Bond 25 questions: The “Mr. Obvious” edition

Omega advertising image released hours before Eon Productions announced Danny Boyle was exiting as Bond 25 director.

Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, who is known for getting 007 film scoops correct, finally weighed in and said that director Danny Boyle departed Bond 25 because Eon Productions wanted to bring in a new writer to replace his man, John Hodge.

As a result, the blog has a series of “Mr. Obvious” questions.

Did Boyle and Hodge do their due diligence before signing on for Bond 25? The 007 film franchise has a history of bringing in multiple writers to massage scripts.

In the early days, Richard Maibaum replaced Johanna Harwood and Len Deighton on From Russia With Love. Paul Dehn replaced Maibaum on Goldfinger. Tom Mankiewicz replaced Maibaum on Diamonds Are Forever.

More recently? Well, this decade, John Logan replaced Neal Purvis and Robert Wade on Skyfall. Purvis and Wade were summoned to replace Logan on SPECTRE. On both films, Jez Butterworth did work (but only getting a credit on SPECTRE).

Assuming Bamigboye is correct, neither Boyle nor Hodge should have been surprised when Eon wanted a new scribe. Hell’s bells, Maibaum dealt with that sort of thing over 13 separate 007 films.

Did Eon Productions do its due diligence before bringing on Boyle and Hodge? In 2017, Eon hired Purvis and Wade do the script for Bond 25. But that work got cast aside when the possibility arose of getting Boyle as director. But Boyle wanted his man, Hodge, to write it.

Boyle has a reputation for doing unique films and Hodge is one of his main collaborators. So you’ve got to figure they have a certain way of working.

Yes, Boyle said he was a James Bond fan. Everybody (especially if they’re British) says they’re a James Bond fan when they hire on to work for Eon. But did Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson really think through whether Boyle could adapt to working for Eon?

What role does Daniel Craig have in all this? Bamigboye’s story said Craig was a key figure in wanting a new writer to take over from Hodge. But is that really a big deal?

Before the cameras rolled on Goldfinger, Sean Connery objected to some of Paul Dehn’s ideas (such as ending the moving with “curtains” being drawn). The 1998 book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger goes into this in detail.

Tom Mankiewicz, in the documentary Inside Diamonds Are Forever, described a meeting he had with Connery. The star weighed on various issues, according to the screenwriter. So it’s not unprecedented for stars of Bond films to let their opinions be known. Granted, Craig had a co-producer title on SPECTRE, something Connery never got when he toiled for Eon.

Advertisements

About that whole James Bond-Aston Martin thing

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

One wonders what Ian Fleming would have thought about the love affair between the James Bond films and Aston Martin.

In the Goldfinger novel, Bond had a choice between the Aston Martin DB3 or a Jaguar for use as a cover as “a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.” He chose the Aston.

By the time Goldfinger was adapted by Eon Productions in 1964, Bond drove a government-issued DB5, complete with an elector seat, machine guns, oil slick and other extras. Bond films were never the same again. The cinematic Bond, despite some breaks here and there, has been driving Aston Martins frequently since.

Indeed, the DB5 has shown up in a number of films since 1995’s Goldfinger, including 2015’s SPECTRE where he drove it at the end of the movie.

In the novels, Bond was a civil servant who lived relatively modestly (although he could afford a housekeeper). But Aston Martin isn’t concerned about the middle class.

Latest example: The announcement that Aston Martin will build 25 replica DB5s at a price of 2.75 million British pounds each. The cars, though, won’t be street legal, according to a separate Aston Martin statement.

The replicas are supposed to come with Bond gadgets. The literary Bond might burn through a year’s salary (inflation adjusted) just paying for the insurance and maintenance bills. Then again, the 007 movies have glossed over, or simply ignored, other aspects of Fleming’s novels.

At the same time, Aston Martin has its issues as well. It’s a bit of an orphan in the automotive world. For 30 years, it was part of Ford Motor Co. But Ford had to sell it off in 2007 amid financial troubles.

As a result, Aston swims in an ocean of automotive sharks. The auto industry is a bit unsettled these days. Even the giants aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen next in an era of self-driving cars and ride-sharing services.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Aston’s connection to the 007 films didn’t really help sales because the company sold so few cars. For a time, Aston was talking about the need to diversify from James Bond. In stories such as a 2016 article in Marketing Week, company executives said they relied too much on the 007 image.

That was then, this is now. Besides making DB5 replicas, the carmaker last month was part of a pact to sell pricey (129.99 British pounds) Lego versions of the 007 DB5. If Aston Martin is diversifying from Bond, it doesn’t much look like it.

The Bond marriage with Aston Martin continues, even if the literary 007 couldn’t afford the products that marriage produces.

The blog’s list of (really) non-spoilers

The movie came out in 1941. By any reasonable standard, it should be OK to talk about the ending. That’s especially true in this case. It was a joke on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s and an Iron Man comic book in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

The blog was reminded while publishing a post about spoiler sensitivity. It’s a subject the blog has written about a number of times including HERE, HERE, and HERE.

In THIS 2011 POST, a reader yelped that a “spoiler alert” should be tagged with a spoiler alert about a movie that had come out years before (seven years at the time of the post, 14 years ago now).

I ended up doing that, but regretted it later. Spoilers should have a sell-by date. But spoiler extremists insist on spoiler alerts on everything, no matter how long ago the film or TV show came out. By that standard, it’s never OK to talk about any movie, now matter how old.

Spoiler police: “That’s a spoiler! You’re spoiling it for the 19-year-old who’s never seen The Great Train Robbery!”

If you suspect the blog is kidding with this example you’d be right. Still, The Great Train Robbery (1903) is considered a major example of early cinema, including the ending above. But if we take the position of the spoiler police to its logical conclusion, the ending would be forbidden to talk about.

More recently, but still back in the “old days,” trailers often gave away the best bits. Example: Trailers for The Spy Who Loved Me showing the ski jump Rick Sylvester performed while doubling for Roger Moore.

For that matter, sometimes soundtracks — which came out before the movie —  had track titles beginning with “Death of” followed by a character name. See the soundtracks for From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice for examples.

At that time, if you were disappointed about a spoiler, you sucked it up. You manned up and moved on. Today, it’s the source of complaining, complaining and more complaining.

I understand the concern about spoilers. You should be considerate, especially before and during a movie’s release. But I do think some people complain too much about them.

The idea of a forever ban on spoilers isn’t reasonable. Nineteen-year-olds have plenty of chances to catch up on classic movies without a gag order on the rest of us. And some members of the spoiler police define a spoiler as saying anything about a film.

So, with that in mind, here’s the blog list of not-really spoilers (but may offend the spoiler police).

Classic Movies

–Rosebud is the sled.
–Rhett breaks up with Scarlett.
–Ranse really didn’t kill Liberty Valance. Though I’m told some film analysts actually debate this point because it’s in a flashback. (Actually a flashback within a flashback, to be precise.)
–Shane decides to ride off.
–“Nobody’s perfect!”
–“WTF just happened?” (audiences at 2001: A Space Odyssey)
–Lawrence went home after the war, shaken and disturbed.
–“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille!”

Genre Movies
–Harry still had a bullet left.
–The money got incinerated.
–The castle blows up.
–The lead character was really dead all this time. (multiple movies)
–Rock lost one leg, but is still alive even if most of his officers aren’t.
–Iron Man wins.
–Captain America wins.
–Batman wins.

James Bond Movies
–Bond wins (multiple films).
–Tracy dies.
–Vesper dies.
–Quarrel dies.
–Fiona dies.
–Aki dies.
–Tilly dies.
–Jill dies.
–Vijay dies.
–Kerim dies.
–Paula dies.
–Plenty dies.
–Scaramanga dies.
–Oddjob dies.
–Goldfinger dies.
–Largo dies.
–Dr. No dies.
–Klebb dies.
–Q gets a laugh from the audience showing Bond a gadget (multiple films).
–Q gets annoyed at Bond. (multiple films)
–Bond has sex with women characters (multiple films).
–Bond flirts with Moneypenny (multiple films).
…..There are many more, but you get the idea.

007 collectibles then and now: From kids to old guys

James Bond lunchbox seen around U.S. school yards, circa 1965-66

In the mid-1960s, there was no doubt. James Bond — suave ladies man with a license to kill — was being marketed to American school children.

Gilbert marketed a series of James Bond figures that included backgrounds based on the 007 films produced by Eon Productions.

Among the figures:

–James Bond being menaced by Goldfinger’s laser beam. Or, as it was phrased on a home video extra, the “most famous near castration in cinema history.”

–M’s desk with a sheet of bullet-resistant glass that came up from the desk, presumably based on Ian Fleming’s final 007 novel, The Man With the Golden Gun, where bullet-resistant glass came down from the ceiling.

–A small model of Dr. No’s “dragon,” a small figure of the Disco Volante from Thunderball.

Some of the 007 Gilbert figures

I know this because I had that Gilbert set. My late father explained the significance of the bullet-resistance glass in M’s desk and how it worked in the novels. The set didn’t survive my childhood. Kids, after all, tend to be destructive when it comes to toys.

There was also, during this time, a James Bond lunch box. I never had that. But I saw it in school.

Almost 60 years later, things have changed. New 007 collectibles aren’t really aimed at kids. They’re intended for middle-aged (or older) men who have enough money to afford them.

The newest example will debut officially later month — a Lego Aston Martin DB5. It’s to be unveiled at a July 18 event at a Lego store in London. Images have leaked out and it may sell for about $170.

People have told me via social media that, of course, Bond can’t be aimed at kids. Bond, after all, has that license to kill and there’s no way it could ever, ever be marketed to young audiences.

Except, of course, it once was. But that’s how it goes.

All this may reflect the aging of the Bond audience. The people most likely to plunk down $170 (or whatever the price ends up being for a Lego Aston Martin DB5) are men in their 50s and 60s with some disposable income.

In any event, things rarely stay the same.

Images of Lego Aston Martin DB5 apparently leak

One of the images of the Lego Aston Martin DB5 on Instagram

Images of packaging for the new Lego Aston Martin DB5 appeared to have leaked and are on Instagram.

The images appear on #legoleaks on Instagram.

When the blog looked this morning, there were five postings of the packaging, including special cards. One of the postings quotes a price of $169.99.

The packaging include words “Licence to Build.” The hashtag #LicenceToBuild has been used by Lego, Aston Martin and Eon Productions’ official 007 feed on Twitter to promote the project.

The companies formally haven’t identified the DB5 as the licensed product. However, in recent social media promotions, they have used quotes from Goldfinger, Skyfall and SPECTRE. Lego has scheduled an event at 10:07 a.m., July 18 at its store in London.

Thanks to .@CorneelVF on Twitter for the heads up.

Ford cars, RIP

“Have you not heard? Ford is getting out of the car business!”

This week, Ford Motor Co. said it was virtually exiting the car business in North America, its home (and most profitable) market. By 2020, Ford announced, it will just have two cars in its lineup: the Mustang sports car and the Ford Active crossover due out next year. Ford will concentrate on trucks, SUVs and “crossovers.”

For people of a certain age this seems almost unthinkable. Ford always was aggressive with product placement. Ford cars have been in generations of films and U.S. television shows.

Here’s a look at some prominent examples.

James Bond films: The Bond Cars website provides a list, which says Ford shows up early in the 007 film series produced by Eon Productions. For example, it’s a Ford that serves as the hearse used by Dr. No’s assassins when they kill MI6 operative Strangways.

Ford’s relationship geared up in Goldfinger. A Lincoln Continental is crushed. Felix Leiter rides around in a Ford Thunderbird. Auric Goldfinger uses Ford trucks to transport his larger laser gun to Fort Knox.

And, of course, the movie marked the film debut of Mustang. The sports car was introduced in the spring of 1964 while filming was underway on Goldfinger. Mustangs would also show up in Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever.

Thunderball also featured a lot of Ford cars, including the Continental, Count Lippe’s Ford Fairlane and a station wagon among other vehicles. Emilo Largo drives a Ford Thunderbird on his way to SPECTRE headquarters immediately after the film’s main titles.

The automaker had an on-and-off relationship with the series. Teresa Bond (Diana Rigg) favored a red Mercury Cougar in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A number of Ford cars are crashed in the moon buggy chase in Diamonds Are Forever.

Ford also owned Aston Martin from 1987 until 2007. For Die Another Day, Ford had a huge product placement deal, mostly to promote European brands it owned at that time, including Aston, Land Rover and Jaguar. However, a Ford Thunderbird (driven by Halle Berry’s Jinx) also showed up.

The company’s ties to the film series ended with 2008’s Quantum of Solace. Land Rover would return in the 2010s, but after Ford had sold it off.

Matt Helm and Gail Hendricks (Dean Martin and Stella Stevens) in Matt’s Mercury station wagon equipped with a bar.

Matt Helm film series: For four 1960s Matt Helm movies with Dean Martin, Ford provided the vehicles.

Perhaps the most offbeat car was a Mercury station wagon, which was Matt Helm’s personal car in The Silencers (1966). It was equipped with a bar (!) in the back seat. Matt encourages Gail Hendricks (Stella Stevens) to have a drink or two to loosen up. She ends up consuming too much and passing out.

Other Ford-made cars in the series included a Thunderbird Matt drove around Monte Carlo in Murderers’ Row. It had some extras, including a device where words dictated into a microphone are spelled out on the car’s tail lights. (“If you can read this, you’re too close…”)

Hawaii Five-O (original series): Steve McGarrett’s signature car was a Mercury (a two-door model in the pilot, a four-door version thereafter). Lots of other Ford-made cars showed up during the 1968-1980 series.

Ford even supplied cars for an 11th season episode filmed in Singapore. The cast of that two-hour installment, The Year of the Horse, included George Lazenby, who received “special guest star” billing.

Erskine in a Mercury made by Ford Motor Co. in a sixth-season end titles of The FBI.

The FBI: Ford supplied cars for a number of Quinn Martin-produced shows. But the tightest relationship between the company and QM Productions was this 1965-1974 series.

Ford cut a deal to sponsor the show, which was broadcast on ABC. The automaker agreed to kick in extra money to ensure the series would be filmed in color. Executives felt a color series would show off Ford cars better. When The FBI debuted in fall 1965, most of ABC’s lineup was still produced in black and white.

Ford also vetoed the broadcast of one first-season episode, The Hiding Place, because there had been talk of a boycott being organized. The episode finally saw the light of day in 2011 when Warner Archive began releasing the show.

Symbolic of the ties between Ford and show came in the end titles. Inspector Lewis Erkine (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) came out of the FBI Building (now the Department of Justice Building) and drove a Ford product home. It was a Mustang for the first four seasons. Subsequent seasons had different Ford-made cars.

The end titles were productions in and of themselves. Zimbalist traveled to Washington for annual meetings with then-Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover. Ford would transport a car for him to drive in Washington for the following season’s end titles. Some of the cars were prototypes and weren’t the most sturdy.

This post merely scratches the surface. There have been many series over the years featuring Ford cars. It won’t be quite the same with Ford cars going away.

A look at some 007 #MeToo moments

#MeToo went viral last year as the result of workplace sexual harassment and assault, a lot of it media related such as now-disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.

With the 25th James Bond film (slowly) in development, there has been speculation about how Bond will be affected by the Me Too movement. We won’t know for some time.

However, certain scenes from previous Bond films were cited in THIS ARTICLE from The Scotsman.

“Almost as soon as Harvey Weinstein’s dressing-gown fell open, and the first gruesome revelations of sexual coercion and assault in Hollywood spilled out, a debate was sparked about the future of Bond,” wrote Aidan Smith of The Scotsman.

With that in mind, here are some Bond movie scenes that get cited in #MeToo conversation.

“Dink, say goodbye to Felix.”

“Man Talk” (Goldfinger, 1964)

After the main titles of Goldfinger, the CIA’s Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) makes contact with Bond (Sean Connery).

Bond is with Dink (Margaret Nolan, who also participated in the main titles as the “Golden Girl” of the title song).

Bond sends Dink on her way saying he has to engage in some “man talk” with Felix. As she walks away, Bond slaps her on her buttocks, accompanied by an Oscar-winning sound effect.

Not something you could do in the 21st century.

“You don’t mean…”

“I’d Lose My Job” (Thunderball, 1965)

Bond (Connery again) is almost killed after Count Lippe sets a device intended to stretch the spine on full speed and the agent is helpless to do anything about it.

Patricia Fearing (Molly Peters), a nurse who had strapped Bond into the machine in the first place, returns early and saves the agent’s life.

As he’s recovering, Bond says somebody will regret this day. He’s referring to Count Lippe but there’s no way for Patricia to know that.

She urges Bond to stay silent or else she could lose her job.

Bond immediately seizes upon the situation. “I suppose my silence could have a price…”

“You don’t mean…”

“Oh, yes…”

According to the stage directions of the script:

The steam rises higher and higher making is even more difficult to see anything at all.

This is probably just as well.

As the saying goes, it is what it is. After having sex with Patricia, Bond gets even with Count Lippe. However, the villain doesn’t meet his demise until it is administered by another SPECTRE operative who figures into our next example.

Interplay between Bond and Fiona in Thunderball.

“Would You Please Give Me Something to Put On?” (Thunderball)

SPECTRE executioner Fiona (Luciana Paluzzi) uses her sex appeal as part of her work for the criminal organization.

For example, posing as the “social secretary” for a NATO pilot, she arranges for him to be killed so a SPECTRE double can take his place. This enables SPECTRE to steal two atomic bombs.

Later, Fiona has encountered Bond but finally decides he needs to be eliminated.

She’s naked in a bathtub when Bond enters. “Would you please give me something to put on?” Fiona says. Bond hands her a pair of sandals and sits in a chair.

Not much later, they have sex. After they get dressed, SPECTRE thugs enter the hotel room. Eventually, Bond escapes. Fiona catches up, but she’s killed when one of the thugs tries to shoot Bond.

This is stretching things a bit in terms of #MeToo. Fiona knew exactly what she was doing and sex was part of her M.O. Also, Luciana Paluzzi had played a very similar character in The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Fiona absolutely was a strong, independent character. She just came up short going against Bond.

“I like you better without your Beretta.”

Bond and Severine in Skyfall (2012)

This example is one of the most controversial, certainly among recent 007 films.

Severine (Bérénice Marlohehad been forced into the sex trade at a young age. Bond (Daniel Craig) deduces this from a small tatoo of hers.

She tells Bond her bodyguards will try to kill him as soon as she departs. But in case she survives, she tells Bond the name of the yacht she’ll be on, where to find it and that it will be casting off in an hour.

Severine waits in her cabin, with a bottle of champagne on ice. The yacht casts off. But when she decides to take a shower, Bond is there as naked as she is.

However, for Severine, things go downhill from there. Silva (Javier Bardem) has her roughed up. Later, there’s a William Tell bit where Bond and Silva try to shoot a glass of Scotch off her head. Silva doesn’t bother to really try and just shoots her to death.

Bond fights his way out this and helicopters descend to capture Silva.

Why this is controversial: I’ve seen some fans on 007 message boards compare Bond’s encounter with Severine in the shower to rape. But the shot of Severine with the bottle of champagne on ice suggests she was wanting Bond to get to the yacht.

On the other hand, Bond shows no remorse whatsoever that Severine was killed. After he gets the upper hand, Bond gloats to Silva. But he doesn’t acknowledge Severine’s ultimate sacrifice.

By comparison, both Thunderball (with the death of MI6 agent Paula) and You Only Live Twice (with the death of Japanese agent Aki) depict Bond acknowledging the deaths of the women, which is emphasized by John Barry’s music.