The man who helped establish the Hitchcock persona

Alfred Hitchcock in the James Allardice-scripted introduction for The Jar, an episode on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour

Another in a series about unsung figures of television.

Alfred Hitchcock was long known as the “master of suspense.” But it was writer James Allardice who helped mold the director’s image with the public.

Allardice (1919-1966) wrote all of the introductions and epilogues performed by Hitchcock on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Each week, audiences witnessed Hitchcock making droll remarks, including jibes at his unnamed sponsors. (“And speaking of business,” he says with disdain, “we come to this item.”)

Norman Lloyd, still with us at 103, discussed Allardice in a 2000 interview for the Archive of American Television. Lloyd worked at a producer on Hitchcock’s television shows after being an actor in the director’s Saboteur (1942) as the villain who fell from the Statue of Liberty.

Allardice “was a little fella, he looked not unlike Woody Allen,” Lloyd said. “Actually a little better looking. But…same height, the glasses and everything.”

The writer “had an absolute genius for creating this character Hitchcock played every time the show went on the air,” Lloyd added. “Hitchcock said every word this man wrote. Never changed a comma…What he was doing was precious in regard to the success of the show.”

Hitchcock’s creative team would send summaries of several episodes for Allardice. According to the Lloyd interview, Allardice sometimes didn’t even begin writing until a few days before the deadline but always delivered his work in on time.

To be sure, Hitchcock already was famous when Alfred Hitchcock Presents debuted in 1955. The director’s name had long been attached to the titles of his films (“Alfred Hitcock’s To Catch a Thief,” “Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window” and so on.)

However, now Hitchcock himself was coming into millions of homes via television. No silent, momentary cameos like in his films. The director was now truly a performer. Because the two shows were anthologies, Hitchcock was the only face the audience could count on seeing every week.

And it was Allardice who was feeding him his lines and establishing the settings.

What settings they were. Hitchcock in a giant bottle. Hitchcock holding a ticking bomb, describing it as a dynamite-powered clock. Hitchcock’s brother “George” manipulating Hitchcock like a marionette (a dual role, of course).

Allardice spent a full decade working for Hitchcock on the two television series. (Alfred Hitchcock Presents ran seven seasons, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ran three.)

“Jimmy had a voice, so to speak that he used Hitchcock for,” Lloyd said in the 2000 interview. “It became the Hitchcock persona but it was Jimmy saying a lot of things about the world through these mad introductions and conclusions.”

You can view an excerpt from Lloyd’s interview where he discusses Allardice below.

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Mission: Impossible-Fallout: A film Bruce Geller might love

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

As I watched Mission: Impossible-Fallout, I kept wondering what M:I creator Bruce Geller would think. My guess: I think he would approve.

The best episodes of the original 1966-73 series featured slick plans devised by Dan Briggs (Steven Hill) and Jim Phelps (Peter Graves). While the plans were brilliantly devised, the Impossible Missions Force would be forced to improvise when things went wrong or surprises occurred.

Previous Mission: Impossible films, which debuted in 1996, have this same feature. But in the newest installment, IMF leader Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) has to improvise more often, more quickly than ever before.

The new film also has a personal angle (an apsect Geller wouldn’t have been fond of) — something the 007 film series has featured constantly since 1989. But for M:I-Fallout, the personal angle doesn’t overwhelm the proceedings.

As a result, Hunt isn’t out for revenge (a la Licence to Kill, GoldenEye, Die Another Day and other 007 films). No readings of poems (a la M in Skyfall). No villain with a “personal” connection to the hero (SPECTRE’s new version of Blofeld).

The trailers for Mission: Impossible-Fallout have emphasized that evoke set pieces from 007 movies (Licence to Kill and Tomorrow Never Dies). Some fans complain that’s ripping off Bond.

But, in the end, they’re only set pieces and don’t take up that much screen time. What’s more, there are twists involved that weren’t shown in the trailers.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout still is mostly its own thing. It tips its hat to the original show via a Lalo Schifrin-inspired score by Lorne Balfe. It’s not the first time the movie series has embraced Schifrin. Joe Kreamer, composer for 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, also weaved Schifrin into his score. Balfe does it his own way. (CLICK HERE for a feature story Jon Burlingame did for Variety about Balfe’s work.)

Meanwhile, writer-director Christopher McQuarrie, who also worked on M:I Rogue Nation, keeps things at a frantic pace. The movie has a 147-minute running time. That’s almost as long as SPECTRE’s 148 minutes. But M:I-Fallout, overall, moves more quickly. At the same time, McQuarrie’s movie isn’t just set pieces strung together.

As a fan of the original TV show, I still don’t care for how the first movie in the Cruise series made Jim Phelps into a traitor. At this point, I just have to rationalize the film series is an alternate universe.

At 56, you’ve got to wonder how much longer Cruise can keep the Mission: Impossible film franchise going. But that’s something most viewers won’t think about until after they’re headed home from Mission: Impossible-Fallout. GRADE: A-Minus.

1988 Mission: Impossible series gets a soundtrack release

Mission: Impossible soundtrack from 1988 revival series.

A soundtrack to the 1988-90 Mission: Impossible revival television series is coming out from La-La Land Records, the company said July 23 ON FACEBOOK.

The price is $29.98 and sales will be limited to 1,988 units, La-La Land said. The new soundtrack includes music by Lalo Schifrin (composer of the famous Mission: Impossible theme) and Ron Jones.

The sets will include liner notes by film and TV music expert Jon Burlingame, who has worked on other La-Land projects, including a soundtrack for the original 1966-73 Mission: Impossible series.

The 1988 series starred Peter Graves, reprising his role as Jim Phelps of the Impossible Missions Force. In the first episode, he returns to the IMF after a protégé was killed. At the time it began production, there was a Writers Guild strike. As a result, the initial stories were based on scripts written for the original show. The revival series aired on ABC while the original had been telecast by CBS.

The revival soundtrack will go on sale July 31. Presumably, it will be sold (like other La-La Land offerings) on the company’s website.

Henry Cavil oddities ahead of Mission: Impossible-Fallout

Henry Cavill in 2013, during filming of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Mission: Impossible-Fallout is about to reach theaters. There are a number of oddities concerning the movie’s co-star, Henry Cavill, during the publicity build-up.

Unasked questions: No entertainment reporter (as far as the blog can tell) has asked Cavill an obvious question. The previous Mission: Impossible movie (Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation) helped cause one of your previous movies, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., to crash at the box office. Do you find it ironic you worked on the next M:I film?

2015’s Rogue Nation originally was due to come out at Christmas 2015. But Paramount moved the fifth M:I film up five months to get out of the way of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

As a result, Rogue Nation came out just two weeks before Cavill’s U.N.C.L.E. film. In the U.S., U.N.C.L.E. was No. 3 in its opening weekend, behind Straight Outta Compton and Rogue Nation (in its third weekend of release). The U.S. market didn’t appear interested in two spy movies the same weekend and Tom Cruise & Co. were still going strong.

It might be interesting to hear Cavill reflect on that. But it hasn’t occurred to interviewers.

But, hey, questions about Cavill playing James Bond! At least that appears to be the take Yahoo Movies UK took IN THIS STORY.

Of course, Cavill (in his early 20s) did a screen test for the role for Casino Royale before Daniel Craig (with the significant support of Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli) got the part. Since then, Cavill-Bond has been a case of “don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

And, after all, Craig is doing Bond 25, which doesn’t even start filming until December and won’t be out until fall 2019.

Cavill’s less-than-surprising answer: “I would love to do it of course. I think Bond would be a really fun role. It’s British, it’s cool. I think that now that I have my Mission: Impossible badge we can do real stunts and really amp it up as well…I don’t get to play a Brit very often. So yes, I would love the opportunity and if they were to ask I would say ‘yes.’”

What about an U.N.C.L.E. sequel? The 2015 U.N.C.L.E. film gets more critical love now than it did when it came out. But there have been absolutely no signs there is any real movement toward a sequel. A screenplay may have been written. But Hollywood is littered with scripts that were never filmed.

Still, that doesn’t stop the questions. Again, from the Yahoo Movies UK story:

“I don’t know when or if it will happen, I had enormous fun making that movie and it would be enormous fun playing Napoleon Solo again but I’m not too sure when that would be.”

Whatever, big guy.

Former 007 publicist has book out

Cover to Jerry Juroe book

Charles “Jerry” Juroe, a retired movie publicist who did work on the 007 film series, has a book out.

Bond, the Beatles and My Year with Marilyn is available from McFarland.com.

Here’s the description from the website:

In his remarkable 50-year career, D-Day veteran, international film publicist and executive and production associate Charles “Jerry” Juroe met, knew or worked with almost “anyone who was anyone,” from Cecil B. DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock to Mary Pickford, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Hope, Katherine Hepburn, Brando and the Beatles.

He made his name working on the iconic James Bond films, running publicity and advertising for both United Artists and legendary producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman’s EON Productions. From Dr. No to GoldenEye, Juroe traveled the globe with Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan. His entertaining memoir reads like insider history of Hollywood.

Juroe showed up as an interview subject on several documentaries produced for home video releases of Bond films in the late 1990s.

The book costs $29.95. The Kindle version costs $15.99. Besides McFarland, it can also be ordered through Amazon.com.

UPDATE (9:50 p.m. New York time): Reader @Stringray_travel on Twitter reminds the blog that Juroe was also an interview subject in the documentary Everything or Nothing. Here’s part of it where you can hear and see Juroe:

Our guest writer examines differences between 007, M:I films

Mission: Impossible-Fallout poster

Guest writer Nicolas Suszczyk takes a look at the differences between the James Bond and Mission: Impossible film franchises in an article on the Spy Command Feature Story Index.

The 007 film franchise has been in operation since 1962, albeit with some interruptions in service.

The Mission: Impossible franchise, starring and produced by Tom Cruise, has six entries, beginning in 1996, with the newest installment coming out late this month.

Some Bond fans on social media have raised the question whether M:I has taken some of Agent 007’s thunder. Others say that ridiculous. Some Bond fans liken the M:I franchise to a vanity project for the star-producer.

Anyway, CLICK HERE to view this examination of the two franchises.

 

Lego Aston Martin DB5 unveiled

Lego today unveiled its version of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5.

Lego conducted an event at a store in London. It also spread the word on social media, including a post on Twitter.

The Lego car has 1,295 pieces. It costs 129.99 British pounds, according to Gizmodo UK. That’s $169-plus at current exchange rates.

The Lego version of DB5 comes with ejector seat, radar tracker, rear bullet proof screen and front-wing machine guns.

Lego, Eon Productions and Aston Martin have been teasing the licensed product since mid-June. Images leaked earlier this month.

Not everyone was impressed. The Jaloponik website devoted to everything about cars declared July 5 that the DB5’s “handsome and elegant design, does not translate well in LEGO.”

Below is the tweet that Lego sent out this morning. It includes a video.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

UPDATE (1:30 p.m. New York Time): Here’s a video from the event at the Lego store in London this morning. Naomie Harris, who played Moneypenny in Skyfall and SPECTRE, was part of the festivities.