1 million page views later

Today, Aug. 1, The Spy Command reached 1 million page views. Sounds like a big number but it’s actually pretty modest for the internet. But it’s not bad for a blog with a niche audience.

The blog’s best day for views was Nov. 15, 2013. That’s when it published a post with the press release that Danjaq LLC (parent of Eon Productions) and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had reached an agreement with the Kevin McClory estate.

The deal brought all rights that had been held by McClory into the Danjaq-MGM fold “thus bringing to an amicable conclusion the legal and business disputes that have arisen periodically for over 50 years,” according to the statement. Thus, the Eon 007 series could again use Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE without fear of legal action.

That, however, was not the most viewed post in the history of blog. That honor goes to a post quoting Guy Ritchie that his first choice for Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was Brad Pitt.

Who’d have thought? Perhaps more surprises lay ahead.

Lost love: Similarities between Allied, Casino Royale

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Spoilers for Allied

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer

Some days ago I decided to watch Allied, which had recently premiered in my country. I barely knew something about the plot.  I found a movie that touched my deepest emotions. I linked the love story with the ill-fated James Bond and Vesper Lynd relationship in the novel and film Casino Royale.

The film is set during World War II. The main figure is a Canadian agent named Max Vatan (played by Brad Pitt, in a very emotionless performance I must add).

Recruited by the British, he is assigned to to terminate a Nazi German ambassador in Morocco. There, he meets his “wife,” French Resistance agent Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard), who has infiltrated the Nazi society and befriended the wives of their enemy agent targets.

At first, he refuses to fall for her. But the attraction is stronger and they make love inside a car, hiding from a fiery sandstorm.

The day arrives and the mission is successful. They kill the ambassador, eliminate a few enemy agents and escape. They fall in love and marry back in London.

Things seem to go well and admist a WWII bombing she gives birth to Anna, their little girl.

But happiness doesn’t last long. His superiors inform Max that his wife is suspected of being a spy for the Nazis, a woman who killed the real Marianne Beausejour and took her place. A bait with false information is set up for her, and Max is given two options if they confirm Marianne is a mole: He kills her or they’re both executed for treason.

After some investigation by Max on his own, he discovers the truth: Marianne was a spy. She claims the Nazis threatened to kill her daughter, but she swears to have truly loved him from the beginning. They both plan to escape to South America after Max eliminates – one by one – all the people who were blackmailing his wife.

As they are about to leave the country, he is captured and his boss ignores all the reasons given by Vatan to save them. Seeing there is no way out for his loved one, Marianne dedicates a last “je t’aime” to Max and shots herself. The film ends with a letter from the woman to her daughter, whom Max is taking care of.

I have to admit this story made me cry, way more than Casino Royale. That’s probably because I knew the ending for the Ian Fleming novel before reading it or watching the film and because director Robert Zemeckis really knows how to make his audience weep, as he showed in films such as the acclaimed Forest Gump.

But the subject I wanted to bring up here are the many connections between this movie and Casino Royale.

First of all, Vatan is working for the British and the party scenes are very reminiscent to the lifestyle Ian Fleming had during this time: men in tuxedos, booze, cigars, and beautifully dressed and made up women.

French is also widely spoken trough the film, very much like in Casino Royale.

Max contacts people to check the true identity of his wife: an alcoholic soldier who lost his arm and a disfigured comrade who has lost an eye on the line of fire. These physical attributes are shared with Gettler, the black-patched agent of SMERSH who trails Vesper, and the hotel receptionist whom Bond interrogates about Gettler, who has lost an arm during the war.

In Allied, Marianne wants to change her life and escape from the Nazi threat by marrying Max, which is what Vesper hopes to do with James by escaping to South America trough Le Havre in Casino Royale.

While 007 and Vesper didn’t have a family and Bond’s patriotism is enormous, Vatan does not hestitate before betraying his country for the love of Marianne and the daughter they had in common.

If Vesper Lynd was blackmailed with her captured Polish boyfriend, Marianne is blackmailed with the life of her daughter by an incouspicious looking old woman who babysitted Anna and a jeweler who drops by to a party she was hosting to “offer her a necklace.”

Allied poster

Allied poster

Marianne is leaking information to the enemy in a similar way to what Vesper was doing to that number at Invalides she was calling when he almost discovers her, while being controlled all the time. In the latter case, it was a man with a black patch.

Both women share the same ending: while Vesper dies after an overdose of pills while the secret agent was asleep, Marianne shots herself in front of her husband and the capturing agents. They both leave a letter for posterity: Vespers’ is dedicated to 007, revealing the truth and a few information on how she was blackmailed and some leads. Marianne’s letter is dedicated to Anna, telling her a words of love and some memoirs of the happy times.

A main difference is again established between Max Vatan and James Bond.

In the very last scene,  Vatan is seen retired, walking next to a teenage Anna on the farm he always dreamed of having. He holds a good memory of his wife, with photos of her across his room.

On the other hand, a saddened Bond feels furious for the damage Vesper’s actions caused to his country and he swears to go behind the men who threatened her. He would complement the moment by reporting that “the bitch is dead,” even tough when he would pay a visit to her grave in a future novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Both Casino Royale and Allied are a testimony to how WWII affected lives and relationships and how enemies or allies haunted the private lives of these men and women who dedicated their life to a major cause.

Guy Ritchie says Brad Pitt was his choice for (older) Solo

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Director Guy Ritchie, talking on A PODCAST, says Brad Pitt was his first choice to play Napoleon Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie.

Had Pitt, 51, been cast, his version of Solo would have been older compared to a younger Illya Kuryakin, Ritchie said. The American actor “told me to piss off,” the director said of Pitt.

Ritchie didn’t provide a time frame when all this occurred. He confirmed (as he did in other interviews) that Tom Cruise, 53, was indeed considered to play Solo before opting to concentrate on Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation.

“Mission: Impossible interfered with the process,” Ritchie said. “He (Cruise) was occupying too much of the same space.”

Also, as he has done in other interviews, Ritchie says actor Henry Cavill, 32, was considered to play Kuryakin, but the director felt Cavill didn’t look right with blonde hair. Armie Hammer, who turns 29 this month, ended up with the role. Also, in the Ritchie-directed movie, Solo and Kuryakin were depicted as being roughly the same age, the same as the 1964-68 original series.

One other notable quote about the U.N.C.L.E. movie from Ritchie: “We’re more about (Harry) Palmer than we are about (James) Bond.”

To listen to the podcast, CLICK HERE. The U.N.C.L.E. quotes occur after the 31:00 mark.

Forster’s World War Z scores No. 2 at U.S. box office

Marc Forster while directing Quantum of Solace

Marc Forster while directing Quantum of Solace

The Marc Forster-directed World War Z finished No. 2 at the U.S. box office this weekend, with $66 million in ticket sales, according to the Box Office Mojo Web site. It finished behind Monsters University at $82 million and ahead of Man of Steel, on its second U.S. weekend, at $41.2 million.

World War Z, with Brad Pitt as star and producer, shared some things with the Forster-directed Quantum of Solace: script problems and a high budget. Paramount Pictures, however, unlike Sony Pictures with Quantum, was willing to delay its movie so a new ending could be written and filmed.

World War Z, which concerns a mysterious plague that turns people into fast-moving zombies, cost an estimated $190 million to make, less than Quantum even with the reshoots and more elaborate special effects.

Forster and World War Z initially got some bad publicity about the reshoots (which delayed the film’s release from late 2012), including a VANITY FAIR STORY. But as the movie got released and reviewed, the publicity turned positive, including A SYMPATHETIC STORY ABOUT FORSTER on the Deadline: Hollywood site.

Zombie of Solace

qos21

Stop us if you’ve heard this before.

Vanity Fair has an ONLINE PREVIEW of a cover story involving director Marc Forster, a movie with a huge budget and an underwritten script.

Deja vu all over again? Here’s a preview:

“He took me through how excited he was when he read the book, what was exciting for him, the geopolitical aspect of it,” screenwriter Damon Lindelof tells Vanity Fair contributor Laura M. Holson in the June issue of Vanity Fair of meeting Brad Pitt to discuss the star’s troubled zombie project, World War Z.

(snip)

In her revealing report, Holson also speaks to director Marc Forster and Paramount executives Marc Evans and Adam Goodman about the many problems that plagued the set—which included re-writing and reshooting 40 minutes of the film to find a coherent ending—and, most astonishingly, how the budget ballooned to around $200 million.

Hmmm. Substitute the title Quantum of Solace for World War Z, substitute the figure $230 million for $200 million and substitute multiple writers including Paul Haggis and it sounds like you could be talking about Quantum of Solace, the 2008 James Bond film also directed by Marc Forster. Star Daniel Craig, as Skyfall prepared to start filming, made it sound as if making Quantum wasn’t a very pleasant experience.

If anything, the Vanity Fair story makes it sound like World War Z, despite costing about $30 million less than Quantum, was even more troubled that Forster’s earlier 007 film. One additional excerpt:

When it came time to watch the director’s cut, Holson reports, the room was silent. “It was, like, Wow. The ending of our movie doesn’t work,” says Evans. “I believed in that moment we needed to reshoot the movie.” After 10 minutes of polite discussion, everyone left. “We were going to have long, significant discussions to fix this,” he recalls thinking.