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Friday, August 15, 2014

Pierce Brosnan Reflects on Meeting Robin Williams

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan talks about meeting Robin Williams on the set of "Mrs. Doubtfire." It's great to hear Pierce's memories and also just to catch up on how he himself is doing - which appears to be great. To be truthful, he looks like he could step back into the James Bond role at any time.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Little Nellie" for Sale

Little Nellie

"Little Nellie" was the autogyro featured in the 1968 James Bond film that many enthusiasts consider the cream of the crop of the entire series, "You Only Live Twice."

In the film, Sean Connery as James Bond does some reconnaissance and fighting in Little Nellie, which is brought to him in Japan personally by Q.

It is one of the highlights of the film and, indeed, the entire James Bond series.

The autogyro was very real. It was not a Hollywood illusion. The autogyro was capable of doing exactly what was shown - though it wasn't actually armed - and operated in the same fashion.

The autogyro was designed and built to exacting standards by Wing Cdr Ken Wallis, a World War II hero who flew 28 bomber missions over Europe. It was a special design, not available to the public. Commander Wallis himself flew the machine in place of Sean Connery in "You Only Live Twice." He passed away at age 97 last fall, having lived a full life. He last flew the one-seat Little Nellie in 2008 at the incredible age of 92.

There is no way to gauge how much Little Nellie is worth - it's a one-off, and this is the only one available for sale (there are other copies held in a trust and which are shown at exhibitions). It flies. It's Little Nellie. That's all bidders need to know.

Real James Bond artifacts like Little Nellie aren't usually sold to ordinary people on the street. A beaten-up copy of an underwater Lotus was sold last year, and the buyer was Elon Musk of Tesla and Paypal fame. So, this is an opportunity that big names are sure to follow. One can only imagine what it ultimately will bring, but it is absolutely dead certain that it will bring a worthy price. The buyer, should she or (more likely, this is an ultimate Big Boys toy) he wish to disclose their identity, is almost certain to be a household name.

Inquiries about the aircraft are being handled by Old Buckenham Airfield in Norfolk, with Commander Wallis' son handling the sale.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bond Cars at the Dezer Museum

James Bond Aston Martin
The iconic Aston Martin

If you are really into the James Bond aura and want to see what it's really like to stand by and touch some of the most iconic cars in history, consider visiting The Miami Auto Museum at The Dezer Collection in Miami. Or, if you are in England or the rest of Europe, there is a temporary exhibit going on now in London where you can experience some of this good stuff. "Bond in Motion" is at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden from 21 March, running throughout 2014.

James Bond Toyota 2000GT
The famous Toyota 2000GT from "You Only Live Twice"

The Dezer has one of the largest collections of James Bond props and vehicles in the world. The Miami Auto Museum at the Dezer Collection’s James Bond Exhibit includes a fascinating array of automobiles, motorcycles, submarines, airplanes, helicopters, boats, and snow mobiles. In other words, if it moves in a Bond film and doesn't drink martinis shaken not stirred, it's probably found its way into the Dezer.

Jaguar XKR James Bond Martin
The Jaguar XKR's ordnance includes rockets in the door. The XKR also has ramming spikes for getting up close and personal when pursuing Bond.

The collection is home to the golden gun itself, a T-55 Soviet tank featured in the 1995 Bond film Goldeneye, a BD-5 Microjet, and six Aston Martins, among many other props.  The James Bond Exhibit will also showcase vehicles from The Ian Fleming Foundation.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Dr. No - Behind The Scenes

Sean and Ursula Look as if They Were Having a Ball!

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
Ursula played a local conch diver

While filming "Dr. No" in 1961, stars Sean Connery and Ursula Andress took full advantage of the lovely Nassau, Bahamas surroundings - and each other.

As these behind-the-scenes shots taken by United Artists of the two show, Sean and Ursula were having a lot of fun both on and off the camera. We see them cuddling, playing with wild birds, Sean crashing after a night of drinking - all the sorts of things you would expect from young rising stars. Even director Terence Young gets into one of the shots, apparently reviewing Ursula's dialog with her.

James Bond Sean Connery Ursula Andress
An Irish 1962 poster for the first James Bond movie, Dr No, with a dress hand-painted over the original bikini-clad image of Ursula Andress. Note the strategic placement of Jamess Bond's gun and his impish grin, they were not trying to be subtle. 

Naturally, there are all sorts of shots of Ursula in her iconic white bikini and Sean showing off his fine physique. They each perform handstands, Sean helping Ursula, and there are candids of them lolling on the beach. Somewhat surprisingly, Ursula is shown sunbathing topless in one shot, which would have been quite daring in those days. Anything for her art!

Sean later retired to the Bahamas. Perhaps it was partly because of his good memories of these days.

These are great shots. The studio photographer must have taken several rolls, saved only the best, and then filed them away for fifty years. Some of these have been just rediscovered and scanned in from the original prints. They may give you a whole new appreciation for "Dr. No."

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
This didn't make it into the film

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
Sean was a former Mr. Universe runner-up

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
Ursula looks much less exotic here than made out to be in the film
Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
Sean giving Ursula his trademark raised eyebrows look

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
I wonder if this local girl still remembers this?

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Clearly, Sean and Ursula spent more time together than absolutely required for filming

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Terence Young Dr. No
Director Terence Young going through the script with the stars

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
The studio insurers probably would have had a stroke if they saw this

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No

Sean Connery Ursula Andress Dr. No
This appears to have been whilst rehearsing their scene

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Eva Green Becomes a Villainess in "300: Rise of an Empire"

The Lovely Eva Green is Back!

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire
Eva Green as Artemisia in 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green is back!

Vesper Lynd from "Casino Royale" is appearing in "300: Rise of an Empire," based on a Frank Miller graphic novel. Zack Snyder co-wrote the screenplay, while Noam Murro directs. Snyder directed the original "300," but his "Man of Steel" film got in the way. “There was no way I could do it,” the writer-director said of the 300 sequel. There is complete continuity between the two films, though, so if you liked the first one, this sequel should feel right at home.

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire
Eva Green trained hard for the role

"300: Rise of an Empire" picks up where "300" left off. In the original film, King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his unit of 300 Spartans fought the massive Persian army at Thermopylae circa 480 B.C. In this sequel, Artemisia (Eva Green) leads the vast Persian armada against the small, outmaned Greek fleet, led by Admiral Themistokles (Sullivan Stapleton).

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Describing her role, Eva says:
“She is like a man in a woman’s body.She’s very ballsy and very brave, and she was traumatized as a child, so she builds this armour around her to survive. And she’s obsessed with revenge and, yes, she’s bonkers.”
We all loved Eva Green in "Casino Royale," so it is great to see her back in another high-profile adventure.

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire
Eva Green

Eva trained for weeks in Sofia, Bulgaria before filming began to learn how to wield a sword. It was very physically demanding.
“You feel very powerful actually, but not straight away. The squats and the lunges were, oh my god, very painful. But after you get through it, you feel very proud of yourself.”
Eva Green rose to stardom in "The Dreamers," and that film is well worth checking out if you like Eva and want to see more - a lot more - of her.

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire
Artemisia bows before her king

I have a separate page devoted to Eva, with a lot of really good shots of her in and out of her previous high-profile roles, here.

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire
Eva Green with costar Lena Headey

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Eva Green in 300: Rise of an Empire

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Liam Neeson as James Bond?

This Man Would Have Been A Terrific Bond

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson in "The Grey"

Many fans know that Liam Neeson married Natasha Richardson, that they lived happily together for many years, and that she died tragically about five years ago. They also probably know that he starred in "Schindler's List" as Oskar Schindler and "Love Actually" as Daniel.

What they may not know about Liam is that he came about as close as you can get to playing James Bond.
"I was heavily courted, let's put it that way, and I'm sure some other actors were too. It was about 18 or 19 years ago and my wife-to-be said, 'If you play James Bond we're not getting married!' And I had to take that on board, because I did want to marry her."
Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson in "Taken 2"

He gives no hint as to why Natasha was so adamant about Liam's not playing Bond. Perhaps the fan adulation troubled her? It's all speculation.

This would have been about the time that Pierce Brosnan took over. There is no question that Pierce was a good Bond. The only question is whether Liam Neeson would have been better.

There is little question that Pierce Brosnan was a great choice as Bond. Having Liam play those roles, though, would have given them a tougher edge and not the same "pretty boy" image that many pinned on Pierce. Liam has become more of an action star recently with the "Taken" series, showing hints of what might have been.

Liam Neeson certainly is not wanting for work. As he says:
"I made nine films last year, four of them were animated, it was stupid! I'm keeping busy, which is thrilling. I love to work."
Personally, I think that Liam Neeson would still make a great James Bond today.

Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson in "Taken 3," not yet released

Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Bond Film Starts Filming in October

Ralph Fiennes Commandant Schindler's List
Ralph Fiennes in "Schindler's List"

As we have already stated, Ralph Fiennes has been tapped to replace Dame Judi Dench as M in the Bond series. Everybody in the know has been mum about the film so far, with no plot details leaked. It's all under tight wraps, probably with numbered scripts and all that.

However, Fiennes did let loose one little tidbit of information. The next James Bond film is coming, all right. Discussing his upcoming schedule, Fiennes said:

"It's meant to start shooting in October," he said. Continuing, he admitted, "I haven't read a script yet, so I can't tell you much. They'd probably swear me to secrecy anyway."

Oh, come on, Ralph, we know they wouldn't let you blab out the details in advance. Don't be coy, Roy.

The scheduled release date for this next Bond film, "Bond 24" for the moment, is November 15, 2015.