Category Archives: 1977

David Prowse, Underated Actor, Stunts

 

You may not recognize the name, but you would definitely recognize his alter ego.  He plays Darth Vader.  You may say, “Hayden Christensen played Darth Vader…” No, he played Anakin Skywalker.  You may say, “I thought James Earl Jones” played Darth Vader. Again, no.  David Prowse actually played Darth Vader in all the Star Wars films.  In the first one, he wasn’t told that his voice would later be dubbed, so he even memorized and performed all of Darth Vader’s dialogue from underneath his mask.  It was only after the film was done, that George Lucas decided that Darth Vader needed a much grander voice and so he hired James Earl Jones to re-dub all of Vader’s dialogue.david

Prowse was the one that had to practice all the fight scenes with Mark Hamill and Alec Guinness and spend hours upon hours in the hot costume, acting like the sith lord.  To me, Darth Vader wouldn’t be anywhere as menacing as he is without the imposing prescence, authoritative walk, heavy, strong and powerful gestures and movements of David Prowse.  You can’t just put someone in that costume and get the same effect.  David was/is fantastic.

There’s been a perpetual rift between Prowse and George Lucas over the years.  My suspicion is that it started when Prowse was first cast as Darth Vader and given the assumption that he would be the voice as well and after Star Wars became a hit, Prowse wanted to do more to be associated with the role than Lucas was comfortable with.  Lucas hinted that he would be seen and heard finally in Return of the Jedi, during Darth’s death scene, but that scene was ultimately given to Sebastian Shaw.  This could have simply been done because Lucas wanted another accent in the scene than what Prowse could provide but could also have been because over the course of the 3 films Prowse accidentally dropped spoilers to the press at different times, which angered Lucas.  George Lucas went so far as to prevent David Prowse from attending Star Wars Fan Conventions in 2010, and no reason from Lucas was ever given.dav

Anyway you slice it, it’s a shame as the character and ultimate bad guy in the universe will forever be a jigsaw picture developed and created by a group of effective movie professionals.  David Prowse, Sebastian Shaw, George Lucas, James Earl Jones, Bob Anderson (Stuntman Stand-In), Jake Lloyd, Ben Burtt and Hayden Christensen can all claim some participation in creating the legacy of such a fantastic character.

I was saddened to hear that Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, never made a profit, which must have been made for over a billion dollars, as David Prowse has gone on record to say that he has never seen any of his profit points for that movie.  “I get these occasional letters from Lucasfilm saying that we regret to inform you that as Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) has never gone into profit, we’ve got nothing to send you.” davidprowse-2-397x600

Well, here’s hoping you get some credit and profit from that movie some day, David.

Things to look up on IMDB:

  • David Prowse
  • Star Wars
  • George Lucas
  • LucasFilm

Star Wars: The force to be reckoned with

Star Wars.  THE ultimate space opera.  THE ultimate franchise.  THE ultimate business builder.  Star Wars is THE ultimate success story of all time.  Unless you are living under a rock, you know by now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be opening to just about every theatre on the planet this week (official trailer is below).  This is the latest installment in the greatest franchise of all time.  Star Wars isn’t just about a few movies, it is in itself a galaxy of connected businesses.

According to Box Office Mojo, the six Star Wars movies have earned a total of $4.5 billion in ticket sales worldwide, including $2 billion in the U.S. The films have generated an additional $20 billion in merchandise sales, making George Lucas, the franchise’s creator, a multi-billionaire with a net worth of $3.25 billion.

Now, Disney enters the picture, after buying the rights to Star Wars (and Lucasfilm) from Lucas for a hefty $4.05 billion.  They are poised to ring in the new year with this year’s blockbuster, and next year, they are counting on the Star Wars brand to invigorate their theme parks.  Going to Disneyworld soon?  You can meet Chewbacca, among other things.

Meet Chewbacca
Meet Chewbacca

With the expectations high, this is one franchise that will deliver as promised.  Marketers everywhere are in on the action, and betting big this holiday season.  The old standbys such as the toy companies like Hasbro and Mattel are joined by car companies like Fiat to promote their brands.

Star Wars Fiat Ad
Holiday Fiat Star Wars-themed ad campaign

They’re far from alone.  In Japan, Nippon Airways has taken a bolder action, and have branded their planes.

R2-D2 Nippon Air
Fly with R2 to Japan

As we all are anxiously awaiting the final trilogy in this epic masterpiece, there will be plenty of Star Wars to go around for many, many years to come.  Many, many more billions will be generated by this machine, or is it more fitting to be branded an Empire?

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer (Official) on Disney Video


Harrison Ford: promising carpenter’s career cut short

Harrison Ford was at a crossroads.  He could continue to be a craftsman, and build decks for the rich and famous, or he could throw that all away and aspire to be an actor.

He chose the latter.  Or rather, it chose him.

As has been widely accounted, the story of Harrison Ford’s meteoric rise to stardom came from a serendipitous event.  He was doing a masterful job fitting a door for Francis Ford Coppola at his American Zoetrope studio, when Coppola saw that his co-founder, George Lucas, needed someone to read lines to the actors auditioning for a campy space opera called Star Wars.  Lucas remembered Ford from their time on the set of Lucas’ previous film American Graffiti.  He also remembered the brash Ford asking for $15 more per week above the $485 Lucas offered him for his role in said film.  Ford told him that it made up for the money he would lose by not doing carpentry work.

Harrison Ford, Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.
Harrison Ford, Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66.

That story has been told already.

Little do many know, however, what a craftsman Ford really was.  Ford took to carpentry to salvage a fixer-upper he bought in the Hollywood Hills.  Just like acting, he had no previous training.  That said, he was no slouch with a hammer and nails.  His first carpentry job was to build a recording studio for Sergio Mendes.  He admittedly had problems.  He once said that he was standing on Mendes’ roof with a textbook in his hand.  Luckily, he didn’t hurt himself.  He also made a sun deck for Sally Kellerman (M*A*S*H, Back To School), and cabinets and furniture for Richard Dreyfus, John Gregory Dunne and Valerie Harper.

It wasn’t until the release of Star Wars that Ford finally hung up the tool belt.  That was a banner day for woodworkers everywhere.


Rick Sylvester and The Spy Who Loved Me

 

Rick Sylvester’s opening ski stunt was shot from the top of Asgard Peak on Baffin Island in Canada. The summit was only accessible by helicopter. A small crew, including Sylvester and second unit director John Glen, traveled there in July 1976, a month before principal photography began. They stayed in the neighboring village of Pangnirtung for 10 days, awaiting the right weather conditions.SPY-WHO-LOVED-SKI-1 Numerous cameras were positioned around the site to capture the moment. All the camera operators felt that they lost sight of the skier as he went sailing off the cliff, all except one camera which stayed with him throughout the stunt. The scene was all uncut. Sylvester’s pay was $30,000. Sylvester was supposedly given an additional bonus when he successfully completed the shot.

This was one of the first pre-credit sequences to really give the audience a gasp. You could hear a pin drop, it was fantastic. The Spy Who Loved Me was directed by Lewis Gilbert for Danjaq.spy loved

Things to look up (go to IMDB):

  • Rick Sylvester
  • The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Danjaq
  • Lewis Gilbert
  • John Glen
  • Albert R. Broccoli
  • Eon Productions
  • Harry Saltzman
  • Dana Broccoli
  • Jacqueline Saltzman
  • John Cork
  • United Artists

History of film companies as defined by Wikipedia: Danjaq – (formerly Danjaq S.A.) is the holding company responsible for the copyright and trademarks to the characters, elements, and other material related to James Bond on screen. It is currently owned and managed by the family of Albert R. Broccoli, the co-initiator of the popular film franchise. Eon Productions, the production company responsible for producing the James Bond films, is a subsidiary of Danjaq.

Danjaq was founded by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman after the release of the first James Bond film Dr. No, in 1962, to ensure all future films in the series. The new company was to be called Danjaq S.A., a combination of Broccoli and Saltzman’s respective wives’ names (Dana Broccoli and Jacqueline Saltzman). Also in 1962 Danjaq began its association with United Artists.

Due to financial difficulties, Saltzman later sold his share of Danjaq to United Artists in 1975. Beginning with 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, Danjaq began to share half the copyright and interests with United Artists Corporation, which is publicly the case still today, although the copyrights to the 2006 version of Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace (2008), and Skyfall (2012) are shared with the series’ new theatrical distributor, Columbia Pictures.

Some sources, notably John Cork (the author of a number of books about Bond’s film history, and a producer of many documentaries created for the films’ Special Edition DVD releases), claim that Broccoli purchased this 50% stake of Danjaq back from UA in the mid-1980s. It has been further suggested that MGM/UA have an exclusive distribution deal with Danjaq that is far more lucrative than when the shares were originally owned by Broccoli and Saltzman.

Although the trademarks for material related to the Bond films are held by Danjaq, the copyright to the film properties (beginning with Dr. No and aside from the 2006 Casino Royale,Quantum of Solace and Skyfall produced and co-copyrighted with Columbia Pictures) are shared by Danjaq and United Artists Corporation. The trademarks associated with the James Bond books and other non-film publications are held by Ian Fleming Publications.

Two theatrically released James Bond films have been made outside the control of Danjaq, a spoof called Casino Royale (1967) because the rights to that book had been sold prior to the Eon/Danjaq deal, and a serious James Bond film called Never Say Never Again (1983), a remake of the Danjaq film Thunderball; the latter was made possible due to a legal dispute involving Kevin McClory, one of the credited co-writers of Thunderball, who was awarded the film rights to the novel in a 1963 settlement with Ian Fleming.

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM