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:

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

Goldfinger: the first ‘A-movie’ comic book film?

Goldfinger poster

Goldfinger poster

Here’s a thought as Goldfinger celebrates its 50th anniversary. In a way, the third James Bond film may have been the first “A-movie” comic book film.

Before Goldfinger, comic book films existed as serials. Lewis Wilson, father of Eon Productions co-boss Michael G. Wilson, played Batman in a 1943 serial, for example. Serials would run for weeks in 15-minute or so installments ahead of the main feature.

Goldfinger, of course, was based on Ian Fleming’s novel, not a comic book. Still, some Fleming novels seem to draw their inspiration from pulp adventure stories (also a source of inspiration for comic books).

In Fleming’s novel, Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob was already over the top. With the film, that increased. A gold bar bounced off his chest without causing Oddjob harm. Harold Sakata’s Oddjob crushed a golf ball to show his displeasure with Sean Connery’s Bond. The henchman used his steel-rimmed hat to kill with precision. Oddjob, for a time in the Fort Knox sequence, bats Bond around like a cat playing wth a mouse.

Nor did the comic book style action end there. Bond’s tricked out Aston Martin became the inspiration for “spy cars,” with far more weaponry that a few extras the novel’s Aston had. The deaths of both Oddjob and later Auric Goldfinger could be described as comic book like. It was as if Jack Kirby of Marvel Comics drew the storyboards.

The difference, of course, was this all occurred in a $3 million A-movie where the audience could see the story all in one night.

Goldfinger’s success certainly was felt in the 007 series. In Thunderball, Bond flew a jet pack and in the climatic underwater fight had an oversized air tank that had additional weapons. You Only Live Twice included a helicopter snatching a car with a giant magnet and Blofeld’s volcano headquarters set that cost more than it took to produce Dr. No.

The success of such movies demonstrated audiences had an appetite for such uber-escapist sequences when executied in an entertaining way. You could make the case that Goldfinger blazed a trail that the likes of Star Wars, Indiana Jones and, yes, movies based directly on comic books, exploited.

The path from Connery’s Bond to, say, Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man may be shorter than it appears.

The most obvious sign: director Christopher Nolan, a self-described 007, adapted Bond bits (the Bond-Q briefing evolved into Bruce Wayne getting new equipment from Lucius Fox) into his three Batman movies. Director Sam Mendes in Skyfall returned the favor, saying Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight influenced the 2012 007 film.

Comparing 1982 and 2013 Oscars from a 007 view

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The Oscars on Oct. 24 had the biggest 007 presence since 1982. So how did the two nights compare?

For 007 fans, this year’s Oscars were a mixed bag. Skyfall won two Oscars, breaking a 47-year Oscar drought. But a promised Bond tribute seemed rushed and some fans grumbled that Skyfall should have come away with more awards.

Skyfall came away with the Oscar for Best Song after three previous 007 tries (Live And Let Die, Nobody Does it Better from The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only) as well as best sound editing in a tie with Zero Dark Thirty. But neither director of photography Roger Deakins or composer Thomas Newman scored an award, continuing their personal Oscar losing streaks.

Anyway, the 1982 and 2013 Oscars shows had one thing in common: Each had a montage of James Bond clips. In ’82, it was presented just before Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli received the Irving R. Thalberg Award, given to a producer for his or her body of work. That montage included dialogue, including different actors getting to say, “My name is Bond, James Bond.”

Thirty-one years later, there was another montage, a little snappier but clips still familiar to most 007 fans. The clips were accompanied by The James Bond Theme and an instrumental version of Live And Let Die.

The 1982 show had a big production, with Sheena Easton performing For Your Eyes Only (nominated for Best Song, but which lost) along with a Moonraker-themed dance number that included appearances by Richard Kiel as Jaws and Harold Sakata as Oddjob. In 2013, the clip montage led to Shirley Bassey singing Goldfinger and drawing a standing ovation. And then….well, the 007 tribute was over. Adele performed Skyfall separately as one of the Best Song nominees.

In 1982, Roger Moore introduced Cubby Broccoli. In 2013, no Bonds appeared. Supposedly, that wasn’t the original plan, according to Nikki Finke, editor-in-chief of the Deadline entertainment news Web site. In a “LIVE SNARK” FROM THE OSCARS, she wrote:

The Academy and the show’s producers hoped to gather together all the living 007 actors. But Sean Connery refused to come because he hates the Broccoli family. Something about how he thinks they cheated him out of money he was owed. Then Pierce Brosnan refused to come because he hates the Broccoli family as well. Something about how he thinks they pulled him from the role too early. Roger Moore was dying to come because, well, he’s a sweetheart. And Daniel Craig would have come because he does what he’s told by the Broccoli family’s Eon Productions whose Bond #23 Skyfall just went through the box office global roof. So there you have it.

Finkke didn’t say how she came by this information. In mid-February, her site ran an interview with the producers of the Oscars show and that story said the six Bond film actors wouldn’t appear at the show and referred to “rampant media speculation” concerning such a joint appearance. Still, her Web site was the first to report that Sam Mendes was likely to direct Skyfall, so it can’t be disregarded completely.

In any case, the 1982 show had something not available to the producers of the Oscars show this year: Cubby Broccoli. He gave a particularly gracious speech when accepting his Thalberg award. He acknowledged both of his former partners, Irving Allen and Harry Saltzman, despite substantial differences of opinion he had with them in the past.

In the end, that speech sets the 1982 show apart from a 007 perspective despite the record two 007 wins for Skyfall. We’ve embedded it before, but here it is once more:

RE-POST: 007 moments in Oscars history

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Originally posted Feb. 5, 2009. Re-posting because this year’s Oscars on Feb. 24 will have the biggest 007 component in 31 years. We’ve added some links that weren’t available when the original post was published.

The Oscars (R) are coming up this month. That got us to wondering: What were the great James Bond moments at the Academy Awards?

There haven’t been that many, but here’s a partial list:

1965: Soundman Norman Wanstall picks up the first Oscar (R) for a James Bond movie for his work on Goldfinger. We weren’t watching, alas. But a film historian talked to Wanstall decades later. He described the sound effect when Oddjob demonstrates his deadly hat:

“That had to be really frieghtening. So we got an ordinary carpenter’s woodsaw, put it on a bench and just twanged it.” (Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, page 216)

To see Wanstall pick up his Oscar, CLICK HERE.

1966: We weren’t watching, alas. Nor was the special effects wizard of Thunderball, John Stears. In extras for Thunderball home video releases available since 1995, Sears said he didn’t know he had won the Oscar (R) until his arrived in the U.K.

To see Ivan Tors pickup the award for Stears, CLICK HERE

1973: Roger Moore, the incoming Bond, and Liv Ullmann are on hand to present the Best Actor Oscar (R). Marlon Brando won for The Godfather. But the new 007, and everybody else, got a surprise:

1974: Roger Moore is back, with one 007 film under his belt, and ready to film a second. He introduces Best Song nominee Live And Let Die, written by Paul and Linda McCartney. Instead of a performance by McCartney, the audio of the song is played while Connie Stevens dances to it. The song doesn’t win.

1978: The Spy Who Loved Me, nominated for three Oscars (R), is blanked, taking home none. Ken Adam, the production designer guru, loses out to Star Wars. Marvin Hamlisch is double blanked, losing out for best score and he and his lyricist fail to get the Best Song Oscar (R).

1980: Moonraker, nominated for Best Special Effects, fails to repeat what Thunderball accomplished. It’s just as well after we found out about the salt shakers in the rockets in the extras for the DVD. (Feb. 20, 2013 observation: Then again, given the lack of resources that Derek Meddings and his team had, relative to other nominees such as Alien, The Black Hole and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Moonraker nomination is pretty impressive.)

1982: Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, founding co-producer of the Bond franchise, receives the Irving G. Thalberg award, given to producers for a career of work. Then-Bond Roger Moore is on hand once again, this time to give Cubby the award.

Snaring the Thalberg award put Broccoli in some impressive company:

Note: Broccoli is shown twice in that video, once by mistake.

What’s more, the music director for the Oscar (R) show is Bill Conti, composer of For Your Eyes Only, which was nominated for Best Song. Sheena Easton performs the song as part of an elaborate Bond dance act. The long skit includes Richard Kiel and, shortly before his death, Harold Sakata, the actor who played Oddjob, for whom Norman Wanstall labored for his sound effect years earlier.

The only sour moment (from a Bond perspective): For Your Eyes Only didn’t win the Oscar (R). But it hardly ruined the evening for the Broccolis.

To view the Sheena Easton performance of For Your Eyes Only, CLICK HERE. To view Albert R. Broccoli getting the Thalberg award, CLICK HERE.

2013 Oscars to have James Bond tribute

Poster for a 1972 007 triple feature

Poster for a 1972 007 triple feature

The 2013 Oscars will have a James Bond tribute, according to a PRESS RELASE on the Oscars’ official Web site.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The 85th Academy Awards® will include a tribute to the James Bond movie franchise, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the telecast’s producers announced today.

“We are very happy to include a special sequence on our show saluting the Bond films on their 50th birthday,” said producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “Starting with ‘Dr. No’ back in 1962, the 007 movies have become the longest-running motion picture franchise in history and a beloved global phenomenon.”

This isn’t the first 007 tribute for the Oscars.

In 1982, Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli was scheduled to receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, which is given to producers for their body of work. There was a Moonraker-themed Bond dance number presented as Sheena Easton sang For Your Eyes Only, the Oscar-nominated song.

Participating were Harold Sakata as Oddjob and Richard Kiel as Jaws. Bill Conti, who had scored 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, was the musical director for the broadcast and he worked in some of his music from that movie. (Conti had also co-written the For Your Eyes Only song). It was the last time a 007 film was nominated for an Oscar, but it didn’t win.

All of that was a prelude to Roger Moore presenting the award to Broccoli and the gracious speech given by the man known as Cubby. To view it, CLICK HERE. Embedding isn’t enabled but we left up the image to dress up the look of this post.

UPDATE: A video copy of Easton’s performance is on YouTube. You can take a look unless YouTube yanks it:

The Andy Griffith/Hawaii Five-O/007 mashup

Andy Griffith died this week at 86 and, naturally, obituaries detailed his work on the highly successful The Andy Griffith Show. He had one television guest appearance we’d like to note, one that had connections to James Bond movies as well as Griffith’s 1960-68 television series.

Andy Griffith as con man Arnold Lovejoy


That would be the fifth-season Hawaii Five-O episode I’m a Family Crook — Don’t Shoot! The episode, which first aired Dec. 19, 1972, is one of Five-O’s best and one of its most unusual.

Griffith played Arnold Lovejoy, patriarch of a family of grifters. The Lovejoys have arrived in Hawaii to ply their trade. Things go awry when they steal a briefcase belonging to a bag man for an island hood, Charlie Walters. It contains almost $100,000 and Charlies isn’t happy it’s missing.

Now this sounds like standard 1970s police television stuff. But the script by Jerome Coopersmith includes some dark humor mixed with sudden, brutal violence. For example, the hood abruptly shoots his bag man to death while the latter desperately tries to explain how the Lovejoys ripped him off. A thug asks Walters, “Hey Charlie, what if he was tellin’ the truth?…Supposin’ he was?” Charlie’s response? Without a hint of remorse he says, “Then I just made a terrible mistake.”

The score by Morton Stevens reflects the changing mood of the story. He has a “Lovejoys theme” that sounds very light but the music turns frantic as both crooks and the law (led by Five-O’s Steve McGarrett, of course) get closer to the family.

Griffith plays Lovejoy as a sort of darker, amoral Andy Taylor. He evokes his famous role without copying it. He may have gotten some help from director Bob Sweeney, who had helmed 80 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show from 1960 to 1963. Sweeney was supervising producer on Five-O during seasons four through seven and directed several episodes during that time.

The Lovejoys attempt to pull another con.


The 007 connections? With Five-O you start out with Jack Lord the first screen Felix Leiter in Dr. No. But another familiar face briefly shows up: Harold Sakata (sans his Oddjob hat), who plays a thug for another hood who’s a rival of Charlie’s. Sakata gets a couple of lines. Nothing memorable but more than, “Ah ah!” as he got to say in Goldfinger.

Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary: advertisers cash in

We were actually done with our series about Goldfinger’s 45th anniversary when we were reminded how advertisers cashed in on the third James Bond film.

For example, there was this Butterfinger commercial. (Thanks to the Rap Sheet blog for pointing this one out)

And don’t forget how Harold Sakata, who played Oddjob, was able to pick up some extra income kind of reprising the role for Vicks 44:

Happy anniversary, Goldfinger.