Prince Charles picks up some Bond 25 secrets

Eon’s Bond 25 logo

At most mild spoilers, but go away if you’re spoiler adverse.

Bond 25 got a lot of publicity when Prince Charles visited Pinewood Studios today. In return, the Prince of Wales was briefed on some Bond 25 secrets.

5 News posted more than 20 minutes of video from the prince’s visit. The audio wasn’t the best but you pick up some of what he was told about.

Alterations to the Aston Martin DB5: Daniel Craig showed the prince a DB5 that was on display. Well, it turned out there was more than met the eye.

“Underneath here…is a BMW engine on a modern chassis, modern suspension,” Craig tells the prince. “We’ve had five of these made. This is carbon fiber.”

A tiny bit of plot: Ralph Fiennes, who plays M for the third time, talked to the prince about a scene filmed earlier in the day at the M office set.

“So what have you been doing today?” Charles asked.

“We’ve been giving him a hard time,” Fiennes responded.

“Oh really? Again?”

“Again, yeah. And he’s been giving me a hard time.”

“But I thought he was meant to be in retirement or something,” Charles replies.

Daniel Craig interjects at this point. “That’s right. But something drags me back in.”

“What the dreaded Felix Leiter?” the prince asks.

“Felix and the plot,” Craig answers.

Bond 25’s progress: Prince Charles asks if filming is about half complete. Craig answers that it’s about a third done.

Ralph Fiennes’ schedule: The actor tells the prince he works sporadically on Bond 25, mixing it with other acting commitments and an upcoming holiday. “I come in and out..My scenes are scheduled in bits.”

“He’s very busy, you see,” Craig tells Charles. “We’re very lucky to have him.”

After this, Prince Charles was taken to view some of the day’s footage of Craig in M’s office. It’s shown on video screens. He listens, holding up a headset to his right ear.

The video is below.

Tania Mallet, Goldfinger actress, dies

Tania Mallet in a Goldfinger publicity still.

Tania Mallet, who had a small but key role in Goldfinger, has died at 77.

Her death was reported on Twitter on Sunday by the MI6 James Bond website. Later, the official Eon Productions 007 feed on Twitter also posted about her passing.

In 1964’s Goldfinger, Mallet played Tilly Masterson, sister to Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), who had been killed by being “painted gold,” causing skin suffocation.

Tilly seeks to avenge her sister’s death and is tailing Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) in Switzerland. She takes a rifle shot at Goldfinger but almost hits Bond (Sean Connery).

The Tilly part was shortened compared with Ian Fleming’s 1959 novel. In the film, after the botched killing attempt, Bond follows Tilly (driving a Ford Mustang, the first movie to feature the model).

This provides the filmmakers the first opportunity to show off some of the gadgets of Bond’s Aston Martin DB5. The DB5 disables the Mustang. Bond gives Tilly a lift in the DB5 and deduces she’s lying about her case that supposedly contains ice skates.

Later, Bond is conducting surveillance of Goldfinger’s Swiss factory. He returns to his perch but sees a figure with a rifle. It turns out to be Tilly and Bond finalizes realizes she is Jill’s sister. Just then, the duo have to make a run for it from Goldfinger’s thugs.

The following sequence gives Bond a chance to put the DB5 through its paces, including a smoke screen and oil slick. Mallet’s Tilly acts as a surrogate for the audience, smiling as the miracle car shows off its stuff.

The joy, however, is short lived. Bond is forced to stop the DB5 and he instructs Tilly to make a run for it. By this time, Oddjob (Harold Sakata) arrives. He kills Tilly by throwing his armored hat at her, breaking her neck.

The mood suddenly turns serious and dramatic, turning an over-the-top prop into something serious. The scene is helped by John Barry’s music. It’s arguably one of the most dramatic moments in the movie.

As a result, Mallet made an impact in the film, from being the first screen character to drive an iconic car to being one of the movie’s “sacrificial lambs.”

Here’s the tweet from the official Eon site on Twitter:

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UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter posted an obit for Mallet that noted she was a cousin of actress Helen Mirren.

About that whole James Bond-Aston Martin thing

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

One wonders what Ian Fleming would have thought about the love affair between the James Bond films and Aston Martin.

In the Goldfinger novel, Bond had a choice between the Aston Martin DB3 or a Jaguar for use as a cover as “a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.” He chose the Aston.

By the time Goldfinger was adapted by Eon Productions in 1964, Bond drove a government-issued DB5, complete with an elector seat, machine guns, oil slick and other extras. Bond films were never the same again. The cinematic Bond, despite some breaks here and there, has been driving Aston Martins frequently since.

Indeed, the DB5 has shown up in a number of films since 1995’s Goldfinger, including 2015’s SPECTRE where he drove it at the end of the movie.

In the novels, Bond was a civil servant who lived relatively modestly (although he could afford a housekeeper). But Aston Martin isn’t concerned about the middle class.

Latest example: The announcement that Aston Martin will build 25 replica DB5s at a price of 2.75 million British pounds each. The cars, though, won’t be street legal, according to a separate Aston Martin statement.

The replicas are supposed to come with Bond gadgets. The literary Bond might burn through a year’s salary (inflation adjusted) just paying for the insurance and maintenance bills. Then again, the 007 movies have glossed over, or simply ignored, other aspects of Fleming’s novels.

At the same time, Aston Martin has its issues as well. It’s a bit of an orphan in the automotive world. For 30 years, it was part of Ford Motor Co. But Ford had to sell it off in 2007 amid financial troubles.

As a result, Aston swims in an ocean of automotive sharks. The auto industry is a bit unsettled these days. Even the giants aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen next in an era of self-driving cars and ride-sharing services.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Aston’s connection to the 007 films didn’t really help sales because the company sold so few cars. For a time, Aston was talking about the need to diversify from James Bond. In stories such as a 2016 article in Marketing Week, company executives said they relied too much on the 007 image.

That was then, this is now. Besides making DB5 replicas, the carmaker last month was part of a pact to sell pricey (129.99 British pounds) Lego versions of the 007 DB5. If Aston Martin is diversifying from Bond, it doesn’t much look like it.

The Bond marriage with Aston Martin continues, even if the literary 007 couldn’t afford the products that marriage produces.

Aston Martin to make (expensive) DB5 replicas

A model describes the Aston Martin DB5 at the 2013 Detroit auto show.

Aston Martin plans to produce 25 expensive replica DB5 cars with some gadgets, according to an announcement by the car company and Eon Productions today.

(UPDATE, Aug. 21: Aston Martin’s separate press release has a key detail. The cars won’t be street legal.)

The cars “will be authentic reproductions of the DB5 seen on screen, with some sympathetic modifications to ensure the highest levels of build quality and reliability,” according the Eon statement.

“This authenticity will extend to include functioning gadgets, such as revolving number plates, which were made famous in GOLDFINGER.” Chris Corbould, a special effects supervisor on several Bond films, helped develop the gadgets for the replicas.

The replicas won’t come cheap. They’re priced at 2.75 million British pounds ($3.51 million) each. They won’t be ready very quickly, either. Deliveries will begin in 2020.

In July, Eon and Aston Martin announced a deal with Lego to sell Lego versions of the DB5 for 129.99 British pounds each.

Lego Aston Martin DB5 unveiled

Lego today unveiled its version of the James Bond Aston Martin DB5.

Lego conducted an event at a store in London. It also spread the word on social media, including a post on Twitter.

The Lego car has 1,295 pieces. It costs 129.99 British pounds, according to Gizmodo UK. That’s $169-plus at current exchange rates.

The Lego version of DB5 comes with ejector seat, radar tracker, rear bullet proof screen and front-wing machine guns.

Lego, Eon Productions and Aston Martin have been teasing the licensed product since mid-June. Images leaked earlier this month.

Not everyone was impressed. The Jaloponik website devoted to everything about cars declared July 5 that the DB5’s “handsome and elegant design, does not translate well in LEGO.”

Below is the tweet that Lego sent out this morning. It includes a video.

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UPDATE (1:30 p.m. New York Time): Here’s a video from the event at the Lego store in London this morning. Naomie Harris, who played Moneypenny in Skyfall and SPECTRE, was part of the festivities.

007 collectibles then and now: From kids to old guys

James Bond lunchbox seen around U.S. school yards, circa 1965-66

In the mid-1960s, there was no doubt. James Bond — suave ladies man with a license to kill — was being marketed to American school children.

Gilbert marketed a series of James Bond figures that included backgrounds based on the 007 films produced by Eon Productions.

Among the figures:

–James Bond being menaced by Goldfinger’s laser beam. Or, as it was phrased on a home video extra, the “most famous near castration in cinema history.”

–M’s desk with a sheet of bullet-resistant glass that came up from the desk, presumably based on Ian Fleming’s final 007 novel, The Man With the Golden Gun, where bullet-resistant glass came down from the ceiling.

–A small model of Dr. No’s “dragon,” a small figure of the Disco Volante from Thunderball.

Some of the 007 Gilbert figures

I know this because I had that Gilbert set. My late father explained the significance of the bullet-resistance glass in M’s desk and how it worked in the novels. The set didn’t survive my childhood. Kids, after all, tend to be destructive when it comes to toys.

There was also, during this time, a James Bond lunch box. I never had that. But I saw it in school.

Almost 60 years later, things have changed. New 007 collectibles aren’t really aimed at kids. They’re intended for middle-aged (or older) men who have enough money to afford them.

The newest example will debut officially later month — a Lego Aston Martin DB5. It’s to be unveiled at a July 18 event at a Lego store in London. Images have leaked out and it may sell for about $170.

People have told me via social media that, of course, Bond can’t be aimed at kids. Bond, after all, has that license to kill and there’s no way it could ever, ever be marketed to young audiences.

Except, of course, it once was. But that’s how it goes.

All this may reflect the aging of the Bond audience. The people most likely to plunk down $170 (or whatever the price ends up being for a Lego Aston Martin DB5) are men in their 50s and 60s with some disposable income.

In any event, things rarely stay the same.

Images of Lego Aston Martin DB5 apparently leak

One of the images of the Lego Aston Martin DB5 on Instagram

Images of packaging for the new Lego Aston Martin DB5 appeared to have leaked and are on Instagram.

The images appear on #legoleaks on Instagram.

When the blog looked this morning, there were five postings of the packaging, including special cards. One of the postings quotes a price of $169.99.

The packaging include words “Licence to Build.” The hashtag #LicenceToBuild has been used by Lego, Aston Martin and Eon Productions’ official 007 feed on Twitter to promote the project.

The companies formally haven’t identified the DB5 as the licensed product. However, in recent social media promotions, they have used quotes from Goldfinger, Skyfall and SPECTRE. Lego has scheduled an event at 10:07 a.m., July 18 at its store in London.

Thanks to .@CorneelVF on Twitter for the heads up.