1. James Bond: A Celebration

    By Charles Helfenstein on 2005-06-14

    Important Note – for all pictures click thumbnails to enlarge.

    Charles Helfenstein

    A chance to meet Bond stars and other fans at Bond’s “home” at Pinewood Studios is a fantastic opportunity. On June 11th, organized A Celebration + An Evening With George Lazenby for 100 lucky Bond fans, and I’m happy to report that the event was a great success.

    After my girlfriend and I arrived at the studios, we were led into the main entrance and given our name badges and programs, and then filtered into the memorabilia dealer room, and the autograph signing room.

    Thomas Wheatley Madeline Smith, John Wyman, John Moreno, Jan Williams, Alan Hume, Joe Robinson, Thomas Wheatley and Eunice Gayson were all there early, and once we had made our purchases in the dealers room and gotten our items signed, we walked out onto the patio and into the beautiful gardens that surround the main building. It was a gorgeous day and perfect opportunity to see old friends and make new ones in such glorious surroundings.

    Throughout the day we were given Fry’s chocolate bars, to acknowledge the fact that Lazenby was the Big Fry man before he was Bond. Although they had asked for 100, the chocolate company sent 100 packs of 4, so even those of us with a sweet tooth were sated.

    Pinewood Gardens Next came a tour of the studios, led by Gareth Owen. Throughout the building are posters, pictures, awards, and plaques commemorating films and industry individuals who have made an impact on Pinewood’s history.

    007 Stage Pinewood’s A Stage was currently empty but it was still chilling to see the location where so many great Bond moments were filmed. We then moved on to the most famous stage of all, The Albert R Broccoli 007 Stage. Scaffolding was being constructed inside, but we were let in for a quick peek.

    Paddock Tank Next we saw the outdoor paddock tank and large bluescreen set, used in many Bond films including The Living Daylights ice chase where the police car chasing Bond is sunk, and the sinking of the St George’s in For Your Eyes Only.

    Terrence Mountain We then moved on to more gardens, including one with a Welsh slate commemorating Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and the small grotto where Renard emerges with the burning stones from The World is Not Enough.

    Jan Williams After we crossed over a small bridge, we were on SPECTRE Island and Jan Williams was on hand to give us massages. As we headed back to the main building, we walked along Goldfinger Ave. and Draco’s henchman Terrence Mountain posed for pictures in the historic location where Bond’s Aston Martin loses it’s battle with a wall. The mirror is now domed shaped rather than flat.

    Terrence Mountain on Goldfinger AvenueOnce we got back to the main building, the 2nd tour group started, and so we visited the bar and then had a delicious lunch with grilled hamburgers, chicken, and hot dogs. My girlfriend and I were sitting with another American couple, but we were joined by Jan Williams who talked to the ladies about the best places to shop in London, and her late friend Princess Diana, while the men talked about Bond.

    Broccoli Plaque After lunch we headed to Theatre 7 (graciously lit by Alec Mills) for a question and answer session with John Moreno, Eunice Gayson, John Wyman, Thomas Wheatley, Albert Moses, Joe Robinson, and Madeline Smith, and Norman Wanstall. Each of them had great anecdotes, and unanimous in their praise of the Broccoli family and how much Bond has helped their careers.

    After a quick tea and coffee break, we came back to the theatre for the screening of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Gareth explained how difficult it was to find a print. No useable print existed in Europe, so Eon agreed to lend their copy. That print had a couple warped reels so that wouldn’t work either. Barbara Broccoli then asked MGM, and they agreed to send
    their archive print from America.

    Barbara wanted to attend the event, but she was grieving the loss of her good friend Michael Billington, who was also supposed to appear, but sadly lost his battle with cancer a few days before.

    Norman WanstallWe were privileged to watch the film with two of the men responsible for how beautifully On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is photographed, it’s Cinematographer Michael Reed and it’s cameraman Alec Mills.

    Before the curtains parted, Gareth asked George Lazenby to come down and introduce the film. George teased the audience by guessing we had already seen it quite a few times, but he was happy to be with such an enthusiastic crowd.

    George Lazenby The print was beautiful, and what a treat to see it on the big screen in the studio where the interiors were filmed, and with some of the cast and crew present. After the film ended, the usual fan debates over whether or not the print had little bits of alternate takes or extra footage ensued.

    We headed back to the main building, for more autograph sessions, this time with George Lazenby, Terrence Mountain, Michael Reed, Alec Mills, George Leech, Norman Wanstall (who brought along his Oscar) and Peter Hunt’s assistant Jeanie Sims. Jeanie was delighted when I showed her a copy of a telegram she had sent Peter Hunt 35 years ago when On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was about to begin filming.

    Next we headed off to the dining room, for a wonderful dinner, and then a discussion and question and answer session with George Lazenby. Lazenby was very candid, and had great anecdotes about being cast as Bond, the filming, and his subsequent kung fu film period. He gracefully acknowledged Peter Hunt as the prime reason On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is such a wonderful film. He also announced that his wife Pam Shriver is expecting twins, and Gareth teased him about the fact that he will be 87 by the time he can legally drink with them in the US.

    After the discusson and question and answer session, the trivia contest results were announced, CBn forum member Martijn Mulder (onthetracksof007) won 1st place. We all drifted towards the bar for a final drink, pictures, and goodbyes, and picked up our goodie bags on the way out. Each of us got issues of 007 Magazine and Collecting 007, a Pinewood brochure, a Corgi toy, a Thunderbirds book, and a DVD of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service signed by George Lazenby.

    With fans coming from America, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Holland, Germany, Scotland, Wales and even the Isle of Wight, the James Bond Celebration and Evening with George Lazenby was well worth traveling the globe for.

    My hat is off to Gareth and Andy, and it was very gratifying to get so many positive comments about once people saw my nametag.