Happy 100th birthday, Bill Finger

One of a number of productions that would have been impossible without Bill Finger

One of a number of productions that would have been impossible without Bill Finger

Feb. 8 was the 100th anniversary of the birth of comic book writer Bill Finger, who probably should be credited as the co-creator of Batman. Without him, a number of productions, including 2012′s Skyfall, the most recent James Bond movie, wouldn’t have been possible.

Artist Bob Kane had an idea, of a Bat-themed character. But it was Finger who, among other things, changed a plain mask to a cowl, devised the Bruce Wayne true identity, the Batman back story, the Robin back story, and….well, you get the idea. It was Finger who devised much of the Batman mythos.

Without Finger, there wouldn’t have been Batman serials in the 1940s, no Batman television series in the 1960s, no Batman movies in the 1980s, ’90s and 21st century — at least nothing remotely in the form that people know them.

Indirectly, the 007 film crew also owes Finger a debt. Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, is on record as saying 2008′s The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan, inspired elements of the 2012 007 film. That extends to Thomas Newman’s score, which in places sounds similar to the Batman music Hans Zimmer produced for Nolan.

Thus, without Bill Finger, there’d be no Nolan Batman movies and Skyfall wouldn’t be the same film fans remember today.

Finger, who died in 1974, less than a month before his 60th birthday, still doesn’t get officially credited as creating Batman. (Although there is a campaign to try to change that in time for Batman’s 75th anniversary.) But there’s little doubt Finger’s impact lasts long after his death.

Questions about a (possible) Nolan-directed 007 film

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan's production company

Logo of Syncopy, Christopher Nolan’s production company


WARNING: This is very much putting the cart before the horse. Nobody has said Christopher Nolan *will* direct Bond 24. The U.K. Daily Mail has reported only that the director has been *approached* about the job. Bear all that in mind before reading the following.

This week, the Daily Mail newspaper in the U.K. reported that Christopher Nolan, director of three Batman movies from 2005 through 2012, had been “approached” about directing Bond 24.

The writer, Baz Bagimboye, had a number of scoops about Skyfall, the most recent 007 movie, that proved to be correct. So, it got the attention of a lot of fans. If Nolan eventually signs on the dotted line, it raises a number of questions about Bond 24. Among them:

1. What happens to writer John Logan? Logan was brought in by director Sam Mendes to rewrite Skyfall. Eon Productions originally announced that Peter Morgan would collaborate with scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Eventually, Morgan left without getting a screen credit. But Logan evidently impressed somebody because he was hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25 while Purvis and Wade departed the series.

But things can change, as Morgan can attest. Christopher Nolan is fond of writing his own movies, either by himself (Inception) or collaborating with his brother Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer (the three Batman movies or the upcoming Man of Steel, which was produced by Nolan). If Nolan comes aboard, will Logan stay or go?

2. Do other members of Nolan’s posse also participate? Nolan has a production company, Syncopy. That logo ended up being featured at the start of the third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, along with the logos of Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Ditto for Man of Steel. The Syncopy group includes Emma Thomas, a producer who’s married to Nolan, and Charles Rovan, another producer. Also, Nolan frequently collaborates with Wally Pfister as director of photography. Pfister is directing Transcendence a movie scheduled for a 2014 release.

While Eon may be interested in Nolan’s services as a director, would it also hire Nolan-affiliated producers such as Thomas and Rovan? Eon, led by Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, has its own group of supporting producers, including Gregg Wilson, the son of Michael. On the other hand, Eon has probably would be open to hiring Pfister. That would be similar to Skyfall, where Roger Deakins was brought on as director of photography because Mendes wanted him.

3. Would Hans Zimmer be the newest 007 composer? Zimmer also works frequently with Nolan. Again, that’s a situation similar to Skyfall, where Thomas Newman was hired as composer because of his relationship with Mendes. A Zimmer-scored Bond 24 might be similar to Skyfall in other ways. Mendes said that Nolan’s The Dark Knight from 2008 influenced the 2012 007 movie. Some tracks of Newman’s score (particularly the Shanghai sequences and the action sequences at the Macao casino) sounded similar to Zimmer’s music for Nolan’s Batman films.

4. What would the running time of a Nolan-directed Bond 24 be? Probably not short. Batman Begins was 140 minutes, The Dark Knight was 152 minutes, Inception was 148 minutes and The Dark Knight Rises was a whopping 165 minutes.

UPDATE (May 22): The Latinos Post Web site has a short article about actresses Nolan has cast in various movies and whether they could become part of the cast of a Nolan-directed Bond 24.

Daily Mail says Nolan `approached’ about Bond 24

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

The Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye, who had a number of Skyfall scoops proven correct, is reporting that Christopher Nolan has been “APPROACHED” ABOUT DIRECTING BOND 24.

Here’s an excerpt:

Christopher Nolan has been approached to direct the next 007 movie.

It’s early days, but informal talks have begun between Nolan, his representatives and the powers behind the James Bond pictures, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G .Wilson.

The story is less that definitive. There’s a later line that says, “But as one of my Bond experts commented: ‘It does no harm for Broccoli and Wilson to talk with Nolan, even if nothing happens this time round.’” Still, Skyfall director Sam Mendes commented how his 007 film was inspired by Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight and there are similarities between the two films.

You can CLICK HERE to see Bamigboye scoops that were proven correct, including that Naomie Harris’s character turned out to be Moneypenny.

IF Bamigboye is correct this time, it’s possibly another sign Bond 24 is more likely for 2015 than 2014. Nolan, director of three Batman films from 2005 to 2012, is committed TO DIRECT A SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE SCHEDULED FOR RELEASE IN NOVEMBER 2014.

We’ll see if anything happens of all this. To read the entire Daily Mail story, CLICK HERE.

YESTERDAY’S POST: More signs Bond 24 won’t be out until at least 2015

A (very belated) Skyfall review

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Back in November, HMSS intended to put out a “best of” issue that included reviews for Skyfall. For real-life reasons, that didn’t occur. This is one of the reviews intended for that never-produced issue, written shortly after release. After the review, there’s an epilogue.

One of the most satisfying moments of Skyfall makes no sense from a logical standpoint.

Daniel Craig’s James Bond whisks Judi Dench’s M from an assassination attempt by Silva (Javier Bardem), the film’s villain. Bond takes his superior to some sort of storage facility where an Aston Martin DB5 awaits.

That moment gets a big rise from theater audiences (at least the three times I saw it). But is this the same car that Craig-Bond won in a poker game in Casino Royale? Was it subsequently outfitted with the exact same gadgets (at least the machine guns and ejector seat) the car had in Goldfinger?

Ehhh, forgettaboutit. At least, if you do, Skyfall is a fun ride.

The 23rd James Bond movie comes four years after Quantum of Solace, its predecessor. During Quantum’s production, Eon Productions was *way too serious* about why that movie was important. We were told that 2006′s Casino Royale had such a compelling story the filmmakers had no choice except to begin the next 007 movie immediately thereafter. Thus, Quantum began two minutes or two hours (Eon wasn’t consistent on this point) from the end of Casino. Thus, Eon, in effect, asked the audience to compare Quantum to its predecessor. Except that M had totally redecorated her office and Mathis had gone from being interrogated in two minutes/two hours to again being Bond’s ally. Oops.

Skyfall and its director Sam Mendes don’t invite any comparisons to earlier Daniel Craig 007 movies. Bond was a rookie and now he’s older and seemingly washed up? Forgetaboutit. Don’t worry about the past and take Skyfall on its own terms. On that basis, the new Bond movie is satisfying.

Skyfall isn’t perfect. Bond recruits Severine (Berenice Marlohe) to help him meet Silva. To say he lets her down is an understatement. These things happen but it would have helped to have one shot — just ONE SHOT — of Craig-Bond showing some remorse after Severine ends up dead. You know, like Sean Connery’s Bond with Tilly in Goldfinger or his Bond with Paula in Thunderball. Instead, he displays no reaction but has a chest-thumping, moment of gloating when U.K. holicopters show up over Silva’s headquarters. Meanwhile, Severine’s corpse is slumped over while Bond gloats.

The movie has some first-time 007 contributors. Roger Deakins’s photography is a big plus. The director of photography produces a number of striking images (particularly in the Shanghai sequence) but his best work highlights every wrinkle on the face of Dench’s aging M, making clear that the character has seen too much, done too much and is quite tired and exhausted.

Thomas Newman, not know for doing scores to action movies, moves things along. Newman occasionally evokes both John Barry and the Batman triology directed by Christopher Nolan, which featured music by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Newman, though, is a pro and his score reflects that. Once again, the Bond filmmakers felt they couldn’t put the famous 007 gunbarrel logo at the start of the movie. Newman, though, pulls a musical trick that reminds us of the sequence. There was no good reason not to include the logo at the start of the movie but Newman does enough that the lack of the logo isn’t as bad as it could have been.

Bardem as Skyfall’s villain is mostly a plus but, near the end, goes the proverbial Bridge Too Far. In the climatic sequence, where he has his final confrontation with M, it’s as if Bardem wants to tell the audience, “Look! I’m acting!” We get it that Silva is on the edge. But Bardem just goes too far. He’s like Paul Newman in 1974′s The Towering Inferno where the actor wants to assure his fans he’s not just cashing a big paycheck. In the climatic scene, Bardem should have dialed it back a bit.

The end of the movie, with a new M (Ralph Fiennes) and a new Moneypenny sets up the series to continue while evoking the earlier Bond films. We’ll see what the future has in store but Skyfall works well enough. GRADE: B-Plus.

Anything change after watching it on home video? Not that much. A friend who doesn’t like the movie commented how, in the old Bond movies, the titles would have started almost immediately after Bond hit the water near the end of the pre-titles sequence. Instead, we get a couple of minutes of a morose M, Tanner and other MI6 employees. That’s still not enough and we’re taken to an MI6 window and see it has started raining.

“Cue the rain?” the friend said. “Cue the rain?” He had a point but I could overlook it. But, as posted here before, there are other things that are best to overlook to enjoy the movie. If don’t want to overlook such issues, like the Aston Martin DB5, you’re going to rate it lower, in some cases much lower.

Also, there’s no way the DB5 in Skyfall could have been the same car as in Casino Royale. The steering wheel was on the other side and you’d have to rebuild the car to switch the steering wheel from the left side to the right. The Skyfall DB5 is a tribute to Goldfinger, pure and simple.

UPDATE: Called as Aston Martin dealer. At least on a newer model, it’s possible to switch a steering wheel from the right to the left and vice versa. It would cost in excess of $40,000. Didn’t ask if that was specifically possible on a 1964 DB5.

Two thoughts about Bond 24

Not directing Bond 24

Not directing Bond 24

At this point, we know more about what’s not happening with Bond 24 than what will.

It won’t be directed by Sam Mendes (because he took his name out of the running), Christopher Nolan (who had a conflicting engagement directing a science fiction movie due out in November 2014) or Danny Boyle (because, according to TYHER PLAYLIST WEB SITE he told an audience he’s not interested in that type of movie).

But there have been some items published recently that spur a couple of thoughts:

Sam Mendes declining to have a go at Bond 24 might not be that bad a thing. Many fans are disappointed that the director of Skyfall won’t be back for Bond 24. So is the co-boss of Eon Proudctions, Barbara Broccoli, who in stories SUCH AS THIS ONE described herself as devastated by Mendes’s decision.

Still, stop and think about it. Directing Bond 24 will involve six or seven months of production and months of preparation and pre-production work and additional time in post-production. If somebody doesn’t want to do something, or simply isn’t sure, they probably shouldn’t take on such a huge task until they’re ready.

Had Mendes, after a couple of months off from the Skyfall post-production grind, decided he really, really wanted to do Bond 24, that’d be one thing. But based on the director’s comments, he doesn’t seem to be at that point. With a huge endeavor such as Bond 24 is likely to be, it’s perhaps best to let somebody who’s more geared up to try.

Maybe John Logan should get a chance to write more before a director is chosen. Nobody really knows, except a precious few people at Eon, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures, how far along the co-scripter of Skyfall is in crafting a Bond 24 story.

Some directors like to see a developed story before committing to a major project. For example, Roger Michell was approached about directing what would become 2008′s Quantum of Solace. There were various stories (such as THIS ONE ON THE MI6 007 FAN WEB SITE) where Michell was quoted as saying the script was developed enough for him to take the job.

Whatever the status of Logan’s work on Bond 24′s story, perhaps Logan should have sufficient time before worrying too much about who will direct the next 007 film.

How Christopher Nolan’s new film affects Bond 24

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan, director of the 2005-2012 Batman trilogy of films, is directing a new science fiction movie that has a Nov. 7, 2014 release date ACCORDING TO A PRESS RELEASE.

Interstellar will be co-produced by co-released by Warner Bros. and Paramount. The development may also affect Bond 24. For one thing, this appears to kill any chance that Nolan would direct Bond 24 after Sam Mendes turned down the project. That will disappoint some fans who’d like to view Nolan’s take on 007.

The earliest Bond 24 might come out is late 2014 and Nolan’s time is spoken for that kind of timetable. Even if Bond 24 ends up with a 2015 release date, would Nolan want to turn around from one major project to start working on another? Or would the director want to recharge his batteries?

The latter seems more likely. Nolan’s movies are often complex affairs with lots of special effects. His last three movies as a director (The Dark Knight, Inception and The Dark Knight Rises) were done at two-year intervals.

Meanwhile, Interstellar’s release date might affect Bond 24 IF the Bond film comes out in 2014. Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer probably would want some space between Interstellar and Bond 24 on the release calendar. Studios generally don’t want their “tent pole” films (blockbusters in non-studio executive speak) coming out on top of one another.

It’s not a sure bet that Bond 24 will come out in 2014, of course. But Interstellar would be part of the chess game that studios play if Bond 24 gets a ’14 release date.

You can CLICK HERE to view a January story in the Hollywood Reporter about how Nolan was in talks to direct the movie.

The Dark Knight-Skyfall double feature

Skyfall's inspiration

Skyfall’s inspiration

Before home video, James Bond fans enjoyed double features of re-released 007 movies.

In 2013, thanks to said home video, you can create your own double and triple features. One appropriate double bill is 2008′s The Dark Knight and 2012′s Skyfall, which is available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download in the U.S.

First of all, Skyfall director Sam Mendes has said The Dark Knight was an inspiration in Skyfall’s development and he spoke admirably about director Christopher Nolan’s work on the 2008 film. Watching the two films back to back, Mendes certainly wasn’t kidding. While the two movies aren’t clones of each other, there are certainly a number of similarities:

The Dark Knight: The Joker has a complicated plan that relies on him being captured.

Skyfall: Villain Silva has a complicated plan that relies on him being captured.

The Dark Knight: A Hong Kong sequence has a darkly photographed action sequence in the foreground contrasted with bright exterior lights in the background as Batman (Christain Bale) captures a Chinese businessman-criminal who is laundering money for Gotham City’s mobs.

Skyfall: A Shanghai sequence has a darkly photographed action sequence in the foreground contrasted with bright exterior lights in the background as Bond (Daniel Craig) fights with an assassin.

The Dark Knight: The score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard is often dark and foreboding, matching much of the mood of the film.

Skyfall: The score by Thomas Newman is often dark and foreboding, matching much of the mood of the film.

The Joker, err, Silva, attacks Skyfall manor

Silva attacks Wayne Skyfall Manor Lodge


The Dark Knight: Harvey Dent, transformed by the Joker into Two Face, considers committing suicide.

Skyfall: Silva considers committee suicide. In his case, he wants M (Judi Dench) to pull the trigger so they both die.

The Dark Knight: The Joker at times has a tenuous, at best, hold on reality.

Skyfall: Silva at times has a tenuous, at best, hold on reality.

The Dark Knight: Two Face has a facial deformity.

Skyfall: Silva has a facial deformity, though his is disguised most of the time.

It should be noted that Nolan evokes an early Bond movie in his 2008 movie. In the aforementioned Hong Kong action scene, Batman makes his escape with his prisoner by being reeled into a plane, similar to the way Bond and Domino were hoisted into an aircraft at the end of 1965′s Thunderball. Nolan even reworks the idea in 2012′s The Dark Knight Rises, except villain Bane is reeled into a plane after abducting a scientist.

Skyfall now No. 2 for 2012 movies, No. 7 all-time

Skyfall's poster image

Skyfall’s poster image

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, is now the second-highest for 2012 movie ticket sales and No. 7 all-time, according to Box Office Mojo.

The Web site, which tracks movie ticket sales, now estimates Skyfall’s box office at $1.09 billion as of 3 p.m. New York time.

The Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall has now passed The Dark Knight Returns at $1.08 billion. The final of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies had held the No. 2 spot for 2012 and No. 7 slot for all-time. Mendes has said previously that Nolan’s second Batman film, The Dark Knight, influenced the development of Skyfall.

The No. 1 2012 movie for ticket sales was Marvel’s The Avengers at $1.51 billion, which is also No. 3 all-time. All figures not adjusted for inflation.

Skyfall will be released on home video this month.

The 007-Dick Tracy-Batman mashup

dicktracy

James Bond fans often discuss how Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories compare with literature or comment about the 007 movies (in particular the 2006-2012 movies) shape up as cinema.

There’s often little commentary about how they compare to pulp stories or to comic strips such as Dick Tracy or comic books such as Batman

In fact, 007 shares many of the same elements as Tracy (who made his debut in 1931) and Batman (whose first appearance was in 1939).

All three characters encounter larger-than-life villains: Flattop, Mumbles, Pruneface and many others for Tracy; Goldfinger, Dr. No, Ernst Stavro Blofeld for Bond; and the Joker, the Penguin, Two-Face and the Catwoman for Batman. All three characters dabble in science fiction: two-way wrist radios/televisions/computers/space coupes for Tracy; high-tech Batmobiles, Bat-computers and other devices for Batman; various gadgets (especially in films) and tricked-out cars for Bond.

The comparisons between 007 and Batman have been out in force this year after Skyfall director Sam Mendes said Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy influenced Skyfall. The Tracy comparison doesn’t get talked about as much for obvious reasons. There hasn’t been a Tracy movie since 1990, when Warren Beatty directed and starred in a Tracy film.

Still, Tracy, created by Chester Gould (1900-1985), had many of the same elements of 007 and Batman and was out earlier. Tracy doesn’t get much attention these days but if you CLICK HERE you can catch up on his newest exploits.

The main difference among the characters: Tracy married Tess Trueheart on Christmas Day 1949 and raised a family.

Mendes says The Dark Knight inspired Skyfall

“Why so serious, 007?”

It turns out comparisons between Skyfall, the new 007 movie, and Christopher Nolan-directed Batman movies were on target. Skyfall director Sam Mendes says The Dark Knight, the second of Nolan’s trilogy of Bat movies, was an inspiration for the 23rd James Bond film.

The director is quoted by THE PLAYLIST:

Just as “Casino Royale” reinvigorated the Bond series, Christopher Nolan did the same with his ‘Dark Knight’ series and when asked, Mendes says he was “directly inspired” by what those films achieved.

“In terms of what [Nolan] achieved, specifically ‘The Dark Knight,’ the second movie, what it achieved, which is something exceptional. It was a game changer for everybody,” he explained about how it influenced his approach.

“We’re now in an industry where movies are very small or very big and there’s almost nothing in the middle,” he continued. “And it would be a tragedy if all the serious movies were very small and all the popcorn movies were very big and have nothing to say. And what Nolan proved was that you can make a huge movie that is thrilling and entertaining and has a lot to say about the world we live in, even if, in the case with ‘The Dark Knight,’ it’s not even set in our world.”

Comparisons between Skyfall and The Dark Knight began earlier this year when Skyfall’s teaser trailer came out. There was a silhouette of Javier Bardem’s villain Silva that resembled Heath Ledger’s Joker from 2008′s The Dark Knight. Ledger ended up winning a posthumous Oscar for best supporting actor.

The comparisons have continued, with a number of early reviews commenting on similarities between the Mendes-directed Skyfall and Nolan-helmed Batman movies. Nolan, meanwhile, is an acknowledged James Bond fan and his 2010 film Inception included an homage to 1969′s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Now, it appears, Mendes may have done an homage — at least in spirit — the other way to Nolan’s dark take on Batman, which concluded with this year’s The Dark Knight Rises.

To read the entire story by The Playlist, CLICK HERE.

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