University of Michigan football game has 007 half time skit

Not the University of Michigan president

Not the University of Michigan president

The University of Michigan’s Aug. 31 football game against Central Michigan University featured a James Bond-themed half time skit.

Essentially, the plot line of the skit was that MARY SUE COLEMAN, the university president, also moonlights as the head of MI6. Coleman gets kidnapped and needs rescuing. Coleman is retiring as the university president in mid-2014 so the skit was a way of honoring her tenure.

At one point, the P.A. announcer asked if “the forces of scarlet and gray” (the colors of Big Ten archrival Ohio State University) would defeat “the maze and blue,” representing the colors of Michigan. The answer, the announcer assured everyone, was no.

Michigan defeated Central Michigan 59-9.

UPDATE (Sept. 1): Read S Cooper’s comment below to see how the skit turned out. The villain of the piece of was Brutus, the Ohio State mascot. You can watch this YouTube video (unless it gets yanked from the video-sharing service):

Dick Van Dyke says he had a chance at playing 007

"My name is Bond, James Bond."

“My name is Bond, James Bond.”

Veteran comedic (and dramatic serious) actor Dick Van Dyke says he had a chance to play James Bond.

Van Dyke, 87, made an appearance on the Aug. 18 edition of Kevin Pollak’s Cat Show when he surprised the host.

“I was doing Chitty,” Van Dyke said, referring to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, “Sean Connery had spoken about leaving the Bond pictures. He had done several at the time. Cubby Broccoli actually pulled me in and asked me if I wanted to do Bond….That really happened.”

Van Dyke, at Pollak’s urging, said, “Bond, James Bond.” Van Dyke also opined about current 007 Daniel Craig. “For some reason he lacks the panache to be Bond to me. He’s a wonderful actor and great physicality.”

The subject wasn’t explored much beyond that (aside from some banter between the two about Van Dyke’s English accent in Mary Poppins). Albert R. Broccoli produced Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the 1968 film musical based on Ian Fleming’s children novel; it was the producer’s final non-Bond project.

The exchange begins around the 28:45 mark below. The video lasts a little over two hours and covers a lot of subjects.

CLICK HERE to see an earlier Yahoo! Movies post about Van Dyke’s comments.

More questions about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer (Art by Paul Baack)

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer
(Art by Paul Baack)

Gradually, details are emerging about the movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that’s scheduled to start filming next month. But there are still plenty of unanswered questions about director Guy Ritchie’s project. Here are a few.

Who will be playing some key roles? The leads have been cast, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer playing Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, the U.N.C.L.E. operatives played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum in the 1964-68 television series. Three other actors, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki and Hugh Grant, are slated for other roles.

There’s still no word on who will play Alexander Waverly, the U.N.C.L.E. leader played by Leo G. Carroll in the series. If a primary villain has been cast, it hasn’t been announced. Perhaps there will be some answers as filming begins.

Who will be the composer? Key crew members have emerged, according to the movie’s IMDB.COM ENTRY. John Mathieson, who has photographed films such as Gladiator, The Phantom of the Opera and X-Men: First Class, is listed as director of photography. James Herbert, who edited both of Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes movies, will perform the same task here.

Still no word on a composer. Hans Zimmer worked on Ritchie’s Holmes films and has composed music for various action movies. Thus, Zimmer would seem to be a candidates. But he’s already scheduled to do other 2014 films, according to his IMDB.com entry. Michael Giacchino and David Arnold, the five-time 007 composer, would seem to be among suitable choices. Giacchino also has a busy plate with films scheduled to be released next year.

The U.N.C.L.E. Special

The U.N.C.L.E. Special

Will there be new versions of key U.N.C.L.E. props? The U.N.C.L.E. Special, a handgun with attachments, was one of the distinctive props on the original show. The Special is even the subject of a Web site, THEUNCLEGUN.COM. Also, the U.N.C.L.E. agents used communicators initially disguised as a pack of cigarettes, later as a pen.

Presumably, Ritchie & Co. will want their own versions of such key props. The movie is to be a period piece so it’ll be interesting to see if revamped U.N.C.L.E. Specials and communicators will be based on what was available in the 1960s.

Will there be a new U.N.C.L.E. logo? Again, assuming Ritchie & Co. want their own look, a revised U.N.C.L.E. insignia would be a possibility. The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had its own insignia when it came out in 1983.

Is it going to be any good? That’s the biggest question of all.

Aaron Sorkin and James Bond

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin

We’re not 100 percent sure, but we’d be willing to bet that Oscar and Emmy-winning writer and producer Aaron Sorkin is a James Bond fan.

This previous Sunday’s episode of The Newsroom concluded with the Atlantis World Media CEO Leona Lansing (Jane Fonda) waxing quite rhapsodic over a certain Mr. Daniel Craig. She had just spent $1,000 to see Skyfall and meet the current 007 actor (the reference is based ON A REAL-LIFE EVENT), when she was called away for a crisis at the titular news organization. She’s not entirely happy about it, as you can see in this pretty funny clip:

This isn’t the first time Sorkin has referenced Her Majesty’s Blunt Instrument on one of his shows. Back when The West Wing was on, and DVD players were still a high-end luxury item, presidential aide Charlie Young (DulĂ© Hill) has to save up to get the machine he’s been lusting after. And for good reason: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is available for purchase! President Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), however, is unimpressed with James Bond’s drinking habits, as ye shall see:

While we may disagree with Mr. Bartlett’s opinion in this matter, we’re always happy to see James Bond references in popular culture. And we’re especially pleased to find them in the works of this brilliant showrunner. Thanks, Mr. Sorkin!

Bond 24’s Rorschach test

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

“Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony…and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche. I can’t do shtick, I’m not very good at it. Unless it kind of suddenly makes sense. Does that make sense? I sometimes wish I hammed it up more, but I just can’t do it very well, so I don’t do it.”

Daniel Craig AS QUOTED BY THE VULTURE BLOG of New York Magazine About Bond 24.

That’s not a lot of detail, but since that interview was posted Aug. 23, various publications and Web Sites have been interpreting it. Those interpretations vary a bit, somewhat like a 007 Rorschach test. Some examples:

Yahoo!: 007 TO CRACK WISE IN `SKYFALL’ SEQUEL.

The U.K. Telegraph: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO LIGHTEN UP BOND 24.

IGN: DANIEL CRAIG: BOND 24 WON’T BE CAMPY.

Entertainmentwise: DANIEL CRAIG WANTS TO SEE MORE DRY HUMOR IN BOND 24.

Dark Horizons: CRAIG WANTS IRONY, NOT CAMP, IN “BOND 24.”

Not much is known about Bond 24, scheduled for a fall 2015 release. Even some of what is known, such as the fact Skyfall co-scribe John Logan will pen the scripts for Bond 24 and Bond 25, was initially denied by one 007 partner (Eon Productions) before being confirmed by another (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer).

Thus, any word about Bond 24 — especially coming directly from the movie’s star — is going to be analyzed.

Irony is defined as “the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.” Or: “a technique of indicating, as through character or plot development, an intention or attitude opposite to that which is actually or ostensibly stated.”

But which “old irony” did Craig mean? It’s not detailed explicitly in the Vulture article. The quote about irony comes after a passage where it’s described how Skyfall was “lifted by a late ‘humor pass’ on the script.” The actor also says it was his idea to have Bond straighten his cuffs amid mayhem in Skyfall’s pre-credits sequence. It’s a Bondian moment, similar to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond straightening his tie in the middle of GoldenEye’s tank chase and The World Is Not Enough’s pre-credits sequence.

Presumably Craig’s irony comment wasn’t referring to the Roger Moore era (1973-1985), known for an expansion of humor relative to earlier 007 films. But even the Sean Connery era of the Eon movies (1962-67, 1971) had quips such as “She should have kept her mouth shut,” and “Shocking, positively shocking,” not necessarily the most subtle bits of humor. Connery’s non-Eon 007 film, Never Say Never Again, had a slapstick British diplomat, Nigel Small-Fawcett, and jokes about urine samples.

So perhaps Bond 24 will have a lighter tone. But there are other signs that humor may still be limited. John Logan was quoted in March by the Financial Times as saying words he “hopes to build on Skyfall in examining the complexities of Bond’s character.” We’ll see.

Earlier posts:
NEW QUESTIONS ABOUT BOND 24

AN EARLY BOND 24 ACCURACY CHECKLIST

MGM MAY BEND ON BOND 24’S SCHEDULE

A brief history of 007’s cars

Copyright © Evans Halshaw

1963 page from Bond: Licence to Drive

The Evans Halshaw company is a leading car and van retailer in the United Kingdom, with over 130 locations across England, Scotland, and Wales. Of much more interest to us 007 fans is that they’ve created, for their Web site, a very cool history of the cars of the screen James Bond.

Combining interesting factoids with a very slick vector graphics look, the presentation takes us all the way from the Sunbeam Alpine Sean Connery piloted in Dr. No, through Skyfall‘s Land Rover Defender (and – Spoiler Alert! – a certain Aston Martin DB 5).

James Bond fans – and motoring enthusiasts (a.k.a. car nuts) – can point their web browsers to Bond: Licence to Drive and feast their eyes.

Tell ’em that HMSS sent ya!

(Big thanks to Laura Bailey at Online Ventures Group for tipping us to this neat little show!)

The African war that may have influenced Boyd’s Solo

William Boyd

William Boyd

Solo, the new James Bond novel by William Boyd, according to U.S. publisher HarperCollins, is set in 1969 and takes place in “Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation” that “is being ravaged by a bitter civil war.” Bond is assigned “to quash the rebels threatening the established regime.”

It sounds as if Solo’s story may concern a fictional version of a real war. From 1967 to 1970, THE NIGERIAN CIVIL WAR raged, after the southeastern provinces of Nigeria, a former U.K. colony, seceded to form the Republic of Biafra. (To see a Wikipedia map, CLICK HERE.) Nigeria, with U.K. support, took back Biafra. That civil war also produced MANY DISTURBING IMAGES, including those of starving children.

Boyd has written a number of stories set in Africa.

If Solo is using the Nigerian civil war as the basis for the plot, it won’t be the first time a spy novel has done so. The 1967-70 conflict was a setting in the 2009 novel FREE AGENT by Jeremy Duns. The novel’s lead character is Paul Dark, who “is a seasoned agent for MI6 when a KGB officer turns up in Nigeria during the Biafran civil war wanting to defect.”

In the publicity materials for Free Agent, the story is endorsed by William Boyd, who calls the tale a “wholly engrossing and sophisticated spy novel.”

UPDATE: Jeremy Duns, in a reply to yesterday’s post about the HarperCollins plot summary, provides a LINK to the plot summary of Solo by the Curtis Brown literary and talent agency. It reads thusly (with the part in boldface type added emphasis by this blog):

It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.

A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M’s orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond’s renegade action leads him to Washington, DC, where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.

Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his ever waking moment.

To view Wikipedia’s entry for the Nigerian Civil War, CLICK HERE

To view a promotion for Free Agent along with an excerpt, CLICK HERE.

Earlier post:

BOYD’S U.S. PUBLISHER PROVIDES PLOT SUMMARY OF SOLO

Brian Berley takes down his 007 illustrations

Artist Brian Berley has taken down his illustrations based on Ian Fleming 007 novels down from public view.

Berley said in a post on the message boards of the MI6 James Bond fan Web site that, “I have to announce that my collection of Bond Illustrations has been officially banished from public display.”

To read the artist’s full post on the message board, CLICK HERE. The HMSS Weblog did a December 2010 post about Berley’s 007 art, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE.

Boyd’s U.S. publisher provides plot summary of Solo

William Boyd

William Boyd

HarperCollins, the U.S. publisher of William Boyd’s upcoming James Bond novel, Solo, has provided a synopsis of its story line.

THE BOOK BOND WEB SITE spotted the PLOT SUMMARY earlier. The summary reads:

It’s 1969, and, having just celebrated his forty-fifth birthday, James Bond—British special agent 007—is summoned to headquarters to receive an unusual assignment. Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation, is being ravaged by a bitter civil war, and M directs Bond to quash the rebels threatening the established regime.

Bond’s arrival in Africa marks the start of a feverish mission to discover the forces behind this brutal war—and he soon realizes the situation is far from straightforward. Piece by piece, Bond uncovers the real cause of the violence in Zanzarim, revealing a twisting conspiracy that extends further than he ever imagined.

Moving from rebel battlefields in West Africa to the closed doors of intelligence offices in London and Washington, this novel is at once a gripping thriller, a tensely plotted story full of memorable characters and breathtaking twists, and a masterful study of power and how it is wielded—a brilliant addition to the James Bond canon.

Does Boyd’s novel delve a bit more into politics than other 007 tales, even if the author is using a fictional African country? The part about Bond being assigned “to quash the rebels threatening the established regime” raises that possibility. Ian Fleming’s original novels, of course, were penned during the Cold War and make occasional references to events. But 007’s creator also created larger-than-life villains and devised escapist plots.

Boyd’s BACKGROUND includes writing novels with an African setting such as A Good Man in Africa, where the author ALSO WROTE THE SCREENPLAY FOR THE MOVIE VERSION.

To read The Book Bond’s post, CLICK HERE.

Previous posts:

JAMES BOND AND BREAKFAST

OPEN CHANNEL D: WILLIAM BOYD’S FLEMING RESEARCH GAP

Daniel Kleinman discusses his influences

Jack Kirby self portrait

Jack Kirby (1917-1994) self portrait


Daniel Kleinman, who has designed the main titles for six James Bond movies, did an interview in April with the ART OF THE TITLE Web site. Kleinman discussed the titles and what has influenced his work. A few excerpts:

Bond title sequences obviously carry a huge legacy and they often present the themes and settings of the film they precede. What’s the starting point for a new Bond sequence? The script? A cut of the film?

The starting point for me is always the script; I am usually brought into the process before the film has started shooting or at least in very early stages of production. I read the script and get a sense of the main themes of the movie, perhaps start to have a few ideas, brainstorm with myself a bit, write lists, get excited, look for reference, and start sketching. Next I meet with the producers and the director of the film to get a clear idea of the vibe of the film and be aware of any input or requirements for the title sequence. Then, I explain how I see the tone of the titles perhaps with rough sketches and reference. I rarely see a cut of the film until quite late in the process but I do see some individual scenes particularly the ones that lead into and out of the title sequence. There is a back and forth process.

What were some of your stylistic influences?

I have very eclectic tastes! I trained as an artist and designer, so I love painting and film. I collected comics as a boy and was drawn to Aubrey Beardsley, Gustave Doré, Eduardo Paolozzi, Peter Blake, Saul Bass, Windsor McKay, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Magritte, Bosh, Géricault, George Grosz, Hokusai, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Holbein, Dürer, Arthur Rackham, Heath and Charles Robinson — actually the list is fairly endless!

One of Kleinman's influences

One of Kleinman’s influences

What are some of your favorite title sequences in general, whether film or television?

As a child I loved the opening to The Man From Uncle. The way Napoleon Solo stands behind the bulletproof glass being shot at perhaps subliminally influenced my mirror scene in Skyfall. Get Smart was a good one. Man with the Golden Arm was a great visual. Oddly, I’ve never really taken a great deal of notice of title sequences. I didn’t set out to do them and I don’t do any other than Bond, which I do for fun. I’m really an advertising director and therefore shoot a lot of disparate types of things. I suppose I don’t think of myself as a title sequence director.

To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE.

To view the Jack Kirby entry on Wikipedia, CLICK HERE.

To view the Steve Ditko entry on Wikipedia, CLICK HERE.