And I look at Walter Hill’s unmade “The Last Gun” here – https://diaboliquemagazine.com/john-wick-with-spurs-a-look-at-walter-hills-unmade-the-last-gun/?fbclid=IwAR0qkzi39QgwTWEzrA_aWKSZchSUA12Ai5KRCXTwqsgAYX4YmKnf9HBTlnQ
Here are some articles I’ve published recently that may be of particular interest to fans of British cinema of the 1950s:
- one on Diana Dors and Belinda Lee (https://www.filmink.com.au/a-tale-of-two-blondes-diana-dors-and-belinda-lee/)
- a look at the relationship between Joan Henry and J. Lee Thompson (https://www.filmink.com.au/joan-henry-the-jailbird-muse/)
- an analysis of the career of Anthony Steel (https://www.filmink.com.au/the-emasculation-of-anthony-steel-a-cold-streak-saga/)
I’ve done some audio commentaries for some Australian films which, to be honest, probably no one else would be interested in doing – but I felt they were worth it so I did.
They are all at
The films are:
The Kangaroo Kid (1950) – a Western filmed in Australia with Jock Mahoney – the link is here. To listen to it, just find a copy of the film on you tube – it seems to be in the public domain.
Dad and Dave Come to Town (1938) is my favourite old Aussie film. It stars a young Peter Finch. My commentary is here. The version I did it was the 71 minute one which is floating around on the internet – the UK cut, which is inferior to the longer Aussie cut but that’s the version that’s out there.
Tall Timbers (1937) is a fun, creaky melodrama. Again I used the shortened UK cut, because that’s what was out there. The commentary is here.
Long John Silver (1954) is public domain. Copies are everywhere.. My commentary is here. This film is long but fun -a must if you love Robert Newton pirate acting. I talk a bit about Rod Taylor but he doesn’t appear for the last 20 minutes.
King of the Coral Sea (1954) is a fascinating Australian adventure tale, Rod Taylor’s first feature. The commentary is here. The quality of the audio is poor, I apologise – I was having equipment functions. I kept meaning to re-record it but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I decided to put it up anyway – only the hard core 50s Oz movie fans and Rod Taylor completists are likely to listen anyway. The copy I went off to do this one is from Kanopy – they have a copy of the movie (and a bunch of other Australian films – yay, Kanopy!) The easiest way to access that is by being a member of a library who has Kanopy. Or you can buy a copy of the film from Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive.
These were done during COVID when I was feeling a little flat and determined to do something positive. They are very niche appeal but anyway… here they are.
For Diabolique magazine – link here.
I got to do another for Kino… Michael Winner’s swinging sixties opus, “The System”.
It got a write up at DVD Beaver:
“the Kino Blu-ray offers a new commentary by Stephen Vagg (author of Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood) and I really liked it. I don’t know if I have heard more fascinating details a of cast. He goes very deep and the connections seem endless. There is a focus on director Winner but there is a lot covered on many topics including the pace of the film, Torquay and cinematographer Roeg. Stephen was fully prepared and I’d love to hear more commentaries from him in the future. Kudos – a great job!… this Vagg commentary was worthy of a second and third spin.”
Thanks DVD Beaver – and thanks to the people who helped me with it like Jane Merrow. People were generous with their time – this movie should be better known.
Last year I did an audio commentary for the 1975 TV movie “Love Among the Ruins”. It’s received some nice reviews:
This is from High Def Digest:
“Well researched, informative, a tad salacious, and presented in an affable, easygoing manner, the discussion chronicles the production history of Love Among the Ruins, the prior connections between Hepburn, Olivier, and Cukor, and the television landscape at the time of the movie’s broadcast. Vagg also provides historical background on breach-of-promise cases, reveals Cukor had to convince Olivier to participate in the project, and draws parallels between Hepburn’s relationship with Spencer Tracy and Olivier’s marriage to Vivien Leigh. I initially questioned whether Vagg could sustain a monologue about Love Among the Ruins for the film’s entire running time, and he almost manages to complete the challenge. He runs out of steam at the 92-minute mark, but nevertheless contributes an absorbing and informative track that fans of this production will certainly enjoy.”
Look, I probably can’t ask for a more accurate description of my commentaries than “Well researched, informative, a tad salacious, and presented in an affable, easygoing manner“!
“film historian Stephen Vagg has done his research which he shares (both factual and gossip) about the film’s before-and-behind-the-camera participants…. it’s certainly worth a listen.”
“Better still, Kino Lorber has shelled out for an audio commentary from Stephen Vagg that delves into a many-splendored history of both the production, its stars’ respective careers, and the premise of the title – the elegant poem written by Robert Browning in 1855, and, read in its entirely by Vagg.”
“Well researched and informative.”
Thanks so much to these crits to (a) take the time to listen in the first place and (b) write something up.
And of course thanks to Kino for giving me the job in the first place!
Kino asked me to do an audio commentary for Deanna Durbin’s first starring vehicle, “One Hundred Men and a Girl” which was tremendous fun to do – and also fascinating to research.
It received this following nice review.
“The Kino Blu-ray offers a new commentary by Stephen Vagg (author of Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood) on One Hundred Men and a Girl. He’s excellent and digs pretty deep in exploring information on Producer Joe Pasternak’s fascinating start to his long career and Durbin plus much more.“
Thanks, DVD Beaver!
“Stephen Vagg offers a fairly comprehensive audio commentary on the making of the movie as well as anecdotal tales from behind the camera. Good stuff here and well worth a listen”
“film historian Stephen Vagg offers a very informative if somewhat crowded commentary track offering many facts about quite a few of the behind-the-scenes artists as well as the actors on-screen. He also has enough time to sketch in Durbin’s entire film career while he’s at it.”
(I plead guilty to “crowded” – I had a lot to pack in!)
Thanks to these writers for their nice words – these commentaries are a labour of love and it’s great to get some positive feedback.
I recently did an audio commentary for Kino’s release of “Against All Flags” which I loved doing, being a Flynn/pirate fan. People review commentaries – I got DVD Talk..
“I had nearly as wonderful a time listening to film historian Stephen Vagg as I did watching Against All Flags on its own. His extensive research into pirates – real, imagined, and the legends in-between – is consistently compelling. Vagg can not only tell you precisely when and where Against All Flags was filmed but recommend a book about nothing but men being whipped in movies, compare and contrast pirate traditions throughout the world, and note which of the film’s characters and scenarios are grounded at least in part in reality. He charts the history of pirates in cinema, notes that Douglas Sirk was sitting in the director’s chair for a time, lists some of the other actresses originally considered for the role of Spitfire, and touches on its remake the following decade as The King’s Pirate.
But my favorite comments tended to revolve around the actors and filmmakers themselves, especially their other collaborations together and at times tumultuous relationships – whether it’s Flynn being a useless drunk after 4 PM or O’Hara and Quinn rekindling their on-again-off-again affair on the set.”
Thanks DVD Talk – I love pirate movies and Flynn, O’Hara, etc so this was a blast.
Another review from Cinema Retro is here https://cinemaretro.com/index.php?/archives/11084-REVIEW-AGAINST-ALL-FLAGS-1952-STARRING-ERROL-FLYNN-AND-MAUREEN-OHARA;-BLU-RAY-SPECIAL-EDITION.html
It says “Vagg’s engaging commentary covers a wide range of topics, including the careers of the three stars, the history of pirate movies, and the real-life buccaneers represented in the picture, including a Black pirate captain portrayed by Emmett Smith. A Black character as a peer among white equals would be unremarkable casting now, but it was a progressive statement on racial equality for its time. Fans will be pleased that Vagg gives a shout-out to “Swordsmen of the Screen,” Jeffrey Richards’ rousing 1977 study of swashbuckling cinema.”