Oct 18, 2018

New James Bond Short Story to Appear in November/December PLAYBOY

Continuing a long tradition begun with the publication of Ian Fleming's short story "The Hildebrand Rarity" in the March 1960 issue, James Bond will once again appear in the pages of Playboy Magazine this fall, in a brand new short story. The only difference is this one will be in comic book form. Dynamite and Ian Fleming Publications announced jointly today that an exclusive, 6-page story from the team behind Dynamite's James Bond Origin comic book will see print in the November/December issue. Like the series, the story is written by Jeff Parker (The Interman, Batman '66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and drawn by Bob Q, both of whom have done stellar work on the first two issues of the comic. The new story takes place in March 1941, flashing forward a bit from events in the current issues. According to the press release, "James is dropped off the coast of Belgium to help a Resistance cell take out a supply train that's important to the Nazis." This is very exciting news, not just because it extends a longstanding tradition of appropriate brand partnership, but because more James Bond Origin is definitely a good thing! As previously reported, James Bond Origin bridges the gap between the Young Bond novels and Fleming's Casino Royale, finally telling the story of James Bond's war years. The November/December issue of Playboy hits newsstands October 30, but the digital version is already available now. The first two physical issues of Dynamite's ongoing comics series James Bond Origin are currently available in comics shops or digitally.

While Playboy (which now bills itself as "Entertainment for All," not "Entertainment for Men") published many Fleming stories and serialized novels back in the Sixties, the magazine also has more recent history with 007. During Raymond Benson's tenure as continuation author in the late Nineties, he published two Bond short stories and an excerpt of his first novel in the magazine. (The stories were eventually collected in the Benson anthologies The Union Trilogy and Choice of Weapons.) The most recent James Bond short stories to be published in magazines were written by Samantha Weinberg during her stint writing the excellent Moneypenny Diaries spinoff novels, and focused on that character as well as 007. "For Your Eyes Only, James" (review here) was published in Tatler in 2006, and "Moneypenny's First Date With Bond" (review here) was published in The Spectator that same year. To date, neither story has ever been collected.

Thanks to Gary for the alert!

Oct 13, 2018

Network Finally Releases CHESSGAME: THE COMPLETE SERIES Based on Anthony Price Novels on DVD

Way back in May of 2015, Network announced they would release a Region 2 DVD set of the 1983 UK spy series Chessgame, starring Terence Stamp. This was exciting news, as it marked the series' first ever DVD release in its original episodic format. However, it never appeared. Months went by and the release date kept getting pushed back... until it finally disappeared from Network's website altogether. But now, more than three years later, it's back! And it's actually coming out, as it's available to pre-order right now! The actual release date is October 22, 2018.

Chessgame was adapted from Anthony Price's excellent series of novels about the intellectual spymaster David Audley and his rotating roster of assistants. Though he doesn't quite match the author's physical description of his hero, Stamp (Modesty Blaise) plays Audley. Robin Sachs (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) co-stars as Hugh Roskill; Michael Culver (Philby, Burgess and Maclean) plays Nick Hannah (an amalgamation of several Price characters including Col. Butler), and Carmen du Sautoy (The Man With the Golden Gun) plays Audley's love interest Faith, whose role is beefed up from the books. The six hour-long episodes cover the first three novels, The Labyrinth Makers, The Alamut Ambush (a truly terrific spy novel) and Colonel Butler's Wolf. They were subsequently re-edited into a trilogy of feature films for television syndication in the U.S., and are available that way on budget Region 1 and Region 0 DVDs of limited quality re-titled (respectively) Cold War Killers, The Alamut Ambush and The Deadly Recruits. Not only does this forthcoming Network release guarantee a level of quality not found on those discs, but it certainly offers a much more attractive package as well! And I'm looking forward to seeing the show in its proper episodic format, with its original opening title sequence. Price wasn't satisfied with these adaptations (and fans of the books will understand why), but they're still quality Eighties spy television. The 2-disc set is due out October 22, and will retail for £13.00. It's available through Network's website or on Amazon.co.uk.

Now if only BBC would release their trio of  Michael Denison/Lucy Fleming miniseries, Blood Money, Skorpion and Cold Warriors, we'd finally be pretty well appointed for serious Eighties UK spy series on DVD... (We've already got Smiley's People from BBC and Acorn, Mr. Palfrey of Westminster from Network and Acorn, Harry's Game from Network, and Glory Boys and The Contract from Acorn.)

Thanks to Jack for the exciting alert!

Oct 8, 2018

Trailer for Park Chan-Wook's John le Carré Miniseries THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL

AMC has released the first full trailer for their latest BBC co-production, a follow-up to the hugely successful 2016 John le Carré adaptation The Night Manager. This time the same producers at The Ink Factory (including le Carré and his sons Simon and Stephen Cornwell) chose to tackle the author's 1983 tome The Little Drummer Girl, and they brought on the great Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden) to direct. The imagery in this trailer is as haunting and awesome as I expected from him! The Little Drummer Girl follows Charlie, a naive young English actress recruited by Israeli Intelligence into the "theater of the real"– to infiltrate a Palestinian terror organization. She soon finds herself seduced by both sides and caught in the middle. Florence Pugh (King Lear) stars as Charlie, Alexander Skarsgård (Big Little Lies) plays Becker, the enigmatic stranger who seduces, recruits, and eventually handles her, and Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water) plays a ruthlessly clever, masterfully manipulative, somewhat Smiley-like Mossad spymaster, Kurtz. The miniseries will air on AMC over three consecutive nights in two-hour episodes, premiering November 19 at 9 PM ET/PT. Additional episodes will air at 9 ET/PT on November 20 and November 21. It's expected to play on BBC in the UK around the same time.

Oct 7, 2018

Tradecraft: Movie About Castro's Florida Sleepers "The Cuban Five" in Development

According to The Hollywod Reporter, there's a feature spy thriller in the works about the real-life Cuban spy ring known as "The Cuban Five." Based on Stephen Kimber’s book What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of The Cuban Five, The Cuban Five will tell the story of a cell of spies sent by the Castro government to spy on the Cuban exile community in Miami in the 1990s. They were arrested and convicted on espionage charges in 1998, and eventually exchanged in a spy swap in 2014. Clement Virgo (Rogue, Greenleaf) will direct, and Barrie Dunn wrote the screenplay. He and Kimber met with the actual agents in Cuba, and they have agreed to cooperate with the filmmakers. According to the trade, "Canadian indie producers Pictou Twist Pictures, Picture Plant and Conquering Lions Production have partnered with the ICAIC, Cuba's film institute, to co-produce [the film]."