1968: I Spy previews Skyfall’s climax

I Spy's Robert Culp

I Spy’s Robert Culp

Skyfall’s climatic scene, with Daniel Craig’s James Bond making a last stand against Javier Bardem’s villain Silva at 007′s family home, was compared by fans and critics to Sam Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs in 1971 or the 1990 comedy Home Alone. But there may be a better comparison.

The 1968 I Spy episode Home to Judgment at times almost seems like a blueprint for Skyfall. Jaded spy Kelly Robinson (Robert Culp), along with his partner Alexander Scott (Bill Cosby), are on the run after a mission has gone bad. They end up at the farm where Kelly spent some summers as a youth.

Kelly hasn’t been there for 27 years and says he can’t even remember the voices of his Uncle Harry and Aunt Alta, who still tend the farm. The agents have no choice but to hide out there. Their mission was to identify a group of saboteurs, who have covers as businessmen. But the saboteurs figured out who Kelly and Scott were and are hunting the agents. Meanwhile, “the department” told the agents if they were discovered, they’d have to get out of it on their own, there would be no backup.

All of this sets up a kill-or-be-killed scenario. Kelly is particularly guilty about involving his relatives but it doesn’t matter. The saboteurs are simply going to kill everyone. Eventually, after Kelly finally tells Harry and Alta who he really is, the agents booby trap the farmhouse with everyday objects (stretching that definition a bit, such as having some old blasting caps, plus a few sticks of dynamite, which the saboteurs had planted in Harry’s car). Harry has his own rifle and an older rifle that Kelly shot as a boy. The latter doesn’t have much stopping power but Kelly fires it to set off some of the booby traps now in the house.

Harry (Will Geer) is an ornery old cuss, not unlike Albert Finney’s Kincade. Harry was also a deputy sheriff at one time, so he’s not totally inexperienced at this sort of thing. Alta (Una Merkel) doesn’t have any experience at all, but still helps with the booby traps, not unlike Judi Dench’s M in Skyfall.

The story was the seventh, and final, I Spy episode written by Culp. The actor didn’t have a good feeling about the show’s pilot and proceeded to write four scripts for the first season. One of those stories (So Long, Patrick Henry) would be the first aired by NBC while the pilot wouldn’t be shown until about midway through the first season.

Also, here’s a shoutout to 007 fan Gary Firuta, who pinged us about this some time back. We finally got around to rewatching our copy of the I Spy episode this week. Meanwhile, a respondent to the Double O Section blog mentioned it. You can CLICK HERE to see it (search for the word “Judgment.”)

UPDATED: our final Skyfall accuracy checklist (spoilers)

SPOILERS: Just like the headline says this has SPOILERS. Stop reading now if you haven’t seen the movie.

Here’s our final checklist concerning the accuracy of various reports about Skyfall dating back as far back as 2010. Sources varied from U.K. tabloids with a tawdry reputation to trade publications and entertainment news Web sites.

Ben Whishaw would be the new Q: Reported by the BBC in 2011, citing Whishaw’s agent. Formally announced in July 2012. Check. Daniel Craig proclaimed, “Agents are liars,” when asked about reports concerning Whishaw playing Q prior to the July announcement. Not in this case.

Skyfall is the title: First reported by the Fusible Web site before the title was confirmed in November 2011. Check.

Ralph Fiennes is in the cast: reported by the Daily Mail in February 2011 and Variety later. Check.

Albert Finney is in the cast: reported in the Daily Mail on Oct. 28, 2011. Check.

Naomie Harris is in the cast: Reported in June 2011 by the now-defunct News of the World. Check.

Berenice Marlohe is the cast: Reported Sept. 29, 2011, by a Web site called Twitch. Check.

Bond will have a beard during at least part of Skyfall: reported by the Sun newspaper in the U.K. on Oct. 21, 2011. Check.

Skyfall will have November 2012 release date: Reported by Nikke Finke’s Deadline entertainment news Web site in late 2010, before the Skyfall title was chosen. Confirmed in news release from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions in early 2011. Later release dated tweaked so that U.K. release will be in October 2012, while the November 2012 date still applies to the U.S. Check.

Javier Bardem offered a role in Skyfall: First reported by by the Deadline Web site in January 2011. Check.

Sam Mendes being considered to direct Skyfall: Reported by the Deadline Web site in January 2010. Check. Mendes denied the news in an article in The Wall Street Journal DAYS after his publicist confirmed talks were underway.

Skyfall the last appearance for Judi Dench’s M: Reported by the BEST FOR FILM WEB SITE in April 2012. Check.

Naomie Harris’s Eve turns out to be Miss Moneypenny.. This idea was pushed repeatedly by the U.K. Daily Mail newspaper. CLICK HERE for one of multiple examples. The Daily Mail was decried for pushing rubbish on fan message boards and major 007 fan sites but, in the end, was proven correct. Check

UPDATED: Our Skyfall accuracy checklist

With Skyfall coming out in a few months, we thought we’d update our Oct. 30, 2011, post concerning the accuracy of reports over the past 18 months concerning the 23rd James Bond movie.

There are some fans who maintain nothing is official until something is announced. Actually, something like an actor agreeing to play a role is official when he or she has signed a contract (a legal obligation, thus official). An announcement is the end of the process and may not occur (as in the case of our first example below) until well after the actor has completed work.

Also, some of the newspapers that originated these reports don’t have the greatest reputation, including being implicated in the U.K. phone-hacking scandal. As a result, there is reason for fans to be skeptical. Still, many of the reports were eventually proven to be accurate — too many to be attributed to wild guessing. So at least some genuine information has been circulating before formal announcements were made.

Ben Whishaw would be the new Q: Reported by the BBC last year, citing Whishaw’s agent. Formally announced this week. Check. Daniel Craig proclaimed, “Agents are liars,” when asked about reports concerning Whishaw playing Q. Not in this case. Why an official announcement now? One possibility: a new Skyfall trailer was unveiled by Imax at the San Diego comic book convention on July 12. The trailer includes an exchange between Craig’s Bond and Whishaw’s Q.

Skyfall is the title: First reported by the Fusible Web site. Check.

Ralph Fiennes is in the cast: reported by the Daily Mail in February and Variety later. Check.

Albert Finney is in the cast: reported in the Daily Mail on Oct. 28. Check.

Naomie Harris is in the cast: Reported in June 2011 by the now-defunct News of the World. Check.

Berenice Marlohe is the cast: Reported by a Web site called Twitch. Check.

Bond will have a beard during at least part of Skyfall: reported by the Sun newspaper in the U.K. on Oct. 21. Check.

Skyfall will have November 2012 release date: Reported by Nikke Finke’s Deadline entertainment news Web site in late 2010, before the Skyfall title was chosen. Confirmed in news release from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions in early 2011. Later release dated tweaked so that U.K. release will be in October 2012, while the November 2012 date still applies to the U.S. Check.

Javier Bardem offered a role in Skyfall: First reported by by the Deadline Web site. Check.

Sam Mendes being considered to direct Skyfall: Reported by the Deadline Web site in January 2010. Check. Mendes denied the news in an article in The Wall Street Journal afterDAYS after his publicist confirmed talks were underway.

There are two major tidbits yet to be confirmed. One concerns the departure of a series character (SPOILER, don’t click if you don’t want to know). The other, an idea pushed by the Daily Mail newspaper in the U.K. is that Naomie Harris’s agent Eve character will eventually turn out to be Miss Moneypenny (CLICK HERE for one of multiple examples).

At this point, both remain to be seen. Given the fact Mendes denied he was in talks to direct Skyfall (while his publicist was saying otherwise) and Craig denied Whishaw was going to play Q (even as Mendes was confirming it), no official statements can be taken at face value at the moment.

Or, to use the words of Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli, “Nothing has been announced.” But those words, by themselves, don’t mean they’re not true. We’ll just have to see the movie in the fall to be sure.

007 questions now that Skyfall has finished filming

Skyfall wrapped up production this week, with the official 007 Twitter account uploading one last clapperboard shot as the second unit finished work in Turkey. As the movie enters the editing and post-production phase, we had a few questions.

001. Will there be a gunbarrel at the start of the movie? For all of the talking points from Daniel Craig & Co. about how Skyfall will be a classic James Bond movie, “Bond with a capital B,” etc., the subject of the traditional gunbarrel logo (Bond as seen from inside a killer’s gunbarrel, the agent turning and firing, etc.) never seemed to come up. The gunbarrel was used in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace but not at the start of either movie.

The gunbarrel is a prominent part of the teaser poster but that’s not a guarantee it will be used at the very start of the film (i.e., the traditional or classic way).

002. What is Thomas Newman going to do musically with the film? Newman is the first new composer to the series in 15 years. His track record consists mostly of dramas, including some with Skyfall director Sam Mendes. The composer recently said he’s “just brainstorming right now” on the Skyfall score.

003. Was the hiring of Roger Deakins as director of photography worth all the fuss? Based on the teaser trailer, a qualified yes. There were some striking images and colors. (One of our readers disagreed, so this is not a unanimous opinion.) Still, it should be noted that You Only Live Twice was photographed by Freddie Young, one of the best British directors of photography ever, and Twice rarely shows up in lists of best 007 movies. Photography is obviously important (it’s a movie, afterall) but you still need an engrossing story.

004. Will Skyfall really have more humor than recent Bond films? The notion that Skyfall will have a lighter tone has been one of the most frequent talking points during production. Whether that’s true remains to be seen. The teaser trailer didn’t have a hint of humor. The final trailer to the Christopher Nolan-directed The Dark Knight Rises had more humor (i.e. one joke) than the Skyfall teaser trailer.

005. How much Ian Fleming content will Skyfall have? Based on some of the spoilers that have come out, noticeably more than, say, Quantum of Solace. To put it in a non-spoiler way, screenwriters Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan have tapped into Chapter 21 of Fleming’s 1964 You Only Live Twice novel, where the author presented background about his hero. The Skyfall principals really only talked about Fleming in detail once, at an April 29 news conference in Turkey. Until then, the subject hadn’t come up very much. It remains to be seen whether the movie incorporates more Fleming material or mood.

006. Was hiring of Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney worth all the fuss? There’s absolutely no way to know for sure at this point. The teaser trailer doesn’t provide an answer. An anxious Fiennes looks at Judi Dench’s M and there’s a silouhette of what may be Bardem’s villain. Bardem and Fiennes did some media interviews but didn’t say much. Some fans (as in this this HMSS editorial) have said it’s the best cast ever for a Bond movie. We won’t know until the fall whether that’s the case of if Skyfall becomes another example of The Missouri Breaks Syndrome.

007. So are you optimistic or pessimistic? We’re trying to avoid the extremes. Some fans argue you can’t criticize the movie until you see it. OK, but you can’t assume it’s great until you see it, either.

Skyfall’s latest `security breach’

They say things come in threes. So it is with “security breaches” with Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie.

First, it was call sheets and related materials that contained spoilers such as character names ended up on fan Web sites James Bond Brasil and 007 Collector. Then a blogger, who primarily takes nature photos, comes across Skyfall filming at an exterior set that’s supposed to be 007′s ancestral home and some more information about the film comes out.

Now, in Turkey, three high school students sneaked into a Skyfall filming area and took photos of a stunt scene being prepared, ACCORDING TO THIS STORY by the Dogan News Agency that appeared on the Web site of the Hurriyet Daily News. An excerpt:

The trio avoided security guards by sneaking through alleys and climbed over a wire fence into the train station. There, they crawled under train cars and reached the repair depot, where they grabbed off-duty workers’ overalls and helmets.

The story says one of the three was searched, but hid his cell phone (with its camera) in his underwear. To see a gallery of the photos shot, CLICK HERE.

The main reason this sort of thing gets attention is because Eon Productions has been more secretive than usual, such as not providing the names of characters played by Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. Thus, when some information does spill out, it gets played up. In the absence of traditional coverage, there’s a demand for news (with those wanting to remain “spoiler free” straining to avoid it) and these non-traditional methods are filling it.

Only two more months of filming to go. Will any more leaks occur?

`All the money’s going to go on the screen’

There’s a quote attributed to Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli to the effect that with James Bond movies, the money is all up on the screen. In Broccoli’s time at the 007 helm (1961-1996), that explained why the production team often cast unknowns for key roles, especially the female leads. Eon would save money on such roles and use it toward putting spectacle during the film.

Albert R. Broccoli, co-founder of Eon

When the modestly budgeted ($1 million) Dr. No came out 50 years ago, the crew still spent weeks in Jamaica. As budgets increased, Eon increased location shooting. “Kids that watch that watch television and watch films today, they’re very smart,” Broccoli told ABC’s Good Morning America in 1987, a quarter-century after Dr. No, when discussing The Living Daylights. “They know just where you are. They know you’re in Hollywood behind a palm tree and not in Quarzazate or not in Morocco.” (We were reminded about this in a post on the Bond and Beyond message board. You can CLICK HERE to see a 9:20 video on YouTube that has two segments from Good Morning America about The Living Daylights. The Cubby Broccoli quote starts at about the 6:20 mark.)

Sometimes, as in the case with The Living Daylights, Vienna substituted for the then-Czechoslovakia or Thailand for Vietnam (Tomorrow Is Not Enough Tomorrow Never Dies) or Spain for Cuba (Die Another Day) if going to the actual site was too difficult for political or other reasons. Still, Eon emphasized location shoots. Meanwhile, Broccoli and Eon would pass over some actors, such as Faye Dunaway in Octopussy, deeming them too expensive, in favor of spending money elsewhere.

Barbara Broccoli, Eon’s co-boss and Cubby Broccoli’s daughter, cites the “putting the money on the screen” line in places like Quantum of Solace DVD extras and the November Skyfall news conference. At the latter, a reporter asked if the Skyfall’s budget might be reduced compared with 2008′s Quantum of Solace. “Does it look like we’re cutting back?” she asked, gesturing toward director Sam Mendes and star Daniel Craig. “All the money’s going to go on the screen.”

Since then, it has emerged that the first unit isn’t going to Shanghai, with U.K. locations subbing for the Chinese business center (Ascot Racecourse subbing for Shanghai International Airport, for example), while the second unit films in China. The first unit will film in Turkey. By contrast, Quantum of Solace, with a reported $230 million budget, filmed in Chile, Mexico, Italy, Panama, Austria and the U.K.

Javier Bardem, who plays Skyfall's villain


Has the budget been cut? Michael Wilson, the other Eon co-boss, said in November that Skyfall’s budget is in the same range as Quantum. That’s despite the fact the world economy is weaker than 2008, when Quantum was filmed. Also, Quantum’s reported budget was almost as much as some Harry Potter movies without delivering the same level of return.

Still, let’s take Wilson at his word for a moment. Skyfall may be taking on higher costs that its predecessors. The 23rd James Bond film is employing an Oscar-winning director (Sam Mendes), an Oscar-nominated screenwriter (John Logan, who had two nominations when he was signed and just picked up another for Hugo), an Oscar-nominated director of photography (Roger Deakins) and a cast that includes Oscar winner Javier Bardem, whose earning power is at a peak, thanks to 2007′s No Country for Old Men, Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes and five-time Oscar nominee Albert Finney.

Perhaps “all the money’s going to go on the screen” has a new meaning under Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Examples of all the money going to the screen for Skyfall may be the “Directed by Sam Mendes” credit in the titles or a dialogue scene between Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem, or between Judi Dench, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. That doesn’t mean there won’t be action. (The second unit has been filming driving sequences in China, according to the MI6 fan Web site.) But the increased salaries may mean shifting priorities, even if Skyfall’s budget isn’t one penny less than Quantum’s — and even more so if Skyfall’s budget really is lower than its predecessor.

007 new questions about Skyfall

It’s a new year and there new questions about the 23rd James Bond film, Skyfall.

001. So will Skyfall follow the same path as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace? Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, said it would during a November news conference.

002. But didn’t Wilson also say there was a “magical Goldfinger feel surrounding” Skyfall? He sure did, in a Dec. 18 story by the U.K. media outlet The People.

What? More questions?

003. Isn’t that inconsistent? Wilson’s main priority isn’t being consistent when he does interviews or makes public appearances. His main priority is selling a movie.

004. Isn’t that a cynical way of looking at it? Well, you could try to fact check P.T. Barnum, but by the the time you showed how his sales pitches were inconsistent, he’s moved on to the next sales pitch. (For those unfamiliar with P.T. Barnum, CLICK HERE.)

005. Isn’t that harsh? Well, Quantum of Solace is known as “grim, gritty, not your father’s James Bond” and fans of the movie accuse detractors of simply not getting it. Goldfinger is primarily known as a larger than life, escapist film. Michael G. Wilson has evoked both in a short amount of time. Anyway, Skyfall is going to cost a lot of money and is being made during uncertain economic times. The producers have business responsibilities. They, in effect, want to make a sale, i.e. entice movie goers to buy tickets. It’s part of the job.

006. Do you really think Skyfall will be lighter than Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace? That’s not a terribly high bar, particularly Quantum. There’s a story on the ShowbizSpy Web site saying a bit more humor is part of the plan. It’s attributed only to a “Bond insider.” That makes it hard to tell how accurate the story is. Still, it’s consistent with the December Michael G. Wilson interview (if not the November news conference remarks).

007. Aren’t you looking forward to seeing Skyfall? Absolutely. But we’re not going to be swayed by hype. After seeing some message boards, there are some fans who are ready to proclaim it a masterpiece because of director Sam Mendes and a cast that includes the likes of Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes and Albert Finney. We prefer to wait until there’s a movie to judge.

Eon says Bond 23 title is Skyfall, confirms other reports

Today’s Eon Productions news conference confirmed most of the major reports about the film, including the title being Skyfall.

First the title. From the Twitter feed:

007 James Bond
Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli explain that the title Skyfall has “some emotional context”.

The title was originally disclosed by the Fusible Web site.

The cast does include Judi Dench (she had announced it her self but Eon hadn’t confirmed until today), Javier Bardem (same status as Dench), Berenice Marlohe, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ben Wishaw. One thing not correct: Naomie Harris, according to the 007 Twitter feed, “will play a field agent called Eve.” Could she be the film’s sacrifcial lamb? (That’s an actual question, so don’t accuse of rumor mongering).

In THIS POST, we provided a list of where the reports and where they originated. One stumble, it appears, was a Daily Mail report that said Naomie Harris would play Miss Moneypenny. Unless, of course, we find out Eve is Moneypenny’s first name.

We haven’t seen any pictures yet, and none of the Twitter feeds (we’re following several) mention whether star Daniel Craig is wearing a beard. More later. REVISED UPDATE: Our friends at the James Bond Dossier had advised Craig didn’t have a beard at the news conference. But someone attending the event said Craig had a very thin beard. So the report about Bond having a beard may be accurate.

UPDATE: The Bond 23 press release is online and you can read it BY CLICKING HERE. An excerpt:

In SKYFALL, Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

There are also some crew announcements, including Roger Deakins as director of photography and Stuart Baird as editor. No mention of a composer. So the question of whether David Arnold returns or is replaced is still open.

UPDATE: Here’s David Arnold on his Twitter feed

DavidGArnold DavidGArnold
For those asking about Bond 23 and my involvement in it I dont have any news.they’ll announce something when they have something to announce

Our Bond 23 accuracy checklist

Over this year, James Bond fans have debated the accuracy of reports about Bond 23, which is gearing up production. Here’s a checklist of stories of the major disclosures to make it easier to determine who was right or not with the Bond 23 news conference scheduled for Nov. 3.

We’ve tried to track these down to the first media outlet to report, but if sharp-eyed readers can find earlier examples, let us know. (Also here’s a tip of the cap to the MI6 James Bond fan Web site. Its archive helped us track down some of the links.

Skyfall is the title: First reported by the Fusible Web site.

Ralph Fiennes is in the cast: reported in Variety on March 25, though that was a passing reference. This is almost virtually accepted by fans as fact, but still not officially confirmed. 007 actor Daniel Craig told MTV in September that he “hoped” Fiennes would be in the cast.

UPDATE: Actually credit would appear to go to the Daily Mail for Fiennes in a story published on Feb. 4. (Thanks to “Shrublands” on the Commander Bond message board.)

Albert Finney is in the cast: reported in the Daily Mail on Oct. 28.

Naomie Harris is in the cast: This has been around so long, it’s also accepted as virtual fact. It was first reported in June by the now-defunct News of the World (closed by parent company News Corp. because of the now-infamous hacking scandal). You can CLICK HERE to see a timeline. Eon confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that Harris was under consideration. But it has never been officially confirmed she’s in the movie. The Daily Mail upped the ante in July, reporting that Harris was negotiating to be the new Miss Moneypenny.

Berenice Marlohe is the cast: first reported by a Web site called Twitch.

Bond will have a beard during at least part of Bond 23: reported by the Sun newspaper in the U.K. on Oct. 21.

Meanwhile, here’s a list of previous media reports that have been confirmed:

Bond 23 will have November 2012 release date: Reported by Nikke Finke’s Deadline entertainment news Web site in late 2010. Confirmed in news release from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Eon Productions in early 2011. Later release dated tweaked so that U.K. release will be in October 2012, while the November 2012 date still applies to the U.S.

Javier Bardem offered a role in Bond 23: First reported by by the Deadline Web site. Bardem later told ABC that he accepted the role.

Sam Mendes being considered to direct Bond 23: First reported (and this is sounding like a broken record) by the Deadline Web site in Janurary 2010. Mendes responds by claiming to the Wall Street Journal in mid-January 2010 that it was merely “speculation” he might direct Bond 23. He tells this tall tale DAYS after his publicist confirmed talks were underway. Oops. Ex-wife Kate Winslet said in a Dec. 3, 2010 Daily Mail interview that Mendes was directing Bond 23 and she was moving to London so the kids could have time with dad. MGM and Eon finally come clean in an early 2011 news release.

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