Bond researcher analyzes new SPECTRE trailer

James Chapman as he appeared on the BBC

James Chapman as he appeared on the BBC

This week, the first regular trailer for SPECTRE came out. So, the U.K. MIRROR newspaper asked 007 researcher and academic author James Chapman to analyze it.

Chapman wrote Licence to Thrill, a 2000 book that analyzed the James Bond film series up until that time. It was deeply researched, with extensive footnotes that detail the sources of the information included. It’s one of the Spy Commander’s go-to sources for checking out 007 movies of the past.

Here’s a non-spoiler quote from Chapman from the Mirror story: “The Spectre trailer suggests that the film will combine aspects of the classic Bond movies of the 1960s with a modern twist.”

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE. There aren’t any serious spoilers, but the super spoiler adverse (such as those who consider movie trailers to be spoilers) should avoid.

SPECTRE will be released in October in the U.K. and Nov. 6 in the United States.

Aging in James Bond movies

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

Skyfall director Sam Mendes this month said his 007 film was the first Bond adventure “where characters were allowed to age.” But was it really?

In 2000, author James Chapman made an observation about the opening of 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. At the start of the film, Roger Moore’s Bond visits the grave of his late wife, Tracy. Her headstone gives her year of death as 1969, the year On Her Majesty’s Secret Service came out.

What is unusual, however is not that the film refers back to Bond’s wife…but that it should do so in such a temporally precise way. The dates on the gravestone place the Bond of For Your Eyes Only as being twelve years older than the Bond of OHMSS. Assuming that Bond is usually taken to be in his late thirties, then the Bond of For Your Eyes Only would therefore be approaching fifty. In this sense, the film brings Bond roughly in line with Roger Moore’s own age (he was fifty-three when the film was released) and works better for Moore than it would likely have done for a younger, incoming actor.

Licence to Thrill, Columbia University Press, page 207

Chapman, interacting with fellow 007 fans on Facebook, also mentioned how Desmond Llewelyn’s Q aged. In The World Is Not Enough, he refers to his upcoming retirement and gives Bond a piece of advice before the agent departs on his mission. It would be the last time Llewelyn’s Q would be seen. The actor died after the film was released in the fall of 1999.

This wasn’t the first time such a notion had been considered. In Bruce Feirstein’s first draft script for what would become Tomorrow Never Dies, Q is retired. He has been succeeded by a man named Malcolm Saunders. Q even got a retirement gift from the CIA.

However, later in the Feirstein draft, Q interrupts his retirement to help Bond out. In the final version of Tomorrow Never Dies, there is no hint about a Q retirement.

Finally, while it’s not part of the Eon Productions series, 1983’s Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery returning as Bond, embraced the older Bond concept.

Arguably, though, Mendes’ Bond film addressed the aging issue the most of a 007 story.

Variations of the line sometimes, the old ways are best were repeated. Mendes, in various interviews, quoted himself as telling Daniel Craig before production started that “you’ll have to play this at close to your own age.” Also, Roger Deakins, the movie’s director of photography, seemed to highlight every wrinkle on Judi Dench’s face in some closeups.

UPDATE: Some other examples of aging in the pre-Mendes Bond universe:

–Connery, in a 1971 article in True magazine, indicated he wanted to play an older Bond in Diamonds are Forever. He said how immortality “isn’t anyone’s, not yours, not mine and not James Bond’s.” The article also referenced how Connery would have preferred to portray a balding Bond.

–Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny, in Octopussy, says “as I used to be?” when Moore’s Bond talks about how lovely her new assistant is. Of course, this changed when the part was recast in The Living Daylights.

–In Licence to Kill, David Hedison tells his wife that Bond had been married “a long time ago,” in a reference that’s not as specific as the one in For Your Eyes Only.

Licence to Thrill author to be interviewed Nov. 10

UPDATE II (Nov. 12): WJR apparently only made part of the 007 segment available on The Warren Pierce Show part of its Web site. Pierce also talked to a movie critic about Skyfall, but the podcast ends there and Chapman isn’t included.

James Chapman, author of Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films, is scheduled to be interviewed on Detroit radio station WJR at 6:10 a.m. on Nov. 10.

The book was published in 2001 and is meticulously researched, with 25 pages of footnotes and drawing on various sources, including draft screenplays. Chapman likely will be asked about Skyfall, which debuts at U.S. theaters this weekend.

WJR, on the AM dial, is a clear-channel station (meaning it doesn’t lower it lower its signal at night) and can be heard well outside Detroit. After the braodcast, the interview will be available on the Web page of WJR’s WARREN PIERCE SHOW.

UPDATE: Also out of the Motor City, Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau has 007: LICENSED TO DRIVE, a look at 50 years of Bond cars. An excerpt:

“The Broccolis were good to work with,” recalls Ford marketing executive Samantha Hoyt, who handled the negotiations with the producers. But, she quickly adds, “They were tough negotiators (who) really believed in the value of their franchise. They expect a lot from their partners, but the films deliver. Looking back, it was worth the investment and it gave us six months of global coverage as the film launched around the world.”

On 007’s 50th, will Harry Saltzman be the forgotten man?

This week, the official 007.com Web site added some new features, including this greeting from Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions:

At the 0:22 mark, Wilson says, “Cubby Broccoli made Dr. No, the first Bond film, in 1962.” Albert R. Broccoli did indeed produce the film with his then-partner Harry Saltzman. Now, Wilson is Broccoli’s stepson and our guess is this isn’t an intention dig at Saltzman, who exited the series in 1975 and died in 1994. It is, after all, a 45-second video, not a definitive history. But it may be a sign that in 2012, the year of the cinema Bond’s 50th anniverary, Saltzman may end up being overlooked.

When Saltzman’s name comes up today, the image is of a cranky, volatile man who almost axed the classic Goldfinger title song, ordered elephant shoes for a movie (The Man With the Golden Gun) that didn’t have any elephants in it, etc., etc. At least one film historian, Adrian Turner, took a different view in his 1998 book, Adrian Turner on Goldfinger.

“To begin with, Saltzman took the responsibility for the scripts” of the early 007 films, Turner wrote. “Having worked with John Osborne, it’s clear he thought that Richard Maibaum — Broccoli’s man — was little more than a hack.” Obviously, that’s hardly a unanimous opinion of Maibaum. Still, Maibaum is quoted on page 100 in author James Chapman’s 2000 book Licence to Thrill as saying that Saltzman did bring in U.K. screenwriter Paul Dehn to do the later drafts of Goldfinger (the notes section of the book says the quote is from page 285 of a book called Backstory.)

We only bring this up to show that Saltzman’s contributions extended beyond being an eccentric crank. The Broccoli-Saltzman partnership wasn’t an easy one. Eventually, the pair largely alternated producing the films while both were listed as producers. Saltzman primarily responsible for Live And Let Die (though Broccoli did visit the set in Louisiana and posed for a photograph with Saltzman and star Roger Moore) while The Man With the Golden Gun was Broccoli’s picture.

The Broccoli-Wilson clan, now headed by Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, has supervised the 007 series since 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Nobody is suggesting that Cubby Broccoli wasn’t a master showman, who deserves a lot of credit for launching Bond on the screen. Still, it would be a shame if Saltzman ends up being the forgotten man as fans look back on a half century of 007 films.

Also, here’s a shoutout to Dell Deaton, who blogs about James Bond watches. A tweet of his got us to thinking about all this.

From Russia With Love: When Ian Fleming met Len Deighton (sort of)

While paging through a few 007 reference works recently, we came upon this gem: that Len Deighton had a whirl at writing a James Bond screenplay. But not just any script. No, he attempted to adapt From Russia With Love, the 1963 film considered by many 007 fans sd one of the best Bond movies ever.

OK, this gets a little complicated. The book we saw this was Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films by James Chapman, published in 2000. In turn, Chapman quotes Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood’s Golden Age, a 1986 book edited by Pat McGilligan.

In any event, the source of all this is none other than 007 screenwriter Richard Maibaum, the sole credited screenwriter of From Russia With Love (though Johanna Harwood got a vague “adapted by” credit). Maibaum said the following:

On From Russia With Love, they had Len Deighton start, and he did about thirty-five pages; but it wasn’t going anywhere, so they brought me in. I did the screenplay and got a solo credit on it. Johanna Harwood got an adaptation credit, because she worked some with the director, Terence Young, and made several good suggestions. I was a little put out that she was given an adaptation credit because I don’t think she deserved it, but there are always politics in these things.

Deighton, of course, wrote the novels that became the basis of the Harry Palmer films of the 1960s, that were produced by 007 co-producer Harry Saltzman. Saltzman, in turn, hired Bond veterans such as John Barry, Peter Hunt, Guy Hamilton and Maurice Binder to work on the Palmer films.

Over on the Mister 8 Web site, there’s an article that discusses other ties between Ian Fleming and Len Deighton and you can read it by CLICKING HERE.