MI6 Confidential features Armstrong, Picker in new issue

David Picker

David Picker

MI Confidential is out with A NEW ISSUE that, among things, includes features on stuntman/second unit director Vic Armstrong and former United Artists executive David V. Picker.

Armstrong worked on the 007 film series in such films as You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He was interviewed for John Cork-directed documentaries about those movies, providing some behind-the-scenes perspective about how stunts were performed. From 1997-2002, Armstrong assumed the helm as stunt coordinator and second unit director for three Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan.

Picker was among the UA executives who reached a deal in 1961 with producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to get the 007 film series started. His memoirs were published last year, including A CHAPTER ON THE BOND FILM SERIES.

Also included in the issue are stories about Lana Wood and her experiences filming Diamonds Are Forever and Ian Fleming’s taste in cars.

The price for MI Confidential No. 25 is 7 British pounds, $11 or 8.50 euros. For more information about the contents or to order, CLICK HERE.

007 alumnus Vic Armstrong talks to NPR

Vic Armstrong, former James Bond stuntman and second unit director, was interviewed by NPR on May 18 about his new book. He talked about how a fellow stuntman, who was working on 2001: A Space Odyessey and unable to get away from it, helped him get a job on You Only Live Twice, his first 007 film.

From that rather humble beginning (Armstrong figures he got about $100 a week on You Only Live Twice), he would eventually be put in charge of Bond’s action unit. As a second unit director (on Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day), he was responsible for tens of millions of dollars.

Armstrong also did many other films, including doubling for Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones and Christopher Reeve’s Superman. In the NPR interview, Armstrong says Yakima Canutt was the greatest stuntman of all time (he did a memorable stunt in 1939’s Stagecoach and staged the chariot race in 1959’s Ben Hur), while also favorably mentioning long time 007 stunt arranger Bob Simmons and George Leech, another veteran 007 stuntman (and Armstrong’s father-in-law).

To listen to the interview, just CLICK HERE.

Two Thor credits of interest to 007 fans

You have to watch the scroll of credits in Thor’s end titles (the movie hit theaters on May 6). But for die-hard 007 fans, they’ll catch your attention:

Second Unit Director VIC ARMSTRONG

Armstrong began his association with James Bond films as a stuntman on You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In the latter, he doubles George Lazenby who, as 007, nearly skis off a ledge of a Swiss mountain. Later, he was second unit director/chief stunt arranger on three Bond movies: Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.

THOR will return in THE AVENGERS

This device mimicks the early 007 movies, starting with From Russia With Love (THE END…NOT QUITE THE END…JAMES BOND will return in the next Ian Fleming thriller, GOLDFINGER), where the Bond filmmakers told the audience the intended title of the next 007 movie. It lasted through Octopussy (which promised the next movie would be titled From a View to a Kill, later shortened to just A View To a Kill). The first couple of Christopher Reeve Superman movies also adapted the technique (Superman The Movie had, “Next Year, Superman II” while Superman II had, “Coming Soon, Superman III”)

In the case of the Marvel Comics character, The Avengers will come out next year and include Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye and other characters.

007 connection to 2011’s Green Hornet movie

Such connection would be second-unit director and stunt arranger Vic Armstrong. Armstrong’s involvement with the Bond film series goes back to 1967’s You Only Live Twice, where he was a stuntman. Two years later, he worked for his father-in-law, George Leech, who was the stunt arranger for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Armstrong made his biggest impact on the 007 film series as second unit director for three of four Pierce Brosnan’s Bond films, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough (where, in a commentary track on the DVD, he said he sought to evoke OHMSS) and Die Another Day.

Armstrong also represents an era of the 007 series when families were major contributors to the Bond series, not just the Broccoli-Wilson family that runs Eon Productions.

The Lamonts (led by art department whiz Peter Lamont), the Leech-Armstrong clan and the Broccoli-Wilson family (led by current Eon bosses Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli) all had a major impact on the James Bond film series. Armstrong, though, hasn’t been involved since 2002’s Die Another Day and George Leech is long retired.