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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sean Connery Shows How To Wear Flannel

Sean Connery

Sean Connery. Grenadine, Flannel, and Cocktail Cuffs.

Sean Connnery, man about town and James Bond extraordinaire, demonstrates the proper way to wear it. Enough said.

Sean Connery

Sean Connery

Sean Connery

Sean Connery
Sean Connery


Thursday, December 4, 2014

'Spectre' Release Date and Cast

Blofeld Spectre

We've been biting our tongues, er, restraining our fingers from tapping away about the long-mulled 'Bond 24,' which now shall never be known by that moniker again. The wait finally has ended, we are released from silence: the next James Bond film will be 'Spectre,' with a release date of 6 November 2015.

The reason we have had to restrain ourselves is because there have been too many stars (and wannabe stars) loudly proclaiming how either a) they really don't want to play James Bond and they resent the very idea, or b) they were being 'considered' for a key role in the next film but, well, they just couldn't let the cat out of the bag yet. It could have occupied our every waking minute detailing how this over-the-hill wanker was in the mix, or that nobody-was-thinking-of-you-anyway wannabe had better things to do anyway despite being, you know, 'considered.' Heck, half of Hollywood and London besides appeared to have been 'considered' over the past year or two for the new James Bond film - if, at least, you asked their agents.

So, it was better to be mum than clutter up the blog with endless references to people who will never have any association with Bond. Besides, we knew all along that the actors talking the most about how they were being considered... weren't.

Anyway, it's all over now: the word is out. The glory of the news is that the title, again, is 'Spectre.' This undoubtedly signals a return to the somewhat campy style of the '60s - early '70s which really defined the series. It also suggests to many of us the return of one of the top characters in all of fiction: Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Blofeld Spectre

Yes, Blofeld with his white cheshire cat in his lap may indeed be returning. There hasn't been a sign of him in over 30 years. Just imagine - you could have gone to college, worked a job, and retired in the time since we heard Blofeld say 'My dear Bond.' That's a long time to wait - if indeed the wait is over. The reason Blofeld is being widely bruited about as appearing is the simple fact that he was in charge of Spectre. You can't have Spectre without Blofeld, or else it isn't really Spectre.

Details on the plot of course are scarce - they guard these scripts like precious gems, with numbered copies that must be signed out and all that - but here’s the official description of Spectre:
“A cryptic message from Bond’s past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.”
That likely is going to be all we hear until the autumn of 2015, so there will be plenty of time to speculate on what it all means. We suspect that the 'terrible truth' has something to do with the man with the white cat and the sharks swimming in the moat inside his lair. And if we get a few classic wisecracks and throwaway lines from Bond and the villain, it will be a refreshing return to form.

Blofeld Spectre
Christopher Waltz

The following is all official:
  • Christoph Waltz will play Bond’s nemesis in Spectre, a character named Franz Oberhauser; he is described as the son of Bond’s climbing instructor and mentor Hannes Oberhauser;
  • Monica Bellucci - the Bond producers have been trying to get Belluci for at least a decade now - as Lucia Sciarra;
  • Sherlock’s Andrew Scott as Denbigh; 
  • Léa Seydoux ('Blue Is The Warmest Color') as Madeleine Swann;
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy’s Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx; 
  • Daniel Craig as James Bond; 
  • Rory Kinnear as Tanner;
  • Ben Whishaw as Q; 
  • Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny;
  • Ralph Fiennes, the new M.

Filming begins in December 2014 at London’s Pinewood Studios. The director of Spectre is Skyfall’s Sam Mendes, and the cinematographer is Hoyte Van Hoytema (Interstellar).


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Eva Green sexy Campari Calendar Photos

Eva Green Campari

Eva Green was Vesper Lynd in the 2006 James Bond film "Casino Royale." She also has been in other marvelous films such as "300: Rise of an Empire" and "Kingdom of Heaven," among many others. True fans know that the one film of hers that must be seen is the 2003 "The Dreamers." And "Casino Royale," of course.

We have more sexy photos of the lovely Eva Green here.

Well, Eva is not just an actress, but also a very well-regarded fashion model. Here, Eva graces us with her presentation of the Campari 2015 calendar in these behind the scenes shots by Francesco Pizzo.

There's something quite sexy about a beautiful woman sipping a nice glass of an alcoholic beverage. Well, there's something quite sexy about Eva Green with or without the alcoholic beverage, but she wears the glass well, if you know what I mean. And it does fit into the whole James Bond "Casino Royale" feeling with the gorgeous Eva in her elegant gown, holding a drink and just acting sexy.

It may be eight or so years since she shot "Casino Royale," but I think you'll agree that it looks like she just ran out of the filming for that film to do this shoot. The girl hasn't aged a day.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the shots.

Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari
Eva Green Campari

We have more sexy photos of the lovely Eva Green here.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Who is Monica van der Zyl? You've Heard Her All Your Life.

Nikki van der Zyl
Sean Connery and Jill Eaton in "Goldfinger"

Monica van der Zyl.

Unless you are a real film pro, you've never heard of her.

But you have heard her repeatedly through the years, without knowing it.

The 50th anniversary of "Goldfinger" is 17 September 2014, and that is a good time to reminisce about perhaps the most enduring film in the entire canon. Miss van der Zyl is 79, and was a key player in that film. She is one of the most rehired James Bond actors in the entire series, up there with Lois Maxwell and ahead of any of the actors who actually played James Bond himself.

Monica van der Zyl
Monica van der Zyl, pretty enough to be a Bond girl herself

The answer: German actress Monica van der Zyl (stage name Nikki van der Zyl) has been one of the top voice actresses in the business, and an obscure one at that even in a profession with extremely few household names like Mel Blanc.

She was dubbed over 13 of James Bond's conquests in ten movies throughout the sixties and seventies.

Her voiced included:

  • Goldfinger's Bonita, played by Nadja Regin
  • Goldfinger's Shirley Eaton, who played Jill Masterson.
  • Eunice Gayson (Sylvia Trench in 1963's From Russia with Love)
  • Claudine Auger (Domino Derval in 1965's Thunderball)
  • Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki in 1967's You Only Live Twice)
  • Francoise Therry (Chew Mee in 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun).
Nikki van der Zyl
Nikki on 15 July 2010 with "Antiques Roadshow" host Fiona Bruce

Miss van der Zyl was known as "One-take Nikki" and was highly respected by everyone. She did dubbing for dozens of other films, too, including "The Battle of Britain" - with a rare instance of actually getting credited in that film.

I'm a big believer that the "little people" who do so much in the world behind the scenes should get credit for their contributions. That is not to belittle Miss van der Zyl, but to acknowledge that she never once was mentioned by the production staff to the media, never once appeared in any credits, never once spoke up about herself to the media about what she was doing at the time - but she was a fixture behind the scenes on just about every Bond film from "Dr. No" in 1962 through "Moonraker" in 1979.

Nikki van der Zyl

Yes, she got paid (a whopping £150 for "Dr. No")  and that was her reward, and she was entitled contractually to nothing further. And that is precisely what she received: nothing further. However, voice talent should be recognized, just like it is with all the other actresses and actors and producers and the Key Grips and even the Best Boy. All too often, voice actors fall through the cracks. Like what happened to Miss van der Zyl.

Nowadays, a ballerina who fills in for an actress in one movie will go blabbing all over the media about what a big fake and phony the star is in order to get her 15 minutes. Times have changed. I think we can excuse a 79-year-old lady who was part of ten James Bond films for wanting just a smidgen of recognition after all these years. I also think it is terrific that both Sean and Miss van der Zyl are still around to bask in the light of the work they did together - and, as you will see below, they actually were great friends off-screen. The Bond film productions always have a kind of party atmosphere off-screen, kind of a roving band of friends who remain involved and part of what is happening when the cameras are off even when they are not actually in the film under production.

There is a recounting by Miss van der Zyl herself here in an article by Sandy Rashty from early 2013. In case that link gets taken down, here is the relevant part:
"People know my voice, they just don’t know me.When people see Ursula Andress in Dr No, or Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger, they don’t know that I revoiced them, and a lot of other Bond girls too. 
I was asked to revoice Ursula because the Bond movie producers thought she had a very strong Swiss-German accent that an American audience wouldn’t understand. When you see her coming out of the sea singing — that’s me. Shirley Eaton had a cockney accent, which was unsuitable and very unsexy, so I was asked to revoice her.
In Dr No, I also revoiced the character Sylvia Trench, played by Eunice Gayson. The scene at the gambling table at the Le Cercle Club in London is the first time you hear a female voice addressing 007. You hear me say: “I admire your luck, Mr…?”. He responds with the famous line: “Bond… James Bond." 
I had a natural talent and became known in the industry for my revoicing skills. I would stand in the sound studio, with the sound director and sometimes the director of the film, and try out different accents for different characters. It depended on what I liked and didn’t like — I’m the artist. The voice has got to be part of the acting. I was there to do a job and took pride in my work, using breathing techniques, singing and acting. 
I wanted to be an actress from a very young age. I trained as a stage actress and changed my name from Monica to Nikki because I thought it sounded nicer. I was not curvaceous and didn’t have much on top — if I had a big bosom I might have got a lead role. I was once offered a “casting couch” role, but rejected it. I wasn’t going to take any role unless I got it for my acting skills. 
While I was working on Dr No, I went up to Terence Young, the director, and asked for an on-screen part as well as revoicing. He just said: “No, you wouldn’t stop traffic, Nikki”. Someone in the corner heard us and said: “I’d stop traffic for you any day of the week”. I looked round and it was Sean Connery
From then on, if I ever had any problems I would go to Sean. I knew Sean well. He was very straightforward. I liked him and between filming scenes, he taught me to play golf. 
When they started shooting Goldfinger, I was asked to be dialogue coach to Gert Fröbe, who played the villain Auric Goldfinger, as we were both from Germany and I spoke German. Of course, half of my family had been killed in the Holocaust and the other half had had to leave, so I wanted to know what he and his family did during the war before I agreed. Gert told me that they helped hide a Jewish family, at great risk. After that, I thought, fair enough, and agreed to coach him for three months on the set. 
Goldfinger’s my favourite Bond film. In the famous scene where Bond is tied to the table with a laser about to cut him in two, Bond says: Do you expect me to talk?” Goldfinger replies: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.” Gert delivered the line fairly dramatically at first, but I told him it would be more effective if he said it in a throwaway manner, which he does in the film. 
Sometimes we would speak in English and other times in German. Gert was a very quick learner but they ended up revoicing him. In my opinion, he didn’t need it.
He was absolutely hilarious and good friends with Sean. The three of us would often go to lunch in the restaurant at Pinewood Studios and Gert always made us laugh — he could have been a comedian. One of the nicest memories I have was when they were filming the final scene in Goldfinger, when Gert and Sean were fighting on the plane.
I was taking photos and the director suddenly yelled: “Cut! Nikki’s taking photos of you”. So Sean said: “Let’s take a nice photo”, and they stopped in the middle of the scene and posed for me. 
Frankly, I was one of the major contributors to the James Bond films and that has never been acknowledged. I got paid but was never invited to the film premieres or parties. I’ve certainly never understood why they never credited me. 
I haven’t seen Skyfall in the cinema but might see it when it comes out on TV. The way I’ve been treated doesn’t make me want to spend any money on the films.
I have no regrets apart from being sorry they never gave me a better part after I became known for my revoicing skills. I was going to be a very good actress. But I don’t look back, I look forward."

Nikki van der Zyl was born in Berlin and fled to the UK with her family in 1939. She lost many family members in the Holocaust. After leaving show business following "Moonraker," she became a barrister and a research assistant in the House of Commons. Her autobiography, "For Your Ears Only," is published by Indepenpress, at £12.99.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Richard "Jaws" Kiel was the Man

Richard Kiel
Richard Kiel in his signature role as "Jaws" in the Bond films

Actor Richard Kiel, who played "Jaws" in the James Bond films "Moonraker" and "The Spy Who Loved Me," passed away on 10 September 2014. He will be missed. I wrote up an entry on him a long time ago, he was a major part of the Bond franchise and always will be.

Richard Kiel

Kiel was scheduled to attend an autograph convention in early September 2014, but reports were that he had to cancel because he had broken his leg. I actually heard about that circuitously through the grapevine long before it became news around the world, because Lana Wood replaced him at the convention. That sounded a bit like a standard celebrity excuse for not attending an event they weren't feeling up to, and perhaps it was - in a very sad way. Apparently Kiel actually did break his leg, though whether that was related to his passing is uncertain and, now, kind of pointless to find out.

Richard Kiel
Kiel and Roger Moore actually were great friends

He had a long career in show business. As he sometimes pointed out himself in wry fashion, he had been a working actor for 17 years when he became an "overnight star" in his first Bond film - which I always have said is my choice for best in the entire series, and remains so today. He reprised the role in "Moonraker," and came close to appearing in the next film as well until the producers decided at the last minute to go in another direction.

Richard Kiel
Yes, that is Richard Kiel with the bulbous head. Patty: [SPOILER] Mr. Chambers! Don't get on that ship! The rest of the book, "To Serve Man", it's - it's a cookbook!

While audiences tend to remember Kiel best from his appearances in the Bond films, his best role may have been in "The Twilight Zone." Everybody who is a fan of that show, or just likes classic old tv series, remembers the famous episode, "To Serve Man," in which an alien ship visits earth and promises all sorts of wonderful things if humans will travel to their home planet. Scenes of Kiel raising his head and laughing from that episode were heavily used in promotions for "The Twilight Zone" both during its initial run and later, when it went into heavy syndication during the 1970s and 1980s (I watched it on WPIX-11 in the NYC area, it was on every night when I was a kid it seemed). Well, wouldn't you know it - Richard Kiel played the aliens, including the principal Kanamit. His character had one famous line that has stood the test of time: "Please, Mr. Chambers, eat. We wouldn't want you to lose weight."

Richard Kiel
The end of Jaws in "Moonraker"

Reports from fans who saw Kiel at conventions always seemed to be positive. He was just a good, happy guy who understood how lucky he was to have played some of the iconic roles in television and film history - even if he constantly got confused with the characters he played. But that is a happy problem to have.

Richard Kiel
The fight scene on the funicular in "Moonraker" remains a classic

A native of Detroit, Michigan, Kiel had various physical difficulties during his later years, including a car accident. He wrote a biography in 2002, "Making it Big in the Movies, in which he revealed that his tall stature of 7’2” tall was due to acromegaly. He also had memorable roles in "Happy Gilmore" and "Tangled."

Richard Kiel
Kiel said that putting the metal teeth in was like swallowing a car bumper

Kiel was happily married to Diane Rogers for forty years at the time of his passing and the father of four children.

Richard Kiel

In any event, we will always remember one of the great villains, one that current Bond producers are furiously trying to equal in terms of enduring impact. Fat chance, good luck with that. Richard Kiel was one of a kind and a credit to the franchise.

Richard Kiel

So long, Richard.


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.