Monday, January 5, 2015

Did A Typo Lead to Bond Movie Title? - Day 5 of Bond 365

Today in Bond’s world, Roger Spottiswoode was born in 1945 and actor William Foster-Davis passed away in 1991. In my research for the Spottiswoode spotlight, I found an interesting fact, in which a one-letter typo may have occurred. Apparently, the 18th Bond film was tentatively titled Tomorrow Never Lies, which makes sense for the media angle, somehow became Tomorrow Never Dies when the title was faxed over to MGM for approval...

Roger Spottiswoode, director of Tomorrow Never Dies
Roger Spottiswoode
Born: January 5, 1945
Director of Tomorrow Never Dies

I’m sure that I’m not the only person to wonder how people are chosen for a role in which initially seems like a bad casting decision based on their filmography yet amazingly they fulfill the role well. With Roger Spottiswoode, as I was researching his prior films, I did wonder who put Spottiswoode and Bond into the same sentence?

Spottiswoode had his start as an editor, editing some of Sam Peckinpah’s movies. By the 1980s and into the 1990s, he was directing many of the A-list actors, however many of Spottiswoode’s films – The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, Under Fire, The Best of Times, Shoot to Kill, Air America– either lost money and/or had been a critical failure. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger (he is quoted as saying it was the worst film he was in), won three Raspberry awards (actor, supporting actress and screenplay)!

Meanwhile, the Bond franchise was riding high from the success of GoldenEye (1995, Martin Campbell) starring Pierce Brosnan, which reaped a healthy profit, critical accolades, and public enjoyment. However, MGM’s new owner wanted the next film's release to coincide with a public stock offering event. Also, the 18th film would be the first film without Albert Broccoli at the helm (he passed away in 1996), and Campbell expressed not wanting follow up directing two Bond films in a row. In September 1996, Spottiswoode who was known for his comedies, agreed to direct Tomorrow Never Dies.

Production of the film had some issues. First, there were disagreements over the script between the crew and cast. Supposedly, there wasn’t a script ready for the first day of shooting and some cast members were unhappy with their roles. Rewrites were necessary. Second, casting had some bumps. In my research, I came across a tidbit that Monica Bellucci, who will star in the upcoming Spectre, had tested for the role of Paris Carver that ultimately went to Teri Hatcher. And, it was the first film title not based in Fleming’s world.

Tomorrow Never Dies did well, economically. If production had not been rushed, which resulted in the $110 million budget, the film probably would have done just as well as GoldenEye with regards to profits. Content wise, the film received on average, ratings in the 50 – 60% range. Personally, I enjoyed the film. I thought the casting of Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin a good decision. Yeoh and Lin hold her own opposite Brosnan and Bond. The choreography continued in the tradition of action and thrills that audiences expect and enjoy. I thought a villainous media mogul was apropos for the time, but I am not sure that Jonathan Pryce was the best choice to realize Elliot Carver's depth. Overall, I think that in spite of the less than stellar directorial track record of Spottiswoode up to that point, the producers’ choice worked out and it was a match well suited for franchise and director.

Spottiswoode is still directing, but his projects have been outside of mainstream offerings. The 6th Day reunites Spottiswoode with Schwarzenegger and The Children of Huang Shi, reunites the director with Michelle Yeoh. His most recent film, Midnight Sun, released last year.

William Foster-Davis, Superintendent
William Foster-Davis
Passed Away: January 5, 1991
‘Superintendent’ in Dr. No

Information on William Foster-Davis was scant. His only role was in Dr. No according to IMDB. I am curious if he was a resident at the location where filming was taking place and if he fit the concept of what Terence Young was envisioning for the role credited as Superintendent? I guess if you are only going to star in one film, then appearing in the first James Bond film is the best way going. 

If anyone knows more, I would love to know the story behind Foster-Davis. 

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