July 30, 2009

SPY VIBE MUSIC: BELLA LUGER

SPY VIBE MUSIC: BELLA LUGER

Step into the Way-Back Machine to 2000-2003, where you'll find a younger Spy Vibe splitting his time between screenwriting, comics, teaching, and music. Those early loop-based programs were a real treasure and allowed me to finally weave together compositions with beats, sounds from around the world, and most importantly, audio clips from Spy movies and shows. Some readers may recall that fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. Armstrong Sabian at Mister 8 posted some of his own spy surf tunes back in February. I made him a promise that I would search the archives (not quite as extensive as the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark, but close!) and bring out some of my music to share here on Spy Vibe. So far, I've located only some compressed versions from the web, but you'll get the idea.

I will post a new tune on the Spy Vibe Website every day for the next week or so. Head over there and check out the tunes.

First up is BELLA LUGER. Can anyone ID the movie dialog samples? Be the first to post correctly and win a CD compilation!

July 29, 2009

SPY VIBE SNACK: BLOW UP

SPY VIBE SNACK: BLOW UP
Today's treat on Spy Vibe is a little window into the photo world of David Bailey and swinging London ala Antonioni's film Blow Up (1966) starring David Hemmings. Keep your eyes open during the trailer to catch an on-screen transitional moment in the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck and pre-Zep Jimmy Page on stage! If videos fail to load, please view them on the Spy Vibe
website.




July 28, 2009

VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: GOLD BOX- ENDED



VOYAGE TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: GOLD BOX- ENDED
Dive! Dive! All Dive! Fans of Irwin Allen's classic Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea will be excited to hear that all of the available episodes on DVD are bundled together in a Gold Box sale today at Amazon. The sale includes seasons 1-3, and the newly released season 4 part 1 box set -all for $82.99. Prices on individual sets are currently high around the web, so take advantage if you haven't already picked up individual volumes. You can check out a full episode guide here. Based on Irwin Allen's 1961 film, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968) starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison (Live and Let Die, License to Kill) as adventurers aboard the futuristic atomic submarine, Seaview. 32 episodes in black and white, and 78 filmed in color, saw the crew facing all manner of baddies fashionable at the time -including enemy spies, evil scientists, and fantastic monsters-of-the-week! With spy fiction culture still buzzing over mind re-education and the likes of The Manchurian Candidate, there are a number of brainwashing scripts that echo the period and bring a highly dramatic tone to some episodes. Seaview itself is a wonderful setting for 60s thrills, with its beautiful design, forward viewscreen, and an array of mini-subs and cool gadgets. Sale ends tonight. It looks like episodes are available on Hulu if you want to preview the show. Fans may also be interested to check out David Hedison's website where you can order autographs and learn about David's upcoming appearances. It was wonderful for me to speak with David at Wondercon last spring and finally meet a great hero. Check out the Hermes Press website where you can learn about their 1960s Gold Key comic reprint books in the New Releases section. It's a great time to re-discover Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea!




July 26, 2009

OUR MAN IN DENMARK: THOMAS PEDERSEN

OUR MAN IN DENMARK: THOMAS PEDERSEN
An exciting journey for all Spy Vibers is when we take that first step from the mainstream spy canon (007, ITC, etc) into the world of international, low-budget spy movies. It was the mid-1960s. Thin black ties, Wayfarer sunglasses, and spies were in! Italy was one of the most notable markets for copycat film productions, where any genre that proved itself with a hit was quickly followed by endless imitations: Sergio Leone’s
A Fistful of Dollars, itself an adaptation of Kurosawa’s samurai success Yojimbo, rustled up hundreds of grizzled dudes on the screen with itchy trigger fingers; Mario Bava’s Black Sunday inspired an onslaught of Gothic horror; And the third James Bond film, Goldfinger, ignited a new world of film adventures based on the proven formula of gadgets, girls, guns, and cocktails. Though reportedly not a great movie itself, the actual title of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1966), sums up why the genre was, and is, so popular and fun. The 307-page Eurospy Guide by Matt Blake and David Deal is literally filled with hundreds of spy films from the 1960s which were often international co-productions between companies in Italy, Spain, Germany, and countries around the world.

The movies are low-budget and usually campy. A number have enjoyed the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment, including one of my favorites, Operation Kid Brother (Operation Double 007, O.K. Connery) with Bond alumni Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Adolfo Celi, Daniela Bianchi, Anthony Dawson, and... Sean Connery's kid brother Neil (see Cinema Retro issue #12 for more info). There is an irresistible charm and Spy Vibe cool that comes, I believe, from the fact that filmmakers distilled the spy genre down to its essential conventions. You will not find fast-paced scripts and Ken Adam sets, but you will see Fab fashion, classic sports cars, truly genre-defining soundtracks (often by giants like Morricone, Umiliani, Nicolai, Wilden, and Piccioni), and action!

The real challenge is tracking down these gems. Few are commercially available. Double O Section has kept us abreast of upcoming releases from Dorado and other distributors. License To Kill has reviewed many rare titles. Otherwise, we rely on fellow fans and collectors to share segments of Eurospy movies on-line. One valuable archive for me has been the pet project of Thomas Pederson, who has uploaded over two hundred clips on Youtube on his channel thmace. Pederson is more than a spy movie maven, he is also an aficionado and collector of great design. Last week he took some time out from a busy week to speak with Spy Vibe before leaving for his summer adventure.

How did you first become interested in spy films? What was your introduction to EuroSpy? Well I am actually a “latecomer.” I have always loved spy films, especially the Bond films. I had a taped from television copy of The Quiller Memorandum that I watched so many times that the tape stopped working. I mean seriously first the sound went – but I still watched it – and then finally it just gave up the ghost. I always read a lot of spy novels: Adam Hall, James Leasor, etc. Films I enjoyed: The Harry Palmer series, Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, The Eiger Sanction, Once Upon A Spy, The Tamarind Seed, Telefon, and more of the mainstream stuff.

Around 1980 I saw a trailer of The Double Man with Yul Brynner. It came on a VHS rental of You Only Live Twice. My local video store did not have a copy of the film, so I never managed to actually see it. Then came 1992 and I happened to find a copy in a local rental store. This was before the big revolution of the net -where all of a sudden everything became semi-available. I immediately asked if I could purchase the copy. They declined -but I rented it and finally got to view it. I absolutely loved it. I did consider keeping it and just paying the fine.

How did you become a collector of EuroSpy films? Well many years went by where I repeatedly watched the relatively few spy movies that I had. I searched the net a lot for info about spy films. Then on Youtube I happened to stumble upon OurManInHavana and his great clips from Eurospy films. A comment spoke about a book called The Eurospy Guide. I rushed and bought a copy and a whole new world opened up for me when I got the book and read it. There were hundreds of spy films out there that I had not know existed. I made list after list and piece-by-piece tracked down all the films that I just had to own. I prefer the real thing. So while a grey market copy will have to do in some instances, I still try and track down the VHS if at all possible.

I see your channel on Youtube, which offers 262 movie clips, has had over 27,000 views. Most of the films remain unreleased and your archive is one of the only ways people can get a taste of them. Do you see your channel as a kind of preservation/library for the genre? I try to get out there what I would have appreciated were available. I mean the pleasure and experience I got from the clips on Our ManInHavana's channel was life changing. I hope in a small way I can do the same for another person.

What ingredients make a great EuroSpy film? Style, plot and preferably a noir touch. I like them talky.

What are your top five favorite spy movies and why? Quiller Memorandum – just the best. So nicely made and a wonderful soundtrack by John Barry. George Segal portrays the coolest spy ever. The Double Man -Maybe because I longed to see it for years. I like the plot and the “Dan Slater never loved a damn thing in his life” ending. Yul is one of my all time favorite actors. The Naked Runner -Frank Sinatra in this movie plays great. Though a bit silly they couldn't find a better way to shoot the traitor. Still one of the films I can watch over and over. Mission Bloody Mary -All the films with Ken Clark rate highly in my universe. Severely underrated I wish somebody would let Clark know how much somebody out there appreciates his films now. The Invisible Dr. Mabuse -Saw this one the first time on a vacation in France. Alone 2 o'clock in the morning on a laptop computer. I got the DVD in the post just before we left from Denmark. One of the best nights of my life. I enjoyed it tremendously. Especially the repetition effect in the plot -like in The Quiller Memorandum. Leaving out The Groundstar Conspiracy, Danger Route, Passport to Hell, The Devils Agent, Desperate Mission, Upperseven the Man to Kill etc. feels like a sin.

What are your favorite spy movie settings? Berlin, any snow-clad or rainy European, winter setting, trains with sleeping cars, cable cars, and rooftop action. If you were a super villain, what would you choose as your evil lair? Villefranche de Conflent and a ride in the Yellow Train for my great battle with the super spy.

You mention an unusual interest in Diving Watches from the 1960s. Is that interest inspired by James Bond’s Thunderball? No actually not – though I have freeze-framed Thunderball just to get a look at that watch a few times. My interest in watches stems from Clive Cussler and his fictional hero Dirk Pitt. Pitt always wears a "Orange dial Doxa." I tried for many years just to track down a picture of that watch -sometimes even believing that it was invented by the author. Again success came with the Internet and early eBay. I found the watch and wanted it so badly. I bid on the auction but lost in the end, so it took me 2 years before I landed one to wear. Then I went a bit berserk and now own some 30 diving watches. 7 of these are Doxa's. I am still trying to find a rare Favre Leuba black dial with orange bezel but that will be the last -I promise.

What are your other design passions? I love the “space age” things that were done during the sixties and seventies. When you look at those things they look from the future even today, like Dante N Bini:

Computers: I have a basement full of old home computers (ZX Spectrum, Enterprise 64 and so forth) so naturally something should be included here. The ultimate computer design is the PDP 8/e, Some regulatory authority should have stepped in after the release and said: "Since the final computer has been designed - let it be known that henceforth all computers should look like this." The PDP 1 was also a cool unit.

Bikes: The Raleigh Chopper MK 2 was a brilliant design by Ogle. I used to love that bike in the seventies.

Furniture: The Ovalia is just crazy. Probably not practical at all but the nuttiness makes it a sure pick.

Boats: I have owned a couple of powerboats, but the Riva will always be the only "real" boat that you can truly cruise the waters in style.

I see you list Renault and Lotus in your auto collection. Was that a childhood dream come true to see them in your garage? Well as a child I dreamed mostly of new cars. I hankered after my father owning very nice and expensive cars -though he drove mostly pretty basic Renaults and Citroens.

Did The Spy Who Loved Me inspire your passion for Lotus cars? Yes, for sure. As most owners of the classic shape Esprit it started that way. Seeing that white beauty and Bond getting into it on Sardinia just started a fire that could only be put out one way.

My passion for the Lotus marque was firmly embedded when I got a Lotus Elite (red Corgi model) as a child. I always found great pleasure in building huge sand castles -that I would play I inhabited- and then building a garage facility for my Lotus.


What's it like to drive a Lotus Esprit? We all want to come over and take it for a spin!
Even greater than I can describe. A new Audi A8 4,2 Quattro and I tried to outrun each other on the second day I owned the Esprit -and believe me the owner of that car got a bit of a surprise. Though slower on paper, that Esprit really moves if you know what you are doing. It is a real joke that Bond struggles to lose that Ford loaded with baddies. My 79 Eclat and 79 Esprit in my driveway:

Have you been to see the James Bond Museum and 007 vehicle collection in the UK? Nope -but it is on my “playlist.”

Thanks again to Thomas for sharing his love of spy movies and great design with us! I encourage Spy Vibers to visit his library of Eurospy clips. See the Spy Vibe website for video clips of Pedersen's top Spy picks.

July 25, 2009

PATTI'S GROOVE

PATTI'S GROOVE
A wonderful track on the Garage Girls compilation by Patti's Groove has been put to a fantastic collection of Space Age, Op & Pop Art-inspired fashion stills from the 1965-66 era. If video below fails to load, view it on the Spy Vibe website. Have a groovy weekend!




July 24, 2009

TWILIGHT ZONE SALE

TWILIGHT ZONE SALE
The Complete Twilight Zone box set is in Amazon's Gold Box today! Every episode remastered with extra features, the set is on sale all day for about $100.

SCI FI ASSASSIN: LOGAN'S RUN

SCI FI ASSASSIN: LOGAN'S RUN
In this Cold War-influenced classic,
Logan's Run is a cautionary tale about a post-nuclear society that copes with overpopulation by killing off its citizens at age 30 (the novel and 2010 re-make set expiration around 21). Humanity has been confined for generations in a shopping mall-like dome, allowing for some very cool futuristic set design by Dale Hennesy (In Like Flint, Fantastic Voyage, Dirty Harry) and Set Decorator Robert De Vestel (Batman, Green Hornet, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). Spy Vibers will recognize a 70s slant on a number of elements we've explored here in 1960s design, including globe lamps and monitors and Kubrick-style white, minimal rooms. With its famous electronic score by Jeremy Goldsmith, its revealing (!) unisex wear and jumpsuit uniforms by Bill Thomas (The Black Hole), the tone of the future, like THX 1138 by Lucas and Fahrenheit 451 by Truffaut, is quite lulled into submission by consumerism and pleasure (in this case- sensual pleasure). At age 30, everyone enters a Colosseum-like chamber where they float up into an electric field that vaporizes them. To desire life and to run from this ritual is deemed deviant by society and punishable by death. Logan, the main character of the film, is indeed an assassin- a member of a sanctioned death squad that hunts down 'runners' and executes them with laser blasters. Logan is sent undercover on a mission to join the runners and expose what the government fears is an underground railroad to freedom in a place whispered about in dark alleys called Sanctuary. So begins Logan's Quest that brings him, and his community, toward self-awareness and survival. The film was released in 1976, just prior to Star Wars, and remains a stylish and evocative experience. Logan's Run will be released on Blu-ray on November 3rd and will include commentary by director Michael Anderson, star Michael York, and costume designer Bill Thomas. Additional cast includes Jenny Agutter, Farrah Fawcett, and Peter Ustinov. Movie trailer and score/photo video on the Spy Vibe website. We'll let the lovely Agutter guide us on a tour of the sets and costumes:

July 23, 2009

BRIEFLY BERGMAN

BRIEFLY BERGMAN
One of the joys of the current Criterion Collection sale at Barnes and Noble is a chance to re-visit and further explore some of the great masters of cinema. As fellow C.O.B.R.A.S. writer Armstrong Sabian and I have discussed, there are many titles in the collection that will appeal to Spy Vibers, including films by Hitchcock, Melville, Suzuki, and titles such as The Spy Who Came Into the Cold and Charade. For many years now I've enjoyed programming film events for schools and communities, and Criterion's move to Blu-ray has upped the level of our digital viewing experiences. I picked up the new copy of The Seventh Seal by Ingmar Bergman and have found myself swept away in a fabulous re-discovery of his work. Though Bergman can't be accused of making stylish spy films, he is important to mention as a member of the small community of filmmakers who truly showed mastery of the medium through his blend of deeply human motifs and themes and outstanding (and stylish!) photography. He is indispensable as a key figure in the cinematic art scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Among my various experiences this week with Bergman, I came across two bits that may be of interest here. Fans of the stylized thrillers of Mario Bava (Danger: Diabolik) who think Bergman only made quiet chamber pieces may be excited to re-visit his 1968 film Hour of the Wolf (trailer below).



Another wonderful surprise came from one of my all-time favorite writer/directors and heroes- Woody Allen (Casino Royale/photo below), who wrote in the introduction to Bergman's Images: My Life in Film (Arcade Publishing/2007): "Bergman, for all his quirks and philosophic and religious obsessions, was a born spinner of tales who couldn't help being entertaining even when all on his mind was dramatizing the ideas of Nietzsche or Kierkegaard. I used to have long phone conversations with him. He would arrange them from the island he lived on. I never accepted his invitations to visit because the plane travel bothered me, and I didn't relish flying on a small aircraft to some speck near Russia for what I envisioned as a lunch of yogurt. We always discussed movies, and of course I let him do most of the talking because I felt privileged hearing his thoughts and ideas. He screened movies for himself every day and never tired of watching them. All kinds, silents and talkies. To go to sleep he'd watch a tape of the kind of movie that didn't make him think and would relax his anxiety, sometimes a James Bond film." Fans of Allen will recognize his many nods to Bergman themes and visuals throughout the years. The most comical being of course Woody's spoof of the dance with death (The Seventh Seal) in his 1975 comedy Love and Death, pictured below.


In our culture of compartmentalization, it is refreshing to remember that Art, and cinema is Art, can appeal in all kinds of ways as we need it to in our lives; That a Spy Viber in love with Mid-Century Modern, 60s spear guns, silencers, and Jaguar XKEs can find the style and human expression of Bergman deeply satisfying; That Ingmar Bergman, while dwelling over stories like Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Through a Glass Darkly, and Fanny and Alexander found joy and satisfaction in the exploits of Ian Fleming's secret agent 007. Look at the composition of the second still below from Persona. The tilt of the hat, elbow, piping, sunglasses, and roof lines- one of the great designs of 1966 at the height of the spy boom. If you are up for re-exploring or discovering Art House cinema of the 1950s and 1960s, I encourage you to add Ingmar Bergman to your list. His films vary in pacing and tone (he made about 60 movies), and are often worth the investment.



July 21, 2009

KEVIN DART INTERVIEW

On the eve of the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con, Spy Vibe had a chance to ask Kevin Dart a few questions about the exhibit for his new book Seductive Espionage: The World of Yuki 7, his all-time favorite illustrations and films, his projects, and about his plans for this week's convention. Click to see larger images.

Congratulations on your recent exhibition and book signing. From the photos, it looks like it was really fun. Are there other exhibits planned?

Thanks! The show at Nucleus was a blast, and went way beyond my expectations. There’s no concrete plans for future exhibits yet, but we are looking to launch a book of stories and art inspired by Jules Verne around December 2010, with a coinciding gallery show.

Where will you be located during Comic-Con? What will you have for sale or presentation?
We’re going to be in a different place than usual, in Booth 1316. This is our first year with a full booth, which we decided to upgrade to because of all the new products we’re releasing this year! We will of course have the Yuki 7 book for sale, as well as the limited Collector’s Edition. There will also be a bunch of Yuki prints, brand new screenprinted posters, and an awesome shirt featuring the French poster for “A Kiss From Tokyo”. My friend Chris Turnham (the other half of Fleet Street Scandal), is also going to have a great lineup of prints for sale including a new poster he did for The Decemberists and a hot new illustration inspired by “Around the World in 80 Days”.

How did you first become interested in retro spy design? What was your introduction to spy films and soundtracks?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in spy films. My parents were both James Bond fans and I grew up with those movies. Later I discovered the Avengers and mid-century thrillers like North by Northwest and Charade, which had a big influence on me. I think all of those movies molded my tastes so that I began seeking out more inspiration from 50’s and 60’s architecture, fashion, and furniture design, as well as music.

Do you collect old posters and albums?
I can’t say that I do, I’ve never been much of a collector. If I bought every single thing that inspired me I’d probably be broke and buried in a mountain of posters and prints. But I do obsessively catalog cool images and songs on my computer for reference. I also love books – one of my favorites is a book I found at a second hand store several years ago that collects all of the vintage newspaper comic strips from “The Man With the Golden Gun” and “The Living Daylights”. They’re some of the most beautifully drawn comics I’ve ever seen.


Did any specific illustrations or illustrators inspire your pieces?

Definitely the biggest influences were Bob Peak, Robert McGinnis, and John Hench. Their work is so stylish, textured, and experimental while still being completely representational. It embodies everything about that time period that I find so cool.


You list fellow artists/collaborators on your website. Tell us more about the team you work with and about what each of them bring to the projects.

The number one thing my friends bring is support. I don’t know if I could’ve finished this project without all of their encouragement. Beyond that, I have my longtime friend and business partner, Chris Turnham, who always offers advice on my work and helps figure out how we’re going to produce and sell these things. Then there’s my girlfriend Elizabeth Ito, who was the whole inspiration for Yuki and also has lots of great insight. On this project, our friend Ada Cole wrote the whole book in her really charming style, and her husband Dan helped with a lot of the technical aspects of production as well as photography. Stephane Coedel, a friend of mine from London, was of course invaluable as the animator and compositor of the Kiss From Tokyo trailer, and also helped me out with some French translation. Finally, there is the long list of people who were generous enough to contribute some of their own original artwork to the book: Bill Presing, Brigette Barrager, Daniel Arriaga, Don Shank, Horia Dociu, Jon Klassen, Josh Parpan, Justin Parpan, Megan Brain, Scott Morse, Ted Mathot, and Victoria Ying.


Your images are incredibly strong and capture so much of the cool and wit of spy adventure. Do you also create sequential narrative pieces? Or is it similar to my film students who make trailers? Everyone wants to see the movies, but the trailers are the movies.

I have a hard time doing sequential art, but I like telling stories. I try to capture as much story as I can in a single image, which is why the movie poster is a natural outlet. But you can only put so much in there, and I’ve always wanted to delve deeper into those stories, which is kind of the reason this book came about. I wanted to finally take one of my illustrated posters and really get to know the characters I was drawing, their backgrounds, their personalities, and find out what kinds of adventures they went on. I really feel like were able to accomplish that with this book.

How did the short animation come about? Fans are asking for more. Are there plans to try to produce animations in the future?
The trailer began for no other reason than I really wanted to do it. Once the spark hit me I just thought “That would be really cool.” I didn’t know how we would use it, whether it would be profitable, or anything. But the same could be said about the book or my prints or any other project I’ve ever undertaken. I knew that if we made it, and if it turned out anything like what I was imagining, that it could only lead to good things. So we made it and it turned out to be an incredibly effective way of introducing this new character to the world and promoting our book.
I would love to create more, not just to appease all of Yuki’s fans but for myself as well. I see the trailer as a launching pad for a number of things. I think the project could take on a life of its own and translate into any number of mediums, and it already has in a lot of ways. My dream right now is to turn it into a live-action movie.


What are your top five favorite spy movies and why?

Deadlier Than the Male – Impossible to turn away after the opening mid-air assassination sequence. This movie delivers everything you dream of in a spy flick.

You Only Live Twice
– Nancy Sinatra alone sells this movie, but the volcano lair/ninja battle finale just puts it over the top.

Danger: Diabolik
– Favorite things about this one are the colors, sets, and cars.

Thunderball
– Jetpacks, underwater battles, bad guy with an eye patch… this movie is jam-packed!

Temptress of a Thousand Faces
– I haven’t actually seen this film from Hong Kong, but the bits I’ve found are so inspiring that I’m willing to put it in my top 5. Please, if anyone knows where I can see the full film, let me know!

What are your top five favorite movie posters?
The Man With the Golden Gun
You Only Live Twice
My Fair Lady
The Assassination Bureau, Ltd
One Million Years B.C.

If you were a super villain, what would you choose as your evil lair?
I would turn all of Brasilia into my own evil compound.


Spy Vibers should definitely check out Kevin's website for more information about projects, prints and books for sale, and for links to additional interviews. You can talk with Kevin and buy his work directly during Comicon this week at booth 1316. Dart illustrations here on Spy Vibe are copyright Kevin Dart. Around the World in 80 Days illustration by Chris Turnham. Portrait photo by Dan Cole. Thank you to Kevin for his time, inspiring illustrations, and for sharing his thoughts with Spy Vibe readers! Click here for a previous announcement and animation of Kevin's work on the Spy Vibe blog, here for the Kevin Dart page on the Spy Vibe website, here for the fantastic book review of Seductive Espionage on Double O Section, and here for the Seductive Espionage announcement on Bish's Beat.
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