What do you do when you want to make a James Bond movie but lack the legal rights to do so as well as the budget and the current leading man? Simple. Just turn the life of 007's literary creator, Ian Fleming, into a pseudo Bond story, dispense with most of the facts, add some opulent locations and then cast the son of Sean Connery in the lead role. Shake (but don't stir!) and - presto!- you have Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming, a 1990 TV movie made by Turner. The Warner Archive has recently released this 1990 title as a burn to order DVD (it had previously only been available on VHS). The screenplay should have included a disclaimer explaining that most of the occurrences in the story are the stuff of pure fiction. As it stands, the millions of people who have seen this comic book version of Fleming's life probably believe he was an action hero in the mold of 007. There is do doubt that Fleming led a colorful and exotic life that included world travel, interaction with larger-than-life people and bedding numerous women of high pedigree. There is also no doubt that the creation of James Bond and the supporting characters in his novels was based on elements of various individuals Fleming knew over a period of decades. However, all of this is boiled down to the most simplistic formulas in this film which is otherwise competently directed by Ferdinand Fairfax. The story glosses over Fleming's early years and correctly points out that he was a troubled student who was expelled from Eton. He is also shown to have an abrasive relationship with his cold-as-ice aristocratic mother (Fiona Fullerton). Young Ian has a lot to live up to. The Fleming's are well regarded in social circles and his father, a WWI hero who perished in the conflict, had his eulogy written by Winston Churchill. Ian, however, is more than content to sow his wild oats with a series of comely bed mates. He races cars, indulges in his penchant for drinking and fine dining and seems headed toward the lifestyle of a slacker (albeit with a family fortune to back him up). All of this has a degree of truth to it, as does the sequence in which Fleming finds his self-worth when his boss at Reuters news agency sends him to Russia to cover a sensational show trial of British citizens who are being framed as spies. Fleming's astute reporting of the trial put him on the map and earned him praise as a journalist. With the outbreak of WWII, Fleming joins British naval intelligence and is assigned as right hand man to crusty Admiral Godfrey (David Warner), who probably did indeed serve as a role model for 007's boss "M". Fleming proves astute at planning audacious commando missions behind German lines. So far, so good. But the script deviates from the facts in order to provide some juicy action sequences. Not only does Fleming have a romantic relationship with sexy fellow intelligence officer Leda St. Gabriel (Kristin Scott Thomas), but he also leads a daring raid on a German fortress to steal important documents. These aspects of Fleming's life are pure bull. Similarly, the script simplifies the inspirations for future Bond characters Miss Moneypenny and the gadgets master "Q" (who was not referred to as such in Fleming's novels.) The latter character is represented by Quincy, a fictitious schoolmate of Fleming's who is brought into naval intelligence because of his penchant for creating innovative inventions (he even designs and builds two man mini-subs used on Fleming's mission behind enemy lines.) There are high stakes games of chance against German agents in opulent casinos and an attempt on Fleming's life by bombing his London flat. Again, these are purely the creation of screenwriters.
Given the fact that Fleming's life is reduced to cartoon-like absurdities, Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming is a reasonably entertaining jaunt. The film boasts rich production values, the script is intelligently written and the acting is perfectly fine (no one goes over the top in the attempt to make Fleming a super-hero). In the title role, Jason Connery may have been a flagrant example of stunt casting, but he impresses in the role. He has a model's good looks and a few of his father's mannerisms, but otherwise puts his own imprint on the role. His father's interpretation of the Bond character was more insolent and sarcastic. Jason emphasizes wit and a playful sense of humor but, appropriately, plays Fleming with a more low key, less exotic approach. In an early starring role Kristin Scott Thomas is suitably cast as Fleming's fictitious paramour in the intelligence service. Supporting roles are adequately played but no one has much of a chance to develop their character beyond a superficial level. One would have hoped that the Fleming/Godfrey relationship would have been explored further but in the film, Godfrey is seen simply dispatching Fleming on various missions in the way Perry White would assign Clark Kent to cover news stories.
The DVD transfer is about as good as a TV movie can look. Although well photographed, there is often a bit of grain to television productions and this is no exception. The film was originally broadcast without the "Spymaker" angle in the title. This was added for video release and for some international theatrical releases. (This version includes some brief nudity that was not seen in the original U.S. broadcast.)
Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming is a rather bizarre treatment of the esteemed author's life but it is quite entertaining throughout- as long as you don't delude yourself into believing most of what takes place on screen.
This is a region free DVD, playable on all international systems.
Click here to order from Warner Archive and to view a preview clip.
Cinema Retro has just received the following press release from Sony:
Director’s Follow-Up to SKYFALL™, the Highest-Grossing Film in the Longest Running Film Franchise, to Arrive in Theaters on October 23, 2015 in the UK and November 6, 2015 in the US
CULVER CITY, Calif., July 11, 2013 – Producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, EON Productions; Gary Barber, Chairman & CEO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer; Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment, Inc, and Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment today announced that Daniel Craig will once again return as the legendary British secret agent in the 24th James Bond film and Sam Mendes will also return to direct the screenplay written by John Logan. The film is set for release in UK theaters on October 23, 2015 and in US theaters on November 6, 2015.
SKYFALL™, the 23rd James Bond film, took in $1.1 billion worldwide and set a new mark as the highest-grossing film of all time in the UK; it was the best-selling Bond film on DVD/Blu-ray and was the most critically acclaimed film in the history of the longest-running film franchise.
Commenting on the announcement, Wilson and Broccoli said, "Following the extraordinary success of SKYFALL, we're really excited to be working once again with Daniel Craig, Sam Mendes and John Logan.”
"I am very pleased that by giving me the time I need to honour all my theatre commitments, the producers have made it possible for me to direct Bond 24. I very much look forward to taking up the reins again, and to working with Daniel Craig, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli for a second time,” said Mendes.
Barber added, “We are thrilled to reunite the extraordinary talents of director Sam Mendes with our star Daniel Craig for the next great Bond adventure.” He added, “As evidenced by the phenomenal success of our last collaboration with EON Productions and Sony, the incredible legacy of this 51-year-old franchise continues to amaze.”
Lynton and Pascal said, “It’s a privilege to work on the Bond films. EON, John Logan and Sam Mendes have come up with an extraordinary follow up to SKYFALL and we, along with our partners at MGM, can’t wait to share this new chapter with audiences all over the world.”
A pistol that was used as a last minute prop in a publicity photo shoot for the first James Bond movie, Dr. No in 1962, is being auctioned on July 29. Originally, Sean Connery was to pose with a Walther pistol for the publicity photos. However, on the day of the photo shoot, it was discovered that no one had brought the Walther to the studio. The photographer, David Hurn, improvised by substituting a long barreled air pistol, a personal possession that he used as a hobby. It was originally envisioned that the long barrel would be airbrushed out but it never was. The resulting photos became so iconic that variations of them were utilized to publicize later Connery Bond movies. The last time the pistol was sold at auction, it commanded over $400,000. For more click here
Once again, Cinema Retro is proud to bring you behind the scenes on a world-class retro movie event.
By Matthew Field
It seemed only appropriate that Octopussy, the only James Bond film with a tenuous link to
Wimbledon, should be the theme of BondStars’ summer barbeque on the very day
Andy Murray became champion. (Octopussy
actor and former tennis player Vijay Amritraj was semi-finalist in the men’s
doubles in 1976!)
On a sweltering summer’s day, OCTOPUSSY AT 30, re-united cast and crew from the 13th
James Bond movie at Pinewood Studios where the movie was made back in 1982/83.
The day kicked off with a screening of the Blu-ray
master (kindly lent by Eon Productions) in Theatre 7. Director John Glen, assistant
director Anthony Waye and stars Maud Adams and Kristina Wayborn, were on hand
to introduce the film to fans at the sold out event. Glen told the audience that
Octopussy was his favourite pre-title
sequence along with The Spy Who Loved Me.
He also remarked with a smile how gorgeous his actresses were still look today
– and they certainly were!
A lineup of Bond royalty: Peter Lamont, Kristina Wayborn, John Glen, Maud Adams and Alan Tomkins. (Photo: copyright Matthew Field, All Rights Reserved.)
Later in the day guests were also joined by twins David
& Tony Meyer, Carole Ashby, Jeremy Bulloch, production designer Peter
Lamont and stunt arranger Paul Weston. Cinema Retro’s Dave Worrall, our very
own veteran tour guide, led guests around the studio, pointing out of
particular note, the entrance to the manor house which doubled for the British embassy
where 009 turns up dead with the Faberge egg in Berlin.
Well, Louis Jourdan couldn't make the event, but we've got the next best thing: Cinema Retro's Matthew Field, the thorn between two roses: Kristina Wayborn and Maud Adams.
Cinema Retro's Dave Worrall is still pondering why his relationship with this lovely lass never quite worked out! (Photo: copyright Matthew Field, All Rights Reserved.)
On stage the Meyer twins recalled the filmmakers first
approached them after John Glen had seen twins in France performing a knife-throwing
act. But the French duo had turned the film down on the grounds that jumping
off of trains wasn’t really their sort of thing! Maud Adams said how proud she
is to be associated with the Bond franchise while Kristina Wayborn recalled her
first day at the studios in 1982 where she met not James Bond in the Pinewood restaurant
– but Superman actor Christopher Reeve. Ipads and smart phones were running the
Murray match throughout the day and there was a huge cheer as the young Scot
secured the trophy while Kristina and Maud were being interviewed on stage.
Stuntman extraordinaire Paul Weston (center) can't resist monitoring the action at Wimbledon. Paul performed some of the most harrowing stunts in the film. (Photo: copyright Matthew Field, All Rights Reserved.)
A lineup of 007 greats: Alan Tomkins, John Glen and Peter Lamont. (Photo: copyright Matthew Field, All Rights Reserved.)
theme ran throughout the day. Circus acts entertaining guests in the Pinewood
gardens during lunch while specially designed cupcakes were served with
afternoon tea. An Octopussy special
was put together by Mi6 Confidential Magazine to accompany the event featuring
many interviews and behind the scenes photographs from the personal archives of
those who worked on the film. Sir Roger Moore wrote a wonderful introduction to
the day also.
Yet another great day for 007 fans and a new “All Time
High” for BondStars!
Cinema Retro has received the following press release:
LONDON (at a top secret location) 28 June, 2013 – “Pay attention, 007, RM
Auctions is about to sell one of my most ingenious creations and we wouldn’t
want it to fall into enemy hands”. Well, ‘Q’ might be a little concerned that
his incredible Lotus Esprit Series 1‘Submarine’ Car is due to be sold at
auction, but for millions of movie fans out there, the appearance of this
iconic Bond car on the open market represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
No Bond car has ever done
anything as outrageous as transform itself into a submarine. Used to incredible
effect in the film The Spy Who Loved Me,
starring Roger Moore, the white Lotus commonly tops the polls when generations
of movie fans are asked to vote on their favourite film cars of all time. Like
all the best Bond cars, the Lotus was a veritable war chest of weaponry and
gadgetry, all designed to fox and foil the enemy, whilst also helping Bond to
another hard-won victory for Queen and country.
(Photo: RM Auctions)
The vehicle to be offered
by RM Auctions at its forthcoming London sale, 8-9 September, in Battersea
Park, is the one and only fully functioning car especially designed and built
for the famous underwater sequence seen on screen in the 1977 film. Abundantly
authenticated, and known as ‘Wet Nellie’ on the set, it was developed from one
of six Esprit body shells used in the making of the film. As the only car to be built into
a fully operational, self-propelled ‘submarine’, by Perry Oceanographic,
based in Riviera Beach, Florida, it is the vehicle which claimed the most
screen time in the film. The driver of the car was Don Griffin, a retired U.S.
Navy SEAL and test pilot for Perry, who operated the vehicle utilizing its motorized
propellers while manoeuvring with levered steering mechanisms. At the time, the
car was said to have cost over $100,000 to create (equivalent to nearly a half
million dollars today).
Subsequent to filming the underwater scenes in the Bahamas, the vehicle
was shipped to Long Island, NY, where it was kept in an unassuming storage unit
on a ten year rental, paid in advance. Fate later intervened when, in 1989, the
then rent delinquent unit was put up ‘blind’ for public auction. A modest
winning bid from an area couple brought surprise and wonder when the blankets
were removed to reveal the iconic 007 ‘Submarine’ Car. After positive
authentication, the Lotus was shown occasionally – including a stint at the
Petersen Automotive Museum – but mostly kept closely under wraps, until now.
(Photo: RM Auctions)
Max Girardo, Managing
Director, RM Auctions, Europe, says: “We
have a great track record in selling incredible and iconic movie cars, and this
particular Lotus is certainly up there amongst the most famous cars of all
time. Over the years, millions of moviegoers have stared in awe as the Lotus
transformed itself into a submarine, and now, perhaps one of them will have an
opportunity to own it. Her Majesty’s Secret Service aside, it surely is the
ultimate beach accessory”!
RM Auctions sold “the most
famous car in the world”, the Aston Martin DB5 used by Sean Connery in the enormously
popular Goldfinger and Thunderball movies, for an incredible
£2.9 million during its 2010 London sale.
For further information on RM Auctions’
forthcoming London sale, or to view a frequently updated list of entries, visit
rmauctions.com or contact RM’s London office at +44 (0) 20 7851 7070.
Actor Pierce Brosnan is mourning the death of his 42 year old adopted daughter Charlotte, who has succumbed to breast cancer at age 42. Ironically, her biological mother, Cassandra, died at age 43 from the same disease in 1991. Cassandra had been married to Brosnan when the young Irish actor had originally been signed to play James Bond in 1986. A contractual clause invoked by NBC prevented him from playing the role until 1995. When Cassandra's first husband, Charlotte's father, passed away, Brosnan adopted her in 1986. In 2001, Brosnan married journalist Keeley Shaye Smith, who he has praised for encouraging him to continue to mourn Cassandra, who he says he thinks of every day. Brosnan is now mourning the second family member to suffer from the ravages of cancer. Charlotte had a somewhat troubled past, having dealt with depression, substance abuse and divorce. For more click here