Saturday, April 25, 2015

Knox is Back and How to Become a Secret Agent, Part 1…..Day 115 of Bond 365




Alexander Knox
Passed away this day in 1995
American President in You Only Live Twice

Alexander Knox is making a second appearance on Bond 365. He was featured back on January 16 to celebrate his birthday. Check out January 16 for an entry on Knox.





How to Become a Secret Agent, Part 1

Recently, I went into a Dollar Tree store where lots of discontinued weird and wacky items are collected and become the last chance to go home with a consumer before ending up in a dumpster and ultimately some landfill. Occasionally, some item will jump out as something worth picking up and then featuring it here - lucky you!

Grafix is a global toy company that apparently makes (or made) a line of Secret Spy Agent Kit. I picked up four different kits at the store and figured today was a good time to spotlight the “Invisible Pen Decoder Kit”.



The kit is bare bones, which is not a surprise since this is geared for young kids probably under the age of 10. There’s a dubious noir styled agent in the upper left hand corner of the box holding a secret folder. The message on the cover is typed and some aspects of the message are revealed. However since this kit comes with a pen, unless you can print like a typewriter, you’ll be handwriting your secret message.


The kit came with an instruction sheet, the dual invisible and decoder pen, and a spy pad. I did have to chuckle that the instruction sheet lists itself on the “kit includes” list. 

The three-step instruction oddly enough doesn’t tell you which end of the pen is the invisible ink and which end is the decoder. Perhaps it is meant to be inherent, so I’m sure the omission of that small detail would not stop a tot or a wannabe spy agent.

Writing out a famous Bond quote, I quickly witnessed that an agent is not going to want to write anything secret with this pen. I could see exactly what I wrote without issue.




I swiped the decoder pen tip over my visible message and the ink popped from off-white to a dark blue color so the words stood out from the page.





I think any youngster, young or old, will enjoy the novelty of the kit. And who knows, it might just inspire the next Bondian secret agent!

© Copyright. Michele Brittany. 2011 - 2015. All rights reserved. All text, graphics, and photos are protected by US and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without written permission.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Long and Short of Blake and North….Day 114 of Bond 365


My weekend is well-earned this week. There has been several projects at my work that then putting in another two to three hours in the evening has been a struggle. Yet, here is Friday evening and after a long week, it is good to settle in for the evening. The prospect of rain is in the air; I hope we get some since SoCal is woefully hurting for water. While waiting for the rain, today in Bond history there are two actors spotlighted below. Larry J Blake had a lengthly acting career that spanned over forty years. In contract, Virginia North's career was quit short: four years with only a handful of appearances. 

Larry J Blake
Born this day in 1914
Water Balloon Gamer Barker-Operator in Diamonds Are Forever

Larry Blake got his start in acting as Chief FBI Agent Wheeler in Secret Agent X-9 in 1937 after he signed a contract with Universal Studios. The same year, he was given a feature role in The Road Back. He had steady work however he joined the U.S. Navy and served in the Atlantic and Pacific theatres. However, he was rotated out and was treated for alcoholism. When he returned to acting, he helped start an A.A. group for people working in the pictures.

Blake was able to pick up with his career after World War II. In the 1950s, he would become known for his art in Sunset Boulevard and High Noon. He was also working in television and he found plenty of work in the various genres that were popular at the time. His last role was in the Malcolm McDowell Time After Time (1979) after which he had to retire due to emphysema. By his retirement, he had over 250 acting credits to his name.

Virginia North
Born this day in 1946
Olympe in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Her father was in the U.S. Army so in Virginia North’s formative years, she lived in Europe and Asia where her father was posted. She began working with a London agency where she began modeling swimwear. In 1967, she was cast in her first role in the Bulldog Drummond film Deadlier Than the Male. Then she was cast in Yul Brynner’s The Long Duel the same year.

After a two-year hiatus, North was Robert Number Nine in her second Bulldog Drummond film Some Girls Do. And of course, she was cast as Olympe in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Also the same year, she made a guest appearance on the television show Department S (1969).

In 1971, she returned to the big screen as Vulnavia, opposite Vincent Price in the dark comedy/horror film The Abominable Dr. Phibes. While I have not seen the movie, apparently her skills as a model came in handy as she was supposed to remain impassive and distant. It was her only role that year and it turned out to be her last as in 1974, she married Gordon White, one of the richest men at that time in the UK.

© Copyright. Michele Brittany. 2011 - 2015. All rights reserved. All text, graphics, and photos are protected by US and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without written permission.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bert Bates, the Invisible Artist….Day 113 of Bond 365




Bert Bates
Passed away this day in 1976
Film Editing for Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die

Bert Bates, who also went by A. S. Bates, started editing back in 1931 with the film Many Waters (UK) and spanned through 1973. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Reed and edited more than sixty films throughout his career as a film editor. His work on the two Bond films was at the end of his illustrious career with many high profile movies.

I have done a bit of digital editing on Final Cut Pro, but I have also done some film editing. It is an exacting, meticulous process. In a New York Times article written by Mark Harris, he referred to film editing as an “invisible art.” It is like lettering comics; if done right, it’s presence blends in resulting in an audiences’ experience that is not jarred by poor visuals (the letters). The same is true for editing, especially since editing impacts the visual telling of the story through a series of cohesive sequences. When editing digitally, a cut of the “film” can be undone, however just think what working on physical film would have involved. It’s kind of like measuring twice (maybe three or four times) before cutting. Thinking in those terms and applying to Bates, whose entire career was working with film was a tremendous accomplishment to his ability to work with myriad of directing styles and visions over forty years!

Here’s a look at the opening sequence of Battle of Britain, one of the films that Bates edited in the 1960s. By the way, you might notice some of the names, including a number of Bond alums!



© Copyright. Michele Brittany. 2011 - 2015. All rights reserved. All text, graphics, and photos are protected by US and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without written permission.