info feels like it overlaps with the Eon discs. The most interesting aspect of the GF commentary so far is that Peter Hunt doesn't seem to think much of Hamilton as a director (he repeatedly criticizes certain shots, the coverage he received, etc.). Hunt is so catty.
Young is the most affable and interesting to listen to. I still think it is interesting hearing his tails of his meetings with Fleming, its very refreshing to know one of the Bond film family was close to the character's creator.
The great joy of those commentaries was listening to Young's unfettered thoughts. He's arguably my favorite Bond director, and I like him even more after listening to those.
And I can say definitively that Cork is wrong - nowhere in the commentaries is Fleming referred as an "alcoholic."
I hope I have time to listen to at least one of them this weekend. Do you think it would be best to listen while I watch the films or isn't it necessary?
I listened to them without watching the films - but I've seen the early Connerys probably seven or eight times, so I could very easily figure out what was going on onscreen. If you're fairly familiar with the films, you'll be fine.
The banned commentaries all very flippant and honest, and EON are famously tight-lipped and tend to only ever let their side of the story out. I learnt a lot about Cubby and Harry watching 'Everything or Nothing' and a lot of it wasn't good.
I must admit I really did enjoy it. I don't agree with a lot of Tamahori's decisions but it was interesting hearing him talk over them, most of the time he seemed to provide a rather detailed commentary on why particular choices were made. In fact I thought he was very informative, talking openly about the script development, casting and filming process. He seems enamoured by Pierce and Halle and seems to have a good knowledge of Bond's history. He's really rather chatty much like Mendes in his track and easy to listen to.
Wilson is ok, he mainly just chirps in now and then and provides slight analysis on particular scenes especially the action beats.
It's worth listening to the DAD track merely to hear Tamahori talk about the conception of the Anatov sequence. The whole sequence was put together very late in the day and provides good listening. I do recommend even if DAD wasn't your cup of tea.
I'm sorry, but anyone that is a stern believer in the codename theory does not know their Bond history.
I've listened to the Tamahori commentary and I agree with what has been said. While I don't agree with lots of his choices, it shows he was not completely clueless. But I think it's safe to say that he will not be involved with a Bond film again
That's not what I'm saying. If you listen to the track you'll know. Often he references how the film dropped segments because they felt they veered too much into the Moore era. Also Tamahori talks about FRWL and trying to replicate some of the feel from that film, what with the double-mirror in the hotel (That was Tamahori's idea, initially Chang was just going to storm into the room).
There's interesting talk of the subtle politics the story deals with what with tensions in N.Korea etc. I really liked Tamahori's discussion about Bond on the boat in Hong Kong and how the scene is supposed to be almost Ipcress File-like because we are not supposed to be too sure where Bond is; is he in Korea still? Back in London? And what would Bond do when he finds out?
I hear the Apted track is also supposed to be very good, that's next on my listening list.
I love the early Connery film commentries just seen how the crew worked under a tight budget to get such amazing results on the screen. Makes you proud to be a Bond fan.
Roger Moore's commentries are always great. He goes off on tagents about his other films which are always brillant.
So? Am I supposed to be converted to the Tamahori fan club now? Just because it was his idea to place a mirror in a scene doesn't suddenly make him Kubrick...
What I'm trying to say is that Tamahori knows the history of the films, he's knowledgeable about the series. I was surprised because looking at DAD you may not have thought that because, as you're said, the film feels rather distinct when compared to the rest of the series. But Tamahori does. I guess I'm saying I was surprised because Tamahori seems to have put a lot of thought into DAD (even going so far as to desrbibe why John Cleese's Q wears a particular kind of cardie, etc).
It makes good listening that's all I'm saying even if you dislike DAD it's worth your time.
I have no proof that Tamahori knows his "Bond history" at all. When you direct a film that looks like THAT at the end of production, I seriously question your merits as a filmmaker and director, heck even a human being. Some parts of that film are so shameful to the series in general (and for the 40th anniversary, no less) that I can barely bear to continue watching it. So I think to myself: what was it like on set with Tamahori directing say, Halle in a scene?
Tamahori: "Okay, Halle, come here on your mark. Alright, good. Okay, this scene is an important one, so I really want you to give it your all."
Halle: "Cool, what do you have for me?"
Tamhori: "Let me set the stage: you are in serious danger, tied on a metal table with lasers coming at you from all angles. We will be getting tons of close ups on you, so really transmit that sense of fright your character has to the audience. Just as you are about to be cut in two by a laser, suddenly Bond rushes int the room, blasting the door open to save you. But just as he frees you he is grabbed by the strapping Mr. Kil, and we get some great action shots where it seems Bond is about to die."
Halle: "Nice tension. What next"?
Tamahori: "Since you are now free, you run to the baddie, jump on him, give him some good punches, and then when he releases Bond you give him a strong kick into the lasers, and he is cut up! You turn to the camera, we will pull in close on your face and you say, "Yo Momma!" Great, huh?"
Halle: "Ah, yeah....that sure is great, Lee...You know what, I'm just gonna head to my trailer for a while..."
The film is seriously just bad bad bad after it has a decent yet still underwhelming start. Graves is one dimensional, Madonna a joke (in song and in her little joke of a cameo), Jinx is so annoying I plead for her to die every second from the moment we see her. The winks to the past are so overt and classless it gets annoying. The film could have explored Bond's torture and possibly had him slip information about England and MI6 under duress and have him deal with his betrayal or simply have him out of his element and deal with shell shock over the 14 months of torture. But no, Bond gets traded, goes to the hospital where we get a promising line about him saying he threw away his cyanide years ago, and then the hardened Bond is gone in a flash as he escapes and is super-Bond again with no depth. And that isn't a knock on Pierce, that is on P&W and Tamahori, because I know darn well this film haunts Mr. Brosnan. This movie is a walking missed opportunity, where we go from what seemed like a straight faced and dark Bond film with substance to a literal punchline on film.
I would have ditched the whole 14 months in a prison-camp nonsense too. Such seriousness and gravitas didn't fit with the more escapist film that was to follow.
Apted's track is also good. He too talks over the entire film and is rather chatty. If I had a complaint it would be that his tone is very dry and cumbersome and by the end I was getting a little bored. Nonetheless, it makes good listening.
Apted knows his film very well. I will say though; if you are interested in how these Bond films are put together, or any big-budget studio tentpole, listen to this track. Apted gives a detailed breakdown in a very technical commentary. He talks about all 3 sets of writers who worked on the film and what they all bought, how the pre-production period is used, he talks about set construction, the work of all the units (2nd unit, model unit and the myriad more), detailed discussion on how the action was constructed and talk of the specifics of Electra's costume design.
He also seems to have a good grasp of the politics of the story. There is plenty of talk about Baku and the type of greedy souls in the area and how he tried to incorporate that into the casino scene. I also loved what he was saying about the city built above the Caspian. It's no wonder this part of the story piqued his interest as he is a documentary-filmmaker at heart.