Hollywoodland Mar 13 2015
SPECTRE OF CASH
They say money talks. It also writes.


Where would we be without leaked documents in this day and age? There’s an interesting story hitting the wires today about how the Mexican government pressured Sony Pictures and MGM to change the script of the upcoming James Bond film Spectre in exchange for $14 million dollars. The money took the form of tax incentives, but in the real world it’s no different than bagloads of cash. The information comes from hacked e-mails provided by an unknown North Korean person or group. According to the e-mails, the Mexican government wanted an assassin’s identity changed from Mexican to some other nationality, an assassination target likewise changed from Mexican to other, and insisted upon the casting of a Mexican Bond girl. The last demand was met with the hiring of Sonora-born Stephanie Sigman.

All of this is pretty much business as usual in moviemaking—hardly even a story, really. But we always write about Bond here, so this item seemed worth sharing. The last aspect of the e-mails that interested us was a demand that the film include aerial shots of Mexico City’s skyline, with an emphasis on the modern buildings. Tens of millions of travelers from every part of the globe visit Mexico each year because of its native ruins, beautiful Spanish colonial architecture, indigenous food, historically authentic festivals, thousands of miles of beaches, and warmwaters, yet Mexican officials wanted its few glass skyscrapers to appear onscreen to emphasize to shallow businessmen that, yes, we too can offer the type of cookie-cutter modernity you love. It’s fascinating to us. The world won’t know how much of the Mexican government’s wish list was granted until Spectre’s November 2015 release, but if we had to guess we’d say all of it.

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Hollywoodland Mar 5 2015
IMPERFECT PAIR
Eew, you mean you want me to, like, hug her and stuff?

When we saw this we had to share it. It’s a centerfold from Belgium’s Ciné Télé Revue magazine featuring Claudine Auger and Sean Connery. Made when they were promoting their pairing in the James Bond actioner Thunderball, the dubious expression on Connery’s seemingly lipsticked face is exactly the same as if he’d been forced to hug an octopus, while Auger seems to be having fun, but ended up with a double chin that probably made her shriek in horror when she saw the shot. But even though we suspect both actors probably fired their publicists after this, the result is a rare, candid photo showing that even the prettiest stars are, in the end, imperfect.

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Vintage Pulp Jun 18 2014
BOND POSSIBILITIES
Two Fleming covers offer opposite visions of how to Live large.

Sometimes we get in the mood for a true classic, so at top is the excellent 1966 Macmillan Publishers edition of Ian Fleming’s Live and Let Die. It’s possible the James Bond books have had more cover iterations than any other series, and most of them are high quality, often trending toward the sort of luridness we love, but we also like the simple, elegant graphics of Macmillan's deep green masterpiece. On the other hand, if we were to go lurid then there’s no better art to be found than on the 1964 cover Vivi e lascia morire from the Italian imprint Garzanti. The variations on Live and Let Die are practically infinite, but the Garzanti edition is our other favorite (though this one is great too). There is no artist info on these, which is criminal, we think. We’ll dig, though, and see what we can find. As a matter of taste, it’s interesting to contemplate which of the two books we would buy, assuming we could buy only one. Tough choice. What do you think? 

Update: the second cover was painted by Giovanni Benvenuti.

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Vintage Pulp Dec 16 2013
CASINO CULTURE
It’s possible to have too many Bonds.

1967’s Casino Royale wasn’t a global Christmas movie in the sense that today’s films are, however it did premiere Christmas week in ten European countries, as well as today in Japan. The movie wasn’t good. Basic idea: Sean Connery is an imposter, so the real James Bond in the form of David Niven is coaxed out of retirement, and he comes up with a plan to confuse his arch enemies SMERSH by renaming all British agents—male and female—James Bond. Time’s review of Casino Royale was headlined “Keystone Cop Out,” and The New York Times’ Bosley Crowther was just as scathing, noting that “since it’s based more on slapstick than wit, with Bond cliché piled upon cliché, it tends to crumble and sprawl.”
 
But one thing about holiday blockbusters—past and present—is that they’re expensively promoted. The many posters produced to sell Casino Royale were top notch. A U.S. poster painted by the legendary Robert McGinnis remains one of his most iconic pieces, but we also like these Italian quattro foglio promos painted by the extensively and expensively collected Giorgio Olivetti. We saw a set of these asking $8,500 at an auction site. By contrast, below are several U.S. promos, not paintings but photo-illustrations, on which the film’s secondary players get starring roles. They aren’t nearly as collectible as the movie’s paintings, but they’re pretty, so we’re sharing them as well.

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Intl. Notebook Sep 10 2013
LOTUS ACQUISITION
James Bond submarine car sells at auction.

We’ve shared a lot of James Bond memorabilia over the years (who can forget our Honeychile Ryder figurine), which means we couldn’t possibly let this story pass. The Lotus Esprit turbo used in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me sold at auction yesterday in London for £550,000, or about $864,000. The car is one of eight used in the film. For the sake of comparison, other Bond vehicles, such as the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger, have sold for millions. But probably the price was low here because the car, though equipped with a propeller and fins, is not a functional vehicle, according to the auctioneers RM Auctions. But what makes the story so interesting is that the car was found in a Long Island storage unit in 1989 by a construction contractor who’d bought the contents unseen. American storage companies often arrange blind auctions when rental payments on storage spaces lapse. Buyers take the chance that something valuable might be inside, but just as likely might find nothing but junk. This particular buyer had been hoping to find power tools or other useful items, but instead was shocked to find the Lotus. His purchase price for the storage unit—$100.

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Vintage Pulp May 22 2013
MISSIONE IMPOSSIBLE
James Bond’s cruel nature is exposed on comic book cover.

This amazing Italian comic book cover for Ian Fleming’s Missione Royal, aka Casino Royale, with excellent cover art by Franco Picchioni, was printed in 1965. We found it over at the blog illustrated007, and there are other items there worth taking a look at if you’re inclined. Casino Royale was the first James Bond adventure written by Ian Fleming, but when it eventually hit the big screen in 1967 it was a Royale with cheese. Or more accurately, it wasn’t a Royale at all because it was a spoof that had nothing in common with Fleming’s work except the title and some characters. Still though, in its own way it was a good movie. But this cover reminds us that one thing we like about Bond as written by Fleming is his seriousness. Fleming more than once described Bond as having a “cruel mouth.” This doppleganger of Sean Connery has a cruel everything. No compassion in those eyes at all. We love it.

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Musiquarium Oct 1 2012
CERTIFIED GOLD
The man with the Midas touch.


The Japanese weren’t the only ones who produced amazing 45 sleeves for James Bond music. Above you see art for Shirley Bassey’s Bond theme “Goldfinger,” released by Columbia Records and EMI in Italy in 1965, with Sean Connery and gold plated Shirley Eaton caught during a moment between takes on the set. In Italy the movie was called Agente 007, Missione Goldfinger, which is why the title on the reverse differs from the front. Check out those Japanese Bond sleeves here.

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Intl. Notebook | Musiquarium Sep 18 2012
MUSIC TO SPY TO
We’ve got something special up our sleeves.

Above and below are the front and rear sleeves of four Japanese soundtrack pressings for the 1960s James Bond films Thunderball, From Russia with Love, You Only Live Twice, and Goldfinger. The themes were sung by Tom Jones, Matt Munro, Nancy Sinatra, and Shirley Bassey respectively, and pictured along with Sean Connery you see Bond beauties Claudine Auger and Shirley Eaton. Ms. Eaton, as wrong-place wrong-time Jill Masterson, had the dubious honor of being suffocated under a coating of gold paint, certainly one of the most infamous deaths of any Bond femme. We think these sleeves are great, and if you agree and want to see a lot more excellent 007 soundtrack art, check our previous posts here, here, and especially here.

On a related note, the Bond franchise’s fiftieth anniversary is next month, and in honor of the occasion former star Roger Moore, along with co-stars Britt Ekland and Richard Kiel, are touring around England with a Blu-ray box set of all the films, which are stored inside a gold case that is in turn comfortably riding in one of Bond’s preferred vehicles, an Aston Martin DBS. Actors, auto, and discs are visiting some of the iconic locations of the Bond series in advance of the release of the next film, which is entitled Skyfall. You can read more about all that here.
 

 
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Vintage Pulp May 18 2012
SHARP CARD
Your play, Mr. Bond.

Since we were just on the subject of classic dust jackets, it seems a good time to post this first edition jacket of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale. We put together a post of Bond first editions a while back, but left this one out because it was thematically different. Those others Bonds are some of the best covers we’ve ever seen, but this hypothetical, two-suited playing card has a certain charm of its own. Speaking of which, when contemplating what to title this post we remembered that most people think of a card trickster as a “card shark,” but “sharp” is actually the older term, though both are accurate. Just FYI. Check our other Bond dust jackets here

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Hollywoodland Dec 27 2011
STEALING A KISS
First rule of making out: remove your glasses.

This cute shot seems like a nice adjunct to our post yesterday. It shows Sean Connery and Jill St. John enjoying a smooch on the set of Diamonds Are Forever. Their love scene in the film did not occur in this setting, and of course, neither actor would have worn glasses in the film, so this looks like extracurricular activity to us. They both get an A+. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
April 02
1930—Selassie Becomes Emperor
Haile Selassie I, whose birth name Tafari Makonnen and title "Ras" give the Rastafarian religion its name, is proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia. Selassie would become one of the most important leaders in African history, and earn global recognition through his resistance to Italy's illegal invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Selassie died in August 1975 under disputed circumstances.
April 01
1984—Marvin Gaye Dies from Gunshot Wound
American singer-songwriter Marvin Gaye, who was famous for a three-octave vocal range which he used on hits such as "Sexual Healing" and "What's Going On," is fatally shot in the chest by his father after an argument over misplaced business documents. Gaye scored forty-one top 40 hit singles on Billboard's pop singles chart between 1963 and 2001, sixty top 40 R&B hits from 1962 to 2001, and thirty-eight top 10 singles on the R&B chart, making him not only one of the most critically acclaimed artists of his day, but one of the most successful.
March 31
1930—Movie Censorship Enacted
In the U.S., the Motion Pictures Production Code is instituted, imposing strict censorship guidelines on the depiction of sex, crime, religion, violence and racial mixing in film. The censorship holds sway over Hollywood for the next thirty-eight years, and becomes known as the Hays Code, after its creator, Will H. Hays.
1970—Japan Airlines Flight 351 Hijacked
In Japan, nine samurai sword wielding members of the Japanese Communist League-Red Army Faction hijack Japan Airlines flight 351, which had been en route from Tokyo to Fukuoka. After releasing the passengers, the hijackers proceed to Pyongyang, North Koreas's Mirim Airport, where they surrender to North Korean authorities and are given asylum.

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