Bond 24: The calm before….

Bond 24 logo

It’s a little more than a month before Bond 24 is supposed to start production. Yet, compared to 2011, as Skyfall was gearing up to start principal photography, there’s a bit of a vacuum.

In 2011, some of the major casting had become known: Ralph Fiennes, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Berenice Marhloe had all been reported.

For that matter, there were (correct) reports what the title would be. One major plot twist — that Judi Dench’s M was being killed off — was reported IN THE SPRING OF 2011. By this time in 2011, it had also been reported that Harris would be revealed to be the new Miss Moneypenny.

Bond 24? Not nearly as much has come out. The last big Bond 24 scoop was that scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summoned to do a rewrite of John Logan’s script. Since then, there have been reports about the casting of a secondary Bond woman and some reports about locations.

Even Baz Bamigboye, the Daily Mail scribe who gets a lot of 007 scoops, has been quiet of late.

For a lot of fans, all of this is just fine. They don’t want spoilers. Still, for a movie that’s going to be the followup to a billion-dollar blockbuster, there’s not as much buzz as you might expect.

That will probably change shortly. Still, it’s an oddly quiet time.

Chris Corbould confirms he’s on Bond 24 crew

Chris Corbould, who’s worked special effects on a number of James Bond films, confirmed on Twitter he’ll be part of Bond 24’s crew.

Corbould has Bond special effects credits going back at least as far as 1987’s The Living Daylights and ACCORDING TO HIS IMDB.COM ENTRY did uncredited work on some Bond movies before that.

He’s also worked with director Christopher Nolan (winning an Oscar on Nolan’s 2010 film Inception) and is part of the crew of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Here’s what Corbould’s Tweet looked like. It was only his third post on the social media network.

New U.N.C.L.E. book coming out in 2015

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

The original U.N.C.L.E.s

A new book about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series is due out next year.

“Solo and Illya: The Secret History of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” by Craig Henderson is to be published by Bear Manor Publishers, according to the Facebook page of THE GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY AFFAIR, the two-day event held in the Los Angeles area last month in connection with the show’s 50th anniversary.

Henderson created the File Forty fanzine in 1970, according to a Jon Burlingame response to the post. Henderson also assisted Burlingame when the latter produced a series of U.N.C.L.E. soundtracks in the 2000s.

“He’s uncovered a lot of information about the show no one else has,” Burlingame wrote.

Finally, Henderson produced A CENTURY OF U.N.C.L.E., which details how the worlds of U.N.C.L.E. and James Bond intersected for more than a century, beginning with the birth of Ian Fleming in 1908 until the death of U.N.C.L.E. executive producer Norman Felton in 2012. It’s a resource this blog has cited numerous times.

U.N.C.L.E. ‘teaser’ shown in Australia

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill

A Twitter user in Australia, @aaronkaj, posted that he’s seen a trailer for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

The original post went out on Oct. 14. @aaronkaj was then peppered with questions seeking details. “It was more of a teaser,” @aaronkaj responded. “Showing Henry & Arnie trying to work together as a team.”

That was a reference to actors Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who have the roles of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, portrayed by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the original 1964-68 television series.

The rest of the exchange (which contains minor spoilers): can be viewed BY CLICKING HERE.

Another spoiler, based on the description from @aaronkaj, it sounds a bit like a scene in the 1977 James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond (Roger Moore) works with a Russian agent (Barbara Bach). Specifically, it sounds like an exchange during the underwater car sequence of the 10th 007 movie.

In any case, the original Oct. 14 posting (re-Tweeted by Laney Boggs on Twitter, who has followed developments concerning the movie closely) looks like this:

Happy 87th birthday, Sir Roger Moore

Oct. 14 is the 87th birthday of Roger Moore, who played James Bond in seven movies produced by Eon Productions from 1973 through 1985. Happy birthday, Sir Roger.

This year was the 35th anniversary of Moonraker, one of the actor’s biggest box office successes. It’s not that popular among dedicated Bond fans who feel it’s too light and takes too many liberties. But the movie has its supporters. The Bond series hasn’t attempted a spectacle since — and it did generate some interesting poster art.

goozee_teaser

Casino Royale (1954), a reappraisal

Barry Nelson in 1954's Casino Royale

Barry Nelson in 1954’s Casino Royale

If there’s a red-headed stepchild in the world of James Bond, the 1954 CBS production of Casino Royale would be it.

The television Bond is mostly ignored. When it does come up in fan conversation, it’s the subject of derision.

An American as James Bond? Outrageous — although Eon Productions, which makes James Bond movies, seriously considered the notion twice, for Diamonds Are Forever (John Gavin was signed before Sean Connery was enticed back) and again for Octopussy (James Brolin was screen tested before Roger Moore was enticed back).

And he’s called Jimmy Bond! Outrageous — although Bond never calls himself Jimmy, other characters do. The only time he refers to his own name, he is making a telephone call and says, “This is James Bond.” Actor Barry Nelson also is clearly billed as playing James Bond in the end titles.

The television production, part of CBS’s Climax! anthology series and airing live on Oct. 21, 1954, is more like a televised play. While Ian Fleming’s first novel was short, it still covered too much ground to be covered in a 60-minute time slot. Excluding commercials and titles, only about 50 minutes was available to tell the story.

Antony Ellis and Charles Bennett, who adapted the novel for television, certainly took plenty of liberties with the source material.

Two Fleming characters, Vesper Lynd and French agent Rene Mathis, are merged into one character, Valerie Mathis (Linda Christian), a woman from Bond’s past who is working for French intelligence. Meanwhile, Bond is changed from being a British agent to an American one. Felix Leiter is changed to a British agent and his name is now Clarence Leiter (Michael Pate).

Presumably, the idea of an American Bond stemmed from how this was airing on U.S. television. At this point, Fleming and Bond weren’t huge names among the American public.

Anyway, to get things going, Act I opens with Bond being shot at outside a casino. It’s not terribly convincing, mostly because of the limited resources of the production, which was broadcast live. Bond ducks behind a column and the audience can see squibs going off to simulate gun fire.

Shortly thereafter, Bond makes contact with Leiter, who explains to Bond (and the audience) how the agent’s mission to bankrupt Le Chiffre (Peter Lorre) in a high stakes game of baccarat. No M, no briefing from M.

At one point, Leiter says Bond’s nickname is “card sense Jimmy Bond,” while Valerie calls Bond “Jimmy.” However, she also calls him “James Bond” when introducing the agent to Le Chiffre ahead of the big baccarat game.

Peter Lorre is the first actor to play a Bond villain referring to the agent constantly as “Mr. Bond,” something that would be repeated throughout the Eon films.

There are some bits from Fleming’s novel, particularly during Bond’s card game with Le Chiffre. Even here, Ellis and Bennett do some tinkering. After Bond is cleaned out, he gets additional funds not from Leiter, as in the novel, but from Valerie. What’s more, Bond’s torture is considerable milder than the novel or 2006 feature film. The ending from Fleming’s novel isn’t used and things end happily.

This version of Casino Royale’s main value is that of a time capsule, a reminder of when television was mostly done live. Lorre is suitably villainous. If you find him fun to watch on movies and other television shows, nothing here will change your mind.

Barry Nelson’s Bond won’t make anyone forget the screen 007s. Still, Nelson was a pro who had a long career. He does the best he can with the material and production limitations. He even gets to deliver the occasional witticism. (“Are you the fellow who was shot?” Leiter asks. Bond replies, “No I was the fellow who was missed.”)

UPDATE: Casino Royale was the third broadcast of the Climax! series. The first was an adaptation of The Long Goodbye, with Dick Powell reprising the role of Philip Marlowe. So in two of the first three broadcasts, Climax! tackled novels by Raymond Chandler and Ian Fleming.

IFP announces new licensing deal for 007 comics

Cover for Marvel's 1981 comic adaptation of For Your Eyes Only

Cover for Marvel’s 1981 comic adaptation of For Your Eyes Only

Ian Fleming Publications said Oct. 7 it reached a licensing deal with Dynamite Entertainment for a new series of James Bond comics.

Here’s an excerpt from the IFP statement:

We are very proud to announce our new partnership with Dynamite Entertainment, a leading publisher of English language comic books and graphic novels, who have worldwide rights to produce comic books, digital comics and graphic novels starring James Bond. 007 will re-live the exploits that have thrilled and captivated fans for over half a century in fresh visual adaptations of Fleming’s classic Bond stories, the first of which will be launched in 2015. Moreover, Dynamite plans to create a series of brand new adventures unveiling the defining – and largely undocumented – early years of Bond’s career. These new stories will draw inspiration from the Fleming canon to explore Bond’s ‘origins’: his raw early years before he gambled with his life in the first novel, Casino Royale.

Bond has an uneven history of comic book adaptations.

DC Comics, now owned by Time Warner’s Warner Bros. unit, did an adaptation of Dr. No, the first 007 film, in 1963. Years later, Marvel Comics (now owned by Walt Disney Co.) adapted 1981’s For Your Eyes Only and 1983’s Octopussy. Before the DC and Marvel efforts, there were U.K. comic strip adaptations of Ian Fleming novels and short stories. Those comic strips have been reprinted previously.

Based on the IFP statement, the newest deal doesn’t involve Eon Productions, which has produced the 23-film James Bond movie series. For Bond fans, 2015 shapes up as the time for a new movie (the yet-untitled Bond 23), a new a new James Bond continuation novel and the new comic books/graphic novels.

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