Bernie Casey dies at 78

Bernie Casey, as Felix Leiter, with Sean Connery and Kim Basinger in Never Say Never Again

Bernie Casey, who co-starred with Sean Connery in 1983’s Never Say Never Again, has died at 78, TMZ and The Hollywood Reporter said.

Casey was the first African American actor to play CIA agent Felix Leiter. Prior to that, the screen Leiter had been portrayed by white actors.

Never Say Never Again was not part of the Eon Productions 007 series. It featured Connery’s return to the role of James Bond, a dozen years after his last appearance in the Eon series in Diamonds Are Forever.

Eon, in the 21st century, made the same move by casting Jeffrey Wright as Leiter in 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Casey played in the National Football League for eight seasons as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. After he turned to acting, he generated almost 80 credits between 1969 and 2007, according to his IMDB.COM entry.

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Kingsman sequel gets mixed reaction from critics

Logo for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, sequel to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Golden Circle isn’t off to a fast start with critics.

The movie, a sequel to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, currently had a 57 percent “fresh” rating Tuesday evening on the Rotten Tomatoes website, which collects and scores reviews.

Here are some non-spoiler excerpts from reviews published after the movie’s premiere this week. The movie comes out this weekend in the U.S.

PHIL NOBILE JR., BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH: “(Director Matthew) Vaughn’s new film suffers from a kind of Observer Effect: it knows what we loved about the original, is kind of self-satisfied by what mortified us about the original, and endeavors to give us more of both.  Everything is scaled up, and the end result is too much of a good thing, too much of some bad things, and just too much of everything.”

SCOTT MENDELSON, FORBES.COM: “Kingsman: The Golden Circle is surface-level entertaining and offers enough colorful diversions and solid action to merit a viewing. But it focuses too much of its energies on undoing its own narrative while letting everything else of value fall by the side or get outright written out….It feels less like The Spy Who Loved Me and more like James Bond Jr.”

MIKE REYES, CINEMABLEND: “Thankfully, I can say that Kingsman: The Golden Circle keeps the action cranked, the laughs fresh, and even injects more confidence into its proceedings, making for what Eggsy (Taron Egerton) himself might call a fucking proper blast.”

TODD MCCARTHY, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: “There is, then, an endearingly goofy method to the writers’ fervid madness that serves the material well and, as ever, Vaughn puts it all up on the screen with boisterous but carefully calibrated enthusiasm….Vaughn actually seems to prefer character, dialogue and humor to chases and explosion, and he makes mostly very good use of his almost invariably well-chosen actors by identifying their appeal and drawing out their humor.”

ROBERT ABELE, THE WRAP: “It took the Bond series 15 years and 10 movies to get to the ridiculed “Moonraker.” The laddish spy franchise “Kingsman: The Secret Service” series, based on Mark Millar’s comic book, has done it in one leap with the bloated, inexplicably un-entertaining follow-up “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”

(Note from The Spy Commander: Actually 17 years and 11 films. Moonraker, 11th in the series produced by Eon Productions, came out in 1979, Dr. No in 1962.)

Happy 84th birthday, David McCallum

Sept. 19 is the 84th birthday of David McCallum, who seems busy as ever.

In 2016, he had Once a Crooked Man: A Novel published. He continues to appear in the NCIS series. And over the weekend, he celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.

Below, we present an advertisement from McCallum’s days as Illya Kuryakin during The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Here the actor, evoking his U.N.C.L.E. image as the agent from the Soviet Bloc (“enigmatic agent,” as it says in the ad), is pitching U.S. Savings Bonds.  Happy birthday, Mr. McCallum.

 

1960s ad with David McCallum, playing off his image as Illya Kuryakin, pitching U.S. Savings Bonds

Jim Steranko lets out a S.H.I.E.L.D. secret

A 1967 S.H.I.E.L.D. story that introduced agent Clay Quartermain

Jim Steranko, the writer-artist of a classic run of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D stories in the 1960s, gave away a bit of classified information Sunday night.

Steranko interacts with fans on Twitter each Sunday. This past weekend, a fan asked about the inspiration for a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent named Clay Quartermain.

“I modeled SHIELD’s CLAY QUARTERMAIN after BURT LANCASTER — they’re birds of a feather don’tcha think?” Steranko said on Twitter.

This caught The Spy Commander’s eye because he saw Steranko at a Detroit-area comic book convention/collectibles show in the Detroit area some years back. It almost seemed like Steranko resembled Quartermain.

Years earlier, while reading a collection of Steranko’s S.H.I.E.L.D. stories, it seemed to me that the writer-artist subtly changed Fury (making his face a bit more angular) to resemble Lancaster compared with Jack Kirby’s original version of Fury.

So, in a tweet, I asked Steranko about that. You can view his answer below.

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Vaughn, Moore, Landau in Emmy In Memoriam

Robert Vaughn in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.), Roger Moore (The Saint) and Martin Landau (Mission: Impossible) were among those included in the In Memoriam segment of the Emmy broadcast Sunday night on CBS.

Also included were Mike Connors of Mannix and Adam West of the 1966-68 Batman series. With the latter. a short clip from the show’s pilot played, with Batman doing the “Batusi” dance.

The Emmy version of In Memoriam seemed more weighted to performers compared with the Oscars telecast on ABC, which included publicists. However, some behind-the-camera professionals were included in the Emmy In Memoriam, including producer Stanley Kallis, who worked on Mission: Impossible, among other shows.

Vaughn, who had an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, and Connors were not included in the Oscars In Memoriam segement earlier this year.

Others included were Mary Tyler Moore (the segment ended with her) and cartoon voice June Foray.

UPDATE (Sept. 18): You can view the In Memoriam segment for yourself.

A View To A Kill’s script: Q goes out in the field

A View To A Kill’s poster

In 1984, the writing team of Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson commenced work on their third consecutive James Bond film.

A View To A Kill (shortened from the Ian Fleming short story title From a View to a Kill) would go all-in on a contemporary plot involving computers and microchips.

A copy of a script identified as a first draft (but with some pages saying they had been revised later) indicates the Maibaum-Wilson team had worked out most of the story issues.

The script is similar to the final film that reached audiences in 1985. But, as is often the case, there are interesting differences.

The most significant is that Q is out in the field during the long San Francisco sequence.

As in the film, Q first shows up in the briefing scene shortly after the main titles. He explains the importance of computer chips and how they can be rendered useless by electro magnet pulses. Bond also comments, “expertise showing,” according to the script.

From there, we’re off to Ascot, where the MI6 crew is at the races. We’re introduced to Max Zorin, described as “tall, slender, impeccably dressed, in his late thirties. Unusually handsome he has one grey eye and one blue eye.”

David Bowie (1947-2016)

Eon initially courted David Bowie to play Zorin. Bowie turned 38 in 1985 and had two different eye colors. He turned down the part and Christopher Walken. who turned 42 the year the movie came out, got the job.

The script also describes May Day as “a shapely, tall, somewhat bizarrely dressed twenty eight year old girl with a distinctively short hairdo and a beautiful but saturninely placid face.”

Most of what follows mirrors the final film until the story shifts to San Francisco.

Bond and Q are in a van using’s Q’s surveillance device, identified in the script as “Snooper.” They’re spying on Zorin and his minions, trying to figure out what he’s up to in his operation in San Francisco Bay. A sample:

IN VAN BOND Q

watching and listening at TV SCREEN showing GROUP in STATION CONTROL ROOM. Voices from TV are faint and somewhat obscured by sound of pumping.

CONLEY ON TV
We’re at maximum pumping now…

ZORIN ON TV
We have a deadline. I’ll hold you personally responsible if we miss it.

A guard dog menances the Snooper. The device sprays the dog with repellent that Q describes as, “Foul smelling stuff.”

Thanks to the Snooper, Bond and Q discover that the Russians are also trying to plant bugs on Zorin’s operation. One Russian is captured by May Day while the other escapes. The second Russian, of course, is Pola Ivanova. Bond intercepts her and things proceed more or less as in the movie.

Desmond Llewelyn (1914-1999)

In the script, we don’t hear anymore from Q until the end of the movie. Still, one suspects this idea resonated with the Eon creative team.

Previously, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) journeyed into the field to provide Bond with gadgets (Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me). But in the script, Q is working with Bond side by side.

Q would venture out into the field to assist Bond directly in Licence to Kill.

A few more things of note:

–No Dick Tracy joke when a police captain tries to arrest Bond. In the script, the captain is in plain clothes, rather than a uniform as in the movie.

–Some lines of dialogue between Zorin and Mortner in the blimp were switched between this script and the final film.

–The scene where May Day, having been betrayed by Zorin, sacrifices herself reads flat. It has the dialogue (“Jump! “Have to hold the brake off…..Get Zorin for me!”). But it’s mostly explaining how we get from point A to point B.

After reading the script, I again watched the scene in the movie. Roger Moore and Grace Jones did a lot more with it than what was written. It’s possible director John Glen influenced that (an observation from reader Matthew Bradford made on The Spy Command page on Facebook). Also, having a John Barry absolutely increased the drama. I think it’s one of the best scenes in the movie but you couldn’t tell it by reading the script.

–At the end, it’s the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., and not Gogol (as in the movie) who is visiting M (who “looks very glum,” according to the stage directions).

“The president is most anxious to personally thank Mr Bond and inform him he will be the first foreigner ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor,” the U.S. ambassador says. In the final film, Gogol shows up with the Order of Lenin for Bond.

Bond is missing, which accounts for the sad mood at MI6. But, as in the movie, Q is on the job (and still in San Francisco) using the Snooper to track Bond down. In the script, Q shuts off the monitor and quickly calls M. In the film, the gag would be extended for a bit.

For Your Eyes Only script: M goes undercover

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

Screenwriter Richard Maibaum returned to the 007 fold with For Your Eyes Only. He hadn’t been involved with Moonraker, which took James Bond into outer space.

For the 12th James Bond film, he was paired with Michael G. Wilson, stepson of Eon Productions founder Albert R. Broccoli. Their intent was for a more-grounded outing. Roger Moore returned as Bond but things would be much different.

An Aug. 12, 1980 draft, late in the scripting process, is very similar to the final film viewed by audiences in the summer of 1981. But there are notable differences.

Among them: M, who had been played by Bernard Lee in the 11 previous films, was still present. M shares some scenes with Bill Tanner, the chief of staff.

M also goes undercover briefly. It is the MI6 chief who dresses as a Greek priest and meets Bond in a confessional. “That’s putting it mildly, Double-O Seven,” M replies after Bond says he has sinned.

With the M version, there’s a subtle change in one of Bond’s lines. “I’ve contacted a well-informed person about that, sir –” (emphasis added) Bond says, referring to the many St. Cyrills in Greece. It’s the main clue Bond has about the whereabouts of villain Kristatos, who will supply a British device to the Soviets.

Lee, who died in January 1981 at the age of 73, wouldn’t be up to participating in the movie. Desmond Llewelyn’s Q would get the church scene. Tanner would end up with much of M’s other dialogue in the August 1980 script.

What follows are some of the differences in the script vs. finished film as well as additional information. In general, the script is a bit chattier than the film.

“MAN WITH CAT” menaces 007 at the start of For Your Eyes Only

Pre-credits sequence: The script specifies that Tracy’s headstone reads, “Teresa Bond, 1943-1969, Beloved wife of JAMES BOND.”

The scene between a vicar (telling Bond his office is sending a helicopter) is mostly the same as in the film. But the stage directions have some interesting points.

BOND
(subdued mood)
It usually is.

He places flowers on grave. CAMERA IN on his brooding face. SOUND OF APPROACHING HELICOPTER.

Bond soon in peril from “MAN WITH CAT.” As in the film the helicopter pilot is electrocuted.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Bond,” the not-so-mysterious villain tells Bond over the helicopter’s radio. “I thought we should celebrate the tenth anniversary of last meeting. Don’t concern yourself with the pilot — one of my less useful people.”

At the time, Kevin McClory, claimed ownership of the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE. Blofeld had last appeared in Eon’s 1971 Diamonds Are Forever and this was a reference to that. The line was cut from the finished film but appeared in the Marvel Comics adaptation of For Your Eyes Only.

Well, it’s a James Bond movie, so Bond gets the upper hand, gaining control of the helicopter and uses the aircraft to spear the villain’s wheelchair.

In the script, however, Bond flies over the Thames and dumps the villain in it, rather than the smokestack seen in the movie. “The party’s a washout,” Bond says “grimly,” in the script.

For Your Eyes Only poster

Murder of the Havelocks: The Havelocks (Sir Timothy Havelock and his wife Iona) are secretly working on trying to find a sunken British spy ship equipped with ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator) has sunk. They’re visited by their daughter Melina, who has been flown out to them by Gonzales.

The latter actually is a hired killer. He’s described in the script as “a pudgy amiable Cuban in his late thirties with curly hair and several gold teeth.”

The script includes an exchange between Sir Timothy and Max the parrot.

“Get up in there, Max,” Havelock says.

“Can’t get it up, can’t get it up,” Max replies.

“Watch your language, Max,” Sir Timothy says. “Melina’s coming.”

Gonzales, as in the film, kills the Havelocks with machine gun fire from his plane. ”

Opening MI6 scene: The Bond-Moneypenny exchange is very similar to the film. However, when Moneypenny uses the mirror in a filing drawer to apply lipstick, the stage directions say, “Obviously the vanity is a gift from Q.”

The briefing is conducted by M and Tanner. The dialogue is very similar to the film, except in the movie it was delivered by Tanner and the Minister of Defence.

Bernard Lee (1908-1981)

Gonzales villa: Stage directions describe Loque as, “Tall, lean, late thirties, he has a cadaverous impassive face with hooded eyes behind incongruous steel-rimmed spectacles. He wears black hat and suit.”

Bond initially wears “a business suit” while driving. Later, he “now wears a camouflage recce jacket.”

At the pool inside the villa, one of the women there is nude, according to the script.

Bond and Melina make their escape. Her car is specified as “a small dilapidated DEUX CHEVAUX COMPACT.” Melina wants to know what 007 was doing at the villa. “I’m a kind of detective, too.”

Second briefing scene: Upon his return to London, Bond is in a meeting with M. Tanner and the Minister of Defence.

Q Branch: In the script, Bond enters Q branch, watches one of Q’s assistants demonstrate the phony arm cast that can strike an enemy.

“Sneaky,” Bond says. “Have you got one for a leg?” The assistant responds: “We’re working on it.”

“The KGB should get a kick out of that,” Bond says.

Bond meets Kristatos: Kristatos says skater Bibi Dahl is, “An American girl from a broken home. I have taken her as my ward.”

Also, in the script, Bond says, “I have heard of Jacoba Brink,” Bibi’s teacher. In the movie, Bond says he has seen Brink skate.

Ferrara’s Death: Ferrara, an MI6 agent based in Italy, is the movie’s sacrificial lamb. In the script, Bond doesn’t immediately realize Ferrara has been killed. “We’ve got a lot to sort out. Where can we get a drink?” Bond asks, not realizing his fellow agent is dead.

Corfu Casino: Milos Columbo is described as “a tanned, well-groomed, well-tailored man in his middle fifties.”

In the script, the bug Columbo has placed to record the conversation between Bond and Kristatos is in a chair. The chair is removed by the Maitre D.

Bond’s showdown with Loque: Loque’s car, as in the movie, is precariously situation. The killer is wounded after being shot by Bond.

007, according to the stage directions, “gives car gentle push. CAMERA FOLLOWS IT DOWN DEEP TO THE BOTTOM.” Bond quips, “He never looked better.”

Bond and Melina join forces: Bond and Melina have this exchange:

MELINA
I’m not interested in your sex life, Mr Bond

BOND
I didn’t come here to discuss it. I need your help. It’s time we joined forces. Where can we — ?

Climax: Bond, Melina, Columbo and a few man confront Kristatos and his forces at the abandoned St. Cyril monastery. Columbo and Kristatos, in this script get in an exchange they didn’t have in the movie.

KRISTATOS
Let us see who cuts whose throat, Milos!

COLUMBO
I should have cut yours forty years ago!

Also, Bond sets a trap for Kriegler, the athlete who’s really a Soviet operative.

INSERT — KRIEGLER’S FOOT
hitting end of sprung board.

NEW ANGLE — BOND AND KRIEGLER
as board comes up and wacks him in the crotch. The weight of the font throws him off balance, backward and he falls against the window, crashing through it.

Bibi asks Bond what happened. Bond replies, “He just stepped out.”

The End: No Margaret Thatcher. Bond and Melina are skinny dipping near the a cutter” where M, the Minister of Defence, Columbo, Bibi and Brink are.

“Don’t dawdle out here too long, Double-O Seven,” M says. “You’re needed on active service. So get on with it!”

Bond and Melina get to the Triana (the Havelock boat).

“For your eyes only, darling,” Melina says while wearing only a towel.

Max the parrot gets in the last word. “Darling, darling — “