Lord of the Rings
director of photography
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Commentaries on this disc:
Film historian Jeannine Basinger
Rating:10.0/10 (2 votes) [
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Reviewed by Glenn Hopp on June 8th, 2006
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Listening to this disc reminded me that commentaries to older classic movies benefit if they have a teaching function to them, and Jeannine Basinger's remarks are superb at presenting lots of smart information freshly. I listened to this commentary because I am a fan of director William Wyler. Basinger talks about many things (the film as a "women's picture," the careers of the principals, the importance of costuming, Warner Bros. doing an MGM-type of film, etc.) that I was not that keen on--but she really brought all these points to life, made them all very interesting, and really served the film well. She briefly mentions gossipy details about Bette Davis's love affairs, but chiefly Basinger organizes her remarks around the idea that the film is a story of four dresses: the jaunty riding costume that shows Bette Davis's individuality, the scandalous red dress that she wears to the proper 1852 New Orleans ball, her white "I'm sorry" dress that she puts on to try to make up with Henry Fonda (who has already married someone else), and the gray cape that she wears to tend to the yellow fever victims when she has matured. It's one thing when you enjoy someone's remarks about a film that you have long cherished, but when someone manages to make exciting a film you are at best indifferent toward, then it's very easy to be impressed. Basinger's comments about the director William Wyler, which is why I listened, are good, too.
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