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Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Film directors John Carpenter, John Milius, Alex Cox, Bernardo Bertolluci, film historian (& Leone biographer) Sir Christopher Frayling, Dr. Sheldon Hall, and actor Claudia Cardinale Rating:7.2/10 (17 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Brian Thibodeau on May 5th, 2004:Find all reviews by Brian Thibodeau
The audio commentary to Once Upon A Time in the West succumbs to a bad case of commentatus ad narratus, in spite ot it featuring no less than SEVEN participants. The participation of John Carpenter might have been a tip off that things would head in this direction, but I gave the whole thing a go anyways.

Only Bernardo Bertolluci, John Milius and Claudia Cardinale seem not to be actually watching the film as they speak, sounding quite like their contributions were made at the same time as their interviews in the documentaries on the second disc. Sadly, their impressions are largely limited to praise and mildly interesting yarns.

Frayling narrates.
Hall narrates.
Carpenter narrates
Cox narrates.

Frayling is by far the worst, since he dominates the track and, bereft of notes or anecdotes outside of referenced Hollywood westerns, almost immediately starts telling us what characters are thinking and what they are about to do, as well as speaking their dialogue just before they do, as if he's helping to build the suspense:

"...and Fonda takes from his pocket...a harmonica...the harmonica that Bronson has been playing throughout the film...yak yak...woof woof..harrumph..harrumph..."

Before that, Carpenter not unexpectedly shows his dexterity at separating studio from location photography during the train sequences, discusses a great many lighting "secrets" and then openly guesses at rather obvious character motivations.

Overall, a track defininitely worth skipping, as any worthwhile information in it is already contained in the three documentaries on disc 2. I guess we can't really expect much more when most of the principals are dead and the historians couldn't bother to be prepared.
Reviewed by Mr Bungle on May 22nd, 2015:Find all reviews by Mr Bungle
Sir Christopher Frayling leading us through the opening sequence is pure magic! One of the best examples of movie commentary ever!