007 veteran crew member talks to James Bond Radio

The Internet series James Bond Radio today debuted a new podcast featuring veteran James Bond crew member Terry Bamber.

Bamber worked on Bond films from The Man With The Golden Gun through Skyfall. He’s not involved with SPECTRE (though his wife is a crew member). He was also assistant director and production manager of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, which debuts Aug. 14.

Bamber’s father worked on the early 007 films. Given the family history, he makes some observations of note:

Favorite Bond movies: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (“fantastic film, fantastic film”), followed by Casino Royale and Diamonds Are Forever (“I could watch it over and over again.”) The Living Daylights is “in my top third” of Bond films.

First experience on a Bond set: Being taken by his father to the You Only Live Twice volcano set.

Favorite Bond: By “millimeters of a point,” Sean Connery.

Why he’s not working on SPECTRE: He says he got a phone call saying the production team decided “to go in a different direction.”

Bamber also makes some brief comments about his work on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, where he was assistant director and production manager on the second unit.

The interview lasts more than 90 minutes and covers more ground than this post can really cover. You can listen to the podcast below. The Terry Bamber interview starts around the 17:00 mark.

Patrick Macnee dies at 93, BBC says

Patrick Mcnee and Diana Rigg in a publicity still for The Avengers

Patrick Mcnee and Diana Rigg in a publicity still for The Avengers

Patrick Macnee, debonair actor best known for playing John Steed on The Avengers, died today at 93, according to the BBC, WHICH CITED MACNEE’S SON RUPERT.

There was also a statement ON THE ACTOR’S WEBSITE that said Macnee “died a natural death at his home in Rancho Mirage, California…with his family at his bedside.”

Macnee enjoyed a long career, playing dozens of characters. Still, The Avengers and his character of John Steed, with his bowler and umbrella, became Macnee’s career trademark. The show first went into production in 1961. Its greatest popularity came when he was paired with Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel.

The actor saw two of his co-stars — Honor Blackman and Rigg — leave the series to take the lead female role in James Bond movies (Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Another Majesty’s actress, Joanna Lumley, was Macnee’s co-star in a 1970s revival, The New Avengers.

Macnee finally got his turn at a Bond movie, A View to a Kill, in 1985, playing an ally of Bond (Roger Moore) who is killed by henchwoman May Day (Grace Jones). Macnee, years earlier, had played Dr. Watson to Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in a made-for-television movie. Macnee also made a properly dignified chief of U.N.C.L.E. in 1983’s The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.

UPDATE: For the second time this month (Christopher Lee’s death was the other), Roger Moore bids adieu to a colleague:

Will Solo’s moral streak make it into the U.N.C.L.E. movie?

"I sincerely hope so," Solo said.

“I sincerely hope so,” Solo said.

According to actor Henry Cavill, in an SFX magazine interview, Napoleon Solo is different than James Bond because Solo is “not for Queen and country. He’s for Napoleon Solo and Napoleon Solo.”

Cavill, of course, is the only actor who has experience with both, having auditioned for Bond in 2005 and having played Solo in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie coming out in August.

This caused the Spy Commander to have a Lt. Columbo moment where “little things — LITTLE THINGS” were bothering him. What about the moral streak of the original Solo, seen in the 1964-68 series in the person of actor Robert Vaughn?

We ran a DECEMBER 2014 POST, outlining how the two heroes associated with Ian Fleming are different. Namely, Solo has a moral streak that Bond doesn’t display.

Here’s the part of the post that related to Solo:

(start excerpt)
In the first-season episode The Finny Foot Affair, the “innocent” is a young boy played by Kurt Russell. Russell’s character has a rough time. He witnesses an U.N.C.L.E. agent fight to the death. The agent, with his dying breath, entrusts the boy with an object that may be of assistance to Solo.

Later, on a flight to Norway, the boy describes what he saw to Solo. The U.N.C.L.E. agent attempts to deceive the boy that what he saw wasn’t as serious as it seems.

Later, the boy witnesses Solo kill some of his opponents. “Chris,” Solo tells the boy at one point, “you know now this is for real.” At the end of the episode, the Russell character decides Solo may not be the best potential mate for his “beautiful widowed mother.”

The best example of Solo’s moral streak occurs during the last episode of the series, broadcast by NBC on Jan. 15, 1968. Its one of the best scenes in the entire show for star Robert Vaughn. Solo confronts a group that plans to bring the entire world under its control, ending the “fight between good and evil” once and for all. The leader of this scheme is named Kingsley (Barry Sullivan), a former top U.N.C.L.E. official.

SOLO: You intend — you seriously intend — to make the world world act and think like you want it to?
(snip)
It’s a blasphemy. Your plan denies humanity its freedom to find its own way to better times.

At the end of the episode, there’s this exchange between Solo and his boss, Alexander Waverly.

WAVERLY: Good job, gentlemen.

SOLO: Kingsley sincerely believed history would have said the same of him, sir.”

That’s not the kind of thing that Bond stops to reflect about.
(end excerpt)

It remains to be seen whether this quality will be present in the Guy Ritchie-directed movie, of if it fell by the wayside along with some of the show’s memes such as the secret headquarters, etc.

SFX magazine plays up U.NC.L.E.’s ties to Fleming

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

SFX magazine has come out with a cover story about The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie. The tireless Henry Cavill News HAS PUBLISHED A POST with screen images.

Among other things, SFX begins with playing up Ian Fleming’s ties to the original 1964-68 series.

Napoleon Solo is Fleming’s other great contribution to the espionage game, brought to deadly, dapper life by Robert Vaughn…Teamed with David McCallum as taciturn, Beatle-mopped Soviet operative Illya Kuryakin, Solo fought the Cold War on the small screen while 007 ruled the big.

That’s a tad oversimplified, but within bounds. Fleming was involved with U.N.C.L.E. from October 1962 until June 1963. Writer-producer Sam Rolfe did much of the heavy lifting. And the whole project originated with producer Norman Felton, who initially devised the Solo character before meeting with the James Bond author. Fleming’s main contribution to the finished product was the name Napoleon Solo.

The SFX spread also includes an question-and-answer sidebar with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, who took on the Solo and Kuryakin roles that Vaughn and McCallum originated. Cavill, in one brief answer, address the Fleming connection between Solo and Bond, a role he auditioned for in 2005, but lost out to Daniel Craig.

HC: James Bond’s a very different thing. As much as Ian Fleming may have created both characters, they’re different — especially with the way Bond is in style now. If we were talking about previous Bonds then perhaps you could call them similar, but Napoleon Solo is a very different animal. He’s not for Queen and country. He’s for Napoleon Solo and Napoleon Solo.

To view the entire Henry Cavill news post, CLICK HERE. For information on how to order the SFX issue, CLICK HERE.

The U.N.C.L.E. movie’s Marvel-style promos

On social media, Warner Bros. has been putting out short videos of scenes from The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Except, in these videos, wide lines have been inserted giving the effect of comic book panels.

For example, there’s THIS 13-SECOND VIDEO of Armie Hammer as Illya Kuryakin. Or there’s THIS VIDEO with Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo.

It’s probably not intentional, but these videos evoke some 1960s art by Marvel Comics artist Gene Colan (1926-2011). Colan had been away from comic books for some time before rejoining Marvel in the mid-1960s.

During this period one of Colan’s favorite techniques was to present separate, but related, panels . Here’s an example from Daredevil, vol. 1, No. 21, published in the summer of 1966:

Daredevil-Owl 21

Barbara Bain to get star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Barbara Bain in Mission: Impossible

Barbara Bain in Mission: Impossible

Barbara Bain, who won three Emmys for her role in Mission: Impossible, will get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2016, ACCORDING TO VARIETY.

Bain, 83, was the not the headline name in the Variety story. Bradley Cooper and Quentin Tarantino were. Also, the list of show business people getting a star also includes, among others, Kurt Russell, Kathy Bates and Michael Keaton.

Still, it’s recognition for Bain, who beat out the likes of Diana Rigg, Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell and others when she won three straight acting Emmys while a member of the cast of the original M:I series.

The actress played Cinnamon Carter, sultry femme fatale for the Impossible Missions Force. Because the IMF frequently played con games with its adversaries, Cinnamon got to take on many guises.

Her time on M:I ended abruptly. Her then-husband, Martin Landau, was also a big draw. But Landau never signed a long-term deal for the series. After the parent company of Paramount acquired Desilu, the studio didn’t like how Landau had leverage to negotiate a new deal each season.

Landau was gone going into the fourth season. So was Bain, who was under contract but in the end that didn’t matter. When she won her final Emmy for M:I, she let everyone know how she felt. Still, the actress got to play the part one last time in a 1997 episode of Diagnosis Murder, which featured other stars of 1960s spy shows (including Robert Culp and Robert Vaughn) as guest stars.

UPDATE: Martin Landau already has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the north side of the 6800 block of Hollywood Boulevard, according to this PAGE ON THE LOS ANGELES TIMES website. M:I Star Peter Graves ALSO HAS A STAR on the walk of fame on the north side of the 6600 block.

U.N.C.L.E. movie co-writer talks to Collider about the film

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

U.N.C.L.E. movie poster

Lionel Wigram, co-writer and co-producer of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie, gave an extensive interview to COLLIDER.COM about the film. It was actually conducted in 2013 during filming. Here were a few things that caught our eye:

He says the relatively tight budget helped: In the summer of 2013, Variety reported the movie’s budget was reduced to $75 million after Tom Cruise opted not to play Napoleon Solo. That’s a quarter of what SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, is going to cost.

Wigram told Collider the budget made the movie better.

(T)here was certainly a moment when there was a version of the script which we budgeted was considered to be too expensive by all concerned and we had to do a job of compressing certain scenes, compressing the story to make it work [with the budget]. What I found was that creatively it worked better too, which I was surprised by, but sometimes if you’re willing and open to trying stuff, sometimes you surprise yourself and suddenly it all becomes much tighter. Where the centre of the movie was a bit flabby, suddenly the compression made everything move much quicker and gave it an energy that it hadn’t had before. It was a pleasant surprise.

How he and director Guy Ritchie and their production company got involved: Warner Bros. “brought up The Man from U.N.C.L.E., I remembered we both always wanted to do a spy movie so I said, ‘What about this?’” Wigram told Collider.

“This felt different in the sense that this was a 60’s spy movie, and it was two people instead of one. Instead of the lone spy it was two, so that was a good starting point. We thought, ‘What the hell, why not?’ It’s a good excuse to make our version of a spy movie, and it’s a good starting point of a structure.”

(SPOILER) There’s a twist: In the movie, Napoleon Solo works for the CIA and Illya Kuryakin for the KGB. Their bosses “have a little sneaky agenda, they hope to get one over on the other at the end of it, but at least for the time being there’s a temporary alliance and from that comes U.N.C.L.E.,” Wigram said.

Why do an “origin” story: “There’s no backstory in the TV show,” Wigram said. “Let’s give them interesting backstories. How can we give a context to this story, as I said, that’s interesting and has got some meat on it? And this was the best that I could come up with anyway.”

Casting of Henry Cavill as Solo: Wigram told Collider all involved considered an older Solo to entice an established star. “(B)ecause of Man Of Steel, Henry had become that much more of a bankable entity, so the studio was more confident about the idea of us doing it with two young guys.” Cavill was 30 during production and Armie Hammer, who plays Kuryakin, was 27.

There’s a lot more from Wigram. To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE. Also, here’s a shoutout to Henry Cavill News, which spotted the interview earlier and published THIS POST.