October 31, 2009


The folks at Network will release a very cool soundtrack collection this week that spans a large number of our fave ITC classics. Network does an incredible production job on their products. I have the Danger Man and Prisoner sets and they are like archival treasures from the ITC vaults. Network operates like the Criterion Collection and loves to add great extras for fans. The new collection is a great way to sample a variety of theme and incidental music from series such as Man in a Suitcase, The Protectors, Strange Report, Department S, Jason King, The Champions, The Saint, The Prisoner, Gideons' Way, The Baron, Strange Report, The Persuaders!, The Adventurer and more. the CD is being released at a sale price of $21.

Consisting entirely of original as-used-in-the-series recordings (no lacklustre cover versions here!), this set contains some of the best music ever made for television. Celebrated composers Edwin Astley, Albert Elms, Ron Grainer, Robert Farnon, Roger Webb, John Cameron and Wilfred Josephs showcase their skills with a diverse range of musical styles and some legendary theme tunes. Alongside a commemorative booklet it also includes exclusive music suites from The Persuaders!, The Zoo Gang, Return of the Saint and The Baron that are not available elsewhere.

Disc One
Tracks 1 - 6 Danger Man (half hour series) Composer - Edwin Astley
Tracks 7 - 13 Danger Man (hour series) Composer - Edwin Astley
Tracks 14 - 15 Gideon’s Way Composer - Edwin Astley
Tracks 16 - 22 The Baron Composer - Edwin Astley
Tracks 23 - 31 The Saint Composer - Edwin Astley
Tracks 32 - 37 Man in a Suitcase Composed by Grainer/Elms
Tracks 38 - 44 The Prisoner Composed by Grainer/Elms/Farnon
Tracks 45 - 53 The Champions Composed by Hatch/Astley/Elms
Tracks 54 - 61 Department S Composer - Edwin Astley

Disc Two
Tracks 1 - 6 Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) Composer - Edwin Astley
Tracks 7 - 13 Strange Report Composer - Roger Webb
Tracks 14 - 17 The Persuaders! Composed by Barry/Trent/Hatch/Thorne
Tracks 18 - 25 Jason King Composer Laurie Johnson
Tracks 26 - 33 The Protectors Composed by Murry/Callander/Cameron
Tracks 34 - 36 The Adventurer Composed by John Barry / unknown
Tracks 37 - 44 The Zoo Gang Composed by McCartney/Thorne
Tracks 45 - 52 Return of the Saint Composed by Dee/Martin/Scott/de Angelis

October 30, 2009


A quick Spy Vibe transmission to let readers know that the Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition of The Third Man has gone out of print. No updates so far about when they may resume production. Until then, scope out your local shops to pick up copies before they are gone.

October 24, 2009


Secret messages dropped into hollow tree trunks in the East Bay... Unusual chalk markings at the pier... Spy Vibe meets Richard Sala in the virtual shadows to discuss our love of adventure/thrillers, evil masterminds, The Avengers, and more! Richard's new book, Cat Buglar Black is available now. He has also recently completed his four-book series Delphine for Fantagraphics.

Your books are filled with many adventure/thriller elements (including mysterious baddies, quirky henchmen, trap doors, secret chambers, assassinations, good-hearted sleuths who get more than they bargained for). Without thinking of this as formula, what are the essential conventions that make a story fun for you to write? What does the Richard Sala sandbox have in it?

That's my favorite part of writing -- when the time comes to flesh out the story and I get to start adding all those cool and spooky details. I fell in love with B-movies and comics and pulp fiction and monsters when I was very young, so I've pretty much spent a lifetime absorbing all the creepy and mysterious stuff you mention. To me, what makes a story - especially a mystery or a thriller - fun, ARE those details. If you have one character having a secret meeting with another, for example, why choose a relatively mundane place like a diner when you can have them meet at night in a toy shop or a wax museum? I'm not trying to create anything resembling realism, so I get to have fun with details like that. Does there need to be a scene in a park? Okay, but let's put a big weird statue there, and let's make a hidden door in the base of the statue that leads down underground to a secret hideout. You just keep taking things another step farther, building on things. But being careful to never go too far -- you don't want the details to become obnoxiously "cute" or irritating. You have to be able to see the line -- you don't want to annoy your audience by being overly "clever" -- and that's a line I (hopefully) learned to see by watching a show like The Avengers, which was brilliant when it came to details like that. If you look at certain shows from the 1960s - like The Avengers or Man From UNCLE or The Wild Wild West or The Prisoner - they are overflowing with that kind of imagination and atmosphere, mixing in details of mystery, horror and the fantastic in a way that is at once tongue-in-cheek and deadly dangerous. The style of those shows was a huge influence on me.

Are there particular cliffhanger serials, films, TV shows, or books that inform your experience with adventure conventions? Tell us about your faves.

Growing up in the 1960s, I was exposed to that decade's nostalgia for the pop culture of the 1930s. There was a rediscovery of a lot of things that had become passe or forgotten during the previous couple of decades, and those things were not only being brought back into the culture, but were being celebrated as "pop art". You couldn't go anywhere without seeing posters of King Kong or Frankenstein, The Marx Brothers and W.C. Fields, Flash Gordon and Doc Savage, The Phantom and The Shadow. I was aware that these things were "old" (thanks to my Dad, who was a movie buff, as well as magazines like Famous Monsters of Filmland). But, as a kid, they may as well as have been as new as James Bond and The Beatles. It was all one big, wonderful stew. So, yeah, I think it was that mixture of 1930s pop culture and 1960s pop culture that shaped my style into whatever it became.

I watched old Flash Gordon serials on Saturday mornings, and then saw Barbarella in a theatre a few years later. I'd read the 1930's adventures of The Shadow and Doc Savage, which were being reprinted in paperback, then go see Thunderball or Danger: Diabolik. I'd watch the old Sherlock Holmes movies and the latest episode of The Avengers on TV. I recognized the threads connecting these things. Magazines like Famous Monsters or, especially, Castle of Frankenstein covered these things equally. In fact, I'd read about The Avengers in Castle of Frankenstein a couple of years before it came to the US. They were always featuring articles on things we kids could only dream of seeing -- lots of European films that were much more sexy and violent than American ones. That really fired my imagination.

One of my personal favorites as a kid and one of my biggest influences to this day was the comic strip Dick Tracy, which I started cutting out of the newspaper and saving when I was in the fourth grade. I loved comic books, too, of course, but Dick Tracy is where I learned how to tell (long, complicated) stories, visually, and where I learned how much more interesting a story is if you populate it with grotesques and weird-os!

Many of your stories feature female heroes that have a tendency to dress in black catsuits, including your new book Cat Burglar Black- a title which I like to think of as a fashion statement! I know we share a love of The Avengers. (Mrs. Peel was my first crush). Tell us about your experiences and thoughts as an Avengers fan.

I may have had other crushes as a kid, but she was my first real serious one, that's for sure! I loved (and still do) everything about The Avengers. In the years before VHS or syndication, you saw these shows when they aired ONCE - maybe twice if you were lucky and they reran it. So there were lots of kids like me who would try to remember everything about the episodes they had just seen. I had notebooks where I wrote down plots and titles. Doing that I became aware of how awesomely clever and smart the episodes were -- and I loved writing down the names of the oddball characters. I tried to get cast names, but often wasn't fast enough (no IMDB or episode guides back then!). I took photos off of TV with my little Instamatic camera -- a whole ordeal that's probably worth a separate article. My brother and I would record shows on our reel-to-reel tape-recorder because it was the only way to have a record of the shows we loved. Then we'd listen to them over and over. (To this day, I can recite whole scenes of dialogue from The Outer Limits!)

I didn't have any friends (or family members) who loved The Avengers as much as me. It was truly a cult show - even back then. A lot of people didn't seem to "get it", but I did for some reason. I got caught up in the whole spy "craze". I did all the things kids do (at least kids who have just moved to a new town and haven't made any friends yet) -- I wrote away for photos, sent fan letters, joined fan clubs, purchased fanzines - which seem awfully primitive now, of course - but it was a way to get information about the show (though of course any "news" was months and months late). The newsstand movie mags of the day would print the addresses where you could write your "favorite stars". I think I wrote Patrick Macnee and Diana Rigg care of ABC, but their replies came from the UK. That was magical for me! Diana Rigg just sent a photo (which was plenty!), but Patrick Macnee also included a typed letter which he signed as well as a one-page biography(!). I can scan them for you, and you'll see the edges of the photos are damaged by tape marks, since I hung them up on my wall!

Does the black catsuit also reflect an interest in the serial Les Vampires? Did you see the modern film homage, Irma Vep?

I mentioned Castle Of Frankenstein -- which was an incredible magazine that covered fantastic cinema from all over the world. In one issue there was an article on Georges Franju's Judex that showed a photo of a woman dressed in the classic cat burglar get-up. That had a major impact on me for some reason -- just that photo, since it would be years until I'd see the film (which became one of my favorites). Also, it seemed that there were a lot of "generic" spy girls in a very similar outfit -- form-fitting black turtlenecks and pants, in movies like Goldfinger or Carry On Spying. So I always found that look attractive, with it's connotations of intrigue and danger. There was a whole ad campaign in the '60s based around that look that featured Pamela Austin in that outfit in many print ads, often tied up (try that nowadays!) -- it was something to do with cars, but all I remember is her! There's also an early episode of The Avengers where Emma has to fight off a dance class of similarly clad spy girls. That's one of my favorite episodes and in fact I "borrowed" a fairly major plot device from it for my book Mad Night. (It's the most respectful of homages, believe me!). I did enjoy watching both Les Vampires and Irma Vep, but I only saw those long after the impression of that outfit had been burned into my brain!

On Spy Vibe we often discuss the Prisoner, Bond, Gerry Anderson, Flint, Diabolik, etc. Are there other spy faves of yours? What about them inspires you?

Favorite 1960s spy (etc) movies (some I saw in the theatre, some not until years later) and TV shows: The Flint Movies (I had a Coburn poster on my wall in my teen years -- he was another hero of mine), Diabolik, UFO, The Sean Connery Bond films, The Prisoner, Man (and Girl) From UNCLE, Secret Agent. I'm crazy about The President's Analyst, The Tenth Victim and Dr. Mabuse movies. I love all the spoofs and the campy stuff, all the Euro-Spy stuff, Fu Manchu. I can watch (or tolerate) many of the lesser of these that friends & colleagues have a hard time sitting through. Casino Royale (actually a personal fave), Matt Helm, even shows like "Amos Burke, Secret Agent", which, although arguably pretty "bad", I still find fun to watch. I guess I watch for something that goes beyond "good" or "bad" -- I watch for the imagination and the outrageousness. As long as they're not boring!

Your stories are populated by such characters- they are marvelous eccentrics! We’ve seen ingenious disguises, macabre outfits and accessories, and even a character who’s chilling commands came from a small sack (was he just a head?). Does that eye for quirky detail come from favorite stories growing up? Your rogues gallery far surpasses anything from Charles Addams or Gorey.

That's very kind of you to say, although I only wish I could have created something as classic and timeless as The Addams Family! I mentioned Dick Tracy before -- and that's certainly where a lot of my desire to create oddballs and grotesques comes from. I began reading it in the 1960s, which is when a lot of the "old-time" fans or the Dick Tracy "experts" believe the strip has begun to go downhill. They couldn't be more wrong -- it was actually an incredibly fertile time for Chester Gould's imagination. It's a tragedy that almost none of that has been widely reprinted. They always reprint the older stuff, which is classic. of course. But Gould in the 1960s was being influenced by James Bond and the crazier story lines of the day, and he never let up on the violence or bizarre characters. People today wouldn't believe what was on the front of the Sunday Comics back then! The first story line I read and collected involved a leering, nervous criminal who murdered his rivals and kept their shrunken heads in a cabinet (seen often). His equally evil sister, Ugly Christine, falls to her death into a smokestack, long legs exposed, which was shown over and over again throughout the week. It was amazing stuff, full of energy and delirium. Things just got weirder and weirder until in the 1970s it almost started to seem unhinged. But for some reason no one ever reprints that stuff and that's too bad. Of course, the many, many bizarre characters on The Avengers were a big influence. So were old movies with characters like Peter Lorre, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, etc. I was always crazy about all the gleefully creepy character actors like George Zucco, Lionel Atwill, John Carradine and on and on. The kind of types they always played -- that is something else I realize now has been a huge influence. The Doctor in Cat Burglar Black is definitely one of those "types".

Are you a Vincent Price fan? I was already collecting your books when I finally saw the Dr. Phibes movies, and I think reading your work helped me appreciate them that much more.

Yes! I was recently asked to compile a top ten list of horror movies and The Abominable Dr. Phibes was in there. When I first saw it, I felt a kind of Avengers vibe -- and sure enough (along with several familiar British actors), the director Robert Fuest had done some episodes. And, yes, Vincent Price can do no wrong in my eyes.

Who were your literary heroes as a boy? Did you read any of the spy series authors (007, Saint, etc)?

I read all the Bond paperbacks, though the one I remember the best as a reading experience was Dr. No, for some reason. I even remember reading the hardcover of Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis (it was my mom's copy) which had this weird Dali-esque cover. I even read that James Bond Dossier, which I remember being very inspiring and fascinating. I was also reading every Shadow, Doc Savage and Fu Manchu paperback I could find. I read lots of movie novelizations of films I was dying to see (and thought I never might) like Scream and Scream Again and Countess Dracula. By the time I got out of high school and had moved on to college, though, I pretty much left the genre & series books behind -- and it was that way for many years until sometime in my early thirties I got hooked on hard-boiled stuff and after I'd burned through that in about ten years I was ready to rediscover the stuff I loved as a kid again. And I remembered why I wanted to be a writer and artist in the first place! Funny how those things work...

If you were a evil villain, what would you choose as your: name, evil lair, and evil scheme?

I always kind of identified with Peter Lorre, especially in Mad Love from 1935. He's not really evil - he's just in love! Beyond that, I'd have to say I've always been partial to the hooded or masked kinds of phantoms or masterminds. I always thought it would be cool to be some kind of Phantom of Suburbia, where at night you put on your cloak and jump over your neighbor's fence, then creep through various yards, trying to avoid the barking dogs or tripping over the barbecue grills or plastic kiddie pools. I'm still not sure what exactly the point would be, but it sounds fun! Seriously, I think the most interesting kinds of villains are not motivated by greed or world domination, but by neurotic quirks or emotions of jealousy or revenge. Something everyone can relate to!

Thank you to Richard Sala for spending time with Spy Vibe! Discovering Richard's work was like finding a lost treasure chest in the family attic. Growing up on the cusp of the 1960s/1970s, I remember a similar fascination with this style of stories and characters. Like Richard and fellow fans who grew up in the days before Netflix and YouTube, I also tape recorded the audio of Spy and Beatles programs when they ran on television. That way I could experience the stories again and again during the year while I awaited the next broadcast! The last time I remember pushing play and record on a tape deck next to my black and white/mono set (can modern Spy Vibers visualize this?) was to tape the sounds of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Hearing the soundtrack still conjures up images of Bond escaping in the night and racing down the slopes for his very life! Like radio, it created a kind of "theater of the mind." In the days before the Internet, we really had to be resourceful and quick- taking notes on episodes as they aired, snapping photographs of the TV screen. I'm glad to hear I wasn't the only one doing that! I found my old Prisoner notes about two years ago and sent them to David Webb Peoples as a gift (he is writing The Prisoner film -in development).

Among my own collection of original art, a framed page from Richard's Chuckling Whatsit hangs over my couch. The shape of his ink lines, the density of blacks, the style of shading and lettering are elements that give Richard's work a kind of woodblock print vibe. His love of great thrillers and adventures is evident throughout his stories, and like
The Avengers, his ever-present wit runs counterpoint to the poison daggers and shots in the dark. It's no surprise that Dr. No stands out as one of his fave Ian Fleming stories. I can imagine a comic version of the evil Dr. No on his remote island, spinning his schemes of greed, sabotage, and experiments with endurance and death- only to be buried under a mountain of guano by a delirious spy who just escaped a giant octopus! Did I mention the doctor has claws for hands and a fire-breathing dragon tank? It would all fit beautifully into Sala's oeuvre.

Spy Vibers may already be familiar with Sala's many books, and with his Liquid Television animated series Invisible Hands. To dive further into the wonderfully macabre and thrilling world of Richard Sala, I recommend slipping through your trap door to the nearest bookshop and ask for: Cat Burglar Black, Chuckling Whatsit, Delphine (series of 4 comics), Maniac Killer Strikes Again, and Peculia. Visit Richard's blog and website for more information about his projects. The complete Dick Tracy volumes and Richard's Big Book of Horror (with Steve Niles) are available from IDW Publishing. Scans of the above Avengers memorabilia are from Richard Sala's childhood collection. Current exhibit of work through December 13, 2009 at the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco.

October 21, 2009


Spy Vibers know that I have a special thing for this film. I don't know how I came upon it as a kid, most likely on WOR TV out of NYC. I remember looking in the back of TV Guide each week for two things: Beatles films and this stylish gem from Elio Petri starring Marcello Mastroianni. Just as the tunes from the Beatles cartoon, A Hard Days Night, and Help informed my tastes, so did the 10th Victim soundtrack by Piero Piccioni. The vocal scat performance by Mina seemed to promise a kind of fantasy/romance that I could grasp as a youngster. I imagine that the style might sound odd to someone who did not grow up with it. But if you are a fan of other Italian composers who used unusual sounds, vocalizations, and instrumentation (Ennio Morricone for example), that may provide an audio context to enjoy the 10th Victim music. I found a lovely short video of the English version of the theme song, Spiral Waltz, on YouTube that offers a look at some rare stills, covers, and posters.

October 19, 2009


Spy Vibers may be interested in checking out a current sale over at Deep Discount. Classic horror flicks are 2 for $10, and the list includes some films that represent some of the coolest spooky style and design of the period. Any fan of the macabre, stylish work by Tim Burton, Edward Gorey, Richard Sala, Charles Addams will love the Dr. Phibes films with Vincent Price. These really are a must-see and I will write more about them in the future. Also on the list is the cult Hammer Horror classic The Vampire Lovers with the lovely vamp herself, Ingrid Pitt. Other titles include Invaders From Mars, Die Monster Die, and a grindhouse double feature I've not seen called Mini-Skirt Mob/Chrome and Hot Leather. That sounds like a contender for Mystery Science 3000. Check out the sale and enjoy some retro, stylish storytelling during the Halloween season.

October 17, 2009


The Commander Bond Network announced something rather exciting today. For those of us who combed toy shops as kids for 007 toys, and more often, had to work like NASA engineers to create Bond-style gadgets cobbled from household items (cardboard and black paint make a great silencer), a better-late-than-never deal is in the works to produce officially licensed props from the films themselves. The most interesting prop listed so far is a replica of Scaramanga's golden gun. I wonder if it will assemble from a golden lighter, pen, etc? Click image below to enlarge.

From the CBN: Big Chief Products Ltd. is proud to announce a license agreement with Eon Productions/Danjaq LLC to produce a range of movie prop replicas, based on the gadgets and related items from the James Bond film series. Working in partnership with appointed exclusive distributor Factory Entertainment Ltd. Big Chief will release a comprehensive range including entry price point replicas, through to high-end collectibles. These authentic, highly detailed replicas of iconic items featured in the James Bond films are officially licensed by EON Productions/Danjaq, LLC and are based on studies and examinations of the actual screen-used props to ensure maximum accuracy.

Items currently in development include 1:1 scale replicas of: Scaramanga’s golden gun from The Man with the Golden Gun (1974); the fearsome metal teeth worn by Jaws in films The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), and Solitaire’s tarot cards as featured in Live and Let Die (1973). Factory Entertainment will begin offering these exciting new James Bond collectibles both direct to consumer and at wholesale, worldwide from late 2009.

Big Chief director Mark Andrews said: “We are thrilled to be working with EON Productions. As fans ourselves we know people have been eager for James Bond prop replicas for many years. We are committed to delivering a range of products from the heritage era films right up to the current Daniel Craig films which people will be proud to own.” Big Chief and Factory Entertainment are each comprised of industry veterans, who are passionate about delivering high-quality limited edition collectibles and operate offices both in the UK and USA and have worldwide distribution channels.

October 14, 2009


Celebrating Roger Moore’s birthday today, I keep thinking about something Paul McCartney said about admiring Elvis as a kid- that Presley “just looked perfect.” Growing up with reruns of The Saint, I looked to Moore with a similar kind of attention. Not only did he fill those stylish suits with an archetypal heroic physique, he had a perfectly gelled haircut that swooped back across his head- just as heroically. Moore brought a roguish charm to The Saint, raising an eyebrow to the camera and inviting us into that deliciously decadent world of 60s jet setters. The notion of being a jet setter didn't just seem like grist for adventure tales to me as a young boy- it seemed like a future career option! The Volvo P1800, the gentleman thief/spy, the gorgeous actresses and exotic locations. The world of Moore’s Saint was “just perfect” and introduced me, along with The Avengers, to a life-long passion for something that Roger Moore had a lot of- Style.

Roger Moore starred in the first James Bond film I ever saw on the big screen. Though the clothes (and cars) were slightly less cool to my 60-s Spy Vibe tastes, I remember being completely swept up by the soundtrack music, the gun barrel opening and title sequences, and most of all, Roger’s Saint-like charm. Though I enjoy all of the 007 actors, Roger Moore will always carry a certain degree of panache and British-ness that I hold dear. Despite periods when I though I needed 007 to be edgy and serious, I have ultimately realized that the world of 007 offers a cool and fun experience for every mood. After meeting Richard Kiel recently, I re-watched The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker as a double feature. It brought me back to those early experiences in the theater and I found myself once again cheering for the heroic, witty, and roguish Roger Moore.

Some highlight clips from Roger’s career: In an episode of The Saint from 1963 (Luella), viewers got a 9-year sneak preview of future Moore’s Bond with David Hedison (Felix Leiter). Note the hair, the suit, and those winking glances at the audience. In 1964 Roger made this Bond spoof (included as a special feature on the Live and Let Die DVD and Blu-ray disc). Moore starred with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders just before making the leap to Bond. The show grows on me as I open up to its playful tone and 70s-cusp aesthetic. Here is an especially dramatic moment for Moore’s character that offered him a bit more acting room. Lastly, the trailer from The Spy Who Loved Me. Images from the Getty Collection and the Daily Mail.

October 12, 2009


Sue Steward of the Evening Standard reported today that a Photography exhibit has opened at the National Portrait Gallery that captures the decade's styles and design trends through a look at Pop stars. With names like David Bailey, Angus McBean, The Beatles, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger, we know we are in for some Spy Vibe-cool artifacts. A highlight, she writes, is the work of Fiona Adams. Her 1965 image of Bowie and a Mod-styled Jeanette is below. Adams made the now-famous image of The Beatles leaping for the Twist and Shout EP, which has been revived as current Rock Band iconography. 007 Thunderball vocalist Tom Jones is also featured. See below for a 60s live performance! From the Evening Standard:

The subtitle to this autumn blockbuster, "the 60s exposed", carries a whiff of sex'n'drugs'n' rock'n'roll revelations. In fact, it is a nostalgic, impressive documentary marking the rapid changes in pop, contemporary design and photography between 1960-69. A shot of press photographers in raincoats waiting for The Beatles at York Station, by Northern photo-journalist, Ian Wright, epitomises the generation gap.

Each year of the decade, occupies an exhibition space that includes a vitrine-decorated like a Sixties teenager’s bedroom with record covers, signed portraits and leading pop magazines, Rave and Fabulous. Opening pre-Beatles, the silk-suited, Elvis-quiffed Billy Fury, Cliff Richard, and Adam Faith are still lodged in Fifties America then everything explodes into pop, psychedelia, rock, mods and soul boys, and the music industry discovers modern marketing, experimental typography and myriad photographic styles.

Old masters such as Norman Parkinson come on board (shooting the Beatles at Abbey Road in deck shoes and slacks), and Angus McBean is keyed into Modernism with hand-painted backdrops to his portraits. Publications chart the new psychedelic lettering and acid colours, designers imitating photographers such as David Bailey. His iconic portrait of Mick Jagger in a parka occupies his personal enclosure. The experimenters were at their peak: Gered Mankowitz making meticulously artfully composed pictures with The Rolling Stones, and Vic Singh experimenting with prism lenses to match The Pink Floyd's psychedelic music.

Of the many now overlooked but outstanding photographers represented, Fiona Adams is best-known for the leaping silhouettes of the Beatles, and her lack of credit for the cover of their EP, Twist and Shout. Light years away, Tony Frank took Tom Jones back to the Welsh Valleys and produced the most lyrical shot in the show. If you’re bored with the glut of Sixties exhibitions, think again: this magnificent collection draws the line under the era- until a new generation discovers it. Until 24 January, 2010 (www.npg.org.uk)

October 11, 2009


Spy Vibers who have been reading Armstrong Sabian's wonderful series on Harry Palmer over at Mister 8 may also be familiar with The Deighton Dossier website and blog. Created by UK writer Rob Mallows, The Deighton Dossier is the most comprehensive and current resource about author Len Deighton on the Internet. Mallows offers spy fans a well-researched world to explore that goes beyond Deighton's life, books, and films, into a fascinating, broader world where Deighton's work meets historical/cultural aspects of espionage, news, art, and design. Spy Vibe welcomes The Deighton Dossier as a new C.O.B.R.A.S. member! Head over to the blog site to read current pieces about the influence of the Berlin Wall in literature and a Swinging 60s retrospective of Photography by Brian Duffy.

October 10, 2009


Although there are no new titles announced so far to complete the 007 collection on Blu-ray, the currently available titles have been bundled into a box set due for release in early November. Spy Vibers who shop Costco had a sneak peak when the set was available through the chain. The box does not include the Blu-ray edition of Connery's "unofficial" entry Never Say Never Again. The collection lists for around $200, but Amazon currently has it for pre-order for around $139. Hopefully we will be able to report soon that the remaining 007 films will see Hi-Def release on Blu-ray. Titles that have not been transferred to the new format are: You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Spy ho Loved Me, Octopussy,View to a Kill, Living Daylights, Goldeneye, and Tomorrow Never Dies.

October 6, 2009


The Baby Boom, the Bomb, and the Space Race- what I like to call the three "booms" of influence on the world of the imagination during the Cold War. I recently posted a short piece, Fear and Fashion, about Space-Age aesthetics and the development of new materials in clothing design. My fascination continues and I have uncovered some wonderful treasures on Youtube recently. Spy Vibers may remember that Astro-Mod looks were popular on both sides of the Iron Curtain, though the stand-out names that come up tend to be Courreges, Rabbane, and Cardin, and the unforgettable costumes from The 10th Victim, Barbarella, and Danger Diabolik (and Roman Coppola's CQ). In this fashion news clip, we get to look through the capsule window of a West German designer (unnamed in the clip), who has offered us cool variations on the whole moon girl image!

October 5, 2009


Ken Adam discusses his background, working with Kubrick on "the war room" for Dr. Strangelove, and the design style that would ultimately define the larger-than-life look of the James Bond films. From the excellent Cold War Modern interview series.

October 1, 2009


When I planned to show my filmmaking class a variety of historical movements in cinema history last spring, I brainstormed a number of genres for one that could span the scope of time and culture. I couldn't quite cover all the bases I wanted to with spies, but crime as a theme eventually rose to the top of the list. Students looked at great classics from all over the world from the early days of feature-length films to the present. Snatch was a big fave, but one name kept coming up when they chose to present their findings to the group- MABUSE! Lang's Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Criterion edition) made a huge impression. By the end of the class they would share knowing glances, shiver, and shout, "the Mabuse!" It's fantastic to see teenagers get amped over a foreign film from 1933! Our group viewing inspired me to go back and re explore the other films in the series.

Currently there is a budget DVD box set in the US that offers a number of the low-budget Mabuse films from the 60s- spawned I gather from the success of Lang's re-launch of the character in the excellent 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse. The series kind of goes down in quality from there, but I still recommend them as entertaining Spy Vibe viewing. I enjoy them mainly for their use of fun genre conventions, like secret rooms, trap doors, sneaky escapes, mystery villains, daring assassinations, etc. And as reported earlier this week, PAL viewers can now see the best of the series- the titles directed by Lang himself- in a restored Mabuse box set due for release later this month. Another inspiration for an all-region player! I wonder how much that new McIntosh Blu-ray/DVD/SACD/DVD-Audio hybrid will cost?

To find out more about the Mabuse legacy, I did track down this book on Amazon, The Strange Case of Dr. Mabuse by David Kalat. I have his excellent Critical History of Godzilla (who doesn't?). I haven't checked the Mabuse book out yet, so I hope some fellow Spy Vibers will leave reviews in the comments section. Check out Movie Goods for Mabuse posters. About the book:

The Mabuse phenomenon is recognized as an icon of horror in Germany as Frankenstein and Dracula are in the United States. This work is a study of the 12 motion pictures and five books (and some secondary films) that make up the eight decades of adventures of master criminal Mabuse, created by author Norbert Jacques in the best-selling 1922 German novel and brought to the screen by master filmmaker Fritz Lang in the same year. Both on screen and off, the story of Dr. Mabuse is a story of love triangles and revenge, of murder, suicides, and suspicious deaths, of betrayals and paranoia, of fascism and tyranny, deceptions and conspiracies, mistaken identities, and transformation. This work, featuring much information never before published in English, provides an understanding of a modern mythology whose influence has pervaded popular culture even while the name Mabuse remains relatively unknown in the United States.