Feb 27, 2013

Judi Dench's M's Name Revealed

This is interesting! When the Bond movies introduced a new female M in 1995's GoldenEye, played by Judi Dench, the literary 007 rights holders (then Glidrose Productions) decided that it was time for a female M in the books as well. Author Raymond Benson named this character Barbara Mawdsley, but the books have always held a separate life than the movies. (None of the continuation novels to date has been turned into a film.) The female M of the films was never named. Even when Pierce Brosnan left the role, Dench remained as M in the franchise reboot Casino Royale (2006), opposite Daniel Craig. There's one scene in that film where Bond almost speaks her name (hinting that it begins with an M), but she cuts him off snapping, "Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed." Even in Skyfall (2012), which focuses more on Dench's M than any other movie, her name is never spoken aloud. But, apparently, it is revealed... if you have sharp little eyes. ComingSoon (via CommanderBond) recently had the opportunity to examine up close some props from that film, and discovered that one prop displayed prominently on screen lists M's real name. MAJOR SKYFALL SPOILERS FOLLOW: The inscription on the box containing the porcelain bulldog bequeathed by M to 007 (itself a sly nod to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) reads, "Olivia Mansfield bequeaths James Bond." So that answers that, then! Fascinating.

Feb 24, 2013

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Where the Spies Are?

Warner Archive recently started Beta testing an online streaming service and Roku channel called Warner Archive Instant. The Beta version doesn't have nearly all the titles that have been made available on MOD discs from the Warner Archive Collection over the years, but, interestingly, it does contain a few that haven't.  One of those is the 1965 David Niven Eurospy movie Where the Spies Are. Presumably, its inclusion here is indicative of a forthcoming disc release through WAC's standard MOD program. Directed by Val Guest (Assignment K, Casino Royale), Where the Spies Are stars Niven as Dr. Jason Love, hero of ten books by James Leasor. The supporting cast will also be familiar to spy fans. It includes Francoise Dorleac (Billion Dollar Brain), John Le Mesurier (Hot Enough For June), Noel Harrison (The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.) and Eric Pohlmann (the original voice of Blofeld). Personally, I've found that the film streams fine online, but won't play on my Roku. I'll chalk that up to the glitches of Beta testing, and hold out for the eventual DVD.

Feb 23, 2013

Tradecraft: Ken Jeong Cast as The Examiner in Spy Remake

Deadline reports that Ken Jeong (The Hangover) has been cast as the mercurial spy boss known only as "The Examiner" in ABC's remake of the British sitcom Spy. Jeong is currently in the cast of Community on NBC, so should that be renewed for another season, he won't be able to take the Spy role. But with Community having hit a series low in ratings this week, I don't think many people expect that to happen. I think Jeong's a pretty great choice for the unpredictable and mischievous Examiner, a role originated by Robert Lindsay on the UK show. I can definitely picture him in the part. As previously announced, Rob Corddry plays the lead, well-meaning single dad-turned-secret agent Tim, and the brilliant Paget Brewster (Andy Richter Controls the Universe) was also recently cast as the hapless hero's ex-wife. Mason Cook (last seen as Eddie Munster on Mockingbird Lane) plays Tim's precocious and condescending son. UK series creator Simeon Goulden penned the U.S. pilot, which remains (unsurprisingly, I suppose) quite close to its British counterpart.

Feb 21, 2013

Tradecraft: Universal Chairman on the Future of Bourne

Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter (via Dark Horizons) in which the trade asked him about the future of the Bourne franchise. After three successful movies starring Matt Damon as Robert Ludlum's amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne, the series went a different direction in its third entry last summer, The Bourne Legacy (review here). Jeremy Renner took over as the star, but not in the same role. Instead he played Aaron Cross, another graduate of the secretive Treadstone program (more or less, anyway), which created Bourne. The result was, in my opinion, unsatisfying, and also less successful at the box office than Damon's last entry, the superb Bourne Ultimatum (review here). But Damon and his Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass have been reluctant to return, though neither rules it out. So where does that leave the franchise at the studio? Here's the question and Fogelson's answer.
THR: Last summer's Bourne Legacy grossed $276.1 million worldwide without Matt Damon -- good, not great. What's your plan for the Bourne property?

Fogelson: The point of the last movie was to create a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward. Yeah, the movie didn't perform the way the last one did. It also didn't cost what the last one did. It performed more along the lines of how the first one did. I absolutely see us doing more Bourne, 100 percent yes. Matt has talked about the possibility of coming back, and we totally respect that and are excited if and when he wants to have conversations. But I think the last movie gave us a big bunch of options to pursue a next chapter.
I've said before and I still maintain that the key to this franchise's future is going back to Ludlum's books. The Bourne Supremacy is an excellent novel (review here), and the filmmakers barely used any of its plot in their movie of that name. So look to Ludlum for a plot (it would have to be updated, but could still totally work), and give it a new title. Or go all the way back to the first book, The Bourne Identity (review here). The movie used its basic premise quite well, but left huge swathes of valuable, usable plot untouched.

Feb 19, 2013

New Spy DVDs Out This Week

I never expected to see Innocent Bystanders on DVD, let alone on Blu-ray. But today, thanks to Olive Films, the 1972 spy film starring Stanley Baker (The Man Who Finally Died), Donald Pleasence (You Only Live Twice), and Sue Lloyd (The Baron), is available on both DVD and Blu-ray! And that's just awesome. Innocent Bystanders was directed by The Italian Job's Peter Collinson and based on a novel by Callan creator James Mitchell. (Mitchell wrote several books about secret agent John Craig, played by Baker in the film.) Bond veterans Vladek Sheybal and Cec Linder also appear. This violent tale of betrayal and espionage has long been one of the most sought-after titles among spy fans of this era, who can now finally add it to their collections. Both formats are presented in 1.77:1 widescreen. Now if only someone would give us a Region 1 release of the Callan movie!

Ben Affleck's Oscar-nominated historical spy film Argo is out this week from Warner Bros. (just in time for the Academy Awards) on Blu-ray/DVD Combo and DVD. Argo is a terrific period spy movie that plays out like a real-life episode of Mission: Impossible--right down to the awful late Seventies haircuts. (Read my review of the movie here.) The Blu-ray/DVD combo edition includes an audio commentary with director/star Affleck and writer Chris Terrio, a feature-length picture-in-picture commentary track called "Eyewitness Account" including testimonies with everyone involved in the real-life events who's still around, and the featurettes "Absolute Authenticity" and "The CIA & Hollywood Connection." Finally, there's also a 47-minute TV documentary from 2005 called "Escape From Iran: The Hollywood Option." The DVD apparently includes a different featurette called "Escape From Tehran: We Were There." I would imagine that might be edited out of the picture-in-picture feature, but I'm not sure. There's also an exclusive version of the combo pack available at Target stores with the additional half-hour featurette "From the Argo Files," so that's the one completists will want.

Finally, there's a notable non-spy title out from Olive this week as well. Diana Rigg fans keen on tracking down all of her rare (and surprisingly few) appearances from the era of The Avengers and On Her Majesty's Secret Service will no doubt be interested in the 1970 version of Julius Caesar out today on DVD and Blu-ray, in which Rigg plays Portia. Jason Robards and Charlton Heston star, while a host of spy stars round out the cast including Christopher Lee (The Man With the Golden Gun), Richard Johnson (Deadlier Than the Male), Robert Vaughn (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and Richard Chamberlain (The Bourne Identity).

Feb 17, 2013

Tradecraft: Spy Hunter Moves Forward at Warner Bros.

After a decade of fits and starts, this latest incarnation of the forever-in-development videogame adaptation Spy Hunter seems to be moving healthily forward with director Ruben Fleischer (Gangster Squad), who was first attached to the project last October, still involved. Deadline reports that Carter Blanchard (Good vs. Evil) has been hired to pen the new script to Fleischer's specifications. Comingsoon has a very enlightening quote from Fleischer on his approach:
If I can make any movie, it would be a James Bond movie. I've always loved the genre but I don't think they'll hire an American to direct a James Bond movie, I've been told, so for me, Spy Hunter is an opportunity to create a new spy franchise. It sounds silly but that was my favorite video game when I was a kid and it had a great title and a great theme song, but there's no real other associations that people have with it other than a cool car, so I feel like there's a lot of room for us to invent a new character and a new series. I think just the Spy Hunter that is the most bad-ass spy who hunts down rogue spies is a really cool launch pad for an idea and I hope that we can bring it to life.
Sounds like the right direction to me! Any Eurospy fan knows that many highly entertaining movies have come from emulating James Bond.

Feb 14, 2013

Look At... The Berlin Wall

Network recently relaunched their website as Networkonair, and one of the primary features of the new site is their streaming "On Demand" section. I really enjoyed the episode of Scotland Yard they posted there (now gone), but  it's another video I'm directing you to today. Anyone who reads as many books as I do about divided, Cold War-era Berlin should definitely check out the 10-minute episode of  the 1960s theatrical documentary short subject series Look At Life entitled "The Wall." It contains lots and lots of contemporary glimpses of the Berlin Wall, in color no less. It makes a great supplement to famous Berlin-set spy novels like Funeral in Berlin, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and The Quiller Memorandum. I don't know how long it will be available for, though; these free streaming episodes don't remain for too long on the site. This segment comes from the forthcoming Region 2 PAL DVD set Look At Life Volume 6: World Affairs, which also includes a short entitled "James Bond's Island" examining Early Sixties Jamaica. I'd sure like to see that one! As a matter of fact, I'd like to see all of these.

Numbers Station Trailer

We first heard about Numbers Station way back in 2010 when it was set to star Ethan Hawke and Malin Akerman, and based on its logline sounded a lot like Safe House. Now, three years later, it clearly exists... because it's got a trailer! It doesn't star Ethan Hawke anymore, though; a year after the project was first announced, he was replaced by John Cusack. Akerman is still in it though; see for yourself below:

The R-rated Numbers Station opens April 18, but it's coming from Image Entertainment, so that probably means just a few theaters for a few weeks on its way to DVD, like The Double.

Feb 12, 2013

New Spy DVDs Out Today: James Bond and Beyond!

Today is a huge day for spy DVD and Blu-ray releases! The celestial body around which all of these releases are orbiting is, of course, Skyfall (review here). The 23rd official James Bond movie is available on DVD and Blu-ray from MGM and Fox. Special features include two audio commentaries (perhaps to make up for none on Quantum of Solace?), one featuring director Sam Mendes, the other with producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson and Production Designer Dennis Gassner, an hour-long making-of documentary called "Shooting Bond," a featurette on the premiere, a 1-minute spot advertising the soundtrack, and the film's theatrical trailer. The film is presented in a 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio, which is somewhat controversial because it could be seen in two different aspect ratios theatrically. Personally, I preferred the taller 1.9:1 presentation seen in IMAX theaters. Mendes and cinematographer extraordinaire Roger Deakins shot with both formats in mind, but claimed not to have framed specifically for one or the other. The 1.9:1 version cut off some information on the sides of the frame, but the 2.40:1 version cut off some information at the top and bottom. To my eye, the IMAX image looked more natural. But the difference is really negligible enough that it's not worth dwelling on this much; I just wanted to let people know which one is on the disc. Had they provided both options, I might well end up so paralyzed with Hamlet-like indecision every time I put the movie on that I would never end up actually watching it, and that would be a tragedy! Skyfall is a wonderful Bond movie, and it really goes without saying that it belongs in every Bond fan's library. Retail is listed as $39.99 for the Blu-ray and $29.98 for the DVD, though both are already significantly discounted this week on Amazon and at other retailers. Amazon also has the Bond 50 Blu-ray collection on sale this week for just $129.99, and that's even got an empty slot reserved for Skyfall. So if you held off buying it last year, pick it up now and you'll have all 23 official 007 movies to date in one convenient, attractive package!

Also out today (though pre-orders have been shipping early), and making its high-def debut, is Twilight Time's Blu-ray of In Like Flint. Last month the specialty label released its predecessor, Our Man Flint on Blu-ray, and the sequel comes just as loaded with special features as that one was! And like on the first release, I'm on some of them (under my actual name, Matthew Bradford, and billed as a "Spy Film Historian," which is certainly accurate), discussing the impact of the Flint movies and their star, James Coburn. I'm in these ones a lot more, in fact, than I was on Our Man, so if you're among the millions and millions of fans buying these for me rather than Coburn, you're in luck! Bonus material on In Like Flint includes an audio track featuring Jerry Goldsmith's complete isolated score, an audio commentary with Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer and film historian Eddy Friedfeld, trailers, a rare screen test, and the featurettes "Derek Flint: The Secret Files," "James Coburn: The Man Beyond the Spy," "Designing Flint," "Flint vs Zanuck: The Missing 3 Minutes," "Puerto Rico Premiere," "Future Perfect," "Feminine Wiles," "Spy School," "Musician's Magician," "Spy Vogue," and "Take It Off." That last one is a vintage featurette that seems to be promoting the movie to women(?) while at the same time insulting them (?), and doing it via a weight-loss advertisement. If you manage to make it all the way through its interminable running time, I sincerely doubt you'll ever revisit that one, but it's still nice to have, of course, as a weird, unwatchable time capsule. Fortunately, the rest are all fascinating! Some of these are retained from the previous DVD edition, but some are brand-new documentaries created exclusively for the Blu-ray release by John Cork, co-producer of those wonderful documentaries on the James Bond Special Editions. Sadly what's missing from this release that was on the DVD edition is the attempted Seventies TV revival of the character, Our Man Flint: Dead On Target, starring Eurospy leading man Ray Danton as the irrepressible Derek Flint. It's true that the TV movie is far from essential (in fact it bears little resemblance to the Sixties films, and Flint himself is a mere private eye, not an international playboy superspy) and that poor Danton (who was excellent in some of his Eurospy work) struggles to fill Coburn's large shoes... but as a spy completist I still want to own it. That means I'll have to hang onto my DVD set despite buying these new Blu-rays. Oh well. The new special features on Twilight Time's edition certainly make this Blu-ray a must-buy for Sixties spy fans even without the TV movie! Seriously, this is sure to be one of the major spy releases of the year. The region-free Blu-ray is a limited edition of just 3,000 units, and retails for $29.95 exclusively through Screen Archives Entertainment. These limited editions do sell out, so be sure to order soon!

Also timed to piggyback on Skyfall's release is BBC's DVD of the Top Gear special 50 Years of Bond Cars. The special, presented by Richard Hammond last fall to tie in with the theatrical release of Skyfall, is one of the best James Bond TV specials I've ever seen. It's a must-see for fans of Bond cars especially, and I'm so glad that it's getting a DVD release because it's one I definitely want to own for posterity. Not only does Hammond interview a number of 007 production personnel (including Guy Hamilton, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig) and test drive some original Bondmobiles, but he also pilots an actual working Lotus submarine car! Top Gear's version is based on an Excel rather than an Esprit, but unlike the production version(s) used in The Spy Who Loved Me, this one actually functions as both a street car and a submarine! Seriously, this is one you want in your Bond collection. Best of all, it's a real steal with a bargain SRP of just $9.95... and it's even less than that on Amazon.

What's this doing on here? Avengers fans, take note! Six years after the first two seasons of The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries came out from Universal, Shout! Factory is releasing the third Hardy Boys season, sans Nancy this time, on DVD today. Why is this of particular interest to spy fans? Well, the show does sometimes deal in espionage, and in this season the Hardy men have graduated college and are official government agents themselves. In one two-parter, they even help a Soviet defector wishing to relocate to Hawaii... but that's not why I'm mentioning it. Not specifically, anyway. No, I'm mentioning it because Patrick Macnee (who celebrated his 91st birthday last week) turns up as a guest star in the episode "Assault on the Tower" playing a debonair, bowler hat-wearing British agent identified only as S. This was just a year after The New Avengers went off the air, so fans of John Steed will probably want to add the DVD to their library. (Well, completists, anyway, like myself.) The 3-disc set retails for $24.97, though it can be ordered through Amazon for significantly less.

I know I've been remiss on my weekly spy DVD alerts lately. So later this week I'll do a post rounding up all the spy releases so far this year. Stay tuned!

First Look at Philip Seymour Hoffman in le Carre's A Most Wanted Man

The Hollywood Reporter (via Dark Horizons) provides our first glimpse of Philip Seymour Hoffman as German BND spymaster Günther Bachmann in Anton Corbijn's John le Carré adaptation A Most Wanted Man. And that's Rachel McAdams in the foreground, as human rights lawyer Annabel Richter. The trade would seem to confirm that Willem Dafoe will be doing an accent, as it describes his character, Tommy Brue, as "a conflicted British private banker." When Dafoe was cast, I wondered if that meant the character, who was Scottish in the book, was being turned into an American. Filming has wrapped and Corbijn (The American) is currently in post-production on the Hamburg-set thriller. The cast also includes Robin Wright as the bullying CIA honcho Martha Sullivan and Nina Hoss (who was absolutely fantastic in the title role in last year's German spy movie Barbara) as Bachmann's right-hand woman, Erna Frey. This is definitely one of the movies I'm most looking forward to this year. And after that, we've still got at least two more le Carré films on the horizon!

RED 2 Poster

We've seen the first trailer, which looked awesome; now here's the first poster for RED 2! Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Mary-Louise Parker and John Malkovich all return for more over-the-hill spyjinks, joined by Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee and David Thewlis. The sequel opens on August 2.

Read my review of RED (2010) here.

Feb 10, 2013

Update On Le Carre Movies in Development, Including Smiley Sequel

Screen Daily (via Dark Horizons) has an update on a pair of John le Carré movies from StudioCanal that we've been eagerly following for a while: Our Kind of Traitor and the sequel to 2011's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. We already knew that Australian director Justin Kurzel was helming the adaptation of Traitor, le Carré's most recent novel to date (though there's another one coming this year!), and that Bond alumni Mads Mikkelson and Ralph Fiennes were attached to star (as the charismatic Russian gangster Dima and the zealous British intelligence chief Hector, respectively). Now the trade reports that Ewan McGregor has signed on to star as Perry, a young, tenure-track English academic adrift, searching for something apparently unattainable that will make him what he calls a "formed man." His girlfriend, Gail, is the crucial role yet to be cast. And she's a great character—perhaps the author's best female character to date. It's a terrific part awaiting some very lucky actress. (Jessica Chastain was rumored at one point.) Production on the $35 million movie is scheduled for a summer start in Moscow, Marrakesh, Paris, London and Switzerland. Producer Simon Cornwell (le Carré's son) pointed out to Screen that unlike Tinker Tailor and the upcoming A Most Wanted Man (starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman), Our Kind of Traitor focuses on "an everyman couple" caught up in the treacherous world of espionage, promising "exciting scale and accessibility." So far, this is shaping up to look like another fantastic le Carré adaptation!

Meanwhile, Screen also pressed StudioCanal Chairman and CEO Olivier Courson for an update on the eagerly anticipated follow-up to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Confirming what many others involved have already indicated, that they will follow the BBC's example and sadly skip the stellar middle volume in the Karla Trilogy, The Honourable Schoolboy, Courson revealed, “We are working on Smiley’s People with Working Title. It’s still at the development stage - but, yes, the old team of Peter Straughan and Tomas Alfredson is back together. The same Tinker Tailor actors whose characters would reappear are well aware of what we’re doing. We’re hopeful for a 2014 shoot.” Well, I would have dearly liked to see Schoolboy finally filmed, but the fact that the studio and the same creative team remain committed to filming another Smiley movie is still fantastic news indeed! They did an amazing job on Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (read my review here), and I can't wait to see Gary Oldman slip into Smiley's spectacles once more.

Bond 50 Blu-rays Back in Stock and On Sale at Amazon

After selling out completely during Amazon's amazing pre-Christmas sale, the Bond 50 Blu-ray collection is now not only back in stock on the website, but on sale again. It's not quite the discount offered before the holiday, but it's still a good buy. This week only, you can purchase Bond 50 (containing all 22 official 007 movies up though Quantum of Solace) on sale for $129.99, 57% off the $300 published price. So if you missed the previous sale and Santa didn't come through and then you found yourself at your wits' end thanks to the skyrocketing prices from Amazon sellers (driven up by the paucity of product), then this is the news you've been waiting for! Now you can have the box set just in time to add Skyfall (which comes out on Blu-ray this Tuesday) to the empty slot specifically allocated for it. Act quickly, though! Don't let them sell out again before you get your hands on it.

Feb 7, 2013

Tradecraft: Pierce Brosnan Signs Onto IRA Assassin Thriller

More than a decade after his James Bond tenure came to an end, Pierce Brosnan keeps signing onto spyish international thrillers. I will happily watch him in any one of these that actually gets made; I just hope some of them manage to come to fruition! The Hollywood Reporter reports that Brosnan is now attached to a new assassin thriller co-scripted (somewhat oddly) by talk show host Craig Ferguson (along with Ted Mulkerin). Although Ferguson is the funniest guy in late night these days, the film is not a comedy. Last Man Out is based on the novel The Ghosts of Belfast (which, confusingly, is also known as The Twelve) by Stuart Neville. According to the trade, Brosnan will play Gerry Fegan, a former IRA hitman freshly released after serving 20 years in prison. Fegan finds himself haunted by the ghosts of his innocent victims, and decides that the only way to appease them, and to redeem himself, is to systematically assassinate the men who gave him his orders. It will be cool to see Brosnan actually play an Irishman, which he rarely gets to do! But he has played an IRA hitman before, very effectively. If only he'd been serving 30 years instead of 20, it would be tempting to view Last Man Out as an unofficial follow-up to The Long Good Friday, revisiting his assassin character from that film all this time later. The trade reports that U.K.-based "sales and finance banner" Ealing Metro is trying to sell the film (which has not been shot) at the Berlin Film Market this week. I hope they find a buyer, because it definitely sounds like something I'd like to see! Newcomer Terry Loan is on board to direct, with shooting hoped to commence at the end of this year.

Last Man Out isn't the only Brosnan thriller seeking distribution in Berlin. Additionally, Variety reports that The Solution Entertainment Group is hoping to sell the Roger Donaldson spy thriller The November Man (based on the novel There Are No Spies by Bill Granger) with Brosnan attached to star. We first heard about this one almost a year ago, and I'm very excited to see it happen, so I really hope SEG is successful as well! Meanwhile, there's at least one Brosnan thriller on the horizon that we'll definitely see: he's finished shooting The Coup, alongside Owen Wilson.

Upcoming Spy CDs: Crossplot

Quartet Records will release Stanley Black's fantastic score to the 1969 post-Saint, pre-Bond Roger Moore spy movie Crossplot. I love Crossplot. Sure, it feels more like a TV production than a film (not surprising considering it was made by  a number of people from the Saint crew), but the TV production it feels like is The Saint, so what's wrong with that? It's like The Saint plus helicopter chases, or James Bond minus the budget. Either way, it's pretty awesome and I highly recommend it. (It is available on DVD and streaming on Amazon.) And either way, it's got a great score. Furthermore, since it belonged to Roger Moore and Bob Baker's production company, some of the music was later re-purposed for use in The Persuaders! And regular readers know that a full album of Persuaders! music is my own soundtrack Holy Grail, so the fact that this release gets us a little closer to that is yet another reason to celebrate. Also very cool is the fact that Quartet used such awesome artwork for the cover of the album. Crossplot is one of those movies (like Deadlier Than the Male and Hot Enough For June) that inspired me to collect posters from every country it was released in, and of all the cool Crossplot art (some of which intentionally made it appear to be a Saint movie), this art from the U.S. 1-sheet is the coolest.

Crossplot comes paired with another great Black score from that era, AIP's War Gods of the Deep. The release includes a 28-page booklet with liner notes by Gergely Hubai, who, according to the Quartet website, "discusses the composer and the films with a track-by-track analysis for both titles." You can listen to samples on the Quartet site and pre-order the album from Screen Archives Entertainment. It's due out later this month.

Feb 6, 2013

See the Real Models For Archer's Animated Characters

Vulture has an interesting look at the real faces behind all the major characters on FX's hilarious animated spy spoof Archer. Apparently all of the characters are based on citizens of Atlanta, who are called upon to pose in all manner of mood and situation for the show's animators. And none of them are actually based on the actors or actresses who voice them. (Although Ray, confusingly, is based on the actor who voices Krieger!) While it's no surprise that Sterling Archer isn't modelled on voice actor H. John Benjamin (the two look nothing alike), I have to admit that I'm kind of shocked to learn that Mallory isn't based on Jessica Walter. Commentary from executive producer Matt Thompson accompanies the slide show.

Feb 1, 2013

Tradecraft: Warner Bros. Options Period Spy Adventure for Bradley Cooper

Deadline reports that Warner Bros. has optioned a forthcoming non-fiction WWI-era spy book by Howard Blum called Dark Invasion as a potential star vehicle for Oscar-nominated actor Bradley Cooper (Alias). Since it covers the first modern attacks on American soil, the book is set to be published on September 11. Here's how the trade blog describes Dark Invasion:
The book is a true spy thriller set in 1915 when Germany, with war raging in Europe and the U.S. still neutral, decides to send their Secret Service to America to wage a covert war to keep this country from helping the Allies. The Kaiser’s spies bomb factories, sabotage ships, shoot J.P. Morgan, Jr. (a financier of the Allies), bomb the U.S. Capitol Building, and set up an anthrax lab six miles from the White House.
According to Deadline, Cooper is attached to play New York Police Captain Tom Tunney, who’s credited with forming America's first Homeland Security task force to track down those German spies. So it sounds kind of like Gangster Squad, but with spy smashing. Which doesn't sound bad at all.

Upcoming Spy DVDs: Top Gear: 50 Years of Bond Cars

TV Shows On DVD provides the cover art for BBC's upcoming Region 1 DVD of the Top Gear special 50 Years of Bond Cars. The special, presented by Richard Hammond last fall to tie in with the theatrical release of Skyfall, is one of the best James Bond TV specials I've ever seen. It's a must-see for fans of Bond cars especially, and I'm so glad that it's getting a DVD release because it's one I definitely want to own for posterity. Not only does Hammond interview a number of 007 production personnel (including Guy Hamilton, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig) and test drive some original Bondmobiles, but he also pilots an actual working Lotus submarine car! Top Gear's version is based on an Excel rather than an Esprit, but unlike the production version(s) used in The Spy Who Loved Me, this one actually functions as both a street car and a submarine! The run time for the DVD is listed as 135 minutes, which is substantially longer than the TV version. According to the BBC America blog, extended interviews account for some of that extra length. Best of all, it's a real steal with a bargain SRP of just $9.95... and it's available to pre-order on Amazon for even less than that!

Vote For Your Favorite Robert Ludlum Book

The official Robert Ludlum website is running a poll where you can vote on your favorite Ludlum novel. So head on over there, Ludlum fans (particularly you guys who have been commenting on the reviews in my Ludlum Dossier series), and make your opinions known! Who knows? Maybe the publishers will make a big push for the winner to be the next Ludlum book to get the screen treatment...

The Ludlum Dossier
Read my DVD review of The Holcroft Covenant (1986) here.
Read my book review of The Janson Directive (2002) here.
Read my book review of The Bourne Supremacy (1986) here.
Read my book review of The Holcroft Covenant (1978) here.
Read my book review of The Sigma Protocol (2001) here.
Read my book review of The Bourne Identity (1980) here.

Stay tuned for my review of the 1988 Bourne Identity miniseries coming this weekend.