mardi 23 février 2010

My tailor is rich ( but he deserves it )

My best friend ( and actor ) Julien Vialon - a former French 007 Fan Club President himself - paid a visit to London last week and took the time to visit some crucial ' James Bond locations ' - so to speak .

First step was to have a look at the World famous tailor , Turnbull & Asser , based in Savile Row ;

Celebrities and Stars like Sir Winston Churchill , Sir David Niven, Art Garfunkel , ' several Princes of Wales ' ( quote from their opening page ! ) have been regular customers of the grandiose Tailor office ...Not to forget all the James Bond actors of course .

Amongst those Celebs , a Film director called Terence Young who took his future Dr No star - a former scottish truck driver who will be rocketed to stardom a few months later - to have his new 007-like shirts specially made for him ...The rest is History .

Thanks to the kindness of Turnbull & Asser 's people - and more specially M. Raymond Bailey - Julien listened to some fascinating information on the behind-the-scene tailor business with Mr Bond ...

For instance the little-known fact behind Daniel Craig's Casino Royale shirt measurement seance in the shop ;

The actor casually ripped open the first model when trying it for measurements - being slightly too ...Muscular for the size !

Aknowledgements : Turnbull & Asser , M. R. Bailey .
Pics taken by Julien Vialon and kindly reproduced .
Sir Sean Connery pic reproduced from Turnbull & Asser Livre d'Or - Do not use without permission .

samedi 20 février 2010

Spy Craze ( Monty Python style )

Ok, let me just indulge myself : Spamalot! has at least opened in Paris this week - with tremenduous success I might add , and as a long time ( die hard ) Python Fan, I wanted to pay a little hommage to that band of Gonzos who initiated me to the finest Art of British Humour .

So started to search for James Bond related material in Monty Python's Flying Circus catalogue of fabulous sketches ...

Mind you, I could have taken the obvious easier route and start writing a panegyric about the most Bondian member of the Pythons...

You know the guy who's incapable of correctly slamming the door of a Z9 BMW coupé in the Q work room ... ( and had already sent up the Bond image in a TV commercial years earlier...) , but it would have been too...Contrite .

( Find instead two pictures taken at Stoke Poges's 2002 Ian Fleming Foundation James Bond Anniversary affair where I interviewed the Silly Walk Master for French TV... )

Hence the proud displaying of this other gem : a nice send up of Brit 1960's Spy craze Tv series ...With Terry Jones at his best !

Think Danger Man, think Man In A Suitcase , think The Avengers ... And, of course , most of all...Think about a certain Double O Agent who started it all...

And , above all, pay attention to the Credits music !

Many ,many thanks to Doug Redenius & the Ian Fleming Foundation .

mercredi 10 février 2010

The 00,7 % Solution

While watching Guy Ritchie 's re-invention of Sherlock Holmes , I couldn't help thinking about the parallels with Ian Fleming's own litterary Hero .

Both characters were established stalwart Hollywood heroes , and yet were recently completely turned upside down for a new movie-goers generation ...With a tremenduous success of each of the concerned ' franchise ' ( heck, Holmes movies have been here since the dawn of Cinema too ) .

Some years back I had started writting a comparative study about Holmes & Bond , mainly focusing on the common denominators between the two .
That little piece has never seen the light of printed publication so far so I guess part of it could entertain the readers of that Blog more than a decade later .

Let's start with the obvious : both 007 & Sherlock Holmes have survived the loss of their original creators .
Afficionados will instantly point out the fact that one of the official 007 Continuation novels writer ( such are named the authors having succeeded Ian Fleming with new James Bond litterary adventures ) was also the creator of Holmes nemesis most famous trilogy ,the infamous Professor Moriarty one. ( John Gardner - as it is him we're referring to - wrote three novels using the character of Professor Moriarty , nemesis of Sherlock Holmes in the original ACD series. The third of this series, titled simply 'Moriarty', was delayed due to a dispute with the publisher, but was finally released shortly after his death.).

More intriguing even is the fact that way back in 1988 , a certain John D.Bryan thought he had a brilliant idea and wrote a study simply titled ' James Bond : Did he really live twice ? ' .
With the open goal of thoroughly researching similarities between Fleming's and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 221b resident creations .
Having eagle-spotted said title in a 007 magazine books review section of the time, I got in touch with its author...
Let's be honest : if it wouldn't be for its intriguing subject alone , this book would be a mish-mash of rehearsed ideas , mixing film-biased opinions with literary-ones with the obvious result of completely confusing the poor reader in the end !
( For example , the author heavily insists on the fact that Sherlock too uses...Gadgets - and quote therefore Basil Rathbone's tricked cane appearing during his tenure as Sherlock Holmes . I have re-read Sir ACD original work - with a magnifying glass ! - and have been so far incapable of pinpointing such a ' gadget' as part of Holmes routine equipment... )

This noted , if I had to point out a Fleming - universe character akin to Sherlock Holmes , I would choose myself someone in the like of...Major Boothroyd aka Q , for the sheer genius of some of his inventions ! But this is another story ...

This book succeeds on one idea : trying to put on a same level two very different universes - with their own codes .
Bearing that in mind , it becomes a fascinating reading - since it pre-empted the Martin Campbell / Guy Ritchie efforts by more than 20 years ahead ( if one does indeed see the Richie Holmes variation as some sort of Victorian rejuvenated James Bond ...)

' Re booting ' maybe the 'in' thing right now in Hollywood ...But it certainly ain't no brand new idea either... Unless it's done with utmost care for the original subject .
Which I'm pleased to note , was the case both for 2006's Casino Royale and 2009's Sherlock Holmes as well !
So, ok, I'll admit it's not MY Sherlock Holmes ( and neither is , should I add, Daniel Craig's 007 the James Bond I imagine ) , but both visions will ensure the longevity of Sir arthur Conan Doyle's and Ian Lancaster Fleming's litterary creations for the 21rst century movie goers generation . And for this alone we should be grateful ...

Acknowledgements : M.Thierry Saint Joanis & La Société Sherlock Holmes de France .

dimanche 7 février 2010

Sir Johnny Dankworth , R.I.P

David Arnold signaled us on his FB page the passing of the great music composer Johnny Dankworth , author - amongst many wonderful scores - of the unmistakable themes of ' The Avengers ' ( 1961 Honor Blackman season ) and...Joseph Losey 's joyous and mad Modesty Blaise ...

Here's to you , Sir !

Half Spy...Half Wit . 100% Cheesy : it's Fox HUNT !

Someday , an illustrious Film historian will have to write a definitive review of George Lazenby 's numerous winks and / or cameos regarding that character he played in the 1969 Peter Hunt directed Masterpiece ... Be it ' The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E ' ( a remarkable awful 80's revival of a once great franchise ) , the new ' Alfred Hitchcock Presents ' anthology episode ' Diamonds Aren't Forever ' or...This singularity of a movie - Fox HUNT !

That one is indeed a strange object .
Years before licencing & merchandising brought us such gems as Electronic Arts' Goldeneye : Rogue Agent or Activision's lame QofS adaptation, some inspired producers decided to combine a live action movie with a video game format !
Like any second grade spy movie, Fox Hunt has beautiful women, double agents, and exotic locations (Las Vegas and Colorado to name two…) but ultimately reveils its real cheesy second grade nature trying to be smarter than its illustrious counterparts , while clearly not having the necessary budget to achieve such a daunting task .
Basic ex : when was the last time you saw a 007 clone take a jet-propelled wheelchair ride through a hospital, escape from crossdressing Soviets, or shoot down anvil-wielding Rob Lowe clones while freefalling from 20,000 feet - AND trying to outsmart Moonraker pre-credits sequence ? ( those of you who answered ' in an Austin Powers movie ' won. But Austin Powers movies do have budget ! ) .

Some nice ideas here and there though : our hero ( your average BTTF / Karate-kid type Teen ) is a Cult 80's TV series geek , which allows for hilarious excerpts from 'Fung Yu ' , 'The Love Cruise ' or even 'Fantasy Isthmus' . Ok , I'm red with shame now...

The result : a less than inspired movie , with a budget so miserable it tries to pass US snowy Rocky Mountains for Azerbaïdjan's URSS ones (...Without erasing the US road signs ! ) and make John Landis similar 'Spies Like Us ' caper looks like the Citizen Kane of modern Spy Comedy thrillers ( yep, it's that good indeed ) .

And as for the game itself ( released in 1996 for PC & PS1 only ) , let's just say that it was already out-of-date at the very time of its initial release ( with badly photographed VR inserts , directly taken from the 16mm shot namesake film of course ).
In the likes of legendary ' Who Shot Johnny Rocks ? ' Live action games , Fox HUNT suffers today from its obvious Video capture technique limitations...And some really , really dumb plot .

And what about dear old George Lazenby in it ?
Our fav' 007 plays ' veteran Spy & master of diguise ' Chaucey ( a sort of Q-like figure , if you want ).
A character who seems molded on The Wild Wild West 's Artemus Gordon one ...
Trouble is , George plays it straight ( while some distance would have been much appreciated ).
That's the main default of the whole enterprise : a Spy comedy which takes itself much too seriously indeed ...

Conclusion: for completists only ( do not even think it has been released on DvD.)

vendredi 5 février 2010

No One Comes Close to...Shrek ?

A few years back , I asked my friend Stephane ( a mad James Bond Fan illustrator ) to create a 007 variation of the Shrek franchise ...
Here is the magnificent result .
Check all the little details embedded in the illustration ( such as Honey Ryder belt on Princess Fiona 's...Green bikini - nice touch - , or the more obvious Martini glass held by that infamous Villain ,Lord Farquaad himself...)

And don't forget to have a look on Stephane 's recently revamped website :

mercredi 3 février 2010

The most dangerous Bond ...Ever !

If not Pierce, who for The Living Daylights...?
Mrs. Cubby - the Dana of Danjac SA - said: “Have another look at Tim Dalton.” He had been seen for OHMSS.
I felt it’d be dumb, really stupid, to take over from Connery... particularly at 25.” (Much the same reason why Pierce was relieved at not being able to make Dalton’s Daylights).
This time, Tim was keen.
Having by now read all the books, he wanted to “try and capture Fleming’s Bond.
I couldn’t see myself taking over and not doing it my own way.”

Fine, said Cubby. Let’s go. “You must bring your own interpretation to it.” Difficult with script, written for Moore, slightly adjusted for Brosnan...
Tim finished Brenda Starr in Jacksonville, Florida, on a Saturday, flew to London on the Sunday and was playing 007 on Monday morning.
“A transitional film,” he said. “You have a very valid responsibility to the past and the prize success of those films.” Cubby was delighted with Tim. “ A vanishing breed: a gentleman actor with a highly tolerable ego.”
Even Sean approved.
Declining GoldenEye ( nda : although officially announced in 'Bond 17 ' ) , Tim holds the record of being considered for films made by each of the other 20th Century 007s (OHMSS, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy.).
Sad to see him go.
Tim remained as close to Fleming’s Bond as he did to members of the Broccoli family. They invited him to be one of the pallbearers at Cubby’s 1996 funeral.

Tony Crawley
Photos © Nicole Michelet & Media Bis ( 1989 )

lundi 1 février 2010

The Man Who Was James Bond ...

R.I.P Martin Grace .

James Bond stuntman and stunt double Martin Grace has passed away at the age of 67 on 29-01-10 .

Mr Grace was a stunt performer and co-ordinator, and was Roger Moore's stunt double through most of the Bond films. His first 007 credit was on "You Only Live Twice" in 1967, before becoming Moore's regular stunt double from "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) up until his departure from the series in "A View To A Kill" (1985).

Since I was planning to follow up my first entry on the 1983 Octopussy shooting exclusive pictorial, I decided to slightly modify its angle to pay hommage to the man .

So do remember the man who make Roger Moore 's 007 look invincible while browsing on that page .

Pictures taken during the 1rst unit filming at Petersborough by September 82', at the Nene Valley Railway , where most of the Train action sequences were shot .

Many thanks to Ross Hendry ,for kindly giving me copies of the photos he took this very day - and permission of using them .
Those pics have all been embedded with a micro dot ( courtesy of Photoshop ) , enabling me to trace them ,should anyone decide to reproduce the pics without permission . You've been warned .