MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Gadgets in Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation and Fallout!

Podcast Episode

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE Gadgets in Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation and Fallout!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode more Mission: Impossible gadgets in Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout. 

 

Gloves that let you climb walls! Sniper flutes! Magnetic suits! Poison rings, Contact lens imager, self-inflating airbags and a whole lot more! Here, we decode the gadgets in the Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation and Fallout – this series is serious stuff!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode more Mission: Impossible gadgets in Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout.

Ideas? Info@SpyMovieNavigator.com

 

In this episode we look at the gadgets from three Mission: Impossible movies:  Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation and Fallout:

  • Gloves that let you climb walls
  • Sniper flutes
  • Magnetic suits
  • Poison rings
  • Contact lens imager
  • Self-inflating airbags
  • and more …

More Episodes

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the gadgets in Mission: Impossible 1 – 3. Masks, Exploding gum, microdots, human-embedded bombs, and more!

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II – Part 1

Watch Video Analysis & Review of Key Scenes Join Dan and Tom as they spy on Mission: Impossible II, looking for interesting facts, scenes and connections!  It actually makes Mission: Impossible II fun!  This is Part 1 of a 2…

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II – Part 2

Watch Video Analysis & Review of Key Scenes Part 2 of our podcast where Dan and Tom spy on Mission: Impossible II, looking for interesting facts, scenes and connections!  It actually makes Mission: Impossible II fun!   Viruses!  Antidotes!  Masks!  Hunt! …

Keep current! Join Our Email List

Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

Podcast Episode

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the gadgets in Mission: Impossible 1 – 3. Masks, Exploding gum, microdots, human-embedded bombs, and more!

 

Masks and real disguise expert! Exploding gum! Eyeglasses with cameras, liquid nitrogen? Bombs in your head, microdots, eye scanning devices and more!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the gadgets in Mission: Impossible 1, 2 and 3!

Subscribe to our show, Cracking the Code of Spy Movies in your favorite podcast app – please do it now!

Look for additional podcasts on Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout!

Ideas? Info@SpyMovieNavigator.com

 

In this episode, we look at following gadgets from the first three Mission: Impossible movies:

  • Masks
  • Exploding gum
  • Eyeglasses with cameras
  • Liquid Nitrogen
  • Microdots
  • Voice synthesizers
  • Nekhorvich’s timer
  • Oakley Romeo Sunglasses
  • Wi-Fi binoculars
  • Exploding charges implanted in heads
  • And More

More Episodes

Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to…

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) –  Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Join Dan and Tom as they unmask and decode the pre-title sequence in Mission Impossible (1) from 1996!

Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts - take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free)…

Keep current! Join Our Email List

Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

Spy Movie News – January 25, 2022

Contributed by: Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato - Spy Movie Navigator

Posted on
Here’s our Spy Movie News for January 25, 2022!    Bond IMAX and VFX, Mission Impossible - really!, Blacklight, The Bricklayer, Conmen, Eraser: Reborn, The 355, Miénteme, Red Notice, To Catch a Thief, and more!

ONLY ONE SPY MOVIE SCHEDULED TO RELEASE IN FEBRUARY 2022

We have one new spy movie scheduled for a theatrical release in February 2022 in the US.  Liam Neeson stars in Blacklight.   As the official website, BlacklightMov.com says,” In BLACKLIGHT, LIAM NEESON is Travis Block, an operative whose discovery of a dark secret pits him against the FBI director he once swore to protect.” The US release date is February 11.  So, we get a 2/11/22 release date.  There is a staggard release date worldwide, so you’ll need to watch for it in your country.  

UPCOMING SPY MOVIES

So, on to the news of spy movies in development.  We’re not sure when we’ll see them, but we are looking forward to their releases.

The Bricklayer

Aaron Eckhart has signed for the upcoming spy movie The Bricklayer.   According to Deadline.com, In The Bricklayer, someone is blackmailing the CIA by assassinating foreign journalists and making it look like the agency is responsible. As the world begins to unite against the U.S., the CIA must lure its most brilliant – and rebellious – operative out of retirement, forcing him to confront his checkered past while unraveling an international conspiracy. What is it with these spy movies pulling operatives out of retirement lately?

Miénteme

Filming has started for the Chilean-Argentine romcom/spy movie Miénteme, which translates to “Lie to me” in English.   This movie has actor Lucas Akoskin playing opposite his real-life wife, Leonor Varela.  We’re not sure how a romantic comedy/spy movie will work, but we’ll check it out for you when it comes out and let you know.   Distribution hasn’t been set yet.   You can read more about Miénteme on Yahoo.com.

Conmen

Cory Hardrict will star opposite Neil Brown Jr. in Conmen.  This is the first movie produced by Hardrict’s  Hardcor Films.  The high-level plot has two black conmen, posing as FBI agents.  They try to con a heroin dealer who is a Klansman and this Sherrif’s son. No release date has been set for Conmen.

Eraser: Reborn

In 1996, Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as U.S. Marshall John Kruger in the movie Eraser.  Well, Johnathan Fuge tells us that a reboot, titled Eraser: Reborn was shot in the summer of 2021 in secret. It has received an R rating and is expected to be released sometime this spring. Eraser: Reborn does not bring back John Kruger.  Instead, Dominic Sherwood plays a new U.S. Marshall, Mason Pollard.  The synopsis on IMDB says: “It is based on U.S. Marshal Mason Pollard who is specialized in engineering the fake deaths of witnesses that leaves no trace of their existence.”

To Catch a Thief

We loved the original Hitchcock movie, To Catch A Thief.  It starred Cary Grant who played an ex-cat burglar who had to prove he was falsely accused of another burglary.   Well, Gal Godot will be starring in a remake of this classic movie.  We don’t know how the plot will be changed, but we look forward to this one.  You can find out more about To Catch a Thief on MovieWeb.com.

Mission: Impossible

It is getting impossible to release Mission: Impossible 7 and 8

Well, the twice-delayed Mission: Impossible movies have hit another delay.   We should remember that Mission: Impossible 7 was originally slated to release in November 2021.  Then it was pushed to September 2022.  Now Paramount and Skydance have announced the most recent pandemic-related delays for Mission: Impossible 7 & 8.  The new release dates are now July 14, 2023, for Mission: Impossible 7 and June 28, 2024, for Mission: Impossible 8.  Ugh.

 

CURRENT SPY MOVIES

The 355

So, let’s shift gears and talk about the most recently released spy movie, The 355.   We released a no-spoiler review of this movie on January 9th. There has been some news about this movie, mostly about its box office, or lack thereof.

Box Office for The 355

An article in Variety points out that The 355 only had a $4.8 million North America haul.  Well, we just looked at BoxOfficeMojo.com and found that The 355 currently has a $16.5 million box office as we record this Newscast. This is against a production budget of about $40 million.

Given the movie’s female focus, getting young men to the theater to see it has been a challenge.  It appears young men are spending their money on Scream and Spider-Man: No Way Home and not much else.

The spy movie The King’s Man, which was released before Christmas outperformed The 355 this past weekend, even though The King’s Man has been in theaters 2 weeks longer than The 355.

For their sake, we hope The 355 has a good digital rental release.  We want spy movies to make money.

Lupita Nyongo didn’t attend the virtual press day

Lupita Nyongo, one of the leads in The 355 did not attend the virtual press day.   She had a good reason to miss this as she had tested positive for COVID-19.  She tweeted “I too have tested positive for COVID-10.  I’m fully vaccinated and taking care in isolation.”  We hope she’s recovered and is doing well by now.

Is The 355 a remake of the first Mission: Impossible movie?

In our January 9th no spoiler review of The 355, we mentioned a few similarities between The 355 and other movies.  However, we kept spoilers out of that podcast.

Our friend, Mike Reyes at Cinemablend.com has an interesting take on The 355 and its use of tropes from other movies, specifically the first Mission: Impossible movie. He’s written an article containing spoilers that compares The 355 with Mission: Impossible.  We will warn you that he has spoilers in the article so you might want to wait until you’ve seen The 355.  Reyes is dead on with his analysis here.

Red Notice

Since the Netflix movie Red Notice was released, we’ve been speculating that there will be sequels to this movie.   Well, according to an article by Mike Fleming Jr, two sequels are planned.  The thought is to shoot them back-to-back which is becoming a trend with successful movies.   Fleming says that the goal is to bring back the three main stars, Dwyane Johnson, Gal Gadot, and Ryan Reynolds. He also says that Rawson Marshall Thurber, who wrote Red Notice, has already started writing the sequels.

James Bond

For a franchise that released its last movie back in September, there were a lot of articles written about James Bond in January. Many of them are speculation about which actor or actress will be chosen to carry on the role of James Bond.  However, some of them talk about the making of No Time To Die.

IMAX Re-Release

By now we assume you’ve had a chance to see the movie No Time To Die.  If you haven’t, the movie was rereleased beginning on January 21st in select IMAX locations. According to Mike Reyes, this release is to help celebrate James Bond’s 60th anniversary.  It will include a special James Bond 60th Anniversary Logo.  Reyes comments that he thinks the other Bond movies should get theatrical releases as part of the 60th Anniversary celebration.  He points out that the Prince Charles Cinema in London started running all of the James Bond movies in release order through SPECTRE starting January 20th and running through July 2022. He comments that he wishes other theaters or MGM itself would follow suit on a global basis.

NO TIME TO DIE VFX Team discussion

Variety’s The Shortlist Virtual FYC Fest held a panel discussion with the No Time To Die VFX Supervisors.  This was an excellent 31-minute discussion moderated by Jazz Rangcay, the Senior Artisans Editor at Variety.

Charlie Noble, who was the visual effects supervisor on No Time To Die, talks about how visual effects can help augment the practical side of moviemaking.  He says “We sort of pick up the bat where other departments leave off. They go as far as they can…and then we take over”.

Special Effects Supervisor Chris Corbould adds “The thing I think was so fantastic about it [was that] it was all invisible. It didn’t jump out at you as being, ‘Look, this is the greatest visual effects ever.’ It was just a marvelous blending of what they do creatively”.

The discussion breaks down scenes such as the DB5 donut stunt and gives some great background on what they did there.

You can see this discussion on Variety.com.

That Was One Big Explosion

Many James Bond movies have set Guinness World Records for their explosions.  The boat explosion in Thunderball was an early example. SPECTRE set a record for its explosion.

Well, according to an article on CinemaBlend.com, NO TIME TO DIE obliterated an explosion record. The big explosions at the climax of No Time To Die set the record for the most high explosives in one shot.    The previous record was for 65 kilograms of high explosives in one shot. They used 140 kilograms for the climax.  Boom.

The official 007 YouTube channel has a video with Chris Corbould talking about this record if you want to see more.

 

MOVIE INDUSTRY NEWS

Piracy has cost Black Widow a lot of money

We just talked about explosions.  Well, here’s a discussion that will blow your mind. In previous podcasts, we’ve talked about the impact of day-and-date release schedules for movies.  if you aren’t familiar with the term, it means releasing a movie in theaters and Paid Video on Demand or streaming on the same day.  This was brought about by the pandemic, but the pandemic showed some flaws in the system.   Some distributors released using day-and-date, others shortened their theatrical window or the amount of time a movie will be in theaters only. You also had movies like Red Notice that everyone was told was being put out by Netflix.  So, everyone assumed it was a tv movie first.  When Netflix finally decided to release it in theaters a few days before streaming it and marketed that decision badly in our opinion, it tanked in the theater.  It performed very well on Netflix but had terrible box office numbers. Deadline.com has a fairly comprehensive breakdown of the impact of day-and-date on movies.   Some of the data is sparse due to the limited ways to get the data, but it is telling nonetheless. The stat that blew us away has to do with the movie Black Widow.  The article estimates that due to the data-and-date release of Black Widow, about $600 million was lost to Disney due to piracy.   This is because once a movie streams, it is pirated almost immediately.   Now we get why Scarlett Johansson sued Disney over their decision.  

IN MEMORIUM

This leads us to our In Memorium section of today’s news.  This is a long list with some giants from the entertainment industry.

Sidney Poitier

Sidney Poitier passed away at the age of 94.  This much-celebrated actor was the first of four black actors to win the Best Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award for his role in Lillies of the Field. For spy movie fans you may remember that he played Roy Parmenter in Little Nikita.

Marilyn Bergman

We’re sad to pass on the news that Marilyn Bergman passed away at the age of 93.  She was a well-honored lyricist.  Usually working together with her husband Alan, she received three Academy Awards, four Emmy Awards, three Grammy awards.  Spy movie fans will know her for the lyrics to the title song to the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again, which she wrote with her husband.

Mace Neufeld

Mace Neufeld has also passed on at the age of 93. Spy movie fans will know his work as the producer of Jack Ryan movies and the Amazon Prime series “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”.

Hardy Kruger

German actor Hardy Kruger has also passed away at the age of 93.  Kruger is probably best known for his roles in A Bridge Too Far or Barry Lyndon. Spy movie fans may know him from his roles in The Spy Who Never Was, The Inside Man, or The Defector.

Michel Subor

French actor Michel Subor passed away at the age of 86. Spy movie fans may remember him from his movies such as Le Petit Soldat, Beau Travail, and the 1960 Hitchcock movie Topaz.

Yvette Mimieux

And finally, we lost Yvette Mimieux at the age of 80.  Her most well-known roles were in Light in the Piazza and Toys in the Attic.  However, spy movie fans may know her as Kim Stacy in the 1970 movie The Delta Factor. So, that's a wrap of the January 25, 2022, Spy Movie News, brought to you by SpyMovieNavigator.com – please Subscribe to our show, Cracking the Code of Spy Movies, right now on your favorite podcast app, and know when new episodes come out and more - Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram too!
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Podcast Episode

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE II Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Join Dan and Tom for some fun as they decode the pre-title sequence of Mission: Impossible II!

 

 

Chimera!  Bellerophon! Viruses, antidotes, scientists, the black plague, kids playing and singing, airplanes, and multiple kinds of masks, and who is really who?!

Join Dan and Tom for some fun as they decode the pre-title sequence of Mission: Impossible II!

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Mission: Impossible – Decoding the Pre-Title Sequence

Related: Mission: Impossible (1996)

Related: Mission: Impossible, Taking a Television Series to the Big Screen

  A big part of the opening of the first Mission: Impossible movie appears to be designed to hook fans of the television show. Join Dan and Tom as they unmask and decode the pre-title sequence in Mission Impossible from 1996!  They look at how the tv show formula was used and changed in the making of this movie.

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Mission: Impossible (1996)

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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) –  Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Podcast Episode

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE (1996) – Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Join Dan and Tom as they unmask and decode the pre-title sequence in Mission Impossible (1) from 1996!

Join Dan and Tom as they unmask and decode the pre-title sequence in Mission Impossible (1) from 1996!

  • Masks!
  • The big con
  • Potions and injections!
  • Dead or alive?
  • The M:I team
  • One of the biggest box office names in Tom Cruise
  • Brian DePalma directing
  • Lalo Schifrin’s theme song

 

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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

Join Dan and Tom as they decode the gadgets in Mission: Impossible 1 – 3. Masks, Exploding gum, microdots, human-embedded bombs, and more!

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Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II – Part 2

Podcast Episode

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II – Part 2

Part 2 of our podcast where Dan and Tom spy on Mission: Impossible II, looking for interesting facts, scenes and connections!  It actually makes Mission: Impossible II fun!   Viruses!  Antidotes!  Masks!  Hunt!   Luther!  Nyah!  Yeah!   Aerial stunts and more!

Join Dan and Tom as they spy on Mission: Impossible II, looking for interesting facts, scenes and connections!  It actually makes Mission: Impossible II fun!   Viruses!  Antidotes!  Masks!  Hunt!   Luther!  Nyah!  Yeah!   Aerial stunts and more!

This is Part 2 of a 2 Part podcast!  Tell us what you think!  Leave us a message on our website, SpyMovieNavigator.com

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In this podcast, we look at the following in the first half of Mission: Impossible II:

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  • More use of birds by John Woo
  • The importance of a wrapped little finger
  • How the math on the options works
  • Did Lion King inspire part of the fight scene at the end?
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Keep current! Join Our Email List

Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II – Part 1

Podcast Episode

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II – Part 1

Join Dan and Tom as they spy on Mission: Impossible II, looking for interesting facts, scenes and connections!  It actually makes Mission: Impossible II fun!  This is Part 1 of a 2 Part podcast! 

Join Dan and Tom as they spy on Mission: Impossible II, looking for interesting facts, scenes and connections!  It actually makes Mission: Impossible II fun!   Viruses!  Antidotes!  Masks!  Hunt!   Luther!  Nyah!  Yeah!

This is Part 1 of a 2 Part podcast!  Tell us what you think!  Leave us a message on our website, SpyMovieNavigator.com

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In this podcast, we look at the following in the first half of Mission: Impossible II:

  • What’s with the kids singing Ring-Around-The-Rosie.  It might not be what you think.
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  • The inspiration for the scene when Nyah and Ethan first see each other during the Flamenco dance sequence.
  • What’s behind Nyah Nordoff-Hall’s name.
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MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – Gadgets in M:I 1, 2, and 3!

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Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to…

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Keep up to date with our latest and greatest spy movie finds. (See our Privacy Policy)

Lasers have been used in lots of spy movies. They can enhance a scene and are often used as cutting or security devices.  For instance, the first use of a laser in a spy movie is in the third James Bond movie, Goldfinger. Who developed the first laser?   We'll cover that to understand the timeline of this awesome technology.  After that, we discover how different movies influenced each other with the use of lasers! We'll look at key scenes from many spy movies:
  • Goldfinger and many other Bond movies
  • Get Smart
  • Mission: Impossible (1996)
  • Entrapment
  • Murderer's Row
  • Spies Like Us
  • Austin Powers in Goldmember)
We see lasers in scenes from all of these spy movies.

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Mission: Impossible (1996)

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Mission: Impossible Vault Scene

Do you remember the famous Mission: Impossible vault scene?  Ethan Hunt is lowered into the vault from the ceiling.  He must deal with alarms and sensors.  Where did they get that idea? SpyMovieNavigator.com examines this famous vault scene. The scene…

Do you remember the famous Mission: Impossible vault scene?  Ethan Hunt is lowered into the vault from the ceiling.  He must deal with alarms and sensors.  Where did they get that idea? SpyMovieNavigator.com examines this famous vault scene. The scene obviously pays homage to the 1955 movie Rififi and the 1964 movie Topkapi.  Therefore, we must look at this scene's pedigree.  We look at each movie's version of the scene and then show them side-by-side.  As you move from the older Rififi to Topkapi, the idea really takes shape.   The technology used isn't fancy in those first two movies.  However, the vault scene gets modernized in Mission: Impossible. It's really cool to follow the idea for this scene from it's early inception up to Mission: Impossible (1996).  This is spy movies and action movies at their best!

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Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

Podcast Episode

Cracking the Code of Spy Movies – A Look at 2019 and A Look Ahead to 2020

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts - take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free) to our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show and listen to the full episodes! We end the episode with a look ahead at the spy movies we are anticipating in 2020.

Join Tom and Dan in our 2019 wrap-up podcast of our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show! Here, we include clips from all of our 2019 podcasts – take a listen, find ones that interest you and subscribe (free) to our Cracking the Code of Spy Movies show and listen to the full episodes!  We end the episode with a look ahead at the spy movies we are anticipating in 2020.

Happy New Year and thank you to all our listeners around the world! We are humbled that our spy movie community has downloaded our podcasts in 29 countries so far!

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We look back on all of our podcasts in 2019:

  1. We selected clips from each show, highlighting what the show is all about
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Thanks for listening!   We appreciate it very much!


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THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN Pre-Title Sequence Decoded!

Join us as we venture into Scaramanga’s Funhouse in our decoding of the pre-title sequence to the 1974 James Bond movie, The Man With The Golden Gun.

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The Spies Who Loathe Me – Why James Bond is a franchise target

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The Spies Who Loathe Me – Why James Bond is a franchise target

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Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success.  Why?

Because no other franchise, let alone spy movie franchise, has survived and thrived for over 50 years on the big screen, in books and novelizations.  James Bond is Big – and it may always remain big if EON Productions continues to do the right things – some things more right than others, but they have pretty much done the right things for 50 years.
But is there a challenger?
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The Spies Who Loathe Me!

Why other spy franchises despise Bond!

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Why Bond still tops Mission: Impossible, Bourne and the Atomic Blonde movement!

Every other spy movie franchise loathes and despises James Bond 007 – and the EON Productions 50+ years of success. Why? Because no other franchise, let alone spy movie franchise, has survived and thrived for over 50 years on the big screen, in books and novelizations. Bond is Big – and it may always remain big if EON Productions continues to do the right things – some things more right than others, but they have pretty much done the right things for 50 years.

In 1962, the movie franchise took its first big steps with Dr. No.   Dr. No costs about $1million to produce and grossed worldwide over $59,000,000 which gave EON Productions a pretty good start in the James Bond 007 franchise business. Just as a reference point, this is at a time when the average household income in the United States was about $5,700 or so, and in the UK, for a male, it was about 815 British Pounds a year. So, $1 million was a lot of money!

Follow Dr. No up with a smash, From Russia With Love (1963) (production costs of $2 million and a worldwide gross of almost $79 Million) and EON was rolling in the dough.   Rolling in the dough for a motion pictures producer is a very good thing. Then comes, Goldfinger (1964) – a huge success financially (production costs of $3 Million and a worldwide gross of almost $125 Million), and the money kept rolling in. You can fund a lot of projects with the revenue produced by these three movies alone. And this is from worldwide box office receipts.   Nothing to do with licensing of images, toys, etc.

And look around. There is no other spy movie franchise to be seen.   Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman hitched their wagon to a star in the Ian Fleming James Bond 007 franchise.   Fleming was happy, now the Fleming estate is happy, and 24 James Bond 007 movies later (long out of Fleming material) the franchise may have suffered some stomach issues at times, but always relieved its indigestion with new, fresh content and writing, music, directorship and more.

You can look at the numbers yourself – in general, this franchise has made a lot of money. But why?

Here are the stats of what EON Productions has done since 1963:

This is from https://www.The-Numbers.com

Release
Date
Title Production
Budget
Opening
Weekend
Domestic
Box Office
Worldwide
Box Office
Nov 6, 2015 Spectre $300,000,000 $70,403,148 $200,074,175 $879,620,923
Nov 8, 2012 Skyfall $200,000,000 $88,364,714 $304,360,277 $1,110,526,981
Nov 14, 2008 Quantum of Solace $230,000,000 $67,528,882 $169,368,427 $591,692,078
Nov 17, 2006 Casino Royale $102,000,000 $40,833,156 $167,365,000 $594,420,283
Nov 22, 2002 Die Another Day $142,000,000 $47,072,040 $160,942,139 $431,942,139
Nov 19, 1999 The World is Not Enough $135,000,000 $35,519,007 $126,930,660 $361,730,660
Dec 19, 1997 Tomorrow Never Dies $110,000,000 $25,143,007 $125,304,276 $339,504,276
Nov 17, 1995 Goldeneye $60,000,000 $26,205,007 $106,429,941 $356,429,941
Jul 14, 1989 Licence to Kill $42,000,000 $8,774,776 $34,667,015 $156,167,015
Jul 31, 1987 The Living Daylights $40,000,000 $11,051,284 $51,185,000 $191,200,000
May 24, 1985 A View to a Kill $30,000,000 $13,294,435 $50,327,960 $152,627,960
Oct 7, 1983 Never Say Never Again $36,000,000 $10,958,157 $55,500,000 $160,000,000
Jun 10, 1983 Octopussy $27,500,000 $8,902,564 $67,900,000 $187,500,000
Jun 26, 1981 For Your Eyes Only $28,000,000 $6,834,967 $54,800,000 $195,300,000
Jun 29, 1979 Moonraker $31,000,000 $7,108,344 $70,300,000 $210,300,000
Jul 13, 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me $14,000,000 $1,347,927 $46,800,000 $185,400,000
Dec 20, 1974 The Man with the Golden Gun $7,000,000 $21,000,000 $97,600,000
Jun 27, 1973 Live and Let Die $7,000,000 $35,400,000 $161,800,000
Dec 17, 1971 Diamonds Are Forever $7,200,000 $43,800,000 $116,000,000
Dec 18, 1969 On Her Majesty’s Secret Ser… $8,000,000 $22,800,000 $82,000,000
Jun 13, 1967 You Only Live Twice $9,500,000 $43,100,000 $111,600,000
Dec 29, 1965 Thunderball $9,000,000 $63,600,000 $141,200,000
Dec 22, 1964 Goldfinger $3,000,000 $51,100,000 $124,900,000
Apr 8, 1964 From Russia With Love $2,000,000 $24,800,000 $78,900,000
May 8, 1963 Dr. No $1,000,000 $16,067,035 $59,567,035
Averages $63,248,000 $29,333,838 $84,556,876 $283,117,172
Totals 26 $1,581,200,000 $2,113,921,905 $7,077,929,291

James Bond had a worldwide appeal.   Ian Fleming wrote the Bond series based partially on some real stuff that he knew from his Naval Intelligence experience during World War II, and part on fantasy – his own fantasies. He imbued Bond with a lot of things that Fleming himself loved in life – fine cottons and linens for clothing, great drink, food, and women.

Every guy in the world in the early 1960s could look at Bond longingly, and try to emulate him. But it was hard to be Bond in real-life.   And expensive.   But the entire montage of what Bond was, was very appealing. Men wanted to be like him, and women wanted to be with him.

Nonetheless, the women portrayed in the films were very strong women.   We have a whole podcast of Bond women, and how strong they were.   Start with THE Bond woman – Honey Rider from Dr. No, played by Ursula Andres. Does any spy movie fan not have emblazoned in their brain Honey Rider walking out of the water?   These are the kinds of things the EON folks did so well.   And who was Honey Rider? A strong character. She meets Bond on the beach, and she had been collecting shells.   She sees Bond, and she goes for her knife at her left side.   He says “I promise you I won[t steal your shells,” to which she quips, “I promise you, you won’t either.” She later tells Bond how she once killed a man who raped her by putting a poison spider in his bed at night. OK – she is tough.

And what’s happening in other spy move franchises so far at that time. Nothing.   Nothing was challenging Bond.

TV shows came out in the 1960s as a result of Bond’s success: “Mission: Impossible,” “The Avengers,” and more – all capitalizing on the tremendous interest in spies, particularly Bond.

There were plenty of spy movies before Bond – going back to The 39 Steps in 1935, to dozens in between and since. But no real franchises to challenge Bond.   Basically, EON Productions had a monopoly of sorts on the spy genre, and audiences loved just about everything they put out. As you heard, some films did better than others in the worldwide box office – but they made money – 24 times. And Craig’s movies have done very well, with Skyfall topping the billion dollar mark, and all of Craig’s movies together (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and SPECTRE grossed over $3 Billion dollars at the worldwide box office. Billion with a B!

And the franchise competition is….. where?

So, as Enrico Fermi once commented on the possibility of the universe teaming with life, “Then where is everybody?” Same here! Where is everybody?

Think about it – Bond has been dominant throughout the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s without a serious threat of another franchise decoding their success!

Remember – Pierce Brosnan first played Bond in 1995 in Goldeneye but there had been about a 6 year wait between Timothy Dalton’s Licence to Kill and Goldeneye – that’s a long time. Bond fans were hungry. Goldeneye was very successful, grossing over $356m worldwide. But the delay between films had other film makers thinking. But Bond seemed to survive the long gap between films – audiences were loving Bond again. But will more delays in Bond film productions be coming, or are they back on schedule?   Well, the Brosnan Bond movies came out in pretty quick succession: Goldeneye in 1995; Tomorrow Never Dies in 1997; The World is Not Enough in 1999, and Die Another Day in 2002. Seems like EON Productions was back on track producing the Bond films.

So – that is good and bad for other producers. Good in that the interest level of the audiences around the world was high.   Bad, in that the only franchise in spy movies was back on track and audiences were accepting the new Bond after waiting so long.

 

The First Assault on Bond

There were other spy movies in the 1990s, including three Jack Ryan movies based on the books of Tom Clancy that came out in the 1990s, The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994), with additional ones to come (The Sum of All Fears 2002, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 2014).   This was the biggest assault on Bond to date. Three Jack Ryan films produced and released during the Bond hiatus. Why? Because Jack Ryan was the first “spy” to loathe Bond. Why should Bond be raking in all the dough for over 3 decades?   Let’s take some of his money and cash in on the absence of Bond from 1989 until 1995! Come on, Jack Ryan was just as cool.

And there were many other spy movies in the 1990s like The Russia House (1990), Ronin in 1998 and other spoofs and comedies like Spy Hard in 1996 and Austin Powers International Man of Mystery in 1997. But none of these amounted to any kind of assault on Bond.

But the Jack Ryan “franchise” had a variety of actors playing Jack Ryan, who was really an analyst for the CIA and not officially a spy. EON Productions made an attempt for some consistency in who Bond was: Sean Connery for 6 movies, Roger Moore for 7, Brosnan for 4, Craig for 5.   There were some exceptions like George Lazenby for one (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Timothy Dalton for only two.

But Jack Ryan was played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), Harrison Ford played him twice – the most consistency – in Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994), then Ben Affleck in the 2002 The Sum of All Fears, and then Chris Pine (of Star Trek fame) in 2014 in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. And when The Sum of All Fears came out in 2002, so did Bond’s Tomorrow Never Dies. The Sum of All Fears had a much bigger success in the US and had less worldwide cache than Bond, grossing a total of about $194M worldwide (over 62% US revenue) versus Tomorrow Never Dies, grossing over $339M worldwide, with just about 37% of that being US. So, yeah, Jack Ryan loathes Bond!

Mission: Impossible Assault . . . and here comes Jason Bourne on the western front!

When Mission: Impossible (1) came out in 1996, it was a single movie – so not yet a threat, but it came out between Goldeneye – 1995 (which was a hit) and Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997.   So, pretty good timing to launch the Mission: Impossible test balloon.   Will it do well? Will people take to it who liked the television show from the 1960s? Would the 2 year stint of The Impossible Mission Force (IMF) television redo from October of 1988 – September of 1990 carry over interest? Would it do well enough to want to do another?

Hey, it was a casino play: It was a risk, but a risk worth taking.   First, they were building on a foundation that was a solid foundation in the 1960s television show – audiences loved that show.   So they had a somewhat known commodity. This was good thinking.   Much like Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had a pretty-well known commodity in Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007 novels – yet they were books, not television or movie productions yet – not counting the made for TV Casino Royale starting American Nelson Barry as Jimmy Bond in 1954.

Mission: Impossible featured a hot Hollywood actor, Tom Cruise, as the main character, Ethan Hunt.   They were going after Bond. But one step at a time.   But let it be known: Mission: Impossible (1) began a serious assault on Bond. Why? Because Ethan Hunt and the IMF team loathes Bond!   Bond was unchallenged all these decades. Success and success, billions after billions of dollars.   Why was Bond untouched all these years?   Mission:: Impossible (1) was throwing down the gauntlet, and cracking the spy movie success code, and pushing Bond around for the first time.   That was the plan. But did the assault begin?

Here are some Mission: Impossible numbers from the same source, The-Numbers.com:

Release
Date
Title Production
Budget
Opening
Weekend
Domestic
Box Office
Worldwide
Box Office
Jul 27, 2018 Mission: Impossible—Fallout $178,000,000 $61,236,534 $220,159,104 $787,456,552
Jul 31, 2015 Mission: Impossible—Rogue N… $150,000,000 $55,520,089 $195,042,377 $688,858,992
Dec 16, 2011 Mission: Impossible—Ghost P… $145,000,000 $12,785,204 $209,397,903 $694,713,230
May 5, 2006 Mission: Impossible III $150,000,000 $47,743,273 $133,501,348 $397,501,348
May 24, 2000 Mission: Impossible 2 $120,000,000 $57,845,297 $215,409,889 $549,588,516
May 21, 1996 Mission: Impossible $80,000,000 $45,436,830 $180,981,886 $457,697,994
Averages $137,166,667 $46,761,205 $192,415,418 $595,969,439
Totals 6 $823,000,000 $1,154,492,507 $3,575,816,632

In 1996, Mission: Impossible (1) launches dramatically with a worldwide gross of over $457M – a little more that the Bond’s franchise gross of their 20th movie.   In other words, Mission: Impossible was starting off big – when that fuse lit, the rocket it launched was loud, fiery and smooth! Bond was looking over his shoulder at a contender, and the assault was on. With this great success, the IMF team continued to put the pressure on Bond, with their second installment 4 years later, with Mission: Impossible 2, grossing over $457M worldwide -and guess what? M:I has a worldwide appeal! With only 39% of its box office receipts coming from domestic US for the first, and only a little over 37% for M:I 2! OK, the IMF team is kicking some ass!

So between Mission: Impossible 2 (2000) and Mission: Impossible III (2006), and waiting for Bond to do something since 2002 – here comes Jason Bourne – with The Bourne Identity launch in 2002. If this new spy takes off, the assault on Bond could be on multiple fronts, and harder to defend.   The Bourne Identity is filling in gaps between Bond films and now Mission: Impossible films. But the first Bourne grossing only $214 M worldwide, with over 56% coming from domestic box office sales. But before another Bond film comes out or another M:I films comes out, The Bourne Supremacy is launched in 2004, grossing a respectable $311M worldwide, maintaining a high domestic box office of 56%.   Not as much worldwide appeal so far, with domestic gross lower than either of the first two M: I films.

Mission: Impossible III (2006) grossed only $397M, with only 33% coming from domestic. It came out after a 6 year gap between M:I 2 to this film.   Long time to wait. Will they have gaps like Bond did right when they were on a roll? And after the wait, it was the weakest revenue-wise of the new assault on Bond – and still, $397 M was not bad – so this assault is formidable!

But now, in 2006, Bond is back and with a vengeance: Casino Royale, with Daniel Craig as Bond for the first time, blows the doors off worldwide box office numbers with $594 M , with only 28% domestic US box office sales – maintaining his dominance as a worldwide spy! The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) comes out between Casino Royale and the next Craig Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008) and during another 5 year wait for the next M: I film! Even without the other spy franchises breathing down Jason’s neck, the film grossing $444M worldwide, with still a huge domestic percentage of the gross of 51%. The lack of competition helped the gross for sure, but still not as big a worldwide appeal, but not bad on this outing. And Bond comes in with the one-two punch with Quantum of Solace in 2008, grossing $591M worldwide, with only 28% domestic US box office receipts. Still dominating the world of spies.

Now, M: I Ghost Protocol is launched in 2011 – another long wait of 5 years – but is big in the worldwide box office grossing over $694m, with only 30% domestic box office – so its worldwide appeal continues.   This is an important point: to assault Bond, you need worldwide appeal. Domestic is not going to cut it. And M: I proved 4 times so far they have worldwide appeal.   But now we have another 4 year wait for Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation hits the screens – time for Bond to lick his wounds and get stronger.

But in 2012 when Bond explodes on the screen with Skyfall, Bourne is right behind him with The Bourne Legacy. But wait – no more Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. Craig has had two strong performances as Bond. So Skyfall launches, and smokes everything in site! It is hot. It grosses a whopping $1.1 Billion dollars. Billion! With only 27% of the gross domestic US. Boom! Bam! The Bourne Legacy flops, partly due to Matt Damon being out of the story, and part because of the dominance of Skyfall.   The Bourne Legacy grosses $280M worldwide, with 40% domestic box office receipts.

But it’s not over. The assault on Bond continues, as the spies who loathe him continue the advance.

While waiting another 4 years for a new Bond film (Spectre) will be in 2015). Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation is on the same timing for the release of Spectre– so no resting for Bond during the 4 year wait – the IMF team is back and ready to kick ass again. They loathe Bond.

M: I Rogue Nation (2015) grosses the most of any M:I film to date: $688M worldwide, with only about 28% domestic.   This is huge. But Bond has his Kevlar on. Spectre grosses over $879M, with less than 23% domestic.   But now . . . Mission: Impossible and Bond are close! The closest ever in gross receipts, and the closest ever in worldwide versus domestic box office receipts. Wow!

But as Spectre wraps up in 2015, and in 2019, Bond 25 has still not been released – so another 5 year wait, both Mission: Impossible and Bourne reload.

Jason Bourne hits the screen in 2016, with Matt Damon back – and grosses $416M worldwide, the best since The Born Ultimatum in 2007, with a still high 38% domestic gate. But Jason Bourne is filling in the gap again for the Bond fans – and here comes Mission: Impossible Fallout in 2018 – while we still wait for Bond!

Fallout grosses $787 M and only 28% domestic.    Jason Bourne, we think is finished.

And, again, we wait for Bond. In the meantime, Mission: Impossible announces Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 will come out in 2021 and 2022 respectively. They are putting severe pressure on the Bond folks. The next Bond, No Time To Die, launches spring of 2020. Then, the Bond franchise will go through a paradigm shift – maybe. Is Bond retired? Does Lashana Lynch really become 007? What will the franchise do? What will it look like in 2020+? All of this, while two more Mission: Impossibles will be out, sucking in huge revenues. While Bond waits.

So as EON Productions figures out their next Bond strategies, one of the franchises who loathes this spy is challenging the Bond dynasty internationally for a spot at the top.

Sometimes loathing pays off!

Release
Date
Title Production
Budget
Opening
Weekend
Domestic
Box Office
Worldwide
Box Office
Jul 29, 2016 Jason Bourne $120,000,000 $59,215,365 $162,192,920 $416,168,316
Aug 10, 2012 The Bourne Legacy $125,000,000 $38,142,825 $113,203,870 $280,355,920
Aug 3, 2007 The Bourne Ultimatum $130,000,000 $69,283,690 $227,471,070 $444,043,396
Jul 23, 2004 The Bourne Supremacy $85,000,000 $52,521,865 $176,087,450 $311,001,124
Jun 14, 2002 The Bourne Identity $60,000,000 $27,118,640 $121,468,960 $214,357,371
Averages $104,000,000 $49,256,477 $160,084,854 $333,185,225
Totals 5 $520,000,000 $800,424,270 $1,665,926,127

 

 

 


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Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator. This is part 2 of the series.

Many movies get ideas for their scenes from either other movies or real-world events.  Think about the jet-pack in Thunderball or the dinner jacket that 007 reveals when removing the wet suit in Goldfinger.  Were these ideas made up for the movie or were they based on real events?  Spy Movie Navigator is starting an on-going series of podcasts that cover scenes like these.   We will tie the scene back to either another movie or a real-life event of which the scene may have been based.

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HOW EVENTS IN THE REAL-WORLD AFFECT WHAT GOES INTO SPY FILMS – Part 2

This is Part 2 of our look into how events in the real-world affect what goes into spy movies.

Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies? Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie Navigator.

Hi, this is Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato at Spy Movie Navigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more

We’ll continue looking at some of the Bond films.  Part 2 will start with Diamonds are Forever.

Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 Published by Ian Fleming in 1956 as his 4th James Bond novel, EON Productions made it into their 7th James Bond 007 movie, introduced in 1971.   Here, Bond – Sean Connery comes back – infiltrates a diamond smuggling ring and prevents Blofeld and SPECTRE from developing a space-based laser weapon with the diamonds that could blow things up. Blofeld was going to sell it to the highest bidder, so Bond had to stop the plot.

  1. So, Ian Fleming writes Diamonds Are Forever only 9 years after a woman copywriter for an ad agency wrote “A Diamond is Forever” for a DeBeers ad campaign, in 1947 – and it’s been in DeBeers campaigns ever since! See a great online article on this in the New York Times by J. Courtney Sullivan, May 3, 2013.
  2. The Burton-Taylor diamond, like 69 carats, purchased in 1969 made world-wide news.   That, combined with Jacqueline Kennedy’s jewelry (diamonds and emeralds ) in the early 1960s put diamonds on the mind of everyone. Coincidence or great timing by EON, the subject of diamonds was ripe for the 1971 launch of Diamonds Are Forever.

 

3 Days of the Condor – 1975. Intense movie. Influenced by Watergate (no trust of people in power) and the oil shortages prevalent in the mid-1970s.

 

Moonraker – 1979 – Moonraker, Fleming’s 3rd novel, was published in 1955.   Rockets were just being developed after von Braun’s success with the Germans in World War II.   The novel is about a rocket being developed and that will be tested by Drax’s organization, with support of the British government.   By the time the movie was made by EON Productions in 1979, the writers had to change the story.   It was 1979 and man had already been to the moon and back, the space shuttles were under development, a story about a missile test would not cut it.   Trust me, the novel is a great read, and when you consider the times, it was very exciting.   So, the first real-life incident to affect this movie was

  1. The story is changed completely, except keeping Hugo Drax as the main villain, because of the rapid development of rockets, manned space flight, the moon landings and the development of the shuttle (which first flew in 1981).
  2. Secondly, the novel plot is a great one but dated for the EON Productions 11th James Bond movie in 1979.   EON had originally planned to film For Your Eyes Only after The Spy Who Loved Me (one of my all-time favorite Bond movies). But because of the development of the Shuttle in real life, and the popularity of two of the biggest science fiction films released in 1977, Star Wars (with a second planned for 1980) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. So, EON Productions, once again being clever and watching the real world and what was successful and popular, moved Moonraker up ahead of For Your Eyes Only to take advantage of the popularity and success of science fiction movies, and actual NASA advancements in space technology.
  3. Also, the concept of a space station, used in Moonraker, was based on real-life as well – the Soviets had Salyut 1 space station in 1971, and the US had Skylab up in 1973.

Once again, real-life influences major elements of the spy film genre!

 

The Living Daylights – 1987 death to spies, Smyert shpionam. And the idea of a spy defecting, of course, is based on real stuff – spies defect in the real world. In fact, Nikolai Khokhlov was a Soviet spy who defected to the west in 1953 and brought with him all kinds of spy gadgets which we will talk about in a moment.

 

Licence to Kill – 1989

  1. The whole premise of the film is dealing with a drug lord from South America. In 1972, then President of the United States Richard Nixon said drug abuse was “public enemy number one/”   In 1986, President Regan o the United States called for a “nationwide crusade against drugs.” So drugs infiltrating and affecting thousands of lives was definitely a popular topic during the decades surrounding the release of Licence to Kill.
  2. So Franz Sanchez, being a major drug dealer, would have garnered a lot of attention if the Department of the Drug Enforcement Administration knew of his whereabouts. So the DEA response to Sanchez being tracked to the United States would have warranted the response it got in the movie – and probably a whole lot more.

 

Mission: Impossible – 1996

Between Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) comes the first in the series of Mission: Impossible movies based on the 1960s television show.   So, 1996 was a great time to capitalize on the spy movie fans waiting for another Bond movie, and since Bourne Identity was not born until 2002.

The Mission: Impossible TV show, which I loved, certainly had an influence on the creation of the movie.   Many fans of the TV series were looking forward to the first movie.   While Phelps was the only character kept from the TV series, the mission was to be fresh, full of action and intrigue. The concept of a rogue agent trying to make things right was not new, but this mission was done with passion.

MacGyver-like gadgets, and to some degree sophisticated gadgets, masks and deception all came from the TV show. The original show was more like an O’Henry play, with surprise endings for the bad guys, and Martin Landau (who played Rollin Hand in the original TV series) said when interviewed after the first Mission, the original was not an action-adventure, it was more of a “mind game. The ideal mission was getting in and getting out without anyone ever knowing we were there.” ( quote from, Martin Landau Discusses ‘Mission: Impossible’ Movies (blog), MTV, October 29, 2009, archived from the original on December 28, 2009)  The non-stop action is truly new to the movie.

So, we think the first film of the Mission: Impossible series was influenced by

  1. The TV show, for basic concepts, self-destructing mission messages, music, etc. and
  2. The timing, in between Bond films.
  3. The worldwide locations, like shooting in Prague, was definitely Bond–influenced, as were the opening scenes during the credits, giving glimpses into the action about to unfold.

Of course, the real Cold War spying – going after atomic data, and lists of spies – was a regular mission of spies.   Even in 2015, the US CIA was concerned that China had stolen info on US federal employees that might expose the real names of our spies abroad.   So, the basic concept of the mission in the first Mission: Impossible movie is very grounded in reality.

 

The Bourne Identity2002. 9/11 made the producers think that the script, with the CIA looking like the bad-guy, might be too sensitive for audiences in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11 2001.   They actually filmed alternative opening and ending sequences, but when the original was tested with audiences, they seemed to accept it very well, so the alternative opening and closing scenes were relegated to the bonus section of the DVDs (See “Fifteen Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Franchise” by Josh Roush, July 29, 2016, online article.

 

Casino Royale – 2006 – certainly the popularity of Texas Hold’em worked its way into the film, instead of the as-written Chemins de fer/baccarat game in the Fleming novel.   Also, the more realistic approach of The Bourne Identity movie may have influenced Casino Royale to more grounded in basics – although, for a reboot of the Bond franchise, one would think they would stick closely to the novel which, as the first novel, was very straight-forward, with few gadgets, and basic in execution.

 

Bond on Skis: George Lazenby, who was an avid skier, is the first James Bond in EON Productions films to take to skis, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), with many of the scenes filmed in Murren, Switzerland – which we at SpyMovieNavigator have been too! It is about 5,000 feet below Schilthorn (Piz Gloria) where Blofeld’s “allergy research institute” was located in the film. In a night scene, Bond begins to ski down Piz Gloria, and of course is shot at, then pursued by Blofeld’s henchmen on skis. Even Blofeld joins the pursuit on skis. With flairs and machine guns, they pursue Bond – and of course they know the mountain better than Bond, so they are in hot pursuit. Great chase scene, with well-trained and skilled agents in pursuit on skis.

And in the 1977 Bond film, in the pre-title sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me, we have one of the best snow ski sequences in any spy movie film – in any film for that matter.   He gets a message from MI6 saying they need him, while he is sleeping with a woman in an Austrian winter mountain chalet. So he leaves, with a red backpack on his back, and skis. She immediately radios her counterparts to say he is leaving, and we have another ski chase scene, pursuers shooting at him, and at one point, Bond turns around and shoots one of the foreign agents with his ski pole gun. Then he continues, eventually skiing off the mountain with thousands of feet beneath him – only to pop a parachute with the Union Jack to land safely. A great pre-title sequence that has become an iconic scene around the world! Reported filmed in Canada, the stunt man who did this, Rick Sylvester, did this in one take. They had to wait for the weather to be just right, and not too windy.   Again, skiing and pursuit by trained assassins on skis.

 

In For Your Eyes Only,    Bond is pursued by sharpshooter skiers and enemy agents on specially equipped motorcycles, with spiked wheels and guns, down the mountain and eventually into a lift heading to a ski jump.   Of course, Bond must do the jump, as his pursuers wait at the bottom of the ski jump hill. The pursuit continues again on the special motorcycles chasing Bond on skis., which even includes skiing down a bobsled run.

 

In A View to a Kill,  Bond does it all on snow – from skiing to snowmobiling to riding one of the runners from the snowmobile as a snowboard!   Here pursued by a helicopter, snowmobiles, skiers – every well-trained assassin – but he finally escapes and to a British sub disguised as an iceberg. Cool.   But he had a talented mob of agents, trained for winter pursuit, behind him all the way.

 

Of course, even The Living Daylights has a snow pursuit, as Bond and Kara Milovy escape using her cello case as a sled, and cello to steer, they are pursued by trained agents on snow.

SPECTRE has snow scenes as well.   So what is happening here?

In real life, of course, there were and are specialty teams in various military branches throughout the world who are expert at traveling on skis, infiltrating locations on skis, and doing other espionage stuff that very much depends on how well trained they are on skiing and moving through heavy snow conditions.

For example, in WW-II, the U.S. did not have a mountain division in their military.   Inspired by the Finnish mountaineer troops, Charles Mynot Dole – who was head of a ski patrol, an Olympic skier, a climber – began the U.S. military ski troops, brought into action just before Pearl Harbor.    They trained at 13,000 feet in the Colorado mountains, at – 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34.4 degrees Celsius) with 90 pounds of gear – just the men, packs and skis – pushed to the limits. This will turn out to be a true “mission impossible” in World War II as this became the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army. They were engaged against the Japanese when Japan invaded two islands off Alaska – Attu, and Kiska. Landing in fog and snow, they were able to make the Japanese retreat but confused, our troops were shooting at each other and 18 were killed.   They went back for more training, with mock battles, in sub-zero conditions.

They were called upon in 1944 in Italy, where the Allies were bogged down trying to take the Apennine mountains. The 5th Army could not advance towards Germany.   Each ridge in the mountains had additional German defenses. The 10th Mountain Division assessed what was needed, decided they had to take Mount Belvedere and to do that had to take Riva Ridge first. 2,000 feet up, steep, 3 – 4 feet of snow. They climbed the unclimbable and took Riva Ridge, and the engineers erected an ingenious tramway to move wounded and supplies up and down the mountain.   This is REAL stuff! The pursuing assaults were successful, and the path open to Germany thanks to this 10th Mountain Division – trained to battle in treacherous snow conditions.   They prevailed at great cost for the campaign – with 975 killed, 3,871 wounded and 20 prisoners of war. But they prevailed.

  • For more info, you can visit: 10thMtnDivAssoc. Org or LastRidge.com

 

In another World War II real-life adventure, the Germans controlled a heavy-water plant in Norway, and heavy-water was needed to make nuclear weapons. On February 16, 1943, Operation Gunnerside began. 6 Norwegian commandos were dropped by parachute to join the ‘Swallow’ team on the ground.   After a few days of cross-country skiing, they joined the Swallow team. The final assault on the heavy-water plant was set for February 27/28 1943. The Germans controlled the plant and wanted to produce the heavy-water and ship it to Germany. The heavy water plant was protected by mines, lights and more due to an earlier failed raid.   The Swallow team, with the 6 paratroopers, ford a winter river in a ravine and climbed a steep hill. They followed a railway track right to the plant – because a Norwegian agent inside the plant supplied a detailed layout of the plant as well as a schedule. This is very much like From Russia With Love, as Bond was to retrieve the consulate plans from Tania.

Except here, it is real life! The team entered the plant by a basement cable tunnel, set explosives and escaped. They left behind a Thompson sub-machine gun to make it look like British forces did it and not local resistance to avoid reprisals. It worked!

Desperate, the Germans loaded some heavy water on a ferry bound for Germany, and the Norwegian resistance sank the ferry and all the heavy water!   Google: Gunnerside.

So the bottom line is, many of the scenes we have seen in spy movies, and above the Bond movies, have a basis in reality – people are indeed specially trained for these special operations, and so the specially trained personnel in the Bond movies for all the winter pursuits are believable.   Some of the stunts are fantastic, but so were some of the real-life challenges that were overcome by the 10th Mountain Division and the Norwegian troops!

 

Gadgets: Lastly let’s look at gadgets. As we know, gadgets are prominent in the James Bond 007 movies by EON Production, as Q proves quite the inventor. They are also present in the Mission: Impossible series, with masks, high-tech devices like the climbing gloves, the camera glasses in Mission Impossible 1 and so on.

In the Ian Fleming books, gadgets were less prominent.   In Casino Royale, the first James Bond 00 novel, there are some gadgets, but spectacular. Le Chiffre carries razors in various places, and one of the high tech gadgets was a cane that doubled as a gun – which really was how they tried to first kill Bond at the casino table. It goes on in other Fleming novels as well, with underwater equipment, the briefcase in “From Russia With Love” – which is different than what it contains in the movie.   But they are there, but less obvious and less of a focus.   There really was a Q Branch in MI6, and they came up with gadgets. It was operational at the time Fleming was writing and run by Charles Fraser-Smith, who Fleming knew.

Again, in this really cool book, “For Your Eyes Only – Ian Fleming + James Bond” by Ben Macintyre, he suggests that Fraser-Smith made things like a hairbrush that has a map and a saw, cameras hidden in cigarette lighters, invisible ink, magnetized matches that could act as a compass, and so on. So there was real stuff, and that real stuff influenced the movies and served as a basis of many extraordinary gadgets to come in the films.

We mentioned a defector spy from the Soviet Union who defected to the West, Nikolai Khokhlov. In the same book mentioned above, Macintyre suggests that when Khokhlov came over, he brought a lot of spy gadgets with him, including a miniature revolver that could fire toxic bullets, guns housed in cigarette lighters and lots more – for real!

 

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How do you take a successful television show and bring it to the big screen?

Join Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato as they delve into Mission: Impossible 1 and see what this franchise is all about and how it will continue to grow and challenge other spy movie franchises, like Bond and Bourne.

As we’ll discuss, there are lots of elements of this movie that have been influenced by previous spy movies and the original television show, “Mission: Impossible”.   Join us for the fun!

 

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Mission: Impossible, taking a television series to the big screen

This transcript is a subset of what is in the podcast.  We recommend you listen to the podcast.

Is it an Impossible Task to bring a successful tv show to the movies?   Come with us as we dissect the first Mission: Impossible movie. This is Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato with SpyMovieNavigator.com. the worldwide community of spy movie fans. Spy Movie podcasts, videos and more.

Podcast Opening

For today’s podcast, we are going to discuss the first Mission: Impossible movie. We will use the name Mission: Impossible 1 or MI1 to refer to this even though it technically doesn’t have a number associated with it. However, MI 2 and MI 3 did have the number attached so we’ll use a 1 for clarity.

For the most part, Spy Movies have had their origin from books: James Bond, Bourne Identity, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan stories, John Le Carre’s books, etc.   However, in 1996, Paramount Pictures and Cruise/Wagner Productions released the first movie of the Mission: Impossible series, based on the tv show. Other spy-based tv shows wouldn’t get their US big-screen debuts until years later (namely I Spy in 2002 and Get Smart in 2008). (even the Man From U.N.C.L.E. in 2013)

The TV show of “Mission: Impossible” ran for 7 seasons (1966-1973) in the US. This was back when there were 27 episodes in a season, not counting the pilot in season one. The show won 19 awards and was nominated for 39. There was also a two-season reboot of the show in 1988-1990. All totaled, there were over 200 episodes of the show.

So, how do you bring such a successful TV show to the Big Screen?   One answer to this question was to bring in one of the biggest box office names in Tom Cruise to play the lead character and add a lot of very cool stunt work, Brian DePalma to direct, and keep Lalo Schifrin’s theme song.

 

Pre-Title Sequence

Let’s start with MI1’s pre-title sequence:  The first thing to notice that there is a pre-title sequence. The James Bond series of films made the pre-title sequence a mainstay of spy movies. Most spy and action movies today include pre-title sequences.

In, Mission: Impossible 1, the movie opens with the IMF team (Impossible Mission Force) trying to obtain the name of a contact in Minsk (Dimitri Miediev) from a Russian. We don’t know at first who any of the people in the room are and no names are used. We don’t know why they want the name. It is irrelevant as it has almost nothing to do with the rest of the plot. This scene really sets up the film for the tv fans as it answers one of the concerns they would have:   How much will this feel like the tv show?

This scene does have a similarity to The Godfather: Part II.   In The Godfather: Part II, Senator Pat Geary wakes up next to a dead woman. He can’t remember what happened “I don’t know how it happened … I passed out”. He had been set up and was framed. He hadn’t really killed her.   In the Mission: Impossible pre-title sequence, the Russian has a similar situation.   There appears to be a dead woman and he is saying he doesn’t know what happened. I got this information from this clip.

This pre-title sequence does set up one plot point in the movie.   Jim Phelps is not on this mission. We find out later he was in Chicago at the Drake Hotel for a meeting.   This becomes important later and isn’t highlighted in the pre-title sequence.

Two minutes into the scene, the guy who asked the questions and kills the Russian, walks over to the anteroom and REMOVES HIS MASK, revealing agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise). Yes, the masks are there, the tv fans can feel at home.

One of the goals of the first Mission: Impossible 1 movie, had to be to show the TV show fans that the movie should feel that it is really based on the “Mission: Impossible” television show as they remember. The pre-title and title sequences meet this goal. If a viewer hadn’t seen the TV show, it’s not a big deal, but a few very important things come out of the first six minutes of the movie that the tv fans expect to see. In future Mission: Impossible movies, the pre-title sequences do set up the rest of the movie.

The Bourne series handles things a bit differently.   The title in all the movies is a simple title.   The title pops up by itself and no other credits are given until the end of each movie. In The Bourne Identity, the pre-title sequence starts with Jason Bourne floating in the water.   He is picked up by someone on a fishing boat. This is followed by the title appearing at about 1:44. The Bourne Ultimatum has the simple title at about 3:50 into the movie. The Bourne Supremacy starts with the simple title to open so it doesn’t have a pre-title sequence.   The Bourne Legacy has the simple title at about 2:00 into the movie.   Jason Bourne does not have a pre-title sequence. It starts with the title and jumps right into the movie.

So it looks like the Bourne movies don’t have pre-title, but Mission: Impossible and James Bond do.   So Tom: Is Bond the first movie with a pre-titles? The first example of a pre-title sequence we have found was in the 1930’s movie Viennese Nights. The sequence is of a Biergarten and a song is being sung. This is a very short scene that is immediately followed by the title sequence.   So, from what we’ve found, this one wins the discussion.

However, different sources give different answers to the question of ‘what is the first movie with a pre-title sequence?’ Is the Biergarten scene really a pre-title sequence? The Guinness Book of Film Facts and Feats (Second Edition) says it is the 1939 movie Destry Rides Again. Other places have answered the 1930 movie  Viennese Nights, the 1934 movie Crime of Passion or the 1941 movie The Wolf Man.

We’ll have a podcast devoted to examining pre-title sequences.

The Use of Masks

Another thing the pre-title gives us is the use of a mask as a disguise. Growing up, the television show “Mission: Impossible” was my first exposure to using masks as a disguise. However, the concept was not new when the TV show debuted.   In our research, there are numerous examples of shows that predated “Mission: Impossible” with using the mask. Masks have historically been used mainly for two purposes in the movies:

  1. Cover some sort of disfigurement (like in The Phantom of the Opera or Mystery of the Wax Museum).
  2. To deceive someone into believing a person is someone else (like in Star of Midnight, Peter Gunn, From Russia With Love, and The List of Adrian Messenger)

Obviously, Mission: Impossible uses the second approach.

We will provide a more thorough examination of the use of masks in movies and television in a future podcast on the topic.

 

Title Sequence

This mask scene spills into the title sequence. The title appears to be designed to further hook the tv show fans.   First, there is Lalo Schifrin’s wonderful “Mission: Impossible Theme” song and the lit fuse which instantly brings the viewer back to the TV series. Lalo’s awesome theme: It’s back.

The next part of the title sequence keeps the nostalgia going. As the music plays and the opening title credits are shown, snippets from the rest of the movie are shown. This lets us in on who some of the characters we will see are, as well as giving us a glimpse of some of the upcoming action. Not too much, just a tease.   The TV series did this as well in its opening titles.   It’s a nice touch they carried over for this movie but unfortunately didn’t carry it over to Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III. We wonder why they didn’t, but they brought it back starting with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.

One thing about the snippets that hits home for me is how it feels like an overture to the movie, much like a Broadway musical usually has an overture to get you familiar with the music and make you want to hear more.   This title sequence gives the audience a taste and makes us want more.

Mission Briefing

There are a few nuggets for the tv fan here as well:

First, we get the recording that explains the mission.

Second, we are reintroduced to Jim Phelps, the only character returning from the television show. Peter Graves played him in the TV series.   In this movie, he is played by John Voight. He is the character who quarterbacks the mission. Peter Graves was asked to do a cameo in the first movie but declined after finding out what they do to his character in the movie. We’ll talk about that with the clip of Jim Phelps and Ethan at the restaurant.

Finally, we get the description of the mission, the team gets identified, and “Your mission Jim, should you choose to accept it”/“As always, should you or any member of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow all knowledge of your actions”/” This tape will self-destruct in 5 seconds” are all brought forward for the Mission: Impossible fan. Yes, Yes, and Yes. They have the taped mission that self-destructs, they have the “your mission should you choose to accept it”, and the disavowed message.   This movie feels like it is on the right track. In the television show, there was the Tape Scene (“Your mission should you choose to accept it”) followed by the Dossier Sequence (putting the team together in the first 2 seasons).   These are combined in the movie with the assignment and team designation all in one tape.

The good part about the pre-title sequence, titles, and mission briefing is that if you remember the tv show, you’ll feel nostalgic.   However, if you don’t know the tv show, you are still getting what you need to know as these sequences set the movie plot very well.

Two little fun facts regarding the heritage of parts of this revolve around the “This tape will self-destruct” and “the Secretary will disavow …” phrases:

In the “Mission: Impossible” television series and movie the phrase “This tape will self-destruct” is used after the mission is described. The television show debuted in 1966. In the 1962 movie, Dr. No, M tells James Bond says, “I’ll have a set of background papers to date delivered to you at the airport in a self-destructor bag”. This is the first discussion we’ve found in a spy movie about self-destructing background material.   We aren’t positive Mission: Impossible took this and ran with it or it is just a coincidence.

There is also the phrase: “should you or any member of your IM Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your action”. This concept appears to be an adaptation of something that happened in an earlier spy movie.   The 1959 movie, called Operation Amsterdam is based on a true story, where the leader who is sending three men out on this mission says: “Incidentally… if you’re caught… we cannot help you.”   They were to get the industrial diamonds out of Holland before the Germans could get them and build more tanks and planes and machinery.

So, the self-destructor bag from Dr. No and “Incidentally… if you’re caught…” came from earlier movies and were enhanced in Mission: Impossible.   We will see this played out again in the vault scene later in the movie.

And one more fun fact: The lighter that Jim uses on the plane when he gets the mission is a Dunhill Rollagas which is a lighter used in many James Bond films. It’s the same brand of lighter as the one 007 gets as a gift from Della and Felix in Licence to Kill.

Apartment Sequence

In the Television show, there is a scene which shows “The Plan” which is created in a safe house. This second half of this mission briefing scene assigns tasks to the team members.   This is a common scene in the television show. In the movie version, this scene pretty much follows the format of the television series. Jim Phelps explains the first mission to the team. However, in the television show, Jim picked his team.   In this movie, the team is assigned to Jim.

Jack Harmon and the Gadgets

At about 9 minutes into the movie, Jack Harmon shows Sarah Davies the glasses with the camera embedded in the frame.   Jack is the guy who can “hack into any security system” according to the Mission Briefing. At about 10 minutes, 18 seconds is a 20-second piece which shows Jack giving Ethan the explosive red/green gum.   He is uncredited and is played by Emilio Estevez.

Jack’s role is like that of Q from the James Bond films and Barney Collier from the Mission: Impossible television show. He’s the gadget guy.   He seems to me to be closer to the type of Q as Ben Whishaw plays in Skyfall and Spectre, rather than Desmond Llewelyn’s version in 17 of the earlier Bond films. With both Whishaw’s Q and Emilio Estevez’s Jack Harmon, only a few gadgets are used, but they always seem to be just what’s needed for key parts of the mission. Desmond’s Q seemed to have a gadget for everything.   One difference, however, is that Ben is more about the business and relatively serious most times. Jack likes to crack jokes.   I can’t imagine either Ben or Desmonds’ Q saying “Hasta lasagna, don’t get any on ya” as Jack does.

First Mission

The first mission, as explained by the briefing is to get the NOC (Non-Official Cover) list from Golitsyn. From the movie: “we photograph Golitsyn stealing the NOC list, follow him to his buyer, apprehend both of them”.

One interesting tidbit may tie the 1996 movie Mission: Impossible with The List of Adrian Messenger other than how the masks are used.   In the movie Mission: Impossible, the voice on the mission briefing tape tells the team their mission is to arrest Alexander Golitsyn. Golitsyn supposedly sold half of the NOC list and plans to steal the other half.   The NOC (Non-Official Cover list has agents’ real names with their code names. Golitsyn’s name appears to be an homage to one of two people: the famed art director, Alexander Golitzen or the Soviet KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn. We’ve been unable to confirm which one. Among Mr. Golitzen’s 336 credits in IMDB, is the 1963 movie The List of Adrian Messenger, the movie with all the masks. Although his immediate family took the spelling Golitzen (note the ‘e’), his family name is originally spelled Golitsyn, the same as the movie character is spelled in the credits. The Golitsyn family has royal roots in Russia back to the 1600s. Anatoli Golitsyn defected from Russia in 1961 and wrote two books on KGB leadership practices.

This scene starts at the Embassy in Prague at a party. Ethan Hunt poses as US Senator John Waltzer, chair of the US Armed Services. He has a mask to make him look like the senator.

The mission starts out fine but goes bad fast.   Ethan Hunt and Sarah Davies get the picture of Golitsyn stealing the NOC list. Things start to go bad as Jack Harmon struggles to get the systems working.   In fact, he has such troubles that he ends up dying from an elevator gone rogue. Jim Phelps tells the team that someone is on to them and to abort the mission. He runs across the bridge, gets shot and falls in the water.   The rest of Ethan’s team gets killed, except for Ethan Hunt and Claire.   At least that’s what we are led to believe.   However, later we find out that Jim Phelps survived too.

One nice touch is that Jack Harmon has been billed as a guy who can hack into any system.   I’ve spent 30 years in the Information Technology field and I hate it when a movie has someone hack into anything in 2 seconds and never have any problems.   Jack struggles, in part due to Jim’s efforts, but this would be closer to reality than we normally see in movies.

This scene shows us the mission as it goes awry. We find out what happened later, but the technique used here is to fool the audience (and the IMF team) and make them think they are seeing one thing while another thing is happening.

The “Mission: Impossible” television show relied on confidence games.   The original production team members were big fans of the book “The Big Con” and the movie The Sting.   The characters in the show and the person reading or watching would get fooled into believing they were seeing one thing and really another thing was going on.   The television show used that technique often.   This mission is one of those scenarios as we will discuss in the Restaurant Scene discussion.

Restaurant Scene

In the television series, it was not uncommon for IMF agents to turn to the other side and go bad.   The main plot of each show was generally to catch these turncoats. This definitely gets carried over into the movie.

In this scene, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) meets with Kittridge (Henry Czerny) at the Akvárium restaurant after the failed mission. Kittridge lets Ethan Hunt know that the mission was really a decoy.   There was a suspicion that one of the agents had turned to the other side.   The mission really was a set-up with another IMF team monitoring Jim Phelps’ team. Ethan Hunt called it a Mole Hunt.

The CIA had intercepted a message from someone named Max who wanted to buy the NOC List from the turned agent. Max called it Job 314.   Job 314 ended up being the attempted stealing of the NOC List in the first mission in the film.   Kittridge tells Ethan that he is the prime suspect with the words: “and like you said, you survived”.   Ethan freaks out and uses the only gadget he got from Jack Harmon to escape the restaurant.

The gadget Ethan uses is an explosive device that he throws onto a very large aquarium.   This is scene is very well-done ending with the aquarium exploding and the contents flood the area as Ethan escapes. There is a mix of reality and some CGI but it is handled well.

The use of exploding or crashing aquariums is not new. Examples of this can be found in many films that predate Mission: Impossible.  In James Bond’s Octopussy, around the 1:19:12, Bond disposes of the chainsaw henchman by crashing his head into a fish tank (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF5_WqbTmW8),). In License to Kill, a guard shoots the fish tank, Bond uses this to help get the upper hand in this fight. At about 50 seconds into this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmqtWW1U3iM. The films Lethal Weapon 2, Duece Bigalow: Male Gigalow, Total Recall, Push, Eraser, Jackie Chan’s First Strike, and A Low-Down Dirty Shame all have scenes where aquariums are destroyed as part of the plot.   One interesting curiosity is that Mission: Impossible 1, Eraser and Jackie Chan’s First Strike were all released in the same year (1996), making this a very bad year for aquariums.

 

Finding Max

After the meeting with Kittridge, Ethan decides that he really must steal the NOC List in order to catch Max and hopefully figure out who the turned agent is. Therefore, he must find Max. When he is trying to find Max online, Ethan comes to the realization that Job 314 is really JOB 3:14 from the Bible.   He sees a Bible in the safe house and reads JOB 3:14. He uses this to track Max online and sets up a meeting.

It is a bit funny to watch this scene 20 years after the movie’s release.   The searches that Ethan does are quite comical by today’s standards.   Most of this film holds up over time, but this scene really shows its age. In fact, the email address Ethan uses isn’t even technically possible to use.

Meeting with Max

In their first meeting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTHVmd87QrY ), Ethan tells Max that he is going to steal the NOC list and wants to be paid for it. Although he is really going to steal the NOC List, this is only a setup so that he can catch whoever the turncoat agent is. He warns Max that the disc she got from the first mission was likely booby-trapped to let the CIA know the location of whoever tried to load the data file.   Max doesn’t believe him, but the CIA shows up and Max, her team, and Ethan barely get away. This sets up the trust between Max and Ethan.

The NOC list heist

Although Mission: Impossible is a spy movie, 11 and a half minutes of it are a heist.

The NOC List is a file on a computer at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.   The room or vault where the computer lives is very heavily protected (sound, touch, temperature sensors) which requires a gutsy heist in order to get the file.   They decide that the only way to get to the computer with the file is to enter the vault from above.  They’ll have Ethan lowered into the vault without him touching anything, except the keyboard. Tom Cruise does this scene himself and is my favorite scene in the movie. It even has the “oops, I almost fell” part where Kreiger lets the rope slip. Ethan almost hits the ground. I can’t think of a movie that has a high-tension scene like this one that doesn’t have the “we almost blew it” part added to it.

This scene is obviously modeled after the work of Jules Dassin. Dassin was the director of the 1964 heist movie, Topkapi.   He received two Academy Award nominations for this movie and Peter Ustinov won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Jules also directed the 1955 heist movie Rififi (He won Best Director at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival for this movie).  The heist scenes in these two movies have key ideas that are used in the heist in Mission: Impossible 1.   All 3 movies have lengthy planning discussions around how to deal with the alarm and how sensitive the room is to sound, and the floor is to touch in the case of Topkapi and Mission: Impossible 1. All 3 of the heists have the robbers coming into the area from the ceiling.

Prior to the release of Rififi, Jules Dassin got tangled up in the Hollywood Blacklist in the late 40s and 50s.

One of the most noticeable ideas used in all 3 movies is the lack of a score and almost total silence during the 3 heists.

In Rififi, the robber climbs down a rope into the area to be robbed. The heist takes up almost 30 minutes of movie time and not a word is spoken, nor is a score played.  There are whatever natural noises appearing in terms of footsteps and the like.   However, this scene is extremely quiet. This really added to the tension of the scene. It also caused some buzz when the movie was released as it was a very novel way to put a scene like that together.   Who has silence for almost 30 minutes in a non-silent movie? And it works…wonderfully.

Topkapi’s heist, on the other hand, is mostly silent, but there is some brief dialogue between the robbers. Again, there is no score. In the Mission: Impossible 1 heist, there is more background noise in the scenes interspersed with William Donloe’s “stomach problems”.  However, in the vault itself, there is very little dialogue and noise.

The other key elements from Topkapi’s heist have to do with how they enter the robbery area.   In Topkapi, the robber (Giulio played by Gilles Ségal) is lowered headfirst from the ceiling using ropes.  In Mission: Impossible 1, Ethan is lowered in headfirst via cable. In both Topkapi and Mission: Impossible 1 the robber then spins and goes from head-first to a horizontal suspension in the air.   Both movies also have the rope slip and the robber just misses hitting the floor, which would sound the alarms. In Topkapi, Giulio has a very large light attached to his head.   In Mission: Impossible 1, Ethan has a much smaller light attached to his head. After seeing the light in Mission: Impossible 1 it is almost comical to see the huge light in Topkapi.   It just goes to show how technology changes in a 25-year timespan.

Figuring it out

After the heist in Langley, Ethan sees that the Bible he used in the safe house was stamped “PLACED BY THE GIDEONS IN THE DRAKE HOTEL CHICAGO” (at 1:15:40 in the film). This is where he figures out what really happened and that Jim Phelps is the turncoat.   In the Apartment Sequence earlier in the film, Ethan Hunt tells Jim Phelps that they missed him in Kiev, and Jack Harmon asks, “were you on some cushy recruiting assignment again?” When Ethan asks, “Where did they put you up this time, The Plaza?” Jim answers, “The Drake Hotel. Chicago.”   Ah, yes, “24-hour room service, chauffeured cars . . .”.  It seems like a little background info for us as to the fact the team has been in Kiev, Jim was not, and Jim was in Chicago at The Drake Hotel. Ethan figured that if Jim was looking at the Bible from the Drake Hotel, it was to communicate with Max. This comes out in the scene with Jim and Ethan at the restaurant.

The Drake Hotel

Now, The Drake Hotel does not appear in the movie– no shots of the Drake actually appear in the movie.   The Drake Hotel in Chicago is an outstanding hotel, and many dignitaries from US Presidents to foreign dignitaries have stayed there, so it is a classy and classic hotel. Princess Diana, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, Joe Dimaggio and Marilyn Monroe (both of whose initials carved in the bar in the Cape Cod Room were still there until the restaurant closed in 2017), When Prohibition ended, The Coq d’Or (on-premises) served the second drink in Chicago at 8:30 PM on Wednesday, December 6, 1933.

But even though it is never shown in the movie, this is one hotel that has a huge impact on the movie and the entire storyline!  Do you remember Ethan Hunt discovers the Job 314 actually refers to the Bible, Job, Chapter 3 Verse 14?     And when he finds the Bible in Jim’s possessions, he opens it and sees that it on the left-hand inner page it is stamped: “Placed By the Gideons in The Drake Hotel Chicago.” This draws Ethan into thinking that perhaps the mole is Jim, and this piece of spy work forever changes the outcome of the story.   So, for a hotel whose image never appears in the movie, it has a huge impact on the movie until the end.

We thought it would be good to take a visit to the hotel in Chicago and see what this place is all about since it played such a prominent role in the movie while never actually appearing in it.

The exterior of the building is refined 1920s elegance.   On the corner of Michigan Avenue (The Magnificent Mile) and Walton Street, not far from the famed Lake Shore Drive, The Drake stands as an iconic high-end offering, with three restaurants, a bar and more.

An interesting fact about the bible can be seen when Ethan Hunt finds the Bible stamped with The Drake Hotel Chicago in it. You can barely make out on the right-hand page, second paragraph words that look like “NEW. International” referring to the version of the Bible.   So, we think the Bible is just a prop because the Gideons do not distribute the NEW International Version of the Bible.   We called them and asked!   They distribute only the King James Version or the English Standard Version.

We tried to take a look at a real Drake Hotel Bible, but they did not have one we could look at.

So, The Drake Hotel provides THE clue in Mission: Impossible 1 yet the building never makes a screen appearance! All this makes Ethan Hunt ask, “Why Jim?   Why?”

Restaurant with Jim Phelps

Jim Phelps tracks down Ethan and has a discussion in a restaurant explaining that Kittridge was really the mole. While he talks through how Kittridge did it, clips are shown with what really happened. This is where the audience sees that Jim was really the mole.   Ethan plays along, even though he knows Jim is the mole. He lets Jim explain why someone would become a mole and doesn’t let Jim know that Ethan is on to him.

As we’ve discussed elsewhere, there definitely was an attempt to pull the television show fans into this movie.   However, when I saw this in the theater, this scene really made me mad. I was very mad that Jim was the bad guy and had turned.   Yes, in the television show, many of the bad guys were agents, but Jim was always the good guy.   Why would you bring his character back into this movie only to make him the bad guy?   It made the twist very effective but really made me mad.

Train Scenes

After Ethan gets the NOC List, he needs to meet with Max and the mole so they can catch the mole (Jim Phelps).   This second meeting with Max happens on a high-speed train that is to cross the English Channel. The train provides three scenes that are really the climax of the movie.

The first scene has Ethan providing the NOC list to Max. Max had paid Ethan for the NOC List and wanted to upload it. Luther uses an electronic jamming device to keep Max from uploading the file before they hit the Chunnel.   Given that this was filmed in 1996 and that they were on a moving train, one can imagine how slow the phone line was that Max was trying to use.

The next scene is where it gets really fun.   Claire walks into the luggage room on the train and sees Jim.   She talks with Jim about how he is the mole and how they will set up Ethan and take the money.   At this point, Jim stands up and PULLS OFF A MASK.   In reality, she had been talking with Ethan. Ethan had made Claire believe he was Jim with the use of the mask. Then the real Jim walks out from behind another section of the luggage car.   Ethan gives her the money and then puts on a pair of glasses with a camera built-in, letting Jim know that Kittridge has seen that he was still alive.   Jim then kills Claire and has a quick fight with Ethan before escaping out of the

The climax of the movie occurs on the outside of the train. This is a fantastic use of CGI and real footage.   In this scene, Jim is trying to escape to a helicopter piloted by Krieger.  It has some exciting footage of the helicopter attached to the train and the action continues into the tunnel.   It is hard to believe that in reality, the helicopter would have been able to fly like that in a tunnel, but it makes for some great drama.

The final shot of this scene is of the train conductor, brilliantly played by David Schneider, looking up after the train stops and then he faints. The look on his face says it all.  There are some reviews I’ve read saying that this was the worst piece of the movie.   However, David’s look worked for me.

Trains are used a lot in movies as they are a confined space with no easy escape (maybe except for Silver Streak). A few movies keep the action inside the train.   For instance, in James Bond’s From Russia With Love, there is a tremendous fight scene between Bond and Red Grant.   That scene happens inside the train.   Skyfall has a nice exterior fight scene. The Wolverine has something somewhat similar (ok there is no helicopter) using a bullet train with Wolverine on top of the train in a fight with Yakuza. From what we’ve been able to find, the 1926 Buster Keaton film The General and 1929 movie The Flying Scotsman were the first movies to show action with a person on the outside of a moving train.

The Ending

The movie wraps with Kittridge talking with Max and letting her know that she isn’t going to be arrested.   They really wanted Jim.   Luther and Ethan have a quick chat talking about moving forward.   Finally, Ethan is on the plane. The flight attendant asks him the same question that they asked Jim before he got the taped mission at the beginning of the movie: “Excuse me, Mr. Hunt, would you like to watch a movie”. He is going to get his next assignment.

This scene confused me. In the discussion with Luther, Ethan said he was done and not going to go back to the IMF. Then, on his flight, he gets his next assignment.   Is this a continuity error or is it like in The Godfather 3: “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in”? Fortunately, he does go back letting the film series continue.

In the Bond series, James Bond usually gets a bit of time off after a mission.   It looks like Ethan Hunt gets to jump from one mission to the next.

 

 

 

 


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Mission: Impossible – Fallout

When an IMF mission to recover plutonium ends badly, the world is faced with the threat of the Apostles, a terrorist organization formed by former members of the Syndicate. As Ethan Hunt takes it upon himself to fulfill the original mission, the CIA begins to question his loyalty and his motives.

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Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, editorial content, spy movies, espionage, spy movie podcasts, Tom CruiseEthan and the entire IMF are blamed for the bombing of the Kremlin while investigating an individual known only as “Cobalt” (Michael Nyqvist). He and three other agents are left to stop him from starting a global nuclear war.

All About Spy Movies – SpyMovieNavigator

Podcast Episode

All About Spy Movies – SpyMovieNavigator

Find out what we are doing at SpyMovieNavigator.com and how we are building a Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans! Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato explain the roots of SpyMovieNavigator and how this whole thing got started, and how we are looking to you, our users and listeners, to contribute your ideas, discussions, photos, videos and more to this new community!

All About spy movies!  Find out what we are doing at SpyMovieNavigator.com & how we are building a Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans.

Dan Silvestri and Tom Pizzato explain the roots of SpyMovieNavigator and how this whole thing got started, and how we are looking to you, our users and listeners, to contribute your ideas, discussions, photos, videos and more to this new community!

We think there are at least 4 main genres of spy movies, and we want to create a place to discuss all of them and how they are interrelated. We will start with these four: James Bond, Mission: Impossible, Jason Bourne, Best of the Rest.  We are all about spy movies!

Keep checking back on our Podcasts page or Subscribe on iTunes for Apple devices, or on Google Play.

Come hear how we see these genres and how you can help build the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans.  Give us your input after listening, do we have the genres right?  Do you have a genre of spy movies you’d like to see included?  What works and how can we make it better?

 

Related Content

SPY MOVIE NAVIGATOR – ALL ABOUT SPY MOVIES

This transcript is a subset of what is in the podcast.  We recommend you listen to the podcast.

Did you ever wonder how you can navigate your way through the genre of spy movies like Bond, Bourne, Mission: Impossible and the best of all the rest? Well, we did too! So, join us now and we’ll all become spy movie navigators!

SECTION 1
This is Dan Silvestri (and Tom Pizzato) at SpyMovieNavigator.com, the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans! Spy movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more!
Dan: We’re big spy movie fans. When we look online, we see a bunch of sites dedicated to James Bond and not much else.

This is frustrating as there are hundreds of spy movies that have been made. But how are they interrelated? What are their origins? Can scenes and themes be found in other spy movies? And how have these spy movies influenced each other?

We think there are at least 4 main genres of spy movies and we want to create a place to discuss all of them and how they are interrelated. We will start with these 4.
Tom: Obviously one genre is James Bond. The others are the Mission: Impossible and Jason Bourne series and one we’re calling The Best of the Rest. This Best of the Rest is a category of other spy movies other than the Big 3. In this genre, we think of things like Hitchcock’s 1935 film The 39 Steps which is generally regarded as the first spy movie, 1962’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold to more modern films like the 2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and even Atomic Blonde, American Assassin and Red Sparrow which made spy movies a lot more bloody and gore.

Yeah, Tom – you mentioned The 39 Steps – in that film, you see for the first time a helicopter pursuing the target – of course, we are going to see this in many spy films to come including, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me, SPECTRE, Mission: Impossible 1 (1996), Mission: Impossible Fallout, and others.

There are dozens of great spy movies that fall into this category. We’ll pick out what we think are the best and what we think have impacted other spy movies in both subtle and big ways.
And we want your participation! Part of what we are doing is building a worldwide community of spy movie fans. Maybe you’re a Bourne fan and don’t like Bond, or you like Bond and Mission: Impossible but not Bourne, or maybe you like some spy movies from the main three genres and others outside the main three. Starting with the first 4 genres, we will cover over 50 films. We will have something for all spy movie fans, and we will continue to grow the site by adding more movies or genres that we find are great, or relevant ones you suggest. A category for spy comedies (like Our Man in Havana, Austin Powers, Kingsmen, Burn After Reading, Spies Like Us, etc.)? Films based on John Le Carre and or Tom Clancy novels? Together with you, our spy movie fas community, we will see what missions are ahead for us all!

We will look for interconnections, relationships, unique concepts, and key scenes in all these genres so that we can all learn something new. As an example, if you’ve seen Thunderball have you also seen the 1958 film The Silent Enemy? The Silent Enemy brought the underwater ‘henchman sled’ called underwater chariots to the big screen 7 years before Thunderball. And they are launched from a ship, as later in Thunderball they are being launched from the villain, Largo’s boat, the Disco Volante. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s a fabulous movie based on a true World War II espionage story.

We are looking for you, as part of our spy movie fan community, to contribute your ideas, insights, and photos to this effort and to the overall distribution of this info through our SpyMovieNavigator digital properties. Think of it as a two-way street, with info constantly going out and new info coming in – SpyMovieNavigator is partnering with our community of spy movie fans to gain new insights, see new connections, and have some fun together talking about spy movies!

SECTION 2
You know, Goldfinger was released in December 1964 in the USA, in New York, then Hollywood. Its general-release was January 9th. This was the third EON Production James Bond 007 film released. Well, I’m back in high school, but a few buddies and I wanted to see Goldfinger. I literally lived about 6 or 7 blocks from my high school, an old Italian neighborhood, that was maybe a few miles from downtown Chicago. So, one day, we executed our own spy missions – we cut class – we thought we were very clever – took the bus to downtown Chicago and saw Goldfinger! Loved it – loved everything about it, hooked on Bond early! Well, the only flaw in our plan, was the guy who was supposed to cover for us and doctor-up the attendance sheets, chickened out. We got caught by the school, who informed our parents and we got punished by both – oh my – but was it ever worth it!
Hooked on spies, of course, I had to watch all the television shows that followed like, “The Saint” (which began in 1962 and went through 1969), “The Man from UNCLE” (1964-1968), “Mission: Impossible” (1966- 1973), “The Avengers” (1961 – 1969) – these were the ones I watched diligently.

Of course, “The Saint”, which starred Roger Moore, and “The Avengers,” which starred Diana Rigg have obvious connections to later Bond films – Roger Moore of course becoming Bond for 7 movies, and Diana Rigg as Tracy di Vincenzo who marries Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

I also like some of the TV shows around that time frame. [Tom tells his first Bond story]
Bond in the 60s was dominant. People were reading the Fleming books and waiting for the next movies. In the US – President Kennedy at the time, put the Bond novel, “From Russia With Love,” on his Top 10 favorite book list – which made the Fleming novels explode in the US. We read all the Ian Fleming novels on Bond too, and just recently visited The Lilly Library at Indiana University where they own 11 of the original Ian Fleming Bond manuscripts and we were able to spend 1 and a half days examine hundreds of type-written pages by Fleming, along with his ink corrections, changes, name changes, title changes and more. On one page, “Miss Pettavel” was scratched out. The name Pettavel was based on a real person Ian Fleming knew, named Pettigrew. But when he scratched it out . . . he penned in, “Moneypenny!” Oh my God – here the name we all know and love was first introduced into the Bond novels! That was a genuinely remarkable experience touching the pages of Bond as Fleming wrote it. We would highly recommend a visit there for any spy movie fan, but especially for Bond fans. Remarkable! A guy had been there a few months before us going through all the manuscripts looking for what watches Bond wore and wrote an article on timepieces that was an international hit.

SECTION 3
The seed of SpyMovieNavigator was planted . . . . not that long ago – Tom and I went on a trip a while back to Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium and then to Normandy in France, to the beaches of D-Day. As an aside, everyone should set foot on the beaches in Normandy to realize what the allies sacrificed for the freedom of the world. It is moving, touching, heart-wrenching.

While in Switzerland, Tom and I spent a week traveling all over by train and cable car – Zurich, Geneva, Interlaken, and then we went up to Murren, (about a 5,300-foot elevation), up into the Swiss Alps. Long, beautiful cable-car ride up, then a small train to the town with gorgeous scenery all around. It was like being in a National Geographic magazine. Just spectacular beauty!

Tom loved the cable car – not really. All around the area were beautiful little towns, like Lauterbrunnen, Grindewald, Trummelbach Falls, and Schilthorn. Well, we were now close to some of the action from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – the 6th EON Productions James Bond 007 movie! The car chase where Tracy drives her red, 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7, with Bond as a passenger through the stock car race on ice and snow, trying to escape the henchmen of Blofeld, took place right in the parking lot area of Lauterbrunnen (in the Bern region)! That was a small cable car ride, so we went! And immediately we thought, this was very, very cool to be on the location of a Bond film scene, from one of our favorite Bond movies.

ANECDOTE: And we took another small down from Wengen to Grindelwald. And the wind was swaying us around a lot as we descended, In fact, when we got to the station, we got out and they closed the lift because of the wind! But we got to the spot where the ice rink was that where Tracy, who was skating, meets up with Bond, who was sitting on a bench, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Very Bond-like – we just made it!

We were only going to be in Murren for two days. We stayed at the Eiger Hotel, which was terrific. Beautiful views, great restaurant, nice little bar. We found out some of the actors and crew hung around here during filming and had a few cocktails and gambled a bit playing cards with each other. So, we, of course, had to dine and sit at the bar and have a few cocktails. The lift was closed that went up to Schilthorn due to bad weather. Piz Gloria is up there – the Blofeld headquarters where he has his “allergy research institute” but where he is brainwashing women who will deliver a deadly virus to the world.

Disappointed it was inaccessible, we watched around the clock when it might open again – they had monitors in the hotel lobby that tracked the status of all the cable lifts. In the morning it did open, and we went up to Piz Gloria at Schilthorn – another 4000 -5,000 feet up! Now we were where a lot of action took place in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – the Blofeld headquarters, the outdoor section where the women were curling, and where Bond tried it and slipped, and where he later slides as he is shooting Blofeld’s henchmen during the assault on Piz Gloria by Bond and Draco, inside where Bond walks up the steps with the gold, ornate metalwork making a barrier to the stairway he ascends – we were here! OK, now we are hooked. From this moment, we thought tons of people around the world who are spy movie fans would love to be here – and here we were! One of the Top 10 Bond film locations in the world! So, as the wheels turned on the cable car ride back down, they also started turning for SpyMovieNavigator.

Hook, line, and sinker. We were going to do something with spy movies!

SECTION 4
One summer, I went to Prague, to visit my daughter who was on a study-abroad program and had to head to Charles Bridge. Plenty was filmed here for Mission: Impossible 1 and The Bourne Identity (2002), and some Bond stuff too. I got a picture of the Charles Bridge standing in the exact location the cameraman was in for a Mission: Impossible shot! So exciting. Was on the bridge where Phelps in Mission: Impossible 1 fell over the edge! FUN!!

In the Caribbean, Tom with his family had visited Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica, which features in Dr. No –  and I had visited with my family and climbed the falls. Very cool again to be in such an iconic spot from Dr. No! Where Honey Rider and James Bond were standing!

So, after our Switzerland trip, we thought we’d do an exploratory trip to a few other spy movie locations. So recently, Tom and I headed to Portugal, Sardinia Italy, Amsterdam and London to visit a few more film locations! On that trip alone, we got to over 50 Bond and spy movie locations. We met with Caroline Munro, who played Naomi, the assistant of Stromberg, in The Spy Who Loved Me; the person who comes to collect Bond who was posing as an oceanographer – Mr. Sterling, to bring him to Stromberg; and the pilot of the helicopter who tries to shoot Bond as he escapes in the Lotus Esprit – becoming the first woman Bond kills in the movies!

This trip was spy movie heaven. In Portugal, we wanted to visit the rest of the major scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and so we set out to find all the key locations. So, in Lisbon:

• We wanted to find in the pre-title sequence where Bond was driving – before you knew he was Bond – him driving his Aston, just see his head, hat, him lighting a cigarette. We found the exact spot where he is driving in the beginning, in a town called Cascais. We on the spot where the camera was shooting the scene! Very nice!

• We next wanted to find where Tracy’s car passes Bond up and the chase begins. And we found it on a road near Cabo du Roca, Portugal.

• Praia Do Guincho: the beach where Bond saves Tracy from killing herself, gets in a fight, where Tracy escapes in her car, and where Bond looks at the camera and says: “This never happened to the other fellow.”

• We found the jewelry shop where Tracy saw a beautiful ring, and where Bond later went back to purchase the ring which became her wedding ring. We wandered a bit and found Palacio dos Marqueses de Fronteira.  The place with the beautiful gardens and statuary that Bond and Tracy were strolling in the montage.  This is where they fall in love (Bond and Tracy – gardens, fountains, cat, star fountain). This was very cool.

• Next, we found the 25th of April Bridge – the bridge that Draco’s guys drive over when they kidnap Bond to bring him to Draco.

• We even got to where the mansion where the wedding reception took place in the front courtyard, and the bullpen where Draco’s birthday party was held – sooooo cool!

• And we found the exact road and spot where Tracy was killed as Bond pulled over to remove the flowers from the car after the wedding.

• And lots more – we have a podcast just on this trip – it was so fun.

OK – we are in as deep as we can get and there is no getting out!

So, we started SpyMovieNavigator.com and our social media digital properties to reach out to the worldwide community of spy movie fans to create a place to congregate, discuss, gain and contribute insights, share photos, videos and more. We are the place to come to if you are a spy movie fan because 1000s like us will come as well. SpyMovieNavigator is THE place for fans from all over the world to come – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans!!

SECTION 5
How we are Doing It
Did you ever take a look at YouTube for a particular spy movie of interest? Well, check out Dr. No on YouTube. There are literally dozens, maybe even hundreds, of clips on this movie alone.  The same is true of dozens and dozens of other spy movies. So, you can spend a very long time finding meaningful clips about the movie, and when you do, they are scattered all over the place in random order.

So, here is what we are doing with some of the best spy movies, on our website, SpyMovieNavigator.com. On our website, we are “curating” spy movies, from the main spy movie genres – Bond, Bourne, Mission: Impossible, and The Best of the Rest.

What we are doing, is scouring through those YouTube clips, finding the best ones that represent key scenes in the movies (not the whole movies of course), assembling them in chronological order as they would appear in the film, then include our editorial comments, insights about why this scene is important to the film, how this film or scene impacts other spy movie films or scenes to follow, and how other spy movies or real-life incidents that preceded these movies may have influenced the film we are looking at.

So, you can go to any genre category, like 007, Bourne, Mission: Impossible, of the Best of the Rest category and see the clips, and read the editorial commentaries and insights for each clip. If you’re a spy movie fan, we know you will love this approach. Of course, we always look for your insights as well and will promote the exchange of ideas via forums and our Facebook chats. We may even use your insights on the site!

In short, we will all learn something new from the “curated” films, which is a unique approach to looking at spy movies in general. We are building a Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans and you’re invited!

SECTION 6
Podcasts
One of our main vehicles for delivering this content is podcasting.  We will create podcasts on many spy movie topics and try to dig deep into the subject matter as best we can. Throughout our treatment of spy movies, we will integrate our podcasts that cover the curated movie or mention that movie.

For example, the Dr. No podcast is an expansion of the written curated section on the website for the film. We will have podcasts on all of the curated films, if you want to listen to them on the go, as well as podcasts on many spy movie topics that will cover multiple films at the same time, like chase scenes in spy movies, train scenes, how real-life events find their way into spy movies, how one has influenced others, why Mission: Impossible might challenge Bond for dominance, podcasts of our trips to spy movie locations, we’ll have interviews with authors and movie personnel, and dozens and dozens more topics. We will interrelate within each podcast how other spy movies may have influenced a scene, or where an idea that we see here may have come from in another spy movie, or how this movie will influence future spy movies. We will weave a unique story, and try to offer some new insights into specific scenes or movies as we examine each.

One Benefit of the podcast format is that you download them giving you a mobile listening capability, listen on the go!

We have about a hundred ideas, some completed already and others in the works! We are constantly developing relationships with key people in the industry to bring you the best. ! As we mentioned at the beginning of this podcast, and we can’t stress this enough we will look for your suggestions, guidance and, most importantly, contributions and insights on an ongoing basis! After all, we are a community!

SECTION 7
Filming Locations
One big area of interest for Dan and for me are filming locations.

Going to a place where they filmed scenes from movies and trying to figure out exactly where the camera and the actors were standing is magical to us. We have a lot of fun trying to determine the exact spot of the shot. I used to think just getting to the site (or within a couple of square meters) was fine. As we’ve done this more, there is a thrill in finding the exact spot. For instance, when I arrived at the Eilean Donan castle in Scotland, I thought that was really cool. However, I soon realized I wasn’t looking at the castle from the way it was shot in The World is Not Enough. I had to find out where the camera was sitting. We had to drive up a hill to a parking location to see the castle as it was pictured in the film. My wife thought I was nuts. However, it made all the difference to me.

Ah, yeah, Tom – remember in Sardinia, Italy?  We spent about two hours locating the scene in the Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, where the motorcycle starts to chase Bond and the Russian agent XXX, as Bond is driving his Lotus Esprit.  We found it and verified it by having the movie with us on our Microsoft Surface. And remember, we saw the street where the Lotus comes into the square then exits the square? In the movie, the building that was a visual anchor had a balcony on it, but the building now did not. We walked to the building and saw where the beams had been removed that were holding up the balcony! We were there!

If you haven’t done that yet, we strongly encourage you to give it a try. To help you with this, we will have a section on the website with videos and photos we (and hopefully you) have taken at these sites.

So, let’s delve deeper into the video/photo section of the site. We will link to actual film location scenes we have visited that are associated with particular spy films, and you can see what these locations look like now, versus what they looked like when the movie was filmed.

There is something absolutely fun about being on the actual film locations for these spy movies, and we have visited about 100 spy film locations so far throughout the world.
Tom and I take specific trips to go to the spy movie film locations, and you can as well, or you can add-on a side trip when you are on vacation or a business trip somewhere in the world to visit some spy movie locations that may be right where you are visiting!
SpyMovieNavigator will present videos on our YouTube channel and on our website dealing with spy movie locations, what they look like now and what scenes were filmed there, some podcast videos, and a variety of other videos as well.

We will continue to present interesting information in unique ways, and unique information in new ways!

Since we love heading out on trips to spy movie filming locations, we also have a section on filming location tours.

We will help you get to these locations around the world! To aid you, we will be partnering with tour organizations in different parts of the world. So, when you, our community of listeners and readers, want to also go on some spy movie location tours, you can!

We are even planning to organize a super tour of our own – so let us know what we should include! Visiting spy movie filming locations has been a tremendous joy for us, and we never tire of getting to a new location for the first time and seeing exactly where they filmed a key scene from Bourne, Bond, Mission: Impossible or from the Best of the Rest spy movies. It is just fun to stand where Bond was standing for instance in Thunderball at Shrublands, or where Phelps falls of the Charles Bridge in Prague in Mission: Impossible. We’ll help find you great tour options as you vacation around the world.

SECTION 8
JAMES BOND DATABASE
Adding another exciting measure to our mission, SpyMovieNavigator has partnered with Steven Jay Rubin to bring you the largest online James Bond movie database, based on his book, “The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia!” He will have a new revision coming out sometime after Bond 25 is released too! Exciting stuff! We will also add additional spy movie information to the database as well, and you can search for all kinds of things spy movie-related online at our main website. This alone is pretty cool and will be a ton of fun for spy movie fans!  You can find this database here.

SpyMovieNavigator.com will be a fun gathering place, and our social media properties like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram will provide additional information, links to new podcast and videos, and provide, most importantly, a forum for us to discuss with each other what’s important in spy movies, gather insights you may have and can contribute, a place where you can upload your own photos and videos of you on spy movie locations, and where we can all have fun! SpyMovieNavigator.com is The Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – spy movie podcasts, videos, and discussion!

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How Events in the Real World Affect What Goes Into Spy Movies!

Related: Why Dr. No is Dr. YES for Spy Movie Fans

Related: Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 1

Related: Spy Movies & Real-World Connections – Part 2

Contributed by: Daniel Silvestri and SpyMovieNavigator.com

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Have you ever thought about how events in the real world and other movies could affect and work their way into some of our favorite spy movies?  Well, think about it a minute because that’s what we are going to explore today on Spy Movie NavigatorDownload our podcast for more details. At Spy Movie Navigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans –we are going to look at this now!

Real-world and spy movies

Let’s start by looking at some of the Bond films -  the most successful franchise in all of the spy films and a few others. The first real fact is, of course, Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from one of his favorite books, Birds of the West Indies, by…. James Bond. Dr. No was written in 1957 by Ian Fleming, published in 1958, and was his 6th James Bond novel.   The movie Dr. No, EON Production’s first Bond movie, came out in 1962.   So, here is the first instance of the real world affecting this spy movie:
  1. By 1962, both the Soviet Union and the USA were launching astronauts into space, so far ahead of the theme in the novel where the USA was launching test missiles.  In the novel, Dr. No says he is working with the Russians to disrupt American test missiles, in the movie, he is disrupting American space flights.  Also, in the movie, both the East and the West have rejected his services, and so he is a member of SPECTRE ( Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion), and not working with the Russians.  The cold war between Russia (the Soviet Union) and the US in real life was heating up by the time the movie came out, so here, the movie was influenced by real-world happenings.
  2. And, in a subtle nod to life happening,  the painting of the Duke of Wellington by Francisco de Goya was stolen August 21st, 1961 from the National Gallery in London.   It was still missing when EON Productions was filming No.  So,  In Dr. No, when Bond is in Dr. No’s [caption id="attachment_3830" align="alignright" width="229"]Duke of W@ellington National Gallery, London[/caption] lair, he walks through the lair about to step up a couple of steps, stops and looks at a painting on an easel – it is the Duke of Wellington!  So, if you are watching Dr. No and don’t realize the painting he stops to look at is this real-life stolen Duke of Wellington, you just think, ah Bond finds that painting interesting.   Once you know the real-life incident, then this adds a brilliant glow to this scene, where the writers for EON Productions were indeed very clever and inventive.   By the way, the painting was eventually recovered in real-life and now hangs in Gallery A at the National Gallery in London once again – we saw it there while visiting Gallery # 24 wherein SPECTRE, Bond meets the new Q.
From Russia With Love1963 – released in 1963 by EON Productions as their second James Bond film, and Ian Fleming’s 5th James Bond novel published in 1957 (the year the Soviets launched Sputnik, the first man-made satellite), was heavily influenced by the times – and the Cold War.   The tensions between the US and the Soviets were at an all-time high.  Remember, the Cuban Missile Crisis (the showdown between Russia and the US) was in October 1962, the year EON was filming From Russia With Love.  So, once again, EON Productions was brilliant in their release of From Russia With Love!
  • In addition, check out the book, “For Your Eyes Only – Ian Fleming + James Bond” by Ben Macintyre.  Here he tells of the attempt to murder Bond on the Orient Express by SMERSH was based on a US Naval attaché in Romania, Eugene Karp, who was more than likely trying to escape from Russian agents.  He boarded the Orient Express in Bucharest in February 1950, and his body was found in a railway tunnel near Salzburg.  It was never proven the Soviet assassins did it, but it is highly probable.
  • Even SMERSH is from the Russian Smyert Shpionam = “death to spies” – and we will see this is The Living Daylights.
  Goldfinger – 1964 released in 1964 by EON Productions as their third James Bond film, based on Ian Fleming’s 7th novel of the same name, published in 1959.  In the pre-title sequence in the movie (not written in the novel) is James Bond in a wet/dry suit emerging from the water, setting explosives, and then removing his wet suit to reveal a perfectly neat and crisp white dinner jacket, bow tie, etc.    Ah, you are thinking like we were thinking – what is the chance of that really happening or being able to happen?! Well, let’s talk to MI6 about a similar WW-II operation!  In an article by David Harrison in April 2010 for The Telegraph, he reveals that a Jeremy Duns,  a British writer, was researching a new book.  He found out that a Dutch spy used a very similar technique to infiltrate a German-occupied mansion in the Netherlands during WW-II.   From the water, he emerged in a wetsuit.  Underneath this specially designed wetsuit, he wore the evening wear.  His eveningwear would make him look like he belonged, and he could slip past the guards into the party.   He was supposed to extract two comrades and escape.   Well, Jeremy Duns thinks that a Brit screenwriter, Paul Dehn, who was called in to polish up the Goldfinger script, knew about this WW-II incident because he was a former intelligence officer in WW-II.  Hmm!   The original script did not have this scene, and, as said, it was not in the novel.     He feels it is too much of a coincidence that this scene was written into the screenplay by Paul Dehn, who most certainly was aware of this WW-II operation!  True real-life incident put into the movie! Skipping ahead, at the point in the film where Bond is captured by Goldfinger’s henchmen after another great car chase scene, Bond finds himself strapped to a metal table, as Goldfinger is about to demonstrate his new toy – a laser beam.  Here in the film, the laser beam is directed at the base of the table and is guided to rise-up between Bond’s legs, into his crotch and eventually kill him.   In the book by Fleming, published March 23 1959, there were no lasers yet – and so this device was a table saw. The laser was not invented until 1960.   And the first working laser was built on May 16, 1960, by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories based on the theoretical work of Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow. The term laser came to be an  acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.”   Again, EON Productions was brilliant at integrating a real-life happening, the invention of the laser, into this film which was being shot in 1963 for release in 1964.  And at the time, this was a very high-tech scene in Goldfinger!  We cannot think of another film of any kind using a laser before Goldfinger, so here is another first for EON Productions! This scene is famous the world over for the laser, and for the dialogue: Bond: “ You expect me to talk?”  Goldfinger” “No, Mr. Bond I expect you to die!” Thunderball – 1965 Thunderball was Ian Fleming’s 9th James Bond novel, published in 1961, and EON Production’s 4th James Bond 007 movie, which opened in 1965.   Thunderball probably would have been the first movie produced but there were some copyright issues that were delayed in the settlement.  Kevin McClory and Fleming had worked on a script that never made it to production. Fleming used part of it for Thunderball, and eventually, a settlement was reached.  Thunderball is the only early EON production movie where the producers are not listed as Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  Here they are listed as Executive Producers (which is a lesser status) and McClory is listed as the producer.   Also, McClory got the right to produce his own James Bond film based on his Thunderball contributions and eventually did Never Say Never Again which is basically the same story. But we digress!   In Thunderball SPECTRE is at it again.  So, we get away from the US versus the Soviet Union and have this other entity as the enemy again.   Remember in Dr. No we were introduced to SPECTRE. Of course, by 1961 when the novel was published, we had lots of atomic bombs in the world, and there was an arms race between the Soviet Union and the US.  So, atomic weapons were on everyone’s minds.
  1. The basis of this story is based on real-life – people were worried about nuclear war and atomic weapons. Here, two atomic weapons are hijacked by SPECTRE who threatens to destroy a major city either in the US or in the United Kingdom.  So even though EON Productions did not make this their first Bond film, in 1965 the world was very aware of the threat from major powers building up supplies of nuclear weapons.    So, the topic was hot.
  2. The skyhook, which recovers Bond and Domino at the end, is an actual real-life device developed by Robert Fulton for the CIA in the 1950s. By letting up a line from the ground with a self-inflating balloon, a specially equipped plane can fly by and scoop up the line and the one or two personnel it was designed to retrieve.  Cool!  A real-life gadget at the time.
  3. In 1956, a Soviet cruiser came to Britain, with Nikita Khrushchev on a state visit to Britain. He was the former Premier of the Soviet Union.  It was also in 1956 where, Khrushchev said: "We will bury you” while addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow on November 18, 1956.  So Soviet/Western relations were not good.   So on this visit to Britain, Britain wanted to get a look at this new Soviet ship – some reports say to examine for mine-laying hatches or sonar equipment, and other reports, like from Peter Wright’s book, “Spycatcher,”  Britain’s Naval Intelligence wanted information on the potential new propeller system this ship had.  So MI6 sent a scuba diver down (actually, two were reported as being sent) and one was a great diver, Lionel Crabb.  Crabb never returned from this mission, and a headless, handless body was found 14 months later dressed in the scuba gear he had worn on that date (April 15, 1956).  MI6 covered up the mission, saying Crabb was lost in some underwater exercise.   Many theories floated about, one being that Soviet sentries were stationed underwater to guard the ship, caught Crabb, cut his air hose and brought him aboard and he later died.  Other theories say he was shot underwater by a Soviet sniper.
Now, you will remember in Thunderball, Bond is sent to inspect the hull of the Disco Volante, Largo the villain’s boat.  Bond is discovered too by Largos frogmen, as Bond was taking photos of the hull to determine if there was an underwater hatch.   Bond, more luck than Crabb, escapes.  The photos showed an underwater hatch which leads Bond to think Largo’s entire operation (the theft of the plane carrying to nuclear missiles) might be underwater – including the plane that was hijacked.  Is there a connection between the Crabb event and these scenes in Thunderball?  The MI6 officer in charge of the Lionel Crabb underwater deployment and mission was Nicholas Elliott – a friend of Fleming’s!
  1. In the 1958 movie, Silent Enemy, (based on a true story) - 2 British battleships are sunk in Alexandria by explosives set under their hulls. The explosives, in real life, were being set by Italian scuba-divers, who were launched from a submarine using what they called, “underwater chariots” – which in Thunderball and other spy movies to come – were the underwater sleds used to transport the bombs, get divers to certain locations underwater, etc.!  In real life, they were using these underwater chariots to bring frogmen to the British ships where they would attach torpedoes and mines.  The British had to figure this out and stop it – and here, Lionel Crabb (who we mentioned earlier) was in charge of the operation to infiltrate the enemy ship, destroy their capabilities of continuing to blow up British ships!   So, in this movie we see real-life events.  Of course, we see in The Spy Who Loved Me, Stromberg’s (the villain) ship, the “Liparus,” has underwater bow hatches that capture the Soviet and US submarines (with nuclear weapons aboard).
In the same movie, Silent Enemy, ALSO, there is a great underwater battle of frogmen, cutting breathing hoses and more – just like in Thunderball and additional spy movies to come.   The Thunderball underwater scenes, filmed in the Bahamas, were set the standard for future underwater battles, and the potential connections to real-life events from World War 2 make Thunderball underwater hull investigations, and underwater battles with frogmen and underwater sleds even more grounded in reality. Also, in Thunderball, the jet pack was real and flown by Bill Suiter, who demanded using a helmet which is why Sean Connery as Bond puts on a helmet when he takes off.
  1. Though the movie came out in 1965, Fleming’s 9th novel was published in 1961. And it foreshadowed the threat of the Cuban Missile Crisis to the US Florida cities (like Miami, Cape Canaveral, etc).
  You Only Live Twice1967 Ian Fleming’s 12th novel published in 1964 (counting the For Your Eyes Only collection of short stories, and it’s the last novel published before his death), and EON Production’s 5th James Bond 007 film which opened in 1967.  The movie has little to do with the actual novel.   Here, the beginning of the movie depicts the death of James Bond, complete with an obituary in the newspapers.   There is a burial at sea for Commander Bond, and when the body sinks to the bottom of the ocean, scuba divers retrieve the body and bring it to the awaiting submarine where it is taken aboard, the wrappings open, only to reveal a live James Bond who quips, “Request permission to come aboard, Sir.” Thank God Bond is alive – we were worried, right?   His death was faked to throw off the enemy .  Of course, that means they knew who James Bond was, which is often the case, but that’s another podcast!
  1. The faked death of spies is definitely grounded in reality. Google Arkady Babchenko, faked his own death because being very critical of Vladimir Putin, he was certain that he would be killed by the KGB.  In a huge real-life situation in World War-II, Operation Mincemeat (Google it!) the Allies floated the body of a dead man with fake papers identifying him as a Captain who the Germans had been tracking. With papers indicating an invasion of Sardinia Italy and Greece instead of Sicily, to mislead the Germans.  Some stories say the fictitious name of the dead man was Captain William Martin, while other reports say the Germans were aware of the supposed dead man and felt he really knew something.  Regardless, the deception worked.  And the source of the plan came from Rear Admiral John Godfrey and his assistant, Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming.    Yep!
  2. We all remember Henderson, the contact Bond meets in Japan and who has key information, was based on Richard Hughes, a reporter and double agent who worked for Ian Fleming at one point during WW-II. Hughes did a lot of Bond-like things.  Hughes spent a great deal of time in Japan.   Hence, a great place to film this movie.  Google The extraordinary untold Japan story of ‘You Only Live Twice’ by Damian Flanigan, special to the Japan Times.   Great story!
  3. “Little Nellie,” the one-man autogiro that Bond flies to do surveillance in Japan was a real-life invention, developed by Ken Wallis, a Royal Air Force guy, in the early part of the 1960s. The one used in the movie was modified, of course.
  4. Of course, the Space Race played a part here too – the US and Soviet Union at the time were racing each other for outer space advantages and achievements. So, SPECTRE capturing Soviet and US space capsules is natural, given the times in 1967, two years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin will land on the moon on the US Apollo 11.
  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service1969 Ian Fleming’s 11th novel, published in 1963; and EON Production’s 6th James Bond 007 movie, showing in 1969.  The first Bond movies without Sean Connery, George Lazenby steps in to be Bond and to be bonded – married – to Teresa Di Vincenzo (Tracy) – played by Diana Rigg. In his mountain-top laboratory, posing as an allergy clinic, at Piz Gloria (Schilthorn, Switzerland  Blofeld is brainwashing young women to deliver a chemical agent that will stop plants and animals from reproducing- creating a tremendous food crisis.  The setting is spectacular – we have been to Piz Gloria about 10,000 feet up!
  1. In 1968, there was an experiment done by the US Army at Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. Through a malfunction of a spraying nozzle, a toxic chemical was released and almost 30 miles away, over 6,000 sheep were found dead.   There was no definitive connection to the agent released and the sheep deaths, but traces of the toxic chemical were supposedly found on the carcasses.   So, draw your own conclusion!   So, when OHMSS comes out in 1969, chemical warfare and potential devastation to life through chemicals were very much real.
  2. The Soviet Union was ramping up chemical warfare research, while the US began to downgrade ours. Again, what Blofeld was thinking was not out of the realm of possibility!
  Diamonds Are Forever – 1971 Published by Ian Fleming in 1956 as his 4th James Bond novel, EON Productions made it into their 7th James Bond 007  movie, introduced in 1971.    Here, Bond – Sean Connery comes back - infiltrates a diamond smuggling ring and prevents Blofeld and SPECTRE from developing a space-based laser weapon with the diamonds that could blow things up.  Blofeld was going to sell it to the highest bidder, so Bond had to stop the plot.
  1. So, Ian Fleming writes "Diamonds Are Forever" only 9 years after a woman copywriter for an ad agency wrote “A Diamond is Forever” for a DeBeers ad campaign, in 1947 – and it’s been in DeBeers campaigns ever since! See a great online article on this in the New York Times by J. Courtney Sullivan, May 3, 2013.
  2. The Burton-Taylor diamond, like 69 carats, purchased in 1969 made world-wide news. That, combined with Jacqueline Kennedy’s jewelry (diamonds and emeralds ) in the early 1960s put diamonds on the mind of everyone.  Coincidence or great timing by EON, the subject of diamonds was ripe for the 1971 launch of Diamonds Are Forever.
  3 Days of the Condor 1975.  Intense movie.  Influenced by Watergate (no trust of people in power) and the oil shortages prevalent in the mid-1970s. Moonraker – 1979 -  Moonraker,  Fleming’s 3rd novel, was published in 1955.   Rockets were just being developed after von Braun’s success with the Germans in World War II.   The novel is about a rocket being developed and that will be tested by Drax’s organization, with support of the British government.   By the time the movie was made by EON Productions in 1979,  the writers had to change the story.   It was 1979 and man had already been to the moon and back, the space shuttles were under development,  a story about a missile test would not cut it.   Trust me, the novel is a great read, and when you consider the times, it was very exciting.   So, the first real-life incident to affect this movie was
  1. The story is changed completely, except keeping Hugo Drax as the main villain, because of the rapid development of rockets, manned space flight, the moon landings and the development of the shuttle (which first flew in 1981).
  2. Secondly, the novel plot is a great one but dated for the EON Productions 11th James Bond movie in 1979. EON had originally planned to film For Your Eyes Only after The Spy Who Loved Me (one of my all-time favorite Bond movies).  But because of the development of the Shuttle in real life, and the popularity of two of the biggest science fiction films released in 1977, Star Wars (with a second planned for 1980) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  So, EON Productions, once again being clever and watching the real world and what was successful and popular, moved Moonraker up ahead of For Your Eyes Only to take advantage of the popularity and success of science fiction movies, and actual NASA advancements in space technology.
  3. Also, the concept of a space station, used in Moonraker, was based on real-life as well – the Soviets had Salyut 1 space station in 1971, and the US had Skylab up in 1973.
Once again, real-life influences major elements of the spy film genre!   The Living Daylights – 1987 death to spies, Smert Shpionam.  And the idea of a spy defecting, of course, is based on real stuff – spies defect in the real world.  In fact, Nikolai Khokhlov was a Soviet spy who defected to the west in 1953 and brought with him all kinds of spy gadgets which we will talk about in a moment.   Licence to Kill – 1989
  1. The whole premise of the film is dealing with a drug lord from South America. In 1972, then President of the United States Richard Nixon said drug abuse was “public enemy number one.”    In 1986, President Reagan of the United States called for a “nationwide crusade against drugs.”  So, drugs infiltrating and affecting thousands of lives was definitely a popular topic during the decades surrounding the release of Licence to Kill.
  2. So, Franz Sanchez, being a major drug dealer, would have garnered a lot of attention if the Department of the Drug Enforcement Administration knew of his whereabouts. So, the DEA response to Sanchez being tracked to the United States would have warranted the response it got in the movie – and probably a whole lot more.
  Mission: Impossible - 1996 Between Goldeneye (1995) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) comes the first in the series of Mission: Impossible movies based on the 1960s television show.   So, 1996 was a great time to capitalize on the spy movie fans waiting for another Bond movie, and since Bourne Identity was not born until 2002. The Mission: Impossible TV show, which I loved, certainly had an influence on the creation of the movie.   Many fans of the TV series were looking forward to the first movie.   While Phelps was the only character kept from the TV series, the mission was to be fresh, full of action and intrigue.  The concept of a rogue agent trying to make things right was not new, but this mission was done with passion. MacGyver-like gadgets, and to some degree sophisticated gadgets, masks and deception all came from the TV show.  The original show was more like an O’Henry play, with surprise endings for the bad guys, and Martin Landau (who played Rollin Hand in the original TV series) said when interviewed after the first Mission, the original was not an action-adventure, it was more of a “mind game.  The ideal mission was getting in and getting out without anyone ever knowing we were there.” ( quote from, Martin Landau Discusses 'Mission: Impossible' Movies (blog), MTV, October 29, 2009, archived from the original on December 28, 2009)   The non-stop action is truly new to the movie. So, we think the first film of the Mission: Impossible series was influenced by
  1. The TV show, for basic concepts, self-destructing mission messages, music, etc. and
  2. The timing, in between Bond films.
  3. The worldwide locations, like shooting in Prague, was definitely Bond–influenced, as were the opening scenes during the credits, giving glimpses into the action about to unfold.
Of course, the real Cold War spying  - going after atomic data, and lists of spies - was a regular mission of spies.   Even in 2015, the US CIA was concerned that China had stolen info on US federal employees that might expose the real names of our spies abroad.   So, the basic concept of the mission in the first Mission: Impossible movie is very grounded in reality.   The Bourne Identity2002.  9/11 made the producers think that the script, with the CIA looking like the bad guy, might be too sensitive for audiences in the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.   They actually filmed alternative opening and ending sequences, but when the original was tested with audiences, they seemed to accept it very well, so the alternative opening and closing scenes were relegated to the bonus section of the DVDs (See “Fifteen Things You Didn’t Know About the Bourne Franchise”  by Josh Roush, July 29, 2016, online article.   Casino Royale – 2006 – certainly the popularity of Texas Hold’em worked its way into the film, instead of the as-written Chemins de Fer/baccarat game in the Fleming novel.   Also, the more realistic approach of The Bourne Identity movie may have influenced Casino Royale to more grounded in basics – although, for a reboot of the Bond franchise, one would think they would stick closely to the novel which, as the first novel, was very straight-forward, with few gadgets, and basic in execution.   Bond on Skis:  George Lazenby, who was an avid skier, is the first James Bond in EON Productions films to take to skis, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), with many of the scenes filmed in Murren, Switzerland – which we at SpyMovieNavigator have been too!  It is about 5,000 feet below Schilthorn (Piz Gloria) where Blofeld’s “allergy research institute” was located in the film.   In a night scene, Bond begins to ski down Piz Gloria, and of course is shot at, then pursued by Blofeld’s henchmen on skis.  Even Blofeld joins the pursuit, on skis.  With flares and machine guns, they pursue Bond – and of course, they know the mountain better than Bond, so they are in hot pursuit.  Great chase scene, with well-trained and skilled agents in pursuit on skis. And in the 1977 Bond film, in the pre-title sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me, we have one of the best snow ski sequences in any spy movie film – in any film for that matter.   He gets a message from MI6 saying they need him, while he is sleeping with a woman in an Austrian winter mountain chalet.  So he leaves, with a red backpack on his back, and skis.  She immediately radios her counterparts to say he is leaving, and we have another ski chase scene, pursuers shooting at him, and at one point, Bond turns around and shoots one of the foreign agents with his ski pole gun.  Then he continues, eventually skiing off the mountain with thousands of feet beneath him – only to pop a parachute with the Union Jack to land safely.  A great pre-title sequence that has become an iconic scene around the world!  Reported filmed in Canada, the stunt man who did this, Rick Sylvester, did this in one take.  They had to wait for the weather to be just right, and not too windy.   Again, skiing and pursuit by trained assassins on skis.   In For Your Eyes Only,    Bond is pursued by sharpshooter skiers and enemy agents on specially equipped motorcycles, with spiked wheels and guns, down the mountain and eventually into a lift heading to a ski jump.   Of course, Bond must do the jump, as his pursuers wait at the bottom of the ski jump hill. The pursuit continues again on the special motorcycles chasing Bond on skis., which even includes skiing down a bobsled run. In A View to a Kill,   Bond does it all on snow – from skiing to snowmobiling to riding one of the runners from the snowmobile as a snowboard!   Here pursued by a helicopter, snowmobiles, skiers – every well-trained assassin – but he finally escapes and to a British sub disguised as an iceberg.  Cool.   But he had a talented mob of agents, trained for winter pursuit, behind him all the way. Of course, even The Living Daylights has a snow pursuit, as Bond and  Kara Milovy escape using her cello case as a sled, and cello to steer, they are pursued by trained agents on snow. SPECTRE has snow scenes as well.   So, what is happening here? In real life, of course, there were and are specialty teams in various military branches throughout the world who are expert at traveling on skis, infiltrating locations on skis, and doing other espionage stuff that very much depends on how well trained they are on skiing and moving through heavy snow conditions. For example, in WW-II, the U.S. did not have a mountain division in their military.   Inspired by the Finnish mountaineer troops, Charles Mynot Dole – who was head of a ski patrol, an Olympic skier, a climber – began the U.S. military ski troops, brought into action just before Pearl Harbor.     They trained at 13,000 feet in the Colorado mountains, at – 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34.4 degrees Celsius) with 90 pounds of gear – just the men, packs and skis – pushed to the limits.  This will turn out to be a true “mission impossible” in World War II as this became the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army.  They were engaged against the Japanese when Japan invaded two islands off Alaska – Attu and Kiska.  Landing in fog and snow, they were able to make the Japanese retreat but confused, our troops were shooting at each other and 18 were killed.   They went back for more training, with mock battles, in sub-zero conditions. They were called upon in 1944 in Italy, where the Allies were bogged down trying to take the Apennine mountains.  The 5th Army could not advance towards Germany.   Each ridge in the mountains had additional German defenses.  The 10th Mountain Division assessed what was needed, decided they had to take Mount Belvedere and to do that had to take Riva Ridge first.  2,000 feet up, steep, 3 – 4 feet of snow.  They climbed the unclimbable and took Riva Ridge, and the engineers erected an ingenious tramway to move the wounded and the supplies up and down the mountain.   This is the REAL stuff!  The pursuing assaults were successful, and the path open to Germany thanks to this 10th Mountain Division – trained to battle in treacherous snow conditions.   They prevailed at great cost for the campaign – with 975 killed, 3,871 wounded and 20 prisoners of war.  But they prevailed.

Another Real World War II Example

In another World War II real life adventure, the Germans controlled a heavy-water plant in Norway, and heavy-water was needed to make nuclear weapons.  On February 16, 1943, Operation Gunnerside began.  6 Norwegian commandos were dropped by parachute to join the ‘Swallow’ team on the ground.   After a few days of cross-country skiing, they joined the Swallow team.  The final assault on the heavy-water plant was set for February 27/28 1943.  The Germans controlled the plant and wanted to produce the heavy-water and ship it to Germany.   The heavy water plant was protected by mines, lights and more due to an earlier failed raid.   The Swallow team, with the 6 paratroopers, ford a winter river in a ravine and climbed a steep hill.  They followed a railway track right to the plant – because a Norwegian agent inside the plant supplied a detailed layout of the plant as well as a schedule.  This is very much like From Russia With Love, as Bond was to retrieve the consulate plans from Tania. Except here, it is real life!  The team entered the plant by a basement cable tunnel, set explosives and escaped.  They left behind a Thompson submachine gun to make it look like British forces did it and not local resistance to avoid reprisals.  It worked! Desperate, the Germans loaded some heavy water on a ferry bound for Germany, and the Norwegian resistance sank the ferry and all the heavy water!   Google: Gunnerside. So, the bottom line is, many of the scenes we have seen in spy movies, and above the Bond movies, have a basis in reality – people are indeed specially trained for these special operations, and so the specially trained personnel in the Bond movies for all the winter pursuits are believable.   Some of the stunts are fantastic, but so were some of the real-life challenges that were overcome by the 10th Mountain Division and the Norwegian troops!   Gadgets: Lastly let’s look at gadgets.  As we know, gadgets are prominent in the James Bond 007 movies by EON Production, as Q proves quite the inventor.  They are also present in the Mission: Impossible series, with masks, high-tech devices like the climbing gloves, the camera glasses in Mission Impossible 1 and so on. In the Ian Fleming books, gadgets were less prominent.   In Casino Royale, the first James Bond 00 novel, there are some gadgets, but spectacular.  Le Chiffre carries razors in various places, and one of the high-tech gadgets was a cane that doubled as a gun - which really was how they tried to first kill Bond at the casino table.  It goes on in other Fleming novels as well, with underwater equipment, the briefcase in “From Russia With Love” – which is different than what it contains in the movie.   But they are there, but less obvious and less of a focus.   There really was a Q Branch in MI6, and they came up with gadgets.  It was operational at the time Fleming was writing, and run by Charles Fraser-Smith, who Fleming knew. Again, in this really cool book, “For Your Eyes Only – Ian Fleming + James Bond” by Ben Macintyre, he suggests that Fraser-Smith made things like a hairbrush that has a map and a saw, cameras hidden in cigarette lighters, invisible ink, magnetized matches that could act as a compass, and so on.  So, there was real stuff, and that real stuff influenced the movies, and served as a basis of many extraordinary gadgets to come in the films. We mentioned a defector spy from the Soviet Union who defected to the West, Nikolai Khokhlov.  In the same book mentioned above, Macintyre suggests that when Khokhlov came over, he brought a lot of spy gadgets with him, including a miniature revolver that could fire toxic bullets, guns housed in cigarette lighters and lots more – for real! Thanks for spending time with us at SpyMovieNavigator.com – the Worldwide Community of Spy Movie Fans – Spy Movie podcasts, videos, discussions and more!

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Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible III, editorial content, spy movies, espionage, spy movie podcasts, Tom Cruise
Mission: Impossible III

Tom Cruise is back as Ethan Hunt for the third go-around in Mission: Impossible III.

This 2006 movie again brings back Ethan Hunt.  This time, he has a fiancé, Julia.  She gets kidnapped as a result of yet another failed mission for Ethan’s team (capturing Davian).

In this curation (and in the podcast), we discuss things beyond the scope of the movie, and its interrelationship with other movies and events:

    • The uniqueness of pre-title sequence
    • Other films mentioned: Mission: Impossible (1); Mission: Impossible II; The 39 Steps; Pulp Fiction; Monty Python and the Holy Grail; The Maltese Falcon; Goldeneye; Goldfinger; True Lies; Casino Royale (2006)
    • Spies getting married and results: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Licence to Kill
    • Bond and Bourne movie mentions
    • The Rabbit’s Foot is a MacGuffin
    • Ethan Hunt’s lowering on cable and Goldeneye – bungee jump link
    • Villains transported on bridges and escaping – again! Licence to Kill, True Lies
    • Ethan’s arrest, like Bond having his license revoked
    • Benji fears for his job, as Q did in Bond’s SPECTRE

MI3 Pre-Title Sequence

Mission: Impossible III was directed by J.J. Abrams. He was also the creator of the television show “Alias”.   That TV show used long pre-title sequences, so it is no surprise that Mission: Impossible III has a pre-title sequence, although it is short by “Alias” standards. The movie's pre-title sequence has a unique twist among spy movies. Namely, the pre-title is taken from a climactic scene from later in the movie.   We are led to believe that Julia is shot to death just as the fuse is lit starting the title sequence.  At this point, we don’t know who Julia is. When you see the scene again in the latter part of the movie, a twist is revealed: the woman who was shot was not Julia, but rather she was Davian’s translator and head of security wearing a mask to look like Julia. Early in the Mission: Impossible films, the series takes the audience in one direction and later swings a completely different direction, often with the use of masks.   In Mission: Impossible (I) the audience is led to believe that Jim Phelps “dies” when the mission goes wrong. In reality, he wasn’t dead, but he staged it to look like he had died which we don’t find out about until flashbacks later in the film.   In Mission: Impossible II, the plane taking Dr. Nekhorvich is commandeered by Sean Ambrose who used a mask to make the audience believe that it was Ethan Hunt doing the bad deed.

MI3 Party Scene

In the party scene, we find out that Ethan and Julia are engaged. For some reason, spy movies like to have agents get married in a film or two.   In On Her Majesty's  Secret Service, James Bond marries Tracy.   In Licence to Kill, Felix Leiter marries Della. It does not end well for the women they marry.   In fact, in Licence to Kill, Della’s father tells her “I told you this was a mistake”. Is there any reason to believe things will end better for Julia? In the clip for this section, we see Ethan boring one of the party attendees (Kevin) with a story about how he works for the department of transportation.   Kevin is played by Greg Grunberg who also played Eric in J.J. Abram’s “Alias” television show. Greg and J.J. have been friends since kindergarten and has appeared in many projects which J.J. has been associated with. One other parallel to “Alias” is that unlike Jason Bourne or James Bond, the theme of family is strong with Ethan hiding the fact that he is an agent from his fiancé and their friends. This was a common idea throughout “Alias”. In Bond and Bourne, there is almost no association with family.   When Bond marries Tracy, her father is well aware of who Bond is. In Mission: Impossible III, Ethan leaves the party to meet up with Musgrave. Ethan gets his mission from a disposable camera. It is yet another unique way of having the mission defined for the team leader.  In Mission: Impossible (1), Jim Phelps gets his mission on the plane. In Mission: Impossible II, Ethan gets his mission in a pair of sunglasses which were a precursor to the Microsoft HoloLens.

MI3 Lindsey Farris

Lindsey Farris is a young agent in the IMF who has been captured by Davian.   This scene is part of the extraction of Lindsey from where she was being held.   She is complaining about something that obviously is hurting her. Davian has injected an explosive device in her skull. This comes back into play toward the end of the movie when Davian does something similar to Ethan.   Just before this clip, Lindsey tries to warn Ethan about something.   We don’t find out what that was until a microdot she mailed him is evaluated later in the film. This scene brings the extraction team together; Luther (Ving Rhames), Declan (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), and Zhen (Maggie Q) are all part of the extraction team. It is yet another failed initial mission for Ethan in the series.   In Mission: Impossible (I), the mission to grab the NOC list from Golitsyn goes bad with agents dying.

MI3 The Rabbit’s Foot

In the pre-title sequence, there is mention of something called the “Rabbit’s Foot”. Ethan needs to get the Rabbit’s Foot and bring it to Davian. In this clip, this scene, Benji speculates about the Rabbit’s Foot, even describing it as the anti-god. The Rabbit’s Foot is a MacGuffin. Although many of you will know this term, others might not.   A MacGuffin is a device used in a story which serves as the driving force for the action. It often has no explanation as to what it is. Its definition isn’t important to the plot.   Just its existence is. Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps was one of the first spy films to use a MacGuffin, but many more films use the MacGuffin as a technique to have something upon which to base the action of the film. Some examples include the briefcase in Pulp Fiction and Ronin, the Holy Grail in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the statue in The Maltese Falcon. J.J. Abrams uses MacGuffin’s in "Alias" as well with the Rambaldi Artifacts.

MI3 Ethan and Julia’s Wedding

This scene again focuses on Ethan’s deception to Julia about his job.   It ends with them getting married. It is very rare in spy films for agents to get married. It is even more rare for the starring agent to get married.   As mentioned earlier, James Bond marries Tracy and that’s about it. It is even more poignant later in the series with the film Mission: Impossible – Fallout when we see what has happened to Ethan and Julia’s relationship.

MI3 Humpty Dumpty

This scene shows the mission of breaking into the Vatican so that the team can kidnap Davian.   There are two stunts in the scene.   The first one has Ethan running up a wall. The second is the now-familiar falling-with-a-cable-attached-spreading-the-arms-and-just-missing-the-ground type of stunt.   This has happened in all of the first 3 Mission: Impossible films:   In the CIA vault in Mission: Impossible (I), the atrium dive in Mission: Impossible II, and now, here. In this author’s opinion, it was very cool in the CIA vault but is a tired stunt by now. In the pre-title sequence of Goldeneye, James Bond bungee jumps off the Verzasca Dam, from a height of 220 meters.   He doesn’t end up doing the Ethan Hunt spread eagle pose, but he does jump off the wall of the dam and hurtles toward the bottom of the dam. You can see it here. At the end of the scene, Ethan has his workman outfit pulled off his body, leaving him with a priests’ outfit. It had somewhat of the same feel as when James Bond steps out of his wetsuit in the pre-title sequence of Goldfinger.  

MI3 Grabbing Davian

There is a lengthy scene as the IMF team is in the Vatican to kidnap Davian. This clip shows the scene in the bathroom when the team grabs Davian.   Ethan is wearing a mask and is dressed as Davian. After they grab Davian, he has to speak into a device that lets Luther program Ethan’s voice to be that of Davian’s. This scene shows both Ethan disguised as Davian as well as the actual Davian together.   In Mission: Impossible (I), the ending scene on the train has something similar, with Ethan portraying Jim Phelps and then Jim shows up.

MI3 Goodbye Lamborghini

Ethan needs to leave the Vatican with everyone thinking he is Davian. Ethan as Davian leaves with Zhen in the Lamborghini Gallardo. In the meantime, Declan lowers the real Davian into a sewer. Zhen stops the car over a sewer manhole and the team descends from the car into the sewer. Finally, Zhen blows up the Lamborghini Gallardo. One thing can be said for spy movies: they like to destroy beautiful cars.

MI3 Bridge Scene

Villains being transported on a bridge and escaping while on the bridge is a common plot point in movies.   In License to Kill, the villain (Sanchez) is under arrest and being driven on 7 Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys (USA) when he escapes. In True Lies, the villains are also trying to escape while driving on 7 Mile Bridge.   Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Albert Gibson (Tom Arnold) are part of the team that destroys the bridge while capturing the villains.   In Mission: Impossible 3, it is the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (Maryland, USA) that is used.   Davian’s team blows things up on the bridge and he makes his escape.

MI3 Davian grabs Julia and Ethan is arrested

While Davian’s henchman kidnaps Julia, Ethan is arrested for the debacle at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and losing Davian.   This is reminiscent of M’s revoking James Bond’s licence to kill in the film with the same title. The bosses don’t like it when things go wrong and the spy needs to escape from people in his own organization.

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