Being picky: Goldfinger and Thunderball on TCM

The last few seconds of Goldfinger’s end titles were cut off before we got the credits of the digital restoration crew. Maybe they were anxious to see their names and figured nobody would notice a few seconds lopped off. At least they didn’t change the colors of the end titles this time.

After the movie, TCM’s Robert Osborne says he recently saw the movie with Guy Hamilton. He depicted the director as uneasy watching the film, wanting to make changes and tweaks. That’s interesting. Hard-core Bond fans would probably be curious. Regardless, Osborne indicated he’s still enthusiastic about the film decades after its 1964 release.

UPDATE: Osborne gets the name of the villain in Thunderball wrong, calling him Emil Largo, instead of Emilo Largo. On the other hand, he did a nice, tight summary of Thunderball’s complicated history.

UPDATE II: The TCM version of Thunderball uses the music from previous prints where Bond meets Domino underwater. The Ultimate DVD edition (which we have a copy of) changed the music.

UPDATE III: Host Osborne’s closing commentary touches upon Sean Connery’s growing dissatisfaction with the Bond franchise for both the growing spectacle of the 007 films and lack of pay relative to the huge grosses the movies were generating for Eon Productions Ltd. and United Artists.

UPDATE IV: Both last week and this week, TCM has shown non-Bond Connery films following a 007 double feature. By coincidence, both films, On The Fiddle (May 1) and Woman of Straw, still had a number of Bond crew members. On The Fiddle included Peter Hunt as film editor and sound manNorman Wanstall. Woman of Straw had a crew including production designer Ken Adam, art director Peter Murton and assistant director Clive Reed.

UPDATE V: On the Saturday, May 9, rerun of the Bond movies, TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz, a cousin (once removed) of one-time 007 screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, went into more detail about Thunderball’s history of the Ian Fleming/Kevin McClory legal battle. He also noted how Thunderball scored the Best Ocar for special effects (while not mentioning John Stears by name). However, he mis-pronounced the name of Claudine Auger. We’re now curious whether next weekend whether Ben Mankiewicz will mention his relative’s connection to the Bond series when TCM shows Diamonds Are Forever.

007 on TCM: Uncut but not unaltered

James Bond made his TCM debut on Friday, May 1. In the case of From Russia With Love, it may have been uncut but it was also altered — albeit in small ways.

That’s because TCM is using the digitally revamped versions of the films that are sold as the “Ultimate” Bond DVDs. TCM even showed the credits for the digital restoring crew after the end of Dr. No and From Russia With Love. Digital technology has made the colors brighter than previous DVD releases.

But the digital crew apparently couldn’t help but play around at some points. Case in point: In the end titles of From Russia Love, the words “THE END” appear a few seconds earlier than the do in the original film. Earlier enough, they appear in one shot before they’re supposed to. Also, the digital crew changed the color of the titles from the original white to blue. In another “Ultimate” DVD, Thunderball, the music in the scene where Bond first encounters Domino is changed from the original.

We’d like to know more, we always thought the idea of these digitally remastered versions was to preserve, not to monkey around with the original. It also poses the question: If you’re going to make all those changes, should you correct errors like From Russia’s end titles misspelling the name of James Bond Theme composer Monty Norman? (Spelled Monte in the end titles.)

Bond isn’t unique is having these sorts of changes. Starting with the 2001 DVD release of Lawrence of Arabia, that film’s writing credit was changed to add the name of Michael Wilson (no relation to Eon Productions Ltd.’s bossman, Michael G. Wilson). Wilson had been blacklisted and he began his work on Lawrence while the blacklist was still in effect. This has been part of an effort by Hollywood to give blacklisted writers the credit they should have received all along.

The Bond changes, though, aren’t part of that admirable goal. The changes in From Russia With Love (and possibly other of the “Ultimate” DVDs) look like change for change’s sake.