About those 007 poster oddities

One of the Moonraker posters

I was listening to a new episode of James Bond & Friends (one where I don’t appear so this is not me stroking my own ego) and discussion moved to Moonraker posters.

The question was raised why some actors (Michael Lonsdale and Richard Kiel in this case) have their character names mentioned while others (Lois Chiles and Corinne Clery) did not.

The answer is: That’s often the result of negotiations between agents, studios and lawyers. Normally, every credit is subject to such review.

In fact, things get more complicated than that. For example, there’s A View To a Kill. Look at this poster:

A View to a Kill’s poster

Christopher Walken played the movie’s lead villain, Max Zorin. But “after the title,” Walken’s name was the fourth listed after Tanya Roberts, Grace Jones and Patrick Macnee. But Walken’s name, at least on many poster, was in a box.

Yet, when it came time to put together A View to a Kill’s end titles, Walken’s name suddenly was ranked No. 2 behind Roger Moore.

Years earlier, there was a preliminary poster for The Spy Who Loved Me. After the title, it had Curt Jurgens first while saying the movie was “introducing” Barbara Bach.

CLIP TO EMBIGGIN
A preliminary version of the poster for The Spy Who Loved Me

But in the final version, Barbara Bach got the No. 2 billing while Curt Jurgens came after (with “as Stromberg”). The poster also lost the “Assistant to the Producer Mike Wilson” credit. Wilson would be back on the Moonraker poster (with a new title, executive producer, and an expanded name, Michael G. Wilson.) He’s been on all the Eon-made Bond posters since as either executive producer, screenwriter or producer.

The version below of Spy’s poster may have been from a re-release given the “MGM/UA” studio credit.

The Spy Who Loved Me poster

UPDATE: Reader Gary J. Firuta passes along a couple of other poster credits tidbits.

With Goldfinger, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman alternated their “present” and “produced by” credits on the poster. Broccoli is listed first for “present” while Saltzman is first for “produced by.”

With You Only Live Twice, Sean Connery is the only member of cast referenced (“Sean Connery Is James Bond”).

About that ‘James Bond knockoff’ thing

A James Bond Jr. character with a pencil communicator that looks a lot like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. pen communicator

A James Bond friend of mine misses much spy entertainment as examples of “James Bond knockoffs.”

OK. But the James Bond film franchise has, more than once, borrowed from others. A few examples:

From Russia With Love: Ian Fleming’s fifth novel didn’t include a sequence where Bond dodges a helicopter. This was something the filmmakers added to the movie to add visual excitement. Clearly, it’s an “homage” to North by Northwest where a crop-duster plane goes after Cary Grant.

More broadly, the Bond series owes a lot to North by Northwest. NxNW has a delicate balance of drama and humor. Director Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman practically provide a blueprint for the Bond series that Eon Productions would go on to make.

Live And Let Die: The eighth Eon Bond film is based on Fleming’s second novel. But its popularity also owes much to the early 1970s “blaxplotation” craze. Essentially director Guy Hamilton and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz drop Bond into the middle of a blaxplotation movie. Mankiewicz wanted to cast Diana Ross as Solitaire but Eon wouldn’t go that far.

The Man With The Golden Gun: The ninth Eon Bond film sought to take advantage of the popularity of 1970s kung fu movies. You’d see stories (ahead of the film’s release) about how Roger Moore was training furiously to credibly do martial arts.

Moonraker: In 1966, there was an Italian-based spy movie called Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. It shares Brazilian locations with 1979’s Moonraker. Heck, you could easily argue the 1966 movie makes better use of Brazil, including Rio’s massive Jesus statue. Also, there are sequences of the 1966 movie that would practically be repeated in Moonraker.

In addition to all that, in Moonraker, we hear a key tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Licence to Kill: Bond has a gun with attachments (site, extended barrel, extended magazine, rifle stock) that looks an awfully lot like the U.N.C.L.E. special. In Licence to Kill, the base gun looks like a camera but all the attachments look like the attachments of the U.N.C.L.E. Special.

James Bond Jr.: Many fans disavow this early 1990s cartoon series. But it was officially sanctioned by Eon and Michael G. Wilson shares a “developed by” credit. In episode 9, “The Eiffel Missile,” a character has a pencil communicator that appears copied from U.N.C.L.E.’s pen communicator that debuted in the second season of that series.

William P. Cartlidge, crew member on 3 Bonds, dies

William P. Cartlidge (1942-2021)

William P. Cartlidge, a key crew member on three James Bond films directed by Lewis Gilbert, has died at 78, His death was noted by the “Sir Roger Moore (Legacy)” Twitter account maintained by the assistant of the late actor.

Cartlidge was assistant director on You Only Live Twice (1967) and associate producer on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).

Cartlidge was an entertaining presence on the home video documentaries about the making of those Bond films. For example, he described how many cars were needed to make the submarine car sequence in The Spy Who Loved Me work. In some cases, one car was needed to capture just one shot.

Also, in another video, Cartlidge described how he attempted to talk down the price of the stunt crew. It didn’t work. In all of those videos, he tells his anecdotes in an entertaining way.

Titles on films and TV shows often don’t describe a crew member’s full contributions. In the case of three Bond films he worked, Cartlidge assisted sprawling productions get completed.

According to Cartlidge’s IMDB.COM ENTRY, his other credits included such diverse projects as the Gilbert-directed Educating Rita (as co-producer) and Not Quite Paradise (sharing the producer credit with Gilbert).

More affordable merch from 007 Store

“I really don’t care. Do u?”

At this point, complaining about expensive James Bond merchandise is almost beyond the point. It’s clear that Eon Productions has a bias toward expensive licensed merch — outrageously priced backgammon sets, replica Aston Martin DB cars that can’t be driven on the street, etc.

Nevertheless, on social media today, a new Moonraker hoodie (price of 150 British pounds, or more than $205) caught some attention.

The hoodie includes an image of a Moonraker publicity still of Roger Moore in a space suit (never seen in the film). The image includes a garish typeface apparently meant to resemble handwriting. “Am I properly dressed for the occasion?”

It’s tempting to reply: “I don’t really care. Do u?”

Still, the entry on the 007 Store has the usual hype.

Introducing an exclusive 007 collaboration with luxury Italian streetwear brand Throwback.

The 007 x Throwback collection features hoodies and t-shirts paying tribute to iconic moments from Bond on-screen. Each design features original artwork by Italian digital artist Gianpiero, who has reimagined and enhanced classic images from the Bond Archive using iconic movie quotes from the series. A production anecdote from each film is printed on the back of each garment, giving further insight into the 007 world. 

If that’s higher than you care to pay, you may want to buy six pencils with Bond film quotes for just 14.95 British pounds (roughly $20.50). Of course, if you actually write with the pencils, you’ll grind the quotes away as you sharpen them.

Spy entertainment in memoriam

In the space of 12 months — Dec. 18, 2019 to Dec. 18, 2020 — a number of spy entertainment figures passed away. The blog just wanted to take note. This is not a comprehensive list.

Dec. 18, 2019: Claudine Auger, who played Domino in Thunderball (1965), dies.

Jan. 8, 2020: Buck Henry, acclaimed screenwriter and co-creator of Get Smart (with Mel Brooks), dies.

Feb. 8, 2020: Anthony Spinner, veteran writer-producer, dies. His credits include producing the final season of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and a 1970s version of The Saint.

Feb. 8, 2020: Robert Conrad, star of The Wild Wild West and A Man Called Sloane, dies.

March 8, 2020: Actor Max von Sydow dies. His many credits playing a villain in Three Days of the Condor (1975) and Blofeld in Never Say Never Again (1983).

April 5, 2020: Honor Blackman, who played Cathy Gale in The Avengers and Pussy Galore in Goldfinger (1964), dies.

Sept. 1, 2020: Arthur Wooster, second unit director of photography on multiple James Bond movies, dies.

Sept. 10, 2020: Diana Rigg, who played Emma Peel in The Avengers and Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), dies.

Sept. 21, 2020: Michael Lonsdale, veteran French actor whose credits included playing the villain Hugo Drax in Moonraker (1979), dies.

Oct. 5, 2020: Margaret Nolan, who was the model for the main titles of Goldfinger and appeared in the film as Dink, dies.

Oct. 31, 2020: Sean Connery, the first film James Bond, dies. He starred in six Bond films made by Eon productions and a seventh (Never Say Never Again) made outside Eon.

Dec. 12, 2020: David Cornwell, who wrote under the pen name John le Carre, dies. Many of his novels were adapted as movies and mini-series.

Dec. 18, 2020: Peter Lamont, who worked in the art department of many James Bond films, including production designer from 1981-2006 (excluding 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies), dies.

A modest proposal for a Moonraker video game

Moonraker teaser poster

On a Nov. 27 James Bond & Friends livestream, the discussion veered into the opinion of participants about which films might make a good video game.

I suggested Moonraker. It takes James Bond into outer space (a place many fans say Bond should never go). It was a big, sprawling film that lends itself to video games.

The movie also has a number of similarities to 1966’s Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. Since you’ve gone that far, why not adapt scenes from the earlier movie and provide Sony Corp. (parent company of Columbia, which released the 1966 film) a token payment.

For example, in a Moonraker video game, you could have a level where Jaws and other Hugo Drax henchmen chase Bond to the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Bond goes inside the statue, followed by the baddies. You could have a series of fights as Bond struggles to get to the top. Finally, Bond makes it. In comes Manuela, the local Rio operative from British Intelligence, flying a helicopter with a ladder dangling from it.

Bond gets on the ladder just in time as Jaws lunges for the agent. But Jaws only gets Bond’s shoe. Bond then smiles at Jaws (the way he did in The Spy Who Loved Me and in the film Moonraker) to taunt him. Jaws shakes his fist at the escaping Bond.

Another possibility would a proper sequence at Iguazu Falls. The location figures briefly into the movie but you don’t get a sense of the majesty of the place. Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die sets its title sequence at the falls and you get a better feel for the location.

Thus, with a Moonraker video game, another level would depict Bond with a mini-adventure at the falls.

Separately, Christopher Wood’s novelization for Moonraker had Bond doing a space walk to get from one place on Drax’s space station to another. Obviously, the could make an interesting level for a Moonraker video game.

Needless to say, these suggestions won’t be going anywhere. Consider them food for thought.

The nature of fandom

Daniel Craig as James Bond

The past few weeks have been rough for James Bond fans. They’ve witnessed the passing of key actors such as Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and Michael Lonsdale.

All three had long careers that extended beyond James Bond films. But some Bond fans say something to the effect that they represent OUR Pussy Galore, OUR Tracy, OUR Drax.

However, fans of The Avengers TV series might counter something like, yes but that’s OUR Cathy Gale or OUR Emma Peel.

This extends beyond Bond fandom.

I’ve seen some fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. say having an American and a Russian as partners was BIG AND BOLD.

Meanwhile, fans of the original I Spy television series counter that having a White and a Black man as equal partners was a lot more controversial in the U.S. in the 1960s.

Undoubtedly, there are many other examples. Many fans, though, don’t want to examine all that. They are concerned with their fandom. No more, no less.

No criticism is intended in any of this. It’s the way of the world. It’s also the nature of fandom.

Michael Lonsdale dies at 89

Michael Lonsdale as Hugo Drax in Moonraker

French actor Michael Lonsdale, who played the lead villain in 1979’s Moonraker, has died at 89, according to news accounts, including the BBC and France 24.

Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax wasn’t the scarred, bombastic villain of Ian Fleming’s third James Bond novel.

Rather, the Lonsdale version was cool, calm and prone to making droll remarks such as, “See that some harm comes to him,” as he orders a henchman to kill Bond.

The film Drax also liked to take digs at the English. In one scene, he refers to “afternoon tea” as the major English contribution to Western culture.

Moonraker was an English-French co-production. As a result, French actors were placed in a number of roles. The movie ended up being a big hit in the summer of 1979 as Roger Moore’s James Bond went into space for a final showdown with Drax.

Lonsdale’s career began in the mid-1950s and extended into the 21st century.

His English-language highlights included The Day of the Jackal (1973), where he played a detective on the trail of an assassin trying to kill French President Charles de Gaulle; The Name of the Rose (1986); Ronin (1998); and Munich (2005).

In 2010, The Wall Street Journal published a profile of the actor (be warned it’s behind a paywall). It was headlined, “A Gentle Screen Giant Subtly Shines.”

Here’s an excerpt concerning the actor’s versatility.

Mr. Lonsdale has played the gamut of religious roles —priests, abbots, cardinals, inquisitors—as well as countless aristocrats ranging from English lords to Louis XVI. Also a man of the theater, his circle of friends has included literary heavyweights like Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, whose works he performed on stage in Paris in the 1960s. Perfectly bilingual, he moves easily between the bizarre shoe salesman in François Truffaut’s “Stolen Kisses” and the campy bearded villain in the James Bond classic, “Moonraker.”

Revisiting Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (Moonraker ’66)

American agent Kelly (Mike Connors) and British agent Susan Fleming (Dorothy Provine) compare notes in Kiss the Girls and Make The Die

Back in 2008, the blog noted the remarkable similarities between Kiss the Girls and Makes Them Die (1966) and Moonraker (1979).

This week, for the first time in a long time, I had a chance to watch the earlier movie. So here’s a more complete list of similarities.

Homages to Goldfinger and Thunderball: To be clear, Kiss the Girls takes a few cues from Goldfinger and Thunderball.

The villain, industrialist Mr. Ardonian (Raf Vallone) talks the Chinese into helping him. The Chinese supply the rocket from which Ardonian which launch a satellite that will zap the U.S. with radiation that causes men to lose interest in sex. From the Chinese standpoint, this will ensure the U.S. loses its position as the leading world superpower.

That’s similar to how Auric Goldfinger talked the Chinese into supplying him with an atomic bomb as part of his Fort Knox plan.

Except, Ardonian electrocutes a delegation of Chinese officials as part of a double-cross. That’s because Ardonian wants to expose all countries to the radiation. This evokes both Goldfinger (the villain double-crossing the gangsters who were helping him out) and Thunderball (similar to the SPECTRE board meeting where just one person was electrocuted).

There are also a number of “animated sets,” inspired by what Ken Adam designed for the two Bond films.

But there are a number of examples of where how Kiss the Girls reached territory before Bond.

Dorothy Provine’s title card in Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die

Rio: Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die’s only location shooting was in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. That meant shots of Iguazu Falls (for the main titles), Brazilian Carnival and the Christ the Redeemer statue (the latter not really utilized for Moonraker).

“Sit!”: British agent Susan Fleming, being chased by a large dog of Ardonian’s, turns and yells at him, “Sit!” The dog complies. This is similar to what James Bond (Roger Moore) did with a tiger in Octopussy.

Villain’s plot: Ardonian feels the Earth is headed toward an environmental disaster. So he plans to head off overpopulation with his plan. Meanwhile, he is putting beautiful women into suspended animation. When the time comes, he will repopulate the Earth.

This is pretty similar to Moonraker where Drax plans to kill everybody on Earth while his “orbiting stud farm” eventually repopulates the Earth.

A pair of agents: Eventually American agent Kelly (Mike Connors) and Susan Fleming (Dorothy Provine) join forces after a bit of conflict.

This is pretty similar to how British agent James Bond (Moore) joins forces with American agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) join forces in Moonraker after a bit of conflict.

Billboards for product placement: Susan Fleming’s tricked-out Rolls Royce, driven by her chauffeur (Terry-Thomas) has a camouflage device. Panels come out from the bottom of the car, move up to the side and extend to look like a billboard for Bulova watches.

Moonraker didn’t have a tricked-out car. But it had billboards for British Airways, Seiko 7-Up and Marlboro as part of its Rio sequence.

The blog’s complicated feelings about Moonraker

Moonraker teaser poster

This week, I participated in an upcoming episode of the James Bond & Friends podcast where everybody watched Moonraker and commented about it in real time.

Afterward, I reflected on my own conflicted feelings about the 11th James Bond film.

When Moonraker came out in the summer of 1979, I was all in. The Spy Who Loved Me two years earlier had re-energized the franchise. Producer Albert R. Broccoli promised he was going all out with his next effort.

When the movie came out, Broccoli delivered. It even got favorable reviews from The New York Times (Vincent Canby wrote it was “one of the most buoyant Bond films”) and Time magazine, which likened Broccoli to the proverbial Jewish mother who doesn’t let anyone go away hungry. And it was a big hit.

Later, after the initial hit waned, I noted the lack of Fleming material in the movie. And, yes, that double-taking pigeon was a reminder the movie went for comedy in places.

I probably felt the lowest toward the movie in the 2000s. I was a contributor to the now-offline site Her Majesty’s Secret Servant. The site asked its contributors to rank all the movies up through 2006’s Casino Royale. We were also asked to write some remarks and mine about Moonraker were pretty tough.

Since then, my opinions toward the movie have mellowed. Here in the 21st century, there’s been a lot of bad news, including two major financial recessions a decade apart. Escapist entertainment, such as Moonraker, looks a lot better now. I appreciate it a lot more for what it is.

My stock line about Moonraker is, whatever you think of it, is it’s not pretentious. That’s not true of all Bond films.

Also, at this point, we have 25 Bond films from Eon Productions. The fact we can’t see the 25th (because of the release delay because of COVID-19) is another indicator of just how the 21st century has a lot of bad news.

That’s yet another reason why escapist entertainment like Moonraker is better appreciated.