Saturday, February 27, 2016

Who Will Be the Next James Bond?

I've read Ian Fleming's James Bond books. I plowed through them while in high school. Probably not the typical fare for a teen-aged girl, but growing up I wanted to either work for the Central Intelligence Agency or in media. I tested for the C.I.A. and I did relatively well until I had an official interview in a hotel room with a woman who looked as though she could throw me out the window -without blinking. Once I answered a question with "I am close to my family" she didn't seem to think I would fit in as an operative. I had visions of being a female James Bond, so ending up in the media was second choice.

The Bond books were terrific reads, although keep in mind I read Fleming's works many years ago and I might not think as highly of them if I were to read them today. Bond, as envisioned by Fleming was a composite figure of many men he encountered while serving his nation.That said nation is Great Britain. I was having a conversation the other day with a group of old friends and we started discussing some recent films. When we got to discussing the latest Bond film, Spectre, a near hush silenced the room. I was the first one to say that Spectre was the worst entry in the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. Shockingly, everyone agreed with my assessment and we rarely agree on much. I remember thinking when they first cast Craig as the legendary Bond that it was a bad choice, but when Casino Royale was released I admitted my initial reaction was dead wrong.

Bond was a Royal Navy Commander who eventually served as a secret spy for Her Majesty's Secret Service. He was slimly built (Moore, Brosnan and Dalton were the slimmest) and he had a scar on his right cheek (no one has had that). The stunning Bond had blue/grey eyes and black hair (no one has had that either, although the extremely dark brown hair of Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan came somewhat close). Bond was six feet tall and he weighed in at 168 pounds.

At my dinner conversation the group carried on about how Daniel Craig no longer wanted to play James Bond. Why not? He has minted himself a great deal of money playing the iconic spy. He now claims he would rather slash his wrists if he has to have another go at the character. He obviously has never known anyone who committed suicide. Anyone with that knowledge wouldn't be so flip about slashing one's wrists. The grueling six month international shooting schedule most likely has something to do with his desire to leave the franchise. Who in their right mind wants to be away for six months while maintaining a body that must look Bond-like. Gary Oldman turned down the offer to play the bad guy, because the last thing he wanted to do was be away for six months. Playing Bond. Be careful what you wish for.

Most Bond films aren't good, but when they work, they do work. Casino Royale is the definitive entry in the entire catalog of films. By the way, Sean Connery in many ways is still the best Bond, but I only say that, because you sort of have to say it. Connery is a special actor in the annals of cinema, so we cave to the notion he was the best Bond. Personally, Daniel Craig is the best Bond. His on-screen presence and performance are Ian Fleming's Bond.

Now we need a new Bond. We carried on at the table about a wide variety of actors that could play Bond and we all agreed on one thing and that was he must be British. No Americans. No Irishmen. No Canadians. No Australians. No other actors who can act with a British accent. We are purists. Bond must be a Brit. George Lazenby was the first non-Brit to inhabit the role and purists don't want that to happen again.  Lazenby was from Australia and Brosnan was Irish. Both were mistakes.

Here we go: All of our names fit the bill as far as their ability to act, be suave and believable as 007! We eliminated all potential Irish, Australian, American, Canadian and anyone else who isn't British.

On for the chase of the next James Bond. These are realistic options for the series. We encourage you to comment with your vote.

Henry Cavill was born in 1983 and he's 6'1", so physically he would be perfect for the role and his age is near perfect for taking over the franchise. I suspect his Superman duties may forbid the crossing into this territory.  He's British. (Superman films, The Immortals, The Tudors)

Charlie Hunnam certainly can pull off masculine and rugged and we'd believe him taking down the bad guys. He's British, age appropriate and at 6'1" he is nice and tall without being too tall. (Sons of Anarchy, Knights of the Roundtable, Pacific Rim)

James Norton is a Brit and he is suave and handsome. He is 6'1" and he was born in 1985, so the age is perfect. The guy can play all kinds of characters from psychopaths to romantics. (War and Peace, Happy Valley, Grantchester)

Sam Claflin is British and he has the acting skills, masculinity and abilities to play Bond. He was born in 1986, so he is the right age to begin a long run. He's tall enough as well. (The Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Huntsman)

Alex Pettyfer was born in 1990 and charts in at 5'11". He's British. He may be a bit too young, but by the time they yell cut, he would be chiming in nicely. (Magic Mike (don't hold that against him), Endless Love, Elvis and Nixon)

Theo James has 1984 as a birth year and he's 6'0", so quite a nice fit. He's British and dashing to boot. (Divergent, Insurgent, Golden Boy)

Richard Madden is British and he can play pretty much any role. He can do rugged (rent Klondike) and romantic. He's a superb actor. He has the suave, the height and the looks. He was born in 1986, so a perfect time to start as James Bond. (Game of Thrones, Cinderella, Bastille Day)

Kit Harrington was born in 1986 and he's British. He certainly would bring a good net of a fan base to the franchise, but at 5'8" may be a tad too short for Bond. (Game of Thrones, Pompeii, Seventh Son)

Tom Hardy is the most recognizable name on the list and both men and women seem to love him, but he may be a bit too old to take on the role at this point, since he would be in his 40's by the time he started. He certainly would be the most intense Bond of all-time. He's British and sites claim he is 5'9". (The Revenant, Inception, Band of Brothers, Max Max: Fury Road)

Tom Hiddleston was born in 1981 and is 6'2". Hiddleston has a wide range and could certainly pull off Bond. (The Night Manager, Thor, I Saw the Light)

Douglas Booth was born in 1992 and is 6'1". He's way too young, but it could be interesting to have someone so young take on 007. (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Noah)

Idris Elba was born in 1972 and is 6'3". Elba would certainly break new territory being the first black actor to play Bond. Elba is a gifted actor and he's one of the few actors who pulls off cool so casually, but is he too old to take on the franchise? (The Wire, Luther, Beasts of No Nation, Bastille Day)

Damian Lewis was born in 1971 and is 6'1". Lewis, like Elba may be getting too old to start this franchise. Even if he started shooting a film in 2017 he'd be 60 years old by the time a fifth entry in his series would be released. He'd be the first ginger-haired Bond. (Homeland, Billions)

Please comment and vote.  I am friends with a "big shot" at Sony. I'll be sending this to that executive.

Final word is a question. Why has there been no television series based on Bond?

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tribute to Mannix - Forty Years Later It Is Still Excellent Entertainment

The founders of The Flaming Nose had a commitment to keeping alive the great television shows from the past. Our memories can sometimes cloud us with a bit of nostalgia, since some of those former programs aren't particularly noteworthy as we look back at them. I could name dozens of programs that are dated beyond watching or are now just downright bad for one reason or another.

The Me-TV folks have been giving us some significant and not so significant oldies for several years now and one of those programs is not only worthwhile it has proven to be highly worthwhile. I grew up with a dad who watched Mannix. I remembered a few bits from Mannix, but as a young kid this was not a go-to series for me. Mannix had a long run on CBS from 1967 through 1975 and looking back 41 years past its last original airdate one can see why it was a long running hit for them.

Mike Connors played the smart and appealing Joe Mannix. There is so much to like with this show I could go on endlessly for several paragraphs. The Los Angeles based Mannix was smart, but not a smarmy smart. He was a guy who thought situations out and he was fearless (without being too fearless) and ambitious. He was also a nice guy. I miss nice characters on television. We now seem to search out the weird and the cruel.  

                                                         Mike Connors as Joe Mannix

The first season of Mannix was quite different from what the remaining seasons would look like, so in many ways the first season was a prototype for the following seasons. During season one, Joe Mannix worked for a company that was high tech for its day, so it was already heads and shoulders above many of the contemporary law enforcement/private investigator style programs of the era.

Connors is one of the most likable actors to ever grace our television screens. You can't help but like the character and the actor. He was a highly competent actor in an era of overacting. He gives a superb performance in this series - episode for episode.

With all of the talk of diversity in our time, it's interesting to see Gail Fisher playing the assistant to Mannix; and she was given more to do than just answer the phone. She supports Mannix out in the street and in the investigations from time to time. Gail Fisher's Peggy Fair was a fearless woman going undercover and willing to take the proverbial bullet for her boss if need be. Of course, Mannix would have taken a bullet for Peggy Fair. They were a committed duo.

                                                           Gail Fisher as Peggy Fair

Lalo Schifrin composed the theme music for Mannix. Anyone who knows anything about music scoring will know who Lalo Schifrin is and if you don't know who he is - he is most famous for that absolutely brilliantly perfect score for Mission Impossible. That piece of music from the Argentine born Schifrin is clearly one of the most famous scores in all of television/film.

                                                                Lalo Schifrin at work

Mannix was the last series produced by Desilu Productions and if you are a frequent visitor to this site you will know our dedication to all things Lucille Ball.

Let's be grateful to the programming folks over at Me-TV for bringing Mannix back and let's hope it stays on their schedule for many years to come. It's a smart show and outside of the occasional orange telephone or green wallpaper, it is far less dated than almost every single show of its genre from the 1980's and 1990's (yes, think The Commish, Hunter, Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue).

Mike Connors is still alive.  He's 90 years old and I hope he is doing well.

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2016