On Superman’s 80th, a few 007 connections

Christopher Reeve (right) with Roger Moore during filming of Octopussy.

This week marks the 80th anniversary of the introduction of Superman. DC Comics is out with Action Comics No. 1,000 to celebrate the occasion

The thing is, there are some elements in common, thanks to how the Christopher Reeve Superman movies were made at Pinewood Studios, the long-time home to the James Bond film franchise.

So here’s a few of them. It’s not a comprehensive list and I’m sure there are many stunt performers who worked on both.

Geoffrey Unsworth: Unsworth (1914-1978) was a celebrated cinematographer, whose credits included Superman (1978) and Superman II (1981), much of which was photographed at the same time as the film movie. Unsworth’s credits also included 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Unsworth also had a James Bond connection. On Dec. 21, 1961, he photographed screen tests for actresses vying to play Miss Taro for Dr. No.

John Glen: Glen directed five James Bond films, 1981-89, after earlier editing and being second unit director on three 007 films. He was one of the second unit directors for the 1978 Superman film.

Stuart Baird: Baird was editor on the first Superman movie. He performed the same duties on Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012).

Alf Joint: A stunt performer on the Bond series, perhaps his most famous bit was in the pre-titles of Goldfinger as Capungo, who gets killed by Bond (Sean Connery). He was also a stunt coordinator on Superman.

Shane Rimmer:  He had small roles in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever while having a larger supporting role as a U.S. submarine captain in The Spy Who Loved Me. It also *sounds* like he does some voiceover work in the pre-titles of Live And Let Die as an agent who’s killed in New Orleans. (“Whose funeral is it?”)

He also played a NASA controller in Superman II. The IMDB listing for Superman III lists him as “State Policeman.” Truth be told, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen the movie, I can’t confirm.

Guy Hamilton: He directed four 007 films, two with Sean Connery and two with Roger Moore. He was signed to direct Superman but exited the project and replaced by Richard Donner.

(UPDATE 9:40 a.m., April 20): By popular demand, two more.

Tom Mankiewicz: The screenwriter of 1970s 007 films was credited as “creative consultant” in Superman and Superman II. He essentially rewrote the scripts, combining elements of very serious Mario Puzo drafts and much lighter drafts by David Newman and Leslie Newman.

Clifton James: The veteran actor, who played Sheriff J.W. Pepper in two Bond films, again played a sheriff in Superman II.

Skyfall’s Oscar campaign and its quirks

Daniel Craig, among those being suggested for consideration in Skyfall Oscar ads.

Skyfall’s Oscar campaign puts forth Daniel Craig “for your consideration” to Oscar voters.


Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer definitely are pressing to secure Oscar nominations for Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie. The studios are buying ads on entertainment news sites such as Deadline Hollywood, with rotating banner ads listing possible Oscar-worthy performers and crew “for your consideration.”

Perhaps the most detailed list in the Skyfall Oscar campaign is a list of suggested nominees on THE FILM’S OFFICIAL WEB SITE. It urges that Skyfall be considered for:

Best Picture (Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli; producers receive the Best Picture Oscar)

Best Director (Sam Mendes)

Best Adapted Screenplay (emphasis added, which we’ll discuss in a moment, Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan)

Best Actor (Daniel Craig); Best Supporting Actor (Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Albert Finney); Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench, Berenice Marlohe and Naomie Harris)

Various crew categories including cinematography (Roger Deakins), editing (Stuart Baird), original score (Thomas Newman) and song (Adele and Paul Epworth).

A few questions:

Adapted screenplay? Adapted from what? The on-screen credit reads, “Written by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and John Logan.” Generally, you use “written by” for an original screenplay, i.e. one not based on an existing novel, play, short story, etc.

It’s pretty well known that the writing crew took parts of Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun novels as a starting point, in particular Twice’s Chapter 21, an obituary of Bond written by M. But the movie’s credits don’t acknowledge this. It’s “Daniel Craig as Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007” in the main titles, but there’s no mention of other Fleming source material, unlike 2006’s Casino Royale, which mentioned Fleming twice, including the Casino Royale novel.

In the “old days,” the titles said “Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love,” or Goldfinger, Thunderball, etc. which implied it was based on a Fleming story. That was true even when chunks were thrown out, such as 1967’s You Only Live Twice or 1979’s Moonraker. This would be followed by a “Screenplay by” credit, which often implies adapting other source material.

“Screenplay by” can also be used for an original story that has been rewritten substantially such as “Screenplay by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade and Bruce Feirstein, Story by Neal Purvis & Robert Wade,” as in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. Purvis and Wade did the original screenplay, with Feirstein doing the final rewrite. (Dana Stevens also did drafts in-between but didn’t get a credit.)

Something similar happened with Skyfall: Purvis and Wade wrote the early drafts, then Logan was brought in to rewrite. But Skyfall’s writing credit is relatively streamlined compared with TWINE’s.

UPDATE: We went to the Web site of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the SPECIAL RULES FOR THE WRITING AWARDS but that wasn’t much help. It reads:

1.An award shall be given for the best achievement in each of two categories:

Adapted Screenplay

Original Screenplay

2.A Reminder List of all pictures eligible in each category shall be made available along with nominations ballots to all members of the Writers Branch, who shall vote in the order of their preference for not more than five productions in each category.
3.The five productions in each category receiving the highest number of votes shall become the nominations for final voting for the Writing awards.
4.Final voting for the Writing awards shall be restricted to active and life Academy members.

One possibility: even though Skyfall has an original story, the character of James Bond is adapted from another medium, so therefore Skyfall’s script is considered “adapted” by the academy.

UPDATE II: The writer’s branch of the academy is also known for being prickly about what’s eligible for an original screenplay award, sometimes ruling what seem like original scripts are adapted. CLICK HERE to view a story in The Wrap Web site about a 2010 example.

Berenice Marlohe or Berenice Lim Marlohe? The Oscar push again highlights the oddity of how the actress was billed one way in ads and another in the movie’s titles.

One editor or two? As we’ve noted before, Stuart Baird was listed as sole editor in Skyfall ads, but in the main titles it listed Baird and Kate Baird as editors, with Kate Baird’s name in smaller letters. Also (which we only caught on a subsequent viewing), Kate Baird is also listed as first assistant editor in the end titles.

Skyfall’s credit oddities

BĂ©rĂ©nice (Lim) Marlohe, unable to solve the mystery of the different Skyfall poster and movie credits, has a sip of Jameson’s.

So, Skyfall has been out for a few weeks and is about to become the highest-grossing James Bond movie of all time. But there are a couple of oddities that nobody has explained and, to be honest, almost no fans are talking about.

What are those? The odd differences in credits between the movie poster for the 23rd James Bond movie and the main titles of the film itself.

Exhibit A: Actress Berenice Marlohe. Or is it actress Berenice Lim Marlohe?

On the poster and regular advertisements (such as the one on page C13 of the national edition of The New York Times on Nov. 16), she’s billed as Berenice Marlohe. But, in the main titles designed by Daniel Kleinman, she is listed as Berenice Lim Marlohe. During the publicity buildup to Skyfall, she was also listed as Berenice Marlohe. Most people didn’t know she had a middle name until they saw the movie.

Exhibit B: the different film editing credit between movie poster and movie.

On the poster, it’s “STUART BAIRD A.C.E.” (That’s American Cinema Editors to you civilians.) The movie? Something a bit different. It says “Editors” (plural) and lists Stuart Baird in BIG LETTERS with a second name, Kate Baird in small letters.

Kate Baird’s IMDB.com entry doesn’t list any specific relationship to 65-year-old Stuart Baird. Kate Baird was also as assistant editor on 2006’s Casino Royale, where Stuart Baird was the editor.

Meanwhile, this arrangement in the main titles seems to be something of a first for the Bond series. A number of 007 films has two or three credited film editors (Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun and Quantum of Solace among them). But with those 007 films, the name of the editors were all in the same size of type.

So, did Kate Baird do more work than an assistant editor (thus meriting a place in the main titles) but perform substantially less than Stuart Baird (thus accounting for her name being smaller)? While this is trivial, agents spends lots of time and effort negotiating these details concerning the credits of major movies.

One final note, that’s not an oddity but is worth mentioning. Gregg Wilson, the son of Michael G. Wilson, the 70-year-old co-boss of Eon Productions, got a promotion on Skyfall. The younger Wilson’s title on Quantum of Solace was assistant producer (his on-screen credit appeared with four other credits) while it was associate producer on Skyfall (sharing the screen with only one other name).

Presumably, this is an indication Gregg Wilson is positioning himself among the next generation of the Wilson-Broccoli clan for a bigger role in the future.

007 homages in Angelina Solie’s Salt

The big movie opening this weekend is the U.S. is Salt with Angelina Jolie. We haven’t seen it yet, but those who have are noting various James Bond homages.

A.O. Scott, film critic for The New York Times (whose review you can read by CLICKING HERE) provides this comment:

Not that “Salt” matters much. Despite an overlay of geopolitics, the movie is as loud and empty as James Newton Howard’s score, which I don’t mean entirely in a bad way. The music does what it needs to do to amplify and inflect the action, while also paying subtle sonic homage to the brassy Bond-style soundtracks of the past.

Meanwhile, one Times readers posting comments to Scott’s review notes an early scene (Salt being tortured in North Korea) is similar to Pierce Brosnan’s 007 farewell Die Another Day. Another reader posted a comment that compared Salt and Bond in some detail.

And in the comments section of yesterday’s post on this weblog, Mark Henderson provides his own list of Salt-007 homages.

It should also be notes that Bond film veterans worked on the film. John Anderson’s review in The Wall Street Journal noted the work of one such crew member while not mentioning his work on 007 films:

Watching Ms. Jolie do her own acrobatics, under the direction of her longtime stunt coordinator Simon Crane, is a kick, especially in an era when our knowledge of special effects have so diluted the vicarious thrills of high-wire moviemaking.

Crane has done similar duties on Bond films and shows up in some of the documentaries on 007 film DVDs. You can read Anderson’s review by CLICKING HERE.

Salt was photographed by Robert Elswit, who performed the same duties on Tomorrow Never Dies and one of the editors is Stuart Baird, who edited 2006’s Casino Royale.