James Garner dies at 86

James Garner

James Garner

James Garner, an actor at home playing drama, comedy or a combination of both, died July 19 at 86, according to AN ASSOCIATED PRESS OBITUARY on the Los Angeles Times website. (UPDATE: You can view The New York Times obit BY CLICKING HERE.)

The Oklahoma-born Garner was best known for the 1950s Western television series Maverick and the 1970s detective show The Rockford Files. Garner’s Bret Maverick and Jim Rockford preferred to outwit rather than outfight adversaries. But neither character was to be taken lightly and could handle themselves in a variety of situations.

In both series, Garner & Co. weren’t afraid to poke fun at their genres.

One Maverick episode, “Gun-Shy,” was a parody of Gunsmoke, as Marshal Mort Dooley keeps running Maverick out of town. A sixth-season Rockford Files, “Nice Guys Finish Dead,” has Rockford instructing would-be a private eye on the art of smiling and sucker punching opponent. Meanwhile, ace private investigator Lance White (Tom Selleck) is aghast, saying a proper detective begins a fight by saying, “Put up your dukes!”

In the end, Lance White corners the villain, says, “Put up your dukes!” and knocks him out with one punch.

Garner was popular enough in both roles he participated in revivals: a one-season series called Bret Maverick in the early 1980s and a series of Rockford Files television movies in the 1990s.

The actor had plenty of other work, with other highlights including The Great Escape, The Americanization of Emily, Grand Prix (where he did much of his own racecar driving), Marlowe and Support Your Local Gunfighter.

Here’s an excerpt of a long interview Garner did about his career. It concerns the early days of The Rockford Files.

HMSS scorecard on comic book creators and ’14 movies

John Romita Sr.'s cover to Amazing Spider-Man No. 121, written by Gerry Conway

John Romita Sr.’s cover to Amazing Spider-Man No. 121, written by Gerry Conway

Sorry, Gerry Conway.

Last month, we carried a A POST wondering if comic book creators would get their due with 2014′s bumper crop of comic book-based films.

So far, the creators are 1-for-2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier carried a creator credit for Cap (Joe Simon and Jack Kirby) and included a “special thanks” credit for a number of comic book writers and artists, including scribe Ed Brubaker who devised the Winter Soldier storyline that’s the spine of the movie.

This weekend, saw the release of Amazing Spider-Man 2. Stan Lee and Steve Ditko got a “based on the comic book by” credit, as they have with past Spider-Man films. But others, mainly Gerry Conway, who authored an early 1970s story whose outcome is incorporated into the movie, didn’t get a mention. The closest reference in Amazing Spier-Man 2 is how there’s a “Principal Conway” character.

Also going unmentioned is John Romita Sr., co-creator of the Rhino; a much different version of the character appears in Amazing Spider-Man 2.

This isn’t that surprising. Movies produced by Marvel, now a Walt Disney Co. unit, have for the most part provided some kind of recognition for those who created characters and stories used by film writers and directors. Studios that license Marvel characters, such as Sony with Spider-Man, haven’t been as diligent.

Later this month, Fox will release another X-Men movie. Much of that film is based on a Chris Claremont-John Byrne story. The X-Men were originally created in 1963 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and a 1975 reboot with a number of new characters was started by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum. It remains to be seen whether any of them will get a mention in the 2014 film.

Casino Royale’s 60th to be celebrated at University of Illinois

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The 60th anniversary of the publication of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, is scheduled to be celebrated at the University of Illinois starting in April.

The programs include the following:

Casino Royale and Beyond: Sixty Years of Fleming’s Literary Bond April 12-July 12. An excerpt from the university’s Web site:

The University Library’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, along with the Spurlock Museum, are planning several events this spring to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the publication of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.

Library Friend Michael L. VanBlaricum, also an Illinois alumnus, was invited to curate a multi-venue exhibition. Not surprising, as VanBlaricum has amassed perhaps one of the finest collections of Ian Fleming material in private hands. He is also President of The Ian Fleming Foundation, dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of Fleming’s literary works, the James Bond phenomenon, and their impact on popular culture.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library will display all manner of editions of Casino Royale, as well as letters, reviews, photos, and other works. The Casino Royale and Beyond: Sixty Years of Ian Fleming’s Literary Bond exhibit will focus on Fleming, his background, profession, and books. VanBlaricum will give a special talk about the exhibition in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library when the exhibit opens on April 12th.

Unconventional Bond: The Strange Life of Casino Royale on Film April 16-June 16. The exhibit describes the 1954 one-hour CBS adaptation starring Barry Nelson as an American Bond; the 1967 spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman; and the 2006 film produced by Eon Productions that was the first Daniel Craig 007 film.

More information is available by clicking on the links above. The university is at Urbana-Champaign, in the east-central part of Illinois near where I-57 and I-74 intersect.

Roger Moore interviewed by Jeff Westhoff

Northwest Herald film critic and HMSS friend Jeffrey Westhoff had the excellent opportunity to interview Roger Moore. The interview is on the Web site of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

An excerpt:

Speaking by phone from the St. Regis Hotel in New York (where Bond stayed in the novel “Live and Let Die”), Moore said the publisher of his autobiography, “My Word Is my Bond,” approached him about writing another book focusing on 007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary hoopla. “They thought it might be a good time to bring out a book about my opinion of Bond,” Moore said.

He writes his opinions in a tongue-in-cheek style that reflects his portrayal of Bond. Moore frequently refers to Bond as “Jim” or “Jimmy,” and he doesn’t worry if this will further infuriate Sean Connery purists who complain Moore never took the character seriously. “That’s the way I played it,” he said. “That was my reaction to the character I was expected to play. He wasn’t a real spy. The idea that he’s known by every barman in the world, that he has a taste for martinis shaken not stirred.”

(snip)
In the new book, Moore remarks that recent Bond theme songs have been forgettable. He said Adele’s “Skyfall” theme breaks that trend. “The song is absolutely marvelous. It has the complete John Barry flavor. Unmistakably a Bond song.”

Moore attended a private screening of the new film several weeks ago “when [the print] was literally still wet.” He was “absolutely knocked out by it.” He praised Sam Mendes’ direction and was impressed with the way “Skyfall” presents a new side to 007.

“Bond shows a lot of vulnerability in it, but also that he’s a hard nut,” Moore said. “And I don’t think anybody can do that better than Daniel Craig.”

You can read more of Westhoff’s interview by BY CLICKING HERE.  

Well done, sir.

Hey, it’s Paul’s Birf-day!

A BIG happy birthday to HMSS’s own Paul Baack!  (He’s the one here that looks like a goof…)Image

New Skyfall trailer debuts, first Silva dialogue included

The newest Skyfall trailer debuted today on the official 007.com at 2 p.m. in the U.K. and 9 a.m. ET in the U.S. After a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of Javier Bardem’s villain Silva in an NBC commeercial last week, the new trailer includes Silva’s first dialogue. Silva, indeed, is supposed to be blonde.

The trailer also indicates that director Sam Mendes & Co. have borrowed from a literary device Ian Fleming used in his 1964 novel You Only Live Twice. Those who’ve read the book will instantly recognize it.

Finally, the trailer uses a more traditional version of the James Bond Theme. If you haven’t seen it already, take a look:

UPDATE I: The trailer at least partially confirms some fan analysis of clues (some of it based on call sheets and storyboards that were sold on eBay). Bond goes missing, lives the soft life for a while and has to get into shape for a new mission.

That’s not unlike Robert Conrad’s James West in The Wild, Wild West Revisited in 1979, a TV-movie that was played more for laughs than the original 1965-69 series. (And no, we’re not saying that’s a deliberate influence, just noting the coincidence.)

UPDATE II: An amusing Tweet from “Ernst Stavro Blofeld” (well, one of them):

So in #SKYFALL Bond gets ‘killed’ and comes back to life. Haven’t we seen this movie before? #YouOnlyLiveTwice

UPDATE III: This morning we embedded the international trailer. Here’s the somewhat different U.S. trailer:

Amazon acquires exclusive North American rights to publish all 14 Ian Fleming James Bond spy titles

The books will be available summer 2012 from Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN Thomas & Mercer imprint, which specializes in mysteries and thrillers. Amazon will also give the books a new look.

Read the entire WSJ story here. It’s also mentioned on the Ian Fleming Publications WEB SITE.

MI6 Confidential – “The Art of Bond” (Issue #13) Available Now

Peter Allen and our good friends at MI6 have informed HMSS that the MI6 Confidential Issue #13 “The Art of Bond” is now available to order on-line.

You can read the MI6 press release here, and below are a couple of the layouts and articles. (Go to the MI6 website for full details.)

Exceptionally fine shot(s), gentlemen! The photographs, graphics, commentary, and color are all top-notch. Nice work all around.

The HMSS Team

Omega Seamaster Co-Axial 300 M: Commemorating 50 years of James Bond films

With special thanks to our good friend Dell Deaton, it is a pleasure to release information about the new Omega Seamaster watch commemorating 50 years of James Bond films. Visit Dell’s twitter account here for additional information and more photographs.

TimeZone.com has the official press release here

No price communicated as of yet. Below are pics. (Click to enlarge.)

Note the diamond at the seven on the dial, the “50″ in red on the chronometer, and the use of Binder’s gun-barrel design on the back.

Cool, and understated. Just the way HMSS likes it. Well done.

The HMSS Editors

RIP Bob Holness, James Bond #2

The second actor to have portrayed James Bond has passed away.

Bob Holness, whose career with BBC radio spanned five decades, died early this morning in his sleep, a family statement . Mr. Holness was 83 years old. He was largely known as the host of the popular ITV game show Blockbusters. James Bond fans, especially those outside the UK, know him best as the star of the 1956 South African Radio dramatization of Ian Fleming’s Moonraker (six years before the cinematic 007 made his debut in Dr. No).

You can read his obituary at the BBC News website.

HMSS sends its condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

(Tip of the HMSS hat to Mike ‘Rhino’ Durham for ringing our bell.)
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