Ready or not, the DB5 reports for service again

A replica Aston Martin DB5 rolls off the truck in preparation for Bond 25 filming

Italian news outlet Sassilive had a story about Bond 25 getting ready for filming in Matera, Italy. The article included a photo gallery, including a picture (see above) of an Aston Martin DB5 coming off a truck.

So, ready for not, the DB5 is back. Again.

Most people won’t care that the car (actually one of several) is an expensive replica of the DB5. Carbon fiber body. BMW engine. New suspension components that were never included in the DB5s that Aston Martin made in the 1960s.

Regardless, Eon Productions is turning to one the most iconic images of its James Bond film series. The question is whether this may be one time too many.

The original DB5 was introduced in Goldfinger and made a return in Thunderball. While other Aston models showed up in various Bond films, the DB5 wasn’t seen again in a 007 outing until 1995’s GoldenEye.

In that film, the DB5 appeared to be Bond’s personal car. Ditto for 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. A left-handed drive version then appeared in 2006’s Casino Royale, something he won in a card game.

But the DB5 — an original right-hand drive version — was back in 2012’s Skyfall. This time, director Sam Mendes made sure everyone knew it was (or at least it was supposed to be) the original Goldfinger car. And, indeed, every time I saw the film in the theater, it got a rise out of the audience.

The DB5 was blown up in Skyfall, a somewhat emotional moment. But all was forgotten in 2015’s SPECTRE when Q (improbably) had it rebuilt. And Daniel Craig’s Bond appeared to drive off into the sunset at the end of the movie.

Since then, we’ve gotten expensive Lego DB5s and even more expensive replica DB5s with replica gadgets that Aston Martin is selling for more than $3 million each. That’s a lot of money, especially they’re not legal to drive in actual traffic.

Regardless, the DB5 (at least a faux version) is back for Bond 25. Daniel Craig told Prince Charles the secrets of the Bond 25 DB5s when the prince visited Pinewood Studios in June. Now the replica DB5 will soon be at work when Bond 25 begins filming in Italy in a few weeks.

I never really thought I’d say this, but I’m getting tired of the DB5.

Yes, people collect vintage cars. But does it really make sense for Bond to drive what’s supposed to be a 55-year-old (or so) car on a regular basis?

Yes, the DB5 is an iconic Bond car — or at least it was. But is it getting used too much?

Haphazard Stuff, which does very amusing, detailed videos, recently did a long look at Bond 25. He examined the DB5 issue, starting at the 33:36 mark. You can see the video below. (If I did this correctly, it’ll go to the DB5 discussion when you click.) Anyway, some food for thought.

Bond’s special relationship: Broccoli and Craig

Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and current James Bond star Daniel Craig

However Bond 25 turns out — and there’s a lot of filming yet to go — the movie may wrap up a noteworthy era: the relationship between Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli and star Daniel Craig.

The two have a closer producer-star relationship than any other in Bond film history.

Don’t take the blog’s word for it. Statements and actions made over the years demonstrate it.

2006: During production of Craig’s debut Bond film, Casino Royale, the Eon boss commented during an interview about Craig in historic terms.

Well, he’s a phenomenal actor. I think he’s the actor that defines his generation of actors.

Generation is an imprecise term. Still, it’s probably fair to say the generation of Craig (b. 1968) includes George Clooney (b. 1961), Brad Pitt (b. 1963), Matt Damon (b. 1970), Ben Affleck (b. 1972), Idris Elba (b. 1972) and Leonardo DiCaprio (b. 1974).

2015: SPECTRE poster reveals that Daniel Craig is one of three co-producers. It’s the first time that a Bond actor has received any type of producing credit.

2015: With SPECTRE, Craig’s fourth film as James Bond about to come out, Barbara Broccoli says in a Huffington Post story she’s in denial about a Craig-less James Bond future.

“I just don’t want to think about it,” Barbara tells HuffPostUK on the subject of 007’s eventual replacement. “I’m in denial. I don’t want to think about that day. Daniel Craig is Bond, forever, as far as I’m concerned.”

2017: With Daniel Craig secured for Bond 25, Barbara Broccoli describes her feelings to a podcast by The Hollywood Reporter.

Until Craig announced in August 2017 he’d be back, Broccoli said: “My heart was breaking.” In response to a question, she says all the Bond actors have been good but Craig is the best Bond. “He is particularly incredible.”

2018: A number of Bond 25 press releases (SUCH AS THIS ONE and THIS ONE) list Daniel Craig along with Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson at the beginning as if Craig was right there in making the decision. That’s new territory for the Bond film series.

2019: During a livestream about Bond 25, the host, sitting with Barbara Broccoli says, “Let’s have a little reminder of how he took on this iconic character and truly made it his own.” A montage of clips from Craig’s James Bond films follows.

2019: Barbara Broccoli says in an interview she hasn’t given up on the idea that Daniel Craig may return after Bond 25.  “He’s so much a part of the whole process, we’ll make a great movie and then see what happens.”

Bond 25 questions: The SPOILER edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

If you haven’t guessed by the headline (where “SPOILER” is in all capital letters), this post has spoilers. If you’re spoiler adverse, scram. I don’t care how much shows up in the preview image on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

So, it seems pretty certain that Christoph Waltz will be in Bond 25 again playing the BROfeld version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (i.e. Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother).

Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is this trip really necessary? Not really. But it seems as if Eon Productions and its army of screenwriters is going to double down on one of the worst aspects of 2015’s SPECTRE — namely that Waltz’s Blofeld was Bond’s foster brother and has a personal reason to torment Bond.

What would you have done? Ignore SPECTRE and move on with a new story. Instead, it would appear we will get a version of SPECTRE Part II. It won’t be called that, of course.

Are you serious? All we need now is a “reveal” that Dave Bautista’s Hinx will be back as Hinx, the lead henchman in SPECTRE. At this point, he might as well be. Remember, he appeared to be lobbying for that to happen.

It’d be natural for him to join Jeffrey Wright (last seen in a 007 film in Quantum of Solace) and Lea Seydoux (as Bond’s supposedly everlasting love). Hey, let’s have Eva Green (Vesper in Casino Royale) appear in a flashback sequence while we’re at it.

Any other thoughts? Yes. It’s perhaps time to finally dispense with the trope that the Daniel Craig Bond films are the “closest” to Ian Fleming.

Craig started out with Casino Royale, based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. Since then, we’ve seen the death of Mathis (not in a Fleming book).

Mathis may have been a double agent (at least that’s the implication of his Quantum of Solace death scene), which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

And, of course, we have Blofeld/BRO-feld as Bond’s foster brother in SPECTRE, which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

Even if you love all these films, they’re not what Fleming had in mind. Bond 25 may end up an entertaining film. (That’s my inner optimist speaking out). Just don’t bring Fleming into the discussion.

Any suggestions for Bond 25? Perhaps some new character could “reveal” that himself (or herself) was the real Blofeld all along and the “foster brother” nonsense was a way to mess with Bond’s mind. But I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Casino Royale: The manuscript

Top portion of the first page of the manuscript to Casino Royale.

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Years ago, I paid a visit to the Lilly Library at Indiana University. I looked at a few Ian Fleming manuscripts of his James Bond novels as well as some correspondence.

This week, I finally returned. This time, I opted to concentrate on one manuscript. Where best to start than with Casino Royale, viewing the very pages where Fleming created agent 007 in the first place?

What follows are basic observations about the manuscript.

Condition: Fleming typed on very thin pages. His handwritten revisions in ink bled through to the other side of pages. The manuscript is contained within a hardback cover. You can view in the library’s reading room. However, you are not permitted to bring in pens. You can have a notebook and take notes in pencil. Or you can type notes into a computer. A patron can take photos, but a librarian instructs you not to take a photo of all the pages.

Format: When writing the manuscript, Fleming had not yet decided to have chapter titles. Each chapter is simply numbered. The numbering is supposed to be with Roman numerals. However, Fleming typed the numeral “1” instead of capital “I.” As a result, it’s Chapter 1, Chapter 11, Chapter 111, Chapter 1V and so on.

When a chapter ends, Fleming simply typed a series of periods. The end of the first chapter has 30 periods. The count varies by chapter. The technique also is used when changing scenes within a chapter.

Fleming’s revisions: Fleming worked over his prose a lot on Casino Royale. Many pages have a lot of handwritten changes.

Some of it is fairly routine, such as tightening sentences. Other changes are more substantial.

On page 25 in Chapter III (or Chapter 111 as typed), there’s a conversation between the Chief of Staff and M’s secretary.

“What do you think Petty?” the secretary is asked. The reader is told, “Miss Pettavel would have been desirable but for her eyes which were cool and direct and quizzical.”

“Petty” is marked out and replaced with “Penny.” “Pettavel” is marked out and replaced with “Moneypenny.”

An even more significant revision was written on page 112. A written insert reads, “nine of harts, the card, known in gipsy magic as ‘a whisper of love, a whisper of hate’ the card that meant almost certain victory for Bond.”

The phrase “a whisper of love, a whisper of hate” would be the title of Chapter 13. It would also appear in the cover of the British first edition of the novel.

It appears in some sections that Fleming made so many changes he retyped pages. The manuscript has normal numbering until page 40. That’s followed by pages 40A, 40B and 40C. On the back of page 40B, there’s a handwritten insert for page 40C.

Meanwhile, pages 97 and 97A have darker type compared with most of the manuscript as if they had been typed later.

Finally, at the end of Chapter 17 (or XV11 as written), where villain LeChiffre tortures Bond, Fleming had a line he felt he could do without.

In the published version, the chapter ends with LeChiffre speaking. “Say good-bye to it, Bond.”

The manuscript had an additional line. “He bent down.” But the line

Ian Fleming inscription in the copy of Casino Royale at the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

is marked out.

Fleming inscription: The library also has an author’s copy of the novel. It’s a third edition (or “third impression” as stated in the book).

Fleming has an inscription on the first page. “This was written in January + February 1952, accepted by Capes in the Spring and published a year later,” it begins. “It was written to take my mind off other matters* at Goldeneye, Jamaica.”

On the inside cover,  there’s an asterisk followed by several handwritten lines that are crossed out.

Thanks to David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier for help in making out the crossed out line at the end of Chapter 17.

UPDATE: Michael VanBlaricum says the following on Facebook: “The Casino Royale typescript at the Lilly Library is not the first draft manuscript. That typescript is in private hands and was displayed at the Ian Fleming Centernary Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in 2008.”

Literary 007 Twitter completes his journey

Part of the Twitter home page for @JB_UnivEX

@JB_UnivEX has completed his 14-year journey (a little over a year in real time) showing what it might be like if the literary James Bond were on Twitter.

The literary Bond, of course, was bound by the Official Secrets Act. So he couldn’t *really* say what was going on. But for those who read Ian Fleming’s original novels and short stories could follow the unfolding events.

One of the challenges for @JB_UnivEX was how Fleming himself wasn’t consistent with his own timeline. So, the Twitter account attempted to bring order to things.

For example, it began the events of the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service novel. Then, Bond had to make a quick trip to Canada to deal with the events of The Spy Who Loved Me novel before resuming the Majesty’s tale.

The blog first did its first post about @JB_UnivEX in April 2018 as Casino Royale was wrapping up. In the back of my mind, I was curious how he’d handle the conclusion of You Only Live Twice with a Bond suffering from amnesia.

This was how:

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Another highlight was when a brainwashed Bond arrived in London early in the events of The Man With the Golden Gun novel. Brainwashed Bond decides to take in a movie before going to MI6 headquarters.

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In any event, for fans of the literary Bond (and 007 in general), it has been a great ride. This was the final tweet in character. We’re told the more than 2,300 tweets will be re-edited and represented in the future. However, there are no plans to do the continuation novels.

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James Bond and ‘timeshifting’

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Last week, 007 film fans studied the words of Bond 25 screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge very carefully after she had given an interview to Deadline: Hollywood.

The Bond films, she said, have “got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”

Fans debated whether Waller-Bridge’s remarks were “politically correct” or not. On social media there were pretty intense comments on both sides of the argument.

In a way, though, Waller-Bridge’s interview points up something else — issues with “timeshifting” a character.

James Bond was created in early 1952 when Ian Fleming wrote the first draft of Casino Royale at his winter home in Jamaica. Winston Churchill was prime minister of the U.K. Harry S. Truman was president of the United States. By the time Fleming wrote his last Bond novel in early 1964, Alec Douglas-Home was the PM and Lyndon B. Johnson was president.

In short, Bond’s original era was a long time ago. So for decades now, 007 has been timeshifted in the movies. A number of Bond continuation novels (including John Gardner’s and Raymond Benson’s) also used the timeshifting technique, although more recent books (including two by Anthony Horowitz) have been done as period pieces.

Threading the Needle

Part of this may be commercial. Making Bond films as period stories set in the 1950s or ’60s might hold down the box office. Presumably, it would be harder to make product placement deals for period piece 007 films.

At the same time, taking a character created more than 60 years ago and placing him in a modern setting has its own issues. Those associated with the Eon series like to say they’re set “five minutes in the future.” That means Bond films have to acknowledge, at least on some level, how the world has changed in the 21st century.

As a result, making a Bond movie today involves threading the needle — keeping Bond true to his roots while adjusting to current realities.

In doing so, the Eon camp sometimes comes down pretty hard on its meal ticket.

“But let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist,” Daniel Craig said of Bond during a 2015 interview with something called The Red Bulletin. (The original link is gone, but the blog did a 2015 post about it as did entertainment outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter.) “(W)e’ve surrounded him with very strong women who have no problem putting him in his place.”

UPDATE: A recap of Bond 25’s writing process

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE’s gunbarrel

Updated and expanded from a September 2018 post.

In September, outlets (starting with Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail) reported that Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have resumed work on Bond 25. But things still remain a bit in flux.

With that in mind, here’s a recap of how we got to this point.

March 2017: Bamigboye reports Purvis and Wade have been hired to write Bond 25.

July 2017: The hiring of Purvis and Wade is confirmed in an Eon Productions press release that announces a fall 2019 release date for Bond 25.

December 2017: Barbara Broccoli, in a podcast for The Hollywood Reporter says Purvis and Wade are still hard at work on Bond 25’s story.

February 2018: Deadline: Hollywood reports that Danny Boyle, under consideration to direct Bond 25, devised an idea with writer John Hodge. According to the entertainment news site, Hodge was writing up a script based on that idea. If the script would be accepted, then Boyle will direct.

March 2018: Boyle essentially confirms the Deadline story during a public appearance.

May 25, 2018: Eon announces that Boyle will direct Bond 25, which will have an “original screenplay” by John Hodge.

Aug. 21, 2018: Eon announces Boyle has left Bond 25. Hodge isn’t mentioned but the writer later confirms he, too, is no longer involved.

Sept. 6, 2018: The MI6 James Bond website publishes a story that a Hodge script “was a re-working of a draft completed by long-term series stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.” and it is “now being touched up again with changes being made to reflect the wishes of the producers and Daniel Craig.” (emphasis added) This is a new twist, given how the May 25 press release didn’t mention Purvis and Wade.

Sept. 13, 2018: Bamigboye reports that Purvis and Wade have been re-hired to work on Bond 25. The story says a Purvis and Wade treatment had been approved by Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer before Boyle and Hodge arrived. A treatment is like a detailed outline. It is not the same as a script draft with its dialogue and stage directions. Anyway, Bamigboye’s story is confirmed by Variety and Deadline: Hollywood. Like Bamigboye, those outlets say Purvis and Wade are turning their previous treatment into a full script.

As 2018 draws to a close, there are contradictions.  Is it possible that Hodge was working from the Purvis and Wade treatment and not a script draft? There are no clear answers.

Jan. 1, 2019: The Geeks Wordwide website publishes a story that American screenwriter-director Paul Haggis has contributed to Bond 25’s screenplay.

Haggis did the final drafts of 2006’s Casino Royale. He shared the screenplay credit with Purvis and Wade. The news excites some 007 film fans. Perhaps another Casino Royale is in the offing. Haggis also was a screenwriter for 2008’s Quantum of Solace (where the credit was also shared with Purvis and Wade).

Feb. 16, 2019: The Playlist carries a story saying that American screenwriter Scott Z. Burns has been hired to do an “overhaul” for Bond 25 and he’ll be spending a total of at least four weeks and be well paid. According to this story, Haggis’ work either didn’t register or was dispensed with.

Regardless, we’re now up to at least five writers who’ve been reported to be involved in the writing — Purvis, Wade, Hodges, Haggis and Burns.

That’s hardly a record for a Bond film. The Spy Who Loved Me had around a dozen scribes, with two (Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum) getting a credit and the rest not.

Both Moonraker (Christopher Wood) and Tomorrow Never Dies (Bruce Feirstein) had only one credited screenwriter while numerous others did some work.

There are many unanswered questions. Is any of Hodges’ work being used, or was that pitched when Boyle left? Also, what does “overhaul” mean? Four weeks doesn’t seem like sufficient time to devise a completely new story, though it may mean significant changes for the existing Bond 25 script.

We’ll see what happens.