Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Book, Three Birthdays and a Passing….Day 90 of Bond 365

This day in 1958, the sixth James Bond book was published by UK publisher Jonathan Cape and was the first Fleming book to receive negative criticism on a large scale in its native country. At the time, New Statesmen’s review boiled the novel down to “sex, snobbery, and sadism” when describing the story, so naturally, Dr. No was received favorably in the US when it was released here. The filmic version was released in 1962, and Eon Productions kicked off what would become a popular culture phenomenon on a global scale for the next fifty years and counting.

The cover of Dr. No was by Pat Marriott. 

Amelia Bayntun
Born this day in 1919
Mrs. Karlski in Thunderball

Amelia Bayntun’s acting career started in 1960 when she was cast as Mrs. Ethel Oakley on Emergency-Ward 10, a British television series. She joined the Bond family for her part in Thunderball as Mrs. Karlski, however Bayntun was probably better known for her roles in the Carry On movies of the late 1960s and into the 1970s. Her last role was on The Dick Emery Show in 1973.

Bob Simmons
Born this day in 1922
Stunts and Gun Barrel Sequence, several Bond films

Bob Simmons as the distinction of being the first person to portray James Bond in the gun barrel sequence, on behalf of Sean Connery, in Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger. Although Simmons was 5’ 9” he had confidence in his stunt skills, and added with advantageous camera angles, he was able to pull off doubling for both Connery (6’ 3”) and Richard Kiel (7’ 2”).

Simmons was cast in a few minor roles, but most of his work for the Bond films was in the arena of stunt work. Interestingly, he worked with Connery and Moore, but was not part of the crew for George Lazenby’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, because he was working with Connery on a western film called Shalako.

In the late 1980s, Simmons co-wrote with Kenneth Passingham a book about his career as a stuntman titled Nobody Does It Better – My 25 Years of Stunts with James Bond and Other Stars.

Let’s a take at his gun barrel sequence from the very first film, Dr. No:

Christopher Walken
Born this day in 1943
Zoran in A View to a Kill

He is probably one of the most impersonated voices in Hollywood today because of his unique New Yorker drawl. However, that is not to say that Christopher Walken is not one of the most talented actors in the business. His distinctive features – long oblong face, spiky blond hair and deep set eyes –led Walken often being cast as characters with unbalanced psyches. He won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his haunted performance as Nick, a Vietnam veteran in The Deer Hunter (1978). And, in 1985, he played Max Zorin in A View to a Kill starring Roger Moore.

Acting was not Walken’s initial choice; instead, it was dancing. You will usually see him dance at some point in most of his roles over the years. Always a fun video that I like to watch is Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” that was directed by Spike Jonze with choreography and dancing by Walken. In fact, Walken won a MTV Video Music Award for his performance.

Let’s take a look at Walken having some fun dancing around the Marriott Hotel (now LA Hotel) in Los Angeles.

Denis Cowles (center)
Denis Cowles
Passed away this day in 1970
Brunskill in Goldfinger

I believe that Denis Cowles is one of the earliest Bond alum births that I have come across so far. Cowles was born in 1889 and began his acting career in 1920, spanning almost 50 years and across the silent films and talkies. He only has 29 acting credits, and his role as Brunskill in Goldfinger came late in his career.

© 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.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Stutter to Spectre Number 11….Day 89 of Bond 365

Murray Kash
Passed away this day 2009
Spectre Number 11 in Thunderball

Murray Kash was born in Toronto Canada to a Polish-Jewish family in 1923. He was inflected with a childhood stutter and became interested in acting. He earned a degree in social sciences from the University of Toronto. After marrying Libby Morris, he started attending Banff School of Fine Arts, then Academy of Radio and TV Arts. (Interestingly, his headmaster was Lorne Greene, who starred as Ben Cartwright in Bonanza then as Commander Adama in the original Battlestar Galactica series during the 1980s.) Kash’s first role was on the television series Tales of Adventure in 1952.

He and his wife moved to Britain, where Kash joined an acting repertory in Southsea, Hampshire. Kash was often cast as an American. In Thunderball, Kash was a Spectre agent, who was suspected of embezzling. With his acting career underway, Kash became involved in BBC Light Programme in which he promoted country and western music. He coordinated festivals and in 1981, he published a book of country music biographies titled Murray Kash’s Book of Country. Kash appearance as Herb Krauss in The Boy Who Won the Pools was his last tv series in 1983. Eventually he and his wife returned to Canada where he gave voice lessons.

Murray Kash

© 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.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thunderball Henchman Gets Bond’s Point….Day 88 of Bond 365

Philip Locke
Philip Locke
Born this day in 1928
Vargas in Thunderball

Tall, slender and gaunt looking, Philip Locke attended RADA, like many of the Bond alums. He cultivated his acting within the theatre: Oldham Repertory Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, and Broadway. He made his first appearance on a television series, Jan at the Blue Fox, in 1952. He appeared in three The Avengers episodes, two episodes in The Saint, as well as four episodes of Doctor Who in 1982 as Bigon and Control. Locke is one of those few actors that worked in both the Eon Productions Bond films and the Doctor Who franchise.

© 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.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Here Comes the Sun. Colonel Sun….Day 87 of Bond 365

Colonel Sun
By Kingsley Amis as Robert Markham
UK book release this day in 1968

Kingsley Amis had written The James Bond Dossier and The Book of Bond as well as provide edits on The Man with the Golden Gun after Ian Fleming had died, so it did not seem all that fair fetched that Amis would be asked and readily accept the challenge of stepping in and continuing the James Bond story. Writing under the pseudonym Robert Markham, Colonel Sun was the first of many continuation Bond novels over the intervening decades. The UK publishing company Jonathan Cape released Amis book this day in 1968 with a cover contributed to artist Tom Adams, which is very much in the spirit of Salvador Dali’s painting titled Persistence of Memory (1931).

Ian Fleming Publications (at that time was Gildrose Productions) knew that the James Bond property was very profitable so they sought out a known author that they could commission to write a sequel. Having accepted the offer, Amis employed similar techniques that Fleming had used when writing his Bond novels. Amis drew from his travel experience by setting his story in Greece. He used the name of the boat he and his wife were on during their holiday, Bond Girl names came from friends and a family doctor becomes the doctor to Bond in an early chapter.

Amis pulled from Fleming’s prior to stories, settling on the concept of revenge. In the Fleming books, unless the movies, Bond has respect and admiration for M, which is interesting: apparently Amis did not like the character M, so in Colonel Sun, M is kidnapped. The villain, Colonel Sun Liang-tan is a nasty bit of work – a sadist and a torturer – and ushers in a new political power structure that sees Bond collaborating with the Russians, in opposition to the Chinese. Although the partnership structure has been modified, it is very similar to the dislike of the East expressed in Dr. No.

Colonel Sun did well financially and ranked very high in the bestseller lists at the time. Some critics welcomed the book and touted that Bond was back, however others were more critical and said Amis’ story paled in comparison with Fleming’s Bond stories. Even though the reviews were mixed the story was serialized in the Daily Express. The UK newspaper also ran it as a comic strip from 1969 – 1970. Titan Books, who has been reprinting those strips in omnibus volumes, reprinted this story in 2005.

Amis sought out opportunities to bring Colonel Sun to the silver screen, but ultimately was unsuccessful. That said, elements from his story have shown up in a few of the Eon Productions films. For example, the kidnapping of M happened in The World is Not Enough and Colonel Sun Liang-tan inspired Colonel Tan-Sun Moon in Die Another Day. And, Greece was used as a setting in For Your Eyes Only.

© 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, March 27, 2015

Half Dozen of Bond and a Trailer on the Side….Day 86 of Bond 365

Yeah! The teaser trailer for Spectre released earlier this afternoon. I recognized the locales that we have been seeing promotional stills and shots of in the past couple of months. It’s cool to see those items congeal into the semblance of a forthcoming film. The shots inside the church stood out for me as minimalist yet intriguing. So, what do you think?

UK book release in 1961 (Jonathan Cape)

I haven’t read this book yet. Given the history behind it, which I will not go into in this blog (read the Wikipedia entry for more information on that front), I am anxious to read it. I want to read the eight leading up to it and then read through this one and see if there are many style and narrative differences in Thunderball that were not there in the prior books.

The cover of the book is another Richard Chopping illustration. I like his covers quite a bit. Sterile, distant, and aloof, yet textured with layers of meaning and representation. On the Wikipedia page, I liked the pull quote that Fleming wrote to Chopping: “The title of the book will be Thunderball. It is immensely long, immensely dull and only your jacket can save it!”

Richard Marner
Richard Marner
Born this day in 1921
Russian Spacecraft Communicator in You Only Live Twice

It was about a week ago that Richard Marner appeared in Bond 365. Let’s take a look at March 18, commemorating his passing in 2004.

Julian Glover
Julian Glover
Born this day in 1935
Kristatos in For Your Eyes Only

Julian Glover came from a BBC family. His mother was a journalist and his father a radio producer. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and honed his acting skills at the National Youth Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. He became a regular in many of the television series in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s where Glover often played sophisticated villains. In face, he is the only actor to appear in these popular franchises – Star Wars, Bond and Indiana Jones – and as a villain in all three. And Glover, like a number of other actors I have been featuring on Bond 365, has acted in a Bond film and in the Doctor Who franchise.

According to IMDB, Glover audition for the role of James Bond in the 1960s and then in John Glen’s memoirs, had suggested Pierce Brosnan for the Bond role. Glover is still acting. If you happen to watch a little show called Game of Thrones, he plays Grand Maester Pycelle.

Talisa Soto
Talisa Soto
Born this day in 1967
Lupe Lamora in Licence to Kill

Talisa Soto has been successful as a model where her beautiful face and body have graced such magazines as Glamour, Sports Illustrated, Mademoiselle, and Vogue. She started appearing in films in 1984’s The Pope of Greenwich Village. Her third acting credit was for Lupe Lamora in Licence to Kill starring Timothy Dalton and Carey Lowell. It seems that for the most part, she was cast in films, however she did guest star on a handful of television series, however Soto’s is probably also remembered for her role as Kitana in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Most recently, you might have seen her in Elysium.

Sean Connery and Gerry Duggan
Gerry Duggan
Passed away this day in 1992
Hawker in Goldfinger

Irish actor Gerry Duggan got his start in The Flying Doctor as Fred Winter in 1959. He went on to act in a mixture of television series and films through an acting career that lasted over thirty years.

As a Bond alum, he was cast in Goldfinger as Hawker, James Bond’s caddy as Bond plays a round of golf with Auric Goldfinger. Let’s see Mr. Duggan in action:

Peter Diamond

Peter Diamond
Passed away this day in 2004
Stunts in A View to a Kill

Peter Diamond was a versatile individual. According to his IMDB profile, he was an actor, stuntman, fight coordinator, sword master, and second unit director/assistant director. Diamond started in the business in the 1954 television series The Three Musketeers as M. de Jussac, but he also was a fight arranger for two episodes. He worked on a lot television series as well as movies. In all, he had 74 acting credits and 121 stunt credits in a career that spanned half a century, which is an incredible length of time.

© 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, March 26, 2015

Cheshire and Diamonds….Day 85 of Bond 365

Geoffrey Cheshire and Gabriele Ferzetti
Geoffrey Cheshire
Born this day in 1927
Toussaint in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Geoffrey Cheshire acted mostly in television series with a small number of parts in films. He does have the distinction of acting in both a Dalek film and a Dalek tv series story. He also had a guest appearance on Roger Moore’s The Saint in 1967. In 1969, he was cast as Toussaint, a henchman for Draco, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Some of his screen time included being present when Bond led the assault on Piz Gloria with Draco and as a wedding guest at the end of the film.

 Diamonds Are Forever
UK book release in 1956

Diamonds Are Forever is Ian Fleming’s fourth book and was released by Fleming’s publisher, Jonathan Cape. This story was based on research that Fleming completed for his non-fiction The Diamond Smugglers, which was published in 1957. I believe that Fleming’s research in Los Angeles and Las Vegas was included in his other non-fiction book Thrilling Cities that was published in 1963.

In the novel, Bond foils and closes a diamond smuggling group, which includes gang member Tiffany Case. Case becomes Bond’s main love interest and in the book, Fleming added four additional chapters detailing Bond and Case’s relationship aboard the Queen Elizabeth. 

Cinematically, Diamonds Are Forever was the seventh film and starred Sean Connery in his last outing as James Bond in an Eon Productions Bond movie. Tiffany Case was portrayed by Jill St. John and Blofeld by Charles Gray. Guy Hamilton directed the Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz screenplay. Deviating from the book’s Spang Brothers, the film version had the memorable Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd.

© 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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Remembering Stuntman Bill Weston….Day 84 of Bond 365

Bill Weston as Blayden Butler in The Living Daylights
Bill Weston
Passed away this day in 2012
Stunts for You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, Never Say Never Again, and The World Is Not Enough
Stunt Double: Christopher Walken/Stunt Team on A View to a Kill
Blayden Butler in The Living Daylights

Bill Weston’s career as a stunt performer spanned approximately 40 years in almost one hundred projects that ranged from television to film. Interestingly, he worked on several Eon Productions (and one non-Eon) Bond films, yet his Wikipedia entry spotlights his work in Saving Private Ryan, Titanic and Raiders of the Lost Ark. All three are stunt heavy, but so are the Bond films!

Special note, Weston even worked on the Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker (2006) movie that starred a young Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider, based on the novel by Anthony Horowitz. I read the book and found it to a fun, young James Bond oriented book.

© 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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

LootCrate: “Covert” Month of March

Last week, I ordered my very first Loot Crate. I had not heard of the Loot Crate until now. It came onto my radar because the theme for March was “Covert” and well that seemed perfect for a Spyfi fan like me.

Today my crate arrived. The inconspicuous and unassuming little black box was in my mailbox and I was excited to see what loot my covert crate had in store for me. I felt like Indiana Jones before the Ark of the Covenant – that moment of sheer delight and possible epic disappointment.

I slit the tape and slowly opened the box….

And, bam! A t-shirt with our favorite spy, well sad spy, because his martini had been stirred, not shaken. Already, that t-shirt made the cost of the Loot Crate (around $20) worth it since specialty themed t-shirts run about that. I was definitely going to have fun wearing the t-shirt at all those cons I attend throughout the year! I also like the keyboard design, especially with the confirmed fingerprint in the lower right hand corner.

The Loot Crate button for the month, which I understand is quite the collectible. The button had nice spy oriented gadgets. I want to put it on my bag, but I also would be bummed if I lost it. Such a dilemma: to wear or not to wear?!

The Field Agent Blink Time Wrist Watch appears to have been an exclusive in fifty of the boxes, so I was one of the lucky 50! By touching the surface of the rubberized watch face, the time would appear and then disappear again. In the brochure, the watch was illustrated by a person wearing a tuxedo – another nice nod to Bond.

The orange and black bracelet was a little confusing to me. However, the brochure lists it as a Paracord Survival Bracelet made of “military grade parachute cord” that can be unfolded and used in case of an emergency – like scaling into a Ken Adam villainous lair? Oh yeah!

So, I haven’t watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D but this is a replica badge that comes with a lanyard. The booklet that came with it lists the badge as an official prop replica and has a picture of Patton Oswalt, so that’s cool!

No covert operation can go well without a field notes notebook to jot down those important secretive observations. Bummer there was no pen included in the Loot Crate. A missed opportunity to have a pen with disappearing ink! 

An agent involved in a covert mission can expect some periods of time in which boning up on the English language can provide some light hearted relief. Mad Libs from Penguin Books is just the ticket. This will be fun when standing in a long queue waiting to get into WonderCon next week!

The Covert brochure matches nicely with the Loot Crate button. Along with descriptions of the items in the box, there were a few articles, including one on “Silver Screen Spies” written by Josiah Motley. Keep those nods to Bond coming!

Now, I didn’t open it, but a sealed IDW Orphan Black Issue #1 exclusive to Loot Crate was included. In addition, there was a Valiant digital download for Ninjak #1. I got some reading to do!

And, lastly, the entire Loot Crate loot representing “Covert”. I seriously think once I've got my covert kit equipped, along with my Spy Gear accessories (a future blog post), I think I'm ready for the field! 

Okay, maybe not, but I'm definitely a happy spyfi fan and a Loot Crate fan as well….I wonder what the theme for April will be?

© 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.

Fleming Tied The Matrimonial Knot….Day 83 of Bond 365

Ian Fleming and Anne Geraldine Mary Charteris
Married this day in 1952

Anne Geraldine Mary Charteris, 1937
They met in the mid 1930s Europe. Anne Geraldine Mary Charteris was from a wealthy aristocratic family (granddaughter of the 11th Lord Wemyss) and was married at the time to Shane O’Neill, 3rd Baron O’Neill. Ian Fleming was known for being a charmer and routinely engaged in love affairs. Their attraction was immediate and enduring.

In 1944, O’Neill was killed in Italy serving as a British Army officer. It was the perfect opportunity for Fleming and Charteris to marry. It appears that Fleming was not ready to make a marriage commitment so Charteris married Esmond Harmsworth, the 2nd Viscount Rothermere, who she had been having an affair with as well. The second marriage did not diminish the fact that the pair still had passionate feelings for each other. Interestingly, Fleming was not monogamous to Charteris; he continued his womanizing ways. And, Charteris continued to have her other extramarital affairs beyond Fleming.

The Flemings, 1962

The Viscount seemed to be tolerant of Fleming and he was often a participant of the various societal parties and outings with the Rothermeres. However, in reading Matthew Parker’s Goldeneye: Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica, it seems that when Charteris went to visit Fleming in Jamaica in 1948, which resulted in a pregnancy, it was probably the long spiral to the breakdown of the marriage.

After Charteris’ yearly visit to Jamaica to be with Fleming, upon her return to London in 1951, her husband gave her a choice to end her relationship with Fleming or get a divorce. They divorced.

At this point, the time was right enough and Fleming and Charteris married in 1952 as soon as her divorce was final. She was pregnant again and in August, their son Caspar was born. In Parker’s book and in some of the articles I have been reading online, Fleming and Charteris had a sadomasochistic relationship that swung between violence and desire. After the marriage, it appears that they were quite opposite: she was very outgoing and social, he was more moody and a loner. As they settled into married life, Fleming’s health was beginning to deteriorate, which probably added strain to their relationship. Unfortunately, it sounds as though the fireworks of attraction fizzled and faded into an unhappy existence. 

© 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.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Russhon, Clery, Lorre and Fleming Finished Goldfinger….Day 82 of Bond 365

This is a hectic day for Bond events! Let’s start with this day in 1959, which saw the UK book release of Goldfinger. Apparently, it originally had the title The Richest Man in the World, but I’ll be honest, I’m glad it was changed. I think Shirley Bassey’s theme song for the film version just would not quite be the same with that long title. Anyway, this was Fleming’s seventh book and another cover designed by artist Richard Chopping.

Charles Russhon
Born this day in 1911
Military Liaison: Turkey and Technical Advsior for From Russia With Love
Government Liaison: USA/Military Liaison: Kentucky and Technical Advisor for Goldfinger
Technical Advisor and Government Liaison for Thunderball
Air Force Officer in Thunderball
Location Scout & Military Liaison: Japan and Technical Advisor for You Only Live Twice
Police Liaison: New York for Live and Let Die

Sean Connery with Retired Lt. Col. Charles Russhon
I was definitely curious by Charles Russhon because of his varied liaison credits. Apparently, he was very well connected and thanks to him, the films had more validity and realism. For example, he was able to commandeer the use of Commanche monoplanes for Goldfinger as well obtain permission for filming the exteriors of Fort Knox. And for Live and Let Die, with the New York Police Department’s assistance, the crew was able to film in Manhattan. It seems to me like an interesting job and one that not that many could fill, especially for five of the Bond films.

Some rather fun trivia from IMDB: In Goldfinger, apparently there is a sign over the Fort Knox hanger that reads “Welcome, General Russhon.” And, if you happen to know the comic strip character Charlie Vanilla in Steve Canyon, that character was based on Russhon.

An article “Through Airmen’s Eyes: The Airman and James Bond” talks about Russhon and his involvement with the Bond franchise. Photo of Russhon is from this article.

Corinne Clery
Corinne Clery
Born this day in 1950
Corinne Dufour in Moonraker

Corinne Clery has been acting and modeling since she was seven years old. Along with her role as Corinne Dufour, a beautiful henchman for Hugo Drax and briefly a Bond Girl in Moonraker, you may remember her in erotic The Story of O (1975), Italian futuristic fantasy Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983), and sci-fi The Humanoid (1979) which starred Bond alums Richard Kiel and Barbara Bach. However, most of her acting has been European projects.

Peter Lorre
Passed away this day in 1964
Le Chiffre in Climax’s Casino Royale (1954)

I find Peter Lorre such an amazing actor, I think in part because he was able to transition from the silent film era of the 1920s (my favorite era of films) to the talkies and continue to have a prolific acting career with the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant, David Niven, Kirk Douglas, Jason Mason, Ingrid Bergman, Mary Astor, and directors Alfred Hitchcock and Fritz Lang.

Peter Lorre and Year of the Cat(s)
Lorre was born Laszlo Lowenstein in Rozsahegy Austria-Hungary, now known as Ruzomberok, Slovakia. He ran away from home as a youth and received stage training in Vienna. He took on the stage name of Lorre in 1925. He remained an “unknown” until Fritz Lang cast him as the child killer in M (1931), which is ranked as one of the 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time (Premiere Magazine, April 2004). He continued to act in Germany, but was supposedly told by Joseph Goebbels to flee Germany. Whether true or not, Lorre moved to Paris, London and then to Hollywood in 1935 like so many German expatriates fleeing Hitler’s regime.

What stands out about Lorre's portrayal as Le Chiffre is the fact that he is the first on screen Bond villain. I think that is truly cool given that he such a recognizable person in film and television and has been influential in popular culture. There have been many characters that have parodied his looks and he unique way of speaking. For example, his likeness was parodied in the cartoon Mega Man, Ren from The Ren & Stimpy Show, and the villain Rocky Rococo in The Adventures of Nick Danger, Third Eye. In addition, he inspired Boo Berry, the ghost mascot for the General Mills cereal. And, he was mentioned in Al Stewart’s song “Year of the Cat.”

Lorre had quite a dark sense of humor, some might say warped. Upon seeing Bela Lugosi’s body with the Dracula cape, Lorre asked fellow actor Vincent Price if he should drive a stake through Lugosi’s heart just in case. And when interviewed during the House Un-American Activities Committee’s investigation of possible Communists in Hollywood, Lorre was asked to name anyone he had met in Hollywood that he thought was suspicious. He responded by listing everyone he knew – I don’t think the committee could take him seriously if he did that.

Let’s take look at a clip from Casino Royale (1954), which pits Le Chiffre and James Bond at the Baccarat table. Some excellent tension portrayed in spite of my not knowing how the game is played.

© 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.

The Guardian Gives James Bond and Popular Culture A Thumbs Up

Late last year, my first edited book, James Bond and Popular Culture: Essays on the Influence of the Fictionalized Superspy, was released by McFarland & Company. After a year of working with several talented writers from around the world, I pulled together fourteen essays that explored the influence that James Bond has had on popular culture that started with Ian Fleming’s first book Casino Royale in 1953. Naturally, the films did a lion share of promoting the suave and rather aloof British secret agent with a license to kill into mainstream media around the world. The essays spotlighted film, television, literature, lifestyle, and reinterpretations (for example, the video game 007 Legends).

Last night while checking online for any new reviews of my book, there happened to be a new review from The Guardian in the UK. It was a brief but positive review that ended with, “Spy-fi fans will not be disappointed by this well-researched and wide-ranging collection.” Well, that was exciting and three of the essays got a special mention in the article, so I was happy about that too!

If you haven’t checked out my book, you can take a look at the publisher’s listing at McFarland & Company (who is currently sold out) and at Amazon for a sneak peek inside. I also wrote a couple of behind-the-scenes blog post on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 if you want to see the inner workings so to speak.

Thank you very much for your support and if you have read my book (and liked it), please consider writing a review at all the usual places – Amazon, Goodreads, etc.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Happy Birthday to Gorss, Swor and Lee!....Day 81 of Bond 365

Sol Gorss, actor and stuntman
Sol Gorss
Born this day in 1908
Stunts for From Russia With Love

I about fell out of my chair when I looked at Sol Gorss’ IMDB filmography of 252 actor credits and 88 as a stuntman!

Gorss started acting in 1931 as a policeman in The Front Page. He started doing stunts a few years later in the 1936 Bengal Tiger. He had roles that overlapped with his stunts and worked on television and in film. Gorss did his last stunt work in the 1966’s Murderers’ Row and the following year, his last acting role in Red Tomahawk as a Townman/Roulette Player, which came out after his death.

Ken Swor
Born this day in 1935
Assistant Director for Diamonds Are Forever

Reading through his IMDB profile, Ken Swor sounded liked a real down to earth type of person. He played sports in school and eventually earned a teaching degree, so he could teach and coach.

In the late 1960s, he took a director’s guild test and scored in the up 10%. Scoring as high as he did led him to train as an assistant director and in 1971, one of his first outings as an Assistant Director was on Diamonds Are Forever – pretty darn amazing! He worked on some popular television series such as The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones.

In the 1970s, he added Production Manager to his list of talents. As a production manager, he apparently worked exclusively on television series and movies. Again, he worked on some very popular projects in their day: The Streets of San Francisco, Police Story, Fame, and The Twilight Zone.

His last credit was in 1995 and in 2004 he passed away from heart failure at the age of 69.

Will Yun Lee
Will Yun Lee
Born this day in 1971
Colonel Moon in Die Another Day

Will Yun Lee was born in Virginia to Korean parents and as a child, his family moved around a lot, leading Lee to have both tough (Bronx) and tropical (Hawaii) locales as backdrops during his childhood years. Eventually, he and his father, a Korean Tae Kwon Do Grandmaster, settled in San Francisco. Lee spent time in his father studio and learned Tae Kwon Do. 

Lee attended University of California Berkeley and studied Political Science, however it was also a time in which two things impacted his life. First, Lee began worked with high-risk teens, youth he could identify with from his years when he lived in the Bronx. His commitment to youth has continued to be an important role for him.

Second, Lee became interested in acting and landed a role on the television show Nash Bridges starring Don Johnson and Cheech Marin. It led him to relocate to Los Angeles and pursue a career in acting. Looking at his IMDB filmography, Lee has been working consistently since 1997 with his first role. In addition, he has branched into voice over work in video games such as the Sleeping Dogs franchise. And recently, he has been working on Hawaii Five-O, Strike Back and True Blood.

© 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.