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.

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