Feb 4, 2008

Random Intelligence Dispatches For February 4

New Raymond Benson Anthology Cover

Raymond Benson has revealed the cover for the upcoming anthology of three of his James Bond novels on his website. The collection includes the "Union Trilogy," Benson's equivilant of Fleming's "SPECTRE Trilogy," wherein 007 battles a single villainous organization for three books. Doubleshot, the middle chapter of the Union Trilogy, is, in my opinion, Benson's best book. While I'm very happy that Benson's continuation novels are being anthologized and will be back in print, the obvious highlight of this collection is the inclusion of the entire, uncut version of his short Bond story, "Blast From the Past." I like the cover art, though it puzzles me why the designer didn't use a Walther PPK since that's the iconic weapon most associated with James Bond, and especially since Benson made such a big deal of re-arming 007 with the PPK after John Gardner had him using various other guns, most notably the ASP 9mm. Weird.

Game, Set, Match, Remake?

Dark Horizons quotes a recent interview with Sight and Sound Magazine wherein Quentin Tarantino expressed an interest in making a film based on all three of Len Deighton's "Game, Set, Match" novels. (That would be Berlin Game, Mexico Set, and London Match.) This was the first of three trilogies featuring British Intelligence officer Bernard Samson, and was previously filmed as a television miniseries in 1988 starring Ian Holm as Samson and Mel Martin as his wife, Fiona. Many fans consider this version pretty definitive, but not among them, apparently, was Deighton. It's been rumored that his displeasure with the adaptation is what's kept the series from being available on DVD. If that's truly the case, then it's too bad, because it would be a welcome addition to any collection of great spy DVDs. If true, it would also seem to bode poorly for Tarantino's chances at securing the rights, as it's unlikely Deighton would want to be burned twice, and Tarantino's already suggested that he would radically alter the source material by excising the whole double agent plotline! Still, I've never been let down by Tarantino yet, and it would be great to see him finally make a spy flick. (He's previously mooted a Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature and, very loudly, a James Bond movie. He takes credit for the idea of filming a straight version of Casino Royale, but I seriously doubt that that hadn't occurred to the Broccolis already as soon as they won the rights to the novel!)

All of this should be taken with two large grains of salt:

1. Tarantino constantly talks about possibly remaking various movies he loves, but has yet to actually take the plunge with any of them. And why should he? He usually comes up with better stuff on his own by taking all of that source material and throwing it in a blender.

2. Dark Horizons is already jumping the gun a bit in its reporting. In the actual interview, Tarantino makes it clear that he's speaking in hypotheticals. The only reality of the conversation is that at the time of the interview, he was currently re-reading Berlin Game. The rest of the discussion is what he calls "an exercise," discussing how he would adapt if he were to do so.

Of Deighton's novels (and as much as I'd like to see the existing Game, Set, and Match available on DVD), I'd honestly rather see Harry Palmer revived (and not in a Midnight In St. Petersburg sort of way). I'd still love to see a movie made of Horse Under Water, which was at one point supposed to be the fourth Michael Caine movie, and then once Caine got out of his contract was still slated to go ahead starring his Play Dirty co-star Nigel Davenport in the lead. Unfortunately, the box office disappointment of Ken Russell's brilliant Billion Dollar Brain killed those prospects. I'd especially love to see it filmed as a period movie set in the Sixties…

Charlie Wilson's DVD

DVDActive reports a rumored April release date for Universal's DVD of Charlie Wilson's War, and they even have the snazzy cover art. Extras include a Making-Of and a featurette called "Who Is Charlie Wilson" which promises "a profile of the real Charlie Wilson" with interviews with Charlie Wilson, Tom Hanks, Aaron Sorkin and others. That one sounds pretty interesting; I'd be very curious to know how closely the movie stuck to reality.

British Hitchcock Spy Movies On British Hitchcock DVD

Network DVD in the UK will release a Region 2 collection of Hitchcock's early British films including the spy movies The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, Sabotage and The Lady Vanishes, as well as The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, Downhill, Jamaica Inn and Young and Innocent. (Is that one a spy movie? I've never seen it.) Many of these titles have only been issued in the U.S. on budget DVDs in dire need of remastering, so the Brits really luck out getting this kind of collection from a superior distributor like Network. Extras include script PDFs, trailers, "On Location" featurettes for Sabotage and The 39 Steps, a documentary called "Hitchcock: The Early Years," rare interviews with the director, a booklet by film historian Charles Barr and introductions by Barr to all of the films, among other things. Whew! Oh well, at least we Americans have that recent, amazing Criterion version of The Lady Vanishes to cherish...

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