Oh, there’s another birthday today

Happy birthday, Ernst. You don’t look a day over 98.

We almost forgot somebody else celebrating their 109th birthday.

So here he is, at least one version. Happy birthday, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Now, some will decry him as a bloodthirsty criminal mastermind. And the likes of No. 11 and No. 9 (if they were around) would take that position.

However, he did create a good many construction jobs in Japan, circa 1965-66. Today, he’d get economic-development tax breaks.

He also created jobs, including the guy who operated the crater door (aka Crater Guy).

And, as reader Gary J. Firuta points out, he’s one criminal mastermind whose precise birth date is known.

1966: Roald Dahl finds Twice is the only way to Live

You Only LIve Twice poster

You Only Live Twice poster

When Roald Dahl handed in his June 17, 1966, draft of You Only Live Twice, things were getting tight.

The fifth James Bond film produced by Eon Productions would begin filming in a few weeks, on July 4. Dahl, taking over from American writer Harold Jack Bloom, had jettisoned the plot of Ian Fleming‘s 1964 novel. Dahl’s story would try to out-Thunderball Thunderball in terms of spectacle.

The Spy Commander reviewed a copy of Dahl’s draft, thanks to Bond collector Gary J. Firuta. The draft has some pages that were updated in mid-July after the start of filming.

Not surprisingly, the draft largely resembles the final film. But there are still a number of interesting differences. When this draft was completed, there was no helicopter with a giant magnet. The Little Nellie helicopter was present, but it didn’t have all the gadgets it’d have in the movie.

Dahl even included an Ian Fleming-ism that would be stripped from the final film. Both Tiger Tanaka and Japanese agent Suki (renamed Aki after actress Akiko Wakabayashi was cast) address Bond as “Bondo-san” in the draft.

In the novel (Chapter 6, Tiger, Tiger!) Tanaka explains that Bond-san sounds too much like bon-san, or “a priest, a graybeard.” Also, Tiger says, hard consonants aren’t easy for Japanese, so “when these occur in a foreign word, we add an O.” This isn’t included in Dahl’s draft but “Bondo-san” is used anyway. It’d be dropped from the 1967 movie.

In the pre-titles sequence, the most significant change is the American spacecraft is called Gemini (as in real life at the time). Some scenes play longer and there’s more dialogue, but it’s mostly as viewers of the film know it. The sequence ends with Bond apparently being killed.

After the titles, Bond’s “funeral” takes place. Again, dialogue is different. Aboard a submarine, Bond bums a cigarette from M when he says the only ill effect he was feeling was “a slight lack of nicotine.” Bond also uses the lit cigarette to light the paper with his contact address in Tokyo.

Interestingly, Bond only has 10 days to act before the next U.S. space flight, instead of 20 as in the movie. After he’s done with M, Bond gives Moneypenny a kiss. She does not give him a copy of Instant Japanese and 007 doesn’t say he took a first in Oriental languages at Cambridge.

Bond meets up with his contact, Henderson. Bond kicks the shin of Henderson’s false leg to ensure he’s the right person. Henderson makes martinis. “Shaken not stirred? That *was* right, wasn’t it?” Apparently, it wasn’t Dahl’s fault that the film has Henderson stirring the martinis and Bond declares they’re “perfect.”

Sometime later, after Henderson’s death and Bond has been to Osato Chemical, 007 meets Tiger Tanaka. As in the film, he falls down a chute, through a door and lands into a comfortable chair.

Tiger, in this draft, provides more information. Had it not been Bond, computers “would very quickly have redirected the chute and you’d have been in a much hotter seat than that one.”

As in the film, Tiger takes Bond to his house. 007 asks the Japanese Secret Service chief if his wife’s at home.

“Me, a wife?” Tiger replies. “Never! In matters of this sort, I think I am very much the Japanese equivalent of Bondo-san.” Or Derek Flint based on the number of women present in the house.

Bond and Tiger first go to “sweat boxes” before they’re washed by the Japanese women. It’s here that the two men compare notes. Tiger is “offended” when Bond says Mr. Osato isn’t big enough to be behind the hijacking of American spacecraft. When Tiger asks who is large enough, Bond says, “Nobody…unless it could my old friends in the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.” The finished film wouldn’t bother to say what SPECTRE stood for.

Now it’s time to be washed. “It is noticeable that the TWO GIRLS helping TANAKA are unable to keep their eyes off BOND,” according to the stage directions. Shortly thereafter, “all FOUR GIRLS have quietly slid over to BOND, leaving TANAKA alone.”

Tiger bellows for the women to come back. “The FOUR GIRLS ignore TANAKA,” the stage directions say. “They rinse soap off BOND and help him into the bath. TANAKA roars at them in Japanese, threatening them with terrible punishments.” One could only imagine what 21st century audiences would make of this.

As for what it is about Bond that fascinates the women, Tiger says: “It is nothing but your ape-like appearance…All Japanese men are blessed with exceptionally clean smooth skin. We consider hair on the chest to be obnoxious.”

Bond has a nice comeback:

BOND
(looking at the FOUR GIRLS lined up at the edge of the bath)
What are they waiting for now?

The next day, as in the film, Bond goes undercover to meet Mr. Osato. When Osato uses the X-ray device in his desk to check out Bond, “BOND’S REVOLVER is very prominent.” Yet, later in the movie, Blofeld says the gun is a Walther PPK, which most assuredly isn’t a revolver. Details, details.

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl

Osato orders Bond killed. Suki saves him and the pair get away in her while but are pursued by thugs in a sedan. Suki requests the “usual reception” from Tiger but in this script that takes a different form.

For thing, Suki tells the Japanese Secret Service chief that she’s “heading for Street X as fast as possible.”

Tiger is in his office. He “flicks speak-box switch, and begins to shout into box with great rapidity and urgently in Japanese,” according to the stage directions. We see “TWO JAPANESE MEN” receive orders in Japanese.

Soon after, Suki’s car “swerves into a deserted alley” with the thugs in the sedan still in pursuit.

Suki “begins to SOUND HORN…Suddenly, ONE BUILDING on either side fo the street dislodges itself from the other houses and slides forward. The buildings meet in street centre, forming a brick wall.” The sedan of the thugs “crashes into the wall and explodes in a sheet of flame.”

Much of what happens next mimics the finished movie, though many of the scenes have more dialogue. Little Nellie doesn’t have all the explosive power it’d have in the film. But he mini-copter has other gadgets such as “a kind of wire fishing-net” that fouls the rotor-blade of one of the SPECTRE helicopters menacing Bond.

The deaths of two women characters also are different in this draft than the final film. Assassin Helga walks across a bridge at SPECTRE HQs that’s over a lava pool. Blofeld pulls lever, the bridge drops “like a trap door” and she goes into the lava.

When Suki dies from being poisoned, Bond is more affected than when Aki perishes in the film.

BOND, visibly distressed, stares at the girl he is carrying. Then he holds her close, lays his cheek against hers. He walks away with her, and sits down, still holding her in his arms.”

Still later, on the Ama island, Bond and Kissy (following their phony marriage that’s part of Bond’s cover) investigate a tunnel where an Ama diver died. As in the film, they discover poison gas and dive into the water to save themselves.

The stage directions have one major difference. After reaching safety, “BOND is lying on his back. He has more or less recovered. Much of his Japanese make-up has come off in the water. (NOTE: During the next few scenes, he should revert, as inconspicuously as possible, to being non-Japanese.)”

Finally, there’s the big Blofeld reveal. Dahl’s script attempts to make the most of it.

CAMERA reaches BLOFELD’S FACE. And what a face it is! We see reflected therein all the evil in the world. The eyes, greatly magnified behind steel-rimmed pebble glasses, are like the eyes of an intelligent octopus — all black, with no whites around them at all. The skin of the cheeks is pock-marked. The ears protrude slightly, the jaw is prognathus. CAMERA STAYS CLOSE on FACE.

There’s more, of course, but suffice to say there was still a lot of work to do before You Only Live Twice was ready for theaters in the summer of 1967.

The draft is 142 pages, meaning the movie should have been 142 minutes. The final movie came in at just under two hours, with many scenes considerably tighter than they appear in this draft.

“Retcon”: For Your Eyes Only now official SPECTRE movie

Blofeld (apparently we can actually call him that now) menaces 007 at the start of For Your Eyes Only

Blofeld (apparently we can actually call him that now) menaces 007 at the start of For Your Eyes Only

The James Bond film series has done what’s known in comic books as a “retcon” — or retroactive change in continuity. It appears 1981’s For Your Eyes Only is now officially considered a SPECTRE-related movie.

When did this happen? Today when the official 007 site today announced A HOME VIDEO RELEASE in connection with the 24th James Bond film.

Here’s the start of the press release:

As fans prepare for the November 6th release of SPECTRE, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios (MGM) and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release an all-new line-up of special edition Blu-rays, DVDs and box-sets on September 15th.

Two never-before-seen featurettes are included with interviews from Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. “The Shadow of SPECTRE” will recount the fictional history of the global criminal syndicate and terrorist organization, “The Story So Far” will provide an overview of Daniel Craig’s first three Bond movies.

Six films featuring the SPECTRE organization (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, THUNDERBALL, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY) and the three recent Daniel Craig titles (CASINO ROYALE, QUANTUM OF SOLACE, SKYFALL) will each get a limited edition Blu-ray Steelbook release, their cover designs inspired by each film’s opening title sequence. (emphasis added)

Interestingly, at the time of its release, 1981’s For Your Eyes Only wasn’t considered a SPECTRE related film. Its pre-titles sequence features a wheelchair-bound villain who looked like Ernst Stavro Blofeld but wasn’t identified as such.

The script, by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson, had a line where the villain notes this is the 10th anniversary of his last encounter with Bond. That would appear to be a veiled reference to 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever. The line was cut from the movie but appears in the Marvel Comics adaptation.

At the time, Kevin McClory still held the film rights to Thunderball and he claimed ownership of the Blofeld character.

Presumably, with Danjaq LLC and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 2013 obtaining all of the 007 rights held by McClory’s estate, all of that is moot now. Voila, For Your Eyes Only’s story has been changed.

One other note: Dr. No, the first 007 film, was also SPECTRE related because Dr. No was a member of the criminal organization. However, Blofeld didn’t put in an appearance, probably explaining why it’s not listed as part of this package.

Elon Musk and Blofeld, the sequel

Elon Musk photo on Twitter on April 29.

Elon Musk photo on Twitter.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, really, really likes to compare himself to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, James Bond’s arch enemy.

This week, SpaceX had a much-publicized launch. It didn’t go as planned. Here’s an excerpt from CNN’S WEBSITE:

(CNN)—SpaceX on Tuesday launched a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket carrying an uncrewed cargo spacecraft called Dragon on a flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station.

That was the easy part. In a difficult bid to land a rocket stage on a floating barge for the first time, the private space exploration company was unsuccessful.

Musk, whose photo on Twitter evokes Blofeld as well as Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, had been more optimistic about the outcome. And, in doing so, *again* evoked Blofeld, specifically as depicted in You Only Live Twice:

Musk was less jovial after the landing failure.

Waltz to play Blofeld in Bond 24, Mail on Sunday says

Bond 24 logo

Fans have speculated about this since Waltz’s participation was originally reported, so we didn’t put spoiler in the headline. Stop reading beyond this point if you don’t want the details.

Actor Christoph Waltz will play Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Bond 24, THE U.K. MAIL ON SUNDAY REPORTED.

Here’s an excerpt from the story by Chris Hastings and Caroline Graham:

It’s been more than 30 years since James Bond faced evil Ernst Stavro Blofeld, his most feared adversary.

But now the intimidating baddie – famous for his trademark white cat and for gruesomely disposing of his failing underlings – is back. Django Unchained star Christoph Waltz is tipped to play the evil genius in a new 007 movie which is due to begin shooting next month.

The 58-year-old double Oscar-winner will join an elite band of stars who have previously played the role.

The Mail on Sunday is a sister paper to the Daily Mail, whose Baz Bamigboye REPORTED EARLIER THIS MONTH that Waltz was in Bond 24’s cast. Bamigboye, who had a number of Skyfall and Bond 24 scoops proven correct, didn’t specify the role Waltz would have in Bond 24.

The Mail on Sunday story says Waltz’s involvement in Bond 24 “will be confirmed” at an early December press conference. That story also says Waltz will be announced as “playing an unknown character called Franz Oberhauser, son of the late Hans Oberhauser, a ski instructor who acted as a father figure to Bond.”

But, the story cites “senior sources” who “believe the casting is a double bluff worthy of 007 himself and that Waltz is actually playing Blofeld.” The story quotes “one Hollywood source” as saying “the producers have changed the character to fit in with the new-look 007.”

Presumably, that comment is a reference to how the 007 film series started over with 2006’s Casino Royale. Daniel Craig has played Bond the past three movies and is returning with the as-yet untitled Bond 24.

The Blofeld character appeared in From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and Never Say Never Again. A character strongly resembling Blofeld was in the pre-credits sequence of For Your Eyes Only but his name wasn’t revealed.

Blofeld back again (for the very first time)?

We are smack dab in the middle of the “silly season” for James Bond fans: that time between when a new 007 picture is shaping up for production, and the time when definite details are released by the studio. Rumors and speculation abound. This particular rumor got our attention, however. Latino Review.com is a site well-known and respected for its credibility. They don’t get everything right every time, but they get more things right more often

Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE -- 1969. Graphic by Paul Baack.

than other movie news sites. (They were the first to review the Casino Royale screenplay, alerting the world that we had a new classic James Bond movie aborning.) They have deep and well-placed sources…

The title of Gig Patta’s article pretty much says it all: Bond 23 Scriptwriter John Logan Hints Blofeld as Villain in New Movie. Logan, brought in to polish-up Neal Purvis & Rob Wade’s script, hinted — or perhaps joked — to a BAFTA Screenwriters lecture that “Bond should always fight Blofeld.” Which, when you think about it, is an odd thing to say. The character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld has been missing from the Cinèma du Jamesbonderie since 1983 (1971 if you want to get all canonical on us,) and doesn’t have much resonance for the Brosnan/Craig generation of fans. So, in our humble opinion, his choice of words were oddly specific. And, since this is the rebooted series, there’s no logical reason the earlobe-less one couldn’t show up, SPECTRE in tow. It’s a fun idea to contemplate.

Donald Pleasance as Ernst Stavro Blofeld in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE -- 1967. Graphic by Paul Baack.


The HMSS Weblog… Your Source for Unfounded Rumors and Baseless Speculation! You’re welcome.

Wo Fat 2.0 now No. 1 criminal mastermind of all time

On the May 16 season finale of CBS’s Hawaii Five-0, it was revealed that Wo Fat controlled the Governor of Hawaii. That means he controlled the state. Now, criminal masterminds like to try to take over the world, or least signficant parts of it. But they fail. The revamped Wo Fat, it appears, has taken more territory than his mastermind colleagues. Therefore, he must be the No. 1 criminal mastermind of all time.

You scoff? Well, consider the following:

— Original Wo Fat. He tried to take over China (in the Nine Dragons episode of the original Hawaii Five-O). FAIL. He tried to develop a Star Wars-style weapon system two years before the Reagan administration announced such a project in the original Five-O’s final episode. He couldn’t even recognize that Steve McGarrett 1.0 was right in front of him wearing a fake wig and goatee. BIG FAIL.

— Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE. He tried to “inaugurate a little war” between the U.S. and Soviet Union so China could take over (You Only Live Twice). He tried to conduct an auction where nuclear supremecy would go to the highest bidder (Diamonds Are Forever). FAIL.

— Karl Stromberg (The Spy Who Loved Me) and Hugo Drax (Moonraker), each tried to kill off the world’s population and they would take over. FAIL.

— Franz Sanchez (Licence to Kill) had off the president of Isthmus to leave him alone. You could argue he had de facto control of the country except he got killed off by the end of the movie. FAIL.

— GALAXY tried to take over the world with a weather-controlling maching (Our Man Flint). FAIL.

— BIGO tried to take over the world in Matt Helm movies. FAIL.

— Thrush tried to take over the world in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. on multiple occasions. FAIL.

— KAOS tried to take over the world multiple times on Get Smart. FAIL.

Clearly, Wo Fat 2.0 is on to something. Instead of a grand goal (taking over the world, taking over a country), he has broken it down to smaller, accomplishable parts. Of course, he did kill the Governor in the May 16 episode, so it’s not entirely clear his control over the state of Hawaii will continue. Still, being an accomplished criminal mastermind, he may have a Plan B. The beauty of Wo Fat’s situation is *nobody knows he has control of Hawaii* except Steve McGarrett 2.0. And McGarrett (Alex O’Loughlin) is in jail for the Governor’s murder.

Also, Wo Fat didn’t take over just any state. He took over “our extended finger into the Pacific (Ocean),” as the Governor (that is the original Governor from the original Five-O pilot, played by Lew Ayres) put it. That’s not to be confused with the Governor (Jean Smart) who was under Wo Fat’s control in the new Five-0

This is even more impressive because Wo Fat 2.0 (Mark Dacascos) have probably has *less than 20 minutes of screen time* all season long.

It should be noted that Robert Short and Danny Biederman, who tried to develop a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie in the early 1980s, had a storyline where Thrush had taken over the world (economically) but nobody knew it. That project, though, never saw the light of day, so it doesn’t count.

Congrats, Wo Fat 2.0.