Director of photography Oswald Morris dies at 98

goldengunposter

Oswald Morris, a distinguished director of photography whose work included part of one James Bond movie, has died at age 98.

Morris photographed films of various genres, according to his IMDB.COM BIO. They included Moulin Rouge, Moby Dick, A Farewell to Arms, Lolita, The Hill, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold and The Man Who Would Be King.

His one Bond contribution was 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun, the second Roger Moore 007 film.

Morris was hired to replace Ted Moore, who had fallen ill after completing location shooting in the Far East. Morris took over photography of the interiors. That included the scenes at the “fun house” of assassin Francisco Scaramanga, which the assassin uses for training. In the John Cork-directed documentary Inside The Man With the Golden Gun, Morris commented shooting on the set with its many mirrors was “a pain in the butt” to photograph. Morris also had tight deadlines to meet Christmas 1974 release dates.

Neither Morris nor Ted Moore would return to the 007 series. Morris won an Oscar (for Fiddler On The Roof) and was nominated for two others, ACCORDING TO IMDB.COM

You can CLICK HERE to read an obituary by The Hollywood Reporter, HERE for Variety.com’s obit and HERE one by The Guardian.

Ken Wallis, Little Nellie pilot, dies

Ken Wallis in Little Nellie

Ken Wallis in Little Nellie

Ken Wallis, 97, the real-life pilot of the mini-helicopter Little Nellie has died, ACCORDING TO AN OBITUARY ON THE BBC’S WEB SITE.

Little Nellie, which appeared in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice, was an aerial equivalent of the Aston Martin DB5 that was featured in Goldfinger and Thunderball.

In the John Cork-directed documentary Inside You Only Live Twice, YOLT production designer Ken Adam says he heard a BBC interview with Wallis about the mini-helicopter. Adam checked it out and made design changes so the aircraft could included in the fifth James Bond film. The documentary details how Wallis had to make many flights to produce several minutes of screen time for the 1967 movie.

An excerpt from the obituary:

Retired Wing Cdr Ken Wallis, who lived near Dereham, Norfolk, died on Sunday, his daughter confirmed.

Born in Ely, his first solo flight was in 1937. Thirty years later he doubled as Sean Connery’s Bond for an explosive aerial sequence in You Only Live Twice.

His daughter Vicky said her father passed away after “a long and successful life doing what he wanted”.

(snip)

Honoured with an MBE in 1996, he piloted 24 wartime missions over northern Europe in Wellington bombers, before spending 20 years engaged in weapons research in the Royal Air Force.

Here’s a sample of how Little Nellie appeared on screen:

UPDATE (Sept. 13): To view The New York Times’ obituary on Ken Wallis (published Sept. 9): just CLICK HERE.

A 007 discussion on an Illinois public radio station

Casino Royale's original cover

Casino Royale’s original cover

WILL, a public radio station in Illinois, had a James Bond discussion on April 11, in connection with the University of Illinois’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of Casino Royale’s publication.

On hand were Michael VanBlaricum, president of the Ian Fleming Foundation, and John Cork, who has directed many of documentaries that accompany James Bond movie DVDs.

Near the start of the program, called Focus, Cork said that Bond was “significantly different” from other characters who had come before because he was part of a “post World War II universe” who could be the “knife that cut the Gordian Knot” of complicated post-war problems. “He can be portrayed as a hero,” Cork said. “He still does that.”

VanBlaricum said newer movies, including the 2006 Casino Royale, “really did follow the James bond style created by Ian Fleming” and there’s “a lot of Fleming in Daniel Craig’s performance.”

Cork, who formerly was involved with the foundation, observes that the various actors have brought things to the 007 role. Regarding original film 007 star Sean Connery, he says: “They wouldn’t have had a job if Connery wasn’t so good at what he did.”

To listen to the entire program, CLICK HERE. When that page comes up, go to the left. There are icons to either listen to the program or to download it.

RE-POST: Univesity of Illinois kicks off 007 celebration

Casino Royale's original cover

Casino Royale’s original cover

Originally posted March 17. Re-posted ahead of events scheduled April 12 and 13 at the University of Illinois.

We’ve written before about how the University of Illinois will have exhibits related to the 60th anniversary of the Casino Royale novel. Here’s a list of events in April that will kick off that celebration.

3 p.m. central time, April 12: Michael VanBlaricum, co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, delivers a talk about items on display and how his collection of Ian Fleming novels evolved. Location: Room 66 Library, 1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, Illinois.

7 p.m., April 13: Concert featuring music from James Bond films by the University of Illinois concert jazz band. Location: Spurlock Museaum Knight Auditorium, 600 South Gregory, Urbana, Illinois.

April 26-28: James Bond film festival. Besides movies being shown, there will be discussions about the films. Those talks will be led by John Cork, who made a series of documentaries about the making of the 007 films that are on DVDs as extras. Schedule of films and activities will be available at http://www.spurlock.illinois.edu (you can also try THIS LINK; no titles or times are listed yet). Location: 600 South Gregory, Urbana, Illinois.

The university is at Urbana-Champaign, in the east-central part of Illinois near where I-57 and I-74 intersect. You can view a map of the University of Illinois campus by CLICKING HERE.

If you want to go the April 12-14 weekend, expect to stay well outside the Urbana-Champaign area. There are other university events that weekend and hotels are booked.

University of Illinois kicks off 007 celebration next month

Casino Royale's original cover

Casino Royale’s original cover

We’ve written before about how the University of Illinois will have exhibits related to the 60th anniversary of the Casino Royale novel. Here’s a list of events in April that will kick off that celebration.

3 p.m. central time, April 12: Michael VanBlaricum, co-founder of the Ian Fleming Foundation, delivers a talk about items on display and how his collection of Ian Fleming novels evolved. Location: Room 66 Library, 1408 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, Illinois.

7 p.m., April 13: Concert featuring music from James Bond films by the University of Illinois concert jazz band. Location: Spurlock Museaum Knight Auditorium, 600 South Gregory, Urbana, Illinois.

April 26-28: James Bond film festival. Besides movies being shown, there will be discussions about the films. Those talks will be led by John Cork, who made a series of documentaries about the making of the 007 films that are on DVDs as extras. Schedule of films and activities will be available at http://www.spurlock.illinois.edu (you can also try THIS LINK; no titles or times are listed yet). Location: 600 South Gregory, Urbana, Illinois.

The university is at Urbana-Champaign, in the east-central part of Illinois near where I-57 and I-74 intersect. You can view a map of the University of Illinois campus by CLICKING HERE.

If you want to go the April 12-14 weekend, expect to stay well outside the Urbana-Champaign area. There are other university events that weekend and hotels are booked.

E-book on the Matt Helm films now available

Dean Martin as Matt Helm with Stella Stevens in The Silencers.

Dean Martin as Matt Helm in The Silencers.

There’s an new e-book about the four-film Matt Helm series available. Bruce Scivally has written Booze, Bullets & Broads: The Story of Matt Helm, Superspy of the Mad Men Era.

Scivally previously worked on John Cork-directed documentaries of the James Bond films that were part of DVD extras. He and Cork also wrote James Bond: The Legacy, a coffee table book that came out last decade.

Here’s the description from the new e-book’s AMAZON.COM LISTING:

The story of Matt Helm, spy of the Mad Men era. After his creation by Donald Hamilton, Helm went from being a literary rival of James Bond to being a cinematic rival with the production of four movies starring crooner Dean Martin as a woozy, boozy secret agent. Produced by Irving Allen, the former partner of 007 film producer Cubby Broccoli, the Helm movies influenced not only the Bond films but also Austin Powers, and remain a “guilty pleasure” viewing favorite of red-blooded males everywhere.

We’ve written before how the first Helm movie, The Silencers, had THE BIGGEST EFFECT ON THE 007 FILM SERIES from rival movies because Dean Martin got a bigger paycheck than Sean Connery. Allen made Dino a partner in the enterprise. Soon after, Connery began demanding not only more money but to be a partner in the Bond films. 007 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman resisted the partnership demand, contributing to Connery’s departure after You Only Live Twice.

Also, according to film historian Adrian Turner, some at United Artists were keen on Phil Karlson to direct Dr. No. But Karlson’s asking price was $75,000, which helped Terence Young get the job. Karlson ended up directing The Silencers and The Wrecking Crew, the final Helm movie.

For the Scivally e-book, the price is $2.99. You can download it for free if you’re a Prime Member of Amazon.

How British are 007 films?

Skyfall's poster image

BAFTA winner for Outstanding British Film

Of course James Bond films are British. They concern a British icon and are filmed in the U.K. What could be more obvious? That’s like asking if Jaguar, Land Rover and Bentley are British.

Well, that might not be the best comparison given that Jaguar and Land Rover are owned by India’s Tata Motors Ltd. and Bentley is owned by Volkswagen AG. Still, 007 films have always been considered British.

Still, the answer isn’t as easy as it might appear.

In the early days, the series made by Eon Productions Ltd. was U.K.-based. While producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were born elsewhere, they were operated out of the U.K. and the movies were full of British film talent such as director of photography Ted Moore, (naturalized citizen) production designer Ken Adam and editor Peter Hunt. Of course, the U.S.-based studio United Artists financed the movies.

It pretty much remained that way until Diamonds Are Forever. The Inside Diamonds Are Forever documentary directed by John Cork notes that the producers initially intended to Americanize Bond, even hiring an American (John Gavin) for the role. It was going to be based out of Universal Studios.

Things changed. Sean Connery returned as Bond (at the insistence of United Artists) and U.K.’s Pinewood Studios was again the home base. Yet, some key jobs were split between British and American crew members, including stunt arranger, assistant director, art director, set decorator, production manager and visual effects.

Also, as the years passed, Eon for a variety of reasons (financial among them) based some films primarily outside of the U.K. They included Moonraker (the first unit was based out of France, Derek Meddings’s special effects unit still labored at Pinewood), Licence to Kill (Mexico) and Casino Royale (Czech Republic, with some sequences shot at Pinewood).

What’s more, movies not thought of as British, such as Star Wars (1977), Superman (1978) and Batman (1989) were based out of the U.K. Each had key British crew members, including: Star Wars with production designer John Barry (not to be confused with the 007 film composer), whose group won the art direction Oscar over Ken Adam & Co. (The Spy Who Loved Me); Superman with Barry again, director of photography Geoffrey Unsworth, and second unit director John Glen; Batman with art director Terry Ackland-Snow, assistant director Derek Cracknell and special visual effects man Derek Meddings. Batman was filming at Pinewood at around the same time Licence to Kill’s crew was working in Mexico.

Still, Superman and Batman (which both debuted during the Great Depression) are American icons and Star Wars, while set in a galaxy far, far away, is too.

At the same time, Skyfall, which came out on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 12, is very British. Much of the story takes place there and many of Shanghai and Macao scenes were really filmed at Pinewood, with the second unit getting exterior shots.

On Feb. 10, Skyfall picked up the Oustanding British Film award at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. It was a first and a lot of 007 fans are still taking it all in.

In truth, movies generally are an international business these days, Bond films included. But 007 isn’t likely to lose his identification as being a British product anytime soon, much the way Jaguar, Land Rover and Bentley have a British identity regardless of ownership.

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