Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Double D: Director Hunt and Drummer Graham…Day 70 of Bond 365

Director, Peter Hunt
Peter Hunt
Born this day in 1925
Man Reflected in Universal Export Sign in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Editor for Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger
Supervising Editor/Second Unit Director for Thunderball, You Only Live Twice
Director for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

“My feeling was always that one should make the films seriously, but never take them seriously,” according to director/film editor Peter Hunt regarding the Bond films. Hunt was born in London and came of age as England went to war. After serving in the armed forces, Hunt stayed on in Italy and studied art history at the University of Rome.

Hunt returned to England and in 1947, he became a clapper-boy at Denham Studios. He studied editing under director Alexander Korda tutelage. While working on Dr. No, Hunt developed an editing technique called “crash cutting” which allowed for interweaving inserts with his quick cuts.

After working on five Bond films in various capacities, Hunt got his opportunity to direct On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which fulfilled a promise made by Broccoli and Saltzman to give Hunt a directorial position on one of the Bond films. There were some elemental changes with the sixth Bond film. Sean Connery had left and Hunt was faced with a relatively unknown actor George Lazenby, who had been a model no less, as the new face of James Bond. As such, there were little nods to “the other guy” by Lazenby’s Bond during the film, subtly casting a long Connery shadow over the film. And although was plenty of action in the film for Hunt to sink his editing style into, OHMSS was not just about these Bs (Bond and Blofeld), but also about another B: the blossoming love story which led Bond to marry the Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (Dame Diana Rigg).

At the time, OHMSS had done quite well as a film in 1969, but not in comparison to the prior Bond film, You Only Live Twice. There had been no real gadgets in the film, so there were very few merchandising opportunities other than some Corgi Toys, a book on the film, and the soundtrack. Interestingly, the film received one nomination: Lazenby was nominated for the Golden Globe New Star of the Year – Actor Award but lost to Jon Voight for Midnight Cowboy. (Lazenby was originally signed to do seven films, but decided during filming that he would only do one film.)

George Lazenby

 While there was quite a lot of criticism at the time of the film, contemporary reflections have been more favorable. For example, at the Battle of the Bonds panel I attended last autumn at Comikaze, many of the panelists chided The Man with the Golden Gun more often than not. For a couple of panelists, OHMSS was rallied as one of the very best Bond films. Prior to Daniel Craig’s trilogy of films, I felt that OHMSS and Lazenby gave Bond more dimension as a character, leading to a more humanized Bond that we cared about and could feel something about. Add to that mix, a soundtrack in which every song stands out singly and as a body of work is truly amazing. And yes, OHMSS is probably my favorite all time Bond film.

Hunt said, “I wanted it to be different than any other Bond film would be. It was my film, not anyone else’s” (Wiki entry for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). I believe he did just that with OHMSS. Hunt walked away from the Bond franchise and did not work on another Bond film again.

Drummer Bobby Graham
Bobby Graham
Born this day in 1940
Musician: Drums for Goldfinger

Bobby Graham was described by music producer Shel Talmy as “the greatest drummer the UK has ever produced” ( so it is not a surprise that Brian Epstein approached Graham to take over for Pete Best in The Beatles. Graham turned down the opportunity because he was the drummer for a then very successful band, Joe Brown and The Bruvvers. Along with being the touted as the greatest drummer, he was also very prolific: he was drummer for over 15,000 titles. He played with some very high profile musicians: Shirley Bassey, Joe Crocker, Herman’s Hermits, Rod Stewart, Chubby Checker, The Animals, Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, and Van Morrison.  

Let’s have a listen to Graham on the single, “Teensville” by Wayne Cogswell, with a couple of brief drum solos by Graham.

© 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.

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