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.
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.
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.
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.
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