Blanche Blackwell, Fleming companion, dies

Blanche Blackwell and Ian Fleming in Jamaica

Blanche Blackwell, who had a relationship with Ian Fleming, has died at 104, according to an obituary posted by The Telegraph.

Blackwell was part of two 007-related documentaries, 2000’s Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator ( an extra in the home video release of The Living Daylights) and 2012’s Everything or Nothing.

Her interviews for the documentaries provided perspective for fans about Fleming’s complicated life, touching on her affair with the married author. She lived in Jamaica, where Fleming wrote his James Bond novels.

“He was somebody who could be anybody he wanted to be,” Blackwell says of Fleming at the start of the 2000 documentary.

Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator included a section on Blackwell. “I decided how I wanted to live long ago,” she says. “And I’ve managed to succeed at doing it without getting into too much trouble.”

In 2012, The Express. published a feature story about her.

“A neighbour of both (Noel) Coward and Fleming, she was a society beauty who beguiled the guests who came to her home, Bolt House, in St Mary, Jamaica,” according to the story.

UPDATE (Aug. 12): The Washington Post has published a very detailed obituary of Blanche Blackwell that’s worth a read.

 

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Le Carre to discuss new George Smiley novel

David Cornell, aka John Le Carre, circa 1964

John Le Carre is scheduled to make an appearance in London on Sept. 7 to discuss his new George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, The Telegraph reported.

Le Carre will be at the Royal Festival Hall, according to the newspaper. He “will read from the book, reveal Smiley’s deepest secrets, and discuss the way his career has reflected world events,” The Telegraph said. “There will also be a rare question and answer session.”

The novel’s summary on Amazon.com reads in part:

Peter Guillam, staunch colleague and disciple of George Smiley of the British Secret Service, otherwise known as the Circus, is living out his old age on the family farmstead on the south coast of Brittany when a letter from his old Service summons him to London. The reason? His Cold War past has come back to claim him. Intelligence operations that were once the toast of secret London, and involved such characters as Alec Leamas, Jim Prideaux, George Smiley and Peter Guillam himself, are to be scrutinized by a generation with no memory of the Cold War and no patience with its justifications.

A Legacy of Spies is scheduled to be published Sept. 5, according to Amazon.

Favorite of 007 scribes: Roger Moore safari suits

Roger Moore in Moonraker

Being a movie critic or writer about movies involves making observations and expressing opinions in the most witty way you can.

When it comes to James Bond films starring Roger Moore, the term safari suit it too tempting for some scribes to pass up.

Here are a few examples that have come up over the years.

STUART HERITAGE, THE GUARDIAN, JULY 5, 2010: “James Bond actually died long ago, when Roger Moore strapped himself into his first male girdle and started wheezing around in a safari suit.”

ANTHONY LANE, THE NEW YORKER, NOV. 16, 2015: “By custom, (James Bond films) have been stacked with beautiful people, and tricked out with beautiful objects, but the outcome was often unlovely to behold, with a gaucheness that ran far deeper than Roger Moore’s safari suit.”

MICHAEL HANN, THE GUARDIAN, OCT. 3, 2012: “Instead, (The Man With the Golden Gun’s) setting is just a background, as if the film were just a Duran Duran video with extra guns and safari suits.”

SIMON REYNOLDS, DIGITAL SPY, MAY 28, 2017: “When Roger Moore found out he was not only older than his Bond Girl co-star Tanya Roberts but older than her mother too, he knew it was time to hang up the safari suit.”

HELEN O’HARA, THE TELEGRAPH, AUG. 19, 2015: “Talk tailoring in the movies, and most will think immediately of James Bond, the super-spy with impeccable taste in practically everything. From Roger Moore’s safari-wear to Daniel Craig’s shawl-collar cardigan and chukka boots (a look modelled on Steve McQueen), he’s rarely to be found underdressed.”

JONATHAN SOTHCOTT, GQ.COM, MAY 20, 2014: “More recently, the hardcore Bond fans who were so vocal in their condemnation of Roger Moore’s playboy Bond have softened in their views, perhaps because Moore has become a bona fide national treasure, or perhaps because some of his Bond films are actually amongst the best in the series once the blinkers come off. Even his safari suits are beginning to become style touchpoints.”

For more information, check out The Suits of James Bond website’s 2015 infographic about about the actor’s “Infamous Safari Jackets and Shirts.”

The faith-based James Bond movie

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

That, of course, would be Bond 25, the James Bond film without a distributor, a script, a director or even a confirmed James Bond.

More than 16 months after the release of SPECTRE, much of agent 007’s next film adventure is a matter of faith, not fact.

Example: There’s IndieWire’s March 21 story that proclaims:

For Bond fans wondering what might lure Daniel Craig back for “Bond 25,” it just might be the opportunity for 007 to metaphorically save the world from the Orwellian nightmare of Trump, Putin, Brexit, and WikiLeaks.

At least that’s the hope of long-time Bond scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who have been hired to write the script for “Bond 25.”

This passage is based on a January interview The Telegraph had with scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. In the interview, Purvis said, “Each time, you’ve got to say something about Bond’s place in the world, which is Britain’s place in the world. But things are moving so quickly now, that becomes tricky.

“With people like (U.S. President Donald) Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality. So when they do another one, it will be interesting to see how they deal with the fact that the world has become a fantasy.”

Since then, the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye reported Purvis and Wade were hired to script Bond 25, their 007th Bond film writing effort.

So, IndieWire takes the leap of faith that Bond 25 will take on Brexit, Trump, etc., and that will entice Daniel Craig to come back for a fifth 007 film.

And as Bond co-producer, Craig would help shape the story by Purvis and Wade. So maybe, like Bond, he just needs a break before returning to active duty, putting on hold any notion of being succeeded by such leading contenders as Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston, Michael Fassbender or Jack Huston.

Of course, almost all of this is conjecture. Granted, Bamigboye has a record of scoops concerning Skyfall and SPECTRE that were proven to be correct. But the Daily Mail scribe **has not** described any details of a possible Bond 25 plot.

And Purvis, in his January interview telegraph described *the difficulty* of writing a new 007 film. His comments about Brexit, Trump, etc., were not about anything concerning Bond 25’s story line — which, at best, is in early stages of development.

It shouldn’t be needed, but here’s a note of caution anyway. Weeks ago, Bond fans were going crazy over word that Eon Productions had bought an old helicopter. Surely, the fans thought, it must be for Bond 25.

It wasn’t, as noted by the MI6 James Bond website. It was for a non-007 film project.

That hasn’t stopped fans from speculating. Some still hold out hope that Bond 25 somehow, some way, will come out in 2018.

Still, it bears repeating. Almost everything about Bond 25, at this point, is faith based, not fact based.

Ralph Fiennes speculates Bond 25 may take a lighter tone

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes

Ralph Fiennes, the current M in the James Bond film series, speculated that Bond 25 might take a lighter tone.

“Well I think if you’re the next director of Bond, you’re going to not want to go down the tone and argument of what Sam [Mendes] has put into the films,” Fiennes said in AN INTERVIEW WITH THE TELEGRAPH.

Fiennes stressed to the newspaper he knows nothing about the next 007 project, which currently has no confirmed leading man, no director and no script.

Anyway, in the interview, Fiennes did a quick summary of the Mendes-directed Skyfall and SPECTRE, and commented about how a new director might approach Bond.

“Questions of British nationhood, and whether Bond is a dinosaur, all that,” the actor told The Telegraph, in describing the Mendes 007 films. “So I would guess if you’re coming to do the next Bond, you’d want to take it somewhere radically different, I think.”

It’s an interesting bit of conjecture. SPECTRE was intended as a hybrid of the serious Daniel Craig style while having more of the traditional escapist Bond tone. The movie supplied a new Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who turned out be Bond’s foster brother.

To read the entire interview, CLICK HERE. The story leads off with Fiennes commenting about how Russian audiences didn’t like the more serious approach of the Craig films.

Caveat Emptor Part V: Craig’s ‘kind of secret plan’

SPECTRE poster

SPECTRE poster

The Telegraph, IN AN ESSAY BY ROBBIE COLLIN has some quotes from another interview with 007 star Daniel Craig where the actor describes the “kind of secret plan” he had for the film series after being cast in 2005.

Here’s an excerpt:

I spoke to Craig around three weeks after he’d completed work on SPECTRE, and we discussed the necessity, as he saw it, of harking back to Bond’s past in order to push the franchise forward. (The actor has taken an unusually hands-on approach to all four films to date – influencing characters, shaping plots, and even reworking half-finished dialogue on the Quantum of Solace set during the writers’ strike.)

“I always had a kind of secret plan when I started doing these movies,” he told me. And this was it: by starting with the “stripped-back” script of Casino Royale, he wanted to reintroduce the series’ more familiar elements gradually, in a way that would make sense in a modern-day context – and “do it in as smart a way as possible, so that they’re not obvious”.

Bond fans who recognised the references would be delighted that traditions were being upheld in unexpected ways, while newcomers to the series would just see them as part of the “rich tapestry” of the world of the films.

“And that’s a lot harder to do than people think it is,” he said. “To do it with subtlety and wit and all of those things takes solid, solid work.”

What role, if any, directors (including Casino Royale’s Martin Campbell) ,screenwriters (including Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who’ve worked on all four Craig films to date) or producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson had in the plan were not described in the essay.

Once more, let the buyer beware. Some fans argue Craig likes to have fun with the press. If that’s the case, it’s up to you to decide how much weight to give the actor’s words.

To read the entire essay, which covers quite a bit of ground about the evolution of the series from Pierce Brosnan to Craig, CLICK HERE.

Some questions about Daniel Craig’s SPECTRE interview

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE promotional art

SPECTRE, the 24th James Bond film, has its premiere later this month. So it’s time to explore new questions about the 007 movie.

Was Time Out London’s interview with Daniel Craig good P.R. or bad P.R.? 

That depends on your public relations philosophy.

Come again?

The classic public relations philosophy stems from a George M. Cohan quote: “I don’t care what you say about me as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right.”

By that standard, Craig’s interview with Tine Out London was a spectacular success.

How so?

The 007 actor’s quotes to Time Out (“I’d rather break this glass and slash my wrists” than make another Bond movie, and “If I did another Bond movie, it would only be for the money,” among others) were summarized widely.

Among other outlets, VARIETY, ITV,  NBC NEWS,  THE TELEGRAPH, THE DAILY BEAST, THE INDEPENDENT, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY and many, many others had stories based on the quotes from Time Out London.

If George M. Cohan were still alive (he died in 1942), he would marvel at how right he was.

Are you saying this was really planned?

Who knows? Maybe, maybe not. Nevertheless, the Time Out London interview was done a few days after SPECTRE wrapped principal photography.

Often these types of interviews are done under embargo. That is, the interviews occur with the understanding the resulting stories won’t be released until shortly before a movie is released — often with a specific date and time for release.

Put another way, the major parties responsible for SPECTRE — Eon Productions, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Sony Pictures — shouldn’t be surprised these quotes were coming. Interviews with stars for major movies, generally speaking, are done under very controlled circumstances.

Often such interviews are done with a public relations person sitting in on it. Even if it didn’t happen in this case, Eon, MGM and Sony know the star, know what he often says in interviews. If they weren’t prepared, well, they probably should have been.