007 references at the Oscars (R)

"Who's this Sandler kid?"

The Oscars (R) telecast on ABC early in the proceedings had a montage of clips of popular movies of yesteryear. Austin Powers made the cut while 007 got blanked.

Shortly thereafter, there was a montage of actors talking about the first movie they saw. Adam Sandler said his was Diamonds Are Forever when he was 5. He said something about being impressed by Sean Connery’s performance and his chest hair and that inspired him to become an actor. For some critics, that will be seen as another reason why Bond films aren’t good.

UPDATE: Bond film alumnus John Richardson lost out on a visual effects Oscar. He and three others were nominated for Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows Part 2. The special effects team for Hugo won the award.

UPDATE II: Skyfall screenwriter John Logan, nominated for Hugo, loses out on the adapted screenplay award. The writers for The Descendants win.

UPDATE III: The In Memoriam segment had only one person with any major 007 connection, former studio executive John Calley, who was involved in relaunching the Bond series with 1995’s GoldenEye. Barbara Broccoli, co-boss of Eon Productions, reportedly had issues with Calley. Like him or not, he was a major player at a time some questioned whether the series could be revived after a long hiatus.

Syd Cain, who passed away last year and helped sets on a number of 007 films, wasn’t included. In 2011, major actors such as Elizabeth Taylor and Peter Falk passed away as did Gilbert Cates, a director who also produced a number of Oscar telecasts and who first hired Billy Crystal as host of the Oscars telecast.

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Separated at birth? U.N.C.L.E. and 007 guns

Albert R. Broccoli, from the available evidence, couldn’t stand The Man From U.N.C.L.E. In his autobiography, the 007 film producer called the 1964-68 television show “a straight steal from (Ian) Fleming’s use of acronyms like SMERSH and SPECTRE.” (Page 199, When the Snow Melts).

The U.N.C.L.E. Special in its fully assembled glory


For a short time, Bond creator Ian Fleming was involved in development, his main contribution was the hero’s name of Napoleon Solo. Of course, there was a gangster called Mr. Solo in Goldfinger, so Eon Productions attempted to prevent the show (originally titled Solo) from going into production. The whole matter was settled out of court, though Cubby may have gotten a bit of revenge. Goldfinger’s script was changed in its latter drafts so that Mr. Solo was crushed in a Lincoln Continental after not wanting to participate in Goldfinger’s scheme.

Still, Broccoli’s animosity might not have prevented Eon from, eh, borrowing from U.N.C.L.E.

One of the iconic props of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was the U.N.C.L.E. Special, a Walther P38 (initially a Mauser) handgun with a sight, shoulder stock, barrel attachments and an extended magazine. People who barely watched an episode still came away impressed by the U.N.C.L.E. Special.

Mr. Bond, we think we've seen that gun somewhere before...


Flash forward a quarter-century to 1989’s Licence to Kill. One of its signature gadgets was a “signature gun,” supplied by Q to a 007-gone-rogue (Timothy Dalton). It consisted of a gun disguised as a camera which was added a sight, a shoulder stock and gunbarrel attachments. It didn’t have an extended magazine but it had a “palm reader” that ensured nobody other than Bond fired it.

And it looked….an awfully lot like a fully assembled U.N.C.L.E. Special.

Now, to be fair, a long time had passed since The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was first on the air (although the 1983 television film The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. included a Robert Short-designed new U.N.C.L.E. Special). And Cubby Broccoli, in what would be his last 007 film as a credited producer (he would “present” 1995’s GoldenEye but not have a producer credit) had a lot on his mind beyond what the art department was cooking up for props. Still, the resemblance is there regardless. (CLICK HERE to see a larger photo of the Licence to Kill signature gun.)

How British are Jaguar and Land Rover?

A publication called Car magazine has a story about how the Land Rover Defender will appear in Skyfall. Here’s a passage:

Land Rover Defender

(Skyfall co-producer Andrew) Noakes says the production company, EON, is delighted with the support of Jaguar-Land Rover. ‘The films may be made with American money and producers, but James Bond is British and we try to make associations with British companies. Land Rover is one of the oldest and most well-known. We’ve had offers from other companies but we’d prefer not to take James Bond out of a British environment.’

It’d probably be more accurate to call Jaguar-Land Rover a British subsidiary of an Indian company. The brands are owned by Mumbai, India-based Tata Motors Ltd., which acquired them in 2008. Jaguar hasn’t been British *owned* since 1989, when it was acquired by Ford Motor Co. Land Rover hasn’t been British owned since it was bought by Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known as BMW, in 1994. BMW sold Land Rover to Ford in 2000. Ford sold both brands to Tata four years ago.

While they still emphasize their British heritage, Jaguar and Land Rover aren’t really part of a British company. Models are still made in the U.K. (though Motor Trend wrote last month the Defender may be built in India.)

Then again, the literary Bond preferred Bentley, a brand that has been owned by Volkswagen AG since 1998.

A decade ago, Ford had a product placement deal with Eon Productions where Die Another Day would feature the European luxury brands the U.S. company then owned, including Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin. Die Another Day also included a Ford Thunderbird (since discontinued) which was driven briefly by Jinx (Halle Berry). Prior to that, BMW had provided cars for Bond in Pierce Brosnan’s first three 007 films.

In 2006’s Casino Royale, a Ford Mondeo, a model sold in Europe and not the U.S., appeared as did an Aston Martin model, both driven by Daniel Craig. Ford sold off Aston the following year. Ford models appeared in 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Skyfall is emphasizing Tata’s U.K. models and the nearly half-century-old Aston Martin DB5, which originally appeared in Goldfinger. The DB5 has been making appearances periodically in the series since 1995’s GoldenEye (including Casino Royale, as a car Bond wins in a poker game).

007 degrees of separation of James Bond trivia

001: Barry Nelson (1917-2007) was the first actor to play James Bond in the 1954 CBS adaptation of Casino Royale.

002: Barry Nelson also played the captain of the airline plane in 1970’s Airport. (Dean Martin was only the co-pilot.)

003: Aiport was the last film to be scored by Alfred Newman (1901-1970), who was also composer of the “20th “Century-Fox Fanfare” that starts every film released by that studio.

004: Alfred Newman is the father of film composer Thomas Newman (b. 1955).

005: Thomas Newman is the composer for Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film made by Eon Productions. It’s his first 007 assignment. He got the gig because he has done other films directed by Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall.

006: Barry Nelson was once a panelist on an installment of To Tell The Truth, the game show hosted by Bud Collyer (1908-1969), who was the first person to play Superman (albeit on radio, later as the voice of Clark Kent/Superman in movie and television cartoons).

007: That’s all we got; we’ll conveniently ignore the often-cited trivia that Skyfall producer Michael G. Wilson is the son of Lewis Wilson (1920-2000), the first actor to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in a 1943 serial.

Here’s Sam Mendes’s videoblog

Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall, did a videoblog on the official official 007 Web site early today. It was also uploaded to YouTube. Mendes doesn’t say a lot more than the quotes put out on the official 007 Facebook page yesterday, and some of that (complimenting Daniel Craig) is similar to what he said at the November Skyfall news conference. Anyway, you can watch for yourself here:

The FBI’s homage to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

We were checking out the DVD release of The FBI’s second season and came across what had to be a clear homage to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as The FBI's Lewis Erskine


The FBI episode involved was the first of a two-part episode called “The Executioners,” in which guest stars Walter Pidgeon and Telly Savalas play a pair of mob bosses and aired in the spring of 1967. Anyway, here are the similarities to U.N.C.L.E.

U.N.C.L.E.: U.N.C.L.E.’s New York headquarters uses Del Floria’s Tailor Shop as a front. U.N.C.L.E. personnel go into a changing room, pull on a hook, which activates a hidden door that leads to the security entrance, where viewers would see Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) and Illya Kuryakin (David McCallum) enter.

The FBI: La Cosa Nostra uses Milo’s clothing store in New York as a front. Mobsters go behind a changing screen that obscures a door. Once inside, they pull a hook, which activates a hidden door that leads to La Cosa Nostra’s hidden armory.

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in an U.N.C.L.E. publicity still.


Another similarity: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s pilot, The Vulcan Affair, was directed by Don Medford, and later released as a movie, To Trap a Spy. The FBI episode was directed by Don Medford and later released as a movie, Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the FBI (outside the U.S.).

Meanwhile the new DVD has three bonuses. 1) At the start of part I, we have the “bumper” where announcer Hank Simms says, “Next…The FBI…in color!” That has been stripped from other episodes after it went to syndication and color became commonplace. 2) In the main titles, we see the Ford Motor Co. logo. “The Ford Motor Company presents…The FBI, a Quinn Martin/Warner Bros. production!” That’s from the original broadcast version and has been stripped from other episodes after the show went into syndication. 3) At the very end, we see star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. tell us we’ve only seen the first half of the story and to tune in next week.

UPDATE (Feb. 22): We watched Part II on the DVD. It also has the Ford Motor Co. as part of the main titles. At the end (no spoilers): we see a brief sequence with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.: “Next week, The FBI will not be seen so the Ford Motor Co. can present an inspiring motor picture, The Robe, starring Richard Burton, Jean Simmons and Victor Mature.” Zimbalist assures viewers that The FBI will return in two weeks.

UPDATE (April 14): Warner Bros. uploaded a clip from Part I of The Executioners to YouTube showing the secret Cosa Nostra weapons drop. Decide for yourself whether Milo’s resembles U.N.C.L.E.’s Del Floria’s secret entrance.

Mendes to discuss Skyfall on Feb. 22

Sam Mendes, the director of Skyfall, will have a videoblog posted tomorrow on the official www.007.com Web site tomorrow, according to the film’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Skyfall director Sam Mendes


The videoblog is scheduled to be posted at 7:00 a.m. GMT, or 2 a.m. ET in the U.S. The Facebook posting has a quote from Mendes:

“The roots of my doing this Bond movie start way before anybody approached me because, like everyone else, I have my own personal relationship with Bond which began when I was I suppose about nine or ten years old. I’ve always been a fan of the movies.”

UPDATE: Another Mendes quote from the Facebook page:

“I think it is still possible to make a big, entertaining, fabulous, glamorous movie and yet at the same time to say something about the world that we’re living in.”