On Superman’s 80th, a few 007 connections

Christopher Reeve (right) with Roger Moore during filming of Octopussy.

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the introduction of Superman. DC Comics is out with Action Comics No. 1,000 to celebrate the occasion

The thing is, there are some elements in common, thanks to how the Christopher Reeve Superman movies were made at Pinewood Studios, the long-time home to the James Bond film franchise.

So here’s a few of them. It’s not a comprehensive list and I’m sure there are many stunt performers who worked on both.

Geoffrey Unsworth: Unsworth (1914-1978) was a celebrated cinematographer, whose credits included Superman (1978) and Superman II (1981), much of which was photographed at the same time as the film movie. Unsworth’s credits also included 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Unsworth also had a James Bond connection. On Dec. 21, 1961, he photographed screen tests for actresses vying to play Miss Taro for Dr. No.

John Glen: Glen directed five James Bond films, 1981-89, after earlier editing and being second unit director on three 007 films. He was one of the second unit directors for the 1978 Superman film.

Stuart Baird: Baird was editor on the first Superman movie. He performed the same duties on Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012).

Alf Joint: A stunt performer on the Bond series, perhaps his most famous bit was in the pre-titles of Goldfinger as Capungo, who gets killed by Bond (Sean Connery). He was also a stunt coordinator on Superman.

Shane Rimmer:  He had small roles in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever while having a larger supporting role as a U.S. submarine captain in The Spy Who Loved Me. It also *sounds* like he does some voiceover work in the pre-titles of Live And Let Die as an agent who’s killed in New Orleans. (“Whose funeral is it?”)

He also played a NASA controller in Superman II. The IMDB listing for Superman III lists him as “State Policeman.” Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, I can’t confirm.

Guy Hamilton: He directed four 007 films, two with Sean Connery and two with Roger Moore. He was signed to direct Superman but exited the project and replaced by Richard Donner.

(UPDATE 9:40 a.m., April 20): By popular demand, two more.

Tom Mankiewicz: The screenwriter of 1970s 007 films was credited as “creative consultant” in Superman and Superman II. He essentially rewrote the scripts, combining elements of very serious Mario Puzo drafts and much lighter drafts by David Newman and Leslie Newman.

Clifton James: The veteran actor, who played Sheriff J.W. Pepper in two Bond films, again played a sheriff in Superman II.

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MI6 Confidential, 007 Magazine out with issues

For Your Eyes Only poster

There are new offerings available from MI6 Confidential and 007 Magazine.

MI6 Confidential No. 45 focuses on For Your Eyes Only.

The 1981 film, the 12th in the series produced by Eon Productions, marked a major change in direction following 1979’s Moonraker. For Your Eyes Only adapted two Ian Fleming short stories and was the most grounded Bond film in years at the time of its release.

Articles include a compilation of impressions from the movie’s cast and crew; a look at the Marvel Comics adaptation of the film; and  a look at the subaquatic archaeology featured in For Your Eyes Only.

There are other features, including an interview with actor Arnold Williams, who played a cab driver in the employ of Dr. Kananga in Live And Let Die.

The price is 7 British pounds, $9.50 or 8.50 euros. To find how to order, CLICK HERE.

007 Magazine No. 50 is a “paper printed version of the second of two previous online editions from 2006,” according to the publication’s website.

It includes features on Casino Royale, the 2006 film Eon used to reboot the 007 movie series. There are interviews with actors Daniel Craig, Mads Mikkelsen and Eva Green.

Other articles a look at Ian Fleming before he wrote the Bond novels and 007 screen tests of “Sean Connery, George Lazenby, James Brolin, Lambert Wilson, Sam Neill, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan,” according to the website.

The price is 12.99 British pounds, $16.99 or 15.99 euros. 007 Magazine said it will ship this month. To find out how to order, CLICK HERE.

Forever and a Day U.K. cover formally unveiled

Ian Fleming Publications formally unveiled the U.K. cover for Forever and a Day, Anthony Horowitz’s second James Bond continuation novel.

The cover, not surprisingly, utilizes the same image that showed up a few days ago on the U.K. Amazon website’s listing for the book. However, IFP also showed the back cover as well. The back shows a gun. With the back and front covers combined, it makes it appear as if a boat was fired from the gun.

IFP’s formal announcement included a 22-second video that jazzed things up a bit.

The novel, a prequel to Casino Royale, the first Bond novel, goes on sale in the U.K. on May 31. Vintage UK, the publisher, will also have a new paperback edition of Casino Royale, with an introduction by Horowitz.

You can view IFP’s video below. Forever and a Day won’t reach the United States until November.

Bond 25: The post-Waltz (?) edition

So, actor Christoph Waltz says he won’t be in Bond 25 after playing Blofeld in SPECTRE. Naturally the blog has some questions.

Does he mean it? That’s an appropriate question that can’t really be answered right now.

Waltz, after all, repeatedly denied he was playing Blofeld in SPECTRE.

Also, this decade, Naomie Haris denied she was playing Moneypenny in Skyfall. And, of course, it was revealed in the final scene she was. Thus, comments from actors tend to require the appropriate dosage of salt.

If Waltz really is gone, what does it mean? One possibility: “Waltz seems to be saying Blofeld will be back in Bond 25, but with a new actor in the role,” writes Philip Nobile Jr. of Birth.Movies.Death. (He also notes the possibility that Waltz may have been fibbing again.)

Another possibility is Blofeld’s not in Bond 25, that the movie will be a one-off adventure.

Initially, Skyfall was a one-off not directly died to the preceding installment, Quantum of Solace. Skyfall’s villain, Silva (Javier Bardem) was after revenge against Judi Dench’s M.

In the writing stages of SPECTRE, the creative team decided on a creative arc that would tie all of the Daniel Craig films together. Having secured the rights to the Blofeld character, SPECTRE specified that Blofeld was “the author of all your pain” for Bond.

Prior to the Craig films, the 007 series was light on continuity. You had occasional references to previous films but it wasn’t a major priority. That changed when Eon Productions opted to make Quantum a “direct sequel” of 2006’s Casino Royale.

We’ll see. For now, Bond 25 has no director. Whatever work has been done on a story will likely be reworked once a director is on board.

Bernie Casey dies at 78

Bernie Casey, as Felix Leiter, with Sean Connery and Kim Basinger in Never Say Never Again

Bernie Casey, who co-starred with Sean Connery in 1983’s Never Say Never Again, has died at 78, TMZ and The Hollywood Reporter said.

Casey was the first African American actor to play CIA agent Felix Leiter. Prior to that, the screen Leiter had been portrayed by white actors.

Never Say Never Again was not part of the Eon Productions 007 series. It featured Connery’s return to the role of James Bond, a dozen years after his last appearance in the Eon series in Diamonds Are Forever.

Eon, in the 21st century, made the same move by casting Jeffrey Wright as Leiter in 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Casey played in the National Football League for eight seasons as a wide receiver with the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. After he turned to acting, he generated almost 80 credits between 1969 and 2007, according to his IMDB.COM entry.

Disney makes 2 moves that may affect Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Walt Disney Co. announced a series of release date changes, according to Variety. Two of them may have something of an impact on Bond 25 in 2019.

Most directly, it set a Nov. 8, 2019 release date for Nicole, where the daughter of Santa Claus takes over the family operation.

Not a lot is known about the movie (its IMDB.com entry is skimpy) other than it stars Anna Kendrick.

Eon Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announced in July that Bond 25 will be released the same day, despite the fact no distributor has been selected. MGM, which went through bankruptcy, isn’t big enough to release its major films and cuts deals with other studios.

Assuming neither Bond 25 nor Nicole changes dates, it would continue a familiar pattern of Bond opening against a family-oriented movie.

In 2006, Casino Royale opened in the U.S. opposite Happy Feet, an animated movie about Penguins. Happy Feet had the bigger opening. In 2015, SPECTRE opened opposite The Peanuts Movie, another animated film. Bond came out on top that weekend.

The other Disney move, and probably more substantial, is the studio shifted Star Wars Episode IX to Dec. 20, 2019. The movie had been slated for a May 24, 2019 debut.

The change in dates occurred after Disney unit Lucasfilm announced J.J. Abrams will direct Episode IX, replacing Colin Trevorrow.

Having a Star Wars movie come out at Christmas probably narrows Bond 25’s box office window in the U.S. Something like that happened in 2015, when Star Wars: The Force Awakens (also directed by Abrams) dominated the Christmas box office.

In the U.S., SPECTRE had a box office of $200 million, down from the $304.4 million for 2012’s Skyfall.

Website says 007 cinematography of Craig era improved

Apparently pre-Craig era 007 cinematography, like this Alec Mills shot from The Living Daylights, was the work of hacks.

The Film School Rejects website, in a post last month, said the cinematography of James Bond films during the Daniel Craig era was noticeably better than its predecessors.

An excerpt:

All the earlier efforts were, with due respect, vehicles for action sequences, there was little to nothing dynamic about their cinematography otherwise, and even the action sequences were more dazzling for their production design than for the way they were shot.

But with Casino Royale, directed by Martin Campbell and shot by Phil Mehuex, the cinematography of the franchise leapt forward, becoming every bit as slick, stark, daring, and as fluidly brutal as the character whose adventures it captured. It was a pattern that continued through Quantum of Solace (dir. Marc Forster, DP Roberto Schaefer), Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes, DP Roger Deakins), and Spectre (dir. Mendes, DP Hoyte Van Hoytema) and as a result the Craig-Bond-era has been uniquely successful for the historic franchise. (emphasis added)

A few things:

— Mehuex also photographed 1995’s GoldenEye (which was also directed by Campbell). Was Meheux a hack during GoldenEye who became an artist 11 years later? Was his photography in Casino Royale that much better than his work in GoldenEye?

–Pre-Craig 007 directors of photography weren’t exactly slouches. Ted Moore, the original DOP, won an Oscar for 1966’s A Man For All Seasons. Freddie Young, who photographed 1967’s You Only Live Twice, won three Oscars and was described by director Lewis Gilbert as one of the great artists of British cinema.

Oswald Morris, co-DOP of The Man With The Golden Gun, won an Oscar and had two nominations. (With Golden Gun, he took over for Ted Moore, who fell ill, and photographed interior sequences. Both Moore and Oswald shared the DOP credit.) Claude Renior, who photographed The Spy Who Loved Me, was highly regarded.

–Other 007 DOPs had their moments. Alec Mills, who had been promoted up the ranks until photographing 1987’s The Living Daylights, had a striking shot during that movie’s Afghanistan sequence.

The Film School Rejects’ post includes a video with a sort of “best of” video of shots from the Craig era. See for yourself.