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Spartacus (1960)

NOTE: This commentary is only available on the Criterion Collection release in Region 1. In regions 2 and 4, it is available on the Special Edition DVD release.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Producer/actor Kirk Douglas, actor Peter Ustinov, author Howard Fast, producer Edward Lewis, restoration expert Robert A. Harris, and designer Saul Bass Rating:7.0/10 (14 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Blunt on June 7th, 2004:Find all reviews by Blunt
With these participants, how could you go wrong ? And chief amongst them is the late, great raconteur Peter Ustinov who found himself caught in the crossfire from as disparate a group of egotists as has ever been assembled. His stories of Olivier and Laughton's childish rivalries are the highlight but all manner of things are touched upon here, from the Roman Empire to the McCarthy witch-hunts, and none of it dry or humourless.

If there's a caveat, it's simply that we don't hear as much as I would've liked about Kubrick, but then I'm a bit of a Kubrick freak. Normal people will have few complaints about this excellent track.
Reviewed by Uniblab on November 30th, 2009:Find all reviews by Uniblab
This commentary is not worth the time investment, and was another one that remembered me why I dislike these overcrowded, overedited, over-everything tracks. On a full-length individual track Kirk Douglas, who imparts most of the substantial information, would probably be able to present a more comprehensible account of the making of the movie; and Robert Harris would probably also be able to offer a more coherent narrative and explanations about the fascinating restoration process, which are very random and disjointed the way they are distributed in the track.
The way the commentary is, only Saul Bass's participation seems more or less complete or satisfying; the rest is a disconnected collection of anecdotes, often contradictory when it comes to the quarrels during the making of the movie (something candidly aknowledged by Douglas near the end of the track).
Besides that, the presence of two participants is very annoying and unnecessary: most of Ustinov's comments are very pretentious gibberish unrelated to the movie; and Fast does nothing but arrogantly bitches about everything, from Douglas's acting, to Trumbo's script (he doesn't say that he wrote the first script from his own novel, which was deemed "a disaster, unusable..." by Douglas and rejected). He also insists on perpetuating the already unmasked one-sided potrait of the blacklist period on which the movie was made (but he also complains about Trumbo and other fellow commies who lambasted the novel when it came out).
An isolated music track with Alex North's splendid score would have been much better that this...
Reviewed by badge on December 8th, 2009:Find all reviews by badge
The participants mostly contribute the usual production info about this film, but this commentary is distinguished by a couple of distinct voices - firstly, the author of Spartacus who uses the commentary as an opportunity to whine from start to finish about how the film wasn't as good as his book (which makes you wonder why they even included him) and secondly, some priceless ancedotes from Peter Ustinov, who provides an enjoyable insight into what it was like to work with giants Laughton AND Olivier in the same room. As mentioned above, it's a shame that there wasn't enough mention of Kubrick's take on the film, but then he always considered himself a 'hired hand' on this one.