John Barry, an appreciation

John Barry’s music, along with Ken Adam’s sets and Sean Connery’s depiction as James Bond, made 007 films events in the 1960s. Barry, though, kept on with Bond longer than either Connery or Adam. Barry worked on the series, on and off, for a quarter century: scores for 11 films plus crucial orchestrations and arranging of The James Bond Theme in Dr. No.

Barry even reportedly was negotiating a return to the series with 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, but turned away not it became clear he wouldn’t be allowed to work on the title song. Truth be told, some 007 fans hoped against hope Barry might still come back for one, last 007 turn.

Barry’s death this week at age 77 slams the door on that dream. For Bond fans, the loss is personal. Barry’s scores stirred the emotions, whether it be a rousing action composition, a lush love theme or a song viewers remembered long after seeing the latest Bond films. At times, most notably 1967’s You Only Live Twice and 1979’s Moonraker, Barry and Adam almost seemed to be the real stars of the movie.

Perhaps the best compliment Barry ever got is referenced in this video. Live And Let Die was the first Bond film where Barry didn’t participate at all. Paul McCartney would write the title song with his wife Linda. But, as this 2006 U.K. television special notes, McCartney, himself a musical legend, knew he was filling some pretty big shoes. George Martin provides the anecdote, starting around the 1:45 mark and running just past the 2:00 mark:

Fans can judge for themselves whether McCartney succeeded but the story indicates that Barry had created a classic movie music template — and everybody in the business knew it. Marvin Hamlisch, in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, virtually adapted Barry’s pre-title music in the second 007 film, From Russia With Love. Queue up the scene where Bond and Agent XXX look for Jaws in some ancient Egyptian ruins, then listen to the FRWL pre-titles music.

John Barry lived almost four-score years, won five Academy Awards for his film music (although none for his Bond work) and wrote many memorable movie songs and themes. By any standard, that’s a good life, a fabulous life. His fans, though, can’t help but wishing they could witness him conducting his music just one more time.

Rest In Peace, John Barry Prendergast

We have lost a musical giant, and one of our true heroes. A supremely sad day.

Thank you, Mr. Barry.

MGM watch: Studio wants its Bond 23 parter to co-finance other films, Deadline says

Nikki Finke’s Deadline entertain Web site says Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, negotiating with various studios to distribute Bond 23, to also co-finance other films.

The story, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE, leads off with a report that actor Javier Bardem has been offered a Bond 23, but doesn’t offer many details. The rest of the report talks about how MGM is trying to use its Bond 23 talks for larger things. An excerpt:

Deadline has learned that MGM’s new leadership is trying to leverage the next Bond pic, and indeed the Bond franchise, to create more cash flow for the post-bankruptcy studio. The new brass, Spyglass Entertainment co-owners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum who are now the Co-Chairmen/CEOs of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc, are in the middle of negotiating to make an overall deal for worldwide theatrical and home entertainment distribution of not just Bond but also MGM’s new product as well as its library of films. But what isn’t known is that, as part of that deal, MGM wants whichever studio is chosen to distribute Bond 23 to co-finance a number of films with MGM.

These set of negotiations have the potential to have a longer-term effect on the Bond franchise than any particular Bond 23 casting, even an Oscar winning actor such as Bardem.

MGM and Eon Productions each control half of Bond. But if Deadline’s reporting is accurate, 007 is being used as the equivalent of Boardwalk or Park Place in a real-life game of Monopoly, IF the Bond-related part of the deal goes beyond just distributing Bond 23. It all depends on how far MGM goes in trying to “leverage” the Bond franchise and not just Bond 23. The Deadline story doesn’t explain further.

The other Monpoly players don’t necessarily like MGM’s tactics, according to the report:

There’s no doubt this is a shrewd move by MGM, but Deadline has learned it’s not sitting well with the majors. Top execs at Sony and Fox and Paramount and Warner Bros who are all involved in the negotiations to distribute Bond “are growing increasingly frustrated with the way that the Spyglass duo are playing one studio off another — and enjoying it,” in the words of one exec involved.

Here’s why the Deadline story makes us uneasy. Harry Saltzman once owned half of Bond and tried to “leverage” it in other business dealings. In Saltzman’s case, he used his share of Bond as collateral for loans that eventually came due and United Artists bought him out, and MGM eventually acquired UA. MGM’s new management isn’t doing what Saltzman attempted. Still, the Deadline comment about how MGM wants to “leverage” the franchise makes us wary until we see how it turns out.

One-time 007 contender Cavill cast as Superman, Deadline says

Henry Cavill, one of the contenders for the role of James Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale, has been cast as Superman, in a new Warner Bros. movie to be produced by Christopher Nolan, the Deadline entertainment news Web site is reporting.

An excerpt:

In fact, Cavill also auditioned for the Batman role but lost out to (Christian) Bale in 2005. He also was a contender for James Bond but was deemed too young and lost out to Daniel Craig. Clearly, Cavill is a franchise waiting to happen.

Cavill, born in May 1983, was 22 when Casino Royale started production and 23 when it premiered in 2006. Eon Productions bossfolks Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, went with Craig, who’s 15 years older than Cavill, in the series reboot, which depicted Bond at the start of his 007 career.

1967: The Man From U.N.C.L.E./Fugitive crossover

Well, not exactly. But the Quinn Martin-produced series The Fugitive, the first big hit for Martin’s QM Productions, was winding down its four-year run when it filmed the concluding scene to an episode. David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, was walking down a city street. The filming site was Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “street set,” originally to duplicate a New York City street.

QM’s art department apparently was asleep at the switch. It failed to removed the set dressing from another show produced on the same set: the Del Floria’s tailor shop sign from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The tailor shop was the “security entrance” to U.N.C.L.E.’s New York headquarters. Here’s a video, albeit not good video quality, of the scene from The Fugitive.

According to the For Your Eyes Only Web site’s 100-year timeline showing U.N.C.L.E.-007 interactions, The Fugitive episode aired on April 4, 1967. If correct, that would be an episode called The Walls of Night.

Based on the credits, that would indicate that set decorator Sandy Grace was the one who failed to notice the Del Floria’s sign. Then again, one-hour drama shows were shot in five or six days in the 1960s and had really tight deadlines.

Also, according to For Your Eyes Only, The Fugitive episode aired just a few weeks after a March 1967 fire destroyed the street set. In The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s fourth season, the show had to use footage from previous episodes to depict the exterior of U.N.C.L.E.’s heaquarters.

M by the numbers, 1962-present

With the news that Dame Judi Dench says she’s returning as M, it got us to thinking about the actors who’ve played M, James Bond’s boss. Our tally is as follows:

Bernard Lee (Sir Admiral Miles Messevry): 11 films, Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker. Trivia: First name (Miles) mentioned by KGB General Gogol in The Spy Whgo Love Me. Cameo (sort of): Portrait at MI6 emergency headquarters in The World Is Not Enough (1999), 18 years after Lee’s death.

Judi Dench: 7 films, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Bond 23. Conjecture: the Dench M since Casino Royale is another character (perhaps in a parallel universe) given the Daniel Craig films are a “reboot.”

Robert Brown: 4 films, Octopussy, A View To a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill. Possible 5th film: The Spy Who Loved Me Real name: Admiral Sir Miles Messevry (if you assume he succeeded Bernard Lee as M) or Admiral Hargreaves (if you assume Hargreaves succeeded Messevry as M). In any event, Brown appeared as an admiral in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Edward Fox: 1 film, Never Say Never Again (not part of official 007 film series). Implied that Fox’s M is successor to the Bernard Lee M, as least as much as can be implied without starting off a lawsuit between official 007 producer Albert R. Broccoli and Thunderball film rights holder Kevin McClorry.

John Huston: 1 film Casino Royale (1967), spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman. Huston, an important American director, was one of five credited directors on the Feldman-produced spoof.

Only 007 film without an M: For Your Eyes Only (1981). Bernard Lee had died in early 1981. He had been unable to work on the 12th 007 film. Producer Albert R. Broccoli opted not to cast a replacement. Actor James Villiers played chief of staff Bill Tanner, who subbed for M, who we were told was on leave.

Judi Dench tells BBC she’s coming back in Bond 23 as M

Even if Eon Productions hasn’t officially announced it, or the revamped Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for that matter, 76-year-old Dame Judi Dench tells the BBC she’s coming back as M in Bond 23 for her seventh appearance as M, James Bond’s boss. To view a short story and a video, just CLICK HERE.

Eon and MGM when announcing that Bond 23 would be out in November 2012, didn’t disclose whether Dame Judi would return in Bond 23. Once again, Eon and MGM haven’t gotten control of the “the message” (a subject that’s covered in Public Relations 101).