Tag Archives: Roger Moore

Last Action Heroine

Isabelle’s always loved her films and going to the cinema so I decided to do a ‘Last Action Hero’ and put her in the movie, sort of, with these short videos.

Jurassic Peppa Pig World

With the launch of the hotly anticipated Jurassic World trailer I decided to mash things up a bit and meld the worlds of Peppa Pig and dinosaurs – no not George’s – in this play on the Jurassic World teaser.

Iz View To A Kill

I’ve always loved A View To A Kill (you can close your mouths now), which served as Roger Moore’s swansong in his tenure as James Bond. On holiday Iz took to a firetruck ride and immediately she reminded me of Tanya Roberts taking the wheel of the truck whilst the future Sir Rog swung about San Francisco on the back of a fire ladder. Here’s that scene unwittingly homaged by Isabelle.

Slide Hard

Apart from the title and Ode to Joy this doesn’t really have anything to do with John McClane or Die Hard, although Iz could have been very well wearing a white vest under her t-shirt. Still, I thought it rounded out the piece rather nicely and if I’m being tenuous, which I am, the slide was high up and so was Nakatomi Plaza.

Butch Cass-izzy and the Sebastian Kid

IMG_1724Mulder and Scully, Hart to Hart, er Scarecrow and Mrs King, all inseparable duos that have faced all the world has thrown at them together.

Isabelle’s nursery world is faced with her partner in crime, Sebastian.

IMG_1643There may have been no Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head sequence, we had to make do with abortive attempts at hulahooping instead, but like General Zod in the Original Superman (1978) they escaped the confines of their hooped incarceration.

IMG_1690We did however get their own take on the cliff jump from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, of sorts. Shinning up and jump off one of the turrets of a bouncy castle at a recent party was more than a suitable substitute.

There was a recent open day at the nursery which we all went along to, Iz was greeted by a giant bouncy castle and of course Sebastian, the pair really are thick as thieves and I just know that Iz will be the bossy one.

Taking to the giant castle of bounciness it was almost reminiscent of the Nirvana music video for Smells Like Teen Spirit once they get going, Iz and co were certainly going for it. Slowed down it also reminded me of the scene in Moonraker where the spacestation loses its gravity and Roger Moore and co go for a bit of a float about.

Isabelle and Sebastian may not have been robbing trains of their loot but the did have a few daring raids on the rice crispy cakes and buns…not that the evidence lasted very long!

All that was missing was them heroically trying to shoot their way out from the confines of the bouncy castle surrounded by Mexicans.

IMG_1734 IMG_1736

The Shooting Party

IMG_0273I was on a stag do at the weekend for Sarah’s cousin’s husband to be, Ash. Being in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside clay pigeon shooting was the activity of choice.

It would be my first time at such an event and I rather fancied that it might unfold rather like this classic scene from Moonraker with Roger Moore. Of course it didn’t and I didn’t own such a jacket.

Sure, I’d played the likes of Time Crisis and Operation Wolf (showing my age) in the arcades but never shot a proper gun. A few years back I did a red letter day activity at a ‘Spy Academy’ which involved shooting at targets with an air-rifle and survived (just) paintballing at my very own stag do. This though was a whole different league, for starters I wasn’t in a dress!

charles-martin-smith-as-agent-oscar-wallace[1] Daniel Craig had proved something of a nifty shot with a shotgun in Skyfall although I felt more one part the character played by Charles Martin Smith (minus the Armani suit) in The Untouchables – naturally I’ll be now forever weary in lifts – as I was reminded several times that I was more used to holding a pencil than looking down the barrel of a gun.

Get-Carter[1]The other part was that of Jack Carter, with the upturned collars on my overcoat, tousled hair (it gets a bit of a kink in it when its longer echoing that of Mr Caine’s, sort of) and of course the double barreled shotgun a la Get Carter. Not that I tried brandishing it naked in the street or dangled an ‘Alf Roberts’ look-a-like from a multi-storey car park or anything.

IMG_0304Sarah’s dad, Jeff, looked one part pissed off Papa Smurf with a shotgun meets Anthony Quinn in The Guns of Navarone.

Turns out I didn’t fare too badly for a first timer as I scored an impressive 20 out of 30 ‘kills’, 22 took the crown, from someone else who had never picked up a gun. Jay is a fireman so he probably got a little excited when people were shouting ‘fire’. It took a while to get my eye in and get comfortable in holding the shotgun but once you got tracking the clay down it was a fun experience. I even quipped “get off my land” after one successful double ‘kill’.

There is certainly no doubting the power of such a weapon and safety was of course of paramount concerns throughout. The other thing that took a bit of getting used to was the small kick back that it gave after firing, wedged into your shoulder it took the brunt of it and left me with a small bruise and sore arm. I’m sure it’s only because you are new to it.

IMG_0294The other thing was that when you popped open the barrel on the gun we were using the spent, still smoking cartridges just jumped out, often hitting me in the face in the process in the beginning. It all added to the experience and smoke and smell coming out of the chamber was terrific. It was just like after using one of those cap guns with the pinkish paper caps that went off when your toy gun hammer hit them.

Being new to it all it kind of reminded me of playing snooker or golf, having to judge what you are doing before you do it and, quite literally, where you are taking your next shot. For me I also found it similar in not being as successful if you were trying too hard, so I just tried to relax, look down the barrel and control my breathing.

It was funny, with the ear plugs in that was practically all you could hear, your own breathing. At times it did seem to unfold Sam Peckinpah style in full slow motion as they clays seemed to hang in the air for an eternity.

We even went for our own Peckinpah style moments with some nifty slo mo of Ash’s dad and the automatic shotgun he was using. His automatic shotgun chucking out spent cartridges had an air of The Wild Bunch about him when filmed with the new slo mo option on my camera.

IMG_0331The Magnificent Seven we might not have been, especially as there were actually eight of us, although if you squint Shaun could sort of pass for Yul Brynner.

We may have started out as The Mild Bunch but as usual with these things you just get into your stride as you come to the end.

IMG_0325We might not have been Untouchable but nobody left with less than a 50% hit rate and I’m sure you might find some of us home on the shooting range again soon. I think it is safe to say that we all earned our spurs on the day.

Bond and beyond: Remembering John Barry

For many the composer, John Barry, who died last month aged 77, helped define James Bond on film more than Connery, Moore or Brosnan ever did. What he did was the provide the glue that not only holds the entire Bond franchise all together but also transcended whoever happened to be playing Bond, whether it be for the seventh and final time, with Roger Moore in A View To A kill, or George Lazenby, for his one and only time, with the rarely equalled On Her Majesty’s Secret Service score.

For me he will forever be associated with 007 but through that association I discovered his other work and scores for films that took in everything from Raise the Titanic and The Black Hole to High Road to China and even Howard the Duck, Bruce Lee’s Game of Death and the Hasselhoff Italian Star Wars cash-in, Starcrash.

Barry won five Oscars, including doing the double on Born Free, taking a gold statuette for both best score and best original song. But he not only never won for Bond, he was never even nominated for Bond, criminal when you think of the powerful and memorable scores to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice and Goldfinger.

The latter did have the prestige of knocking The Beatles off the top of the album chart in the US, no mean feat, almost unthinkable when you consider it is a film score. John Lennon may have claimed he was bigger than Jesus, if that’s the case then Barry was the God of film music.

In the first of a two part exclusive interview, Dean Newman talks to John Barry and film score expert, Mike Copping, who is one of the top John Barry collectors in the country, about Barry’s defining movie music moments.

DN:     Barry produced 11 Bond scores, how do you think he felt being so closely associated the series?

MC:     I think he was always grateful to the Bonds and he always thought that they were filmmaking at their highest quality, in terms of technical quality, even if it wasn’t always with the writing in some of the later ones.

DN:     I really love the score to A View To A Kill and think it really raised the quality of a somewhat creaky Roger Moore.

MC:     I’d say that in a good film, most people won’t notice whether the score is bad or not, with a bad film, a good score can actually elevate it, and some films that unfortunately Barry did, the three main science fiction films that he did: Starcrash, The Black Hole and Howard the Duck fall into that category. His musical presence leant a certain class and elegance to the proceedings.

Another film where this was definitely the case was the much maligned Raise the Titantic. The film got universally bad reviews but any review that said anything positive about it more often than not said that one of the pluses was the music. Thematically, elements of the scores to Moonraker (1979), The Black Hole (1979) and Raise the Titanic (1980) are very similar in their tone and feel.

If you listen to the opening bars of Raise the Titanic and listen to the opening frames of the overture from The Black Hole they are very, very or just slightly similar, but so is deep space and the deep ocean as featured in both aforementioned films

DN: What films did Barry win his Oscars for?

MC: With Born Free he won the double, he also took one home for The Lion in Winter, which really foxed everybody as by then everyone pretty much associated him with Bond and didn’t realise that a lot of his training had a lot to do with choral music and big orchestral stuff. And perhaps most famously he won for Out of Africa and Dances With Wolves. (DN: All featuring animals in some way shape or form in their titles or content).

He also received nominations for Mary Queen of Scots and finally Chaplin in 1992.

DN: I find it astounding that he never even received a nomination for any of his work on Bond!

MC: I agree with that very much so, how can you have movie musc that defines a separate genre almost, and is so influential and it doesn’t get a nomination when you get things like For Your Eyes Only (by Rocky composer Bill Conti) and the 70s funked up The Spy Who Loved Me both get nominations.

DN: How can they nominate them but not Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Sectret Service or Diamonds Are Forever?

MC: On Her Majesty’s is just phenomenal. Barry said he pulled out all the stops on that one and I think he felt he over egged it a little but he was over compensating because he didn’t think Lazenby was particularily good so he had to ramp up the Bond elements.

We Have all the Time in the World transcends the film.

DN: In fact the same can be said of many of Barry’s scores, that they transcend the film they were initially intended for and I’m talking beyond Bond here with the likes of the John Dunbar theme from Dances With Wolves and his work on the little seen but well-loved Somewhere In Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

MC: That’s right. Somewhere In Time is technically an SF film even though it’s primarily a love story. Trouble is it’s also widely known as a chick flick, a phrase I hate,

Christopher Reeve projects himself back in time to meet Jane Seymour after falling in love with a photograph of her (her character was an actress) in a Hotel museum devoted to a Play House.

Barry supplied a very romantic score which was more popular than the film, and it has been used at weddings and all sorts of special occasions, and is regarded as a classic.

Next time: Dean discusses two of Mike’s favourite John Barry film scores.

Clash of the Titles

So long Lost, FlashForward fizzled out and time’s been called on 24, great shows that will be long remembered, but for me there was always one thing missing, and much of TV these days, a title sequence.

These were the things that used to make a show truly great, not only would you be humming the theme tune (or if you were like me, recording onto a Dixons tape recorder directly from the TV), but it would generally feature the best bits of the series (that you would always be looking out for in the show), or even if it was a terrible episode you always had the joy of the title sequence.

The Incredible Hulk

There’s that great hurried piano, Bill Bixby in that rotating chair and a fantastically serious voiceover establishing the premise. For all the shots of Lou Ferrigno bursting though things the three things that stick in your mind are the moment where David Banner’s eye goes green, where Banner warns “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” and the split screen moment at the end where The Hulk and Banner’s face share the screen at the same moment, after he has visited his own grave in a rather fetching jacket.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOXpKUu6pUg&feature=PlayList&p=D3C68DE1FD1BA409&playnext_from=PL&playnext=1&index=10

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

After Battlestar Galactica had its space rug pulled from under it, Glen A Larson returned with more space tom foolery. Again, we have Mr Voiceover man doing a marvellous job as we see Buck (Gil Gerrard) blasting into space on the final manned space shuttle flight in 1987 before he is frozen in time and awakes in the 25th Century (2491 to be precise). The stand out moment for me was when Buck spins away from the camera through a time tunnel of sorts, something which could have been quite at home in the Quantum Leap titles.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBcaTXNLYQw

The A-Team

One of the finest uses of voiceover magic. Of course, due to sustained Saturday tea time viewing we all know the drill, that in 1972 a crack-commando was sent to a maximum security stockade for a crime they did not commit… For me the standout moments were always those bullets searing into The A Team logo and generally just seeing cars and bodies fly through the air. Perhaps my favourite moment, and certainly my first post-modern one, before I even knew what the word meant, was Dirk Benedict’s double take as he sees a Cylon pass him by from Battlestar Galactica, he being the original Starbuck in that programme of course.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIfuaUTH9Y4

Danger Mouse

Cripes, as Penfold might exclaim, a rousing score and fantastic lyrics that we all sang along to every week…and most of us probably made the bomb exploding noise at the end as well. Witty, eccentric and totally British, this was spot on and strangely bonkers kids TV and is hard to believe that this is from the same folk who brought us Cockleshell Bay!

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-h25RmS9-Y

The Return of the Saint

For me the music on the title sequence on this show was just something else, and I loved the way that the stick figure emblem of The Saint was the hero of the piece, jumping off bridges, smashing through windows with chairs, getting involved a in some fisticuffs and even getting the girl at the end. It was perfectly tongue in cheek, not to mention probably the only way they could go with the titles after Roger Moore had become so synonymous with the role, but of course was now globetrotting with his Walther PPK. Love it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USoH1iDvK_8

The Equaliser

The dark and moody streets of 80s New York were perfectly captured. Memorable moments include the lone woman on the underground station, the woman stuck in the lift with a man and that poor bloke trying to dial 911 when a car screeches behind him. Interestingly, unlike most of US TV at the time, the titles weren’t made from elements that were set to appear in the series but were specially filmed, complete with Woodward stood next to his jag in billowing dry ice that would put Top of the Pops to shame. The Stewart Copeland score is still awesome (even though it sounds exactly like the music he produced for both Wall Street and See No Evil, Hear No Evil) and yes, is even my Dad’s mobile ringtone, seriously, which we always hear when anyone gives him a (Robert) McCall.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uB1NiNKwueE

Blake’s 7

Sometimes the simple ideas are the best, and this programmes titles with that great music and not a lot of money thrown at it was an understated brilliance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnautWFuEnQ

Thunderbirds

We all counted down with Mr Voiceover Man and spotting our favourite Thunderbird vehicle, mine was Thunderbird 2 for the record. .Embarrassing fact: when near the end, where a power plant is destroyed by explosions, filmed in supermarionation, is emblazed across the screen. I used to think that this is where the programme was filmed when I was little.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u9HV_8Sh1U

Magnum P.I.

Mike Post and Pete Carpenter were the Dons of 80’s American TV titles scoring and Magnum P.I. is one of the best, even though it wasn’t the original score and somehow has found its way onto some make-up ad – huh? Images wise, you’ve got to love him wheel spinning that Ferrari off the grass, those brilliant helicopter shots and everybody, just everybody who has ever watched it has tried that over the shoulder double eyebrow raise in the mirror that cropped up at the end. Hawaiian shirts and moustaches have never looked so great.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CquMO3vJvo

The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest

Little Jonny Quest, think an American Tin Tin, got a revamp in the mid 90s which saw a fantastically bombastic intro and title score and is just pure exhilaration that starts with a sweeping radar and unleashes scenes of mayhem and adventure that really set you up for what is to come. The title score is amazing and would look at home on any live action TV show or even feature film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFccIOABuRE

Moore than meets the eye: Remembering The Man Who Haunted Himself

Roger Moore was in London last weekend, attending a conference that celebrated all things film, and especially Bond. It may be Moore’s most famous role but Dean Newman sheds light on perhaps his finest acting role, made a full three years before he took ownership of his trusty Walther PPK. The name’s Pelham…Harold Pelham.

Roger Moore. James Bond, The Saint, that raised eyebrow. But between his time as Simon Templar and Her Majesty’s finest Sir Roger gave us one of his finest performance – it is in fact his favourite film featuring himself – in the early 70s thriller chiller, The Man Who Haunted Himself.

With its early 70s London setting I often see it as a companion piece of sorts to what I regard as Hitchcock’s last hurrah, Frenzy, also set in the Capital. interestingly enough a version of The Man Who Haunted Himself made it onto Alfred Hitchcock Presents in under the title of The Case of Mr Pelham, the title of the book on which the film is based.

Things start of cheery enough with typical shots of a untypically moustached Moore driving round the sites of London with some really rather upbeat music. Then, almost without warning it is the turn of the strange as Pelham (Moore) takes his belt off and races down the M4 with maniacal grin and scant regard for those all around him.

He then has the mother of all crashes and finds himself in an operating theatre as they fight to save his life. At one point two heartbeats appear on the heart rate monitor as the surgeons battle to save him thus unwittingly unleashing a second Mr Pelham on the world, a devilish, charismatic, womanising version, yet both men seem to inhabit the same world and interact with the same people, including work colleagues and lovers.

Whilst the original Pelham is mild and your Mr Average, the new version is, just like his sports car, souped up and souper charged. Ironically at one point Pelham discusses a merger, but he see it as a takeover, which is exactly the battle that rages within Roger Moore, is it a merger or a takeover?

I suppose in a way you could see it as a 70s version of Face Off, minus the slow mo action and doves of course. Although highly stylised in that early 70s manner – cue jaunty camera angles, crash zooms and dubious rear screen projection but it adds to the whole atmosphere of the piece.

For those who thought Moore was just adept at punning whilst saving the world they will be pleasantly surprised at his dark side, and whilst we saw flashes of that in Bond, such as the harder edged Bond in For Your Eyes Only kicking a car off a cliff and flicking a man from his tie to his death in The Spy Who Loved Me.

We share the original Pelham’s panic when a whole host of people claim he has been in one place when he has been in other, inviting friends round when he hadn’t, all of which creates some excellent pacing as the actual Pelham begins to question his sanity when an increasing amount of people have seen ‘him’ when it is actually his doppelgänger.

At certain points the audience even begins to question which is which and the pace of the film never really lets up as we eventually head onto a collision course with two Pelham’s finally meeting, giving a whole new meaning to double 0 heaven. It is an excellent tension raiser as we really feel the hysteria that Moore brings to the role and makes us ask ourselves, what would we do if it happened to us?

Bursting into his Gentlemen’s club, looking for the imposter personating him, Moore’s brow becomes more sweaty – we, like Moore are never really sure if it is an imposter or not. Gradually, the awful truth becomes clear. When he died on the operating table and had to be resuscitated, a doppelgänger (or “alter ego”) was released…. and now the real Pelham and his sinister double are locked in a life-and-death struggle against each other.

The role(s) of Pelham ranks as a career best role for Moore who really makes us believe that he is two people, just as Sam Rockwell did in Moon.

Dated, of course, but there is no denying that this film has a certain vibe about it that is sure to see it remade in the near future. One can only hope it is someone like Christopher Nolan in the Director’s chair, who covered similar ground in both Memento and The Prestige.

A supernatural tale with a sting in its tale the film had one more dark surprise to unleash, Basil Dearden, the director, died shortly after completing filming, dying in a car crash in a place that was in the ‘exact’ same location that a major character dies in the film. An incredible coincidence and a sad loss, but Dearden’s legacy was this film that deserves to be discovered and seen by a wider audience, even though part of me is pleased that it is still something of a hidden gem.

Tux Roger? Celebrating 30 years of Moonraker

It may be 40 years since Neil Armstrong raised his foot to become the first man to walk on the moon but it is also over 30 years since Roger Moore raised his eyebrow as 007 in Bond-epic, where all other Bonds end this one begins screamed the posters, Moonraker.

Now, Roger Moore always seems to get a bit of a bad rap but for a child of the 80s he was and always will be my James Bond. People may scoff at Moonraker, the 11th film in the series, as being just a Star Wars cash-in and was just too outlandish and over the top, and in some quarters they may hold some weight but I still love it.

Producer Cubby Broccoli decided to film Moonraker after the phenomenal success of one Luke Skywalker and co, but who can blame him riding the zeitgeist, indeed it hadn’t been the first time that Bond had followed trends as he had also repeated it earlier in the series with blaxploitation in Live and Let Die (1973) and with kung fu in the following years The Man With the Golden Gun.

The production was an expensive gamble, especially when you consider that other films tried to emulate the Star Wars effect with so-so results on the screen and at the box office, The Black Hole being a prime example. Moonraker cost more than all the previous Bond movies all put together, but it was well worth the expenditure as not only did Moonraker become the most successful Bond film ever, a title it would keep until 1995s Goldeneye, but was also nominated for an Oscar for its special effects. The special effects in the final epic space battle were all done in camera so each new element was added manually and the film rolled back each time, an astounding feat.

The story, basically a remake of The Spy Who Loved Me, which in turn was a remake of sorts of You Only Live Twice, involves Bond trying to stop a megalomaniac from destroying the earth and starting up his own Noah’s ark in space. Featuring Hugo Drax – one of the few elements to make it to screen from the original Fleming book – as a Hitler-esque villain, he is played with a menacing dryness by French actor, Michael Lonsdale, who for me has some of the best lines of the film, “Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.”, and I have always found his unflappable performance to be one of the better villains, with a brilliant death to boot.

We’ll let director, Lewis Gilbert off from riffing from ‘Spy’ and ‘Twice’ though as he helmed them as well, with Moore two years previous and Connery back in 1967, the latter with a script by Roald Dahl no less! Still ‘Spy’ and Moonraker had an even more unlikely screenwriter in the shape of Christopher Wood, who had previously written some of the Robin Askwith ‘Confessions…’ series (think Carry On with a bit more carrying on for those not in the know) which at least stood him in good stead for the numerous double entendres!

Outlandish, it is all done in the realms of possibility and the important thing it is made feasible in the Bond universe, okay so perhaps not the gondola (echoing other Fleming creation Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang at times) or double-taking pigeon but they got away with it…just. And its made all the more believable by the Producers getting agreement from NASA to use the space shuttle, the first time it had ever featured in a film and ironic that the film ones made space before the real one ever did.

Contrary to popular belief, Moonraker isn’t all fun and games as does have its taut moments – with a pre-credits parachute jump stunt that has never bettered (over seen by second unit director and editor John Glen – the irony but no not the space man – it was little wonder that he directed Bond all the way through the 80s), a thrilling g-force simulator where you see Bond ruffled and the pre-requisite female victim, who is hunted down by dogs, made all the more harrowing by Barry’s score.

Any revisit to Moonraker also has to make mention of Jaws, and yes it was a shame that he switched sides but even he still has the power to scare, creating a thousand nightmares with that ruddy carnival costume in Rio with the near-neck biting incident, a scene that is brilliantly put together.

As I’ve already touched upon the film has a sublime score by John Barry that was also echoed in his work for The Black Hole and Raise the Titanic. For me it is probably his finest Bond score.

For many Moonraker will always be the runt of the litter but this Bond movie has everything and not only pushes Bond to the edge of space but also pushes him as far as he could go and if anyone was ever going to do that it was going to be Roger, who came back down to earth for the follow up with some amazingly gritty scenes in For Your Eyes Only.

Perhaps the poster for the film and its closing scene some it up best. One of the iconic movie posters for Moonraker featured Bond, in his usual arms folded with gun pose, in a space suit with tux underneath, says it all: brash, British and ballsy, but done with oh so much style – it even made the cover of the TV Times when movie premieres on television were something to get excited about.

Not bad for the man who would go on to direct Educating Rita and of course who could forget the final line from Q. Bond appears weightless on screen ‘in bed’ with Dr Holly Goodhead (how did that one make it through) and M asks “What’s 007 doing?” Q retorts, “I think he’s attempting re-entry sir.”