The screen’s first Felix Leiter remembered

That, of course, would be American actor Jack Lord, born 88 years ago today on Dec. 30, 1920.

Lord’s association with the James Bond film series was only in Dr. No. Whatever one thinks of him (he has his fans and detractors), JL was there at the beginning of Bond in the cinema. Also, he would go on to star in Hawaii Five-O for 12 seasons (1968-80). At the end of the 11th season, one-time Bond George Lazenby was a guest star. So in honof JL, who passed away in early 1998, we present:

1. A fan trailer put up on YouTube, including a few clips of Felix with Bond

2. We link to IMDB where you can watch the Hawaii Five-O episode “Forty Feet High and it Kills!” the second encounter between lawman Steve McGarrett and international bad guy Wo Fat. You can view it by clicking RIGHT HERE.

3. The original, 90-second version of Morton Stevens’s Five-O theme from the two-hour pilot episode:

Evolution of Matt Helm novel covers

We just came a Web page that every fan of the literary Matt Helm ought to see. It’s a diagram showing the various version of Matt Helm paperback covers of the stories spun by Donald Hamilton (1916-2006). Some of the books kept to one design during their print runs, but others changed. Among them:

Death of a Citizen: The original had a woman in a slip looking leeringly at the reader. It got revamped a few years later once the series had been established this time with a woman in bra and panties on a bed. Helm didn’t make the cover until a revamped version some time later.

The Wrecking Crew: The second novel debuted with Helm wearing a trenchcoat and carrying a machine gun. Two other versions the cover would later be published.

Also, as the series goes on, he’s drawn to look younger and more of a stud. That’s interesting given he was listed as being 36 years old at the start of the series, which ran from 1960 through 1993. (The Hamilton family is sitting on a last unpublished novel, hoping that a new movie deal will develop that would make this final novel a more marketable property.)

In any case, this is an interesting page. Just click RIGHT HERE to view. To look at a larger image of each cover, just click on it.

Science (or the lack of it) in QOS

Over at Boxwish Blog, they’ve turned up an academic, Professor Keith Ross of Salford University, who objects to Quantum of Solace’s explosive climax at a luxury hotel using fuel cells as a power source.

From the story:

“Professor Ross is currently working on a research project into hydrogen and its viability as a more eco-friendly and economical alternative to petrol and diesel and was disturbed by its depiction in Quantum of Solace. For those not in the know about the 007 adventure, there is a dramatic showdown between Bond (Daniel Craig) and his nemesis Dominic Greene (Mathieu Almaric) where the pair fight to a backdrop of exploding hydrogen fuel cells, a scene which Professor Ross believes will lead people to fear the fuel as unstable and dangerous.

‘I was perturbed to watch the James Bond film’s climax,’ says Professor Ross. “It was unrealistic and may perpetuate the fear that hydrogen should be avoided.’”

Of course, this would not be the first time film makers bent the laws of science. For example, it’s really, REALLY hard to make a car blow up by sending it over a cliff without using explosive charges. But that has stopped generations of directors.

To read the entire story, click RIGHT HERE.

QOS one of the worst films of the year!

The film world has been waiting, with bated breath, for the annual Top-10 Worst Films of the Year list from the prestigious One India internet portal.

Sadly, Quantum of Solace is among that wretched company, according to this just-published report.

Not the absolute worst of the year, mind you — that opprobrium went to the new Will Smith vehicle, Seven Pounds. No, QOS came in at number three, in between the unsuccessful monster movie Cloverfield, and the widely-reviled Synecdoche, New York, another toss-off from known hack writer Charlie Kaufman.

We all knew this day was coming, people. It’s probably time for Eon to start thinking about pulling the plug…

Merry Christmas from HMSSWeblog

Happy holidays to everyone. Only one James Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, had an overt Christmas setting. So here’s the gunbarrel and title sequence, paced by John Barry’s amazing score.

The Silencers: a true alternate universe James Bond movie

Of all the 1960s spy entertainment produced to capitalize on the success of James Bond, The Silencers, the first of four Matt Helm movies starring Dean Martin, may be the closest to an altnerate universe James Bond movie.

What do we mean by that? It was the one movie where alternate choices — the actors, crew and even studio — that could have been part of Bond, that weren’t. Examples:

Phil Karlson, the director was favored by United Artists to direct Dr. No. While Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were looking at British directors, UA was keen on Karlson, an American. But Karlson also had a $75,000 asking price. UA was happy to settle for Terence Young and his $40,000 paycheck, which turned out to be the same as Sean Connery and Richard Maibuam. (Source: Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, a 1998 book by the UK film historian and Bond fan).

Victor Buono, the lead villain in The Silencers had been recommended by Goldfinger screenwriter Maibuam to play the title character of that Bond movie. He (along with Theodore Bikel) got passed over in favor of Gert Frobe.

Irving Allen, the producer of The Silencers, was Cubby Broccoli’s ex-partner. That partnership broke up, at least in part, because the two men disagreed about whether Ian Fleming’s Bond novels were worth adapting as movies. Broccoli was for it and, in a story often repeated, Allen hated the idea intensely and insulted Fleming in a 1957 meeting. Having learned his lesson, Allen snared the rights to the successful series of Helm novels by Donald Hamilton.

Columbia Pictures had a chance at securing the services of Broccoli and Saltzman but took a pass, giving UA the opening it needed. Columbia wouldn’t correct that mistake until the 21st Century with Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Finally, The Silencers arguably caused the most damage to the Bond franchise. Not because it out-grossed Bond (it didn’t) but when Connery saw that Dean Martin was getting more money, it helped cause tension between the Scottish actor and the 007 producers. The reason for Dino’s heftier paycheck: to secure his services, Irving Allen had to make him a partner. That meant Dean got a percentage of every ticket sold. He got more money for The Silencers than Connery took home for Thunderball.

Signing Dean also meant a drastic change in direction. The Helm movies wouldn’t be faithful adaptations of Hamilton’s novels, but rather a campy series playing up to Martin’s strengths.

So think about that next time you watch The Silencers on TV or DVD. Never seen it? Well, you can see the main titles by clicking RIGHT HERE. While it’s on YouTube, the user who uploaded it diabled embedding. Note: the copyright notice (which appears in a VERY interesting place) lists Meadway-Claude Productions as the owner of the film. Claude is Dean Martin’s production company, which he later sold to RCA, the then-owner of NBC.

Meanwhile, look below for the end titles:

The murky origins of the James Bond Theme

The James Bond Theme, as anyone who visits here knows, is one of the most famous pieces of movie music. But trying to peel back the origins has proven a bit tricky. A UK court has decided that Monty Norman is the author. But when you see the UK documentary we’ve linked to (via YouTube). You can appreciate that without John Barry’s orchestrations and arrangements and Vic Flick’s guitar playing, it just wouldn’t have been the same. The behind-the-scenes story starts at the 49-second mark below:

QoS passes $160 million mark in U.S., Canada

Quantum of Solace is running out of gas in the U.S. and Canada but has passed the $160 million mark in ticket sales.

Quantum was No. 10 this weekend, with $2.15 million in sales, according to a Bloomberg story. Yes Man was this weekend’s No. 1 movie, according to Bloomberg’s Michael White and Cynthia Cotts. You can read it by clicking RIGHT HERE.

This is probably our last update on the subject. The movie was a financial success but there were more mixed feelings compared to Casino Royale. So who knows what direction Eon will go next time?

Louis Armstrong’s swan song for 007

We continue with our look at the UK documentary about James Bond songs. We’re skipping ahead because, well, we’re going straight to a rather touching tale. But, like anything associated with James Bond, it didn’t come very easily.

For Louis Armstrong, his performance of We Have All the Time in the World capped a magnificent career. As song writers John Barry and Hal David relate, they were concerned whether Armstrong had the energy to perform because of health problems. But, as David discusses, something magical happened when the “record” button was hit.

Still, there were obstacles. This time, it was producer Albert R. Broccoli who could have gummed up the works. Broccoli wasn’t being volatile like his then-partner Harry Saltzman. Broccoli’s initial objection was more basic — money. He thought Armstrong’s asking price of $35,000 to $50,000 was too high.

Despite that, a Bond classic was produced. It didn’t hit the charts — until decades later when it was used in a beer commercial.

One other note: Barry calls his score On Her Majesty’s Secret Service his most Bondian because he “poured everything” into to help the audience forget it was George Lazenby instead of Sean Connery playing Bond.

Take a look below. The compelling story of We Have All the Time in the World starts at the 57-second mark.

POLL: What’s your favorite Bond film titles sequence?

Vote for any of the above, or write-in your favorite!

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