A View To a Kill: 25th anniversary of the end of an era

This month is the silver anniversary of the release of A View To a Kill. It’s not a film that often enters the James Bond discussion of classic entries in the series. Truth be told (and in the interests of full disclosure), AVTAK didn’t get much love in a survey of HMSS editors some time back.

Still, it’s an anniversary worth noting if only because it the swan song of Roger Moore in the role of James Bond after seven films. One can certainly argue that Sir Roger was (and looked) too old but he does have a lot of fans who were willing to overlook that to see the actor one more time.

AVTAK also has elements of a classic 007 movie, though weird things happen at critical moments. One of the main examples: the pre-titles sequence starts out with second unit director/ski stunt arranger Willy Bogner and composer John Barry seemingly at the top of their games then a Beach Boys song pops up, completing changing the mood.

Producer Albert R. Broccoli went out and hired an Oscar winner (Christopher Walken) to be the villain, but he sometimes draws mixed reactions among fans. Broccoli also hired Patrick Macnee to be one of Bond’s (doomed) allies, letting the actor get into a 007 movies after three of his co-stars on The Avengers had participated. (Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg were hired at least in part because of the fame they got from the show; Joanna Lumley’s Bond time was prior to being Macnee’s co-star in The New Avengers.)

In any case, here’s the trailer:

And here are the main titles, which include a Duran Duran-performed song that apparently inspired designer Maurice Binder to come up with unusual makeup for his nude models:

Salute to Maurice Binder’s non-007 work

The late Maurice Binder is closely associated with the world of James Bond, starting with his gunbarrel logo that began Dr. No to the main titles of 14 007 movies. But Binder did many creative main titles for other films that ought not be overlooked.

Binder did some interesting collaborations with composer Henry Mancini. For example, there was 1963′s Charade:

A few years later, producer-director Stanley Donen again tapped Binder and Mancini for Arabesque:

Finally, there was The Tamarind Seed, one of the few movies directed by Blake Edwards that didn’t have a score by Mancini. Instead, John Barry was hired, with Binder doing the main titles. By coincidence, a number of 007 alumni (director of photography Freddie Young and art director Harry Pottle) also worked on the movie. It began like this:

Ken Adam and Maurice Binder discuss Bond films, circa 1980

Ken Adam and Maurice Binder gave an interview in 1980 and discussed their work on the Bond films. Much of what they talked about concerned Moonraker. We have to credit “Mr. Wint” on the Commander Bond Web site’s message boards for finding this.

A Peter Gunn influenced by Maurice Binder?

In 1967, Peter Gunn got the big-screen treatment. Gunn came out six years after the 1958-61 series ended. Craig Stevens even reprised the role, even though all the supporting characters were recast.

Being a movie meant a longer version of the famous Peter Gunn Theme by Henry Mancini. But the main titles may have also been influenced by the main titles that Maurice Binder was doing for the James Bond movies that included a combination of images of women and animation.

Take a look for yourself.

UPDATE: Richard Kuhn, the title designer of Gunn, also did the titles of a 1966 movie based on a television show:

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

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

QUANTUM OF SOLACE titles sequence

A Happy Halloween to all of you!

I’ve just seen the Quantum of Solace credit sequence.  If you want to know more about the titles read on, if not, know there may be SPOILERS.

I have sincerely loved Daniel Kleinman’s work on the past five films, and consider each title sequence a highlight of the 007 movie itself.  The title sequences of Casino Royale and to a lesser extent Die Another Day (yes, DAD) are likely my favorites.  I was seriously disappointed when I learned Kleinman would not be returning for QOS.

That said, MK12 has created visually interesting titles that are mostly in keeping with tradition.  I like them, and they work well (mostly) with the song.  With what I have heard as to how people feel about the QOS theme however, your mileage may vary.

Title sequence details:  Just as Bond says to a bound and bruised Mr. White in a boot, “It’s time to get up”, Jack White’s song kicks in and the credits roll.  A silhouetted James Bond fires a gun while the credits fade (in and out) “Daniel Craig… as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007… in Quantum of Solace.”  We follow the (gold) slo-mo bullet as it travels above a desert, through wind and sand.  Silhouette-Bond is seen stalking someone (gun drawn) traversing sand dunes, then approaches the camera.  A silhouette of a yummy naked girl is seen rising from the shifting sand.  More Bond stalking, a bit more shifting of sand (akin to what Kleinman has done before with oil or water/ice motifs) then LOTS of shifting sand and several shots of silhouettes of naked women.  (The lighting here is fairly dark unfortunately.)  Silhouette-Bond falling, then a graphic that looks to be STRAIGHT from Maurice Binder’s You Only Live Twice work – a circle grid.  (You’ll recognize it when you see it.)  Then a ring of many silhouette nudes dancing and cavorting (slow motion) around a blurred sun as silhouette-Bond is depicted falling amongst them  (Binder’s grid in background.)  LOTS of silhouette Bonds falling, starry night in background.  Two silhouette nudes, back-to-back.  Four silhouette-nudes (in high-heels!) dancing as mirror images.  (So maybe it’s just the one.)  Bond’s Walther falling with him into an iris, then onto the desert.  The gun evaporates into sand.  Bond still falling, a cool shot of him firing a gun, again in slow motion.  Complete with the depiction of the casing being ejected and gases escaping. “Written by Paul Haggis and Neal Purvis & Robert Wade.”  (The ampersand has significance as to writing credit.)  We again follow the bullet as Bond walks toward the camera.  Interestingly, at the bottom, the beginning of Binder’s “walk-on” sequence begins – small circles move across the screen.  “Produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli” follows the circles.  More silhouette-nudes, an explosion of sand as the bullet hits its target, “Directed by Marc Forster”, and then into the film proper.   (The first few seconds are a red and yellow checkered flag and then what looks like a parade somewhere in Europe.)

I like it.  Well done and graphically interesting.  The contemporary font used throughout is also appropriate.

Still not up to par with Kleinman’s work though.  Or Binder’s.  In that comparison, the QOS titles… are a bit cold.  Like the creators knew the character, but didn’t well… love the character.

I’d like to hear your thoughts after the film as the titles sequences of James Bond films have always been a favorite part of the film for me.

– Tom Zielinski

What’s your favorite gunbarrel?

Part of the fun of a James Bond movie is the gunbarrel sequence. Dots move across the screen, the last one opening up to resemble the inside of a gunbarrel following James Bond…well, if you’re reading this blog, you know what we’re talking about.

Like other obsessive Bond fans, we’re curious to see how the gunbarrel will look in the new Bond film “Quantum of Solace.” But for the moment, it’s time for a trip down memory lane and look at the gunbarrels made to date. This YouTube video includes “Never Say Never Again” (which didn’t have a gunbarrel), but what the heck:

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