Skyfall teaser trailer debuts, confirms one call sheet tidbit

Skyfall’s teaser trailer was unveiled, as scheduled, on May 21 on the official James Bond Web site. Some observations:

— You can see what the fuss was about when Roger Deakins was hired as director of photography. Some of the images are stunning.

— There’s one confirmation that the contents of the call sheets and related materials that got out via eBay were genuine. At the 0:49 mark, agent Eve (Naomie Harris) is indeed shaving Bond (Daniel Craig), which was a listed scene in the call sheet materials.

— The post by “Liz” on the IMDB message board in February, was clearly off the mark.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen it, take a look at this version uploaded to YouTube by Sony. After the trailer, there’s an ad for the upcoming 007-themed Legends video game.

UPDATE: Some reactions around the Twitterverse. Multiple tweets to the effect that the 007.com site was very slow when the trailer went online overnight New York time. The trailer was uploaded after it was on a BBC morning show. Meanwhile on the BBC, James Bond@James Bond Live: “You’re late 007. (Skyfall trailer reveal postponed as BBC News takes their sweet time….)”

M@James Bond Dossier: “#SKYFALL trailer is completely un-Bondlike.” Bond Blog: “#SKYFALL teaser trailer awesome!” Panos Sambrakos: “I’ve the teaser trailer of #Skyfall and it rocks!” Bond Memes: “Great #Skyfall trailer. Bond doesn’t look much happier than he was in QoS, though. No sign yet of goldfinger humour.”

Observations about Skyfall’s teaser poster

Skyfall’s teaser poster released May 17

Skyfall’s teaser poster was released May 17 on the official 007 Web site. Fans are debating whether they like it or not. Here are few observations:

James Bond walks into the gunbarrel: The poster plays a bit with the iconic James Bond gunbarrel logo as the Daniel Craig version of 007 walks “into” the gunbarrel. There’s a black “platform” that he appears to be walking on.

No tuxedo again:Craig/Bond wears a suit. Bond hasn’t worn a tuxedo in a poster since the main poster for 2006’s Casino Royale (albeit with an untied necktie). In this new version, Bond is wearing a neatly tied necktie. Bond wore a suit and tie in the second Quantum of Solace poster while having a suit without a tie in the final Quantum poster. Truth be told, the Bond tuxedo hasn’t been seen a lot in posters since 1987’s The Living Daylights. That tradition continues here.

Gunbarrel: classic or retro?: It looks closer to the Maurice Binder original than the more 3-D version that Daniel Kleinman created in Bond films from 1995 to 2002. But it’s hard to tell for sure.

No credits: There are no credits in this version. The final version, obviously, will have them. We raised the question in January whether director Sam Mendes will get a “vanity credit,” which no previous director has gotten in the series produced by Eon Productions. We guess the odds are against it (thought not as much as previously). The answer will come another day.

Meanwhile, the official Web site promises that the teaser trailer will debut there on Monday, May 21.

Fleming and Hitchcock: how to turn old news into a `scoop’

This week, the U.K. Daily Mail newspaper had a story it presented as a scoop: that Ian Fleming wanted Alfred Hitchcock to direct the first James Bond movie and he went through novelist Eric Ambler to make an approach to the famed director.

“I say you chaps, what’s the fuss?”


You can view the Mail’s story BY CLICKING HERE. Warning: be prepared to read deep into the story before finding the whole story. But first, here’s an excerpt:

James Bond creator Ian Fleming wanted Alfred Hitchcock to direct the first 007 movie, it has emerged.

A telegram sent in 1959 has revealed one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in British cinema history and will leave James Bond fans shaken and stirred.

Fleming sent the communique in which he asked Hitchcock to take the helm of the first Bond film through a mutual friend. (emphasis added)

Oh, and here’s the headline (at least on the Web edition):

Revealed: The secret telegram that shows Ian Fleming wanted Alfred Hitchcock to direct the first Bond film (emphasis added)

The “first Bond film” in question was Thunderball, which originated as a film project in the late 1950s. When it fell apart, Fleming turned it into a novel, starting a complicated legal fight. Thunderball would eventually become the fourth film in the series produced by Eon Proudctions and would spawn a non-Eon remake, 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

If you read all the way to the 11th paragraph of the Daily Mail story, you’ll see the article cites the Web site Letters of Note, which IN A MAY 2 POST (or 13 days before the Daily Mail story) produced an image of the telegram sent from Fleming to Ambler about making an approach to Hitchcock.

Letters of Note, meanwhile, credited Robert Sellers’s book, The Battle for Bond, which was first published in 2007, or five years ago, with turning up the telegram.

Letters of Note is a Web site that reproduces images of letters, correspondence, etc., involving famous people. Nor is this the first time, it has dealt with Fleming. Last year, the site presented a copy of a letter Fleming sent to a reader indicating that James Bond survived the end of the From Russia With Love novel. The value Letters of Note brings is that people can view images of the original documents.

The Daily Mail didn’t mention The Battle for Bond until the next-to-last paragraph. Now, the Daily News could have added more value to the story but didn’t.

For example, why did Fleming send a telegraph to a British novelist with a Los Angeles address? Well, even minor research would have shown Ambler was working as a movie and television writer, including the screenplay for the movie The Wreck of the Mary Deare and creating the 1960-62 television series Checkmate. Dig a little bit deeper and you’d discover that Ambler in 1958 married to Joan Harrison, a Hitchcock associate who was a producer on the Alfred Hitchock Presents television show, and had worked with the director even further back, including as a writer on 1939’s Jamaica Inn.

And, finally, digging just a little further back, you’d discover that in the From Russia, With Love novel, the literary Bond takes a copy of an Eric Ambler novel with him to Istanbul (Chapter 13). Adding any or all of these details would have made for a much richer article. Instead, the newspaper takes a revelation from a five-year-old book and tells us how Bond fans will be shaken and stirred.

Not quite.

007 Magazine seeks votes from fans for best Bond film

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine is seeking votes from James Bond fans concerning which film is the best in the series.



For more information CLICK HERE. Rye is asking participants to list the 22 films in the Eon Productions series plus 1967’s Casino Royale and 1983’s Never Say Never Again and grade each on a 0 to 10 scale. To cast votes, e-mail them to greatestbondfilmever@yahoo.com. Click the above link for more detailed rules.

The deadline is midnight GMT on Sept. 1. The results will be published in October, the 50th anniversary month that Dr. No debuted in the U.K.

Variety looks at 50 years of James Bond

Variety has a package of stories about the 50th anniversary of James Bond films. You can CLICK HERE to see all the stories. Among them:

Variety examines 50 years of James Bond


–A profile of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the co-bosses of Eon Productions. (It mistakenly says they are step-siblings; they’re actually half-siblings, each having the same mother).

–A look at the impact different directors had on the franchise.

–A piece by Jon Burlingame that examines John Barry’s music and how it affected the 007 films.

–A story about how 007 was important to getting Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer through bankruptcy and how MGM bosses want to get Bond films back on a regular production schedule.

–How automakers have been involved with the series as part of product-placement deals.

MI6 Confidential takes a look at Skyfall

MI6 Confidential magazine has a new issue and the cover story examines Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film that’s nearing the end of principal photography.

Other articles include cast and crew members talking about filming in Istanbul; a look at Keith Hamshere, who has taken stills for various 007 films; and the “curious history of James Bond films on the small screen.”

For more information, CLICK HERE. The price is 6 British pounds, $10 or 7 euros.

The Avengers: the power of planning

So, Marvel’s The Avengers broke all records for a movie’s opening weekend in the U.S. and Canada. There’s a lot of praise for the movie (that tends to happen with a big hit). Are there any any lessons for older movie franchises, say, a 50-year-old one featuring a gentleman agent? Maybe one.

The Avengers: result of a five-year plan


The Hollywood Reporter on its Web site says there are five hidden reasons for the success of The Avengers. One caught our eye:

Avengers benefited from something no movie had before: It has been marketed to audiences since Iron Man first appeared at Comic-Con in 2007. When that movie became a surprise hit in May 2008 with a $98.6 million opening weekend, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige quickly unveiled his intention to make four more movies — The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America — all of which would lead to a giant team-up. Avengers characters like Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) popped up in those movies, and the original Iron Man featured a coda segment devoted to the Avengers initiative. At the time, only comic-book fanboys understood the reference.

Planning? Well, yes, that’s what happened with The Avengers. Had 2008’s Iron Man bombed, we probably wouldn’t have gotten The Avengers. But Marvel Studios did have a game plan about where to go from there.

Contrast that with the 007 franchise the past decade. You had Die Another Day in 2002, the 40th anniversary Bond film. After that? Eon Productions didn’t exactly know where to go. Those aren’t our words. That’s what Eon co-boss Michael G. Wilson told The New York Times IN OCTOBER 2005:

“We are running out of energy, mental energy,” Mr. Wilson recalled saying. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”

That led to 2006’s Casino Royale where Eon decided to start the series all over. The movie wasn’t so much Bond 21 as it was Bond 2.0. It was a big critical and commercial hit. But Eon didn’t exactly know where to proceed from that point. For Eon’s next movie, multiple ideas were considered, including Bond encountering Vesper Lynd’s child before opting for a “direct sequel” that didn’t really match up with the continuity of Casino Royale.

Earlier, in the early 1990s, in the midst of a six-year hiatus, there were reports that Eon commissioned scripts so it could get off to a running start and get Bond movies out at a regular pace. Eon may have commissioned scripts, but there was no running start. After the series resumed with GoldenEye, Eon had scripts from Donald E. Westlake and Bruce Feirstein (and possibly others, but those two were publicly disclosed). The Feirstein script got rewritten by other writers before Feirstein did the final version and was the only scribe to get a writing credit for Tomorrow Never Dies.

To be fair, Eon had a legal fight with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in the early ’90s and MGM had financial difficulties in 2009-2010, including a trip to bankruptcy court. That’s something Marvel Studios hasn’t had to deal with. At the same time, Marvel Studios was able to juggle multiple movies as well as different directors and writers as it executed its plan. If Eon has a similar long-term plan, it hasn’t shared it with anyone.

Interestingly, an element of The Avengers is the secret organization SHIELD. Stan Lee, in a 1975 book, wrote that SHIELD was inspired by James Bond movies and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series.

UPDATE (May 13): Marvel’s The Avengers had an estimated $103.2 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales in its second weekend of release. Meanwhile, Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios said in a Bloomberg Television interview that five more movies based on Marvel characters are in the works.

Craig and Broccoli say no schedule set for Bond 24

Skyfall’s producer and star suggest a Sony executive was “a little overexcited.”

Daniel Craig and Barbara Broccoli, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH COLLIDER.COM LAST WEEK, said there isn’t a firm schedule for Bond 24.

Here’s an excerpt:

(Question:) Last week Rory (Bruer), the president of distribution of Sony, announced Bond 24 for I guess late 2014…

Broccoli: He was getting a little overexcited (laughs). We’re just actually focusing on this movie. One hopes that in the future we’ll be announcing other films, but no one’s officially announced it.

Craig: No one’s announced anything. He got a little ahead of himself (laughs). It’s very nice that he has the confidence to be able to do that, but we haven’t finished this movie (Skyfall) yet.

Two things we’ve noted before: Sony wants Bond 24 to come out in 2014 and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer has said it wants the Bond series to resume an every-other-year schedule. But Eon Productions owns half the franchise, and nobody other than Eon can produce a Bond movie as long as that’s the case.

On the other hand, variations of the line “nothing’s been announced” are meaningless. Announcements come at the end of the process. Craig and Broccoli said it hadn’t been officially announced that Ben Whishaw would be playing Q, or a similar character, in Skyfall. Then, around the same time, director Sam Mendes TOLD THE U.K. SUN NEWSPAPER that’s exactly what happened and that it was all his idea.

Our guess, and it’s only a guess: Don’t expect Skyfall Bond 24 until 2015. To have Bond 24 ready in two years after Skyfall, at least some work on a story should be underway by this fall. Maybe it has, or will, start by that time and nothing has been “officially announced.” On the other hand, Eon isn’t known for multitasking. Anyway, we shall see what we shall see.

SHIELD’s helicarrier as seen in the comics

Jack Kirby’s original depiction of the SHIELD helicarrier

The big movie is the U.S. this weekend is Marvel’s The Avengers. One of the film’s settings is a massive flying complex belonging to the mysterious organization SHIELD that has brought together a group of superheroes. That flying headquarters, or helicarrier, made its debut in Strange Tales No. 135, which also introduced Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

In that initial story, Nick Fury is being recruited to lead SHIELD. He doesn’t know where he has been taken until the 11th page of the 12-page tale where Fury foils a plot by a secret organization called Hydra to destroy SHIELD’s command center. (See image at right.)

Later, in Strange Tales No. 154, artist Jim Steranko (who also plotted the SHIELD story in that issue), provided a “blueprint” with a cutaway view of the helicarrier. “Being made of a new silica and steel alloy, it is a simple feat for the colossal craft to hover five miles above the Eastern Seaboard…and to go much higher, if necessary!” scripter Roy Thomas informed readers.

Jim Steranko’s “blueprint” for the helicarrier


Also, in that issue, Fury is outfitted with a new flameproof and fireproof suit from a SHIELD staffer named, eh, Boothroyd. The suit is pretty much trashed by the end of the issue after Fury encounters a Hydra robot called the Dreadnaught.

Lee, in his 1975 book Sons of Origins of Marvel Comics, said he was a fan of James Bond films and the television show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. “We were going to out-Bond Bond and out-UNCLE UNCLE — if you’ve got to set goals for yourself, might as well make ’em big ones!”

UPDATE: Marvel’s The Avengers set a U.S. record for a movie’s opening weekend with $200.3 million in ticket sales. That’s a preliminary figure based on actual ticket sales on Friday and Saturday and estimated results for Sunday. The final figure will be released on May 7.

A View To a Kill, a reappraisal

If there ever were a James Bond movie that suffered from a split personality, it would be A View To a Kill, the 14th entry in the series produced by Eon Productions.

The 1985 007 film is not a favorite of HMSS editors. It was Roger Moore’s seventh, and final, appearance as Bond. A good many HMSS editors never liked Moore to begin with and weren’t about to cut him any slack. The actor was 56 when filming began and he’d celebrate his 57th birthday during production. But upon viewing the movie again, the future Sir Roger is the least of the movie’s problems.

How’s that? Well, Moore soldiers on despite the movie’s wildly uneven tone. Want a serious Bond? He does what the story calls for. Want a jokey Bond? The actor delivers. He gets the blame from fans for the uneven tone but that blame probably belongs elsewhere. Was he too old to play Bond? Easy to say in hindsight, but Moore didn’t hire himself. Perhaps it was a reward for 1983’s Octopussy doing better box office than the rival Never Say Never Again.

The pre-titles sequence, set in Siberia, is a microcosm of what follows. Some moments seem absolutely brilliant, with tension, drama and great stunts. Then the movie abruptly switches to slapstick, with Bond escaping Soviet soldiers, accompanied by a Beach Boys song (without the Beach Boys performing it). Then, we’re back to tense excitement as Bond gets out of his precarious situation followed by a light, if cheesy, moment.

The rest of the movie more or less follows this pattern. We get some yuks as Bond and Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) pose a vapid rich guy and his valet to infiltrate a horse auction held by villain Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). When Sir Godfrey ends up as the movie’s sacrifical lamb, Bond appears genuinely upset and PO’d with Zorin, looking like he really wants to kill the bad guy. Later, Bond and heroine Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) narrowly escape a Zorin deathtrap it’s appropriately tense (though Roberts’s screaming can be annoying). That’s followed up by a bad joke that breaks the fourth wall which also implies Stacey and a San Fancisco police captain know all about the famous James Bond. “Yeah and I’m Dick Tracy and you’re still under arrest!” the police captain says. And so on.

It’s almost as if director John Glen, with his third consecutive 007 outing, decided to, at times, channel Jules White, who helmed many of the classic short films of The Three Stooges. But at others, the movie takes on a very dark tone. One example: when Zorin and right-hand man Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau) gun down a work crew the villain has hired as part of his plot. It’s as if Glen, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Wilson couldn’t quite find the right mix of drama and humor so they opted to go extremes both ways.

Walken, as Zorin, also reflects the odd back-and-forth tone. At times, he seems like a true psychopath, at others as if he knows it’s a big joke and he’s playing along. Walken is a wonderful actor. Still, we’re also told that Zorin is French and speaks five languages without an accent. Then it’s revealed he’s the result of a genetic experiment held in a German concentration camp during World War II. Yet, we only hear Zorin speak in English with a Brooklyn accent. “MO-ah! Mo-ah POW-ah!” he proclaims after Bond has enared Zorin’s blimp at the Golden Gate Bridge in the film’s climax.

John Barry is the one member of the creative team who performs at his best. The composer, scoring consecutive 007 films for the first time since 1969 and 1971 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever), does his best to elevate the proceedings and succeeds. Even when action sequences get too jokey at times, his music keeps things moving. If you ever hear somebody claim say that underscore in a movie doesn’t matter, A View To a Kill is Exhibit A that the opposite is true.

The movie was an end of an era. Besides Moore’s final 007 appearance, it was also the finale for Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny and she’s fine. Desmond Llewelyn’s Q reports for duty. In one shot in the final scene, he goes a bit over the top with a leering expression and askew headset, but that’s what his director presumably wanted. (“Desmond, as you do this scene, I want you to look like Curly Howard seeing a naked beautiful woman for the first time!”)

Finally, there’s an in-joke for those familiar with the business side of 007. Bond, desperately holding onto a rope attached to a blimp, has his manhood imperiled by the top of the Transamerica Building in San Francisco. That structure was home to the conglomerate that formerly owned United Artists, the studio that released Bond films. Transamerica dumped UA, selling it to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after the movie Heaven’s Gate bombed at the box office.

With A View To a Kill, there are times it’s as if a classic James Bond movie is fighting to get out. There are flashes here and there, but the film never escapes its wildly inconsistent tone. Life’s that way sometimes. Mo-ah POW-ah, indeed.