Sunday, May 17, 2015

Early Bond Films’ Makeup Artist, Basil Newall…Day 137 of Bond 365

Basil Newall
Born this day in 1924
Make-up Artist for From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever

Newall's artistry on From Russia With Love
Basil Newall worked as make-up artist for six of the Bond films with two actors as James Bond. I consulted my James Bond Archives book from Taschen to confirm if the paint artist for Shirley Eaton was Newall but it was not. I believe that he made up the faces of the actors. Thinking back to each movie, I cannot recall a point in which an actor looked blotchy and uneven. I equate the make-up artist to that of the letterer of a comic, if their work doesn’t glare at you, then they have done their well.

Newall got his start as a make-up artist a few short years after World War II. His first credit was listed for Hamlet (1948) starring Laurence Olivier and Jean Simmons. Newall and Olivier would meet again in the 1981 Clash of the Titans in which Olivier played Zeus. Some of the films that stand out for me that I have seen Newall's work has been on Fahrenheit 451 (1966), Superman (1978), and Excalibur (1981). And, Connery and Newall paired up again in 1974 for the existential, okay crazy weird, journey of Zed (wearing a tankini) in Zardoz.

Newall's artistry for Zardoz
I have to point out one other film that Newall worked on: Venom (1981) that starred Klaus Kinski and Oliver Reed. It’s actually not that bad of a film, however what makes it priceless is the commentary from director Piers Haggard, who described the set as a war zone of ongoing name-calling, one-upping tantrums of two grown men – Kinski and Reed! That must have been one of the most challenging films to work on as a make-up artist.

There was nothing I could find on Newall as far as his background and how his interest in makeup artistry was developed. There were a couple of behind-the-scenes photos of Newall at work on the set of Space: 1999 applying makeup to Martin Landau. Unfortunately, those photos were much too small and the text was limited. However, as with so many of the crew, they often remain faceless and nameless, doing their jobs so we as audience-goers can be entertained. I, for one, thank them for their talents and skills!

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