Gene Colan: The Bourne Precursor

Gene Colan self portrait, circa 1970

Gene Colan self portrait, circa 1970

The big movie this weekend is Jason Bourne. Like previous entries in the film series, it features a “shaky cam” technique intended to make the audience feel as if it’s in the middle of the action.

However, some of that concept was pioneered by the work of comic book artist Gene Colan (1926-2011).

Colan worked for both Marvel and DC, including a six-year run (1966-1973) on Daredevil as well as brief runs on the title later in the 1970s as well as the 1990s.

In a documentary for the home video release of the 2003 Daredevil movie, Colan described his approach to the many action scenes he drew.

“If there was a fight scene, I would try to do it in such a way to confuse the reader,” Colan said. “Because in real life, very often you don’t see the details. You’d just see action.”

Colan said you would see “arms and legs and people sailing over tables. But you don’t see the details. And very often it’s done in a dark room where you can see even less. But it’s exciting. It’s more dramatic that way…I wanted the story to be mystifying and sinister.”

As a result, Colan-illustrated stories emphasize movement in their action sequences. Colan drawings simulate the blur of a punch or a kick or other mayhem.

With 2008’s Quantum of Solace, Eon Productions embraced the approach of the Bourne film series. Eon hired Dan Bradley as Quantum’s second unit director, where he’d be in charge of the movie’s action scenes. Bradley was a Bourne film veteran.

Here’s how Bradley described his approach, according to a 2008 post on the Commander Bond website:

“One of the things I really believe is that we shouldn’t try and make everything feel perfectly staged. I’m always saying to my crew, I want to feel like we were lucky to catch a glimpse of some crazy piece of action. I don’t want it to feel like a movie, where everything is perfectly presented to the audience.”

Of course, comics and film are different. Colan drew mostly 20-page stories where action scenes took up only part of the story. Jason Bourne employs “shaky cam” for much of its running time, even when actions scenes aren’t occurring.

Still, the notion of disorienting the audience remains a strong one, given the box office reception, so far, for Jason Bourne. It’s just worth remembering others, including Gene Colan, took a similar path before.

Colan, of course, drew more than just Daredevil. CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE to see his take on Dr. Strange, the mystic character created by Steve Ditko. The good doctor will be the subject of a Marvel Studios movie in November.

Jason Bourne shakes off critics on its opening weekend

Jason Bourne poster

Jason Bourne poster

UPDATE (July 31) — Jason Bourne is now projected for an opening weekend of $60 million in the U.S. and Canada, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER said.

ORIGINAL POST (July 30): Jason Bourne’s amnesia is extending to critical reviews as the year’s major spy movie appears on its way to being the No. 1 movie this weekend in the U.S. and Canada.

The movie, which reunited star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass, is on a pace to generate more than $60 million in ticket sales in the region on its opening weekend, according to the Deadline: Hollywood entertainment news website. The film’s global opening weekend may exceed $100 million, Deadline reported.

That was despite a “fresh” rating of only 57 percent on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Early in the week, the movie’s score was 68 percent. But more negative reviews came out as the week progressed, dragging down the film’s score ahead of its debut.

It appears that won’t matter, at least as far as box office is concerned. Jason Bourne was forecast to open at $60 million in the U.S. and Canada while studio Universal was being more conservative at $40 million-plus, according to a July 26 story at TheWrap entertainment news website.

SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film, had a U.S.-Canada opening weekend of $70.4 million in November 2015. The biggest Bond opening was 2012’s Skyfall at $88.4 million.

Jason Bourne was the fourth movie in the series starring Damon and the third helmed by Greengrass. Both have criticized 007 films, which rankles some Bond film fans. Jason Bourne was the first Bourne entry since 2007 for both Damon and Greengrass. The Bourne Legacy, released in 2012, featured Jeremy Renner as another agent.

The gritty style of the Bourne films — including more intense and violent action scenes — had an impact in the 2000s on the 007 series made by Eon Productions.

Bourne was a factor in recasting the Bond role with Daniel Craig, The New York Times reported in 2005. And 2008’s Quantum of Solace employed Dan Bradley as second unit director. Bradley had worked on the Bourne films in the same capacity.

 

Caveat Emptor: Murdoch tabloids disagree about Craig

Daniel Craig photo opposing Brexit

Daniel Craig 

The following is presented for entertainment value only.

Two tabloid outposts of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. are, amusingly, in disagreement about the prospects whether Daniel Craig might return to the role of James Bond or not.

Back on July 22, the U.K. tabloid The Sun said Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli wasn’t in a hurry about Bond 25 because she’s producing other films. It quoted a source as saying, “It will give her time to work out a script and try to convince Daniel to maybe return.”

On July 28, Page Six, which is part of the New York Post (the tabloid Murdoch acquired in 1976, becoming his entry into the U.S. market), also said Broccoli wasn’t in a hurry. In this case, it quotes a source as saying no 007 casting until Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer selects a studio partner to release Bond 25. Sony Pictures’ contract expired with SPECTRE.

But the U.S. side of the Murdoch empire tosses this in:

 

Meanwhile, there are still bad feelings between Bond bosses and the most recent star Daniel Craig, who famously said he “would rather break this glass and slit my wrists” than play 007 again. Another source added, “Producers think that ungracious comment, right before the release of ‘Spectre,’ cost them tens of millions at the box office. They’re ready to forget about Daniel.”

Who knows? As we said, we pass this along for entertainment value.

Elon Musk has a ‘Project Goldfinger’

Elon Musk photo on Twitter on April 29.

Elon Musk’s one time Twitter photo.

Elon Musk, who builds electric cars and launches rockets, has a thing for James Bond.

In 2013, Musk bought the submarine car from The Spy Who Loved Me. For a time, he had a picture of himself on Twitter evoking Ernst Stavro Blofeld (and Dr. Evil).

This week, according to the Jalopnik website, there’s part of his Fremont, California, plant that builds electric cars with a sign reading, “Top Secret: Project Goldfinger.”

Here’s an excerpt from the story by Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban:

It’s a bit of a mystery as to what it is. The paper sign was attached to a temporary wall sealing off an area from prying eyes near a stamping section of the factory, and everyone I asked didn’t know what I was talking about.

Tesla spokespeople had no idea, Tesla employees had no idea, even Elon Musk himself claimed to have no clue as to what I was talking about when I asked him at a press conference. He laughed, dismissed it as “probably a joke,” and moved on.

It should be noted that Auric Goldfinger gave the code name “Operation: Grand Slam” to his plan to steal gold from Fort Knox (as in Ian Fleming’s novel) or to explode an atomic bomb there (as in the 1964 movie).

Anyway, Ballaban writes he’s been told Musk uses Bond-related names for project updates. Musk does have a lot of his plate. Tesla Motors Inc., the electric-car company that Musk runs, is in the midst of expanding its lineup. And SpaceX, another Musk company, always is busy.

Pinewood Studios parent company agrees to be sold

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC logo

Pinewood Group PLC, parent company of Pinewood Studios, agreed to be sold to PW Real Estate Fund for 323 million British pounds, or $423 million, REUTERS REPORTED.

Pinewood Studios has been the production home for most of the entries in the James Bond film series. Pinewood also has been the home base to other films, including Star Wars and the Christopher Reeve Superman movies.

Pinewood Group’s two biggest shareholders, who hold 65 percent of shares, accepted the offer, according to Reuters. The sale is subject to a vote by other shareholders.

Pinewood also operates a studio complex in the Atlanta area. It is owned by Chick-Fil-A founder Dan Cathy and other investors, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The Cathy group will continue to own that studio operation, the newspaper said.

 

Jack Davis, extraordinary artist, dies at 91

Jack Davis promotional art for Get Smart

Jack Davis promotional art for Get Smart

Jack Davis, a talented artist known for his work on Mad magazine and various commercial artwork, died Wednesday at the age of 91, the University of Georgia said in an announcement.

The university released the news because Davis, a Georgia native, often did caricatures of the school’s bulldog mascot.

Besides Mad, Davis frequently got work commercial art jobs promoting movies and television shows. Perhaps his most famous was the movie poster for 1963’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, with caricatures of Spencer Tracy and the film’s mammoth cast.  Davis then parodied his own work for the cover of It’s a World, World, World, World Mad, a paperback collection of Mad reprinted features.

With the popularity of spy shows in the 1960s, Davis did illustrations promoting The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Get Smart and I Spy. The artist also illustrated an U.N.C.L.E. lunchbox.

Davis also drew an intricate illustration promoting NBC’s 1965-66 television lineup. To appreciate it better, click on the image below.

Jack Davis' epic illustration promoting NBC's 1965-66 television lineup

Jack Davis’ epic illustration promoting NBC’s 1965-66 television lineup

 

 

U.N.C.L.E. now on Heroes & Icons channel

Heroes & Icons logo

Heroes & Icons logo

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is now being shown by the Heroes & Icons channel in the overnight hours.

The 1964-68 spy adventure is being televised at 4 a.m. New York time weeknights and 3 a.m. Sundays, according to the channel’s website. H&I currently is television episodes from the first season.

H&I is similiar to MeTV. Both televise programs from the 1950s to the 1980s. H&I tends to show more one-hour programs while MeTV shows more situation comedies.

U.N.C.L.E. still is on MeTV, but only on the weekend overnight schedule. MeTV began showing U.N.C.L.E. in the fall of 2014 as part of a block of programming it called “The Spies who Love ME.” MeTV ended that block of shows in August 2015.