007 Magazine has new issue available for sale

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine has a new issue available for sale.

Stories include a summary of what’s known so far about Skyfall, the 23rd 007 film; a feature about photographer Terry O’Neill; the first of a four-part series by Robert Sellers about the six actors who won the role of Bond and those who came up short; and a look at the parallels between 1949’s The Third Man and 1987’s The Living Daylights.

(Two future Bond directors, Guy Hamilton and John Glen, worked on The Third Man. Bernard Lee was in the cast of The Third Man and both films were set in Vienna.)

For more information, CLICK HERE. The price is 9.99 British pounds, $15.99 or 11.99 euros, depending on where you live.

A View To a Kill, a reappraisal

If there ever were a James Bond movie that suffered from a split personality, it would be A View To a Kill, the 14th entry in the series produced by Eon Productions.

The 1985 007 film is not a favorite of HMSS editors. It was Roger Moore’s seventh, and final, appearance as Bond. A good many HMSS editors never liked Moore to begin with and weren’t about to cut him any slack. The actor was 56 when filming began and he’d celebrate his 57th birthday during production. But upon viewing the movie again, the future Sir Roger is the least of the movie’s problems.

How’s that? Well, Moore soldiers on despite the movie’s wildly uneven tone. Want a serious Bond? He does what the story calls for. Want a jokey Bond? The actor delivers. He gets the blame from fans for the uneven tone but that blame probably belongs elsewhere. Was he too old to play Bond? Easy to say in hindsight, but Moore didn’t hire himself. Perhaps it was a reward for 1983’s Octopussy doing better box office than the rival Never Say Never Again.

The pre-titles sequence, set in Siberia, is a microcosm of what follows. Some moments seem absolutely brilliant, with tension, drama and great stunts. Then the movie abruptly switches to slapstick, with Bond escaping Soviet soldiers, accompanied by a Beach Boys song (without the Beach Boys performing it). Then, we’re back to tense excitement as Bond gets out of his precarious situation followed by a light, if cheesy, moment.

The rest of the movie more or less follows this pattern. We get some yuks as Bond and Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) pose a vapid rich guy and his valet to infiltrate a horse auction held by villain Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). When Sir Godfrey ends up as the movie’s sacrifical lamb, Bond appears genuinely upset and PO’d with Zorin, looking like he really wants to kill the bad guy. Later, Bond and heroine Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) narrowly escape a Zorin deathtrap it’s appropriately tense (though Roberts’s screaming can be annoying). That’s followed up by a bad joke that breaks the fourth wall which also implies Stacey and a San Fancisco police captain know all about the famous James Bond. “Yeah and I’m Dick Tracy and you’re still under arrest!” the police captain says. And so on.

It’s almost as if director John Glen, with his third consecutive 007 outing, decided to, at times, channel Jules White, who helmed many of the classic short films of The Three Stooges. But at others, the movie takes on a very dark tone. One example: when Zorin and right-hand man Scarpine (Patrick Bauchau) gun down a work crew the villain has hired as part of his plot. It’s as if Glen, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Wilson couldn’t quite find the right mix of drama and humor so they opted to go extremes both ways.

Walken, as Zorin, also reflects the odd back-and-forth tone. At times, he seems like a true psychopath, at others as if he knows it’s a big joke and he’s playing along. Walken is a wonderful actor. Still, we’re also told that Zorin is French and speaks five languages without an accent. Then it’s revealed he’s the result of a genetic experiment held in a German concentration camp during World War II. Yet, we only hear Zorin speak in English with a Brooklyn accent. “MO-ah! Mo-ah POW-ah!” he proclaims after Bond has enared Zorin’s blimp at the Golden Gate Bridge in the film’s climax.

John Barry is the one member of the creative team who performs at his best. The composer, scoring consecutive 007 films for the first time since 1969 and 1971 (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever), does his best to elevate the proceedings and succeeds. Even when action sequences get too jokey at times, his music keeps things moving. If you ever hear somebody claim say that underscore in a movie doesn’t matter, A View To a Kill is Exhibit A that the opposite is true.

The movie was an end of an era. Besides Moore’s final 007 appearance, it was also the finale for Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny and she’s fine. Desmond Llewelyn’s Q reports for duty. In one shot in the final scene, he goes a bit over the top with a leering expression and askew headset, but that’s what his director presumably wanted. (“Desmond, as you do this scene, I want you to look like Curly Howard seeing a naked beautiful woman for the first time!”)

Finally, there’s an in-joke for those familiar with the business side of 007. Bond, desperately holding onto a rope attached to a blimp, has his manhood imperiled by the top of the Transamerica Building in San Francisco. That structure was home to the conglomerate that formerly owned United Artists, the studio that released Bond films. Transamerica dumped UA, selling it to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after the movie Heaven’s Gate bombed at the box office.

With A View To a Kill, there are times it’s as if a classic James Bond movie is fighting to get out. There are flashes here and there, but the film never escapes its wildly inconsistent tone. Life’s that way sometimes. Mo-ah POW-ah, indeed.

007 questions about Bond 24

The past month has seen a blitz of stories on entertainment Web sites, U.K. newspapers and other outlets about Skyfall. The stories spurred us to think ahead about where the 007 film series goes from here.

“Questions about Bond 24? We’re still filming this one!”


001. Is Sam Mendes coming back to direct Bond 24? You could rephrase the question, “Is (NAME HERE) coming back to direct Bond (XX)?” The series hasn’t had a director do consecutive movies since John Glen did five in a row in the 1980s. Since Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli assumed control, only Martin Campbell has directed two and they were separated by more than a decade (GoldenEye and Casino Royale). The others were all one and done.

002. If not Mendes, then who? Most likely a “prestige” director. Here’s a quote from Barbara Broccoli IN AN INTERVIEW IN COMINGSOON.NET

We’ve always wanted a director that would put a stamp on the movie, so we’ve never been one to hire directors for hire.

It wasn’t always that way with the Bond series. Terence Young, who helmed three of the first four 007 films, and Guy Hamilton (four in total) were directors for hire. Peter Hunt was a rookie director as was John Glen, both promoted from being second unit directors. But that was Albert R. Broccoli’s Eon, not the current version.

003. Come on. Isn’t this an upgrade in quality? Check back with us after Skyfall. Marc Forster was a prestige hire. In our view that hire didn’t work out so well. (To read an opposing view, CLICK HERE to read an essay by Paul Rowlands.) “Directors for hire” turned out Bond movies such as From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Pedigree doesn’t guarantee a great movie.

004. Is Daniel Craig coming back? Michael G. Wilson has talked about trying to get Craig to do eight movies eventually. If someone were dealing tarot cards, we’d guess they’d indicate Craig would be back for at least one more film. Whether Craig makes it to eight depends in part on another question….

005. Will Bond 24 really come out in 2014? Sony (which is releasing Skyfall and Bond 24 in a deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) says yes. MGM is counting on an every-other-year for Bond movies. Eon hasn’t been heard from and Sony and MGM need Eon to actually produce the movies. Plus, there are some scenarios we see where Bond 24 would come out later than 2014.

006. Such as? Hypothetical situation: Sam Mendes does come back as director. The Collider Web site ran a transcript of a group interview Mendes gave about Skyfall. Here’s a quote that caught our eye:

But, it’s fair to say that there’s no screenplay that wouldn’t be improved by having a year more to work on it. There’s always trying to find ways, different interesting ways of telling a story.

That doesn’t sound like a guy who’d rush things to meet an every-other-year schedule. Plus, one of the most consistent talking points from Skyfall principals is how the four-year gap between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall turned out well because there was more time to work on the script. Two years sounds like a lot of time until you consider principal photography alone takes six months or more.

007. Do you like playing spoil sport? No, and that’s not the purpose here. We’re just pointing out there’s a lot of uncertainty despite public announcements (i.e. Sony saying Bond 24 will be out in two years). And we’d rather have this type of uncertainty compared with 2010 when MGM was having financial troubles and going into bankruptcy court.

Will Sam Mendes get a `vanity credit’ for Skyfall?

On Nov. 3, Skyfall director Sam Mendes said, “Every decision is mine,” regarding the creative choices for the 23rd James Bond film. We were skeptical because Eon Productions isn’t known for granting directors complete autonomy. But this week’s news that Mendes was responsible for bringing in Thomas Newman as Skyfall’s composer, bumping David Arnold, is an indicator Mendes does have that kind of clout.

That got us to thinking about another question: will Mendes be the first director to get a “vanity credit” in an Eon-produced 007 film?

A vanity credit is essentially a way for a director to get his or her name in the titles twice: the normal “directed by” credit, plus another indicating it’s his or her film. A NAME HERE Film. A Film by NAME HERE. Sometimes they get more creative such as A Spike Lee Joint. Vanity credits have been around for decades, but since at least the 1960s have grown pretty common. The Writers Guild of America dislikes them strongly because, in the view of the union, vanity credits create “the false impression that the director is solely responsible for the film, this credit denigrates the contribution of writers and all others who contributed to the picture.”

One exception has been Eon’s 007 series, started in 1962. On the first 17 films, there was a vanity credit of either “Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman present” (first billing varying according to market) or “Albert R. Broccoli presents.” You could argue that for two of those films they weren’t vanity credits. Thunderball also had a Broccoli-Saltzman presents credit but they took no producer’s credit, yielding that to Kevin McClory. For GoldenEye, there was there was a Broccoli presents credit but, for health reasons, he had yielded the major producer duties to Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. In any event, on an Eon film, directors had to get by with their “Directed by” credit and that was it.

Never Say Never Again, the 1983 Bond film not part of Eon’s series, had a vanity credit for director Irvin Kershner. Meanwhile, Eon series veterans Terence Young, Guy Hamilton and John Glen all got at least one vanity credit each on post-007 films.

Mendes got “A Sam Mendes Film” credit with his two most feature films, Revolutionary Road and Away We Go. He also came on board Skyfall with an Oscar for best director for 1999’s American Beauty on his resume. Given Mendes’s clout (five-time 007 composer Arnold said on Twitter that Newman was Mendes’s choice), maybe Eon adjusts its credits to say Skyfall is “A Sam Mendes Film.” We’ll find out, probably when the first teaser trailer goes public.

007 Magazine’s new issue focuses on the Dalton era

Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine has a new issue on the short-lived Timothy Dalton era of Bond films. The publication looks at The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill.

For more information, YOU CAN CLICK HERE. The magazine costs 9.99 British pounds, $15.99 or 11.99 euros.

While it was only two films, the Dalton period was eventful. It included composer John Barry’s 007 finale (one of the articles in the magazine) and Licence’s box office numbers ($156 million worldwide, but less than $35 million in the U.S.) caused producer Albert R. Broccoli to re-evaluate his options. The co-founder of Eon Productions ended his long association with screenwriter Richard Maibaum and decided five 007 films was enough for director John Glen.

Broccoli also for a period considered a sale of his interest in Bond. But he opted against it. Instead, he ended up in a legal fight with the then-owners of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which then, as now, controls half of the franchise) and a six-year hiatus ensued. Licence was Broccoli’s last credit as producer of a Bond movie. He got the usual “Albert R. Broccoli presents” credit on GoldenEye, but stepson Michael G. Wilson and daughter Barbara Broccoli did the heavy lifting.

Dalton also divides 007 fans, with fans saying he comes closest to the literary Bond of Ian Fleming’s novels while detractors not caring for his portryal.

For Your Eyes Only’s 30th anniversary: 007 returns to earth

The James Bond film series ended the 1970s with one of its most extravagent entries, Moonraker, where James Bond went into outer space. For the first Bond film of a new decade, producer Albert R. Broccoli opted to bring the gentleman agent back down to earth in For Your Eyes Only.

Moonraker hadn’t used much of Ian Fleming. For Your Eyes Only would tap the plots of two Fleming short stories, For Your Eyes Only and Risico. Both had been published in the same 1960 collection of short stories by Fleming. Broccoli brought back screenwriter Richard Maibaum, who hadn’t been involved with Moonraker, to write the new movie. Broccoli collaborated with Broccoli’s stepson Michael G. Wilson on the script.

The pair invented a “McGuffin” to marry the two short story plots. A British submarine sinks equipped with a signaling device that, if it falls into the wrong hands, could be used to order U.K. submarines to attack U.K. cities. Naturally, KGB spymaster General Gogol covets the device and contacts “our usual friend in Greece” to secure it. As a result, For Your Eyes Only would have the strongest Cold War feel in the series since 1963’s From Russia With Love.

While Maibaum was back, other Bond crew veterans were not. John Barry didn’t score the film and Broccoli hired Bill Conti instead. The producer, instead of hiring a previous 007 film director, promoted second unit director/film editor John Glen. Ken Adam bid adieu to the series with Moonraker, so Broccoli promoted Peter Lamont as production designer.

With all the crew changes, though, Broccoli ended up bringing back Roger Moore to play Bond. By this time, Moore’s original Bond contract had expired and there were questions whether the actor would return for a fifth film. The film’s opening appears to have been written and shot to introduce a new Bond. 007 goes to visit the grave of his late wife Tracy from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. We don’t see Bond’s face until after he’s laid flowers atop the grave.

The film very much had a “back to basics” feel. Moore/Bond even throws a hat on the coatrack of Miss Moneypenny’s office, similar to Sean Connery in the early Bond movies. The MI6 cover name of Universal Exports was revived. The movie ended up being a blend of the familiar and new. Besides the crew changes, title designer Maurice Binder changed things up by having singer Sheena Easton actually appear in the main titles.

The one constant: For Your Eyes Only did well enough at the box office to ensure future Bond film adventures. Here’s the trailer that audiences saw in the summer of 1981:

Octopussy, a reappraisal

Octopussy, the 1983 James Bond film, doesn’t get love from some 007 fans, particularly those fans who first got the Bond habit from the Sean Connery films of the 1960s. That includes editors from our parent site, HMSS, where a survey of editors gave it no higher than a B letter grade, with mostly Cs and Ds.

Watching it again recently reminds us the film is hardly a lost cause. Granted, it doesn’t have much Ian Fleming content. The author’s Octopussy short story provides the backstory of the movie’s female lead (Maud Adams). An auction scene, is based on another short story, The Property of a Lady.

Still, there are sequences that evoke Fleming. The best example is a sequence right after the main titles, set in East Berlin, where a double-O agent attempts to pass along vital information.

For star Roger Moore, who was 54 when filming began in the summer of 1982, Octopussy was an opportunity. Under other circumstances, Eon Productions might hired a new Bond. Indeed, Eon did screen test American James Brolin for the Bond role.

But going into production, Eon knew it was going to have 007 competition in the form of Never Say Never Again, a Thunderball remake starring Sean Connery. Eon eventually concluded this wasn’t the time for a new actor and brought Moore back. And the “Battle of the Bonds” was underway.

Some actors may have wilted under such pressure. But Moore seems to be thriving. The actor exhibits a kind of cockiness, a confidence that he knows exactly what he’s doing. He out-cheats Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) is a game of backgammon. He later seems to be having a great time fighting off Kamal’s thugs along with MI6 operative Vijay (Vijay Amritraj):

At the same time, when Vijay ends up being the film’s “sacrificial lamb,” Moore/Bond doesn’t laugh it off; he seems quite touched by the loss of a fellow agent. Up to that point, Bond and Vijay had demonstrated good chemistry. As a result, Vijay is one of the best “sacrificial lambs” of the Eon-produced series. Even after the character’s death, Bond is reminded of him while in Berlin. John Barry’s sad music adds to the scene without overpowering it.

Is Octopussy a perfect Bond adventure? No. Its comic elements get too strong at times, in particular a Tarzan yell Bond makes while being hunted in India by Kamal’s men. Later, he gets in and out of a gorilla suit impossibly quickly. Still, there is a sense of adventure, even joy at times. Sequences set in Germany, including an extended action sequence on a train with Bond constantly in peril, tend overall to be more serious than the ones set in India.

A viewer does get the impression that Eon, because of Never Say Never Again, pulled out the stops. At one point, both the two Bond films were scheduled to come out one week apart. Never Say Never Again, however, ended up delayed until the fall of 1983. But Eon had to assume Never would meet its original summer release date.

Octopussy was made by “journeymen” such as director John Glen and screenwriter Richard Maibaum (aided in this installment by George MacDonald Fraser and Michael G. Wilson). They didn’t have the critical acclaim of recent Eon hires. But, looking at it again, Octopussy is miles ahead of films such as Quantum of Solace, which featured a critically acclaimed director (Marc Forester) and an equally critically acclaimed writer, Paul Haggis. But you can actually tell what’s happening in the action sequences (something you can’t say about Quantum). Also, at times, Octopussy has an elegance about it, another aspect Quantum lacked.

For those who don’t like any 007 film with Roger Moore (which includes some of our staff), that’s not enough. For others, Octopussy is a Bond movie that’s easy to take for granted. It shouldn’t be, though. Bond films are harder than they look to make, something “prestige” hires such as Marc Forester and Paul Haggis, should have discovered by now.

Peter Yates, ‘Bullitt’ director, dies; had earlier directed Danger Man/Secret Agent

Peter Yates, best known as the director of 1968’s “Bullitt” with Steve McQueen, has passed away at age 81, according to an obituary at The Wrap Web site. Yates, though, had experience with spy stories, including episodes of the U.K. series “Danger Man,” shown in the U.S. as “Secret Agent.”

Bullitt is most famous for its car chase and a very good, understated performance by McQueen. Before getting a chance at that film, Yates helmed a number of episodes of Danger Man, with Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake. Here are some excerpts from one of the episodes he did. The episode was edited by John Glen, who directed five James Bond films in the 1980s.

Even earlier, in 1961, Yates was assistant director on “The Guns of Navarone,” set in World War II, a combination war/spy film. This clip includes the prologue (while excluding the narration) and the main titles with Dimitri Tiomkin’s magnificent theme music. That film also included photography by Oswald Morris, who finished up work as director of photogrpahy on The Man With The Golden Gun after Ted Moore fell ill.

007 press kits Part II: The Living Daylights

The Living Daylights had a relatively modest press kit but it had three stills compared to just one for Never Say Never Again. The stills consisted of: a photo of star Timothy Dalton, which was part of the main poster art; a closeup still of Dalton in a tuxedo, apparently from the Koskov/KGB defection sequence after the main titles; and a publicity shot of Dalton and co-star Maryam d’Abo, taken during shooting in Vienna.

In a biography of Dalton, we’re told:

One of Britain’s most distinguished stage and screen actors, Dalton was selected for the role of the world’s best known secret agent after an exhaustive worldwide search and montsh of speculation by the news media and the movie-going public.

“When I was about 25, Mr. Broccoli very kindly asked me if I’d be interested in taking over the role of James Bond from Sean Connery,” Dalton recalls. Frankly, I thought it would be a very stupid move — I considered myself too young and Connery too good. I was approached again several years later, but had already been asked to appear in ‘Flash Gordon.’ So when the schedules came back together this time, I was delighted to accept and embraced this film with a lot of joy and enthusiasm.”

In the main press release, the production team commented on Dalton:

“He’s different,” says Albert R. Broccoli, producer of all fifteen of the United Artists Bond films, “Timothy is a very physical Bond and tried to do most of his own stunts.” “Timothy Dalton is one of a kind — as were his predecessors,” agrees director John Glen. “He’s a fine actor and he shows great aptitude for the role. He’s athletic, enthusiastic, and a good sense of humor, all of which are essential for us.”

The latter comment is interesting, given that Dalton didn’t like delivering the trademark Bond quips, and his two films are criticized by some fans for being humorless at times. Then again, in press releases, the principals didn’t necessarily say what they’re quoted as saying. Often, the writer of the release drafts a statement and it’s sent to the executive or person involved for approval. So it’s possible, Glen was simply shown the quote and approved it, rather than actually saying it.

Because it was the 25th anniversary film, there is also a two-and-a-half page biography of Ian Fleming.

Creator of James Bond, the suave secret agent who changed the direction of both spy literature and motion picture history, Ian Fleming was renowned as a man of laughter, warmth and compassion — all the things the hero of his novels is not!

DGA magazine interviews living 007 directors

The quarterly magazine for the Directors Guild of America has an interview of the living Bond directors. The Double O Section blog has the cover and a summary RIGHT HERE.

One thing that had escaped our notice (sorry) was that one of those interview subjects is president of the DGA. To see what Michael Apted is up to these days, click RIGHT HERE.