About that No Time to Die spoiler

No Time to Die poster

In the past few days, there have been complaints about a No Time to Die spoiler.

As it turns out, that spoiler has been in public view since at least Sept. 26, 2019, when The Express did a story related to the movie’s shoot in Matera, Italy.

The spoiler was in the headline. In case you’re among those who aren’t aware of it, this post won’t describe it. But if you click on the link above, you can see for yourself.

Over the past several days, there have been calls for fan debates. Certain websites have been criticized for even writing about it. The thinking goes that those websites enabled the likes of the Daily Mail (followed by among others the New York Post and The Guardian) to their own stories.

As it turns out, this particular spoiler has been out there.

Perhaps it has been like a ticking time bomb (from the Bond fan perspective). But still it has been out there, nevertheless.

1977: Spoilers? What spoilers?

“Wet Nellie” from The Spy Who Loved Me

Over the past few days, there has been a lot of angst over the reveal of a spoiler from No Time to Die. But, a couple of generations ago, the James Bond film franchise was a lot looser when it came to potential spoilers.

There are multiple examples. Bond soundtracks often came out before the films did. Some tracks had titles like Death of Grant, Death of Goldfinger, Death of Fiona and Death of Aki. So those developments clearly weren’t dealt with as big secrets.

But 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me was perhaps the most cavalier in this regard. What’s a spoiler?

Instead of re-issuing the Ian Fleming novel The Spy Who Loved Me, a novelization written by co-screenwriter Christopher Wood reached book stores ahead of the movie (at least here in the U.S.).

On the very first page — before even the title page — there was an excerpt of Bond’s jump with the agent’s Union Jack parachute.

That was just for openers. Wet Nellie was the centerpiece of the Who-Cares-About-Spoilers marketing campaign.

Wet Nellie, of course, was the movie’s central gadget, the Lotus that could convert into a submarine. In reality, multiple cars were used but most Bond fans are familiar with the tale by now.

At the time, I had a mail subscription to the Los Angeles Times. I was studying journalism and the paper was at its peak of excellence and influence. Each day’s paper arrived four days after the publication date.

Anyway, weeks before the movie was out, the entertainment section of the LAT had a detailed story about Wet Nellie. It was the first time I even heard of the Wet Nellie nickname and how it was a takeoff of the Little Nellie name for Bond’s mini-helicopter in You Only Live Twice.

The story described how the version that actually traveled underwater worked, including how it was piloted by guys with scuba equipment. Moreover, the story clearly had been done with the cooperation of the filmmakers. They wanted to be sure everybody knew about Wet Nellie.

As a result, two of the biggest highlights of the movie were pretty common knowledge before its U.S. debut.

To a degree, that was understandable. Eon Productions and United Artists were betting big on Bond after the breakup between producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. The budget roughly doubled compared with the previous entry, The Man With the Golden Gun.

So there was a lot riding on the 1977 movie. If Bond went down, it wouldn’t be for lack of effort — and publicity about two of its biggest sequences.

That was then. This is now. Fan attitudes change. So do studio publicity strategies.

Spoilers catch up with No Time to Die (no spoilers)

“Spoilers? Again?”

To be clear, there are no spoilers in this post. The post is noting that the spoilers exist. But if that’s too much, move on, nothing to see here.

It was bound to happen. The delay of No Time to Die from an April release to November (assuming that holds) provided more opportunity for spoilers to emerge.

During filming, the production kept a fairly tight lid on things until filming in Matera, Italy, in August 2019. There, tourists with smartphones posted many videos of the filming involving Aston Martin DB5 replicas.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, leaned on some Bond-related websites to take down video floating around the internet. But major news services, such as Reuters, were also posting the videos and things cooled down.

After that, things remained quiet until recently.

Some No Time to Die call sheets were auctioned on eBay. The call sheets, in turn, provided clues about the movie’s plot.

The MI6 James Bond website posted a story on June 3, with a spoiler warning in red type at the start of the article. The headline was simply, “Spoiler Warning.”

This blog summarized the MI6 website post the same day. That post also had a spoiler warning: “Is this a spoiler? Only if it’s correct. Nevertheless, don’t read any further if that upsets you.”

However, the Mail on Sunday, the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail, came out with a story based on the call sheets the evening of June 6, New York time.

The Mail didn’t have a spoiler warning. In fact, the big spoiler was in the headline. So don’t click on the link above if you don’t want to know.

Since then, there has been a lot of fan complaints and criticism on social media.

It’s possible more of this may lay ahead. It’s still five months until No Time to Die’s current scheduled release date.

Does No Time to Die evoke one of Fleming’s last ideas?

New No Time to Die poster

Is this a spoiler? Only if it’s correct. Nevertheless, don’t read any further if that upsets you.

The MI6 James Bond website today published a story about No Time to Die spoilers based on call sheets issued during filming in Italy last year.

The article reveals a number of details. But one in particular would catch the attention of Bond fans who’ve read Ian Fleming’s original novels.

Specifically, such fans would note the end of the author’s You Only Live Twice novel.

Here’s an excerpt:

One of the final scenes to be shot Italy back in September was with Nomi (Lashana Lynch) and Madeliene (Lea Seydoux) on the coast near Maratea Port for scene #235. This location is doubling for Safin’s island. Local press caught shots of a rib boat with Nomi in combat gear and Madeline on a radio.

But there is a third character included in these late scenes, and it is not James Bond. Her name is Mathilde and she is 5 years old. She appears in scene #235: “Nomi pilots Madeliene and Mathilde to safety with island in the background.”

Could Mathilde be the daughter of Bond? That would be similar to the You Only Live Twice novel, where Bond, suffering from amnesia and thinking he’s a Japanese fisherman, travels off to the Soviet Union. He’s unaware that Kissy Suzuki is pregnant with his son.

The MI6 article adds this at the end:

Could James Bond become a parent? Regular Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have for years worked on including elements of unused Ian Fleming material, and aside from Bond’s brainwashed attempt to assassinate M in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, one of the most glaring omissions from the film series is how Bond leaves Kissy at the end of ‘You Only Live Twice’.

We’ll see. Eventually.

Footnote: Bond continuation novel author Raymond Benson ran with the idea at the beginning of his 1997-2002 run. James Suzuki, the daughter of Bond and Kissy, figures into the short story Blast From the Past. That story was first published in Playboy.

James Suzuki is killed, bringing Bond into conflict with another old enemy.

1978: 007 wins 000 Oscars

James Bond has an odd history with the Oscars. The film series got two Oscar nods early in its history, then went decades with no wins.

The 1978 Oscars show, for movies made in 1977, was somewhat frustrating from a Bond fan perspective. The Spy Who Loved Me had been nominated for three awards: art direction, song and score. It walked away with….zero.

A big problem (from the Bond perspective) was that Spy was up against Star Wars in two categories. Star Wars was new and fresh and had wowed theatergoers the previous year.

Specifically, Spy’s Ken Adam-designed sets would be compared with the futuristic Star Wars sets. Another science fiction movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, was also nominated.

Score one for Star Wars. One of the winners was production designer John Barry (1935-1979), not to be confused with composer John Barry (Prendergast).

Marvin Hamlisch’s Spy score was up against the Star Wars score by John Williams. However, Williams was nominated twice — he also got a nomination for Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Maybe, just maybe, Williams would split the vote and Hamlisch could sneak in.

Nope. Williams got it for Star Wars. One of the presenters was Henry Mancini. Early in his career, Williams was one of the musicians who recorded Mancini’s Peter Gunn theme in 1958.

The song category was probably Spy’s best hope. Nobody Does It Better had been very popular. Maybe it could salvage the night for 007. It was not to be. It lost to You Light Up My Life.

This wasn’t the first time a Bond song lost. Live And Let Die had done failed to win four years earlier,  with the prize going to The Way We Were (with Hamlisch doing the music.) And classic songs by John Barry (Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever hadn’t even been nominated.

A suspicious IMDB cast listing for No Time to Die

UPDATE (May 31, 2020): Imagine that. *Alex A.J. Gardner* as “Young James Bond” has been stripped out of the IMDB.COM CAST LIST for No Time to Die. <sarcasm>Who would have thought?</sarcasm>

ORIGINAL POST (May 30, 2020): An oddity has shown up in the IMDB.COM CAST LIST for No Time to Die. It includes *Alex A.J. Gardner* as “Young James Bond.”

There are a number of reasons to be skeptical. Gardner, born in 2000, has a website. (“Currently available for auditions!”) It lists a South Carolina phone number.

Gardner also has an IMDB.COM ENTRY. That says he’s 6-foot-2. That’s four inches taller than Bond star Daniel Craig.

On top of that, he looks nothing like Craig. Unless the new Bond film decides to use a gene therapy plot device, a la Die Another Day, Gardner doesn’t seem an ideal choice to play the younger version of Craig/Bond.

My suspicion is an IMDB.com user was having some fun editing the No Time to Die entry. But we’ll see.

In any event, a screen capture (taken late May 29) is below.

Aston Martin deflects current crisis with 2-year-old news

Aston Martin playbook? Play up your connection to the 007 film series. 

Aston Martin, amid a plunging stock price, falling sales and many other challenges, dumped its CEO and selected a replacement. How do you deflect bad news?

If you’re Aston, play up two-year-old news and your connection to the James Bond film series.

Aston said in August 2018 that it planned to build 25 replica DB5 cars complete with gadgets from Goldfinger The cost: (in U.S. dollars) $3.5 million each.

Warning: The cars were not “road legal” (or “street legal” as the term is used in the United States).

Regardless, Aston said deliveries wouldn’t take place until 2020.

Flash forward to late spring of 2020, Aston Martin has gotten a new CEO. After years of saying it needed to diversify from James Bond, Aston is as tethered to Bond as ever.

How do you get out of this?

Play up your Bond connections. Again.

The New York Times bit in a May 25 story. So did the Hindustan Times in a May 28 story.

The Times’ story referenced how Chris Corbould, who has worked on special effects for many Bond films, was involved in the project. But, that wasn’t news, either. An August 2018 release by Eon Productions mentioned how Corbould was involved in the project.

Safe to say, Aston Martin has many challenges ahead. But the 25 DB5 replicas aren’t going to save the company.

Aston Martin replaces CEO

Daniel Craig and Aston Martin DB5 in a Skyfall publicity sill

Aston Martin, the British maker of luxury cars associated with James Bond films, said today it’s replacing its chief executive officer.

The new CEO will be Tobias Moers, 54, currently head of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance arm. He will join Aston on Aug. 1.

Moers replaces Andy Palmer, who joined Aston as CEO in 2014 from Nissan Motor Co.

Keith Stanton, currently vice president and chief manufacturing operations officer, will serve as interim CEO until Moers’ arrival.

Aston has experienced a series of challenges, including losses and a plunging stock price.

Lawrence Stroll, a Canadian billionaire, was the lead investor in a financial rescue of Aston Martin that took place in January. Stroll is executive chairman of Aston.

Over the past several years, Aston has talked about the need to diversify and be more than James Bond’s favored ride. But the company still finds itself dependent on its association with Bond. Aston provided multiple vehicles for No Time to Die.

Palmer took to Twitter to say good-bye.

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Aston Martin to undergo management shakeup, FT says

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

Aston Martin, the British maker of luxury sports cars, will see a management shakeup, the Financial Times reported.

Current CEO Andy Palmer will depart the company and be replaced by Tobias Moers, the head of Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance arm, the FT said, citing two people familiar with the plans it didn’t identify.

Aston Martin was sold by Ford Motor Co. in 2007 and has run into a series of financial challenges since. The company is best known for its association with the James Bond film series produced by Eon Productions.

The announcement of the change is scheduled for Tuesday, the FT said.

Peter Campbell, the FT writer who did the story, said on Twitter that Aston Martin later issued a statement that it “confirms that it is reviewing its management team and a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate”.”

Palmer joined Aston as CEO in 2014 from Nissan Motor Co. Earlier this year, Lawrence Stroll, described by the FT as “a Canadian billionaire with a background in motor racing and luxury fashion labels,” led a financial rescue of Aston Martin.

A variety of Aston Martin models, including replicas of the DB5, will appear in No Tie to Die. The company has been part of the Bond series since the original DB5 was in 1964’s Goldfinger.

A View To a Kill’s 35th: No more Moore

A View to a Kill's poster

A View to a Kill’s poster

Updated and expanded from a May 2015 post.

To sort of steal from Christopher Nolan, A View To a Kill isn’t the Bond ending Roger Moore deserved, but it’s the one that he got when the film debuted 35 years ago this month.

Producer Albert R. Broccoli had prevailed at the box office in 1983 against a competing James Bond film with Sean Connery, Broccoli’s former star. Broccoli’s Octopussy generated more ticket sales than Never Say Never Again (with Connery as de facto producer as well as star).

That could have been the time for Moore to call it a day. Some fans at the time expected Octopussy to be the actor’s finale. Yet, Broccoli offered him the role one more time and the actor accepted.

Obviously, he could have said no, but when you’re offered millions of dollars that’s easier said than done. There was the issue of the actor’s age. Moore would turn 57 during production in the fall of 1984.

That’s often the first thing cited by various entertainment sites over the years.

However, the problems go deeper than that. As the blog wrote in 2012, the movie veers back and forth between humor and really dark moments as if it can’t decide what it wants to be.

Typical of A View To a Kill's humor

Typical of A View To a Kill’s humor

Director John Glen and screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson constantly go from yuks and tension and back again. If the humor were better, that might be easier to accept. A typical example: In the pre-titles sequence, there’s an MI-6 submarine that’s supposed to be disguised as an iceberg but its phallic shape suggests something else.

For those Bond fans who never liked Moore, just mentioning the title of the movie will cause distress. Based strictly on anecdotal evidence over the years, some Moore admirers don’t mention it as one of his better 007 efforts.

Still, A View to a Kill has historical importance for the Bond film series. Besides being Roger Moore’s final outing, it was also the final appearance of Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny.

There’s also an in-joke for those familiar with the business side of 007. Bond, desperately holding onto a rope attached to a blimp, has his manhood imperiled by the top of the Transamerica Building in San Francisco.

That structure was home to the conglomerate that formerly owned United Artists, the studio that released Bond films. Transamerica dumped UA, selling it in 1981 to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after the movie Heaven’s Gate bombed at the box office. Things have never been the same for the 007 film series since.

Regardless whether you’re a critic of Moore as 007 or a fan, he did hold down the 007 fort through some hectic times (including the breakup of Broccoli with his 007 producing partner Harry Saltzman).

It would have been nicer to go out on a higher note than A View To a Kill. But storybook endings usually only happen in the movies.