ALL THE WORLD, SHAKEN AND STIRRED
Presidents and plebes alike have coveted the spy’s toys and lifestyle
If James Bond were a real spy, he'd be one of the worst in the business.
There's been nothing secretive about Ian Fleming's creation since the unflappable character first appeared on the bigscreen in "Dr. No" in 1962, launching the longest-running film franchise in history.
But with more than half of the world's population having seen at least one of the nearly two dozen Bond adventures, 007 has influenced everyone and everything from presidents, notably John F. Kennedy, to what consumers aspire to drive, drink or wear.
And even a half-century after his first screen adventure, he's not showing any signs of age, with Daniel Craig having helped successfully reboot the series in 2006 with "Casino Royale." He reprises the role in "Skyfall" on Nov. 9, his third outing.
Since Sean Connery started delivering quippy one-liners while battling baddies in 1962's "Dr. No," Bond has been a constant: An unflappable, suave, sophisticated woman-magnet with an appetite for the finer things in life. Two generations of men have wanted to be him, and women have wanted to be with him.
Britain has embraced Bond as its unofficial ambassador of cool, with the character wearing tailored Savile Row suits, outracing his enemies in Aston Martins, jetting around the world on British Airways (and later, Virgin Atlantic), playing "God Save the Queen" and proudly displaying the Union Jack when opportune -- including, on one occasion, on his parachute after skiing off an Alpine cliff to escape KGB killers.
No wonder then that Bond's watchmaker, the tailor of his tux, the distiller of his vodka, the location of his latest adventure, the makers of his sunglasses, his phone and car -- and songs that play during opening credit sequences -- have been scrutinized by millions for half a century.
Bond convinced millions to sip martinis, but at the start he needed an endorsement from a fan in high places to kickstart his popularity in the U.S. For years, the Bond novels were more popular in England than the U.S., only catching on when Kennedy endorsed the novels in Life magazine.
After JFK saw "Dr. No" in a private screening in 1961, "From Russia With Love" was chosen as the next pic because of the president's suggestion; it was his favorite Bond novel. A pre-release print was rushed to the White House for a private viewing in fall 1963.
Kennedy must have seen much of himself in Bond. Both had seen naval combat in World War II. Both were determined Cold Warriors.
But in retrospect, JFK's identification with Bond had a dark side. Kennedy-era plans to take down Cuba's Fidel Castro with poisoned or exploding cigars, revealed years later, sound like something from the Fleming books.
Even Kennedy's promiscuity was Bond-like, but what was fun for a fictional spy was reckless for a real-life military officer and politician. His lovers included a German spy during WWII and a Mafia moll during his presidency.
Legions of imitators
Once established, Bond kicked off a spy craze, starting in England on the smallscreen with "The Avengers." (This "Avengers" featured stylish spies, not superheroes, and featured future Bond girl Honor Blackman in its first seasons.)
American TV followed with "I Spy," "Get Smart," "Mission: Impossible," "The Man From UNCLE" and even "The Wild, Wild West," which amounted to a James Bond/Western mashup.
In features, the Bond recipe for action movies -- a jigger of danger, a shot of sex, a dash of international travel, shake with great stunts, serve cool -- has been borrowed liberally by all manner of filmmakers.
John Glen, who helmed eight Bond films (including all from the 1980s), told Variety at the Consumer Electronics Show in January he often sees references to his own action sequences in commercials, TV shows and other movies.
Comedy has felt the Bond influence as much as action. Fox spoofed Bond in 1966 with "Our Man Flint," in which James Coburn's eponymous superspy even has a fight scene with agent "triple-O-eight," played by a Sean Connery look-alike. Pic was popular enough to spawn a sequel; the spy series sired a spoof series. Then there was "Bonditis" in 1968. Decades later, 007 inspired another generation of laffers: the "Austin Powers" and "Johnny English" pics.
Bond's action descendants include "XXX," "Spy Kids," and Universal's Jason Bourne series, whose success wound up encouraging producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to return Bond to the edgier tone of Fleming's books. Even David Fincher's opening sequence for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" pays tribute to Maurice Binder's iconic title sequences.
Among recent homages to Bond are Matthew Vaughn's slick 1960s-themed "X-Men: First Class" and Christopher Nolan's "Inception." For Nolan, who grew up watching the Bond films, they always "stood for the promise of being taken to someplace bigger than you could have imagined" and "grand-scale action," the helmer said while promoting "Inception."
In fact, Nolan is such a big Bond fan that a Hong Kong- based action scene in "The Dark Knight" references the "Sky Hook" ending of "Thunderball," and the opening plane-hijacking sequence in "The Dark Knight Rises" also was heavily influenced by the spy series, he told Variety when footage was screened in December.
Bond's history of product placement reads like a roll call of luxury brands: Rolex watches, Brioni tuxedos, Bollinger champagne, Coke Zero and 7 Up soda, Finlandia vodka, Perrier water and Marlboro cigarettes. Smirnoff paid to be appear in "Dr. No" and returned for most of the other Bond outings, with Finlandia also landing placements.
As long as Bond stays popular, marketers remain eager to associate their products with him. Automakers in particular love getting Bond behind the wheel of one of their models. Besides Aston Martin, returning brands in the upcoming "Skyfall" include Sony (electronic devices), Omega (watches) and Tom Ford (suits).
But there are some deals that risk tampering with what makes Bond, well, Bond, -- at least as far as fans are concerned.
When Heineken announced in March that James Bond would drink its beer as part of a pricey product placement and promotional deal with "Skyfall," fans flocked to the Internet to fret that 007 would no longer sip his signature vodka martinis.
In fact, Bond will still quaff his cocktail in the pic, not just beer, but the Heineken deal secured $45 million for the producers and Sony Pictures to offset production costs. Such pacts go back as far as "Goldfinger," which featured Gillette and Miami's Fontainebleau resort.
As part of the deal, Craig will appear as Bond in a commercial "Skyfall"-helmer Sam Mendes will direct, while lending his likeness to packaging.
Craig has defended Bond's product placement deals, recently telling Moviefone, while shooting "Skyfall," that they are an "unfortunate" part of today's film biz.
"We have relationships with a number of companies so that we can make this movie. The simple fact is that, without them, we couldn't do it. It's unfortunate but that's how it is.
"The great thing is that Bond is a drinker, he always has been, it's part of who he is, rightly or wrongly, you can make your own judgment about it. Having a beer is no bad thing. In the movie it just happens to be Heineken." ?
All the Bonds, from top left: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig
Photos: Clockwise from top: Iconic images include a car chase in "Die Another Day," Pierce Brosnan sipping a martini in "Die Another Day," a restrained Roger Moore in "Live And Let Die," product placement of Coca-Cola, Omega on Daniel Craig and Fontainebleau resort in "Goldfinger."
Since taking the helm at Eon Productions in 1996, Broccoli and Wilson have reinvented the franchise twice and seen the pics generate more than $2.6 billion, with each of their Bond releases outperforming its predecessor at the U.S. box office.
By Marc Graser
Broccoli, Wilson remain 007's brains
Step-siblings Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson may be sitting atop one of the longest-running and most lucrative film franchises (more than $3.5 billion total gross), but the dynamic "Bond" producer duo make sure to never rest on their laurels.
Since Broccoli, along with Wilson, inherited the James Bond franchise after her acclaimed father, Cubby, passed away, the pair have pushed the epic film series to even greater stature whilst also keeping 007 close to its roots.
"You've got to take risks with a franchise and we haven't been afraid to make changes and adapt with the times," says Broccoli, who notes that even James Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, told her father that he would have to invent stories and new capers because he believed the film series would outlive the books.
And so it has.
Since taking the helm at Eon Productions in 1996, Broccoli and Wilson have reinvented the franchise twice and seen the pics generate more than $2.6 billion, with each of their Bond releases outperforming its predecessor at the U.S. box office.
One key to that success has been recognizing when to inject fresh blood and new story angles.
A case in point: recasting Daniel Craig, a younger, rugged blond, as Bond. Craig's 007 persona is a far cry from Pierce Brosnan's sultry, suave interpretation.
"When we got the rights to do 'Casino Royale' for the first time, it meant we needed to reset it back and it meant we needed a new face for Bond," Wilson says.
Broccoli puts the longevity of the franchise down to two things: First, staying true to "the principles that Cubby started."
Cubby wanted Bond pics to be producer-driven, so his heirs feel it's important for them to be hands-on, just as he was.
"There's always someone at the helm and someone with an eye on the ball," says Barbara Broccoli. "We set parameters given the changing times and some things sometimes shift within those parameters."
Also following Cubby's lead, they try to be collaborative, and to be respectful of Fleming's character whilst not being afraid to push boundaries.
Second, Barbara Broccoli and Wilson point to Bond's loyal fans as perhaps the most important driver steering the franchise past the 50- year mark. "Thank God we have a very strong fan base because we make films for them and they've been very forgiving at times when we've steered off course," she quips.
"We have a responsibility to keep it going," Wilson adds. "Nobody wants to work on the last James Bond film." ?
Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson mark the start of production on "Skyfall" last November in London.
The 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios housed "Skyfall's" sets.
By Diana Lodderhose
Stars reveal directors' secret imprint on 007
James Bond is reputed to be a producer's franchise, but there's no denying there's a strong directorial imprint on the series as well.
The Bond helmers have each left their own lingering mark on the character, and on the pictures that followed.
In fact, Sean Connery admits that director Terence Young is responsible for inventing the onscreen persona of Ian Fleming's iconic superspy when the franchise was launched with "Dr. No" (1962).
Young imbued Bond with his suave sensibilities and droll sense of humor and molded Connery in his own image.
"Terence's contributions were enormous because he was always a great bon vivant," Connery recalls. "He was very much up on the latest shirts and blazers and was very elegant himself -- whether he had money or not -- and all the clubs and that kind of establishment. [He] got me a rack of clothes and, as they say, could get me to look convincingly dangerous in the act of playing it. … And the humor was one element that was missing from the books of Fleming himself."
When Guy Hamilton succeeded Young on "Goldfinger," he helped engineer a new level of outlandish style and excitement. Bond hit the streets in his tricked-out Aston Martin DB5 and was armed with even more quips. The result was the first modern blockbuster and the template for future Bond films.
"Bond was only as good as his villains and there was a great danger in him becoming Superman," says Hamilton (who previously served as Carol Reed's assistant on "The Third Man"). "Consequently, tension goes if you know he's going to win every time."
After Connery's initial departure, editor-turned-director Peter Hunt stripped Bond of his excesses and explored his humanity in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," the most personal and tragic 007 adventure. He also crucially played Svengali to George Lazenby, an Australian model with no previous acting experience.
"Peter liked the idea of having someone outside of the acting world so he could not only get him to do what he wanted but to also have a lot of praise for being able to pull it off with an unknown," Lazenby says.
Although Lewis Gilbert got his first taste of Bond with Connery on "You Only Live Twice," he didn't leave his mark on the franchise until returning to direct Roger Moore's third outing, "The Spy Who Loved Me."
Gilbert's more absurd approach liberated Moore and the star and helmer often improvised one-liners on set.
"He and I had more or less the same sense of humor, which is slightly off the wall," Moore says. "We had a marvelous rapport."
Martin Campbell had the honor of breaking in the two most recent Bonds, Pierce Brosnan ("Goldeneye") and Daniel Craig ("Casino Royale").
The first experience was like being on a high wire ("Pierce played it straighter, so it made it that much better," Campbell says), and the second was a more introspective origin story. ("Bond's past is important because he has difficulty dealing with the violence," Campbell adds.)
However, Craig's 007 is now fully formed in the upcoming "Skyfall," which finds him reteamed with the Oscar-winning Sam Mendes, the most prestigious Bond director yet.
But unlike "Road to Perdition," this is like being on a high wire in honor of the franchise's 50th anniversary.
"I think it is still possible to make a big, entertaining, fabulous, glamorous movie and yet at the same time to say something about the world that we're living in," Mendes observed in his recent videoblog. ?
Clockwise from top: Guy Hamilton directs Roger Moore on "Live And Let Die," Lewis Gilbert on the set of "The Spy Who Loved Me," Martin Campbell with Famke Janssen and Pierce Brosnan on the set of "Goldeneye" and Terence Young helms "From Russia With Love."
Chris Ware/Keystone Features/Getty Images
By Bill Desowitz
Valerie Plame: The real-life spy who loved him
Who doesn't remember seeing their first Bond movie in the theater? Mine was "The Spy Who Loved Me" in 1977 when I was 14. Brilliant, adrenaline-inducing opening sequence of Roger Moore being chased down a mountain on skis only to escape off a cliff with a Union Jack parachute; gorgeous, sensual Barbara Bach; the weird fascination of Jaws and his steel teeth glinting in the sun. Wow! What a way to be introduced to the spy world.
However, as clever, exotic, and pleasurable as the Bond movies are, they were not the spark (at least consciously) that made me consider espionage as a career.
I joined the CIA because I was taken with the idea of serving my country while working internationally. I love that Bond dispenses with his most evil, despicable enemies in an evening jacket that only occasionally gets rumpled. I wish! The reality of gathering human intelligence generally means the hard work building relationships and trust over time. Not easy to do while driving a car at breakneck speed down an Alpine pass or trying to avoid being eaten by a shark, or sliced to bits by a yacht's propeller. Make no mistake -- Bond is an assassin, as his special "00" code indicates. His job isn't to form relationships, it's to end them. But he does it so stylishly, doesn't he?
Naturally, there are things about Bond that simply wouldn't work in a real spy's life. As a former covert CIA ops officer and female, I have had to spend more than a little time disabusing people of the notion that we sleep with men to get intelligence. Bond movies have done more than most to advance the myth that if you are female, you have to be horizontal to be effective. Sorry, as cinematic as it might be, the CIA doesn't use "honey trap" methods, because they ultimately backfire.
Not surprisingly, the CIA divorce rate is astronomically high for all the reasons one might imagine: the pressures of a job you can't talk about; being out most nights making clandestine meetings; unable to share the details of your job with your spouse. With so many enticements beckoning, too many intelligence officers think they are the real James Bond. They say that CIA training classes are the world's biggest dating service. Certainly the most expensive. In any case, it's probably similar to Hollywood in that if you are going to marry someone, it's helpful that they understand the crazy business you've both found yourselves in.
I especially enjoy the complicated set pieces watching Bond on the prowl in a dinner jacket at some elegant affair. In fact, real intelligence operations sometimes do present opportunities where you need to mix and mingle. Perhaps out of a crowd of several hundred you need to make contact with just one person, so it's certainly helpful if you know how to conduct yourself in polite company. However, the most important skill that any intelligence officer can possess is the ability to instantly assess and acclimate to a new situation. Whether it is a cocktail party brimming with potential targets, or being able to talk business so that a prospect's bullshit meter doesn't go off, a good officer must think fast on their feet.
When it's all working right, it can be great fun and there is a deep satisfaction in doing the job right. There were times when I could not believe my good luck that the government was paying me to do this job. (The natural corollary are the moments of boredom, frustration, and wretched weather.) But something they got absolutely correct about Bond: he is able to leap from one situation to the other (sometimes literally) without breaking stride or a sweat. We don't go see another Bond movie for its innovation or storyline, we line up because he takes us to exotic places and triumphs over evil with a twinkle in his eye and such style. It's the Bond magic. ?
"The Spy Who Loved Me"
Valerie Plame Wilson is a former covert CIA operations officer and author of "Fair Game." She is currently working on a fictional spy thriller "Blowback," which is set to be published in late 2012.
Photo: Timothy Dalton in "The Living Daylights".
By Valerie Plame Wilson
JANE BOND? SCRIBE'S-EYE VIEW OF 007 PIC BIRTH
According to legendary screenwriter Lorenzo Semple Jr., the beginnings of James Bond on film are as exotic, dangerous, wild and woolly as any page- turner created by Ian Fleming.
That first effort to bring 007 to the screen began in 1955, not the 1960s. It starts with a storied producer and an international film-financing scheme. And it nearly turned James Bond into a woman.
The man who first optioned a Bond novel for the movies, fittingly, was a Hollywood character Semple calls "a delicious scoundrel": actor-director-producer Gregory Ratoff, whose raffish ways and international pedigree took him from Russia to France to Hollywood to Europe to Egypt -- where our story begins.
According to Semple (whose cinematic espionage credits include screenplays for such classics as "Three Days of the Condor" and "The Parallax View" as well as the non-Eon Bond picture, "Never Say Never Again"): "The picture that Ratoff was making at the time for Fox, 'Abdullah's Harem,' was financed by wealthy Europeans, mostly Italians and some Egyptians, to get their assets out of Egypt, where the film was shooting. Some of them tried smuggling diamonds but that was the worst scheme because the fellow who sold you the diamonds also turned you in to the folks at customs.
"Anyway, Ratoff was so stressed and in such a state over the dangers of this enterprise that he vowed when he left Egypt with the only money he had, about $10,000, that he would buy the first book he saw well-reviewed in Time magazine when he landed in New York. That book turned out to be 'Casino Royale' and he bought the film rights for $6,000."
In 1954, CBS had paid Ian Fleming $1,000 for one-time broadcast rights for "Casino Royale," which aired as a live TV drama with Barry Nelson as Bond. Movie rights were available.
It's hard to imagine after 50 years of Bond pictures, but at the time Semple sat down to write a draft of what would have been the first Bond movie -- sadly, no draft appears to have survived -- neither Semple nor Ratoff were all that impressed with the dashing and deadly spy.
"Frankly, we thought he was kind of unbelievable and as I recall, even kind of stupid. So Gregory thought the solution was to make Bond a woman, 'Jane Bond' if you will, and he even had a plan to cast Susan Hayward in the role."
Semple chuckles appreciatively at the memory of Ratoff's off-kilter and certainly off-color logic about how and why Hayward was a sure thing. Imitating Ratoff's Russian accent, he recounts: "Gregory announced one day, 'We'll get Susie Hayward! I fucked her when she was a $75-a-week actress, so she owes me one!'"
The world was spared "Jane Bond," but Semple's next adventure in Bond screenwriting was 25 years later. The story of how writer-producer Kevin McClory bedeviled Eon Productions for decades over his film rights ownership stake in "Thunderball" has been told elsewhere and makes its own colorful and corrosive international tale.
It was McClory's knotty rights contract and narrative noodling around the edges of "Thunderball" that led the production team headed by industry vet Jack Schwartz-man to undertake "Never Say Never Again."
Largely as a result of all the rights complexities and the conflicting camp's interpretations of where one story was off-limits and another could begin, Semple's role as screenwriter was one of the greatest challenges of his career.
"I don't know how I managed to write a coherent screenplay, but I do know this: The lawyers made an awful lot of money and perhaps they still are."
Semple certainly earned his pay, as it was his job to sell the reluctant Connery on his take on the reboot. He flew to Marbella, Spain, and Semple recalls, "It didn't begin well. I had the worst case of laryngitis I think I ever had before or since. And Sean was tough. And his wife was even tougher. She was almost like his agent. But I understood how Sean felt. Bond was very special to him and he was very careful about Bond. In the end, he loved the idea of Bond coming back as an older man and he was in."
Semple may not have been totally sold on the fictional Bond back in the '50s, but he is unreserved in his praise for Connery as Bond, calling it "the greatest piece of casting, ever."
In Semple's view, "what made Bond work was the fact that Sean Connery wasn't an upper-class David Niven-type. That would have been deadly. Sean is working class but he has all the required elegance and intelligence. But the foundation is rooted in something people could relate to." ?
Producer Gregory Ratoff wanted Susan Hayward, below, as Bond for the '50s-era adaptation penned by Lorenzo Semple Jr.
By Steven Gaydos
Barry's sexy theme gave 007 swing
Composer's dangerous, dark vibe still guides the latest Bond scores
It all started in June 1962 with the "James Bond Theme."
London songwriter Monty Norman had written most of the score for "Dr. No," the first 007 adventure. He struggled for weeks to come up with a tune that might characterize Ian Fleming's ruthless British agent (Sean Connery), then incorporated it at several key moments in the underscore.
But for the opening titles, they wanted a more exciting and possibly commercial sound, so they sought the services of a 28-year-old arranger-producer with a little film experience and a lot of popular-music savvy: Yorkshire-born John Barry.
Barry, trumpet-playing leader of the hit-making John Barry Seven, arranged and orchestrated the "Bond Theme" for an ensemble that was part rock 'n' roll, part jazz and part classical. It was a fresh sound for a new screen hero.
"John Barry uniquely, single-handedly, created the spy genre of music," says David Arnold, composer of the past five Bond scores. "In his initial arrangement of the Bond theme you have the bebop swing vibe coupled with that vicious, distorted electric guitar. You hadn't really heard that combination before. It was cocky, swaggering, confident, dark and dangerous."
The Barry-arranged "James Bond Theme" was a hit both in the film and as a record. So starting with the second 007 film, "From Russia With Love," Barry became Bond's house composer. "Goldfinger," "Thunderball," "You Only Live Twice" and seven more films benefited from the composer's dynamic musical approach.
Barry's compelling music was not just effective in the films; it sold millions of records. The "Goldfinger" soundtrack toppled the Beatles and "Mary Poppins" to reach the top of the charts in early 1965. Shirley Bassey's vocals of "Goldfinger" and "Diamonds Are Forever" were hits, as were Tom Jones' "Thunderball" and Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice" -- all sporting memorable Barry melodies.
Barry liked to call his Bond scores "million-dollar Mickey Mouse music." As he explained before his death last year at age 77: "The films put forth a kind of simple, almost endearing comic-strip attitude toward danger, intrigue and romance. The main thing is to carry it off with style. Don't belittle the subject matter or make it cheap. Just give it a whole lot of style and make it sound like a million dollars."
Those who followed Barry (including Marvin Hamlisch on "The Spy Who Loved Me" and Bill Conti on "For Your Eyes Only") were obligated to emulate his bold, brash style -- which, Barry often said, meant employing brass and percussion in creative ways to make sure the music could be heard over the inevitable sound effects of gunfire, explosions and screeching tires.
Beginning in 1997 with "Tomorrow Never Dies," Arnold -- the only composer besides Barry to do more than one 007 epic -- followed the Barry style but updated it with contemporary rhythms and electronics, not to mention performers like Propellerheads ("Tomorrow Never Dies"), Garbage ("The World Is Not Enough") and Chris Cornell ("Casino Royale").
"John Barry casts an enormous shadow," says Arnold. "He is the sound of James Bond. You ignore it at your peril. It's inescapably entwined with the character."
Arnold, now busy overseeing music for London's Summer Olympics, has passed the baton to composer Thomas Newman for this year's "Skyfall." ?
Jon Burlingame is the author of "The Music of James Bond" (Oxford University Press), the first behind-the-scenes chronicle of the creation of the Bond songs and scores. It will be released in October.
Photo: John Barry, as he appears onscreen in "The Living Daylights" and Marvin Hamlisch, right, conducting the N. Y. Philharmonic in 2009.
By Jon Burlingame
Bond tops the pops
A View To A Kill (1985)
From: "A View To A Kill"
Two weeks as Billboard No. 1; 13 weeks in the top 40.
Single reached No. 8; soundtrack album hit No. 1 -- nosing out "Beatles '65" and the "Mary Poppins" soundtrack.
Nobody Does It Better (1977)
From: "The Spy Who Loved Me"
Three weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard charts; 15 weeks in the top 40 (longest of any Bond theme).
Live And Let Die (1973)
PAUL MCCARTNEY & WINGS
From: "Live And Let Die"
Three weeks at No. 2 on the Billboard charts; 12 weeks in top 40.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
From: "For Your Eyes Only"
Reached No. 4 on the Billboard charts; 14 weeks in top 40.
Compiled by Dan Doperalski
Bonds, baddies & babes
1963 Sean Connery feted last night by UA at the Directors Guild screening of "Dr. No," plus a feed at Chasen's, was only a coupla years ago hitching rides on Hollywood Blvd. That's show biz.
-- Daily Variety, March 14, 1963
Sean Connery gives his co-star, Honor Blackman, a kiss on the set of "Goldfinger" in 1964.
1964 At Chasen's, locals hosted (and toasted) Honor Blackman, costar of "Goldfinger" who made a cross-country tour with the pic.… Honor B. happily looks forward to "Moment to Moment" (her next pic) which will not require any physical violence -- for a change. "I'll be happy if I never again have to do judo," she said within earshot of director Guy Hamilton.
-- Daily Variety, Nov. 30, 1964
Diana Rigg and George Lazenby attend a press conference for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
1969 The new "James Bond," George Lazenby, hadda come to Hollywood to see himself as "007" - but no one in the local audience recognized the longhaired, bearded one as the star of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" […] He is still insistent this is the first and last "Bond" film for him. "I'm just an actor -- not 'Bond.' It took Sean (Connery) three films before he started to complain -- I made one, and halfway thru it I started objecting."
-- Daily Variety, Dec. 17, 1969
1971 Scene between Sean Connery and Lana Wood in the Riviera casino was ruined by the p.a. blaring, "Mr. Sean Connery, long distance -- ." […] In the casino between takes, Connery plays the quarter slots, whereas James Bond rolls dice for $50,000. (And Cubby Broccoli plays baccarat.)
-- Daily Variety, April 28, 1971
1973 UA's "Live And Let Die" screened at Grauman's followed by a Chasen's supper party where Roger Moore was properly toasted as a terrific James Bond. Despite his cool bravery on screen, Moore was too nervous to view the film, instead he braced himself for audience reaction later at the eatery. […]
-- Daily Variety, June 26, 1973
1974 Christopher Lee, here to p.a. "Man With the Golden Gun," and weary of queries about his horror-film past, shrugged, "I guess the 'Dracula' image is just a cross I have to bear." That, sirrah, is the unkindest cut of all.
-- Daily Variety, Dec. 4, 1974
Christopher Walken dyed his hair platinum for the filming of "A View To A Kill" in 1985.
1985 Christopher Walken, who went platinum to play the evil Max Zorin, James Bond's arch-enemy in "A View To A Kill," tells us he still has to dye his hair back to its natural color six months after the pic.
-- Daily Variety, June 10, 1985
1995 "I'm glad I didn't screw it up for the kids. They could say, 'My father buried Bond,'" Pierce Brosnan said after an emotional premiere of "Goldeneye" Wednesday night at the Acad.
-- Daily Variety, Nov. 10, 1995
Halle Berry went back to work as Jinx in "Die Another Day" after her Oscar win in 2002.
2002 (Halle) Berry didn't have time to savor the Oscar victory as she left the next day for filming as Jinx in "Die Another Day." As for this role, she says, "I play the feminine James Bond. She's the next step in the evolution of women in the Bond movies. She's more modern -- more intelligent -- and not the classic villain." Sure there are love scenes, she allows, but there's no disrobing, reminding, Bond films are PG-13. "And besides, I've been there," she laughed -- "and I'm not looking to do that again!"
-- Daily Variety, April 12, 2002
50 YEARS OF BOND POSTERS
Dr. No (1962)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
From Russia With Love (1963)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
A View To A Kill (1985)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Casino Royale (2006)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
The Living Daylights (1987)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Live And Let Die (1973)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Licence To Kill (1989)
Die Another Day (2002)
With help from 007, Lion regains its roar
In recent years, MGM has had almost as many brushes with death as James Bond, but today the Lion is most certainly alive -- in part thanks to a rescue by 007.
The Lion went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2010, saddled with $4 billion debt. Within a few weeks it emerged from bank-rupcty. Its new management, including co-chairmen and CEOs Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum, had succeeded in raising $500 million to get the company back on its feet.
One thing that helped impress invstors: the Bond library and opportunity to continue the most enduring franchise in the history of movies.
"When you have something of that ilk, it's one of your most significant assets," Barber told Variety. "Financiers or people coming in rely on that foundation.
"(Bond) is the crown jewels of the company," says Barber. "When you look at the Lion and you look at James Bond, it's synonymous with the company."
Barber and Birnbaum say they were courting Eon principals Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson even before MGM emerged from Chapter 11.
Birnbaum says, "We immediately let Barbara and Michael know that if we were installed as the new co-chairs and CEOs of MGM, it was our first order of business to take care of that franchise."
Barber and Birnbaum hurried to secure new deals for Eon and Bond rights holder Danjaq, nail down worldwide theatrical distribution (mostly through Sony) and homevideo (20th Century Fox) and get the next Bond into pre-production.
As a result, "Skyfall" will release just two years after they jumped in to take charge of the Lion -- and, coincidentally, almost exactly 50 years after the preem of "Dr. No." Birnbaum says MGM is "fully engaged" with Bond and promises to continue to make the franchise a priority. "We do not want to have audiences waiting five or six years for the next James Bond."
Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum
By David S. Cohen
Boxed set brings restored Bond series to Blu-ray
It may have taken six years, but the longest-running film franchise will finally be released on Blu-ray as a complete set this fall, as part of James Bond's 50th anniversary.
All 22 films in the spy series will be packaged in an anni box set by Twentieth Century Fox and MGM, with discs debuting just before "Skyfall" bows Nov. 9.
The set will retail for $199 and include 130 hours of bonus features. Studio will announce further details later this month.
Nine Bond films -- "Goldeneye," "Octopussy," "The Spy Who Loved Me," "You Only Live Twice," "The Living Daylights," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Diamonds Are Forever," "A View To A Kill" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" -- were previously unavailable on Blu-ray.
Fox and MGM had wanted to release the entire collection on Blu-ray sooner, but chose to wait for the anniversary, giving time for MGM to emerge from its bankruptcy and subsequent reorganization. MGM reupped its homevideo distribution pact with Fox last year. Deal runs through 2016.
All the titles in the boxed set are expected to be transfers from the 4K restorations made by Lowry Digital. Lowry painstakingly restored each title frame-by-frame for the Ultimate Edition DVDs that were released starting in late 2006. The studios started promoting the set at January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with former Bond directors John Glen ("For Your Eyes Only," "Octopussy," "A View To A Kill," "The Living Daylights" and "Licence To Kill"), Martin Campbell ("Goldeneye," "Casino Royale") and Michael Apted ("The World Is Not Enough") taking the stage at the Panasonic booth to discuss their experiences giving 007 his orders.
Most of the helmers praised Blu-ray's visuals, with Glen noting that "there was a resistance to showing (Bond films) on TV at all" because of their quality. "TVs have improved. Now we have Blu-ray. You are seeing the films in all their glory."
Apted was surprised to land the directing gig for "The World Is Not Enough," after establishing himself with dramas ("Gorillas in the Mist") and docs (the "Up" series).
"For me (directing a Bond movie) was scary as hell," he said on the panel. "I thought it was a joke. I had never done anything like this."
After helming one, "it's exciting to know there are a lot of people who are waiting for your film but scary because there a lot of people ready to rip it apart.… I just knew certain things had to be delivered -- the girls, the one-liners, the action. I was very much aware of the heightened expectations. You ignore those things at your own peril."
By Marc Graser
'Skyfall' PROMISES HUMAN HERO
Craig puts his stamp on James Bond
Both "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace" offered auds a taste of a how 007 was evolving to fit the times: Daniel Craig's James Bond proved to be more rugged and raw, darker and more emotive than previous Bonds and made for a cool fit for the younger generation.
"Skyfall," helmed by Sam Mendes, looks set to see Craig's character continue the tough-guy-with-feelings trend as Bond faces his most interesting and challenging villain to date, Silva (played by Javier Bardem), who "certainly puts James Bond through the paces," says producer Barbara Broccoli.
While Craig is involved in all aspects of the pic, the "Skyfall" character has moved to accommodate him.
"He feels very much like a 21st-century incarnation of the character," says Broccoli. "He has more humanity, he is very proactive and yet thoughtful in his portrayal."
And Craig's character has certainly clicked with auds, a fact that Broccoli is thankful for, especially considering the courtship Eon underwent to nab the thesp for the role: "Daniel took some convincing," she recalls. "But we knew we wanted him and we went after him."
By Diana Lodderkose
007's most persistent foe: His own dark reflection
James Bond has had to cope with quite the disparate rogues' gallery over the course of some two dozen adventures. Some of his nemeses are flamboyant to the point of camp. A few are obsessed with a personal cause, while others as often cause chaos for the money and the game.
And in many memorable encounters, when 007 faces off against his principal foe, he's actually facing off with himself.
Ian Fleming's creation begins in films as in the original novels, a workaday government investigator whose antagonists are similarly earthbound. Though the likes of Dr. No and Auric Goldfinger are tinged with exotic touches and comic exaggeration, they're mostly nasty Eurotrash who could fit into a John LeCarre procedural.
Sean Connery tossed the odd quip at assorted Spectre thugs, but mostly brought them down with a dogged determination that seemed appropriate at the height of the Cold War.
But, as scoundrels were dispatched by means often verging on the superhuman, and as movie tried to top the last, the fiends had to get increasingly fiendish. At times, the only bad guy bad enough to threaten Bond seemed to be a Bond doppelganger -- a dark reflection of the hero.
The idea of a Bond doppelganger first surfaces in 1964's "From Russia With Love," when Connery is stalked and shot dead before the opening credits. (It's actually a Spectre goon in a Bond mask.) Entering later is Robert Shaw as blond stud Red Grant, a neurotic extension of Fleming's icy professional operative -- and as such, easily the most formidable foe of the early pix.
As Connery gave way to Roger Moore, the villains remained literally and figuratively big -- the actors playing Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Dr. Kananga and Hugo Drax must have drawn heavily on the plus-sized racks at Pinewood Studios' costume department. Then Chistopher Lee emerges from the sea as suave, svelte assassin Scaramanga in "The Man With The Golden Gun," and for a moment you think it's Bond himself.
And why not? "He speaks of you," the bad-die's mistress informs 007. "He even has a likeness of you." The assassin-for-hire with the superfluous nipple greets him like a long-lost bro. "We have so much in common, Mr. Bond. … Ours is such a lonely profession," he burbles.
That pic was a fizzle, and in the era of detente the commies and crooks of Smersh and Spectre no longer seemed as threatening, so Bond found himself battling grandiose planet transformation schemes (Stromberg's undersea kingdom in "The Spy Who Loved Me"), and efforts to lure East and West into unwanted nuclear confrontations (General Orlov in "Octopussy"). But the budgets, gadgets and comical streak had all begun to balloon out of control.
Bond came back to reality as the role was assayed by thesps who visibly winced at the inane puns they were forced to utter. No sooner did Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan start exploring 007's psyche as a licensed assassin with serial mistresses and a heart of cold, than Bond's evil twins reappeared. "I'm alone," 007 whispers in "Goldeneye." "Aren't we all?" retorts Sean Bean's Alec Trevelyan, erstwhile 006 now working to bring England down. "We're both orphans, James." Sophie Marceau shows up as a kind of distaff 007 in "The World Is Not Enough," swaying men with sex as Bond had so often seduced women. (Remember he once turned Pussy Galore to his side by appealing to her "maternal instincts.") Then "Die Another Day" delivers Gustav Graves, a demented Richard Branson-type cast in Bond's very image: "I chose to model myself on you," he sneers. "The unjustifiable swagger; the crass quips; a defense mechanism concealing such inadequacy."
Daniel Craig countenances none of that guff. Through two efforts to date, and "Skyfall" just around the corner, he's the realest, cruellest, most tortured Bond ever. Bond is back to human scale, and his nemeses are, too.
But some things don't change. In "Casino Royale" he sits across the poker table from the elegant, chilly, tuxedoed Le Chiffre -- one more, and almost certainly not the last, malevolent mirror image of Bond himself.
Photo: Gustav Graves, "Die Another Day"
Photo: "You Only Live Twice"
Photo: "Die Another Day"
Photo: "From Russia With Love"
Photo: "The World Is Not Enough''
Photo: "The Man With The Golden Gun"
Photo: "Live And Let Die"
By Bob Verini
Carmakers race to put Bond inside their wheels
While Bond has driven an Aston Martin in 11 movies, BMW used three films to launch its Z3 roadster (top) and promote its motorcycles and sedans.
There's been fierce competition among automakers over the past five decades to get James Bond behind the wheel of their vehicles -- especially after manufacturers started seeing sales spike with every new adventure.
Aston Martin will provide 007's hero car for the 11th time in November's "Skyfall," with Daniel Craig driving the 1964 DB5 that first appeared in "Goldfinger," then returned for four more films.
But the British car company has found that money has sometimes meant more than tradition. (In Ian Fleming's books, Bond drives a Bentley.)
Germany's BMW locked down a pricey three-picture product placement pact starting with 1995's "Goldeneye," which helped launch its Z3 roadster.
Sales quickly took off after the film's bow, encouraging BMW to promote its other sedans, sports cars and motorcycles through "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "The World Is Not Enough."
For 2002's "Die Another Day," Ford Motor Co. ponied up a reported $35 million to steal away the deal, putting Bond back inside an Aston Martin for that film, as well as "Casino Royale" and "Quantum of Solace." The new pact allowed the company to promote Fords and luxury brands Jaguar, Volvo and Land Rover, all of which it owned at the time.
Jaguar and Land Rover are now owned by Indian carmaker Tata Motors, which realized the power of Bond's impact on sales on the brands over the years and secured prominent placements in "Skyfall."
Julian Jenkins, VP, Aston Martin the Americas, says his company is delighted to James Bond continue his "love affair" with Aston Martin.
"Aston Martin is now synonymous with James Bond and undoubtedly this long-standing association has enabled us to achieve greater brand awareness globally, particularly in areas and nations where our brand is perhaps otherwise not as well known."
Bond's cars have become so iconic that General Motors' senior exterior designer Nick David -- a native of Wales -- said at the New York Auto Show in April that the spy's Aston Martins inspired him while designing the Chevrolet Tru 140S concept car. "Especially the ones in the films where you have guns coming out of the headlamps and all the gadgets," he said. "I think that's every little boy's dream."
By Marc Graser
Eye-candy locales develop an edge
Bond films are often defined by their scenes' foreground: tailored suits, beautiful women, that ever-present martini. Yet, much of the franchise's iconic aesthetic comes from the background as well. Exotic locations are de rigueur in every Bond pic -- though the franchise's definition of "exotic" has evolved over the decades.
The Bond backgrounds, according to Anthony Waye, longtime location manager and assistant helmer for the Bond franchise, were to take people to "places they'd never seen," but that was easier when "Dr. No" opened in 1962. Then the term "jet set" really meant something. James Bond's freedom to book a plane at a moment's notice and decamp for Turkey, Japan or Switzerland had a definite "wow" factor.
"The famous 'Dr. No' scene of Ursula on the beach (in the Caribbean), it was a great visual," Waye says.
But with 101 million Americans holding passports and international travel more common, the "Dr. No" beach scenes "nowadays wouldn't have such an impact," he says. Recent Bond pics have featured more challenging settings, such as Kazakhstan (doubled by Spain), the Chilean desert and North Korea (shot in Hawaii and Britain) -- still places people have never seen, but not dream vacation spots.
Speaking from his office in Turkey, where he returned from retirement to manage a location for "Skyfall," Waye recalls shooting "Goldeneye" in Puerto Rico (subbing for Cuba) on the Arecibo radio telescopes. "They were stunningly visual massive receivers and of course virtually no public would ever get to see that." Such locales don't always impact the plot. The Greek monastery in "For Your Eyes Only" provides a dramatic backdrop but did little to propel the story.
The Bond franchise's taste for such eye candy has been imitated by other action pictures, says Waye. Since "many more films are going around the world looking to get the visual," he says, competition for fresh locales has become more intense.
"Movies like 'Ghost Protocol,' they've gone to exotic locations like India, Dubai and Russia to do action sequences. … They're out to do what 'Bond' was doing for years: incorporate stunts with stunning visual locations."
CG environments and backgrounds have become a substitute for lengthy location shooting, even for the Bond pics. But Waye says using CG "affects the visuals of the film."
"We've always tried to do everything for real," he says. But sometimes the unusual locales that add edge to 007's adventures prove too edgy for a movie shoot. "We were going to shoot in Istanbul for 'The World Is Not Enough,'" he recounts. "We'd come here, we set up an office, and then there were two or three suicide bombers … we had to move to Spain.
"You have to be aware of the political saturation," he says.
But for Waye, the global trek and the jet lag that comes with it are worth it: "If you shot these scenes in a football stadium," he says, "it just wouldn't have the same effect."
Bond's Caribbean travels in "Dr. No" established him as a true jet setter, but today's pics seek more adventurous settings.
Hand in Cuba …
North Korea …
By A.J. Marechal
[Source: Variety. 5/14/2012, Vol. 427 Issue 1, p56-76 © Copyright 2012 Reed Business Information.]