The Making of Casino Royale 1967

A very organized book about a very unorganized film.

MakingCasinoRoyale

#FilmReadingChallenge  #4

The Making of Casino Royale (1967)

(Telos Movie Classics #2)

By Michael Richardson  c.2015

Telos Publishing    Paperback, 240 pages

I should have gotten the message when I saw the subtitle – Telos Movie Classics #2.  Out of all the movies I have seen, the 1967 satire would not of entered my mind as a classic.   But then again, the Telos Movie Classic #1 happens to be Ang Lee’s take on The Hulk, so maybe by classic they mean classic mistake.

Michael Richardson is listed as a film researcher.  And I will say he does a decent job of collecting the information.  He has also done very well in citing where said information comes from.   However, that seems to be a problem as well.  The way the text reads is somehow item per item, with no real flow and a new header almost per paragraph.  It makes for very dry reading on one hand, while also makes it very easy to put this book down and take it up at the next item.  While it is divided into Chapters, you may question why.  As for the 240 pages, there seems to be padding at the end with very brief “bios” of the main people, as well as some talk and ever specualtion on deleted scenes.

Richardson doesn’t interview anyone for the book, but relies on past interviews and book passages.  Lastly, aside from the cover, there are NO photographs contained in this book.  This really could have helped when Richardson was describing sets, or naming some of the bit players such as the girls surrounding Orson Wells in the Casino sequence.

orson-welles-casino-royale-1967

CasinoRoyale67CollectorsEdI suppose, in the end, this book is really for the James Bond film fan.For those who don’t want to slog (and yes, sometimes it feels like a slog), may I recommend, for most likely less than the price of the this book, you purchase the collector’s edition of the movie?  The film contains not only an audio commentary from Jay Rubin, author of “The James Bond Films”, but also a featurette on – you guessed it – The Making of Casino Royale.

 

Until next time –

Bring on the Empty Horses – a review

Friday, July 5, 2019

The Classic Film Reading Challenge –

Report #3

Bring on the Empty Horses
By David Niven, c. 1975, Dell Publishing.  Paperback edition – 352 Pages.

david-niven-crop

Imagine you’re at a classic Dinner Party, and it’s after the meal.  Relaxing with Coffee and what have you, you find yourself sitting with David Niven, and you ask,
“David, tell me how it was Hollywood, just a few stories, please?”

In this book, Niven does just that.  For those of you who do not recognize the name, David Niven was an actor from 1932 to 1982, the year before he died.  He started out as a film extra, including a part as an uncredited “Able-bodied seaman” in the 1935 “Mutiny on the Bounty”, a role also shared with Jimmy Cagney and one which starred his fishing buddy Clark Gable.  He rose thru the ranks, mainly thru a contract with Samuel Goldwyn Studios, and appeared or starred in such films as “The Bishops Wife”, “Dawn Patrol”, “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”, “The Guns of Navarone”, as the title role in “The Pink Panther”, and the ‘original’ James Bond in the 1967 version of “Casino Royale”.   He was also supposedly the only British Actor in Hollywood to put his career on hold to go back and enlist in the British armed forces when World War 2 broke out.
David Niven Normandy 1944 RMCommando

This picture, originally shown in his autobiography, shows Royal Marine Comanndo Lt. Niven in Normandy soon after D-Day.

Niven’s autobiography, “The Moon’s a Balloon” was released in 1971 and sold over 5 million copies.  There are a couple of anecdotes that I recognized from the autobiography, but most of the content in “Empty Horses” is brand new.  It should also be known that are two chapters (‘Our Little Girl’ parts one and two) where care is taken not to reveal the identities of the main subject.  The second of the two a harrowing story of Niven being dragged in to care for an actress undergoing a full-blown mental breakdown, since the publication of this book sources have revealed the actress to be Vivian Leigh, suffering a bipolar episode.

David doesn’t hold back. There of Chapters of joy and chapters, such as the two mentioned above, of sadness.  He reveals a softer picture of Clark Gable, the joy of Fred Astaire, and the sadness inherent in the life of his close friend Errol Flynn – “He was not a kind man, but in those careless days he was fun to be with, and those days were the best of Flynn.”

But of what this makes “Bring on the Empty Horses” enjoyable for me was when I was reading it, I could hear Niven’s voice in the words  (and if you buy the audio version you can too!).  I highly recommend this book for the behind the scenes stories of Hollywood from the 1930s to around the mid-sixties.  There are stories about the system, Hearst Castle (although to be fair, the stories of Hearst Castle are funnier in “Harpo Speaks”), and the celebrities of the time – oh, the celebrities, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Greta Garbo, and Humphrey Bogart are just of few you will find sections on, not to mention a cameo by Candace Bergen.  You will visit the Brown Derby and Romanoff’s, and visit with Hedda and Louella.

empty horses cover
5 out of 5 stars for me. 

Enjoy!

And now I find I’m halfway thru the #ClassicFilmChallenge!

Schilthorn

Or, Bonding in the Swiss alps

Piz-Gloria093

If you are a James Bond fan, then Shilthorn is a destination you must visit.  The 360 degree revolving restaurant served as Blofeld’s Alpine fortress in the 1969 film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”.  It is a film that Shilthorn has embraced and through the years has added to via a new “007 Walk of Fame” last year on 31 July 2015.  You can see a short video of the event here – Opening of the 007 Walk of Fame at Schilthorn

Located at nearly ten thousand feet above sea level in the Berner Oberland area of Switzerland’s Alp you can only get to Schilthorn via Cable Car from Mürren, or Stechelberg below.

I have visited Schilthorn a few times, usually in fall or winter – although the berg offers a fantastic ski run (called the ‘Inferno Run’) and can become quite crowded in the area between Christmas and New Year.  I arrived by train from Interlaken Ost, the eastern station that connected the valley via private railway (meaning anyone with a Eurorail pass needs to get a ticket at the station!).

As the first couple of times I visited I was staying overnight, I arrived at a quaint Swiss railway station, now sadly replaced by a more modern steel construct that shelters the passengers.  From the station I walked pretty much across the street and rode a funicular (a rather steep one too!) up to the small village of Mürren, which has no cars whatsoever.  Any deliveries that need to be made are down via an electric cart – think golf cart with a small flatbed to hold packages and such.  Everything in this small town is within walking distance, and the cable car leading further up the alp is centrally located.

It was strange visiting Schilthorn, as I had recently viewed the Bond movie and was noticing where different scenes were filmed.  From the Helicopter landing pad (which the Bond producers built as part of the agreement to use the site for filming, to the entrance hallway which still has Blofeld’s coat of arms on the wall, and, of course, the revolving restaurant itself.  Although parts of Shilthorn were recreated in Pinewood Studios for interior shots, as much as possible was filmed on site.

For a sightseer, the views from Schilthorn are magnificent.  You have the Eiger, the Jungfrau, and the Mönch alps surrounding you, and the view over the valley is magnificent.

Fahrplan_1 von Interlaken

For more information about Schilthorn, you can visit Schilthorn home page
For information about Mürren itself, try the Murren and Vicinity information page

 

What’s your favorite James Bond location?  Drop me a line and let me know!