Oscar update III: John Barry leads off “In Memoriam”

John Barry, the 11-time 007 composer who established the musical sound of James Bond movies (and won five Oscars for four non-Bond movies), was the first person included in the “In Memoriam” segment of the Oscars telecast. But there were a number of others included that contributed to 007 and other spy related entertainment.

They included: Alan Hume, director of photography on three Bond movies in the 1980s; Irvin Kershner, director of the 1983 Bond film Never Say Never Again, who is probably best known for directing 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back; Tom Mankiewicz, credited as a screenwriter on three 1970s 007 films and an uncredited writer on two others.

Also included were Robert Culp, the star of television’s I Spy; Anne Francis, the star of television’s Honey West; and Leslie Nielsen, who made a late-career switch to comedy that included a 007 parody, Spy Hard. All three did extensive film work in movies and television.

Oscar update II: 007 vet Chris Corbould wins

Chris Corbould, a veteran James Bond film special effects man, was among the special effects crew for Inception that won an Oscar.

Corbould’s credited 007 work includes Quantum of Solace, Casino Royale and Die Another Day and he’s worked on the film series since the 1980s. He had the title of special effects supervisor on Inception.

Oscar update I: Bond 23 likely director of photography loses

Roger Deakins, who in interviews has said there’s a good chance he’ll photograph Bond 23, lost the Oscar for cinematography to Inceptions’s Wally Pfister. Deakins had been nominated for last year’s remake of True Grit.

Who will make the Oscars “In Memoriam” segment?

You’d think John Barry (5-time Oscar winner, 11-time 007 composer) would be a lock. What about James MacArthur, Robert Culp, Leslie Nielsen? Peter Graves? The latter were known mostly for their work on television but did a number of films. What about one-time 007 screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, part of a prominent Hollywood clan that includes Herman Mankiewicz and Joseph L. Mankiewicz? We’ll be watching.

Telegraph reports on Ben Hecht’s 1960s Casino Royale scripts

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. has an article by Jeremy Duns about the scripts noted screenwriter Ben Hecht did for producer Charles K. Feldman’s ill fated Casino Royale movie.

Duns has a brief entry in his blog, the Debrief, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE. You can try to read the article itself by registering for a one-day free trial at the Telegraph’s Web site BY CLICKING HERE. The article is in the Telegraph’s Seven magazine.

Hecht died in April 1964. His long career including co-writing the play The Front Page (with Charles MacArthur, husband of Helen Hayes) and scripting Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 film Notorious starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

Based on some comments Duns has made on his Facebook page, Hecht’s drafts leaned toward a faithful adapation of Ian Fleming’s first novel, including a torture scene. Before Hecht was hired, Feldman had tried to interest director Howard Hawks in the project. Feldman later shifted gears, turning Casino Royale into a colossal, and expensive, spoof.

UPDATE: Jeremy Duns advises an extended version of the article will be on the Telegraph’s Web site in a few days. He also confirms that Hecht’s drafts are for a straight version of the novel, not the mega-spoof Feldman produced later.

UPDATE II: We couldn’t wait, so we did the one-day trial subscription. A few details from the Duns article:

1.) The Hecht drafts are at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

2) Hecht kept the basic plot, but as with Dr. No and From Russia With Love in the official 007 series, LeChiffre now works for SPECTRE, rather than the Soviets.

3) Hecht, in one of his drafts introduces the idea that the real James Bond has died and another agent is being re-named James Bond. In the rest of the script, “Bond” acts just like Bond.

The Duns article includes an excerpt of this draft where M informs the agent about the name change. This is the origin of an idea that will be greatly expanded upon in the final version of the 1967 Feldman film, which implies the Connery version of Bond in the official film series took the name of David Niven’s James Bond. It’s also a notion that gets recycled on message boards of fan Web sites in which some people argue that James Bond is just a code name, therefore, the Sean Connery version isn’t the same as Roger Moore, etc., etc., etc.

Mr. Duns notes the scene where Bond II is informed of his new name may simply have been inserted as a possible option for producer Feldman. It only appears in some drafts and isn’t part of others. Throughout the the remainder of Hecht’s material, Bond acts like Bond and he says you can even “hear” Sean Connery’s voice as you read Bond’s scripted lines.

4) Hecht invented a character called Gita, Le Chiffre’s wife, who gets half her face shot away when Bond uses her as a shield. She, rathern the Le Chieffre himself, later administers the torture. Le Chiffre has Gita stop the torture at one point and says, “M’sieur Bond may want to change his mind while he is still a m’sieur.”

5) Hecht was still working on Casino Royale at the time of his death.

New I Spy CD available from Film Score Monthly

Film Score Monthly has brought out a second I Spy CD, this one containing the tracks of two I Spy albums from 1966 and 1967.

The two albums weren’t actual soundtracks. Rather, they had re-recordings of compositions that Earle Hagen did for the 1965-1968 series. Here are some of the details from FSM’s Web site:

I SPY, Vol. 2—The LPs brings together both the Warner Bros. album released in early 1966 and the Capitol Records disc issued in late 1967 (both remastered from the original ¼” stereo tapes). The result is truly a “best of” I Spy, incorporating music from each of the show’s three seasons. Although both albums were re-recordings, Hagen employed many of the same session musicians he hired on a weekly basis for the show, and some of the arrangements are quite close to the originals heard on the series soundtrack.

Hagen (1919-2008) was the go-to composer for producer Sheldon Leonard’s various situation comedies such as The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. So, when the producer branched out into the one-hour drama format with the Robert Culp-Bill Cosby spy series, Leonard made sure Hagen was involved.

FMS’s first I Spy CD consisted of the soundtracks from selected I Spy episodes. Collectors have been seeking new versions of the 1960s albums for years. This second FSM I Spy project also includes liner notes from TV and movie music expert Jon Burlingame.

For more details, JUST CLICK HERE.

Meanwhile, for those who’ve never sampled I Spy, here’s the titles from an episode, accompanied by Hagen’s theme music:

Soderbergh tells Omaha audience he’s still interested in U.N.C.L.E.

Director Steven Soderbergh, during an appearance in Omaha, said he’s still interested in doing a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as a farewell to making films, according to an account by the Omaha World-Herald.

Soderbergh apparently only made a fleeting mention in Omaha. Here’s an excerpt from near the end of the Omaha newspaper article:

His last movie, he said, might be the big-screen version of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” starring George Clooney. He called movies with Damon and Clooney, both of whom have worked with him many times, “a great way to have a farewell tour.”

This would appear to be the first time Soderbergh has openly, and publicly, acknowledged his interest in doing an U.N.C.L.E. movie as his last film. Soderbergh’s interest was originally reported by the Hollywood Reporter in November. But that report didn’t have a direct comment by Soderbergh.

Clooney has been previously mentioned in connection with a Soderbergh version of U.N.C.L.E. Does Soderbergh’s quote indicate he’s interested in having Damon be part of the movie also?

45th anniversary of Dino as Matt Helm in The Silencers

This week was the 45th anniversary of The Silencers, the first of four Matt Helm films starring Dean Martin and arguably the most successful non-Bond spy series of the 1960s.

Some of the film’s cast and crew had a shot at doing Bond movies but it didn’t happen.

Studio Columbia Pictures had turned down Bond, with United Artists instead making a deal with Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman; producer Irving Allen had been Broccoli’s partner but thought Ian Fleming’s 007 novels were terrible; 007 screenwriter Richard Maibaum suggested Victor Buono to play Goldfinger; some United Artists executive wanted Phil Karlson to direct Dr. No, but he had a $75,000 asking price while Terence Young would work for $40,000.

Allen took Donald Hamilton’s serious novels and made them into spoofs, though the films did use some plot elements of Hamilton’s originals, particularly The Silencers. To get Dean Martin on board, Allen had to make him a partner. That’s why the films have a copyright notice reading “Meadway-Claude” — Claude was Martin’s production company.

Below is the latter part of main titles of The Silencers, in which Cyd Charisse lipsynchs the title song performed by Vikki Carr and written by Elmer Berstein and Mack David.

007 composer Arnold to be music director of Olympics, Telegraph says

David Arnold, the composer of choice for five James Bond movies since 1997, has been named music director for the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, the U.K.-based Telegraph newspaper said. An excerpt from THAT STORY:

Luton-born Arnold, 49, said: ‘To be involved in the London 2012 Closing Ceremonies, where we celebrate the achievements of the best of the world’s athletes, is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a huge honour. As a nation we excel throughout the world in music, and our team will be readying an electrifying and thrilling soundtrack for this spectacular event.’

Arnold produced a 1990s CD celebrating James Bond music, Shaken And Stirred. That helped get him the job of composing the score of 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies after negotiations broke down with long-time 007 composer John Barry. Here’s a Barry-influenced Arnold composition from that film:

Arnold’s work on the Bond series draws strong opinions both pro and con. But Eon Productions keeps bringing him back and Arnold has said previously he’ll score Bond 23, due out in November 2012.

An Artist’s Year with MI6

Monday’s Guardian UK had a rather interesting, and unusual, story from the world of real-life espionage. Joanna Moorhead’s article concerns an artist who was tapped by Her Majesty’s Secret Service to infiltrate itself, sketchpad in hand, to (covertly) record life in the secret world of spies.

James Hart Dyke

British painter James Hart Dyke was no stranger to the official world; he had previously accompanied Prince Charles on four royal tours as an official artist, and had also been embedded with the Grenadier Guards, in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a war artist. Next step: MI6, under the watchful eye of its chief Sir John Scarlett, a.k.a. “C.”

What follows is a fascinating story of an artist charged with illuminating a dark world of suspicion, ambiguity, and intrigue. And you can read all about it at The Artist Who Spied on MI6, along with viewing samples of the work he brought in from the cold. There’s also a follow-up article, by the Guardian‘s security editor Richard Norton-Taylor, wherein his works are reviewed by the professional spooks that were the subjects of his study.