Skyfall listed as one of 2012’s most anticipated events

Entertainment news Web site The Wrap, after excluding Skyfall from its list of most-anticipated films of 2012, has included the 23rd James Bond film as one of the new year’s most-anticipated entertainment events.

The new list comprises a variety of media, including television (the return of Mad Men on AMC) and plays (revivals of Death Of a Salesman and Harvey), live performances (Madonna at the Super Bowl) as well as movies. To see the entire list CLICK HERE.

On 007’s 50th, will Harry Saltzman be the forgotten man?

This week, the official 007.com Web site added some new features, including this greeting from Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions:

At the 0:22 mark, Wilson says, “Cubby Broccoli made Dr. No, the first Bond film, in 1962.” Albert R. Broccoli did indeed produce the film with his then-partner Harry Saltzman. Now, Wilson is Broccoli’s stepson and our guess is this isn’t an intention dig at Saltzman, who exited the series in 1975 and died in 1994. It is, after all, a 45-second video, not a definitive history. But it may be a sign that in 2012, the year of the cinema Bond’s 50th anniverary, Saltzman may end up being overlooked.

When Saltzman’s name comes up today, the image is of a cranky, volatile man who almost axed the classic Goldfinger title song, ordered elephant shoes for a movie (The Man With the Golden Gun) that didn’t have any elephants in it, etc., etc. At least one film historian, Adrian Turner, took a different view in his 1998 book, Adrian Turner on Goldfinger.

“To begin with, Saltzman took the responsibility for the scripts” of the early 007 films, Turner wrote. “Having worked with John Osborne, it’s clear he thought that Richard Maibaum — Broccoli’s man — was little more than a hack.” Obviously, that’s hardly a unanimous opinion of Maibaum. Still, Maibaum is quoted on page 100 in author James Chapman’s 2000 book Licence to Thrill as saying that Saltzman did bring in U.K. screenwriter Paul Dehn to do the later drafts of Goldfinger (the notes section of the book says the quote is from page 285 of a book called Backstory.)

We only bring this up to show that Saltzman’s contributions extended beyond being an eccentric crank. The Broccoli-Saltzman partnership wasn’t an easy one. Eventually, the pair largely alternated producing the films while both were listed as producers. Saltzman primarily responsible for Live And Let Die (though Broccoli did visit the set in Louisiana and posed for a photograph with Saltzman and star Roger Moore) while The Man With the Golden Gun was Broccoli’s picture.

The Broccoli-Wilson clan, now headed by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, has supervised the 007 series since 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Nobody is suggesting that Cubby Broccoli wasn’t a master showman, who deserves a lot of credit for launching Bond on the screen. Still, it would be a shame if Saltzman ends up being the forgotten man as fans look back on a half century of 007 films.

Also, here’s a shoutout to Dell Deaton, who blogs about James Bond watches. A tweet of his got us to thinking about all this.

Happy 91st birthday, Jack Lord

The first screen Felix Leiter, Jack Lord, would be 91 years old if he were alive today. The Leiter character wasn’t in the Dr. No novel by Ian Fleming but he ended up in the 1962 film version scripted by Richard Maibaum, Johanna Harwood and Berkely Mather. When approached about reprising the role in Goldfinger, he famously demanded billing on par with Sean Connery and was refused.

007 fans wonder why Lord would have done that, but let’s face it: being Felix in a Bond movie isn’t going to get you much screen time and probably isn’t going to help your career that much. A few years later, five days before filming was to begin on the pilot, Lord was cast as lawman Steve McGarrett in Hawaii Five-O, whose lead character dabbled in spy storylines. Here he is on The Mike Douglas Show during the show’s first season, 1968-69:

And here are the opening credits of the 11th season Five-O episode The Year of the Horse, where former Bond George Lazenby was “special guest star.” (No Lazenby in the clip but you do see his billing). McGarrett even flies to Singpore on Pan Am, the airline of choice in the Bond movies up to this time (United was the normal airline shown on series episoes):

Does M:I 4 make a peace offering to fans of the TV show?

We watched Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (or M:I 4 for short) this week. Maybe it was a coincidence, but it seemed as if the film, starring Tom Cruise and directed by Brad Bird, was maybe, kind of attempting to apologize to fans of the original 1966-1973 Mission: Impossible series.

A bit of background. Some fans of the show strongly objected to Cruise’s first M:I movie in 1996, which turned Jim Phelps (Peter Graves in the show, Jon Voight in the movie) into the story’s bad guy who eventually gets dispatched, leaving Cruise’s Ethan Hunt as Mr. Impossible Missions Force. Also, in the Cruise version of M:I, Ethan Hunt did it all — mastermind, disguise expert, etc., etc. The IMF was more of a Greek chorus cheering Ethan Hunt on than a real team.

Well, with M:I 4, Cruise, Bird and company seemed to make some homages to the show. (WARNING: spoilers follow)

Early in the film, Ethan Hunt and IMF team member Benji (Simon Pegg) have infiltrated the Kremlin. They bring with them a high-tech screen that they can hide behind. The guard down the hall will look at the screen and see everything as they should be. This is remarkably similar to The Falcon, the only three-part story of the original series, which aired in season four. In that story, Phelps hides behind a projection screen so he can free a prisoner. M:I 4’s version has more bells and whistles but this certainly appears to be more or less the same device.

Later, former IMF field agent-turned-analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner) wears a metallic suit under his clothes, dives into a shaft headed toward massive fan blades that keep a massive computer installation cooled. A robot craft controlled by Benji stops Brandt from falling into the blades using magnetic power. Brandt is suspended mere inches from the blades, evoking a moment in Cruise’s first M:I film. But Benji then steers the robot craft (with Brandt still suspended above it) through a series of shafts. Benji can also raise or lower Brandt as needed.

That device is a larger, more elaborate version of a device Barney Collier (Greg Morris) rigged up in a two-part episode called The Bunker that ran in the third season of the television series. In that show, Barney had a small, radio-controlled saucer that could navigate through ventilator shafts as part of a typically complicated IMF plan. The saucer had to descend and rise as it traveled through the shafts. The device didn’t really work and in some shots you could see the wires holding it up. MI:4, thanks to 21st Century special effects, is more elaborate.

Finally, after the mission has been completed successfully, Ethan Hunt is listening to an audio recording related to his next assignment (should he decide to accept it). It turns out a terrorist group calling itself “The Syndicate” is making trouble. The Syndicate was used in the M:I television series, and other 1960s and ’70s shows, instead of the word Mafia. Syndicate bosses of that time also tended to have Anglicized names.

M:I always had at least some episodes featuring The Syndicate as villains and opted for Syndicate story lines pretty much exclusively in the sixth and seventh season as an economy move (no need to make up signs for fictional European countries, for example).

But the biggest homage to the TV show comes in the film when Ethan Hunt attempts to complete the mission by himself and can’t. He actually needs a team and for team members to blend their talents.

As we said, all of this may be coincidence. But all of the above elements comprise an awful lot of coincidence.

One list of top 15 anticipated 2012 films excludes Skyfall

The Wrap, one of the big U.S. entertainment news Web sites, excluded Skyfall from its list of the top 15 most-anticipated films of 2012.

What made the list? Here’s part of it:

–Three major superhero movies (two based on Marvel Comics characters including THIS ONE, while the other features one of DC Comics big hitters).

–Two films featuring Abraham Lincoln as a character (including one where Honest Abe hunts vampires.

–Yet another remake of The Great Gatsby (a 1949 version was produced and co-scripted by 007 film scribe Richard Maibaum).

–A film remake of a gothic horror television soap opera.)

Two companies that provided 007 rides facing tough times


Two automakers that provided James Bond his ride at various times are facing tough times.

Earlier this month, Saab Automobile of Sweden of Sweden filed for bankruptcy and may be broken up. Author John Gardner depicted Bond using a Saab when he began his run of continuation novels in 1981 with Licence Renewed.

Meanwhile, Lotus may be put up for sale after 15 years of unprofitable ownership by Malaysia’s Proton Holdings. Lotus appeared in two 007 films, most famously in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, when a Lotus converted into a submarine car. Lotus also appeared in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, including one depicted as exploding when a thug (Bond stunt arranger Bob Simmons) tried to break into it.

Roger Moore describes filming For Your Eyes Only


Roger Moore, as told to The Telegraph’s Georgia Dehn, described what it was like to film 1981’s For Your Eyes Only.

You can read the entire story, which was originally published Dec. 15, BY CLICKING HERE. An excerpt follows:

(A photograph accompanying the story) brings to mind the scene in For Your Eyes Only where Bond meets another bearded priest, who was in fact Q, played by Desmond Llewelyn, in disguise. Originally Bernie Lee’s character M was going to play that priest, but poor Bernie, who had played M for the first 11 Bond films, was ill with cancer and had a lot of problems so couldn’t do it – he died while we were still filming and M was written out of the film.

The story describes how Moore played producer Albert R. Broccoli for big stakes in backgammon (“On the last day of shooting we’d settle up and by then things had usually evened out, so it might end being only two or three thousand dollars that one of us had to pay.”). Perhaps the inspiration for a gambling scene in 1983’s Octopussy.