Eon’s Rhythm Section gets delayed again

Eon Productions logo

Eon Productions’ The Rhythm Section, the company’s non-Bond spy film, has been pushed back a second time to early 2020, Variety reported.

The movie, starring Blake Lively, is now scheduled for Jan. 31, 2020, the entertainment news outlet said.

The Rhythm Section was originally scheduled by Paramount for Feb. 22 of this year. Lively suffered an injury during filming in 2017. The movie’s release was pushed back to Nov. 22.

Lively “underwent two hand surgeries before shooting resumed,” according to Variety.

.The new release date means that Eon will have two movies coming out a little more than two months apart. No Time to Die, Eon’s 25th James Bond film, will be released on April 3, 2020, in the U.K. and April 8 in the U.S.

The Bond film will be will be released by United Artists Releasing, a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Annapurna Pictures, in the U.S. and Universal internationally.

Real people who existed in some fictional universes

Haphazard Stuff, who makes entertaining videos about James Bond and other entertainment subjects, came out with a video that caught my eye.

He discussed real people (Queen Elizabeth, Bob Hope, Anita Ekberg, among others) who have existed in our world as well as the fictional world of the cinematic James Bond.

That got me to thinking about real people who managed to co-exist in some of the blog’s other favorite fictional universes.

U.N.C.L.E. insignia from a second-season episode

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68): This spy show had characters who were either based on, or parodies of, real-life people. But it takes a little looking to find real-life people.

The Cherry Blossom Affair, in the show’s second season, was set in Japan and it’s established that Japanese love baseball.

In Act IV, a Japanese official of Thrush is interrupted by an aide. Napoleon Solo (Robert Vaughn) inquires whether something is wrong.

“It appears that Sandy Koufax has just pitched another no hitter!” the excited Thrush official says.

This, of course, would be Sandy Koufax, who pitched for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. This episode first aired Nov. 19, 1965. Koufax pitched his fourth, and final, no-hitter on Sept. 9, 1965, a perfect game (no base runners allowed).

Earlier in the episode, the story’s innocent Cricket Okasada (France Nuyen) is depicted as having a side job dubbing U.S. TV shows into Japanese. She’s shown working on an episode of Dr. Kildare.

Like U.N.C.L.E., it was produced by Norman Felton’s Arena Productions. This would suggest Dr. Kildare star Richard Chamberlain also co-exists in the fictional U.N.C.L.E. universe.

In The Thor Affair, a third-season entry, Solo and Illya Kuryakin enlist the assistance of a schoolteacher as the story’s “innocent.” In the episode’s final scene, the initials RFK and LBJ are seen on a chalkboard at the teacher’s school room.

Thus, it would seem Robert F. Kennedy (then a U.S. senator from New York) and then-President Lyndon B. Johnson also existed in this fictional universe. Robert Vaughn was a friend of RFK’s and supported his 1968 run for president.

The FBI logo from the main titles.

The FBI (1965-74):  J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was instrumental in the series reaching TV screens. Hoover also was, sort of, a character on the show.

A number of episodes depicted FBI offices having photographs of Hoover.

Beyond that, the first-season episode The Defector Part I depicts Hoover as playing an off-screen role in the story.

The bureau is seeking the assistance of a cocky chess champion as part of an espionage case. The chess player comes out of Hoover’s office (we see the door with Hoover’s name and title). He acts similar to Moses having witnessed the burning bush and agrees to help out Inspector Lewis Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.).

In the second-season episode The Camel’s Nose, assistant director Arthur Ward tells a long-time friend about the story of the camel that first got his nose in the tent before eventually taking it over. “We almost lost the tent,” Ward says, referring to the bureau, but that Hoover got it back.

In real life, of course, Hoover’s record at the FBI was very controversial, including FBI wiretaps on civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. But the episode shows how Hoover was a presence on the show, even though he was never actually seen in person.

Hoover died in spring 1972, after production of the show’s seventh season. In the eighth season, the episode Edge of Desperation reflects the passing of the director.

Arthur Ward comes out of the Director’s office. The sign on the door now reads, “L. Patrick Gray, III, Acting Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Entrance.”

Hawaii Five-O logo in the main title

Hawaii Five-O (1968-80): Some first-season episodes mention “Chief Dan.” Usually the context is Five-O is “working with” Chief Dan.

This is an apparent reference to Chief Dan Liu, who headed the Honolulu Police Department from Oct. 1, 1948 to June 30, 1969. Liu  had a cameo in the 1952 John Wayne film Big Jim McClain.

Eddie Sherman, a Honolulu newspaper columnist, appeared in a number of episodes, including one (Rest in Peace, Somebody) as himself.

McGarrett (Jack Lord) calls up Sherman. “Eddie Sherman, what’s your problem?” the newsman answers. Sherman agrees not to print a story about a mysterious message the lawman has received in his office.

In another episode, A Matter of Mutual Concern, McGarrett apprehends one crime boss who has just killed another. Just before his arrest, the surviving crime boss complains how his car’s speedometer goes to 120 mph, but he could never get the car to go faster than 90.

“Tell Ralph Nader!” McGarrett says. Evidently, the famed consumer advocate (and future presidential candidate) also co-exists in the Five-O Universe.

Without whom, etc. (55th anniversary)

Headline for a 1964 obituary for Ian Fleming

Today, Aug. 12, is the 55th anniversary of the death of Ian Fleming.

Without Fleming (1908-1964), much of the 1960s spy craze wouldn’t happen.

Without Fleming, there’d be no James Bond series of novels.

Without Fleming, there’d be no James Bond series of movies.

Without Fleming, there’s be no Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series. The show came about because an inquiry was made whether Fleming’s Thrilling Cities book could be turned into a television series.

Without Fleming, there’d be no attempts to cash in on 007 films.

Spy Command participates in two podcasts

Spybrary podcast logo

The Spy Command was part of two podcasts in the past week.

The Spybrary podcast on July 31 featured an interview with me. Host Shane Whaley asked for my “dead drop five.”

I named a combination of TV shows and books, including The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mission: Impossible (the original TV series), and From Russia With Love novel and film as a joint entry. I also listed the Matt Helm series of serious novels (as opposed to the Dean Martin movies).

Shane and I have discussed this possibility for more than a year and it was fun to get it done. Shane also wants me to host a panel about U.N.C.L.E. in the future.

The Spybrary host followed up with an Aug. 5 podcast reviewing The Removers, the third Matt Helm novel by Donald Hamilton. It was one of the titles I had discussed on the July 31 podcast.

James Bond & Friends logo

Meanwhile, James Bond & Friends, produced by the MI6 James Bond website, is back with episode 0020, which came out on Aug. 6. This edition includes a new guest, Marcos Kontze of the James Bond Brasil website. I was there as well along with David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier, Ben Williams of MI6 Confidential as well as MI6 founders Paul Atkinson and James Page. A description from the MI6 website:

Observing the passing of David Hedison – two time Felix Leiter – we note how he became the first man to return to the role some 10 years later with the long-serving ally’s pivotal role in ‘Licence to Kill’. We continue by discussing Leiter and Bond’s relationship and how the re-casting has lead to some inconsistent characterisation. Along the way, we stumble on Leiter’s drinking habits, Felix’s faux pas, his Kennedy impersonation, Jack Lord’s moisturiser, Felicia Leiter, big livers, the martini olive scam, an ill-fated fishing trip, Le Chiffre’s undead exit, rewrites whilst boozing, and the Leiterverse.

Happy 100th to a familiar, often villainous, face

Nehemiah Persoff in Mission: Impossible

Aug. 2 is the 100th birthday for Nehemiah Persoff, a character actor who excelled at playing villains.

Persoff, over a career lasting from the late 1940s to the early 2000s, played:

–A Blofeld-like villain in the 1961 John Wayne Western The Comancheros;

–A secondary Thrush villain out to kill his former mentor Mandor (Jack Lord) in The Master’s Touch Affair in the final season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.;

–Three episodes of The Wild Wild West, including the show’s 1965 pilot;

–Two episodes of I Spy, three episodes of Mission: Impossible, an episode of It Takes a Thief, and seven episodes of Hawaii Five-O.

Persoff could play heavies in comedies as well as dramas.

For example, Persoff played gangster Little Bonaparte in 1959’s Some Like It Hot. The mobster was hearing impaired, wearing hearing aids. Little Bonaparte has fellow gangster Spats Columbo (George Raft) and his men gunned down at a party, with the killer coming out of a large cake.

A lawman played by Pat O’Brien enters asking what happened.

“There was something in that cake that didn’t agree with them,” Little Bonaparte replies.

Did Jeffrey Epstein see Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die?

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die poster

You can’t make this up.

The New York Times today came out with a blockbuster story about Jeffrey Epstein, rich hedge fund manager accused of raping under-aged girls. Here are the first two paragraphs:

Jeffrey E. Epstein, the wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker, had an unusual dream: He hoped to seed the human race with his DNA by impregnating women at his vast New Mexico ranch.

Mr. Epstein over the years confided to scientists and others about his scheme, according to four people familiar with his thinking, although there is no evidence that it ever came to fruition.

This sounds uncomfortably like the 1966 spy movie Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. It starred Mike Connors and Dorothy Provine as American and British agents trying to foil the plot of a rich adversary.

Said villain intends to make mankind sterile in order to avoid an ecological disaster. But the villain has many beautiful women in suspended animation. So when the time comes to repopulate the planet, he’ll take it upon himself to get all those women pregnant.

The plot is awfully similar to 1979’s Moonraker, the 11th James Bond film from Eon Productions. In that movie, Hugo Drax plans to wipe out most of Earth’s population while he operates an orbiting “stud farm.”

Regardless, the natural reaction is something like, “EEEEEEkkkkkkk.” This is supposed to escapist entertainment, not a serious plan.

The Wrecking Crew-Golden Gun mashup

Bruce Lee supervises Sharon Tate (left) and Nancy Kwan during production of The Wrecking Crew

The new movie Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood prompted the blog to again watch The Wrecking Crew, the final Matt Helm film with Dean Martin.

The latter figures prominently in the Quentin Tarantino-directed Once Upon a Time.

After the latest viewing of The Wrecking Crew, I couldn’t help but notice some similarities with the 1974 James Bond film, The Man With the Golden Gun.

Wrecking Crew: Freya Carlson (Sharon Tate) is a klutz.

Golden Gun: Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland) is a klutz.

Wrecking Crew: Freya works for British Intelligence.

Golden Gun: Goodnight works for British Intelligence.

Wrecking Crew: One of Freya’s colleagues is known as JB.

Golden Gun: One of Goodnight’s colleagues is James Bond.

Wrecking Crew: Matt Helm (Dean Martin) spends a portion of the movie commenting on Freya’s clumsiness.

Golden Gun: James Bond (Roger Moore) spends a portion of the movie commenting on Goodnight’s clumsiness.

Wrecking Crew: When the mission is completed, Helm’s boss, MacDonald (John Larch) unexpectedly calls Helm in the villain’s private rail car that is towing $1 billion in gold. (You’d think it’d have an unlisted number.)

Golden Gun: When the mission is completed, Bond’s boss, M (Bernard Lee) unexpectedly calls Bond in the villain’s private boat. (You’d think it’d have an unlisted number.)

Wrecking Crew: Movie ends with Helm and Freya making out, about to make love.

Golden Gun: Movie ends with Bond and Goodnight making out, about to make love.