George Baker, 007 and Prisoner actor, dies

Character actor George Baker, who appeared in both James Bond movies and the original version of the televison series The Prisoner, has died at 80, according to an obituary on the BBC’s Web site.

Baker played Sir Hilary Bray, who James Bond (George Lazenby) impersonates, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and a British naval officer in 1977’s The Spy Who Love Me. He also was one of many Number Twos, in The Prisoner. To view his credits on IMDB.com, JUST CLICK HERE.

UPDATE: Here’s part of the scene where Bond meets with Sir Hilary:

Lt. Columbo’s encounters with spies

Peter Falk passed away last month and obituaries SUCH AS THIS ONE IN THE LOS ANGELES TIMES documented his varied career while noting he was most famous for playing Lt. Columbo, who wore a rumpled raincoat but had a sharp mind. We thought we’d take some time out to detail a couple of enounters the character had with spies.

In “Identity Crisis,” in 1975 from Columbo’s fifth season on NBC, the murderer Columbo pursues is Nelson Brenner. The CIA operative is played by Patrick McGoohan, who seems to channel his John Drake and Number Six personas. McGoohan, who also directed the episode, was back for his second turn as a murderer on the show. McGoohan even works in his “Be seeing you!” line from The Prisoner.

The script, by Bill Driskill, is pretty complex. The murder victim (Leslie Nielsen) is another agent. There’s a non-existent operative named Steinmetz and….well, you get the idea.

Brenner has a cover identity as a business consultant. At one point, the CIA director (David White) pays a visit on Columbo, telling him to can his investigation in the interest of national security. Columbo, of course, doesn’t give up that easily but knows it’ll be even trickier to bring in Brenner.

The CIA shows up in a more indirect role in “Columbo Goes to the Guillotine,” the first Columbo to air on ABC when the show was revived in 1989. Elliott Blake (Anthony Andrews) is trying to convince the agency he’s a genuine psychic who can be of aid in intelligence work. The CIA hires a magician, Max Dyson (Anthony Zerbe), who has also exposed other psychics as frauds, to test Blake’s abilities.

The two men, however, have met before. They were in a prison in Uganda years earlier. They meet the night before the test and rig it in Blake’s favor. Afterward, Dyson says he agreed because of what the two mean to each other while in prison. Blake, though, knows that Dyson sold him out to get out of that prison. He kills Dyson, making it appear the magician was killed in an accident involving a guillotine trick.

Columbo engages in his usual cat-and-mouse games with Blake. Meanwhile, the CIA’s Mr. Harrow (Alan Fudge) is convinced Blake is the real thing. The agency is ready to whisk Blake away with a new identity. Columbo, armed with a court order, prevents that. He duplicates the Dyson-Blake test, ending the CIA’s interest in Blake.

The episode was written by William Read Woodfield (a writer on the original Mission: Impossible series and a magician himself) and directed by Leo Penn. It ends with Columbo taking a big chance to make his case against Blake:

Peter Yates, ‘Bullitt’ director, dies; had earlier directed Danger Man/Secret Agent

Peter Yates, best known as the director of 1968’s “Bullitt” with Steve McQueen, has passed away at age 81, according to an obituary at The Wrap Web site. Yates, though, had experience with spy stories, including episodes of the U.K. series “Danger Man,” shown in the U.S. as “Secret Agent.”

Bullitt is most famous for its car chase and a very good, understated performance by McQueen. Before getting a chance at that film, Yates helmed a number of episodes of Danger Man, with Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. Here are some excerpts from one of the episodes he did. The episode was edited by John Glen, who directed five James Bond films in the 1980s.

Even earlier, in 1961, Yates was assistant director on “The Guns of Navarone,” set in World War II, a combination war/spy film. This clip includes the prologue (while excluding the narration) and the main titles with Dimitri Tiomkin’s magnificent theme music. That film also included photography by Oswald Morris, who finished up work as director of photogrpahy on The Man With The Golden Gun after Ted Moore fell ill.

PBS goes for the movie/tv spy cliches in describing Russian spy arrests

Last week’s FBI arrest of a Russian spy ring last week generated a lot of interest. And, at least two PBS programs couldn’t resist making puns or using cliches gleaned from movies and TV shows to describe it.

The McLaughlin Group: John McLaughlin, host of the gabfest that bears his name, introduced a segment he dubbed, “Secret Agent Man!” And just in case you didn’t get it, there was audio of the Johnny Rivers song “Secret Agent Man,” used in Secret Agent, the U.S. version of Patrick McGoohan’s Danger Man series.

Need to Know: Co-host Alison Stewart couldn’t resist a double dip. In her introduction for a segment about the busted spy ring, she said its members “wereSpies Like Us,” a reference to the 1985 John Landis-directed, Chevy Chase-Dan Aykroyd comedy. Stewart couldn’t leave it there, adding how the ring evoked a return to “Boris and Natasha,” the spies who did their best to make the lives of Bullwinkle J. Moose and Rocky the Flying Squirrel miserable.

Stewart also interviewed author Tim Weiner, who writes about intelligence matters. Weiner wasn’t impressed with the Russian spies, saying they were “the gang couldn’t spy straight.”

Patrick McGoohan, RIP

Like many, we were fans of Patrick McGoohan, star of The Prisoner and Danger Man (known as Secret Agent in the U.S.). His persona was unique and he took chances that other stars of his era didn’t. Reportedly, he turned down the role of James Bond, that made Sean Connery a star. But you got the impression that McGoohan never looked back.

He was also a talented director (helming some memorable episodes of Columbo). Below is a collection of clips from The Prisoner, including the line that defined the character of Number Six:

And here’s some excerpts of a Danger Man/Secret Agent episode called “Say It With Flowers.” It was directed by Peter Yates and the film editor was future 007 director John Glen.

Danger Man, “Loyalty Always Pays,” conclusion

We conclude our serialization (via YouTube) of the Danger Man/Secret Agent episode “Loyalty Always Pays.” Here’s part 5:

And here’s part 6:

Danger Man, “Loyalty Always Pays,” part 4

John Drake continues his elaborate scheme:

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 135 other followers