M:I-Fallout director catches flak about composer choice

Stunt teased by Tom Cruise on Instagram for Mision: Impossible-Fallout

Christopher McQuarrie, director of Mission: Impossible-Fallout, said on Twitter that the composer for the movie will be Lorne Balfe.

The disclosure came after Joe Kraemer, who scored 2015’s Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, said on Twitter in February he wasn’t asked back for the new film.

This week, McQuarrie invited questions on the social media platform.

After McQuarrie said Balfe was the choice, he got a bit of flak from fans who wanted Kramer to return.

Here is how it played out, beginning with McQuarrie’s initial answer.

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Mission: Impossible-Fallout is scheduled to be out in July.

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Dick Tracy: The space era revisited

Dick Tracy by Chester Gould

The blog, during an ice storm this past weekend, got caught up on recent developments in the Dick Tracy comic strip.

It turns out the strip’s current creative team, artist Joe Stanton and writer Mike Curtis, revisited one of Dick Tracy’s most unusual eras — the Space era, which began in the early 1960s and appeared to be done by the late 1970s.

Background: Tracy creator Chester Gould (1900-1985) abruptly took the intrepid detective into the space age in the early 1960s.

As one story line was ending, Tracy got a call from industrialist Diet Smith, whose company supplied the police with two-way wrist radios and other gadgets. He had something he wanted to show Tracy.

That something was the space coupe, which traveled via magnetic power. Well, the space coupe quickly became the target of criminals. They stole it and used it to commit crimes. One strip showed the stolen space coupe dumping a victim into Earth’s obit.

Tracy recovered the amazing machine. Meanwhile, Diet Smith sent a crew to the moon in the space coupe. Moon Maid, a humanoid woman with horns, stowed away and came to Earth. She was part of a group of Moon People who lived in a part of the Moon (Moon Valley) with an atmosphere.

Chester Gould’s original version of the space coupe.

For a strip which had its beginnings during gangsters and Prohibition, it was a huge departure.

Eventually Tracy’s adopted son Junior fell in love with her and they got married (albeit with a lot of complications). The couple eventually made Tracy a grandfather.

Eventually Gould dialed things back. He retired from the strip, with his last contribution appearing Dec. 25, 1977.

His first successors, writer Max Allan Collins and artist Rick Fletcher (who had been Gould’s art assistant), seemed to close the door on the space era.

Big Boy, the strip’s original villain was dying and put out a contract on Tracy. But Junior’s wife (dubbed Moon Maid by Gould) was killed by a bomb meant for Tracy. The Moon People broke off diplomatic relations with the Earth. The last remnant of the space era (or so it seemed) was Junior’s daughter, Honeymoon.

2012-2013: Many years later, under the Stanton-Curtis team, a woman who appears to be Moon Maid reappears. She is seen at Wildwood Cemetery where Moon Maid (aka Mysta Tracy) is buried. She smashes the tombstone.

This is a part of “Moon Maid sightings.” But initially this is a subplot. Nevertheless, Tracy — with the help of Diet Smith — takes Honeymoon to, well, the Moon, as a sort of Christmas present.

However, Moon Valley, where the Moon people lived is deserted and there’s no atmosphere. Honeymoon, who had anticipated meeting her other grandparents is heartbroken.

The Moon Maid saga becomes the strip’s main tale in the spring of 2013. The mystery is whether Moon Maid is really back, is a clone or something else. It is not revealed until October 2013 that she was genetically altered using the original Moon Maid’s DNA and programmed to believe she was the original.

In between those events, classic Tracy villains BB Eyes and Mumbles show up as part of the proceedings as supporting heavies. There’s an attempt to steal Diet Smith’s remaining space coupe by the main villains (Dr. Tim S. Sail and Dr. Zy Ghote). But the crafty industrialist programmed it to fly into deep space.

Given the choice, and knowing the truth, the “new” Moon Maid remains to retain her appearance. She takes the name Mysta Chimera.

2017-2018: The Stanton-Curtis team decided to revisit the Space Era once more.

The Moon Governor, father of the original Moon Maid, shows up on Earth. He meets with Mysta Chimera’s real father.

Meanwhile, Diet Smith has evidence of a signing of one of the space coupes the Moon People had. Smith had built a few for the Moon People. “There were a few minor differences between the space coupes, Smith says. “And the Moon Governor had a fleet of five.”

Another classic Gould villain, Bribery, is involved in yet another plot. He wanted to get to the Moon via a space coupe so he could steal gold that had been at Moon Valley. But Bribery wasn’t aware the Moon had been abandoned. Shortly there after, Tracy moves in to arrest Bribery.

At the end of the story, it’s revealed the Moon People, indeed had fled to Earth. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see how the story’s conclusion reflects 21st century issues — climate change/environmental issues and immigration.

“When we realized our oxygen was dissipating, we launched a vigorous campaign to replenish it,” the Moon Governor (actually now former Moon Governor) says. “But despite our technological advances, it was too late.”

He adds the following: “So we emigrated to the Earth, where our location will remain secret.”

Thus, the Moon People walk among us. Undocumented immigrants, indeed.

Soon-Tek Oh, busy actor, dies

Soon-Tek Oh as an ill-fated secret agent in the Matt Helm film Murderers’ Row.

Soon-Tek Oh, a Korean-born actor whose career extended decades, died April 4, according to an obituary in Korea JoonAng Daily, an English language newspaper in South Korea.

The publication listed his age as 85. The Internet Movie Data Base listed his age as 74.

(UPDATE: Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter have listed his age as 85.)

Korea JoonAng Daily said Oh graduated from  Yonsei University in 1959 with a degree in political science. He then went to the University of California-Los Angeles, where he ended up studying acting, the newspaper said.

The actor made his rounds in spy and international intrigue related movies and television series.

He played Lt. Hip in the second Roger Moore 007 film, The Man With The Golden Gun. Before that, he appeared in I Spy, the Matt Helm movie Murderers’ Row (an uncredited role as a Japanese secret agent who’s killed early in the film), It Takes a Thief, The Wild Wild West (a small role as the villain’s houseboy) and eight episodes of Hawaii Five-O.

Lt. Hip assisted Moore’s Bond on a mission in Golden Gun. Often in Bond films, that’s the type of role that ends up being a “sacrificial lamb.” Oh’s Lt. Hip avoided that fate. The character also had two nieces whose martial arts skills helped Bond get out of a jam.

With Five-O, the actor was present at the beginning. In the pilot episode, he played a lab technician for villain Wo Fat, who has devised an unusual torture method involving a “cocoon.”

His parts got larger as the series progressed. Oh returned in a first-season Five-O episode, Face of the Dragon, He played a Chinese agent who is spreading Bubonic plague. Oh also portrayed a “young Maoist” who is being manipulated by Wo Fat as part of a plot in the fifth-season episode The Jinn Who Clears the Way.

The actor’s IMDB.COM entry lists 116 acting credits, extending from 1965 and running through 2006. He was also billed as Soon-Taik Oh (as he was in The Man With the Golden Gun) and Soon-Teck Oh.

Allan Balter: Gone too soon

Episode title card for The Hundred Days of the Dragon, co-written by Allan Balter

One in a series about unsung figures of television.

Writer-producer Allan Balter (1925-1981) died before his time because his physical heart wasn’t up to the task of powering his talent.

Balter co-wrote (with Robert Mintz) one of the most memorable episodes of the original Outer Limits series, The Hundred Days of the Dragon. An Asian nation hostile to the United States assassinates a candidate for president and substitutes its own double. The story mixed science fiction with espionage.

He also co-wrote (with William Read Woodfield) some of the best episodes of Mission: Impossible. That partnership would last for years, beginning during the first season of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (where Balter was associate producer) and extending to the early 1970s with the television version of Shaft.

The Woodfield-Balter duo made an impact early in the first season of M:I and were brought on full-time with the title of script consultants. That continued into the show’s second season. When Barbara Bain won her second Emmy for playing M:I’s Cinnamon Carter, she mentioned the scribes in her acceptance speech.

Woodfield and Balter were elevated to producers with the show’s third season after Joseph Gantman departed the series.

It would not be a happy time. The new producers clashed with Bruce Geller, M:I’s creator and executive producer.

Woodfield told Patrick White, author of The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier that Geller went after Balter hard.

“He’d know which acts were Balter’s because they’d come in on different paper from different typewriters,” Woodfield told White.

“He’d go to Balter and say, ‘What are these words? I don’t understand these words.’ Balter would say, ‘Well, I understand them, Bruce.’ Balter was a nebbisher guy with a very weak heart which ultimately killed him.”

After Balter’s partnership with Woodfield ended, he worked as a producer at Universal’s television operation, including serving as executive producer of some episodes of The Six Million Dollar Man and a pair Captain America TV movies.

In 1978, he married Lana Wood, who played Plenty O’Toole in Diamonds Are Forever. Balter died in September 1981 at the age of 56.

Matt Helm movie project resurfaces, Deadline says

 

Illustration of Matt Helm on the back cover of the first edition of The Wrecking Crew, the second Helm novel.

The Matt Helm movie project that has been kicking around Paramount for years has resurfaced, according to Deadline: Hollywood.

The latest version of the project has Bradley Cooper attached to star, and Tom Shepherd hired to write a script, the entertainment news website reported.

“George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci are attached as executive producers, and Steven Spielberg is involved in some capacity,” Deadline said.

Fans of Donald Hamilton’s original novels have long wanted to see a serious version of Helm. Four spoofs starring Dean Martin and loosely based on Hamilton novels were made in the 1960s. Helm was also turned into a private eye in a short-lived series with Tony Franciosa in 1975.

In the novels, Helm was a “counter assassin” and told in the first person. They were a mix of Mickey Spillane (in terms of tone) but often had plots as fanciful as Ian Fleming’s.

Hamilton penned 28 Helm novels — 27 were published from 1960 to 1993, while the Hamilton family has held on to the unpublished 28th in case a movie got made. Hamilton died in 2006.

Whether anything comes of this effort remains to be seen.

MI6 Confidential, 007 Magazine out with new issues

The World Is Not Enough poster

Two separate publications are out that may be of interest to James Bond fans.

MI6 Confidential No. 44 focuses on The World Is Not Enough, the 19th James Bond film. The 1999 movie was the final 007 production of the 20th century and the third Bond film to star Pierce Brosnan.

Articles include a look at how Brosnan felt about the Bond role the third time out; a feature about Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards and the characters they played; and a story about how Robbie Coltrane returned to the series and his character was expanded.

The issue also has stories going beyond the movie, including one about production Peter Lamont and how he became involved in the film series and another about former United Artists executive Jeff Kleeman and his involvement with Bond in the 1990s

For ordering information, CLICK HERE. The price is 7 British pounds, $9.50 or 8.50 euros.

Meanwhile, 007 Magazine is accepting pre-orders for a 007 Magazine Archives Files issue devoted to Luciana Paluzzi, who played SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe in Thunderball.

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

According to the publication, Paluzzi “discussed in detail her varied life and career.” Other highlights for Paluzzi included a pre-Thunderball appearance on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. as another femme fatale. Toward the end of her career, she was a guest star in the original Hawaii Five-O series as an Italian journalist. On that episode, she played opposite Jack Lord, the first screen Felix Leiter.

For ordering information, CLICK HERE. The price is 9.99 British pounds, $15.99 and 11.99 euros. The issue is to begin shipping on March 26.

 

Not a good weekend for movies not titled Black Panther

Black Panther poster

The March 2-4 weekend wasn’t kind to movies not titled Black Panther.

The Marvel Studios film, in its third weekend release in the U.S., is generating an estimated box office of $65.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Black Panther is nearing the $900 million mark globally, according to the website.

A distant second is Red Sparrow, a spy movie with Jennifer Lawrence, at an estimated $17 million.

Third is a remake of Death Wish, with Bruce Willis subbing for Charles Bronson. It’s estimated to bring home $13 million for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

It’s the first film to be released through a new joint venture between MGM and Annapurna Pictures. That joint venture will release films for both MGM and Annapurna under their respective company names.

The producer of Death Wish is Roger Birnbaum. He and Gary Barber became co-CEOs after MGM initially came out of bankruptcy in 2010. But Birnbaum later dropped out and accepted a producer’s deal at the studio. Since then, Barber has been the sole CEO at MGM, which controls half of the 007 film franchise.