REVIEW: 60 Minutes’s James Bond story

On Oct. 14, CBS’s 60 Minutes devoted one of its three segments to the 50th anniversary of 007 films and the upcoming Skyfall. There wasn’t a lot that hard-core fans didn’t know, but Anderson Cooper’s story was probably illuminating for casual fans.

Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli and 007 star Daniel Craig

Among the better bits: Cooper (who works primarily for CNN but does occasional stories for 60 Minutes) visits the warehouse that stores artifacts from the series produced by Eon Productions. He also goes to a firing range to learn how to fire a Walther PPK (harder than it looks).

At the warehouse, Cooper had to don gloves to handle the older props, including a champagne bottle from Dr. No (Sean Connery’s Bond is prepared to break it when Dr. No’s lackeys take Honey Rider away), From Russia With Love’s gimmicked briefcase and one of Oddjob’s hats from Goldfinger (used in the villain’s finale scene when he gets electrocuted by Connery-Bond).

Cooper’s main interviews are with Eon’s co-bosses, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, as well as Skyfall star Daniel Craig. The newsman tries to probe but mostly gets some of the standard talking points. Broccoli talks about “electrifying” Craig was. Wilson teases she must be referring to the Casino Royale scene where Craig-Bond comes out of the water in a short pair of trunks. “How did you know that was what I was thinking of?” she teases back. Broccoli ends up doing most of the talking for the Eon pair.

The biggest problem with the story: Cooper refers to how the 007 series is “one of the most profitable” in film history than says it “earned” $5 billion. The $5 billion figure is total worldwide ticket sales, not profit.

Profit is revenue minus costs. The $5 billion figure is just revenue. Fan Web sites often make this mistake but CBS News and 60 Minutes should know better. An alternative way to say it: “It’s one of the profitable film series in history. The first film, Dr. No, just cost $1 million to make and had ticket sales of almost $60 million.” That doesn’t take much longer to say but gets across the point (even if one doesn’t know the exact profit figure) in a more accurate way.

Another factual error: Cooper says Harry Saltzman *bought* the Bond film rights for $50,000. He bought an *option* to purchase the rights and that was only good for six months. As the hard-core fans know, time was running out on Saltzman when he met Albert R. Broccoli, who had the studio connections needed to make a deal.

In any case, it was, an entertaining story. 60 Minutes usually likes to slip one entertainment story in each broadcast. The Bond story was the typical slickly edited segment. But there are a few gaps here and there. GRADE: B (mostly for the visuals of Cooper visiting the prop archive).

Meanwhile the 60 Minutes Overtime Web site has a story about BECOMING BOND FOR A DAY.

UPDATE: Stuart Basinger, who sometimes replies to posts here and has written about Bond elsewhere, mentioned this on Twitter: “Six degrees of separation. Anderson Cooper’s mother was once married to Cubby Broccoli’s cousin.” We looked it up and indeed, Gloria Vanderbilt (b. 1924) was married to Pat DiCicco from 1941 to 1945.

UPDATE II: If you CLICK HERE you should be able to access the 60 Minutes story.

Happy 85th birthday, Roger Moore

Roger Moore, star of seven 007 movies from 1973 to 1985, turns 85 on Oct. 14.

When he talks about Bond, he frequently compliments other actors in the role, particularly Sean Connery and Daniel Craig. Occasionally, such as the new Everything Or Nothing documentary, he’ll analyze his own films. For example, in that documentary, he mentions a scene in The Man With the Golden Gun he now cringes about. His Bond double crosses a Thai boy and pushes him in the water.

But when it comes to Bond, he mostly still promotes the enterprise even though his direct involvement ended long ago while not (publicly at least) seeming to worry about his place in it.

Here’s an excerpt from a 2010 essay by HMSS co-founder Paul Baack that analyzed Moore as 007:

While one may quibble over screen Bond depictions vs. Ian Fleming’s descriptions, Roger Moore actually had quite a satisfactory screen presence in the role. That he was handsome goes without saying, although he’s been charged with being “blandly handsome.” Whatever. His voice is perhaps the best of all the Bonds, a rich baritone with a drawling English accent just this short of being plummy (which he could actually turn quite crisp when he needed to).

It didn’t often seem like it, but Moore could actually act. His style wasn’t flashy like Timothy Dalton’s or studied like Sean Connery’s, but you never saw him looking awkward on the screen. Goofy at times, sure, but even then it was always in concert with the scene and the other actors. He could project great warmth or steely coolness; it’s still a thrill to see the gravitas he brought to his “serious” scenes. Like you would imagine 007 to be, Moore was comfortable in his own skin, naturalistic and at ease onscreen as “that gentleman secret agent.”

He was a great ambassador for the James Bond movies. Moore was a frequent, and welcome, guest on most of the major television talk shows, where he could banter and/or engage in serious conversation with wit, charisma, and charm. Whether promoting the newly-released film or talking about going into production on the next one, his enthusiasm and appreciation were always tempered by his self-deprecating sense of humor and private amusement at where his career had taken him…. The old saw about “he kept the series popular” is largely true, and no small accomplishment.

You can read the entire essay BY CLICKING HERE.