Waller-Bridge says 007 ‘relevant,’ films must evolve

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

The character of James Bond remains “relevant” while the 007 film series needs to treat women properly, Bond 25 screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge said in an interview with Deadline: Hollywood. 

“There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not [the Bond franchise] is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women,” Waller-Bridge told Deadline. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now.

“It has just got to grow,” she added. “It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”

The Deadline story contains some of Waller-Bridge’s most detailed comments about Bond 25. She has been interviewed a lot recently, with most of the stories concerning the second season of her streaming series Fleabag.

Waller-Bridge’s involvement with Bond 25 became known in April. In the Deadline interview, she complimented star Daniel Craig and said the movie’s story is in good shape.

“When I saw (Craig’s) Bond for the first time, there was a wryness to his performance that I really loved,” the writer-actress told Deadline. “So, I was really excited about writing dialogue for him. I mean, the script was there. It’s already there. I think it’s unfair to say that I’m writing the script.”

Besides Waller-Bridge, Bond 25’s roster of writers includes Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Scott Z. Burns.

Baz strikes with Bond 25 plot spoiler

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Like it says in the headline, it’s a spoiler so stop reading if you don’t like them.

Bond 25’s story line concerns “genetic warfare” and one reason scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge was hired was to “boil it down,” the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported.

Bamigboye quoted a studio executive as saying:

“The movie’s premise is genetic warfare, which is fascinating — but you gotta boil it down and make it accessible”

Bamigboye didn’t identify the executive or say which studio he works for. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer is 007’s home studio. A joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures will distribute Bond 25 in the U.S. while Universal will release the movie internationally.

“And that’s why Phoebe was hired,” the scribe quoted the executive as saying. “She has somehow made sense of it.”

The Daily Mail scribe didn’t provide many additional details.

An Eon Productions press release last month said the story involves “a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology.”

A number of writers, also including Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as well as Scott Z. Burns, have also worked on the script.

The Mail on Sunday reported in April that Waller-Bridge had joined the roster of writers. But the MI6 James Bond website said earlier this month that Waller-Bridge had begun work earlier.

Bamigboye has had a number of Bond stories proven correct this decade. Among them was a March 2017 story that Purvis and Wade had been hired to start work on Bond 25’s script.

Five-O writer tells anecdotes about the series

Jerome Coopersmith’s title card for Nine Dragons, a ninth-season episode of Hawaii Five-O

Jerome Coopersmith, a writer on the original Hawaii Five-O series, chatted recently with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his time on the 1968-80 show.

Coopersmith, 93, wrote or helped write 32 episodes, including three featuring arch-villain Wo Fat.

According to the story, Coopersmith wrote his scripts at his home on Long Island. He would then take them to the CBS mailroom in New York City and they’d be flown overnight to Los Angeles.

Five-O had production offices in both Hollywood and Hawaii. Coopersmith also flew to Los Angeles for meetings with producers.

He was busiest on the series during the fourth through eighth seasons. He departed after penning the first two episodes of the ninth season.

Some of the highlights in the article include:

Ideas for scripts: “Some were suggested by the producers, but for the most part, the ideas came from reading the newspapers,” Coopersmith told the newspaper.

“A fabulous variety of crimes are committed every day,” the scribe added. “All I had to do was figure out how to transplant them to Hawaii, and how to make the criminals smarter than they are in real life so that it would take ‘Five-O’ an hour to catch up with them and not just five minutes. In real life most criminals are stupid.”

Local actors on Five-O: Creator-executive producer Leonard Freeman “wanted authentic Hawaiian faces on the ‘Five-O’ team,” Coopersmith told the Star-Advertiser. “That’s why he cast it that way.

“Besides his fondness for locals, there was another reason. When you cast Hollywood actors from the mainland you have to pay their travel and living expenses on Oahu, which strains the budget.”

While the article is of interest for fans of the original Five-O, some caveats are in order.

Coopersmith mis-remembers some details. He describes writing a 1975 episode titled Diary of a Gun. A cheap handgun keeps changing hands, with tragic events occurring.

“CBS was afraid of doing the show, but Len Freeman and (star) Jack Lord were strongly for it, and it was done,” Coopersmith told the newspaper. Problem: Freeman died in early 1974.

Coopersmith also tells anecdotes about Nine Dragons, a two-hour Wo Fat episode that led off the ninth season (1976-77). He mentions Bob Sweeney prominently.

Problem: Sweeney, whose title was supervising producer, worked on the show during the fourth through seventh seasons. He had departed Five-O long before Nine Dragons.

James Bond & Friends Discusses Changing Fan Tastes

James Bond & Friends logo

Episode 0013 of the James Bond & Friends podcast examines changing fan tastes for older 007 films during the Daniel Craig era.

Host James Page of the MI6 James Bond website examined how user ratings at IMDB.com have changed the past 15 years. That kicked off a discussion about the general topic.

Here’s a more detailed description from the website:

After we round up the latest Bond 25 news and tabloid bumblings, we dive into dissecting how public opinion of every film in the James Bond series has changed over the past 15 years – from 2004 to 2019. Using a semi-scientific method, the results were surprising! Along the way, we stumble upon the next Uncle Bond, psych out John Wayne, ponder Dalton’s dark prophecy, freeze frame Judi Dench, and downgrade some classics.

The discussion also includes a reference to a certain canine that appears in Thunderball.

The blog was one of the participants. Others were:

— David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier

— Calvin Dyson, who examines 007 films and books at his YouTube channel

— Author Mark O’Connell

Case study: How your views of 007 films evolve

Original 007 gunbarrel logo with Bob Simmons subbing for Sean Connery.

Following the release of 2006’s Casino Royale, the Her Majesty’s Secret Servant website commissioned an interesting project. It asked all of its contributors to score all of the Eon 007 films plus Never Say Never Again.

The scores were then assigned points and the various films ranked. It was a very detailed effort.

While HMSS has been offline since 2014, much of it has been preserved at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine website. And that includes the survey of HMSS contributors.

For the purposes of this post, I’m not linking to the survey. Anyone else who participated in that HMSS survey can speak up for themselves if they’d like. I’m just keeping this post to my own ups and downs with the Bond films.

Still, viewing my own comments in that survey, I can appreciate how feelings about different series entries can vary over time.

So, to begin with, my harshest rating (D) and comments were for Moonraker.

Roger Moore looks like he’s sleepwalking at times (though he has a couple of good scenes). The hovercraft scene almost ruins a decent chase scene in Venice. The outer space effects are OK but not up to Lucasfilm levels. Too jokey at times…Ken Adam and John Barry are again the real stars of the film.

I still dislike elements now that I did then (pigeons doing double takes, Jaws flapping his arms when his parachute malfunctions, less-than-subtle product placement for Marlboro, British Airways and 7-Up).

At the same time, I’m more accepting of what Moonraker for what it is. The film was incredibly ambitious in terms of spectacle (and was even more so in its first-draft script). And, looking back, I was too harsh on Roger Moore, though I thought his performance in For Your Eyes Only was better.

Put simply, I’m more forgiving of the movie for its flaws, more enthusiastic about its strong points.

For what it’s worth, my grade wasn’t the lowest in that survey. There were two D-Minus grades and an F.

Speaking of For Your Eyes Only, I had the highest grade in that survey for that film, an A.

“The opening scene at the cemetery clearly shows this film is going to be different than Moonraker,” I wrote at the time. “The quick end for Blofeld didn’t bother me that much, but as many fans, the line, ‘I’ll buy you a delicatessen in stainless steel’ makes me groan.”

I saw For Your Eyes Only again in a theater in 2017, part of a tribute to Moore after his death in May of that year. Viewing it again on a movie screen with an audience pretty much reinforced how I felt. Perhaps it was because the 1981 film seemed more in line with the Bond films of the 21st century.

Finally, one more: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Over the past 20 years or so, people have made the case for why this should be considered in the top three (or so) of Bond films.

My grade was B, which lagged the pack (there were four A grades and one A-plus).  What held me back was George Lazenby’s inexperience.

Extremely faithful adaptation of one of Fleming’s best. Lazenby’s inexperience is evident. On the other hand, would Connery have cried at the end? Diana Rigg is a major plus. Telly Savalas is OK as Blofeld. Probably Richard Maibaum’s best script for the series. Ken Adam is gone but not really missed. John Barry hits on all cylinders.

If pressed, I’d probably give it a higher grade today. Still, I don’t think it’d be the greatest Bond film if Sean Connery had done it.

Had Majesty’s been done for 1967 instead of You Only Live Twice, we wouldn’t have gotten Peter Hunt as director. We now know thanks to the book The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service details of various script drafts, including one that included an underwater Aston Martin.

Hunt being installed in the director’s chair after editing the first five Eon 007 films had a major impact. In a lot of ways, the 1969 version of Majesty’s was catching lightning in a bottle.

Eon confirms Craig injury, ankle surgery

Daniel Craig in Skyfall.

Eon Productions, via its Instagram account, confirmed that Daniel Craig suffered an ankle injury and will undergo surgery.

Here’s the text that accompanied the post:

BOND 25 update: Daniel Craig will be undergoing minor ankle surgery resulting from an injury sustained during filming in Jamaica. Production will continue whilst Craig is rehabilitating for two weeks post-surgery. The film remains on track for the same release date in April 2020.

Craig’s injury was reported on May 13 by The Sun tabloid in the U.K. The story was widely picked up but other outlets hadn’t confirmed the news themselves. The Sun on May 14 said the injury wasn’t as bad as initially thought.

The Wrecking Crew figures into new Tarantino movie

The Wrecking Crew, the fourth and final Matt Helm film, figures into Quentin Tarantino’s new movie, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

The cast includes Margot Robbie as actress Sharon Tate. The movie’s trailer includes a scene where Tate goes to a theater playing The Wrecking Crew. In the Helm film, Tate played a klutzy British agent who ends up teamed with Dean Martin’s Helm.

A fifth Helm movie, The Ravagers, was announced at the end of The Wrecking Crew. The plan was to have Sharon Tate return. However, she was among seven people murdered by the Charles Manson family in 1969. Eventually, The Ravagers was called off and the Helm series ended.

You can view the trailer below.