Did Fleming think Maibaum’s 007 was better?

Ian Fleming, drawn by Mort Drucker, from the collection of the late John Griswold.

This week, TCM kicked off showing 19 James Bond films made by Eon Productions. The first night included a promotional video featuring comments by Bond film veterans Bruce Feirstein (credited as writer on three films) and Martin Campbell (director on two).

Feirstein, at one point told an anecdote about Bond’s creator talking to Richard Maibaum on the set of Goldfinger.

“Apparently, Fleming told Maibaum that he liked Maibaum’s Bond better than his own. Because Maibaum added the wit….There is no wit in the books. So one of the key elements that we all know and love Bond for was added by Maibaum.”

That sounds very provocative. But how true is it? Feirstein doesn’t provide a source for the information. The word “apparently” is a way to hedge your bet.

What’s more, the Bond scripting process was a lot more complicated.

Movies are a collaborative medium. That’s especially when it comes to scripts. By the time Goldfinger was in production, Maibaum, Johanna Harwood, Berkeley Mather, Len Deighton, Wolf Mankowitz and Paul Dehn had all taken turns at the typewriter (some getting credit, some not).

At the very least, it’s debatable whether there was a “Maibaum Bond” versus a “Fleming Bond.”

Maibaum was a writer on 13 of the first 16 Bond films made by Eon. He was clearly a major contributor and had a lot of input.

On the other hand, with Goldfinger, Maibaum started the scripting while Dehn did the later drafts. And Mankowitz sold co-producer Harry Saltzman a major idea (having the gangster Mr. Solo in a car that was crushed at a junkyard) that was a highlight of the movie. The 1998 book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger spells out the scripting process.

In any case, Feirstein provided an interesting anecdote. You can see it around the 6:40 mark of this YouTube copy of the TCM video. Warning: you never know when these things may get pulled down by YouTube.

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.

Tarantino’s LA theater to show five 1960s 007 films

Sean Connery in a 007 publicity still

Actor-director Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles will show five 1960s James Bond films in July.

The movies are scheduled for 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday afternoons as part of the theater’s “Afternoon Classics” series.

The theater is showing IB Tech prints of each film. The term refers to a process for making color movie prints that allows for use of more stable dyes.

The schedule is as follows:

July 3: From Russia With Love.

July 10: Goldfinger

July 17: Thunderball

July 24: You Only Live Twice

July 31: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

UPDATE: Plaza Atlanta, which describes itself as Atlanta’s oldest movie theater, plans to show 25 James Bond films in July — the 24 (to date) produced by Eon Productions plus 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

A Facebook post by the theater has the schedule. They will be shown in order, with Dr. No leading off on July 1.

Behind the scenes with the replica Aston Martin DB5s

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

Aston Martin has come out with a video providing a peek concerning how it is producing 25 replica DB5 sports cars like the one Sean Connery drove in Goldfinger.

Chris Corbould, a long-time special effects creator on Bond films, is involved in installing the gadgets. Based on the video, it appears to the smoke screen and other extras will be a little more sophisticated than the ones John Stears installed in the Goldfinger DB5.

Just a reminder The replicas won’t come cheap. They’re priced at 2.75 million British pounds ($3.56 million at current exchange rates) each. Deliveries will begin in 2020.

And one more thing. They won’t be street legal (or road legal as Aston Martin phrased it in an August 2018 press release).

You can view the video below.

Nadja Regin, two-time 007 actress, dies

Nadja Regin with Pedro Armendariz in From Russia With Love

Nadja Regin, who appeared in two early James Bond films has died at 87. Her death was disclosed on the official James Bond website of Eon Productions.

She appeared in From Russia With Love as the mistress of Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz). She tries to entice the head of Station T away from his work. They are interrupted by an explosion meant to kill Kerim.

The actress was also in Goldfinger as Bonita, a dancer who attempts to set up Bond (Sean Connery) for an attack in the pre-titles sequence. It nearly works until Bond sees the image of the approaching attacker in her eye.

Regin was born Dec. 2, 1931 in Yugoslavia. Her IMDB.COM ENTRY lists more than 50 acting credits, including episodes of Danger Man and The Saint.

Tania Mallet, Goldfinger actress, dies

Tania Mallet in a Goldfinger publicity still.

Tania Mallet, who had a small but key role in Goldfinger, has died at 77.

Her death was reported on Twitter on Sunday by the MI6 James Bond website. Later, the official Eon Productions 007 feed on Twitter also posted about her passing.

In 1964’s Goldfinger, Mallet played Tilly Masterson, sister to Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), who had been killed by being “painted gold,” causing skin suffocation.

Tilly seeks to avenge her sister’s death and is tailing Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) in Switzerland. She takes a rifle shot at Goldfinger but almost hits Bond (Sean Connery).

The Tilly part was shortened compared with Ian Fleming’s 1959 novel. In the film, after the botched killing attempt, Bond follows Tilly (driving a Ford Mustang, the first movie to feature the model).

This provides the filmmakers the first opportunity to show off some of the gadgets of Bond’s Aston Martin DB5. The DB5 disables the Mustang. Bond gives Tilly a lift in the DB5 and deduces she’s lying about her case that supposedly contains ice skates.

Later, Bond is conducting surveillance of Goldfinger’s Swiss factory. He returns to his perch but sees a figure with a rifle. It turns out to be Tilly and Bond finalizes realizes she is Jill’s sister. Just then, the duo have to make a run for it from Goldfinger’s thugs.

The following sequence gives Bond a chance to put the DB5 through its paces, including a smoke screen and oil slick. Mallet’s Tilly acts as a surrogate for the audience, smiling as the miracle car shows off its stuff.

The joy, however, is short lived. Bond is forced to stop the DB5 and he instructs Tilly to make a run for it. By this time, Oddjob (Harold Sakata) arrives. He kills Tilly by throwing his armored hat at her, breaking her neck.

The mood suddenly turns serious and dramatic, turning an over-the-top prop into something serious. The scene is helped by John Barry’s music. It’s arguably one of the most dramatic moments in the movie.

As a result, Mallet made an impact in the film, from being the first screen character to drive an iconic car to being one of the movie’s “sacrificial lambs.”

Here’s the tweet from the official Eon site on Twitter:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter posted an obit for Mallet that noted she was a cousin of actress Helen Mirren.

007 poll shows the devil is in the details

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Earlier this month, the Morning Consult and the Hollywood Reporter conducted a poll of almost 2,100 Americans about James Bond films. Here are two greatly different headlines summarizing the results.

Morning Consult’s report: “007 Poll Shows Scant Support for Diversifying Bonds.”

The Express, U.K. tabloid: “James Bond: Most Americans support a black 007 – Idris Elba BACKED to replace Daniel Craig.”

They’re both right but you have to dig into the data to see why.

According to Morning Consult, 51 percent of adult respondents said “the James Bond series was a classic and nothing about it should be changed, a 17-percentage-point edge over those who said they’d prefer to see the film adapt to the times and have a more diverse cast and lead.”

However, those polled were then asked additional groups about different groups and individuals.

Among groups, 52 percent of adults said they support the idea of a black James Bond, with 20 percent having no opinion and 29 percent opposing.

Also, 39 percent support a Hispanic Bond, 37 percent support an Asian Bond, 37 percent supported a female Bond and 28 percent support a gay Bond.

Meanwhile, when asked specifically about Idris Elba, 63 percent said  they wanted to see him play Bond, with only 21 percent opposed.

Meanwhile, Morning Consult had more details about how respondents feel about agent 007.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of the adults polled said they’d at least watched some of the series. And with a net favorability of 62 points, only “Back to the Future” (74 points) and “Indiana Jones” (72 points) were more popular among films made before the 1990s. (“Toy Story” was the most popular movie franchise out of 34 series tested, while “Back to the Future” was second.)

The poll also tackled the issue of who is the most popular actor to play Bond in the Eon Productions series.

Most popular 007 film and Bond actor among Americans polled: Goldfinger and Sean Connery. 

Sean Connery was No. 1 at 82 percent, with Pierce Brosnan right behind at 81 percent. Roger Moore, who made 007 entries in the Eon series, was No. 3 at 74 percent, followed by current Bond Daniel Craig at 71 percent. The least popular Bond actors were Timothy Dalton at 49 percent and George Lazenby at 31 percent.

There’s also the question of favorite 007 films of Americans. Morning Consult again sued a “net favorability” number. On that basis, the top five were: Goldfinger (plus 69), From Russia With Love (plus 66), Live And Let Die (plus 66), Diamonds Are Forever (plus 65) and For Your Eyes Only (plus 64).

The highest Daniel Craig 007 film was his debut, Casino Royale, at No. 6 (plus 63), tied with You Only Live Twice.

The bottom? The Living Daylights, Dalton’s debut, (plus 48). SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film, was next at plus 49.