007 marketing, 2012 and 1987

At the official James Bond/Skyfall Facebook page, this went out Jan. 31:

James Bond 007
Bond fans! At 8am GMT, Wednesday 1st Feb the first official image from SKYFALL will be revealed exclusively on 007.com! If you’re in the US then pick up a copy of Wednesday’s edition of USA Today – it’s the first time you’ll be able to see it in print.

(UPDATE: It’s up at the Web site now. You can CLICK HERE to see it, an image of Daniel Craig/Bond with beard stubble, holding in a gloved hand what appears to be a Walther PPK.)

Except, a few weeks ago we were told the first Skyfall photo was out:

Star Daniel Craig, with blue swim trunks, was shown in various Web sites, including: Movieweb, Moviewatch, Entertainmentwise, and Whatculture! and who knows where else. Some billed it as an official photo courtesy of Sony (which is releasing the 23rd James Bond film), others merely said it was a Skyfall photo.

So was that an official release or not? The sheer number of Web sites showing the photo (which also included 007 fan Web sites) suggests it wasn’t Woodward-Bernstein investigative reporting that pried that image from the “Most Secret” vault of Eon Productions, which actually produces Skyfall. And it’s clearly not a “candid” shot (i.e. taken while a scene was being recorded). It appears to be posed and carefully lit and meant to evoke 2006’s Casino Royale, where Craig appeared in light-blue swim trunks.

But that’s in the past and we’re told Bond with stubble and gun is official and Bond in swim trunks wasn’t.

Let’s recap. Skyfall has been filming for almost three months. We have one photo of Craig at a pool (now dubbed unofficial) and now an official still for a movie whose first unit has yet to go beyond the borders of the U.K. (a second unit has been filming in China). Oh, and all those images of clapperboards on the official Bond sites. You know: like THIS ONE or THIS ONE or THIS ONE or….well, you get the point.

By contrast, a quarter-century ago, when Eon was filming The Living Daylights, after a few months of filming, there were cast interviews, footage from exotic locations, publicity stills and all sorts of things. Take a look at this footage from ABC’s Good Morning America in November 1986:

On various 007 fan message boards, participants are saying how great it is so few spoilers have gotten out. And that is a change from previous Bond movies. But, it comes at a cost. By this stage in the filming of most 007 films, there has been a lot of publicity already and some fans wonder why there hasn’t been more with Skyfall. Well, you can’t have it both ways. Eon hasn’t exactly spread the red carpet for reporters (much of the publicity so far has come from Daniel Craig interviews while he’s been trying to publicize The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, SUCH AS THIS ONE.) If you don’t want spoilers, fine. But don’t complain about lack of publicity at the same time.

`All the money’s going to go on the screen’

There’s a quote attributed to Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli to the effect that with James Bond movies, the money is all up on the screen. In Broccoli’s time at the 007 helm (1961-1996), that explained why the production team often cast unknowns for key roles, especially the female leads. Eon would save money on such roles and use it toward putting spectacle during the film.

Albert R. Broccoli, co-founder of Eon

When the modestly budgeted ($1 million) Dr. No came out 50 years ago, the crew still spent weeks in Jamaica. As budgets increased, Eon increased location shooting. “Kids that watch that watch television and watch films today, they’re very smart,” Broccoli told ABC’s Good Morning America in 1987, a quarter-century after Dr. No, when discussing The Living Daylights. “They know just where you are. They know you’re in Hollywood behind a palm tree and not in Quarzazate or not in Morocco.” (We were reminded about this in a post on the Bond and Beyond message board. You can CLICK HERE to see a 9:20 video on YouTube that has two segments from Good Morning America about The Living Daylights. The Cubby Broccoli quote starts at about the 6:20 mark.)

Sometimes, as in the case with The Living Daylights, Vienna substituted for the then-Czechoslovakia or Thailand for Vietnam (Tomorrow Is Not Enough Tomorrow Never Dies) or Spain for Cuba (Die Another Day) if going to the actual site was too difficult for political or other reasons. Still, Eon emphasized location shoots. Meanwhile, Broccoli and Eon would pass over some actors, such as Faye Dunaway in Octopussy, deeming them too expensive, in favor of spending money elsewhere.

Barbara Broccoli, Eon’s co-boss and Cubby Broccoli’s daughter, cites the “putting the money on the screen” line in places like Quantum of Solace DVD extras and the November Skyfall news conference. At the latter, a reporter asked if the Skyfall’s budget might be reduced compared with 2008’s Quantum of Solace. “Does it look like we’re cutting back?” she asked, gesturing toward director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig. “All the money’s going to go on the screen.”

Since then, it has emerged that the first unit isn’t going to Shanghai, with U.K. locations subbing for the Chinese business center (Ascot Racecourse subbing for Shanghai International Airport, for example), while the second unit films in China. The first unit will film in Turkey. By contrast, Quantum of Solace, with a reported $230 million budget, filmed in Chile, Mexico, Italy, Panama, Austria and the U.K.

Javier Bardem, who plays Skyfall's villain

Has the budget been cut? Michael Wilson, the other Eon co-boss, said in November that Skyfall’s budget is in the same range as Quantum. That’s despite the fact the world economy is weaker than 2008, when Quantum was filmed. Also, Quantum’s reported budget was almost as much as some Harry Potter movies without delivering the same level of return.

Still, let’s take Wilson at his word for a moment. Skyfall may be taking on higher costs that its predecessors. The 23rd James Bond film is employing an Oscar-winning director (Sam Mendes), an Oscar-nominated screenwriter (John Logan, who had two nominations when he was signed and just picked up another for Hugo), an Oscar-nominated director of photography (Roger Deakins) and a cast that includes Oscar winner Javier Bardem, whose earning power is at a peak, thanks to 2007’s No Country for Old Men, Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes and five-time Oscar nominee Albert Finney.

Perhaps “all the money’s going to go on the screen” has a new meaning under Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Examples of all the money going to the screen for Skyfall may be the “Directed by Sam Mendes” credit in the titles or a dialogue scene between Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem, or between Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. That doesn’t mean there won’t be action. (The second unit has been filming driving sequences in China, according to the MI6 fan Web site.) But the increased salaries may mean shifting priorities, even if Skyfall’s budget isn’t one penny less than Quantum’s — and even more so if Skyfall’s budget really is lower than its predecessor.

From Sweden With Love’s report on `Bond in Motion’ exhibition

Anders Frejdh’s From Sweden With Love 007 fan Web site has produced an article about the “Bond in Motion” exhibition in the U.K. of 50 James Bond vehicles. The story is accompanied by photographs of the Jan. 15 event.

You can view it BY CLICKING HERE.

MI6 Confidential – “The Art of Bond” (Issue #13) Available Now

Peter Allen and our good friends at MI6 have informed HMSS that the MI6 Confidential Issue #13 “The Art of Bond” is now available to order on-line.

You can read the MI6 press release here, and below are a couple of the layouts and articles. (Go to the MI6 website for full details.)

Exceptionally fine shot(s), gentlemen! The photographs, graphics, commentary, and color are all top-notch. Nice work all around.

The HMSS Team

Run James, Run – Brian Wilson’s James Bond theme

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

By Paul Baack

It is early 1966. The fourth 007 screen adventure, Thunderball, recently released, is a monstrous hit. “James Bond mania” is at its peak. You happen to be Brian Wilson, leader of the Beach Boys — “America’s Band” — and in a personal neck-and-neck competition with the Beatles to conquer new sonic frontiers in pop music. So what do you do? You decide to compose a theme song for the next James Bond movie.

It’s a little-known fact that Brian Wilson harbored such an intent, much less actually went and did it. Working in the studio with the cream of Los Angeles-based studio musicians (while his bandmates were on tour in Japan), Wilson composed and recorded an instrumental track titled Run James, Run. Stacked with swinging brass, bongos, and (the de rigueur) twangy guitars, it’s a quintessential piece of 60s-style spy music. Unfortunately, Wilson wasn’t the most self-confident person in the world to begin with, and his fragile psyche was further compromised by nervous breakdowns, heavy drug use, and (later diagnosed) bipolar syndrome. End result: he lost his nerve and never submitted the music to Eon Productions, producers of the Bond films. Happy ending: he renamed the piece Pet Sounds and made it the title track to one of the greatest albums of the rock era.

It’s an interesting thought that the natural, intuitive, pairing of James Bond and pop music would have been his countrymen — and fellow British invaders — the Beatles1. But it was their American counterpart who actually made the first move, abortive as it was. At any rate, here is an imagining of the title sequence for You Only Live Twice, marrying Maurice Binder’s visuals with Brian Wilson’s music:

(Courtesy LuiECuomo’s channel on YouTube.)

1 Who knows? Maybe they were still smarting over the “earmuffs” crack in Goldfinger. Maybe John Lennon would’ve had political issues with the amorality of the screen 007. Maybe Paul was setting things up for Live and Let Die. Maybe Ringo was setting things up for Barbara Bach…

Hawaii Five-O’s final season: McGarrett’s kooky quintet

We checked out the DVD set of Hawaii Five-O’s 12th and final season. The show’s final campaign is almost universally reviled among fans. At the same time, it’s not shown as often in syndication as earlier seasons. For some, the last time they saw a 12th season episode was in the mid-1980s when they were shown with the title “McGarrett” on the CBS Late Movie.

Hawaii Five-O’s season 12 cast

Indeed, the season isn’t up to previous ones. It’s not for lack of effort, though.

The 12th season often still has the Five-O ingredients. The production team even stepped up a bit on international intrigue story lines, including terrorists, assassins, fugitive Nazis and, in the series finale, the final appearance of arch villain Wo Fat, this time trying to develop a laser-based missile defense system/weapon (a couple of years before the U.S. publicly announced it would try to develop a “Star Wars” defense system). And the scores for episodes are mostly good, with Morton Stevens (composer of the Five-O theme and creator of Five-O music template), Bruce Broughton, Don Ray and Robert Drasnin, among others, contributing.

Yet, for the most part, something goes awry. It’s as if the ingredients are either mixed badly, cooked at the wrong temperature or contaminated. Part of it may have been the absence of James MacArthur as Dan Williams, the sidekick to Jack Lord’s Steve McGarrett. MacArthur’s departure at the end of season 11 seems to have altered the chemistry of the show. Without Danno around, McGarrett, who already had a pious streak, breaks into lectures — about the U.S. constitution, the criminal justice system or the pathetic failings of individual characters.

Plus, the Danno-less Five-O team at times just across as just odd: loyal but bland Duke (Herman Wedemeyer), the only supporting character holdover from previous seasons; James “Kimo” Carew (William Smith), the blunt, revenge-driven ex-cop from Boston; Lori Wilson, revenge-driven present cop and first woman Five-O member (Sharon Farrell); and Truck Kealoah (Moe Keale), a frequent loaner from the Honolulu Police Department. McGarrett hires Carew and Wilson despite each showing questionable judgment at times in their debuts (being revenge driven will do that to you).

In Marvel’s Avengers comic book, there was a period now informally known as “Cap’s Kooky Quartet.” The title started out as an all-star collection of Marvel heroes. In issue 16, heavyweights with their own titles left the super hero team, leaving Captain America to cope with three reformed villains (Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver). Five-O’s final campaign can be considered McGarrett’s kooky quintet.

In previous seasons, there had been cast changes aplenty. But the McGarrett-Danno duo kept things steady. That steadiness just isn’t there in season 12. It seems like the writers and producers kept looking for chemistry. You never see all of the team at once. You get Kimo-Lori or Kimo-Truck matchups a fair amount. Duke floats in and out and never seems to have much to do. Sometimes, McGarrett takes the lead, sometimes he lets the others take the lead at least for a while. Behind the scenes, there apparently was some turmoil. Sharon Farrell is in less than half the episodes and departed.

The season actually started out with a very good two-hour episode, A Lion in the Streets, which included the return of Ross Martin as Hawaiian crime boss Tony Alika, a character introduced in the 11th season. Martin wonderfully crews the scenery and is an adversary worthy of McGarrett. Unfortunately, the show couldn’t maintain that level. Martin would return one more time a few episodes later. Alika was arrested yet again, taking away one of the season’s main positives.

For the finale, the producers didn’t even attempt to use any of the supporting cast as the series brought back Wo Fat (Khigh Dhiegh), last seen in the first episode of season nine. It was hardly the most satisifying of the McGarrett-Wo Fat encounters but it does remind viewers of better times for the show. Fittingly, Morton Stevens scored the final episode and his music is probably its best attribute.

Hey! How about a nice James Bond punch?

A couple of weeks ago, we received a note from reader Katina Solomon, who works with the Zen College Life website. She was alerting us to an article they had just published, of interest to film buffs in general, and (she suggested,) James Bond movie fans in particular: 10 Best On-Screen Punches.

By way of a thesis, the article begins:

The on-screen “fight scene” has been an important part of movies since they first began. For the actor, delivering a punch or getting punched means no bruised knuckles, no bloody nose, and no searching for lost teeth. He or she gets to look tough while the audience vicariously enjoys the completely staged donnybrook.

Interesting stuff indeed. We highly recommend your taking the time to read it. Sadly — and weirdly enough — there are no mentions of any James Bond moments in this top 10 list. Okay, fair enough… but it got us to thinking.

The James Bond film series is justifiably famous for its numerous mano-a-mano fight scenes. 007’s battle with Red Grant aboard The Orient Express; his Fort Knox beatdown with Odd Job; the fisticuffs in the

Something like this, from Thunderball

Alpine bell shed; his bareknuckled showdown with former 006 Alec Trevalyan; the brutal mêlée in the Casino Royale’s staircase; etc., etc., etc. But what about individual punches? The haymaker? The left hook? The right jab? The one-shot-take-’em-out wallop? The POW! … The BIFF! … The BAM! …?

What are Bond’s best?

We don’t know. (Although HMSS co-publisher Tom Zielinski suggested the gut punch 007 delivered to Felix Leiter in Thunderball, but we think that’s mostly due to Tom just wanting to see Bond hit Felix.) So we thought we’d enlist our readers to compile a list. Put your nominations in the Comments section below, and let’s see how many we all can come up with.

One caveat: Roger Moore’s Bond hitting Jaws in his steel kisser — for the second or third time! — does not count as a “best” punch. Sorry… our rules. Outside of that, have at it!

Skyfall scribe Logan gets Oscar nomination for Hugo

John Logan, one of three screenwriters for Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, picked up a nomination for best adapted screenplay for Hugo. He was previously nominated for Oscars for the original screenplays of The Aviator and Gladiator.

Logan was brought in to work on Skyfall by director Sam Mendes. His involvement was publicly disclosed about a year ago, when Eon Productions announced the 007 film was back on after being indefinitely delayed because of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s bankruptcy. Skyfall’s other screen writers are Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who’ve worked on the series since 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

Logan’s nomination for Hugo was one of 11 received by the Martin Scorsese-directed film.

Omega Seamaster Co-Axial 300 M: Commemorating 50 years of James Bond films

With special thanks to our good friend Dell Deaton, it is a pleasure to release information about the new Omega Seamaster watch commemorating 50 years of James Bond films. Visit Dell’s twitter account here for additional information and more photographs.

TimeZone.com has the official press release here

No price communicated as of yet. Below are pics. (Click to enlarge.)

Note the diamond at the seven on the dial, the “50” in red on the chronometer, and the use of Binder’s gun-barrel design on the back.

Cool, and understated. Just the way HMSS likes it. Well done.

The HMSS Editors

Soderbergh says more about his U.N.C.L.E. project

Steven Soderbergh, in another interview about his film Haywire, dropped a few more hints what his now-defunct version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. would have been like.

In an interview with The Playlist Web site, the director had this to say about U.N.C.L.E.:

Yeah, with that we had a couple of sequences that I thought conceptually were interesting and weren’t necessarily…there was only one hand to hand thing and there was an element in it that made it different than what we were doing in “Haywire.” Then the other action stuff had interesting ideas in it, that were not sort of straight forward, they all had some kind of weird thing going on. But it was also, I mean it was a real spy movie. Scott [Z. Burns, the writer of this and “Contagion”] wrote it so it was dense, it was smart, it was funny. I really like the Harry Palmer films a lot, so there was a lot of that in that. “The Ipcress File,” “Funeral in Berlin” and “Billion-Dollar Brain.” “Funeral in Berlin” I really liked a lot. Scott and I talked about that a lot. We were watching those as we were working on the script.

Some intriguing comments, in particular how Soderberger was graviating to the Palmer series, based on Len Deighton’s novels, starring Michael Caine and produced by Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions. U.N.C.L.E. was disdained by some (including Albert R. Broccoli, the other Eon co-founder) as a Bond ripoff. But with Soderbergh exiting U.N.C.L.E. last year, it’s a vision we’re not going to see.

On the other hand, U.N.C.L.E. was originally pitched as “James Bond for television,” not “Harry Palmer for television.”

UPDATE: Thinking about it further, maybe U.N.C.L.E. fans dodged a bullet thanks to Soderbergh’s departure in a disagreement with Warner Bros. over the film’s budget. Napoleon Solo, like James Bond, is a romantic hero, not an antihero.