No April Dancer in the U.N.C.L.E. movie

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

(Shoutout to @laneyboggs2001, Henry Cavill News and, who Tweeted and blogged all day on Oct. 10.)

Well, you can’t win them all.

On OCTOBER 3 this blog posed the question whether Alicia Vikander was playing April Dancer in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie that has wrapped filming in Rome and is headed back to the U.K.

April was the lead character in the spinoff series The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. and was a name devised by Ian Fleming (originally as a Miss Moneypenny type character for The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) The answer looks to be no. During filming in Italy, the actors had chairs with the names of their characters on it.

For the finale of Rome shooting, a picture showed up in a picture on the Henry Cavill News fan Web site. If you CLICK HERE and scroll down, you’ll see a photo of some of the chairs.

One of the chairs appears to be for Vikander. The character name on the chair isn’t April Dancer. Vikander plays a character who is an MI6 agent who gets involved in the story. Unless the production is being exceptionally sneaky, the April Dancer theory now bites the dust.

Next week, the movie is scheduled to be in the U.K. to film a scene involving GRAND PRIX RACING. The production has solicited owners of 1960s vintage cars to participate.

Finally, here’s a video of the last night of filming in Rome. You can see Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer and Vikander as well as director Guy Ritchie. Amusingly, Cavill, who plays Napoleon Solo, is wearing a 1960s-style suit but takes out a 21st century digital camera or smartphone to take some pictures while waiting to film a scene.

The music on the video is Hugo Montenegro’s version of Jerry Goldsmith’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. theme that first appeared on a 1965 album.

RE-POST: From Russia With Love’s 50th: legacy

Sean Connery in a From Russia With Love publicity still

Sean Connery in a From Russia With Love publicity still

Originally published Sept. 18, the last of a four-part series. Reprinted today, the actual anniversary.

From Russia With Love, the second James Bond film, remains different from any 007 adventure since.

It’s the closest the Bond series had to a straight espionage thriller. The “McGuffin” is a decoding machine. That’s important in the world of spying but the stakes would be much larger in future 007 adventures: the fate of the U.S. gold supply, recovering two atomic bombs, preventing nuclear war, etc.

From Russia With Love includes memorable set pieces such as the gypsy camp fight between Bulgarians working for the Soviets and the gypsies working for MI6’s Kerim Bey as well as Bond dodging a helicopter. But they’re not the same scope compared with what would be seen in future 007 films. No underwater fights. No giant magnets snatching cars from a highway. No death-dealing satellites. Even when Bond movies such as For Your Eyes Only and The Living Daylights tried to have From Russia With Love-like moments, they still had larger action sequences.

From Russia With Love is by no means a small, “indie” film. It’s just different compared with what producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and their successors, would offer in future 007 installments. Perhaps that’s why some fans keep coming back to view From Russia With Love again and again.

From Russia With Love also introduced stylistic changes to the Bond series, particularly with the beginning of the 007 pre-credits sequence. It also had an actual title song, unlike Dr. No. However, the main titles used an instrumental version (plus an arrangement of the James Bond Theme). The vocal, performed by Matt Monro, is briefly heard during the film and isn’t played in its entirety until the end titles. Finally, the movie was the first time Eon Productions revealed the title of the next 007 adventure in the end titles.

From Russia With Love also demonstrated that Dr. No wasn’t a fluke. If Sean Connery as Bond had been a diamond in the rough in Dr. No, he was now fully polished in his second turn as Bond. At the box office, From Russia With Love was an even bigger hit with audiences than Dr. No.

The 1963 007 outing proved once and for all the judgment of Broccoli and Saltzman — the odd couple forced by circumstances to join forces — that Bond had major commercial potential. The likes of Irving Allen (Broccoli’s former partner who hated Ian Fleming’s novels) and Columbia Pictures (which had the chance to finance Dr. No only to see United Artists do the deal) had egg on their faces.

Nearly a half-century later, From Russia With Love is often in the conversation among fans (particularly older ones) as among the best of the Bond films. It also ensured the series would continue — though nobody realized how big things would get.

THE END…NOT QUITE THE END…JAMES BOND will return in the next Ian Fleming thriller “GOLDFINGER.”