1962: Hope and Crosby provide 007 a `Road’ map

Bob Hope, left, and Bing Crosby in the opening to The Road to Hong Kong

Five months before the debut of Dr. No, the final Bob Hope-Bing Crosby “Road” movie came out, The Road to Hong Kong. The film, we suspect by coincidence, provided a road map to the future of 007 movies.

The 1962 movie had some major departures from previous “Road” movies. It was produced in the U.K. and was released by United Artists. The earlier films in the series had been produced in Hollywood and released by Paramount. Dorothy Lamour, the female lead of the previous Road movies, makes a cameo as herself but Joan Collins is the main female lead.

The change in locale meant the Norman Panama-Melvin Frank production (both would write the script, Panama directed and Frank produced; the duo had written the 1946 Road to Utopia) would take advantage of U.K. movie talent: Syd Cain was one of the art directors. Maurice Binder designed the main titles. Walter Gotell is one of the main lieutenants of a mysterious organization — stop us if you’ve heard this before — trying to take over the world. Bob Simmons shows up late in the movie as an astronaut in the employ of the villainous organization.

What’s more, there are “animated” sets (designed by Roger Furse) at the villain’s lair that would do Ken Adam proud. Two future participants in the 1967 Casino Royale (Peter Sellers and David Niven) show up in cameos. Did we mention Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin making cameos at the end? Well, they do.

If you’ve never seen The Road to Hong Kong, you can CLICK HERE and watch the 91-minute film on YouTube (at least until it gets taken off that Web site). While a comedy, it is a preview of the more fantastic Bond movies that would emerge a few years later, starting with 1967′s You Only Live Twice.

MI6 Confidential looks past and forward in 2 issues

Issue 16


The MI6 Confidential magazine has two issues, one looking to the past, the other forward — an examination of 1962′s Dr. No and a preview of the upcoming Skyfall.

Issue No. 16 concerns James Bond’s film debut. It includes features on Sean Connery, Ursula Andress and stunt arranger Bob Simmons. There’s also an article where crew members discuss the location shooting that occurred in Jamaica in early 1962.

Issue 17


Issue No. 17 features Skyfall, scheduled to premier in the U.K. in October and in the U.S. in early November. Contents include an interview with Gary Powell, the film’s stunt coordinator, Gary Powell as well as features on actresses Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris. There’s also an interview with Meg Simmonds, director of the archive at Eon Productions, which makes the Bond films.

Each issue costs 6 British pounds or $10 or 7 euros. For more information about ordering you can CLICK HERE. Those who want both issues can order them together and save on shipping costs.

Our modest proposal for Skyfall’s gunbarrel (if there is one)

There’s one thing Eon Productions could do for the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, that could be done for minimal cost, evoke the series’ long history and might get at least some fans pumped up.

Bob Simmons, subbing for Sean Connery, performing the gunbarrel sequence that would be used in Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.


Film a gunbarrel sequence to start out the movie with Daniel Craig’s 007 wearing a hat.

You remember the hat, don’t you? In about 10 seconds, the gunbarrel sequence evokes danger as the audience views Bond from the vantage point of an assassin attempting to kill 007. Bond, aware of the peril, turns and fires, and we see what’s supposed to be blood come down from the top of the screen.

Bob Simmons, Sean Connery’s stunt double, subbed for the star after title designer Maurice Binder had devised the gunbarrel logo to start off Dr. No. We don’t know if Connery wasn’t available. Regardless, Simmons looked enough like Connery (certainly at a distance and wearing a hat) so nobody would notice it wasn’t the star of the movie who walked out and suddenly fired at the audience.

Thus, began a tradition, that lasted 20 movies, through, 2002′s Die Another Day, where the gunbarrel logo started off a 007 film with some variation of The James Bond Theme. The hat disappeared when Roger Moore assumed the role with 1973′s Live And Let Die; it’s our understanding a version with Moore wearing the hat was filmed but it obviously wasn’t used.

Starting in 2005, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to make the series theirs, in effect declaring their independence from Eon Productions late co-founder Albert R. Broccoli. (“We need to generate something new, for ourselves,” Wilson told The New York Times in 2005.)

So the traditional gunbarrel was scrapped, with a new one (without the Bond theme) featuring star Daniel Craig just before the main titles. Wilson said in 2008 that “We’ll probably go back to the traditional style,” for Quantum of Solace. It didn’t turn out that way. Craig’s second gunbarrel came at the end of the movie, just before the end titles although with a traditional James Bond theme arrangement.

Daniel Craig


We don’t take it for granted the gunbarrel will back in any way, shape or form. Wilson, Broccoli and director Sam Mendes may decide to dispense with a gunbarrel altogether as far as we know. But *IF* one is included, having Craig wear a hat would be (pun intended) a tip of the cap to the past that’s subtle. The series did a special gunbarrel with Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, but it was hardly subtle. Brosnan “fired” a CGI bullet at the audience (and supposedly into the barrel of the assassin following Bond).

If Wilson is serious about Skyfall having “a magical Goldfinger feel,” then a traditional gunbarrel with Craig sporting a hat (as Simmons, Connery and George Lazenby did) would be a good place to start.

Two companies that provided 007 rides facing tough times


Two automakers that provided James Bond his ride at various times are facing tough times.

Earlier this month, Saab Automobile of Sweden of Sweden filed for bankruptcy and may be broken up. Author John Gardner depicted Bond using a Saab when he began his run of continuation novels in 1981 with Licence Renewed.

Meanwhile, Lotus may be put up for sale after 15 years of unprofitable ownership by Malaysia’s Proton Holdings. Lotus appeared in two 007 films, most famously in 1977′s The Spy Who Loved Me, when a Lotus converted into a submarine car. Lotus also appeared in 1981′s For Your Eyes Only, including one depicted as exploding when a thug (Bond stunt arranger Bob Simmons) tried to break into it.

007 alumnus Vic Armstrong talks to NPR

Vic Armstrong, former James Bond stuntman and second unit director, was interviewed by NPR on May 18 about his new book. He talked about how a fellow stuntman, who was working on 2001: A Space Odyessey and unable to get away from it, helped him get a job on You Only Live Twice, his first 007 film.

From that rather humble beginning (Armstrong figures he got about $100 a week on You Only Live Twice), he would eventually be put in charge of Bond’s action unit. As a second unit director (on Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day), he was responsible for tens of millions of dollars.

Armstrong also did many other films, including doubling for Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and Christopher Reeve’s Superman. In the NPR interview, Armstrong says Yakima Canutt was the greatest stuntman of all time (he did a memorable stunt in 1939′s Stagecoach and staged the chariot race in 1959′s Ben Hur), while also favorably mentioning long time 007 stunt arranger Bob Simmons and George Leech, another veteran 007 stuntman (and Armstrong’s father-in-law).

To listen to the interview, just CLICK HERE.

What’s your favorite gunbarrel?

Part of the fun of a James Bond movie is the gunbarrel sequence. Dots move across the screen, the last one opening up to resemble the inside of a gunbarrel following James Bond…well, if you’re reading this blog, you know what we’re talking about.

Like other obsessive Bond fans, we’re curious to see how the gunbarrel will look in the new Bond film “Quantum of Solace.” But for the moment, it’s time for a trip down memory lane and look at the gunbarrels made to date. This YouTube video includes “Never Say Never Again” (which didn’t have a gunbarrel), but what the heck:

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