Tag Archives: commentaries

The 39 Steps

The 39 StepsNetflix IMDb
Alfred Hitchcock presents his first big hit with all the trimmings: the innocent man taking it on the lam, the tough and beautiful blond sparring with him, the quirky humor, and the weird conclusion. Listen as I compare the film to Young and Innocent and North by Northwest, talk about Hitchcock’s early work and developing style, joke about the Scottish stereotypes, and stumble over British currency. Plus, you learn what a “crofter” is. Please note, however, that you will not learn what causes pip in poultry or how old Mae West is. Who am I? Mr. Memory?

Note: I mistakenly call Godfrey Tearle “Geoffrey.” I mention Hitch’s annoyance at Montgomery Clift and Paul Newman for their acting style. They were indeed both Method actors. Also, British currency was decimalized in 1971 rather than my guess of 1972.

Wait for my countdown to start the film with the title card, after the film board rating. (42 MB)

King Kong (1933)

King Kong 1933Netflix IMDb
The greatest of great apes is trapped by tiny men and dragged to New York, where he runs amok, all for the affections of a dame. I give a little of the history of the production, point out some of the successes and failings, analyze the structure, and mock the stuntman who gets squashed by a giant ape foot. I frequently compare the film to the 1976 version and occasionally to the 2005 version.

This is kind of a quickie commentary, done without as much post-production as I’ve been doing lately (no EchoSync). I am joined for the first 15 minutes by my little niece, who doesn’t have nearly as much to say here as she did about Paul McCartney in Help.

Wait for my countdown to start the film with the overture (or the film proper, when I give the cue). (50 MB)

The Princess Bride (nonsense)

The Princes BrideNetflix IMDb
William Goldman edits Simon Morgenstern’s rollicking adventure of pirates and princesses, swordplay and swamps down to “the good parts,” and I put all the missing pieces back in, carefully reconstructing the original narrative, in all its gruesome, graphic, weird, and perverse detail. Altho there’s no vulgar language, this commentary is rated M for mature.
Continue reading The Princess Bride (nonsense)

The Hidden Fortress

The Hidden FortressNetflix IMDb
Akira Kurosawa produces a taut samurai adventure of fear, greed, intimidation, theft, bumbling, self-sacrifice, cowardice, courage, betrayal, pantomime, song and dance, attempted rape, and other hilarity in this 1958 mini-epic that famously inspired the Star Wars saga. I detail the connections between the characters and events in this with those in the Star Wars movies, ridicule the central characters, and boldly suggest that this movie needs a villain like Darth Vader, all while avoiding pronouncing almost all the Japanese names or making ethnically insensitive jokes. And I never mention Jar-Jar Binks (ptooh!) once.

Note: I mistakenly say that, in the original Star Wars movie, the planet Dantooine gets destroyed by the Death Star, but it’s Alderaan that gets destroyed despite Leia’s lie, because they just happen to be near Alderaan. Also, I accidentally say that Darth Vader rather than Obi-Wan gets cut down and becomes a “force ghost.”

Wait for my countdown to start the film with the Janus title logo. (66 MB)

Werewolf of London

Werewolf of LondonNetflix IMDb
Mrs. Frankenstein appears in another of the eight (8!) films she made in 1935 along with her ancient husband and aged childhood playmate in the very first feature-length werewolf movie! Mad botanist (you read that right) Dr. Glendon picks up a social disease in a foreign country and hides it from his wife while he tries to find a cure. Join me as I give the film a gentle ribbing even while admiring its entertaining aspects. I explain the history of werewolf lore and cinema, and I compare it to vampire and Frankenstein stories, not to mention the Hulk. And I disassemble it as a metaphor for serial killers versus a metaphor for puberty. Oh, and I ramble on after the end of the movie for about 10 minutes.

Early on, I seem to say that the 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was not well received. What I meant was that this movie was negatively compared to it; Frederic March actually got Best Actor Oscar for playing Jekyll and Hyde.

Wait for my countdown to start the film with the Universal title logo. (37 MB)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The MovieNetflix IMDb
Mike and robot friends Crow and Tom Servo are forced by evil mad scientist Doctor Forrester to sit and watch the 1955 stink bomb This Island Earth. They make the best of it, assaulting the film with every fiber of their beings in this, their grab at the big-screen brass ring. I make the most of it as well, delivering calm, cool analysis all along the way, such as comparing this film to Citizen Kane and explaining why I’m not commentating on Mystery Science Theater 2000 or Mystery Science Theater 1000. I also provide a limitless stream of cold, hard facts, including, but not limited to:

  • How the film is based on real experiments conducted in the American South in the 1940s
  • How gross budget overruns were caused by building and launching into space an actual satellite for the filming
  • Crow T Robot’s origin as an assassin android during World War 1
  • What makes Mike rush to the theater when he gets movie sign
  • Why all controls in an airplane’s co-pilot seat are labeled backwards
  • The history of interoceter broadcasting, such as the original Howdy Doody, before he died and was replaced by a puppet
  • How the term “booby hatch” was derived from the Italian swannery “Bubaria Haccieria”
  • How Flipper was only one of several “fish story” TV shows, including fish private eyes and fish lawyers
  • Famous people who have suffered from pantophiliamania (the compulsion to horde underpants)
  • Why many Bostonians consider depictions of the circulatory system to be pornographic
  • Why scientist Niels Bohr was trapped by glue for his wedding ceremony
  • Which homicidal movie stuntman was the subject of the bio-pic Halloween

Join me.

Wait for my countdown to start the film with the Universal title logo. (37 MB)

A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of DollarsNetflix IMDb
Sergio Leone re-envisions Kurasowa’s Yojimbo… and gets the pantoloni sued off him. But nevertheless, he gives the world Clint Eastwood as The Man With No Name (as long as you don’t count “Joe”, “Manco”, or “Blondie” as names). Join me as I directly compare the two films from scene to scene all the way along. But you only need A Fistful of Dollars to enjoy it.

Unlike most of my commentaries, I don’t really talk about the actors (other than Eastwood). Instead, I compare the two film-makers’ vision and message and address the noir source material. I compare the character of  “Joe” with Yojimbo‘s “Sanjuro.” I compare the pacing and the scope of the cinematography. And I compare the plots and plot devices scene-by-scene. I even compare the characters, altho I always focus on Fistful, and I avoid the Japanese names as much as possible.

Start the film after studio title at the same time you start the commentary. If you choose to watch with Yojimbo also, start it at the Janus title card. (54 MB)

Horror of Dracula

Horror of DraculaNetflix IMDb
Saruman dons the cape and fangs for his first turn as the granddaddy of all vampires, Count Dracula, in Hammer’s second big horror venture. Grand Moff Tarkin dons pimp gear to take him on as Doctor Van Helsing. Alfred the butler comes along for the ride as Arthur Holmwood. Somehow I remember to mention that Michael Gough played Alfred the butler in the Batman movies but forget to mention that Christopher Lee was in The Lord of the Rings and Peter Cushing was in Star Wars. Pretty girls Middle-aged women fall victim to the charms of the vampire in the dark curiously well-lit night in diaphanous Baptist-approved nightgowns. I try to keep the characters straight and explain how their names were changed from novel to movie. And I discuss anachronisms like blood transfusion and teddy bears. That’s right! You never thought you’d get a lesson in the history of teddy bears in a vampire movie, did you?!

Start the film at the Warner Brothers logo when I give the cue. (41 MB)

Curse of Frankenstein

Netflix IMDb
The puppy is alive! Alive! Peter Cushing takes up the role of the madman Victor Frankenstein, desperately trying to pursue his life’s work of discovering the secret of life while constantly being nagged by his mentor, his fiancee, and his housemaid. Christopher Lee takes up the role of the mute, murderous monster with the greatest brain in Europe. I compare this first big Hammer horror classic extensively with Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein and with the original novel. I speculate on the doctor’s youth, or lack thereof, and his disinclination to redecorate for 15 years. And I wax poetic about beaver hats, cravats, and nightgowns with built-in underwire bras.

Start the film at the Warner Brothers logo when I give the cue. (41 MB)

The Bride of Frankenstein

The Bride of FrankensteinNetflix IMDb
She’s alive! Alive! The inferior-yet-still-classic sequel to Frankenstein is given the full Tysto treatment. I compare this film to the 1931 original and to Young Frankenstein. I complain bitterly about Una “Jar-Jar Binks” O’Connor. I welcome Valerie Hobston’s cleavage as the replacement Elizabeth and welcome back Dwight Frye as the assistant-who-is-definitely-not-the-dead-hunchback-Fritz. I complain a bit about the presence of Doctor Pretorius and compare him to Doctor Waldman of the first film. And I finally get around to mentioning Jack Pierce, the legendary make-up effects artist.

Start the film at the Universal logo when I give the cue. (37 MB)