Listverse ranks top 15 007 film deaths

Listverse, a Web site of, well, various lists, on March 28 published a list of the top 15 James Bond film deaths. 007 villains and allies were included. And there’s at least one surprise.

That surprise? Coming in as the second-best Bond death was the demise of Francisco Scaramanga, the title character of 1974’s The Man With The Golden Gun. It occurs after Bond (Roger Moore) and Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) stalk each other in the villain’s “fun house,” which he uses as a way to keep his skills sharp. Here’s part of how Listverse describes it:

The death of Scaramanga is one of the most tense, but fun, deaths in the Bond films…Classic moment in an otherwise mediocre film.

It went something like this:

Almost half of the list (seven to be precise) come from Bond films before 1970, including Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, two from Goldfinger (Goldfinger and Jill Masterson), two from Dr. No (Dr. No and Professor Dent) and Aki from You Only Live Twice. The most recent 007 film death cited, at No. 12, was the unnamed man Daniel Craig’s Bond kills in a rest room fight at the start of 2006’s Casino Royale.

There are a few flaws. At No. 14 are Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd in Diamonds Are Forever. Listverse incorrectly says Bond (Sean Connery) threw kid overboard from the deck of a luxury liner after setting the killer on fire. Kidd actually jumped off on his own, desperately trying to douse the flames in time. And No. 8, Baron Samedi from Live And Let Die, has this description:

Later on in the film, he appears to die when Bond (Sean Connery) throws him into a chest full of venomous snakes and shuts the lid. However, the end of the film delivers the biggest twist in Bond History. On the back of the train in which Bond and Solitaire are travelling, Samedi is seen sitting, laughing at the audience. At that point the film ends.

Live And Let Die, of course, was Roger Moore’s first 007 film.

The top Bond film death? Not really a surprise: Red Grant (Robert Shaw) in a vicious fight aboard the Orient Express in From Russia With Love:

You can read the entire list and Listverse comments BY CLICKING HERE. One things lists tend to is stir discussion. So let the debate begin.

Bond 23 starts filming in November, Judi Dench says

Judi Dench, at a public appearance last week, said Bond 23 will begin production in November, according to a STORY ON THE WEB SITE OF THE U.K. EXPRESS NEWSPAPER.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dame Judi revealed the start date for filming during a visit last week to Hever Castle in Kent, to plant a rose bred for its gardens.

She said: “I am going to do the next Bond in November. I don’t know the location yet but hopefully it will be somewhere nice. I can’t tell you much more but I do enjoy ­playing M as she is such a strong character. I like being bossy and my grandson thinks its cool that I’m in Bond.”

Bond 23, which will have Daniel Craig’s third turn as 007 and be directed by Sam Mendes, has a release date of Nov. 9, 2012. The film was affected by the financial problems at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which led to the studio filing for bankruptcy. MGM shrunk itself and brought in the founders of Spyglass Entertainment, Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, to run the studio. MGM controls half of the 007 franchise, along with Eon Productions/Danjaq LLC, controlled by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.

1965: The men from U.N.C.L.E. present some Emmys

In 1965, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was at or near its peak of popularity. So it was natural that stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum would be selected as presenters during the Emmy broadcast.

Viewing it more than four decades later, a few observations come to mind:

1) It’s a reminder of far *technically* television has come, especially for live broadcasts. 2) It’s a reminder that awards shows haven’t really improved that much despite the better techology; the sequence begins with an awful joke from Danny Thomas. 3) For people of a certain age, this is a chance to see the people who had received credits on familar 1960s TV shows, such as 20th Century Fox television special effects whiz L.B. Abbott whose name appeared on Irwin Allen’s various series and Batman 4) Both Vaughn and McCallum would end up working with director of photography William W. Spencer during The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s third season when Spencer would substitute for regular DOP Fred Koenekamp on The Matterhorn Affair. 5) Winners in those days knew how to keep the speeches short.

Here’s how it went:

Is Ralph Fiennes a lock for Bond 23 villain?

Two publications, the U.K. Daily Mail newspaper and U.S. trade publication Variety, have stories that, in passing, say actor Ralph Fiennes will be in Bond 23 and the film will begin production in December.

The stories center on Fiennes’s participation in a stage production of Sheakespeare’s The Tempest, where he will play Prospero. To view the Daily Mail story, YOU CAN CLICK HERE. To read the Variety story, CLICK HERE.

The Daily Mail has this mention:

Almost as soon as he comes out of The Tempest, Fiennes will begin preparations for the new James Bond film, which begins shooting in December. This column was first to reveal that Fiennes had met with his old friend Sam Mendes, who is directing the latest 007 thriller (which has the working title Sam Mendes Bond 23), about starring with Daniel Craig in the picture.

Variety, meanwhile, has this passage (“the run” refers to Fienennes time on The Temptest):

Fiennes’s movie commitments mean the run will be strictly limited. He is skedded to start filming on the Sam Mendes helmed “Bond 23” In December. The latter is scripted by John Logan who also scripted Fiennes’s recent movie helming debut “Coriolanus.”

Again, both stories toss this news off as an aside. There have been almost no official casting announcements, other than Daniel Craig would return as Bond for his third 007 outing. Judi Dench said in interviews she’d return as M. And that’s been about it. If the Fiennes news is true, he’d almost have to be the villain because the biggest non-Bond male parts in 007 films are villains. We’ll see.

Rush Limbaugh cites 007, U.N.C.L.E. villains in commentary

NOTE: This isn’t a political commentary and isn’t intended to start arguments/debates over political issues.

On his March 25 show, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh did a commentary about the situation in Libya starting around 12:30 p.m. New York time. He said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization had “James Bond villain-sounding guys” running it. After a brief audio clip from Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the commentator said, “He could be running SPECTRE. He could be running Thrush.”

SPECTRE, of course, was the organization run by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, which was involved in six of the first seven films of the James Bond movie series and the Ian Fleming novels Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice. Thrush was the large villainous organization that provided the opposition to the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Ian Fleming’s heirs try to extend another franchise

Ian Fleming Publications, run by heirs of the 007 author, have commissioned a sequel to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Fleming’s children’s story about a flying car.

In a story by the Reuters news service (which was also Fleming’s employer in the 1930s), we learn this:

James Bond creator Ian Fleming’s other famous invention, the magical car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is set to fly again with the publication of a new series of adventures by children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce.

Fleming’s estate, which has already found success with authorized spinoffs of the James Bond series, has decided to re-launch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with three new novels, the first of which is due for release on November 4.

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again” will be published in Britain by Macmillan Children’s Books and set in the present day.

The Los Angeles Times, in its Jacket Copy weblog, did a follow up YOU CAN READ BY CLICKING HERE. We first noticed all this at the Book Bond Web site WHICH YOU CAN SEE BY CLICKING HERE.

Here’s our question: Would Ian Fleming Publications be able to have an open auction for the film rights? 007 producer Albert R. Broccoli formed a company separate from Eon Productions to make the 1968 musical version of the story. Eon was involved in a stage production of the story several years ago.

Eon has had a right of first refusal on the continuation novels that Ian Fleming Publications has commissioned over the years. Eon hasn’t used any continuation novel as the basis of a 007 movie but has also prevented any other film company from doing so. But could Fleming’s heirs have an open competition for the film rights to sequels? We don’t know. But it will be interesting to watch.

11 questions about a Soderbergh-Clooney U.N.C.L.E. movie

So now that Steven Soderbergh says he’s “obligated” to do a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (the word he used in a recording at the Studio 360 Web site), that generated more questions. So, in honor of Napoleon Solo’s No. 11 U.N.C.L.E. badge number, here are 11 of them:

1. What does “obligated” mean, anyway? Has Soderbergh actually signed a contract? Has he given only a verbal commitment? The Studio 360 recording is from a Soderbergh appearance in Omaha, Nebraska. He said at the time that he’s turned down other offers, intending to make a Liberace film and an U.N.C.L.E. movie his last two film projects. That implies something more than verbal, but there’s no way to tell and Soderbergh didn’t specify.

2. Soderbergh also indicated that George Clooney would play Solo. Is that a sure thing? Clooney has been quiet on the subject and he’s busy with other projects at the moment. Clooney once was supposed to play Artemus Gordon in the 1999 movie version of The Wild, Wild West. It didn’t happen. Some caution may be called for.

3. Does Soderbergh really plan to make his U.N.C.L.E. movie a 1960s period piece? According to THIS REPORT FROM LAST YEAR, that was the plan. Once again, Soderbergh didn’t get into that level of detail.

4. Hasn’t Clooney’s name been mentioned before? Indeed, it has. Quentin Tarantino, in the late 1990s, talked about directing an U.N.C.L.E. movie and casting Clooney as Solo. His idea of Russian U.N.C.L.E. agent? The director thought, well, Quentin Tarantino, would be an excellent choice. Obviously, it never happened.

5. Is Clooney too old to play Napoleon Solo? The actor turns 50 this year, the same age Robert Vaughn was when the 1983 television film The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. came out, depicting an obviously older Solo. Clooney is in good shape as he demonstrated in 2010’s The American. A little hair coloring and he could pass for 40. Of course, that’s still older than the Solo of the original televsion series.

6. Would an older Solo change the Solo-Kuryakin dynamic of the original show? Vaughn and David McCallum, the show’s Kuryakin, were less than a year apart in age. If you had a 50-passing-for-40 Solo, would that lead to casting a younger Kuryakin, to create contrast?

7. Have any potential Kuryakins showed up? If they have, Soderbergh hasn’t talked about it publicly.

8. Would a Clooney Solo help guarantee good box office for an U.N.C.L.E. movie? Hardly. According to the By the Numbers Web site, hasn’t had a big hit since the Soderbergh-directed, 2007 Ocean’s Thirteen, which grossed $117 million the U.S. and almost $312 million worldwide. The American grossed $35.6 million in the U.S. and $46.6 million worldwide.

9. So why does it appear Clooney has the inside track to play Solo? Because Soderbergh, a friend, would be the director. They’ve worked together several times and apparently want to do so one more time.

10. When would filming begin? There have been multiple accounts that the Liberace movie, with Michael Douglas playing the late entertainer, would start later this year. U.N.C.L.E. would appear to be some time after that. More is known about the Liberace project than the U.N.C.L.E. one.

11. Will this become reality? There have been numerous efforts since the early 1990s to get an U.N.C.L.E. movie going. It’s probably closer to reality than at any time in the past 20 years. But, until more of these questions get answered, it’s still not a sure thing.

Soderbergh discusses his U.N.C.L.E. plans

Last month, the Omaha World-Herald reported on an appearance by Steven Soderbergh in which the director referenced his plans to do a movie based on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Now a recording of that appearance has surfaced.

On the Studio 360< Web site, there's a short story that includes an audio recording of Soderbergh’s comments in Omaha. In the recording, Soderbergh, 48, confirms he’s down to two unproduced films before he retires as a director.

“Liberace and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. are the only things I’m obligated to do,” Soderbergh said starting about 40 minutes into the session. “To do Liberace with Matt Damon and Michael Douglas and to do Man From U.N.C.L.E. with George (Clooney)…that’s a great way to have a sort of farewell tour. George and I found ourselves at the right time…For years we’ve both been trying to find something to do.”

In response to a questioner, Soderberg says Clooney would play Napoleon Solo. The Liberace film is a movie biography with Douglas the entertainer and Damon as his lover.

No other details were disclosed and all of Soderbergh’s comments come at the end of the recording. But it is an on-the-record confirmation of what has been reported so far in the entertainment press. Meanwhile, Clooney, who turns 50 on May 6, is directing and starring in a movie called The Ides of March, which is being filmed in Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Season 1 (well, part of it) of The FBI coming out on DVD

The first half of season one of The FBI is coming out on DVD, according to the TV Shows on DVD Web site.

TV Shows on DVD says the set is a “manufacture on demand,” or MOD, release. So don’t expect to see it on stores. For information on pre-ordering YOU CAN CLICK HERE. Warner Bros. will start shipping in May.

The show ran from 1965 to 1974 and was producer Quinn Martin’s longest-running series. Some time back, on our parent HMSS site, we ran an article about some of the espionage themed stories from the series.

This first DVD release only has one spy-themed episode, The Problem of the Honorable Wife.

But it does have other highlights, including one of the rare “personal” episodes for Efrem Zimbalist Jr.’s FBI Inspector Lewis Erskine (Slow March Up a Steep Hill), Jeffrey Hunter as a killer with sexual identity problems, a subject not that common for 1965 television (The Monster) and Robert Duvall as a mentally unbalanced man out to sabotage a U.S. missile launch (The Giant Killer).

To read brief descriptions of all 31 season 1 episodes, YOU CAN CLICK HERE.

UPDATE: No telling hard long it’ll stay up, but here’s the start of the first episode on YouTube:

Raymond Benson’s latest project: The Black Stiletto

Raymond Benson, former James Bond continuation novel author, has a new project. It’s called the Black Stiletto and here’s a video promoting it (Benson has a cameo at the 1:24 mark):

To see The Black Stiletto Web page, JUST CLICK HERE.

Benson penned 007 continuation novels starting with 1997’s Zero Minus Ten until 2002. He also wrote the novelizations of the Bond movies Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.