Ford cars, RIP

“Have you not heard? Ford is getting out of the car business!”

This week, Ford Motor Co. said it was virtually exiting the car business in North America, its home (and most profitable) market. By 2020, Ford announced, it will just have two cars in its lineup: the Mustang sports car and the Ford Active crossover due out next year. Ford will concentrate on trucks, SUVs and “crossovers.”

For people of a certain age this seems almost unthinkable. Ford always was aggressive with product placement. Ford cars have been in generations of films and U.S. television shows.

Here’s a look at some prominent examples.

James Bond films: The Bond Cars website provides a list, which says Ford shows up early in the 007 film series produced by Eon Productions. For example, it’s a Ford that serves as the hearse used by Dr. No’s assassins when they kill MI6 operative Strangways.

Ford’s relationship geared up in Goldfinger. A Lincoln Continental is crushed. Felix Leiter rides around in a Ford Thunderbird. Auric Goldfinger uses Ford trucks to transport his larger laser gun to Fort Knox.

And, of course, the movie marked the film debut of Mustang. The sports car was introduced in the spring of 1964 while filming was underway on Goldfinger. Mustangs would also show up in Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever.

Thunderball also featured a lot of Ford cars, including the Continental, Count Lippe’s Ford Fairlane and a station wagon among other vehicles. Emilo Largo drives a Ford Thunderbird on his way to SPECTRE headquarters immediately after the film’s main titles.

The automaker had an on-and-off relationship with the series. Teresa Bond (Diana Rigg) favored a red Mercury Cougar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A number of Ford cars are crashed in the moon buggy chase in Diamonds Are Forever.

Ford also owned Aston Martin from 1987 until 2007. For Die Another Day, Ford had a huge product placement deal, mostly to promote European brands it owned at that time, including Aston, Land Rover and Jaguar. However, a Ford Thunderbird (driven by Halle Berry’s Jinx) also showed up.

The company’s ties to the film series ended with 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Land Rover would return in the 2010s, but after Ford had sold it off.

Matt Helm and Gail Hendricks (Dean Martin and Stella Stevens) in Matt’s Mercury station wagon equipped with a bar.

Matt Helm film series: For four 1960s Matt Helm movies with Dean Martin, Ford provided the vehicles.

Perhaps the most offbeat car was a Mercury station wagon, which was Matt Helm’s personal car in The Silencers (1966). It was equipped with a bar (!) in the back seat. Matt encourages Gail Hendricks (Stella Stevens) to have a drink or two to loosen up. She ends up consuming too much and passing out.

Other Ford-made cars in the series included a Thunderbird Matt drove around Monte Carlo in Murderers’ Row. It had some extras, including a device where words dictated into a microphone are spelled out on the car’s tail lights. (“If you can read this, you’re too close…”)

Hawaii Five-O (original series): Steve McGarrett’s signature car was a Mercury (a two-door model in the pilot, a four-door version thereafter). Lots of other Ford-made cars showed up during the 1968-1980 series.

Ford even supplied cars for an 11th season episode filmed in Singapore. The cast of that two-hour installment, The Year of the Horse, included George Lazenby, who received “special guest star” billing.

Erskine in a Mercury made by Ford Motor Co. in a sixth-season end titles of The FBI.

The FBI: Ford supplied cars for a number of Quinn Martin-produced shows. But the tightest relationship between the company and QM Productions was this 1965-1974 series.

Ford cut a deal to sponsor the show, which was broadcast on ABC. The automaker agreed to kick in extra money to ensure the series would be filmed in color. Executives felt a color series would show off Ford cars better. When The FBI debuted in fall 1965, most of ABC’s lineup was still produced in black and white.

Ford also vetoed the broadcast of one first-season episode, The Hiding Place, because there had been talk of a boycott being organized. The episode finally saw the light of day in 2011 when Warner Archive began releasing the show.

Symbolic of the ties between Ford and show came in the end titles. Inspector Lewis Erkine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) came out of the FBI Building (now the Department of Justice Building) and drove a Ford product home. It was a Mustang for the first four seasons. Subsequent seasons had different Ford-made cars.

The end titles were productions in and of themselves. Zimbalist traveled to Washington for annual meetings with then-Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover. Ford would transport a car for him to drive in Washington for the following season’s end titles. Some of the cars were prototypes and weren’t the most sturdy.

This post merely scratches the surface. There have been many series over the years featuring Ford cars. It won’t be quite the same with Ford cars going away.

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One troubling aspect about that WSJ Aston video

Daniel Craig and Aston Martin DB5 in a Skyfall publicity sill

The Wall Street Journal over the weekend posted a video with Andrew Palmer, the head of Aston Martin. It had the headline, “Could James Bond’s Next Car Be an Aston Martin SUV?”

On social media, that got a rise from 007 fans, who found the idea of Bond driving an SUV awful. Also, truth be told, the interview really didn’t explore the idea of Bond behind the wheel of an SUV.

But there was an exchange that fans might find troubling for an entirely different reason. It begins around the 0:55 mark. Naturally the video also includes clips from 1964’s Goldfinger.

LEE HAWKINS (WSJ INTERVIEWER): In America, when we think of Aston Martin, a lot of us think of James Bond. But does that put you into a box to some extent, putting into the consumers mind that an Aston Martin is really designed and intended to serve an older person?

PALMER: It’s a greater customer. Of course, when you come in life to the ability to afford an Aston Martin, then generally you’re a little older. We do have to think about about a more youthful market.  (emphasis added).

It’s not a secret that Bond fandom skews older that other movie franchises. The exchange in the Journal video simply reflects that.

Also, Eon Productions keeps bringing back the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. Newer Astons do get screen time. However, the DB5 has been in five of eight Bond films since 1995. SPECTRE, the most recent Eon offering, had Bond (Daniel Craig) driving off in the DB5 at the end of the movie.

Also, this isn’t the first time Palmer has talked about making Aston known for more than 007.

“James is an important customer for our sports cars but he occasionally gets married so maybe there’s someone out there for him although you can get a baby seat in the back of an (Aston Martin) DB11,” Palmer told CNBC in April 2016.

“But it’s about reality and Aston is more than just James Bond,” Palmer added. “It’s about being British, being independent, it’s about craftsmanship and it’s about business itself.”

To see the full Wall Street Journal video, CLICK HERE.

Some notes about the Daily Mail’s SPECTRE story

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

This weekend, the U.K. Daily Mail’s Event arts section had A STORY about SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film.

Here were some things in the article that caught our eye:

200 million/300 million: Price in British pounds and U.S. dollars for SPECTRE’s overall budget.

The figure, which makes SPECTRE one of the most expensive movies of all time, was originally disclosed in the hacks at Sony Corp. But the Daily Mail was given a lot of access for this article. The fact the publication is using it amounts to a tacit confirmation of the hacked information.

24 million/36 million: The price in British pounds and U.S. dollars for the budget for expensive sports cars (Aston Martins and Jaguars) to be smashed up in chase sequences.

Possible cost of delays: During filming of a Rome car chase, “one of the crew tells me that every hour of rain could cost the production a cool million pounds,” according to the Daily Mail story.

It took a few months, but we finally got our Barbara Broccoli “the money’s up on the screen” quotes. In fact, we got two.

Long-serving producer Barbara Broccoli tells Event she is immensely proud of those stunning pre-title scenes: ‘My dad Cubby Broccoli always said, “Put all the money on the screen.”

‘There’s a lot of money on the screen in this one! Bond has such an extraordinary tradition of awe-inspiring openings, it is difficult to top them. But this sequence is up there as one of the greatest.’

To read the entire story, CLICK HERE. No real story spoilers, but those especially sensitive fans (i.e. the ones who consider trailers and commercials to be spoilers) may want to think twice.

Aston Martin releases promo video of DB10

Aston Martin today released a promotional video featuring the company’s limited edition DB10 that’s featured in SPECTRE.

In the film, the DB10 is the latest offering from Q Branch. Theatrical trailers and television spots have shown shots from a car chase in the 24th James Bond film. In reality, the car was developed specifically for the movie.

Aston Martin’s relationship with the Bond film series goes back to 1964’s Goldfinger, which utilized the DB5.

007.com posts video blog about SPECTRE car chase

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

People who don’t want to know anything about the movie should stop reading now.

The official James Bond website, 007.com, posted a new video blog today which looks at a car chase scene in SPECTRE.

In the film, Daniel Craig’s James Bond is driving an Aston Martin DB10 and is being chased by a Jaguar driven by henchman Mr. Hinx (Dave Bautista).

The video includes comments from special effects man Chris Corbould and director Sam Mendes. The latter calls the sequence “a cat and mouse game through the night time streets of Rome.”

Here’s the video, it runs about 100 seconds. No real story spoilers, but, as stated above, the super-spoiler averse should not view.

UPDATE: To view a related tweet from the official 007 Twitter account, CLICK HERE.

Sony appears to confirm a SPECTRE spoiler

SPECTRE LOGO
Like the headline says, this involves a spoiler. The spoiler adverse shouldn’t read.

Last month, a photo emerged of a SPECTRE spoiler, specifically involving a vehicle in the movie. The photo showed the vehicle during filming of SPECTRE.

On April 2, Sony Pictures Canada put out a Tweet that appears to confirm said vehicle will be in the 24th James Bond film.

For the spoiler adverse, this is your last chance to leave without seeing.

Here’s the tweet:

On Dec. 4, it was announced SPECTRE would feature the Aston Martin DB10, a limited-production model. Nothing was said about the Aston Martin DB5, which was blown to bits in the climatic sequence of Skyfall.

As you can see, Sony Pictures Canada tweeted a picture of the DB5 as it appeared in Goldfinger. So, it would seem Sony has confirmed the return of the iconic car yet one more time.

Things we know about SPECTRE so far

SPECTRE teaser poster

SPECTRE teaser poster

No substantive spoilers, but super spoiler averse people should not even begin reading.

SPECTRE began seven months of principal photography on Dec. 8. That means we’ll soon be at the halfway mark of filming.

For other movies (say The Man From U.N.C.L.E. film) things would have wrapped up now. But this is a Bond film and one of the most expensive movies of all time. So here’s what we know as the halfway mark approaches.

This will be a new take on an old idea: At the Dec. 4 media event to kick off filming, nobody wanted to even acknowledge the story concerns the same criminal organization featured in early 007 films.

Earlier this month, Eon Productions co-boss Barbara Broccoli told Empire magazine the movie does feature that organization, albeit a new version. That’s not much of an admission, but it’s more than the principals were willing to say in December.

The movie includes an extensive, intricate car chase: The production this week wrapped up said car chase, involving an Aston Martin (driven by Bond) being chased by a Jaguar. Because the sequence was filmed on public streets in a major European city (Rome), a lot of video from the chase has ended u on the Internet. Some footage on the Internet (we’re not linking to it in this post) even shows how it finishes.

The Sony hacking is the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Eon’s talking point is that only an early draft surfaced in the computer hacking at Sony Studios, which is releasing SPECTRE. Based on the news accounts where reporters reviewed the script, that’s not the case. What has been written about is not the current shooting script (last-minute alterations are often made during filming). How close the script from the hacks is to the final version of the movie remains to be seen.

Given how expensive the movie is ($300 million or more, another fact that came out in the hacks), it’s understandable the hacking would be sensitive. Nevertheless, the hacking is a complication other 007 films haven’t had to deal with.

This is going to be a costly movie: Already, there has been footage shot in Austria, Rome and Pinewood Studios. There will soon be filming in Mexico, which we now know will include sizeable subsidies from the Mexican government (another fact from the hacks), as well as other locations.

Audiences won’t care as long as they feel they’ve been entertained. The executives (like the ones at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) who have to sign the checks for all involved, may be a little more nervous until the movie comes out in November.