Ian Fleming’s entry on a ‘literary embarrassments’ list

Cover for the first edition of The Spy Who Loved Me

Cover for the first edition of The Spy Who Loved Me

James Bond creator Ian Fleming has shown up on a list he’d probably wouldn’t like.

The BOOK DIRT BLOG has posted a list of eight books THEIR AUTHORS WISHED THEY HADN’T WRITTEN and are considered “literary embarrassments.”

For Fleming, it’s The Spy Who Loved Me, his 1962 007 novel that’s written from the first-person perspective of a woman and where Bond doesn’t show up until the last third of the story.

Here’s an excerpt of a fairly short entry.

(Fleming) sold the rights to the title only, after the book proved to be sort of a bomb. He refused a paperback reprint of the book in the UK, effectively trying to bury it completely.
(snip)
Critics fell over themselves to pan it. “His ability to invent a plot has deserted him almost entirely,” wrote the Glasgow Herald.

There’s not that much more, but our policy is to only put in excerpts to encourage readers to check out the original source material.

The thing is, Fleming has some notable company on the list. The Book Dirt blog also references books by Neil Gaiman, Martin Amis, Harlan Ellison and Louis L’Amour among others. To read the entire list and accompanying commentary, CLICK HERE.

Thanks to The Rap Sheet, where we spotted the Book Dirt blog entry.

The FBI season 7: end of an era

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

The seventh season of The FBI is now available from Warner Archive arm of Warner Bros. It would be the last season produced while J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time FBI director, was still alive.

Hoover never appeared on camera per se, but he still had a presence in the series. It might be in the form of an anxious secretary holding a telephone (“It’s MISTER HOOVER!”). It might be in the form of a cocky chess champion who has been persuaded to help out the bureau after emerging from what’s supposed to be Hoover’s office (“That quite a man in there.”). It might be in the form of the seeming omnipresent Hoover portraits in FBI offices or photographs on the desks of FBI agents.

Hoover had been instrumental in the series coming together, seeing it as a chance to promote the bureau’s image. He had an annual meeting with series star Efrem Zimbalist Jr. The bureau reportedly had veto power over casting of guest stars. Hoover was also thanked, by name, in the end titles.

There was occasional tension between the bureau and executive producer Quinn Martin (you can CLICK HERE to read an excerpt from the book Quinn Martin, producer to read more). But overall, Hoover had little reason to be displeased.

The seventh season of The FBI ran from Sept. 12, 1971, through March 19, 1972. Less than two months later, Hoover died at the age of 77. The show would run another two years but it wouldn’t quite be the same.

After Hoover’s death, FBI activity such as domestic spying and amassing large files on politicians came to light. There have been periodic attempts to take his name off FBI headquarters in Washington, but they haven’t been successful.

As for as the seventh season, it would be the final one to have a two-part episode. It would include familiar faces from previous seasons as guest stars (Bradford Dillman, Steve Ihnat, Robert Drivas and Ralph Meeker) as well as actors who wouldn’t become famous until years later (Mark Hamill). It costs $49.95 and only ships in the U.S. For more information about ordering, CLICK HERE.

Spring 1964: U.N.C.L.E. gets a new chief

Leo G. Carroll's title card for first-season U.N.C.L.E. episodes

Leo G. Carroll’s title card for first-season U.N.C.L.E. episodes

With less than a month before regular series production began, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. had some tweaks, both major and minor.

Superficially, star Robert Vaughn changed his hairstyle, switching his part and going for more of a “dry look” compared to the pilot that would air as the first episode.

More substantively, U.N.C.L.E. would have a new chief: Leo G. Carroll, a mainstay of several Alfred Hitchcock films, was cast as Alexander Waverly, replacing Will Kuluva’s Mr. Allison.

Carroll was three decades older than Kuluva. He had two basic on-screen personas: kind and bumbling (the 1955 comedy We’re No Angels or the Topper television series) or cold and calculating (“The Professor” in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest).

Occasionally, he got to a character where he displayed *both* personas (such as THIS EPISODE of the Boris Karloff Thriller anthology series where his character’s seeming bumbling masked his true persona).

Here’s an entry from Craig Henderson’s U.N.C.L.E. TIMELINE:

Monday, May 18, 1964

(Executive Producer Norman) Felton officially informs NBC that (Rober) Vaughn and (David) McCallum will remain to play running characters but Will Kuluva has been dropped. The new chief at U.N.C.L.E. will be played by Leo G. Carroll, and the character’s name has changed from Allison to Alexander Waverly.

Arguably, Carroll’s Waverly is an extension of his “Professor” character. Waverly is calculating and, as the series went on, showed he was more than willing to sacrifice his operatives if necessary. In one second-season episode (The Foxes and Hounds Affair), Waverly drops Solo (just returning from a vacation) into the middle of a complicated assignment where the ace agent’s life is in danger.

The official casting of the new U.N.C.L.E. chief came less than two weeks before series production began on June 1. The first draft for The Double Affair, which would be the eighth episode broadcast, still refers to Allison as the U.N.C.L.E. chief.

As the first season unfolded, the production team would seek to expand Carroll’s role. Waverly would be given a cousin who bore an uncanny resemblance (The Bow-Wow Affair) and would occasionally demonstrate he had once been a pretty mean operative himself (knocking out a lackey in The Deadly Decoy Affair).

The on-camera team was now complete. The question now was whether the show would work — or even survive.

Deaver, Benson edit new spy anthology

ice cold

Two authors of James Bond continuation novels, Jeffery Deaver and Raymond Benson, have edited a new anthology of spy stories.

Ice Cold, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, includes contributions from 20 authors. Here’s a description from the HACHETTE BOOK GROUP WEBSITE:

Nuclear brinksmanship. Psychological warfare. Spies, double agents, femme fatales, and dead drops.

The Cold War–a terrifying time when nuclear war between the world’s two superpowers was an ever-present threat, an all-too-real possibility that could be set off at the touch of a button–provides a chilling backdrop to this collection of all-new short stories from today’s most celebrated mystery writers.

(snip)

In Joseph Finder’s “Police Report,” the seemingly cut-and-dry case of a lunatic murderer in rural Massachusetts may have roots in Soviet-controlled Armenia. In “Miss Bianca” by Sara Paretsky, a young girl befriends a mouse in a biological warfare laboratory and finds herself unwittingly caught in an espionage drama. And Deaver’s “Comrade 35” offers a unique spin on the assassination of John F. Kennedy–with a signature twist.

The hardback book has 400 pages. It goes on sale on April 1 with a $25 price. You can CLICK HERE to see the book’s listing on Amazon.com.

Deaver wrote 2011’s Carte Blanche, which featured a rebooted James Bond and had no continuity ties to any previously published 007 novel. Benson was the author of continuation novels from 1997 through 2002, and also penned some movie novelizations and short stories.

A few questions about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

"Illya, I hope there are more people in the theater when the U.N.C.L.E. movie comes out next year."

“Illya, I hope there are more people in the theater when the U.N.C.L.E. movie comes out next year.”

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie has a release date, Jan. 16, 2015. But, naturally, that just means more questions to deal with.

Is this good news? Not for those who wanted the movie out around the time of its 50th anniversary in September 2015 2014. And it raises questions how much Warner Bros. believes in the project.

Typically, a studio puts its big guns either during the summer season (defined as the start of May through the Labor Day weekend) or Thanksgiving-Christmas (defined as early November through the end of the year).

January is often used for movies that didn’t make the cut for the Thanksgiving-Christmas period. Last month, for example, Paramount released Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which had been a contended for Thanksgiving-Christmas. The movie limped in at No. 4 in its opening weekend of Jan. 17-19, with U.S. ticket sales of not quite $15.5 million.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit ended up with worldwide box office of $123 million, with almost $75 million of that from international markets. The movie had an estimated budget of $60 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The U.N.C.L.E. movie had an estimated budget of $75 million, according to Variety.

Any news on a composer for the movie? Nope. But given the release date, one can’t help but wonder if this opens the door for Hans Zimmer.

Previously, Zimmer — who scored director Guy Ritchie’s two Sherlock Holmes movies — said scoring the Christopher Nolan Interstellar movie might prevent him taking the U.N.C.L.E. assignment. But U.N.C.L.E. won’t come out until more than two months after Interstellar. Perhaps Zimmer becomes an option again.

2015 will see both an U.N.C.L.E. movie and a James Bond movie (the as-yet untitled Bond 24). Has that ever happened?

Sort of. In the 1960s, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer released U.N.C.L.E. movies primarily for international audiences. They consisted of re-edited from television episodes ith additional footage for the movie versions.

The last year with a new Bond and U.N.C.L.E. *theatrically* movie was 1967, with You Only Live Twice and The Karate Killers, the sixth U.N.C.L.E. film. The former was a big hit (though not as big as 1965’s Thunderball) and the latter wasn’t as U.N.C.L.E. fervor was abating. The last two U.N.C.L.E. movies came out in 1968. (1983’s The Return of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was a TV movie that aired on CBS the same year Octopussy and Never Say Never Again hit theaters.)

U.N.C.L.E. movie gets January 2015 release date

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

U.N.C.L.E. logo on a second unit crew T-shirt

The movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. won’t be out in time for the 50th anniversary of the original series.

Warner Bros. assigned the U.N.C.L.E. movie a Jan. 16, 2015 release date in the U.S., ACCORDING TO VARIETY.COM.

It apparently got squeezed out of the 2014 Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season (which for studios begins at the start of November). Already scheduled during that period were films such as Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s first movie since his Batman trilogy, and the final of three Hobbit films.

An excerpt from Variety about the competition U.N.C.L.E. will face:

“Man From U.N.C.L.E” is the fourth title set to open on next year’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend after Fox’s “Frankenstein,” Sony/Screen Gems’ “The Wedding Ringer” and Universal’s untitled Michael Mann project.

The original series, which starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, will mark its golden anniversary in September. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer will play Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin in the 2015 film. The Guy Ritchie-directed movie portrays the origin of U.N.C.L.E.

Roger Deakins passes on photographing Bond 24

Roger Deakins, nominated for an Oscar for his photography for Skyfall, won’t return to the series for Bond 24, according to A FEB. 16 TWITTER POST BY WRITER KRISTOPHER TAPLEY.

At dinner with Deakins last night I learned some news that makes me sad: He won’t be shooting the next Bond.

Deakins signed on for Skyfall because of his work with director Sam Mendes. Mendes, after initially declining a return, has signed on to direct Bond 24, due out in the fall of 2015. John Logan, recruited to Skyfall by Mendes, is the sole writer (at least at this point) for Bond 24.

There aren’t many other details available, such as who will replace Deakins. You can CLICK HERE to read The Playlist’s take, HERE for Cinema Blend’s or HERE for Slash Film’s.