Happy New Year from The HMSS Weblog

Our annual holiday greeting.

Happy New Year from The HMSS Weblog.

As Napoleon Solo says, remember to party responsibly. We’ll see you in 2015.

solonye

Real life intrudes on a legacy of the ’60s spy craze

Bill Cosby with Victor Buono in an I Spy episode

Bill Cosby with Victor Buono in an I Spy episode

As 2014 draws to a close, one of the proudest accomplishments of 1960s spy entertainment may be forgotten because of a scandal.

The scandal? The numerous allegations of rape against Bill Cosby, now 77. The accomplishment? How I Spy, the 1965-68 television series, had a major social impact in the United States.

To recap: In the fall of 1965, an African American (Cosby) starring along side a white actor (Robert Culp) on television was a huge deal. I Spy was the least glamorous, most somber, of the American spy series. The show reflected a major social movement. It was more than another television series. After I Spy was canceled by NBC, Cosby’s career advanced to many levels of success.

But, by the end of this year, Cosby was depicted as a fallen icon. The New York Times, IN A DEC. 28 STORY by Lorne Manly and Graham Bowley examined how Cosby’s legal team dealt with the allegations.

As accusations of sexual assault continue to mount against Mr. Cosby — more than two dozen women have gone public, the latest last Monday — the question arises as to why these stories never sparked a widespread outcry before. While many of the women say they never filed police complaints or went public because they feared damaging their reputations or careers, the aggressive legal and media strategy mounted by Mr. Cosby and his team may also have played a significant role.

The final outcome of the allegations remains to be seen. Still, what had been one of the high points of the 1960s spy craze may never be looked at the same way. Real life has a way of intruding — and is always more serious than fiction.

Kleinman to design SPECTRE titles, fan site says

Part of Daniel Kleinman's Skyfall titles

Part of Daniel Kleinman’s Skyfall titles

Daniel Kleinman will design the main titles for SPECTRE, according to a post at JAMES BOND MAGASINET, a 007 fan site based in Norway.

Kleinman told the website that he’s been asked by “the Bond producers” to design the titles and he expects to begin work after Jan. 1.

Kleinman, 59, has designed the main titles of Bond movies, starting with 1995’s GoldenEye and running through 2012’s Skyfall. The one exception was 2008’s Quantum of Solace. The titles for that film were designed by a group called MK12, which had worked on other projects with director Marc Forster.

Kleinman also directs music videos and commercials. His first association with the Bond series was directing the music video for the title song of 1989’s Licence to Kill.

Richard Graydon, 007 stuntman, dies at 92

Richard Graydon, a stuntman in several James Bond films, died Dec. 22, according to an obituary at the MI6 JAMES BOND WEBSITE.

Two of Graydon’s signature stunts involved cable cars. In On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, he doubled star George Lazenby, in a sequence where Bond is supposed to be on a cable as a cable car approaches. The official 007 Twitter feed on Dec. 23, posted a picture in connection with the movie’s 45th anniversary.

A decade later, Graydon doubled for Roger Moore atop a Rio cable car in a scene where 007 is depicted as fighting Jaws. In the documentary Inside Moonraker, director Lewis Gilbert described himself as transfixed watching, having to be reminded to yell cut. Graydon shows up as an interview subject in a number of the 007 film documentaries directed by John Cork.

Graydon also got an on-screen credit in the end titles of 1983’s Octopussy as Francisco, the Fearless, one of the acts in Octopussy’s circus.

Preview of 2015’s ‘Year of the Spy’

Taken 3 poster

Taken 3 poster

We’re just a few days away from 2015, which will be the “Year of the Spy” in theaters. It might not be 1966 all over again but fans of spy movies will have choices in the new year.

What follows is a preview of five notable entries, listed by U.S. release date.

Taken 3, Jan. 9: This is the poster child for how studios like to take successful movies and turn them into “franchises.”

2009’s Taken was a modestly budgeted $25 million, according to Box Office Mojo, which generated almost $227 million in worldwide box office. It concerned a retired CIA agent (Liam Neeson) who springs into action after his college age daughter is kidnapped in Europe. It helped make Neeson, now 62, an action hero.

A sequel, Taken 2, came out in 2012. The budget went up, at $45 million, but worldwide box office also increased to $376 million. Thus, a trilogy was inevitable. Whether the saga of Bryan Mills is worth a third installment remains to be seen.

Kingsman: The Secret Service, Feb. 13: For more than a decade, grim and gritty has dominated the cinema spy scene. The Bourne films, the rebooted James Bond franchise and other films set a serious tone.

Kingsman, directed by Matthew Vaughn, draws upon more escapist spy entertainment of the 1960s.

The film is based on a comic book, The Secret Service, that was about MI6. The movie’s organization is a mysterious, international group, a la The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series (it even has a secret entrance similar to U.N.C.L.E.’s) In July, at the massive San Diego comic book convention, principals of the film mentioned ’60s style Bond movies and The Avengers television series as influences.

Kingsman may be a test whether the spy pendulum swings back toward escapist. In the U.S., the movie opens opposite the anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey, which will provide a test of a different sort.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Aug. 14: A more accurate title for the Guy Ritchie-directed film might be The Man Without U.N.C.L.E.

Ritchie’s film is an origin story. There is no U.N.C.L.E. at the start of the tale. Instead, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) are required to join forces. It’s a Solo-Kuryakin story that won’t have many of the memes of the original 1964-68 television series.

U.N.C.L.E. originally was slated for a mid-January release date, but got put back to mid-August instead. The move came after Warner Bros. conducted test screenings in June. The optimistic interpretation is it’s a sign the studio is higher on the movie than previously. We’ll see.
SPECTRE LOGO
SPECTRE, Nov. 6: The 24th James Bond film produced by Eon Productions has had more public intrigue than usual because of the hacking of documents at Sony Pictures.

Because of the hacks, details about the movie’s budget and script development have become public. Thus, it’s possible to see some of the sausage making associated with movie production in the case of SPECTRE. Even before the hacks, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail had reported how screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were summmoned to revamp John Logan’s original draft.

Still, Bond is Bond. The film is Daniel Craig’s fourth turn as 007. Sam Mendes, the director of 2012’s Skyfall, is back as well. This will be the first time the same director has helmed consecutive Bond films since John Glen’s run in the 1980s, when he directed five in a row.

Mission: Impossible 5, Dec. 25: The latest Tom Cruise M:I film hasn’t gotten as much attention as you might expect for a Cruise project. The star-producer’s last M:I entry, in 2011, was a hit. This time out, M:I will come out just a week after Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. So it’ll be interesting to see if Cruise’s Ethan Hunt can still find an audience.

New U.N.C.L.E. movie image emerges

Total Film in its February has a short article about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie as part of a 2015 movie preview. It includes a still of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer as Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin.

Total Film doesn’t have the image ON ITS WEBSITE. However, @LaneyBoggs2001 on Twitter did a scan.

The HENRY CAVILL NEWS and COMIC BOOK MOVIE sites did posts featuring the image

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Our annual holiday greeting, a tradition since 2011. Art by Paul Baack.

Christmas-greetings-from-HMSS