Whatever the occasion is she's perfectly suited for it.
We actually know exactly what the occasion is. This amazing photo of British actress and model Margaret Nolan, aka Vicky Kennedy, shows her at the 1968 British Film Awards wearing what has to be one of the coolest outfits of all time. Nolan came to mainstream attention in the opening credits for the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger, and made a quick appearance as Bond's masseuse, but she's also much beloved as a prolific nude model and star of occasional nudie loops. We've featured her photos in two issues of Folies de Paris et de Hollywood, which you can see here and here. Those represent a tiny fraction of her output, but we'll circle back to that later. As an actress she appeared in A Hard Day's Night and more than a dozen other films, but worked mainly on television, including on such shows as Mystery and Imagination, The Newcomers, and Take a Pair of Private Eyes. This shot was originally black and white, but has been colorized by an unknown. It's very nice work.
Have you ever tried para shooting? It's a total blast.
Above is a fun image of Italian actress Daniela Bianchi. She's best known for playing Tatiana Romanova in 1963's From Russia with Love. Her fame as a so-called Bond girl far outstrips any recognition she received for her other thirteen credited film roles, but this shot, made in 1966 for the spy flick Mission speciale Lady Chaplin, makes us want to see what she's like outside of the Bond franchise. If we do we'll report back.
Bond. James Bond. Not sure who you are, but stick close anyway.
French illustrator Boris Grinsson outdid himself with this promo for James Bond 007 contre Dr. No, aka Dr. No. This is a framable classic, appropriate for a film that reshaped the spy genre. Its only flaw is that while the Sean Connery figure is a good likeness, the representation of Ursula Andress is not very close. We get it though—her perfect, unlined face doesn't give you much to work with. To get Connery close, you just need to make sure you include his bushy eyebrows and the deep facial lines bracketing his mouth. But Andress is a true test of skill. It's still a great poster. Perhaps even our favorite from the Bond franchise. The movie premiered in France today in 1963.
Hear that? Sounds like the approach of my next sexual conquest. Just grab your things and head out the side door.
Sean Connery died a few days ago at age ninety, so we think it's a good time to share a rarity we'd been hoarding for a while. Connery and Luciana Paluzzi star on the cover of this Japanese edition of Ian Fleming's James Bond thriller 007/Sandâbôru sakusen, better known to the world as Thunderball. This was put out by Hayakawa Books as a movie tie-in just before the film hit Japan in December 1965. Fleming originally published it in 1961 as a novelization of an unfilmed-at-the-time Bond screenplay by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, Ivar Bryce, and Ernest Cuneo. That's a lot of people, and unsurprisingly there was rancor involved in who got credited before a court settled the issue. This is an awesome find, and the rear cover is interesting too. We'll have more rare Bond items a little later.
For me, at least, this thing brings to mind making love, not war.
Barbara Bach has had three distinct periods of fame. The first was as an actress in numerous Italian movies during the late 1960s and the entire decade of the 1970s. Her second stage came when she starred as Anya Amasova in 1981's James Bond adventure The Spy Who Loved Me. This was the third Bond outing for Roger Moore, and the last before he stopped taking the role seriously and began smirking and mugging his way through the role. Not that we disliked it. The smirky Moore was fun. Bach became globally recognized in that film, as all Bond girls do. Her third stage of fame was as the wife of one of the most recognized men in the world—Ringo Starr of the Beatles. Mixed into all of that were a few American movies, and one of them was a 1980 comedy called Up the Academy, from which the above promo photo came. The movie arrived on the heels of a string of successful comedies like Animal House that slayed at the box office, but Up the Academy bombed with critics and ticket buyers. We absolve Bach of any blame, though. We haven't seen Up the Academy, but we have zero doubt she was one of the best things in it.
The deeper you go into this casino the wilder it gets.
Today we're circling back to James Bond—as we do every so often—to highlight these movie tie-in editions of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale. The movie these are tied into is not the 1963 original with Sean Connery, but the 1967 screwball version with David Niven as Bond and Woody Allen as Bond's nephew Jimmy Bond. If you haven't seen it, just know that it was terribly reviewed, with Time magazine calling it an “an incoherent and vulgar vaudeville.” These covers are derived from the Robert McGinnis Casino Royale movie poster, which is an all-time classic. McGinnis created two versions of the poster—one with text and one without, with the painted patterns on the female figure varying slightly. You see both of those below.
The paperback was published by both Great Pan and Signet, and the cover art was different for the two versions. The Great Pan version at top is McGinnis's unaltered work, but the Signet version just above was painted by an imitator, we're almost certain. We'd hoped to answer this for sure by visiting one of the numerous Bond blogs out there, but none of them have really discussed the difference between the 1967 paperback covers. That leaves it up to us, so we're going to say definitively that the Great Pan version was not painted by McGinnis. Whoever the artist was, they did a nice job channeling the original piece, even if the execution is at a much simpler level.
Moving back to the posters, if you scroll down you'll see that we decided to focus on the details of the textless version to give you a close look at McGinnis's detailed work. The deeper you go the more you see—dice, poker chips, glittery earrings, actor portraits, and more. If you had a huge lithograph of this on your wall and a tab of acid on your tongue, an entire weekend would slip past before you moved again. This is possibly the best work from a paperback and movie artist considered to be a grandmaster, one the greatest ever to put brush to canvas. If anyone out there can tell us for sure who painted the Signet paperback—or whether it is indeed McGinnis—feel free to contact us.
James Bond's daughter leaves the Soviets shaken and stirred.
The 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale was a box office disaster, but it had its moments. London born actress Joanna Pettet, playing Mata Bond, estranged daughter of Mata Hari and Sir James Bond (David Niven), performed an eye-catching, Buddhist-themed dance number in a faux temple that must have cost a huge chunk of the movie's budget. We don't know how actual Buddhists feel about the bit, but it looks like Pettet had a laugh or two. In the film she's sent to take on SMERSH, the Soviet spy agency that appeared in fictionalized form in Ian Fleming's Bond novels. Pettet appeared in a handful of other films, but her career mostly comprised television roles on shows such as The Fugitive and Night Gallery. Her Mata Bond dance is short but probably worth a look. You can see it while the link lasts here.
Filmgoers say yes to No and a franchise is born.
Since we've already talked about two movies inspired by Bond today, why not discuss the landmark that started it all? There had always been spy movies. Even the James Bond films, with their focus on high concept action and fantastical super villains, had predecessors. But United Artists, director Terence Young, Sean Connery, and the rest took the basic notes of those earlier efforts, wove them into a fresh composition, and cranked the volume up to eleven. This Spanish poster painted by Macario Gomez was made for the first Bond film Dr. No, which played in Spain as Agente 007 contra el Dr. No. Ian Fleming's novel had been published in 1958, and the film hit cinemas four years later. Like From Russia with Love, which we watched recently, we've seen it more than once, but not for years, and decided to screen it with fresh eyes.
We imagine audiences had never seen a spy movie quite like this, with its opulent production values and near-seamless construction. Set in Jamaica, the exotic locations are beautifully photographed, and while the filmmakers' portrayal of the island isn't necessarily authentic, it's immersive, and makes the required impression of a land of mystery and danger. An altogether different impression was made by the ravishing Ursula Andress, and we suspect once word got out certain filmgoers bought tickets just to see her. Joseph Wiseman's villainous Julius No, a few hi-budget gadgets, and a secret lair filled with expendable henchmen complete the set-up—and establish the Bond template for the future. Add the unflappable if occasionally imperious spy himself and the fun is complete.
The Bond franchise's success inspired scores of imitators, as discussed in the two posts above, but with a few exceptions those movies usually work today on the level of unintentional comedy or eye-rolling camp. Dr. No, despite Bond's interjections of humor, took itself seriously. Viewers were supposed to believe its most fantastic elements were possible. In addition, they were supposed to see Bond as the uber-male, a man who fights and loves hard, is virtually immune to sentiment, and never mourns losses for long. That notion of ideal manhood has certainly changed—for the better we'd say—but even accounting for the tectonic cultural shifts in the interim Dr. No holds up like the best vintage thrillers. It's stylish, charmingly simple, and—if one assesses it honestly—progressive for its time. It premiered in England in October 1962, and reached Spain today in 1963.
James Bond heats up the Cold War in Istanbul.
We take it on faith that everyone has seen all the old James Bond films, and that most people love them. But we haven't actually sat down and watched some of them in twenty years. So when we saw all these Japanese posters for 007ロシアより愛をこめて, also known as 007/危機一発, but much better known as From Russia with Love, we said why not take a fresh look at it like we'd never seen it before. Plus, you know, lockdown. Bond seemed like just the sort of reliable adventure we needed to spice up the idle hours. The film definitely proves that when it comes to action movies budget is almost everything, and a decent script helps. Call it Q=BS2. Budget and script squared equals quality. From Russia with Love scores well there.
We had forgotten how fun Pedro Armendáriz is as Ali Kerim Bey, Bond's counterpart in Istanbul, which is where much of the film is set. Interesting factoid about Armendáriz: he'd been diagnosed with cancer and was already fatally ill when he made the movie. After filming he shot himself to skip the suffering that was on tap and never got to see the finished product. Another bit of trivia is that Eunice Gayson, who was reprising her role as Sylvia Trench from the earlier Dr. No., was supposed to appear in six films, serving as Bond's recurring love interest and the central figure in a running gag. In short, every time Bond would try to get hot and heavy with her, headquarters would interrupt and call him away, leaving the loyal Gayson serially unfulfilled.
We love that idea, but studio heads changed their minds, possibly because they wanted to make Bond a little sluttier than originally written. Don't quote us on that, but it was the ’60s, after all. Make love not war. Of course, in the end, Bond makes both. In any case, if you have time to kill, From Russia with Love might just do the trick. It's exotic, reliable, and familiar, but since you probably haven't seen it for years it will also be fresh enough to keep you interested. Also, Robert Shaw as the secondary villain doesn't hurt, nor does Daniela Bianchi as the primary female character, and Lotte Lenya as a Russian assassin with a dagger that extends from the toe of her pump is a hoot. Talk about the cruel shoes. From Russia with Love premiered in England in 1963, and reached Japan today in 1964.
Famed author Ian Fleming arrested after strangulation rampage at his publishing company.
We talked about how Ian Fleming feuded with his publisher Perma Books over name changes to his James Bond novels. This is another one of the offending paperbacks, 1957's Too Hot To Handle. Not only had this book already been successfully published as Moonraker by the British hardback imprint Jonathan Cape, but the Lou Marchetti cover art Perma used doesn't fit the Bond brand at all. Signet Books did infinitely better when it got the rights in 1960. As far as Fleming trying to strangle everyone at Perma, we can't confirm that as fact. But we bet he thought about it.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1985—Matt Munro Dies
English singer Matt Munro, who was one of the most popular entertainers on the international music scene during the 1960s and sang numerous hits, including the James Bond theme "From Russia with Love," dies from liver cancer at Cromwell Hospital, Kensington, London.
1958—Plane Crash Kills 8 Man U Players
British European Airways Flight 609 crashes attempting to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport in Munich, West Germany. On board the plane is the Manchester United football team, along with a number of supporters and journalists. 20 of the 44 people on board die in the crash.
1919—United Artists Is Launched
Actors Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, along with director D.W. Griffith, launch United Artists. Each holds a twenty percent stake, with the remaining percentage held by lawyer William Gibbs McAdoo. The company struggles for years, with Griffith soon dropping out, but eventually more partners are brought in and UA becomes a Hollywood powerhouse.
1958—U.S. Loses H-Bomb
A 7,600 pound nuclear weapon that comes to be known as the Tybee Bomb is lost by the U.S. Air Force off the coast of Savannah, Georgia, near Tybee Island. The bomb was jettisoned to save the aircrew during a practice exercise after the B-47 bomber carrying it collided in midair with an F-86 fighter plane. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost, and remains so today.
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