TCM includes From Russia With Love in LA film festival

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TCM is including From Russia With Love, the second James Bond film, for the opening day of its DESTINATION HOLLYWOOD classic film festival on April 25-28.

TCM promotes the event as a way for “movie lovers from around the world can gather to experience classic movies as they were meant to be experienced: on the big screen, in some of the world’s most iconic venues, with the people who made them.”

With much of the cast and crew of Terence Young-directed From Russia With Love no longer with us, there won’t be a veteran of the Bond movie on hand for the April 25 showing at the Chinese Multiplex 1 in Hollywood at 9 p.m. local time. However, screenwriter Bruce Feirstein, who labored on three 1990s 007 films, will be part of the program, according to TCM.

Here’s part of the TCM DESCRIPTION OF THE MOVIE:

The second James Bond film contained a series of impressive firsts. It was the first of the series to feature Desmond Llewelyn as Q, the first scored entirely by John Barry, the first with a title song and the first to become a huge international success. With a tautly constructed plot, a witty script and two unforgettable villains (Lotte Lenya’s Rosa Klebb and Robert Shaw’s Red Grant), it’s little wonder it’s often hailed as among the best of the Bonds.

Festival passes RANGE FROM $249 TO $1,599 EACH. Individual movies can be seen FOR $20 EACH but tickets won’t be sold until just before show time (pass holders get seated first). According to TCM, “individual ticket seekers should be able to attend many of their desired screenings. We advise that you arrive a minimum of 30 minutes prior to the start time of your desired events to get in the stand-by line.”

You can view the festival schedule BY CLICKING HERE. You’ll first see the Thursday, April 25 schedule. Use the tabs at the top to check each day. You can CLICK HERE to see the list of films being show.

Thanks to Mark Henderson for pointing this out to us.

Two non-007 homages in Skyfall

Dude (Dean Martin) survives his moment of crisis in Rio Bravo

SPOILERS lie ahead if you haven’t seen Skyfall.

007 fans are comparing notes about Skyfall’s homages to past Bond movies. What’s not getting as much attention are homages to non-Bond films in the 23rd 007 entry.

First, there are Daniel Kleinman’s main titles include Daniel Craig’s James Bond shooting at mirrors. This appears to be an homage to Orson Welles and his 1948 film, The Lady From Shanghai. The movie wasn’t a commercial hit but gained attention over the years as noted in an article on TCM.COM. An excerpt:

Film critic Pauline Kael once pointed out that Welles’s contribution to the evolution of film language lay in his dramatizing the techniques of cinema. That is obvious in every frame of The Lady from Shanghai. Jump cuts in the editing, the almost Brechtian distancing effect of the stylized performances, the doubling of the film frame in the Chinese theater scene, the deep focus that disorients by giving far backgrounds equal weight with extreme close-ups, the use of optical devices ranging from water tumblers to windshields to (in the film’s most famous set pieces) aquarium glass and multiple mirrors – all of these serve to forefront the experience of watching cinema and to push the envelope of what is expected and permissible on screen. (emphasis added)

Mirrors have figured into set pieces in movies such as Blake Edwards’ Gunn (1967), Enter the Dragon (1973) and, appropriately enough, The Man With the Golden Gun (1974).

The other homage, intentional or not, is Howard Hawks’ 1959 Western, Rio Bravo. One of its main characters is Dude (Dean Martin), who has substance abuse problems (he’s an alcoholic) and has trouble shooting straight until, in a moment of crisis, it all comes together for him. There’s also a scene where an attractive woman (Angie Dickinson) shaves him with a straight razor.

In Skyfall, of course, Daniel Craig’s 007 has substance abuse problems (he’s been hitting the sauce pretty heavily while presumed dead), can’t shoot straight (he records sub-standard scores on the MI6 shooting range) and gets shaved by fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris). Like Dude, Craig’s Bond gets it together when he’s needed the most and is suddenly a crack shot.

Ironically, both Welles and Hawks have 007 ties. Welles was part of the cast in the 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale. Hawks in 1962 briefly considered directing a movie adaptation of Casino Royale until he saw an early print of Dr. No.

TCM to have an evening of the Other Spies on Jan. 24

Turner Classic Movies is having an evening of the “other” spies on Jan. 24, emphasizing lighter fare.

The evening starts at 8 p.m. New York time with In Like Flint (1967), the second of two James Coburn outings as Derek Flint. The intrepid adventurer shows off his ability to talk to porpoises, infiltrates the Kremlin and ends up in outer space.

Next up at 10 p.m. is Where The Spies Are (1966) with David Niven, once Ian Fleming’s preferred choice to play James Bond in what amounts to a warmup for the 1967 Casino Royale spoof. Midnight brings Agent 8 3/4 (1964) with Dirk Bogarde. At 2 a.m. (actually on Jan. 25, of course), TCM is scheduled to telecast 1966’s The Silencers, the first of four films with Dean Martin performing a spoof version <a.of Donald Hamilton’s counter assassin, Matt Helm.

TCM’s final spy entry at 4 a.m. is Salt and Pepper (1968), with Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford. The duo had done an episode of The Wild, Wild West together (The Night of the Returning Dead) and liked how director Richard Donner operated. Thus, Donner was hired to direct Salt and Pepper, one of Donner’s first theatrical films.

TCM 007 update

On the Saturday afternoon telecast of Diamonds Are Forever, TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz didn’t mention his family’s connection to the movie. According to imdb.com, Ben is cousin once removed of Diamonds co-screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz.

Ben Mankiewicz in his introduction said United Artists paid Sean Connery $2 million to come back to the role. Robert Osborne, in the Friday night telecast, quoted $1.25 million, a sum also referenced in the documentary Inside Diamonds Are Forever. Mankiewicz described On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as the series’ first “major hiccup.”

Mankiewicz’s summary after the movie concentrated on how Diamonds was the last film appearance of Bruce Cabot, whose best-known credit was appearing in the original King Kong.

After the movie, TCM telecast a short bit where director Sidney Lumet, who worked with Connery on five films, discussed Connery. Lumet said the Bond films “appeared to be nothing but charm.” The director added, “‘Nothing but charm’ ain’t easy” and that most of that was because of Connery’s acting. Most of this short feature had Lumet talking about Connery’s work in The Hill, their first movie together.

Questions about You Only Live Twice

While watching You Only Live Twice for the umteenth time on TCM, we starting stockpiling a few nagging questions about the movie’s plot. Yes, it’s not intended to hold up to such examination but what the heck. For example:

1. Bond trains to be a ninja at Tiger Tanaka’s top-secret ninja training facility. Yet, not one but two SPECTRE assassins infiltrate the place. Is it that top secret?

2. What happened to the two Soviet cosmonauts and one American astronauts that Bond freed? Did they slip into the same limbo the reformed scientist did when he fell off the Disco Volante in Thunderball?

3. A number of others have posed this question, so we’ll repeat it here. Japanese agent Aki tells Tiger to arrange “the usual reception please.” A helicopter with a giant magnet hauls a car of thugs and drops it into Tokyo Bay. Usual? How often the Japanese Secret Service do this? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

4. Did screenwriter Roald Dahl screw up when Henderson hands Bond a stirred Martini? Or was Bond merely being polite and not commenting that Henderson got it wrong?

5. Another one we’ll have to credit to others but…when did Siberia (where the Soviets launch their spaceships) develop palm trees?

6. Just what was in all those barrels labeled “Osato Chemicals” on the floor of Blofeld’s volcano hideout? At one point, Bond shoots a thug standing right by one of those barrels. What would have happened if Bond had missed and hit the barrel instead? Looks like workplace safety wasn’t one of Blofeld’s strong points.

7. Is it really a full-time job for one guy to open and close the crater? It looks like only one SPECTRE guy is entrusted with the task. Yet after Bond kills him, he figures out pretty quickly which lever to pull. Perhaps workplace efficiency wasn’t one of Blofeld’s strong points, either.

8. Earlier in the movie, Bond is flying in the “Little Nelly” mini-copter over the volcano hideout. Suddenly, he’s being attacked by four SPECTRE helicopters. Had SPECTRE just done nothing, wouldn’t have Bond just flown by, never the wiser?

9. Again a question posed by others, but what camera is in outer space beaming back all those live pictures back to SPECTRE?

10. It seems to take Bond and Kissy all day to climb up to the top of volcano containing Blofeld’s hideout. In fact, it’s past midnight when they finally get down to the crater (the U.S. spacecraft has launched and we’re told that was happening at midnight Japan time). Bond tells Kissy to get Tanaka. Despite a long swim (and avoiding a helicopter firing at her), she seems to get back a lot faster. So: did Bond and Kissy walk up *really* slowly in the first place? Or did Kissy somehow bend the time-space continum? Or did Peter Hunt and his editing crew either not notice this or were unable to do anything about this?

11. Was anyone even slightly fooled by Bond being disguised as a Japanese man?

Being picky: Goldfinger and Thunderball on TCM

The last few seconds of Goldfinger’s end titles were cut off before we got the credits of the digital restoration crew. Maybe they were anxious to see their names and figured nobody would notice a few seconds lopped off. At least they didn’t change the colors of the end titles this time.

After the movie, TCM’s Robert Osborne says he recently saw the movie with Guy Hamilton. He depicted the director as uneasy watching the film, wanting to make changes and tweaks. That’s interesting. Hard-core Bond fans would probably be curious. Regardless, Osborne indicated he’s still enthusiastic about the film decades after its 1964 release.

UPDATE: Osborne gets the name of the villain in Thunderball wrong, calling him Emil Largo, instead of Emilo Largo. On the other hand, he did a nice, tight summary of Thunderball’s complicated history.

UPDATE II: The TCM version of Thunderball uses the music from previous prints where Bond meets Domino underwater. The Ultimate DVD edition (which we have a copy of) changed the music.

UPDATE III: Host Osborne’s closing commentary touches upon Sean Connery’s growing dissatisfaction with the Bond franchise for both the growing spectacle of the 007 films and lack of pay relative to the huge grosses the movies were generating for Eon Productions Ltd. and United Artists.

UPDATE IV: Both last week and this week, TCM has shown non-Bond Connery films following a 007 double feature. By coincidence, both films, On The Fiddle (May 1) and Woman of Straw, still had a number of Bond crew members. On The Fiddle included Peter Hunt as film editor and sound manNorman Wanstall. Woman of Straw had a crew including production designer Ken Adam, art director Peter Murton and assistant director Clive Reed.

UPDATE V: On the Saturday, May 9, rerun of the Bond movies, TCM weekend host Ben Mankiewicz, a cousin (once removed) of one-time 007 screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, went into more detail about Thunderball’s history of the Ian Fleming/Kevin McClory legal battle. He also noted how Thunderball scored the Best Ocar for special effects (while not mentioning John Stears by name). However, he mis-pronounced the name of Claudine Auger. We’re now curious whether next weekend whether Ben Mankiewicz will mention his relative’s connection to the Bond series when TCM shows Diamonds Are Forever.

007 on TCM: Uncut but not unaltered

James Bond made his TCM debut on Friday, May 1. In the case of From Russia With Love, it may have been uncut but it was also altered — albeit in small ways.

That’s because TCM is using the digitally revamped versions of the films that are sold as the “Ultimate” Bond DVDs. TCM even showed the credits for the digital restoring crew after the end of Dr. No and From Russia With Love. Digital technology has made the colors brighter than previous DVD releases.

But the digital crew apparently couldn’t help but play around at some points. Case in point: In the end titles of From Russia Love, the words “THE END” appear a few seconds earlier than the do in the original film. Earlier enough, they appear in one shot before they’re supposed to. Also, the digital crew changed the color of the titles from the original white to blue. In another “Ultimate” DVD, Thunderball, the music in the scene where Bond first encounters Domino is changed from the original.

We’d like to know more, we always thought the idea of these digitally remastered versions was to preserve, not to monkey around with the original. It also poses the question: If you’re going to make all those changes, should you correct errors like From Russia’s end titles misspelling the name of James Bond Theme composer Monty Norman? (Spelled Monte in the end titles.)

Bond isn’t unique is having these sorts of changes. Starting with the 2001 DVD release of Lawrence of Arabia, that film’s writing credit was changed to add the name of Michael Wilson (no relation to Eon Productions Ltd.’s bossman, Michael G. Wilson). Wilson had been blacklisted and he began his work on Lawrence while the blacklist was still in effect. This has been part of an effort by Hollywood to give blacklisted writers the credit they should have received all along.

The Bond changes, though, aren’t part of that admirable goal. The changes in From Russia With Love (and possibly other of the “Ultimate” DVDs) look like change for change’s sake.