November 30, 2010


In the world of cult spy and adventure TV, the UK distributor and on-line shop, Network, is the oasis that fans have been looking for all their lives. Similar to A&E in the States, Network has been consistently releasing box sets of television series, but they often push their productions further to include high-quality transfers- and to go the extra distance by making available many sets of rare music cues and soundtrack collections. Network pays great attention to details and often includes cool bonus features (even for the music sets). I like to think of them as the Criterion Collection of cult TV.

Spy Vibers have heard about many Network releases over the last year or so, and we even had a give-away contest for Network's soundtrack box set of
The Prisoner a while back. Network is currently running a 30% off sale until December 21st on their web-exclusive products. You'll find many DVD box sets (region 2), including their recent release of the rare show, Corridor People (Spy Vibe coverage of the DVD release here and articles about the surreal/satire boom in 1960s England here and here), as well as classics and rarities like The Saint, The Sentimental Agent, Interpol Calling, and Space Patrol. If you can play UK Blu-ray discs, you'll also find Gerry Anderson's Fireball XL5 and Space 1999 (season one of Space 1999 is out this month on region 1 Blu-ray from A&E).

Network has an amazing list of soundtrack sets on sale (look through their website beyond the sale page), including
The Prisoner, Danger Man, Man in a Suitcase, The Champions, Department S, Jason King, and the excellent compilation, Music of ITC. There is a lot to explore and discover. Details here at Network. You can also find reviews of Network releases on my fellow COBRAS site, Double O Section.

November 29, 2010


The trailer to the new Green Hornet film screened over the holiday weekend with the latest Harry Potter movie, giving a wider audience a taste for what's in store for the newest 1960s re-make. Spy Vibe was excited to hear about the film's production in its early stages, but quickly became weary that the filmmakers were taking the road most traveled by adapting a cult show into a buddy/comedy flick. Well, that's exactly the impression I get from the trailer. Yes, the action looks cool. And yes, we get to see some iconic moments, like the Hornet's gadget-loaded car swinging up from its hidden chamber. But the presentation of the characters and story seem, at least at the outset, completely interchangeable with other buddy-formula action films. Is this really just the I Spy movie with cooler costumes and gadgets? The gas-gun gag really gets my eyes rolling with dread. It makes sense that the main character is driven to find meaning in his life through crime-fighting (like Bruce Wayne), but why does he spell out his epiphany and mission to us like a cardboard cut-out? I think modern audiences can understand a hero who poses as a villain (like Batman) without having the facts spoon-fed to us. Just looking at this image below is foreboding. Is the true identity of this dark hero with Q-branch gadgets really just Fozzy Bear?

I'm a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, so I will probably find many things to enjoy about the film once it screens this winter. And I'm a huge fan of Michel Gondry, who I think of as a very inventive filmmaker. But I don't have high hopes that his Hornet will become a modern classic. And isn't that what these re-makes are often missing? The comedic approach usually takes these kinds of projects off-track (OSS 117 notwithstanding), and the filmmakers really miss an opportunity to add to the mythology of the properties they cultivate. The relaunch of Batman and James Bond both had an integrity to them that I believe will help sustain the films in the future. The Dark Knight will most likely remain a modern classic.

One of the qualities that I always enjoyed about the original Green Hornet TV show was that they played it pretty straight. The show used fun mystery/adventure conventions and the stars, unlike the Batman TV series, never winked at the audience. The two shows had cross-over episodes in the 1960s, where this distinction was evident. The Hornet show could be stiff, however, and certainly a modern feature film could bring more tension and excitement to viewers (not to mention a better soundtrack). It could even use humor to relieve tension or to enhance the pacing. But, do all modern characters have to be wiseguys at this point to appeal to ticket-buyers? I fear that the new Green Hornet will likely be fun, but quickly forgotten. I hope my fears are unfounded. It would be fantastic to see the effort pay off as classic material, especially in light of the fact that it has taken so long for a Hornet film to get off the ground, and that the TV show (with Bruce Lee, for any Spy Vibers who have not seen it), has yet to be released on what we still quaintly call "home video."

Spy Vibers looking for more Hornet action should check out TV clips on Youtube. And if you are into the slower-paced, action/adventure conventions of the 1930s and 1940s (think playboy/detectives punching it out with thugs), try some of the original radio shows or cliffhanger serials. The best Green Hornet so far may exist in some imaginary crossroads between all of these incarnations. Comic book cover image from Gold Key Stories here.

Deal Alert: Ken Adam & Space Adventure

Deal alert: Amazon is currently selling the blu-ray edition of Dr Strangelove (w sets by 007 designer Ken Adam) for $8.99. Other titles to check out are Mad Men seasons 1-3, the new blu-ray edition of Gerry Anderson's Space 1999 season 1, and the excellent space-race doc, In the Shadow of the Moon.

November 26, 2010

Playboy: the 50s

Another deal spotted that Spy Vibers might be interested in: Barnes and Noble has sealed copies of Playboy Cover to Cover: the 50s on their sale book shelf for $24.99. This is an amazing box set that includes a digital library (searchable) of every issue of Playboy in the 1950s, along with an illustrated art book and a reproduction of the magazine's famous first issue with Marilyn Monroe. Spy Vibers will find the set an interesting time capsule that includes the first Playboy review of Ian Fleming and features on style and bachelor pad design.

Black Friday

Deal alert: James Bond films in $4.99 bin at Borders. And for the next 30 minutes or so, Amazon has Casino Royale listed at $1.99.

November 25, 2010


James Bond's Aston Martin designed with Spitfire, fighter plane modifications? Read more about the history of the famous DB5 at the Telegraph here.

November 24, 2010


On the heels of Liam Gallagher's new single release with Beady Eye, Bring the Light, and his "Menswear Brand of the Year" award from Draper's Fashion Awards last week, Liam will be making an in-store appearance tonight at Selfridges, Birmingham, to unveil the Pretty Green autumn/winter collection. The event will be held from 6:00-8:00pm. More info here. Check out Liam's Mod fashion design company, Pretty Green here. Upcoming UK and European dates for Beady Eye at the band's website here. Congrats to Liam on the fashion award, and best wishes for Beady Eye as they play their first gigs since the disbanding of Oasis last year. Hope to see you guys in San Francisco soon.


Among the various publications out there for James Bond fans, MI6 Declassified stands out as a regularly published, non-subscription 007 magazine. Each issue highlights one of the films, providing lots of behind-the-scenes info, interviews, and rare images, as well as features about the Bond franchise and latest news. It's a high-quality project, and readers can enjoy the freedom to order issues that spotlight particular films and topics. I was thrilled to receive a review copy of the previous issue #7, which focused on the anniversary of my fave 007 film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I was impressed with their production values and articles, and I recommend the magazine to Spy Vibers. MI6 Declassified #8 analyzes the various elements that made Goldfinger such an international phenomenon (which, in turn, launched the 1960s spy boom). Other features include Roger Moore on Kung Fu training for The Man With the Golden Gun, the latest Bond video game, and OSS 117 writer/director Michael Hazanavicius on his Bond influences. Issue #8 and back issues are available on the MI6 Declassified website here.

November 23, 2010

INGRID PITT 1937-2010

Spy Vibe is saddened by the news that actress Ingrid Pitt has passed away at the age of 73. Cinema Retro founder, Lee Pfeiffer, wrote in his tribute that "her life eclipsed any adventure she played on the screen." Ingrid was born in Nazi occupied Poland, survived interment in a concentration camp, and later fled communist repression to start a new life in the west. After a few uncredited roles, including Chimes at Midnight (Orson Welles/1965) and Doctor Zhivago (David Lean/1965), she eventually landed her most celebrated parts in the espionage/war film, Where Eagles Dare (w/ Clint Eastwood/1968), cult horror classics The Vampire Lovers (1970) Countess Dracula (1971), The House That Dripped Blood (1971), and the original The Wicker Man (1973). Pitt also made appearances in TV spy shows, Jason King ("Nadine"/1972), The Adventurer (w/ Gene Barry in "Double Exposure"/1973), and the mini-series Smiley's People (w/ Alec Guinness/1982). Ingrid Pitt had quite a cult following, especially among us fans of Hammer Glamour, and she continued to bring her style and wit to her many book projects, articles, and appearances.

For more information about Ingrid Pitt, see tributes by Lee Pfeiffer and Cinebeats. Spy Vibers may also want to check out Ingrid Pitt: Queen of Horror by Bobb Cotter and Ingrid's books, Darkness Before Dawn, Life's a Scream, and The Bedside Companion for Vampire Lovers. The official Ingrid Pitt Website here. Hammer Films website here.

November 20, 2010


In tribute to John Lennon and his 70th Anniversary, I've created a new sound and film collage called Lennon70. Rather than composing a contemporary mash up, the experimental score weaves original music with brief samples of Beatles Christmas messages (mailed to fans in the 1960s on flexi-disc records), and two, one-note phrases by The Beatles and Bauhaus. This art film features original footage from Tokyo and TV broadcast images of John Lennon and The Beatles.

Links: Youtube here, film website here.

I hope Spy Vibers have looked at the new Beatles store on iTunes. The site offers some excellent free video content, including a brief career overview film and a complete concert from their 1964 US tour! Congrats to Apple & Apple for working things out. iTunes accessibility will open up Beatles music (and solo years music) to new fans. I like to imagine
young listeners out there discovering The Beatles for the first time, making "mix tapes" (playlists) of their fave songs. Looking at the impact that this music has had across time and cultures, surely The Beatles represent globally one sound-one tribe. By the way, if any Spy Vibers are interested in the remastered CD editions of the classic "Red" and "Blue" compilations, the albums will be half-price in Amazon's lightning deal on November 29th at 1:00pm ($9.99 each).

Lennon70: new experimental sound collage and film tribute to John Lennon by filmmaker/composer Jason Whiton on Youtube.
For more information, visit the Jason Whiton website. For more experimental work, explore Yoko Ono & the Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon, and Liverpool Sound Collage by Paul McCartney. Also, check out my recent award-winning film, The Sun is Down, an experimental piece for Yoko Ono that features a song by me, Ono, and the Plastic Ono Band (a winner of the 2009 Sun is Down remix contest).

November 19, 2010


Start your Spy Vibe weekend with an amazing mid-1960s fashion show with Peggy Moffitt and others decked out in our fave Mod and Moongirl outfits. Will those plastic visor-helmets ever make a comeback? The vocals for the show are provided by the siren of Italian soundtracks, Edda Dell'Orso. It may be raining here in the Bay area, but the weekend is looking Space-Age FAB here on Spy Vibe!

More about model Peggy Moffitt and Spy Vibe fashion from the excellent Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandise: "Hers is the face that launched a thousand ripples through the fashion world when she wore the world's first topless bathing suit. "Designer of the future" Rudi Gernreich considered Peggy Moffitt to be his muse and model of choice for his controversial designs. With her Kabuki-inspired face painting, Peggy created her own unique look in the Sixties. Gernreich collaborated with super hair stylist Vidal Sassoon to create Peggy's trademark hairstyle. He gave her a short helmet haircut, with precise geometric bangs cut right to her eyebrows. She also created her own makeup style with heavy black and white eyeliner and long false eyelashes to exaggerate her huge dark eyes. She took the term "strike a pose" very seriously in front of the camera. She made Gernreich's clothes all the more extreme with her striking presence."

Spy Vibers may also want to check out the Rudi Gernreich Book (Rizzoli) by Peggy Moffitt and husband/photographer William Claxton at Arcana Books here. Copies also available through Amazon here. Taschen did a reprint, as well.

November 18, 2010


Spy Vibe loves the stylish cars of retro adventure thrillers and no automobile can top James Bond's Aston Martin DB5 (originally seen in Goldfinger & Thunderball). Talk about 1960s style in action! Like many fellow Spy Vibers, I owned a Corgi toy version as a kid and was fascinated by the various "working" parts -like the famous ejector seat, tire shredders, front wing machine guns, and revolving plates. Those models were quite small, however, and one's imagination had to fill in some broad gaps in design. Since then, I've seen some larger models, but a recent 1:8 kit by GE Fabbri, Aston Martin, and Eon Productions looks truly amazing. Subscribers to the kit receive installments of parts/components as well as issues of a beautifully produced instruction magazine with extra James Bond features and info. Maybe a winter project for some Spy Vibers out there? Here is their press release and video. Pay close attention to the size of this beauty at the end of the clip.

GE Fabbri launch James Bond’s DB5 partwork magazine. GE Fabbri are launching a new partwork model magazine giving James Bond fans the opportunity to build a perfect 1:8 scale replica of the iconic Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger. The James Bond’s DB5 magazine is the first model to be fully authorized by EON Productions and Aston Martin and has been precision engineered to make it as accurate as possible.

Aston Martin helped design the model which includes all the dials and controls from a real DB5, in addition to James Bond’s hidden arsenal of Q-Branch gadgets. Stand out features include a working ejector seat, working tail and headlights, extendable tyre slashers and a working horn. The model comes in 85 weekly installments and each issue includes new parts for the car and a magazine featuring behind-the-scenes articles on the making of the 007 films. Model construction is incredibly straightforward and all the pieces either click into place or are held together with screws.

"Aston Martin are delighted to be involved with this beautiful model of one of our most iconic cars. Everything about it is perfect - from the materials to the attention to details - all of which are synonymous with Aston Martin".

The partwork launches in the UK in early January 2011 and is available to pre-order at from the official website here.

Spy Vibers interesting in finding out more about the famous 007 Aston Martin should check out the extra features documentary film
On Tour With the Aston Martin DB5 on the Goldfinger DVD and Blu-ray discs.

November 16, 2010


As Spy Vibe reported last week, Spirit Level Films has put together an amazing bundle of documentary movies for a very special holiday sale. The GT Collector's Pack includes the cult fave, Rendezvous, by Claude Lelouch, The Snake and the Cobra (about the Ferrari/Cobra wars. Spy Vibe page), GT Racer seasons 1 & 2, and Shaken & Stirred (“Imagine the feel and style of John Frankenheimer’s 1966 Grand Prix with wa-a-ay more beautiful cars and you're halfway there. Aston Martins, Cobras, Maseratis"). These films often put you in the driver's seat of vintage cars, and they go behind the scenes to celebrate the history and culture of racing form and function. The GT pack is on sale until November 21st. Limited stock, so act fast if your a vintage racing fan. More info on the Spirit Level Films website here.

November 15, 2010


Our pals at Hermes Press have brought you some fantastic 1960s pop culture books over the past few years, including the Gold Key reprint collections of Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, as well as The History of the Illustrated 007, and a number of great Gerry Anderson-related titles. Spy Vibers who are still in the Halloween spirit will be psyched to hear that Hermes is back with a new collection of Gold Key's comics based on the cult TV Gothic fave, Dark Shadows! Hermes always goes the extra distance with fine printing, excellent reproductions, and supplemental material. I really enjoyed seeing all of the extra stills and memorabilia in their Irwin Allen TV re-print books. I was pretty scared of Dark Shadows as a kid- the mansion and music seemed so spooky! Check out this new book if you're a fan of Gold Key, Dark Shadows, or 60s cult TV. By the way, I love the costume on this vampire. Barnabas had style!

Dark Shadows ran from 1966-1971 and was essentially a Gothic soap opera about the Collins family and their eerie struggles with the supernatural. The main vampire character who returns to the family mansion, Barnabas Collins, was played by Canadian actor, Jonathan Frid. Costume designer Ramsey Mostoller contributed to another cult classic, Santa Clause Conquers the Martians! Dark Shadows has been released on DVD and is available as streaming content on Netflix. The show was updated recently for TV, and Hermes includes a Tim Burton re-make in their press release below. For more info, check out Dark Shadows Journal Online here. You can even order a reproduction of Barnabas' stylish wolf-head, silver walking cane.

Here is a clip of the beginning credits- the chilling score and mansion that scared me so much as a kid:

Hermes: Hermes Press proudly announces the complete reprint of Gold Key Comics' television tie-in of the legendary supernatural suspense series Dark Shadows in a series of five hardcover volumes. The forerunner to today's immensely popular vampire-themed television programs and theatrical films, Dark Shadows still garners serious attention as one of the most memorable TV shows of the last forty years. As anticipation builds after director Tim Burton's announcement at Comic-Con International 2009 that his next project would be a big-screen remake of Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp in the role of reluctant vampire Barnabas Collins. The time seems perfect to reprint the full run of 35 Gold Key comic books based on the show, first published from 1968 to 1976.

From Amazon: Hermes Press proudly announces the complete reprint of Gold Key Comics' graphic tie-in of the legendary, supernatural suspense television series, Dark Shadows, in a series of five hardcover volumes. The forerunner to today's immensely popular, vampire-themed television programs and theatrical films, Dark Shadows still garners serious attention as one of the most memorable TV shows of the last forty years. First published from 1968 to 1976, the 35 Gold Key comic books featured in this completely digitally restored collection present archetypal tales of vampires, werewolves, and the supernatural. In addition to reprinting the stories, Hermes Press will supplement each volume with poster art, pin-ups, and documentary material from the show, as well as essays about the history of Dark Shadows.

November 9, 2010


Spy Vibe reported back in September 2009 about new fashion projects for Liam Gallagher in the wake of his brother Noel's split with their band Oasis (see Mod Fashion by Liam). Over the past year, Liam's fashion line, Pretty Green, has been a great success with limited edition clothing (see Mod Style: Pretty Green). New arrivals include a "Lennon Military Jacket" that is seriously FAB! Speaking of The Beatles, Liam has a Beatles-related film in development (project news here).

Liam has re-grouped with other Oasis members as Beady Eye. The band has already been back in the recording studio and their first single will be released tomorrow via download and limited edition 7 inch vinyl. Check out their
website for more info. Congrats to Liam and the guys from Spy Vibe! Looking forward to your new tunes! I'm also digging the Rubber Soul vibe of these first Beady Eye photographs, not to mention the very cool 1960s-style font for the band's new logo.

From the Beady Eye website:
Beady Eye will be making available ‘Bring The Light’, the first track to be heard from their debut album, as a free download worldwide to their fans on Wednesday 10th November from 10am (GMT) from their website The album was recorded over the past summer in London and will be released next year. A strictly limited 7" vinyl of 'Bring The Light' will also be available for fans to purchase. It will only be available through the Beady Eye website and comes with 'Sons Of The Stage' on the B-side.

November 8, 2010


As reported yesterday, Spirit Level Films is about to launch a limited sale on a bundle of their best documentary movies about vintage racing. If you love the cars and driving action of retro James Bond films, you're bound to love these movies about classic auto design and performance. In addition to the thrilling ride in a Ferrari with Claude Lelouche in Rendezvous (see last post), the set also includes The Snake and the Stallion about the famous Ferrari-Cobra wars. Cinema Retro fans might recognize a split-screen production style reminiscent of The Thomas Crown Affair with actor/racer Steve McQueen. Here's a brief trailer.

November 7, 2010


If names like Ferrari and Cobra ignite your imaginations with the exciting sites and sounds of vintage racing, then have we got news for you! Spirit Level Films is about to launch a special sale on a bundle of their racing documentary films. Stay tuned and get ready to start your engines! In the meantime, enjoy this fantastic cult fave by Claude Lelouch (A Man and a Woman). From Spirit Level: You'd be hard-pressed to find a film as steeped in myth as C’était un Rendezvous. Absolutely compulsive - this astonishing, exhilarating and now legendary drive through a beautiful 70s Paris with its surprise ending has been enjoyed for many years as an almost Masonic secret among enthusiasts. Whisper the words "Have you seen Rendezvous?" and you'll receive either a knowing, "No, but I've heard it's unbelievable" or a smug, "It is un-be-lieve-able". Filmed in 1976, the revered short film by seminal French director Claude Lelouch is regarded as the ultimate in chase scenes - the connoisseurs' trump card in response to "Bullitt" or "The French Connection".

C'était un rendez-vous from Kairos Mosaïque on Vimeo.

November 6, 2010


With the recent release of the Fantomas collection from Kino International, Halloween last weekend, and a new Richard Sala book around the corner, It's been macabre mystery mania here at the Spy Vibe lair. I unfortunately missed the debut of the new Sherlock Holmes, but I have been busy enjoying the thrills and intrigue of classic French characters like Fantomas and Judex. Fans familiar with the penny dreadful tradition of serialized pulp fiction will hopefully recognize this rogue's gallery of mystery villains and avengers. If you have made the leap to an eReader, you might want to check out one of the many original Fantomas novels available on-line (many are priced around $1.00). You can even read them on your smart phone with Kindle's free app!

Spy Vibe wraps up Macabre Mystery Week with clips from two excellent film adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. In addition to the wonderfully dark storytelling and the charisma of these two classic Horror stars, both films feature imaginative and modern set designs. In The Raven (1935), Lugosi plays a surgeon who is driven mad by his love for a young woman he saved. His character is obsessed with Poe and a hidden lair of traps and chambers lies just behind the secret door in his bookcase. The mad doctor has built a working pendulum from The Pit and the Pendulum, and, while the contractors were there anyway, he went the extra distance to install one of those little rooms with walls that come crushing in. Throw Boris Karloff into the mix as a disfigured henchman and you have quite a nasty little treasure of a movie for the Halloween season.

Architecture fans will be even more excited to see The Black Cat (1934). In this story, Karloff plays an evil designer who has constructed a vast, modern home on the site of his old camp from WWI. The rooms sport contrasting curves and geometric lines, as well as Star Trek-like sliding doors. Down a spiral staircase below this marvel, however, lies hidden, angular chambers that resemble the bomb-shelter inspired designs of Ken Adam (James Bond series). The space is made creepier by its war-time roots, not to mention Karloff's collection of ladies preserved in glass cases (including the wife of Lugosi's character!). Well, you can imagine they have a lot to talk about. Did I mention the mad designer is also a satanist cult leader? This movie has it all. The film's production team included designer Edgar Ulmer, who also worked on Fritz Lang's M, Spies, Metropolis, and on Murnau's Sunrise. The art director of The Black Cat was Charles Hall, well-known for his many moody projects for Universal, including The Cat and the Canary, The Old Dark House, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Bride of Frankenstein.

Here is a useful overview of the films from Monster Madness. I think Spy Vibers will enjoy the overall style of both movies and their use of adventure/thriller conventions. The Black Cat stairway photo still is from designer Quang Truong's post on modernism, The Black Cat, and Jacques Tati. More about set design and Ken Adam at Spy Vibe's article Set For Adventure here.

November 1, 2010


Deal Alert: Barnes & Noble is currently running one of their amazing 50% off deals on all Criterion Collection DVDs and Blu-ray discs. As most of you know, The Criterion Collection specializes in releasing many of the masterpieces of Cinema, including works by Hitchcock, Truffaut, Kurosawa, Fellini, and Bergman. You'll also find great thrillers, like Testament of Dr. Mabuse (Spy Vibe page here), Fritz Lang's M, Le Samourai, Rififi, Army of Shadows, Charade (Spy Vibe page here), Branded to Kill, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, and Elevator to the Gallows (Spy Vibe page here). Sale ends November 21, details here.