Chill, 007 fans: This gentleman agent is used to criticism

“But let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist,” Daniel Craig said while promoting SPECTRE.

Recent stories on websites and British tabloid papers about how millennials are critical of old James Bond films has upset fans of the gentlemen agent.

On social media, that’s generated comments such as, “Bite my bum millenials,” and “I blame the parents……poor upbringing.”

The thing is, the criticisms mentioned in these stories aren’t new. They’ve been around pretty much as long as Bond has. Specifically, Bond is a womanizer, represents imperialism, has racial overtones, etc., etc.

One critique that sometimes is cited is an April 1958 review by Paul Johnson in the New Statesman of the novel Dr. No.

There are three basic ingredients in Dr No, all unhealthy, all thoroughly English: the sadism of a school boy bully, the mechanical two-dimensional sex-longings of a frustrated adolescent, and the crude, snob-cravings of a suburban adult. Mr Fleming has no literary skill…

The plot can be briefly described. James Bond, an upper-class Secret Service Agent, is sent by his sadistic superior, M., to Jamaica, to investigate strange incidents on a nearby island.

This review was published almost 60 years ago, yet mirrors some of the criticisms contained in the recent “Millennials vs. James Bond” stories. Those stories rely heavily on Twitter posts. As the website Medium noted in a Jan. 28 story, not all of the tweets are even written by millennials.

On occasion, similar critiques were made when Bond went to the big screen.

In 1973, for example, Time magazine’s review for Live And Let Die declared Bond to be “a racist pig.”

Needless to say, Bond has survived all that — and not always with help from the principals of Eon Productions, which makes the 007 films.

First, consider what Eon’s Michael G. Wilson told USA Today in 2012. Bond is not even a hero, Wilson has said. “There are plenty of imitators, but Bond really is the first one that was an anti-hero,” Wilson told the newspaper.

An anti-hero is defined as “a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.” (emphasis added)

In 2015, Bond star Daniel Craig said of 007: “But let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist. A lot of women are drawn to him chiefly because he embodies a certain kind of danger and never sticks around for too long,” (emphasis added)

A misogynist is defined as “a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts or mistreats women.” That’s harsher than the definition of a chauvinist, “a person who believes one gender is superior to the other.”

That gave an opening to writer Laurie Penny in an October 2015 commentary in the New Statesman.

“James Bond is a guilty pleasure but one in which the pleasure is increasingly overwhelmed by the guilt. Even Daniel Craig seems to know this,” Penny wrote.

Then, there’s Eon boss Barbara Broccoli, who told the Evening Standard in 2012, that women characters in Bond movies today are better than most of their earlier counterparts. “Fortunately, the days of Bond girls standing around with a clipboard are over,”

In the interview, Broccoli wasn’t specific about the “clipboard” women. She complimented the characters of Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) in Dr. No and Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) in Goldfiner. In Moonraker, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) was holding a clipboard, but she was also a CIA agent and an astronaut.

Recently the website Haphazard Stuff did an in-depth review of 2012’s Skyfall. But it took the occasion to note all the times that women actors in Bond movies over the decades said their characters weren’t like the “empty-headed” Bond girl stereotype. It’s the video below, roughly from the 12:00 to 18:00 mark.

Remember, the actors said this as part of promoting the movies they were in. It’s almost as if running down its earlier product as part of promoting the current product is part of Eon’s standard operating procedure.

In any case, Bond fans should take a deep breath and move on. Millennials likely are no more critical of Bond novels and movies than previous generations. Bond has been fired at for a long time. But he’s still here.

USA Today posts story on women of SPECTRE


USA Today has posted A STORY about the female cast of SPECTRE.

Here’s an excerpt of the story by Brian Truitt:

They’re girls no more.

The women inhabiting the 24th James Bond movie are just as complex as the guy holding the license to kill in director Sam Mendes’ Spectre (in theaters Nov. 6). USA TODAY gets a sneak peek at the dossiers for the international female quartet who will complement Daniel Craig’s 007:

The story then has brief bios of Lea Seadoux, Monica Bellucci, Naomie Harris and Stephanie Sigman. There are also pictures of all four actresses. To view the entire story, CLICK HERE.

Armie Hammer does a (short) U.N.C.L.E. review

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Armie Hammer with U.N.C.L.E. movie director Guy Ritchie in 2013

Laney Boggs on Twitter pointed this out

Armie Hammer, who plays Illya Kuryakin in the upcoming movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., did some brief reviews of the original 1964-68 series in a short article ON USA TODAY’S WEBSITE.

Here’s an excerpt:

When we talked with the Lone Ranger star for our 2015 movie preview, Hammer told us that he grew up with Bond movies and other secret-agent stuff but had never watched U.N.C.L.E. until he was cast in the upcoming Guy Ritchie-directed movie based on the old series: Hammer plays KGB dude Illya Kuryakin opposite Henry Cavill’s CIA man Napoleon Solo — the roles played by David McCallum and Robert Vaughn respectively in the original show.

Hammer ended up sharing his thoughts on the show

For example, of the first season, Hammer says, “In the first one that was black and white, it felt like they were getting their bearings, figuring out the show, figuring out the tone.” The actor says he liked the second season the best.

In the article, Hammer only comments on the first three season, doesn’t address the final season, which took on a much more serious tone that the overly light third season.

Henry Cavill, meanwhile, has said previously he did not watch any of the 105 episodes of the original series.

In the original show, U.N.C.L.E. had been established for some time and Solo and Kuryakin had worked for the international organization for several years. The movie, coming out in August, is an “origin” story and U.N.C.L.E. hasn’t been formed yet

Captain America and spies prove to be big box office

Captain America: The Winter Soldier's poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier, which mixed superheroes and spies, generated an estimated $96.2 million in U.S. ticket sales, according to the Box Office Mojo website.

The movie, starring Chris Evans as Cap, set a record for an April movie opening, according to The Wrap entertainment news site.

The film concerns Cap becoming increasingly wary of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Comics spy agency. The movie addresses various plot threads going back to 2008’s Iron Man, the first production from Marvel Studios. One of two epilogues in the end titles provides a teaser for next year’s sequel to 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers. A third Captain America movie has been scheduled for May 2016.

Meanwhile, the storyline of Captain America: The Winter Soldier will affect the ABC series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. USA Today has a story that details how in a story you can view BY CLICKING HERE. Both Marvel Studios and ABC are owned by Walt Disney Co.

Also, BusinessWeek has a story about Kevin Feige, Marvel Studios boss and producer of its movies. You can read it by CLICKING HERE.

Henry Cavill committed to star in U.N.C.L.E., USA Today says

Henry Cavill

Henry Cavill

USA Today, in a story about Man of Steel star Henry Cavill, quotes the 30-year-old British actor as saying he has signed to play Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Here’s the key excerpt. It’s part of a passage about Cavill says he doesn’t plan to get sterotyped playing Superman:

“There is always that risk. But it’s a risk I’m glad to take,” he says. “The way to break out of that is to do a different role.”

To that end, Cavill just signed on to star as a spy in Guy Ritchie’s adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., replacing Tom Cruise, who is no longer associated with the project. He is tight-lipped about his Napoleon Solo role except to say he’ll be alongside The Lone Ranger star Armie Hammer, who will play Illya Kuryakin.

“Things are full-steam ahead. It’s all very early days. But it’s gonna happen,” Cavill says before pausing. “Well, this is Hollywood. It’s supposed to happen.”

Warner Bros., which is releasing Man of Steel and has the rights to U.N.C.L.E., hasn’t made an official announcement. Trying to come up with a new version of the 1964-68 series starring Robert Vaughn and David McCallum has a very complicated history full of missteps.

Conceivably, the fate of a new U.N.C.L.E. may depend on the reception of Cavill as Superman. Man of Steel comes out June 14 in the U.S. The character of Napoleon Solo was created by Norman Felton and Ian Fleming in the fall of 1962. The rest of the series was created by Sam Rolfe.

For more about U.N.C.L.E.: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide

MAY 28 POST: Henry Cavill in talks to star in U.N.C.L.E.

UPDATE: Man of Steel has been generating a lot of advanced ticket sales according to THIS STORY on the Deadline Hollywood Web site.

UPDATE II (June 6): Armie Hammer, during an appearance on Australian television to promote the upcoming Lone Ranger movie, said he is doing a Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie and that Cavill will be his co-star. To see it, CLICK HERE. The U.N.C.L.E. comment comes around the 5:00 mark.

Is Agent 007 a hero or an anti-hero?

Hero? Anti-hero?

So is James Bond a hero or an antihero? If you think the answers is easy, think again. Not even the co-chiefs of Eon Productions, whose personal fortunes stem from 007, agree.

Michael G. Wilson, who has worked on the Bond film series longer than anyone, is in the anti-hero camp. In an INTERVIEW WITH USA TODAY EARLIER THIS YEAR Wilson said, “There are plenty of imitators, but Bond really is the first one that was an anti-hero.” He again calls Bond an anti-hero in the new Everything Or Nothing documentary.

Barbara Broccoli, Wilson’s half-sister and the other co-boss at Eon, did an interview published last week at AIN’T IT COOL NEWS. This was her take on Bond: “He’s a classical hero, but he’s very human.”

Back on Feb. 1 WE DID A POST about Wilson’s remarks. It got a mixed reaction. One respondent wrote, “Bond of the novels was definitely an anti-hero, in my opinion, as was the Connery Bond of the first two films.” This person posted a YouTube video of a clip from Dr. No where 007 shoots Professor Dent, Dr. No’s lackey, in cold blood. Another said Bond was an anti-hero because he smokes, kills and “uses women.” Others wrote that Wilson misunderstands the Bond character or that 007 is a hero, but “a Cold War hero.”

As we presented on Feb. 1, this is the definition of anti-hero, according to

noun, plural an·ti·he·roes.
a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.

A less-evil mobster

By that definition, you could argue the label is more befitting of, say, Michael Corleone in The Godfather. He’s less evil than the leaders of the other mobs because he doesn’t want to get into the drug business. But, arguably at least, he’s not really a heroic figure.

Some have argued Bond is a hero, but a tarnished one (he does kill after all). He’s a patriot who, when he kills, does so for what he believes is a higher cause. Then again, John Le Carre would disagree, as would followers such as Robert MacNeil, the former PBS newsman.

We suspect none of this will settle the issue. As we noted before, when the two co-chiefs of Eon come down on different sides, that suggests the matter is one people will disagree about.

Michael G. Wilson says 007 is an anti-hero

Michael G. Wilson, co-boss of Eon Productions, which produces the James Bond films, gave an interview to USA Today that was published Feb. 1. This part caught our eye:

Though Bond has found competition of late in the form of Mission: Impossible installments, Liam Neeson’s action films and, particularly, Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne series, 007 continues to resonate.
“There are plenty of imitators, but Bond really is the first one that was an anti-hero,” says Skyfall producer Michael Wilson.

What is an anti-hero? The definition at reads thusly:

noun, plural -roes
a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.

Not all see Bond as an anti-hero. The 1965 television special The Incredible World of James Bond took the opposite position in describing Agent 007’s appeal. Here’s the narration (spoken over scenes of Goldfinger’s pre-titles sequence) at around the 8:50 mark:

“The secret of (Ian) Fleming’s success is that, in the age of the anti-hero, he has created a romantic hero. Neither helpless nor neurotic, James Bond transports us to a world where all things are possible: adventure, love and glory.”

The special, directed by Jack Haley Jr. was intended to promote the upcoming Thunderball.

To read the entire USA Today story JUST CLICK HERE.

Daniel Craig, 2008 and 2011 versions


A little over three years ago, Quantum of Solace was coming out. Star Daniel Craig did a number of interviews. During filming of the 2008 James Bond film, Craig TOLD USA TODAY that the story *had* be a direct sequel to Casino Royale.

More changes to the traditional formula are in store for Quantum of Solace, among them the notion of a true sequel. Bond has always been ageless, and the previous 21 movies stand largely independently of each other, but Quantum of Solace picks up where Casino Royale ended, with Bond working his way up the chain of command of the terrorists who blackmailed his lover, Vesper Lynd.

“We set something up in motion in the last one that we need to keep in touch with in this one,” Craig says. (emphasis added)

What’s more, Craig said using the title Quantum of Solace was HIS IDEA.

Asked if he agreed with fans who have laughed at the new name, Craig told GQ: “No, because I was involved in making the decision…”We had it written down on boards and we’d literally go and sit in rooms and stare at this title….As soon as it came out, people were saying, ‘Ooh, it sounds like Harry Potter.’ No, it’s Quantum of Solace. I was saying, ‘It’s a Bond title! The name of a Bond film is not about anything. Live And Let Die? Octopussy? What does it mean? It means very little. We’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Flash forward to 2011 and Craig has given an interview to Time Out. Among the disclosures IN THAT INTERVIEW? Let’s start with how Daniel Craig and Quantum Marc Forester were the real writers of the movie, not the credited Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

It seems that the script is sometimes an after-thought on huge productions.

‘Yes and you swear that you’ll never get involved with shit like that, and it happens. On “Quantum”, we were fucked. We had the bare bones of a script and then there was a writers’ strike and there was nothing we could do. We couldn’t employ a writer to finish it. I say to myself, “Never again”, but who knows? There was me trying to rewrite scenes – and a writer I am not.’

You had to rewrite scenes yourself?

‘Me and the director [Marc Forster] were the ones allowed to do it. The rules were that you couldn’t employ anyone as a writer, but the actor and director could work on scenes together. We were stuffed. We got away with it, but only just. It was never meant to be as much of a sequel as it was, but it ended up being a sequel, starting where the last one finished.’ (emphasis added)

Now, Craig is not the only 007 actor to revise his version of history (HERE’S AN EXAMPLE of Pierce Brosnan making two very contradictory statements about Tomorrow Never Dies). But it is interesting that Craig continues to call Quantum a disappointment, something that began this summer.

If Craig and Forster really did write Quantum, that may explain continuity problems with the 2008 film. Craig, by his own admission wasn’t a writer and Forster didn’t work on Casino Royale, so neither had neither the incentive or circumstances to worry about those problems. (Of course, it still doesn’t explain how Quantum was edited to make it appear M was shot when she wasn’t, shortly after the main titles).

Quantum fans are still going to like the film no matter what. So if you’re a Quantum fan, good for you. Still, when it comes to statements made by actors promoting a movie, it’s caveat emptor. That’s regardless of who’s playing James Bond. For that matter, it’s likely true of many other films.

Dubious statements about 007 movies over the years

5a. “The story here is a goodie and far easier to follow than GoldenEye that’s for sure. Who knew what the f*** that was all about? Those scenes about finding the key. . .Excuse me! The premise here is wonderful and I used what little clout I have to ensure this Bond is more character-driven so I actually have something meaty to act…”

Pierce Brosnan in 1997, discussing the virtues of Tomorrow Never Dies.

5b. “The press tour for that film was 22 countries. When I did it I knew the movie wasn’t up to speed; it wasn’t as good as GoldenEye and you have to bang the drum loudly to get the attention.”

Pierce Brosnan in 2010, looking back on Tomorrow Never Dies with something less than fondness.

4. “The books are not popular.”

Michael G. Wilson in 1989 talking about John Gardner’s 007 continuation novels and why they would not be the basis of films.

While sales would fall off later, Gardner’s first novel, Licensed Renewed, had been a best seller. If you read the full interview linked here, Wilson comments how many more people see a movie than read a novel. That’s true, but it’s also true of Ian Fleming’s original novels (at least before the movies started coming out in 1962). This one isn’t so much dubious as nitpicking, granted. But there seems to have been a bit of a chill between the movie makers and Fleming’s literary heirs for decades. We’re guessing this statement was a way of deflecting further questions about that.

3. “But 2 days on the closed set of Tomorrow Never Dies, the 18th Bond film scheduled to open stateside Dec. 19, reveal some subtle, progressive changes in the formula.

“First, the Bond girls become women with substance.

“Hatcher’s character has defied the odds and had a meaningful relationship with Bond, while Hong Kong martial arts maven Michelle Yeoh plays agent Wai Lin, capable of laying out 5 bad guys in a single scene.”

USA Today reporter Marco R. della Cava in a July 23, 1997 article describing Tomorrow Never Dies.

In the newspaper biz, they used to have clip files. That’s all digitized now but there were means in 1997 to do a little research that would have revealed that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (28 years earlier) included a love story that included an acclaimed actress (Diana Rigg) playing Bond’s love interest who (briefly) marries him. A little more digging would have revealed that The Spy Who Loved Me (20 years earlier) featured a Russian woman agent as Bond’s love interest. Agent XXX was described as 007’s “equal in every way” by that film’s director, Lewis Gilbert during filming of that 1977 movie (a clip of which is seen in Inside The Spy Who Loved Me documentary).

Not to pick on USA Today, but this sort of thing has become a cliche that seems to get used everytime a Bond movie gets filmed. In any case, if you want to read the entire USA Today story, CLICK HERE and scroll down.

2. “It’s the best we’ve had in terms of construction — a beginning, middle and end. It’s good, it’s a very good script.”

Sean Connery in 1971, describing the script of Diamonds Are Forever. (As seen in the documentary Inside Diamonds Are Forever)

For many fans, Connery remains The Man when it comes to all things Bond. But this comment apparently also shows he likes jokey stuff that some of these same 007 fans say they abhor. Even if you agree with the actor’s tastes, it’s not like the script for Diamonds is glitch free. How did the fake diamonds (Shady Tree says they were glass) survive the incineration of the casket containing the body of Peter Franks? And if you’ve ever seen the Sammy Davis Jr. scene that got cut from the film, the question is why was that in the script to begin with?

1. “It’s not science fiction, in fact, it’s science fact.”

Albert R. Broccoli, describing Moonraker.

Warning, this is nitpicking. You can’t hear explosions in outer space, like you do in Moonraker, or lots of other movies with scenes in space. Truth be told, once you get past Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, it’s hard to find a science fiction movie that really sought to stick close to science. Still, when you go out on the limb…