Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A CLOSER LOOK: Ed Brubaker’s Comic Book Series ‘Velvet’ Part III..Day 181 of Bond 365



This is a continuing multiple post discussion of Ed Brubaker’s comic book spy story, Velvet that started last year and is its second story arc of the series. I gave a presentation at Wondercon last year on the series and am revisiting and updating my paper. You can find Part I post on Wednesday June 3, 2015 and Part II post on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.  

Velvet Templeton: Eight Years In the Making

One could say that Ed Brubaker was groomed for writing Cold War era dark noir. He grew up living on military bases and his father worked in Naval intelligence from the 60s through the 70s. His father was a big fan of spy movies and he always took Brubaker to see the Bond films. Brubaker had an interest in Hollywood that was cultivated by the fact that his uncle was a rather famous screenwriter during the 40s and 50s, which was the height of film noir. Seeing his uncle’s bound screenplays were an inspiration to Brubaker to want to become a writer, as well as creating a deep seeded interest in the era. One has only to look at Brubaker’s output over the years to see the result of his fascination with noir and the Cold War. It was about eight years ago as he was writing Criminal that Brubaker conceived the idea of Velvet.

He studied several sources as he developed Velvet’s character and back-story. He read non-fiction 50s and 60s spy stories as well as spy fiction greats Ian Fleming and John Le Carre. In addition, he referenced Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise (1963 – 2002) comic strip, the television show Mission: Impossible (1966 – 1973) and femme fatale Black Widow from S.H.I.E.L.D., introduced in 1964. From these sources, stereotypical women’s roles were revealed: the Girl Friday, the femme fatale, the object of desire, the damsel in distress, and the sidekick. Brubaker said in an interview, “I kept thinking that the female characters were way more interesting than the creators would let them be. I started to build Velvet and when I figured out her backstory, I felt like she was really powerful – especially in a world where women weren’t allowed to be that powerful” (Comic Book Resources, July 9, 2013, “Brubaker Prepares for Cold War Espionage in ‘Velvet’”). He felt that writing about a male spy like James Bond would have been boring and hence he was more interested in the story that the women could tell instead. In particular, Brubaker wanted to explore the inequality of treatment and differing views between men and women via the spy narrative. What better way than to take one of the stereotypical portrayals of women as a starting point?

Brubaker took on the Girl Friday character because he could place her in the best position – assistant to the director of a secret agency where she would have access to highly sensitive “For Your Eyes Only” information. While being a secretary typically has negative connotations, Brubaker felt someone in the Miss Moneypenny’s type of position would have had to be very intelligent and analytically minded to evaluate top-secret reports. And, she was probably smarter than the director she supported. He then went a step further with his development of Velvet. In another interview, he said he thought, “what if His Girl Friday was actually an ex-field agent? And it’s like, ‘well why isn’t she in the field anymore? What happened to her?’” (Geek News, July 11, 2013, Image Expo: Ed Brubaker Talks Femme Fatales, Cole War Spies, and More). What happened in Velvet’s past that would cause her to hang up her pistol and take a desk job to become the personal assistant to the director of a covert intelligence agency? And what would happen if she had to face that life again?

Morality and sexuality were two other aspects of gender difference that Brubaker wanted to explore through Velvet. He wanted to convey that “she’d have a whole different view on morality and what she’s willing to do with her body, probably a completely different view on sex than an average housewife back then would’ve had” (Comic Book Resources, July 9, 2013, “Brubaker Prepares for Cold War Espionage in ‘Velvet’”). While filmic Miss Moneypenny was given limited screen time with only a brief flirtatious interlude with the hero, Velvet would provide the reader with insight into a liberated woman’s perspective. It was also an opportunity to expose the sexual double standard that existed then and as the forum comments I opened with in Part I suggests, it’s still considered normal for a male spy to have many sexual encounters for pleasure and for obtaining secret information, but for a female spy engaged in the same behaviour, she would be considered a slut.

In Part IV, I’ll discuss Velvet’s story in the first story arc, “Before the Living End” (Issues #1 – 5). 



© 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, June 29, 2015

The Living Daylights Premiere and Henchman Janni…Day 180 of Bond 365




The Living Daylights premiere
This day in 1987, the fifteenth Eon Productions’ James Bond film The Living Daylights had its London premiere with a new actor filling the tuxedo. Welsh stage actor Timothy Dalton became the fourth actor to portray the British spy, taking over for Roger Moore. The opening follows Ian Fleming’s “The Living Daylights” story with Bond on a stake out waiting to snipe a beautiful woman assigned to kill a KGB defector. Bond disobeys orders and shoots the assassin’s rifle from her hands instead.

The film starred Maryam d’Abo as the assassin with a cello; Jeroen Krabbe as the defecting officer and Joe Don Baker, the villains; as well as John Rhys-Davis, Art Malik and Virginia Hey. Desmond Llewelyn was back as Q and Robert Brown as M. Caroline Bliss took over as Miss Moneypenny, replacing Lois Maxwell. The film’s budget was $40 Million and box office receipts reached $191.2 Million.  

It has been too long since I watched this Bond film because I do not remember much of it. I definitely need to rectify that. 

Michael Brennan (Aveleyman.com)
Michael Brennan
Passed away this day in 1982
Janni in Thunderball

Michael Brennan was born in London with the birth name of Bernard O’Leary in 1912. According to IMDB, he began acting with a part as ‘John Kidd, Survivor’ in a television movie titled The Fame of Grace Darling (1939). In 1965, he was Janni, a henchman for Largo in the James Bond film Thunderball. Janni is one of the bad guys that presumably gets away after witnessing Volpe receiving a fatal guy shot wound in the back, which was intended for Bond. 

Brennan had a prolific acting career on television and film, which spanned 40 years and over 160 credits. His last role was in the tv series Cowboys (1980) as ‘Picket leader’ in the episode “C.L.O.D.” He passed away at the age of 69 in Chichester, West Sussex. 

© 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, June 28, 2015

Remembering ‘The Real Q’ and a Thunderball Actor…Day 179 of Bond 365



John Stears with his land speeder from Star Wars (Wiki)
John Stears
Passed away this day in 1999
Special Effects in From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Man with the Golden Gun

Englishman John Stears was nicknamed ‘The Dean of F/X’ or ‘The Real Q’ because of his extensive special effects and innovations portfolio. According to his IMDB profile, Stears created the gadgets on the Aston Martin DB 5 that included the bullet-proof windows, rotating license plates and the machine-guns installed in the front bummers. His contributions do not stop there. He was also involved in the Star Wars franchise and his creativity spawned the lightsaber, the land speeder, the Death Star and robots C3PO and R2-D2.

Stears was nominated for four awards and won three: a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects for Star Wars (1977) shared with John Dykstra, an Oscar for Best Effects, Special Visual Effects for Thunderball (1965) and an Oscar for Best Effects, Visual Effects for Star Wars (1977) shared with John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune, and Robert Blalack.

Paul Stassino
Passed away this day in 2012
Angelo Palazzi and Major Francois Derval in Thunderball

Paul Stassino was born Phaedros Stassinos on the isle of Cyprus. At 17, he traveled to the UK and studied at the RADA in London. He was cast as Chalik in the British tv series Aggie in 1956 and his first filmic appearance was in the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger Night Ambush the following year. Stassino did quite a few guest appearances on the small screen including working with Roger Moore on The Saint in three different roles in five episodes spanning 1962 through 1969.

Eventually Stassino moved to Greece, then back to Limassol on Cyprus where he was born. He passed away at the age of 82.

© 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, June 27, 2015

Actors, a Film Release and a Producer….Day 178 of Bond 365




Happy Saturday one and all! Today started out with yours truly participating in a monthly podcast with three other independent scholars called H.P. Lovecast and as you can probably easily deduce, we chat about horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. This morning, we discussed the short story, Herbert West – Re-Animator, which was serialized in 1922 in the publication Home Brew. We had much to discuss and an hour went quickly. Next month, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, July 18, we will discuss The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath (1926). If you have an opportunity, I hope you’ll check out the first three episodes over at our YouTube station. Now, for some highlights from the world of Bond.

Peter Bayliss from The Suits of James Bond website
 This day in 1922, English actor Peter Bayliss was born in Kingston upon Thames. Bayliss had 80 acting credits to his name according to his IMDB profile that spanned almost 60 year. His first role was an Aide to Mithridates in the film Caesar and Cleopatra (1945). He worked on the small and large screens as well as the theatre. For this blog, Bayliss was cast in the role of Benz in From Russia With Love (1963).
Debbie Letteau (IMDB)



This day in 1956, American blond beauty Debbie Letteau was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her very first role was ‘Girl on the Corner’ in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and she subsequently had 8 other credits that included television, film and a short film. Her other standout role was the ‘Professor’s Daughter’ in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).  Letteau’s most recent appearance was in North Country (2005) as a ‘Hockey Game Guest’.

This day in 1973, the theatrical release of Live & Let Die opened in the United States and in the UK in early July. It was the eighth James Bond film and marked the debut of Sir Roger Moore. Guy Hamilton was back behind the camera lens and Bernard Lee as M and Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny back again. Desmond Llewelyn was appearing in a television series at the time and although the tv producers wrote him out of three episodes so he could film his parts as Q, Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli decided to downplay the gadgets angle. Another person unavailable for this film was composer John Barry. Paul McCartney and George Martin were asked to write the theme song and it was performed by McCartney, his wife Linda and his group Wings. It marked the first time the theme was a rock and roll song.

Live & Let Die cast (Wiki)

This day in 1996, long time producer Albert R. Broccoli passed away at his home in Beverly Hills. The cause was heart failure and he was 87. A number of cast members attended the funeral to pay their respects and Broccoli is interred at the Hollywood Hills Cemetery. See this link to his birthday on April 5.


© 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, June 26, 2015

Not Such a Bad Guy, Crooner Robert Davi…Day 177 of Bond 365



Robert Davi in concert (2013, Wiki - Nancy Knapp)
Robert Davi
Born this day in 1951
Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill

Robert Davi was born in Astoria, Queens, New York City. Originally, he trained to be an opera singer, but sadly he damaged his voice. I think though that it was ultimately fortuitous that he studied acting at the Hofstra University and then studied with acting coaches, Stella Adler and later Lee Strasberg.

Davi got his first acting part in the Frank Sinatra tv film, Contract on Cherry Street (1977) in which he played Mickey Sinardos. From there, Davi worked in both television and on the big screen, playing several memorable parts: bad guy Jake in The Goonies (1985), as FBI Special Agent Big Johnson in Die Hard (1988), as Det. Sean McKinney in Maniac Cop 2 (1990) and Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993), and strip club owner Al Torres in Showgirls (1995).  He currently has eight projects in the works and has almost 140 acting credits to his name. He has the distinction of working on three well-known franchises: Bond, Pink Panther, and Stargate Atlantis. Davi has even voice acted some video games!

I met Robert Davi at a Hollywood Collector’s Show that hosted a Bond reunion. There were probably about 20 Bond alumns and Davi was one of the guests. All of the Bond alumns were fantastic. They were friendly, engaging, interested. And Davi was probably one of the warmest of the group. When we met him at this particular show, he was touring. We were not aware that he was a singer – a crooner in the vein of Frank Sinatra – and he had his CDs (Davi Sings Sinatra – On the Road to Romance) on his table. After chatting with him, getting his autograph in my James Bond Archives (Taschen), a photo op, and then he signed one of his CDs and gave it to us! And, you know what? He can really sing and has a wonderful voice! It’s actually one of my favorite CDs for that style of music.



© 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, June 25, 2015

Goodnight Mr. Steed: Remembering Patrick Macnee…Day 176 of Bond 365


Honestly, June has been a bit of a heartbreaker with regards to celebrities who had ties to the spy/espionage world, which has included Christopher Lee, French actress Magali Noel who was starred in OSS 117 n’est pas mort (1957) and Italian actress Laura Antonelli, who starred in Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966). And now this morning came the news that The Avengers star, Patrick Macnee, passed away at the age of 93 of natural causes.

Macnee was born in London on February 6, 1922 as Daniel Patrick Macnee. His father gambled the family’s fortune away early in Macnee’s life and his mother raised him in an unusual household dynamic for the times: his mother, who was lesbian, had her female partner/lover living with them.

After graduating from Eton, Macnee was cast as an extra in the Leslie Howard film Pygmalion (1938). However, his career was disrupted for the duration of World War II, but he resumed acting in small parts as he attended a London school of dramatic art.

He didn’t find the kind of roles he was looking for, so Macnee packed up and headed west to Canada and then the United States. He performed on Broadway and did some acting in Hollywood, but he still had not hit it big, but that was about to change.

Patrick Macnee as British secret agent and culture icon John Steed from The Avengers (Google Images)
Macnee return to England in 1959 and within two years, he found his ticket with secret agent John Steed, a role which he made into an enduring British icon with the signature bowler hat and umbrella. The series lasted until 1969, where it was cancelled after 161 episodes. During the series Macnee worked with actors on the show that would later go on to be cast in some of the Bond films: Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg, Julian Glover, and Christopher Lee.

Looking through his filmography of 167 acting credits, Macnee did a lot of guest appearances in television for the various shows that were popular at the time. A jewel among his credits was of course when Macnee teamed up with Roger Moore in A View to a Kill (1985), where he was cast as Sir Godfrey Tibbett. He was the very long-suffering chauffeur and all-around whipping boy to Moore’s Bond, but seeing them perform together was pure gold. I chuckle just thinking of the various scenes they did together. The last screen credit for Macnee is listed as Dr. Ballard in The Low Budget Time Machine (2003), which may have been when he retired, due to arthritis.

I leave you with a video of Macnee in a Sterling Motor Car Company commercial from 1989.



© 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, June 24, 2015

Hollywood Icons Celebrates James Bond....Day 175 of Bond 365

Happy Wednesday evening! It has been a long day of work and then off to a wine and canvas event with a good friend that I haven't seen in some time. We both had a lot of fun, but there's a reason I paint abstracts; I'll never be a master painter. Anyway, I just got settled and have less than two hours to post today and I already I'm beat, so this will be a shorter post.

Let's start with a Bond history lesson. Can you name the United Kingdom theatrical release of a James Bond film that premiered this day some years ago? I'll give you some hints:


  • It marked a directorial debut of this person, who had been working with the franchise on a few previous bond films; 
  • It combined the plots from two Ian Fleming short stories; 
  • Filming locations included Greece, Italy, Spain, and England -- and some underwater footage in the Bahamas; 
  • The film generated just shy of $200 Million; 
  • Marked the last time the film was solely distributed by this company; 
  • One of the stars was married to a person that starred in a later Bond film;
  • One of the stars went on to be cast as Ian Fleming in a television project;
  • Lewis Collins had been considered for James Bond in this film; 
  • It did not feature Bernard Lee's M because he had passed away prior to filming his parts; 
  • Apparently, one of the stars resorted to drinking to calm their nerves prior to completing certain scenes that involved heights; 
  • One of the sets had been previously used for a war film; and
  • The singer of the theme song appeared on screen.

I'll let you mull it over for a few minutes, or at least to the end of this post...


While I was the grocery store this morning, I came across this lovely face: 



It's a special collector's edition from Hollywood Icons and I think it may be the first retrospective magazine to focus on James Bond from Dr. No to Spectre, which will be out later this year. And, kudos to the group for including the "renegade" Bond films that included Barry Nelson's Casino Royale (1954), the parody of Casino Royale (1967) and Never Say Never Again (1983). Besides covering each film in at least a two-page spread, there were sections covering Ian Fleming, James Bond's Walther PPK, gadgets, cars (vroom!) and of course, beautiful women that have been in love with our British agent. Thumbing through the issue, I see a mix of photos familiar and new, so I think, for a collector it's a nod to pick up. The magazine costs $12.99 and weighs in at 115 pages. 

And, if you still cannot think of the movie that premiered, then it was the twelfth Bond film that premiered this day in 1981: 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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Actor Kristopher Kum Gave Helping Hand to Other Actors…Day 174 of Bond 365



Kristopher Kum (Aveleyman)
Kristopher Kum
Born this day in 1929
Control Room Technician in You Only Live Twice

Kristopher Kum was born in Singapore and got his start in acting by being cast as a Chinese chauffeur in the BBC television drama Parbottle Speaking (1962). That same year, he appeared in the six-episode thriller The River Flows East that aired on BBC. 

Kum was not stranger to spy shows and films. He made guest appearances on television shows Espionage (1963), The Saint (1965), Secret Agent (1967), Koroshi (1968), The Avengers (1969), The New Avengers (1977), and Spy! (1980). Kum was one of the few crossover actors from the Eon Productions’ James Bond films to the television franchise of Doctor Who in which Kum played Fu Peng opposite Jon Pertwee’s doctor in 1971. 

In addition to acting, Kum ran the Oriental Casting agency, which assisted Southeast Asian actors secure roles. His last role listed on his IMDB profile was in 1988 as Mr. Lee in crime drama Rockliffe’s Babies, a BBC television series. Kum passed away at the age of 84 in 2013.

© 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, June 22, 2015

Birthday Wishes to Klaus Maria Brandauer…Day 173 of Bond 365



Photo from Jacob Garner
I have to do a shout out to my friend and spyfi enthusiast Jacob Garner who sent me a photo of my book because it has been added to the book stacks available at the Misericordia University Library! So, if you are in the neighborhood, you can now check my book out from their library – and say hello to Jacob!

Klaus Maria Brandauer
Born this day in 1943
Maximilian Largo in Never Say Never Again

Klaus Georg Steng was born in Bad Aussee, Austria and studied music and drama at the Stuttgarter Hochschule. At the age of 23, he was cast in his first acting role in the drama titled Die Ballade von Packham Rye (1966), a West German/Austrian television movie. Brandauer preferred stage acting rather than working in films. However, Hungarian director Istvan Szabo changed Brandauer’s stance.

Klaus Maria Brandauer (Universitat Salzburg)
In 1981, he was cast as Hendrik Hoefgen in Mephisto, a period drama about a German stage actor who finds his most important performance is the one for the Nazi patrons that come to see him perform. The film, directed by Szabo, was based on the Klaus Mann novel. The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (Hungary) in 1982. Brandauer, Szabo and the film were honored with a number of nominations and wins from a variety of festivals. Szabo and Brandauer would work together again on Colonel Redl (1985) and Hanussen (1988).

A few years later, Brandauer was cast as Bror, opposite Meryl Streep and Robert Redford in the sweeping epic Out of Africa (1985). Brandauer received several nominations as best supporting actor, winning a Golden Globe.

Brandauer added director to his CV when he directed himself in Seven Minutes (1989). While he has continued in television and film, he has been performing on stage as well. His last tv project was with Die Ausloschung (2013), but according to IMDB, he’ll star in in Capelli Code as Frank Capelli, in what looks to be a crime mystery tv series set to broadcast next year.

© 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, June 21, 2015

The ‘Rhodes’ Paved with Songs…Day 172 of Bond 365


Happy Sunday from Spyfi & Superspies! It’s been a full day of writing, research and walking six miles. I’m playing catch up on a handful of articles I owe to my popular culture outlets, so I was completing some research and writing up interview questions. In addition to the blog post below, I posted an entry over at my other blog site, Space Horror Films. I’ve posted the first part introducing a brief overview of the genre as well as my data set of movies I’ve been watching. Part II will go up next Sunday and in that entry, I’ll discuss the setting, aliens and tropes that make up the genre. I hope you’ll stop by.

Dr. No vinyl (Google Image)
Burt Rhodes
Passed away this day in 2003
Orchestrator for Dr. No

West Yorkshire born But Rhodes passed away in London at the age of 80. According to his biography at AllMusic, Rhodes played piano and the organ at a young age, but it wasn’t until after his military service concluded with World War II that he pursued a career in music. He gained real life experience by performing in nightclubs and bands and eventually he worked his way up into the role of bandleader.

Rhodes often played on many popular BBC radio programs and for some, he composed the show’s theme. Later, his appearances expanded to television shows and in theatre as a musical director. By 1966, he was the bandleader for The Talk of the Town, a London restaurant, where such musical guests included Judy Garland, Johnny Mathis, and Cliff Richard. He also worked in film and his most famous collaboration was with Monty Norman for Dr. No.

Here is a remastered release of The Seekers’ ‘Rattler’ performed at The Talk of the Town in the 1960s, orchestra led by Rhodes.



© 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, June 20, 2015

Commemorating 100th Year of Young’s Birth…Day 171 of Bond 365




Today was spent at the Richard Nixon Library. It’s not located far from home, but it took having a German friend visit as the impetus for finally going. It was definitely worth the trip and the several hours going through the various wings of the library as well as Nixon’s birth house. I took a lot of photos and notes so I can do a write up very soon that I’ll post here.

On Set (Google Images)
Shaun Terrence Young
Born this day in 1915
Director for Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Thunderball
Writer (Uncredited) for Dr. No
Body Double: Pedro Armendariz in From Russia With Love
Director: Pre-Production for Goldfinger

Shaun Terrence Young was born in Shanghai, China where his father was a Police Commissioner. He attended public school and at some point, moved to England to attend St. Catharine’s College at the University of Cambridge. Young got his start as a writer for The Fugitive (1939), a London Film Studios project about a man who becomes embroiled in blackmail and murder. War interrupted Young’s career as he was commissioned into the Irish Guards.

During the war, he was a paratrooper and was in the battle of Arnhem. He was wounded and convalesced in a Dutch hospital where he met a 16 year-old future starlet, who he directed in Wait Until Dark (1967). That young girl matured into Audrey Hepburn.

Dr. No Set (Google Images)
After the war, Young completed his first directorial debut was on Corridor of Mirrors (1948), a mystery starring Eric Portman, as well as a couple of Bond alums: Christopher Lee (it was his film debut as well) and Lois Maxwell. He also ran into Sean Connery when he directed Action of the Tiger (1957) and that association would become forever immortalized within the franchise. Maxwell recalled “Terrence took Sean under his wing. He took him to dinner, showed him how to walk, how to talk, even how to eat” (Wiki, ‘Terrence Young’). Taking Connery under his wing was not an isolated instance. When I met Luciana Paluzzi at one of the Hollywood Collector’s Show, she talked fondly of Young’s interest in and fatherly guidance he provided her.

Young worked on handful of Warwick films, which were produced by Albert Broccoli and led to Young being hired to direct the first Bond film, Dr. No. It was successful and well received, that Young was brought back for From Russia With Love and again for Thunderball. Although he filled other roles as well on the early films of the franchise, he did move on to direct several more films – 41 credits in all. His last film was Run For Your Life (1988). He suffered a fatal heart attack in 1994 in Cannes at the age of 79.


Bond Trivia: Young’s favorite Bond film is From Russia With Love and he liked to cast Desmond Llewelyn and Anthony Dawson.

© 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, June 19, 2015

A Warrior Woman, A SPECTRE Agent and A Continental Charmer….Day 170 of Bond 365



Virginia Hey
Born this day in 1952
Rubavitch in The Living Daylights

Blond beauty Virginia Hey was originally from New South Wales, Australia. As a lean, tall woman, it is no surprise that she had a successful modeling career. She made her film debut in the Mel Gibson vehicle Mad Max 2: Road Warrior in which Hey was cast as ‘Warrior Woman.’ From there, she went on to work on a number of tv series and films. She is probably best known for her role on the sci-fi show Farscape in which she was Pa’u Zotoh Zhaar and Dr. Jane Komenski from 1999 through 2002. In addition, she lent her voice for her television show character in the video game Farscape: The Game (2002).  In 2000, the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nominated Hey in the category of Best Genre TV Supporting Actress for her work on Farscape.

I met Hey at one of the Hollywood Collector’s Shows back in 2010 or 2011. At that time, Hey talked about her new line of perfumes and candles that she had designed, from the scent to package. Every bit of her product line conveyed a sense of exquisite elegance. I bought a bottle and a candle and they are wonderful, as was Hey.

Teru Shimada
Passed away this day 1998
Mr. Osato in You Only Live Twice

As I was looking up Teru Shimada, I recognized his face immediately from many popular television shows over the years. Shimada was born in Mito, Japan and began his acting career in an uncredited role as ‘Japanese Dignitary’ in The Washington Masquerade (1932) when the “talkies” were still considered a new cinematic innovation.

Although Shimada had been living in the US since the early 1930s, during World War II he was interned at the Poston War Relocation Center located on the border of Arizona and California.

Shimada spent his first two decades in film before venturing into guest appearances on the small screen in 1956 for the show, Cavalcade of America. Thereafter, he balanced television and film appearances throughout the rest of his career. His last role was on The Six Million Dollar Man in which he played Shige Ishikawa in the 1975 episode ‘The Wolf Boy.’

 Louis Jourdan
Born this day in 1921
Kamal Khan in Octopussy

It seems just like it was yesterday that we heard of Louis Jourdan’s passing on February 14 (see entry here) at the age of 93. Jourdan was born Louis Robert Gendre in Marseille, France. He gained his education in France, Britain and Turkey, which probably accounts in part for his refined and cultured demeanor he is often associated with on screen.

Jourdan was cast in his first role in Le corsaire (1939) on the eve of World War II. He practiced his English on tourists that would stay at the hotels, such as the Cannes Grand Hotel, that his father managed. However, during the war the Gestapo arrested his father and resulted in Jourdan and his brothers, director Pierre Jourdan and assistant director Robert Gendre, to join the French Resistance. To make matters worse for Jourdan, he refused to act in National Socialist propaganda films, so he acting career was halted.

Things turned around for Jourdan after the war. Producer David O. Selznick invited him to Hollywood to appear as Andre Latour in the Gregory Peck and Charles Laughton film, The Paradine Case (1947). Jourdan stayed in the US and continued to work in Hollywood. In the 1950s, he expanded into international productions and in 1958 he starred in Gigi with Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier. I think it may have been the first movie I saw of his and I was enamored with his charm, grace and exceptional good looks. Unfortunately, it was probably roles such as this one led him eventually to say of himself that he “was the French cliché” because he had been typecast into roles as a continental charmer and French lover. 

From the 1960s through to the early 1990s, Jourdan made guest appearances in tv shows and continued to star in films. His last role was in the film Year of the Comet (1992) alongside Penelope Ann Miller and Tim Daly. I am rather surprised that for the length of his career, he has only 87 acting credits.

Jourdan has been honored with two Stars on the Walk of Fame back in 1960. The stars honor Jourdan for: Television, located at 6445 Hollywood Blvd and Recording, located at 6153 Hollywood Blvd. I will have to visit his stars one of these days when I'm up in Los Angeles. 

© 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, June 18, 2015

Remembering Bond Villain, Curd Jurgens….Day 169 of Bond 365




Curd Jurgens
Passed away this day 1982
Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me

With one of the longest birth names I have come across among the Bond alums thus far, Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Jurgens, or Curd Jurgens, was born in Munich. The ravages of the First World War was two years on by the time Jurgens was born in the closing days of 1915. He began pursuing a career as a journalist, but his first wife encouraged him to pursue acting, which he did on the Vienna stage. However, his acting was derailed in 1944 when he found to be politically unreliable – he was critical of National Socialism – and sent to a Hungarian camp. After the war, he became an Austrian citizen.

In 1935, Jurgens was cast as Kaiser Franz Joseph von Osterreich in the UFA release of Konigswalzer (trans. The Royal Waltz). He went on to star in many war and spy genre films and televisions shows, such as The Enemy Below (1957) which had Jurgens starring opposite Robert Mitchum, The Longest Day (1962) starring John Wayne and Richard Burton, OSS 117 – Double Agent (1968), and Battle of Britain (1969) starring Michael Caine and Trevor Howard.  He was Carl Von Kesser in a two-part episode on called ‘The Five Daughters Affair’ on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1967) and as The General in the tv mini series Smiley’s People (1982), which was Jurgens' last role. 

Jurgens was nominated for a number of acting awards, earning three: German Film Awards’ Honorary Award (like the Academy Awards’ Lifetime Award) in 1981, Golden Camera’s Best German Actor for Collin (1981), which he shared with Hans Christian Blech, and Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor Volpi Cup for Les heros sont fatigues and Des Teufels General, both from 1955 and the latter being considered his breakout role. Jurgens tied with Kenneth More from The Deep Blue Sea (1955).

Although Jurgens had a successful prolific career on television and film, he gave more weight and significance to his stage performances. Jurgens was married five times and had a daughter with his third wife, Eva Bartok, who later said the father was actually Frank Sinatra. Jurgens wrote his autobiography and showing a bit of humor that we didn’t see The Spy Who Loved Me, he titled it And Not a Bit Wise (1976). He died of a heart attack at the age of 66 and was interred in Vienna.

Bond Trivia: He was the only actor to have played a main Bond villain opposite Sir Roger Moore to have died until Louis Jordan passed way earlier this year, in February.

Let’s take a look at a scene from The Spy Who Loved Me spotlighting Jurgens in his role of main Bond villain Karl Stromberg:



© 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, June 17, 2015

Stunts, Stars and a Director….Day 168 of Bond 365




Lee Tamahori
Born this day in 1950
Director of Die Another Day

Lee Tamahori is originally from Wellington, New Zealand and is the only Bond director to be of Maori ancestry. He got his start in show business as a boom operator for Skin Deep (1978), a New Zealand drama, which garnered a nomination for Best Feature at the Chicago International Film Festival.

Tamahori has worked on 23 films as either director or as a second unit/assistant director since 1983. He directed Pierce Brosnan in his last outing as James Bond in Die Another Day (2002), which also marked the 40th anniversary of the franchise’s beginning with Dr. No in 1962.

He has two regal sounding projects in post-production: the adventure film Emperor starring Sophie Cookson, Adrien Brody and Rutger Hauer (yay!), and an action drama titled The Patriarch set in rural New Zealand.

George Leech
Passed away this day in 2012
Numerous Credits

George Leech wore two hats in the industry: actor and stunts, which he seemed to balance well in terms of the Bond films. His earliest credit was as a stand-in for James Mason (boy, that must have been awesome!) in the film noir Odd Man Out in 1947. However, it was in 1956 that Leech carried a role in the ITV Television Playhouse episode titled ‘Teddy Gang’ and completed stunts in the film Helen of Troy, which starred Stanley Baker and Brigitte Bardot and directed by Robert Wise.

Let’s take a look at Leech’s contribution to the Bond films with stretched from Dr. No to A View To a Kill!

Stunts/Stunt Double: Joseph Wiseman for Dr. No
Man in Bulletproof Vest at Q Branch in Goldfinger
Stunts/Stunt Driver/Stunt Double: Sean Connery for Goldfinger
Disco Volante Crewman in Thunderball
Stunts for Thunderball, Casino Royale (1967), You Only Live Twice
Strangled SPECTRE Skier in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Stunt Arranger for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Stunts for Diamonds Are Forever
Cortina Gunman #2 in The Spy Who Loved Me
Stunts/Stunt Driver: Lotus Esprit for The Spy Who Loved Me
Henchman Shark Victim in For Your Eyes Only
Stunt Team for For Your Eyes Only
Stunt Driver/Explosion Stunt for Octopussy
Additional Stunts for Never Say Never Again
Stunt Double: Willoughby Gray for A View To a Kill

Jeffry Wickham
Passed away this day in 2014
Russian Control Room Officer in You Only Live Twice

English actor Jeffry (or Jeffrey) Wickham got his start on the television series An Age of Kings (1960) where he played a number of different roles. For much of his almost 100 acting credits, Wickham worked frequently on shows doing guest appearances. He was also one of a handful of actors that worked not only on a Bond project, but also on Doctor Who, where he was cast as Webster for the ‘Guests of Madame Guillotine’ episode in 1964. Wickham has the distinction of also working with another English institution: Hammer films. He was cast as Edgar in the ‘Carpathian Eagle’ episode of Hammer House of Horror, a television series in 1980.

In addition to all of the television appearances, Wickham was cast in a number of British films. Memorable roles would probably include The Remains of the Day (1993) in which he played Viscount Bigge and as Capt. Frank Barnes, joining Sean Connery in The Terrorists (1974).

© 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, June 16, 2015

Birthdays Times Four: Young, Jenkins, Culver, and Cartlidge…Day 167 of Bond 365



Raymond Young
Born this day in 1918
Sierra in Goldfinger

I wasn’t able to find much on English actor Raymond Young when I was researching details about him. He started acting after World War II in a television movie titled She Stoops to Conquer (1949) in which he played ‘Young Marlow’ in the film. Young made a lot of guest appearances on television shows throughout his career of almost 80 credits. His last role as Porter was in the 1991 Jeeves and Wooster series. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 93.

Geoffrey Jenkins
Born this day in 1920
Author of Per Fine Ounce

Originally from South Africa, Geoffrey Jenkins was a journalist and novelist who wrote several stories about his country. He became a news correspondent during World War II and spent the war years in London working for Sunday Times. He met and became friends with Ian Fleming while at the newspaper.

 In 1959, Jenkins wrote A Twist of Sand, his first novel, which later was turned into a movie by the same name. Released in 1968, it starred Richard Johnson and Honor Blackman and was directed by Terence Young.

Jenkins did some research for Fleming for one of his Bond novels, but unfortunately Fleming died before writing the intended novel. After some back and forth negotiation, Gildrose Productions, which later became Ian Fleming Publications, offered Jenkins the job to write the first continuation novel. Jenkins submitted a manuscript titled Per Fine Ounce, but it was rejected. Sadly, only 18 pages of the story survives.

MI6-HQ has a nice biography on Jenkins here. 


Michael Culver
Born this day in 1938
Man in a Punt in From Russia With Love
Vulcan Bomber Crewman in Thunderball

Michael Culver first casting role was as Det. Con. Haywick in the tv series You Can’t Win (1961). While you may not remember him in his two guest appearances in From Russia With Love and Thunderball, if you are a Star Wars fan, then perhaps you remember him as Captain Needa in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

Culver has over 100 acting credits to his name, having appeared on the small screen and the silver screen in the intervening years of his career. In addition, he has been active in the theatre scene that rivals his broadcast projects. When he isn’t acting, he engages in activism to promote peace.

William P Cartlidge
Born this day in 1942
Producer for The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker
Assistant Director of You Only Live Twice

Englishman William “Bill” P. Cartlidge has been a writer, producer and director since he got his start in the business as a Third Assistant Director (uncredited) for Follow That Horse! in 1960. He has worked with two James Bond actors: Sean Connery and Roger Moore. In 2002, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Dinotopia (2002) as an Outstanding Miniseries.

© 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.