A hundred years after United Artists was formed as a film studio, the release venture run jointly by MGM-Annapurna announced that their operation shall henceforth adopt the monicker United Artists Releasing.
United Artists was the studio that originally trusted producers Broccoli and Saltzman to start their James Bond film series. In over 60 years of operating independently the studio produced, co-produced and distributed countless diverse classics of cinema history like Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Great Dictator, Hitchcock’s Rebecca, the James Bond and Pink Panther films, Midnight Cowboy, the Rocky films, Raging Bull and Apocalypse Now.
The box office failure and negative publicity of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate led to the end of United Artists’ film production and its merger with Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer to MGM/UA. Subsequently, United Artists existed as a monicker attached to various MGM productions.
BOND 25 is going to be a major tentpole production for the United Artists Releasing operation, which will distribute the film on the US market.
I was going for a lazy stroll in the snowy Alps, as you do, and I was just passing this cave near St. Moritz, when a deep bearish voice called out:
‘Hey you – aren’t you one of the guys from CommanderBond.net? Gimme the low down, what’s the news about BOND 25, any juicy details from shooting yet?’
By the entrance to the cave a tall bear was putting on a battered black and white dog tooth suit over a dark blue shirt and a black knitted silk tie, apparently the morning toilet after a long winter hibernation. When I saw him putting black John Lobb shoes on his huge paws I knew I was talking to a hardcore Bond fan. They are everywhere. And they tend to be fussy about their appearance.
‘Sir, indeed I happen to be working for CBn. You, Sir, on the other hand are a bear. And judging from appearances I should have thought you have more pressing matters to attend to than a Bond film,’ I said.
‘What do you think I’m leaving my cave for this early, Mission Impossible?’ my new acquaintance said while he fiddled with a metal expanding bracelet to fit an expensive looking watch around his left forepaw. The hairs of his pelt stuck through the links of the bracelet, but otherwise he was looking every inch the worldly bear.
That’s what makes all the difference, Bond fans can climb right out of a cave and blend in nearly everywhere without effort.
‘Well then, what’s the last thing you remember? Before taking your nap in there?’ I asked him.
The bear’s face turned thoughtful. ’Lemme see…last thing I heard was BOND 25 would be in theatres November 2019. And that Craig will return!’ So this furry Bond fan was still thinking BOND 25 would be right in the middle of shooting now…
‘That was in summer of 2017 – you’ve missed lots of stuff!’
‘Did I? What in particular?’
‘You asked for it…
‘At first, there wasn’t any news about BOND 25 beyond Craig returning. And that Purvis & Wade would do the script, but that hardly counts as news. What there was was a distinct absence of information: no distributor, no director. Plenty of speculation, largely the typical nonsense stuff the media rehashes when they need a spin on a story, who’s doing the title song, who’s returning – or not – and so on. A lot of it focussed on who was possibly directing, so the media speculation mirrored that of the fans, Mendes returning…’
‘Ugh, no!’ my new friend the bear muttered.
‘…then not returning, Villeneuve maybe doing it…’
‘Denis Villeneuve, wow!’
‘…Nolan maybe doing it…’
‘…and finally all hell broke loose when it was announced that Danny Boyle had made a pitch for BOND 25.’
‘Danny Boyle, that’s awesome! Can’t wait to see it!’
‘You won’t have to.’
‘Didn’t they like his pitch?’
‘To the contrary, they were so taken by it that from March to August 2018 Boyle was officially directing BOND 25, shooting a script he developed on the go with John Hodge – while the Purvis and Wade effort supposedly was scrapped. The production, according to people in the know, was going full speed ahead when they suddenly hit “creative differences” and everything came to a standstill.’
‘Oh my,’ the bear was making a sad bear-face. ‘A Danny Boyle Bond film would have been so awesome…’ He was sniffling a little. It’s a disturbing sight, a huge bear sniffling.
‘Some people thought so, yes. But then, whenever a door closes, it does so for a reason – or however that Zen quote about doors goes…’
‘What did they mean with “creative differences” – ain’t that p.r. talk for excrement hitting the airscrew?’ the bear asked.
‘Honestly, I haven’t the foggiest. Talk in the media suggests it was something to do with rewriting the script, a task Purvis and Wade were possibly hired for again. Tabloids speculated wildly about who was to blame for what kind of blasphemy that finally broke the camel’s back. Bond actually dying was mentioned, but how much of that is true – if anything at all – nobody can say for sure.’
My friend the bear looked paler by the minute. It seemed catching up with his favourite franchise didn’t exactly agree with his digestion. While filling him in on events I spared him not a lot, not Gary Barber’s catapult exit from MGM, not Annapurna’s financial woes, which was supposed to team up with MGM for distribution.
‘God, that’s awful…does it get any worse?’
He didn’t yet know about BOND 25’s delay. He’s a bear after all, you never know with bears. Better slip him that detail together with something more uplifting.
‘Depends how you look at it. Distribution of BOND 25, as of yet, will be split between MGM-Annapurna for the US and Universal for the rest of the world. Might be that hints to MGM’s future – or not, take your pick. And Barber hasn’t been replaced as of yet, nor is MGM’s fate decided ’
Now he looked close to tears. ‘What a mess! Will there even be something to distribute when they lost their director and their script too?’
‘Well, it’s not clear how much of a loss that script was. Some claim Hodge may have worked from Purvis and Wade’s first effort all along; nobody outside can say for sure. Whatever Hodge cooked up also could still feature in BOND 25, depending on how a new director and Eon tackle it. And here comes the good news: after weeks of searching they found their replacement for Boyle – Cary J. Fukunaga. And it’s said he will also touch up the script.’
His face lit up. ’The one who directed True Detective? Hey, that’s pretty cool!’
‘Of course, all that kerfuffle comes at a price. You will not like hearing BOND 25 got pushed back a bit, from November 2019 to February 2020 – Valentine’s Day.’
‘That’s still over a year!’ He looked seriously miffed now.
‘Yes, but you picked just the right time to wake up: shooting is set to begin in March, with location work in Italy set for April.’
‘Italy again, I like that! It’s warm in Italy!’
‘Further locations may include Norway and possibly Canada too…’
‘I like Norway and Canada. Plenty bears there!’
The bear was fiddling now for some time with a smart phone; difficult to handle with his paws.
‘And why is none of this stuff up on CommanderBond.net? Damn, fans like me depend on you guys. Do your bloody duty!’ he growled at me.
‘In truth, I was just going to write it when you called me over…’
According to news reported by From Sweden With Love, Anders Frejdh’s Swedish Bond fan page, Lewis Gilbert, director of Bond classics You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, has passed away.
Gilbert started out early as a child actor during the 1920s and 1930s, later switching to other production-related jobs. After assisting at Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, Gilbert began his direction career with documentaries during the Second World War. After the war, he branched out into scriptwriting and producing films and directed a number of productions based on true events from the war, 1960’s Sink the Bismarck just one of them.
In 1966 he adapted Bill Naughton’s play Alfie with Michael Caine more or less on a shoestring budget. The film won the Jury Special Prize at Cannes and got an Oscar nomination in the best picture category, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Gilbert.
In 1967 he directed You Only Live Twice, the Bond film that started a trend to largely ignore Ian Fleming’s source material in favour of escapist spectacle, huge set pieces and extensive stunt work. While overshadowed by Sean Connery’s obvious reluctance to further suffer as the focus of a global super-spy craze (and cameraman John Jordan’s severe accident during shooting) the film was only slightly less successful at the box office than its predecessor Thunderball.
So solid was Gilbert’s work on 007 that Eon asked him back to direct not once but twice – and both times to shoot remakes of his original, this time with Roger Moore as Bond. The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977 and 1979’s Moonraker today have a somewhat mixed reputation with the fanbase; yet they are regarded as classics in their own right with wider interested film aficionados and critics. And of course they grossed spectacularly in the year of their original release.
Gilbert’s post-Bond career included a number of smaller productions, Shirley Valentine perhaps the most notable amongst these. In 1997 he was awarded the CBE and in 2001 he was made Fellow of the British Film Institute.
An earlier version of this article did not name the source. CBn thanks Anders Frejdh for breaking the news on this.
German actress Karin Dor, known to Bond fans as henchwoman Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice (1967) was born in February 1938 in Wiesbaden (Germany) as Kätherose Derr. In 1954, she married Austrian director Harald Reinl, who was 30 years her senior and father of her only child, her son Andreas. This was only possible because she made herself two years older than she actually was. She subsequently played in many of his movies, especially his (in Germany) hugely popular Edgar Wallace and Karl May movies (the latter being a series of German “Western” movies in which one of the main characters went by the name of “Old Shatterhand” played by Lex Barker) and she became one of Germany’s most popular and busiest actresses of the 1960s.
Her success didn’t go unnoticed by the Bond producers and they were eager to cast her for You Only Live Twice. How eager? Dor told German movie journalst Billy Kocian: “Mr. Saltzman only wanted to pay 40.000 Marks (about $10.000 at the time), but upon this offer I just turned around on my heels and walked away. I had plenty of offers and my husband earned a lot of money at the time. Saltzman came running after me, and with a face as white as chalk, he grudingly signed the contract, hissing: ‘I never signed anything like that in my whole life.'”. In the end, she was paid 200.000 Marks (other sources even claim 250.000) for the role.
After the success of You Only Live Twice, Dor played in many international movies, most noteably in Hitchcock’s Topaz and had guest roles in TV series like Ironside or It Takes a Thief.
Her divorce from Harald Reinl in 1968 and a carcinosis affected her movie career but did not stop it, she was always busy through the years. In 1986 she married her third husband, stuntman George Robotham and moved to the United States with him. A marriage with a German businessman only lasted from 1972 to 1974.
She still had roles in Germany TV series and movies, but after her husband’s death in 2007, she focussed on playing theater, especially a play that was written for her, named “You Only Love Thrice”, at the Komödie im Bayerischen Hof in Munich.
In July 2016, she had an accident from which she suffered a massive concussion. She seemed to have recovered rather soon but her return to the stage turned out to be to early. She had to rest and wasn’t even allowed to read newspapers by early 2017. In July 2017, her manager told German tabloid “Bild” that Dor wouldn’t return and that the only thing fans could do for her was pray.
Rejoice – in just about 27 months James Bond fans can expect to meet 007 again at the cinema. And this time it’s not one of numerous more or less informed rumour outlets to claim such, but James Bond’s very own official and certified twitter account. According to yesterday’s lean tweet, BOND 25 will start in the US market on November 8th 2019, with a possible October release in the UK.
Further details include that Bond veterans Purvis and Wade are responsible for the script – no surprise – and that further details are to be announced at a later date. Now that sounds interesting…
Today, along many terrible news, it is my sad duty to report the loss of Sir Roger Moore.
You will, in all likelihood, be aware that most obituaries are in fact written long in advance, sometimes years. And at times – hopefully – even many years. It’s simply a custom of the trade; a sad duty, but evidently one you cannot escape.
So when you are tasked with the assignment to write Roger Moore’s obituary you sit down one foggy morning in November 2015, a couple of memoirs and a stack of notes by your side – and only then you realise how daunting and depressing a task this is, to write a living person’s obituary.
You start writing, go over the obvious facts, born where and when; grew up somehow; survived the war somehow, miraculously; education; career; early work. You mention the studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (where you cleverly let slip that Lois Maxwell was his classmate), you go over the first few step-stones (pebbles more like) of his budding career as extra, move on to small parts, arrive at his television work, Ivanhoe, Alaskans (do people even remember this?), Maverick. The Saint. The Saint. And more The Saint. Six seasons of TV history and you go on at great length how Moore spread out his charm and his presence over these years, how he gained worldwide fame, how he made the character his own and recommended himself for further parts.
And on you move, the time is short, to Bond. To seven times of 007, twelve years of his work that would henceforth – in the public’s eye – overshadow everything else he did, whether it’s his non-Bond work or his private life. You mention the difference between his depiction of Bond and the literary character. You mention the famous raised eyebrow and how Moore, with his characteristic understatement, sold his own acting short to three expressions; and in so doing you illustrate his noble spirits and his sense of humour. And also how he was frequently underrated in his work. Not many actors can look at you from the wrong side of a set of crocodile teeth and keep a straight face. Moore could.
Then you go on with the non-Bond parts and the work after Bond. With his commitment as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, which he was appointed in 1991. You stress how he supported the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund by visits to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras, where he saw in the field the desperate conditions under which children in these regions often had to suffer. How Roger Moore spoke out to raise awareness to these circumstances, how he became a voice on HIV/AIDS and the horrors of landmine terror in war torn regions around the globe. How he became an important public voice and fund raiser for numerous UNICEF projects and initiatives and how his activities helped the poorest and weakest, those most in need of protection and support. Our support.
It was for these activities Roger Moore was awarded the C.B.E. and later the K.B.E. Rightfully so he was immensely proud of the recognition since this work more than anything else in his career directly influenced the lives and fates of a great number of children for the better.
You cut the personal life paragraph about spouses and family short, mainly because it’s none of our business; also it’s a bit yellow-page-ish. Leave that to the others.
And then you arrive at the end of the page, a whole life of 89+ years in a couple of paragraphs, mostly filled with facts anybody could look up on the internet today.
And none of it would really capture how Roger Moore – Sir Roger Moore – has influenced so many of his fans. How in nearly all of his roles there was a basic humanity shining through, something that (for lack of a better word and doubtlessly betraying my naïveté here) I would like to call a ‘quantum of nobility’ – a kind of empathy and strive for the good we all would be capable of. Whether in his Ivanhoe armour or his Simon Templar three-piece suit, there always was a trace of it present. Not a doe-eyed ‘I’m-the-good-guy’ bigotry either, Moore never missed a chance for a quick mischievous wink that told us not to take him too seriously.
But there definitely was a reason writing colleagues used the phrase ‘gentleman spy’ back in Moore’s day. And it had nothing to do with the dinner jacket. Or much less than people like to think today. Though the mere term “gentleman” seems almost so outdated now it’s probably on the verge of becoming one of the big insults of our brave new world – with Roger Moore many fans felt a grain of just this quality, the gentle character, the humane spirit, was always present. And not as a part of the role but as a part of the man himself. The kind of gentleman that didn’t disappear with the dinner jacket.
Roger Moore did more than just depict the hero on screen; for the fans of my generation he was often also a first role-model – and surely not the worst you could think of. The absence of Roger Moore – a noble man in the best of ways and long before the ‘Sir’ was added – will also mark the end of an era.
And finally you arrive at this sentence. And you realise you also arrived at the end of this obituary. And you are deeply sad for the loss that is yet to be, hopefully far in the distance. And you put the piece in the drawer and hope.
Today, it was my sad duty to open this drawer and report the loss of Sir Roger Moore. We will miss you.
The new German bi-annual Zeit-Magazin Mann has an extensive Christoph Waltz interview as cover story of its premiere issue. Naturally, Waltz’s role in last year’s SPECTRE was also a topic. A brief excerpt:
Financially, SPECTRE has been a huge success. It had a box office of $ 880 million, only one other James Bond film earned more.
And yet, Waltz isn’t satisfied – with his own performance, with the result.
‘I cannot claim that I’ve really nailed Blofeld. Overall it held water, was okay. But it wasn’t what I’ve been looking for. I was searching for more inspiration.’
He has been getting this vibe even before shooting started, but by then it was already too late.
‘An actor can only be really good when there are shared possibilities.’
He refuses to be any more specific about it, but it’s clear what he means by that: apparently the chemistry between him and director Sam Mendes didn’t play out the way he would have wished for.
How does one survive a PR spectacle such as James Bond?
First he says ‘I’ve survived worse’ and then he adds ‘There is a tendency to excessiveness. I understand you want to invite as many guests as possible to a premiere. But does it absolutely have to be the Royal Albert Hall? That doesn’t really help the whole cause. In the end it’s a film, and it should remain a film. The next premiere will probably be a national holiday; it almost was this time. I don’t see what’s so bad about the Odeon at Leicester Square for a premier cinema?’
At the end of SPECTRE his Blofeld is still alive – is a sequel with Waltz possible?
‘I don’t know about that, nobody knows. It wasn’t talked about, except in the press. Right now nobody even knows which studio will produce the next and if Daniel will return. All of that is filed under “carry on”‘
On March 10th 2016, Sir Ken Adam passed away in London, aged 95. The world of movie making and especially the world of James Bond mourns the loss of one of its most talented production designers who has influenced the style of the Bond movies like barely anyone else. His ground breaking set designs include seven James Bond films: Dr No (1962), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds Are Forever (1971), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). In his career, he won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, 1975 for Barry Lyndon and 1994 for The Madness of King George and was nominated three more times. He is survived by his wife Letizia, to whom the team of Commanderbond.net wishes to express their sincerest condolences.
Sir Ken Adam was born on February 4th 1921 as Klaus Hugo Adam in Berlin-Tiergarten. He was the third of four children of a wealthy Jewish family who ran a large sports and fashion store. In 1934, the family fled from Nazi terror to London. In 1937, Adam joined the Bartlett School of Architecture, following the advice of art director and Academy Award winner Vincent Korda who told him that this would be the best way to start a career as a movie architect.
He took a break from his education in 1941 and joined the British Royal Air Force to become a pilot and fight the Nazis in his native country, knowing full well that he wouldn’t be treated as a prisoner of war but killed as a traitor in case he was captured by the enemy.
In 1947, he became a British citizen and adopted the first name Ken. Soon after that, he got his first job in the movie business as a draughtsman at Twickenham Studios and started working his way up in the industry. Through his work on Captain Horatio Hornblower in 1951, he made himself a bit of a name as an expert for historic ships which lead to him working on The Crimson Pirate in 1951. While shooting this movie on the Italian island of Ischia, he met his future wife Letizia who was a model at that time. They married a year later and Letizia would become his lifelong source of inspiration.
In 1956, his work on Around the World in Eighty Days gained him his first Oscar nomination (with Ross Dowd and James W. Sullivan). His other two unsuccessful nominations were for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Addams Family Values (1993). Ironically, four of his five nominations (including his two wins) were for historic set designs and not his futuristic, Bauhaus influenced style that made him famous.
His work on The Trials of Oscar Wilde (1960) brought him in contact with producer Albert R. Broccoli, who would later hire him to do the set designs for the first James Bond movie Dr No. In the years to come, Adam would design some of the 007 franchise’s most iconic sets and elements: Dr No’s underground lair (including the famous, minimalistic “Tarantula room”), the interior of Fort Knox and of course the gadget-ladden Aston Martin DB5 for Goldfinger, the underwater vehicles and the Disco Volante hydrofoil boat for Thunderball, the famous hollowed-out volcano for You Only Live Twice, the moon Buggy and Blofeld’s lair for Diamonds are Forever, the tanker interior for The Spy who Loved Me for which the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios was specially built and of course the space station and the Space Shuttle control room for Moonraker. Additionally, he was responsible for the production design of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (and the car itself), based on the book by Ian Fleming.
Even though Adam’s famous credo was to design the sets “larger than life”, many of his creations were taken for real by the audience. This also happened with one of his most famous sets, the “War Room” for Dr. Strangelove. No story about Ken Adam would be complete without this anecdote: when Ronald Reagan became President of the United States he demanded to see this room and was slightly disappointed that the equivalent didn’t even remotely look like what he saw in that movie. Despite the great result, Adam vowed to never work again with Strangelove director Stanley Kubrick, as his erratic way of working led to the production designer suffering from not one but two nervous breakdowns. Luckily, Adam broke this vow to work with Kubrick on Barry Lyndon, for which he won his first Academy Award in 1975.
He won his second Academy Award for The Madness of King George in 1994. In 2003, Ken Adam received a knighthood for his services to the film industry and Anglo-German relations. In 2012, Ken Adam donated his entire archives to the Deutsche Kinemathek in Berlin, including many drawings, photographs and memorabilia (among them his two Oscar statues) under the condition that the archives would be made publicly accessible. The process of digitizing all these materials and publishing them as an online archive is still in the works and has been postponed from March 2015 to mid-2016. Sadly, Ken Adam didn’t live to see this last project being finished.