My 80s TV Crushes: David Addison and Remington Steele

 

 

Reel Infatuation Banners

The Silver Screenings site is conducting the Reel Infatuation Blogathon this week. Bloggers are tasked with reflecting upon their fictional character crushes- from books or the big or small screen.

Truth be told, my first TV crush (and this is according to a discovery I made in my baby book as scribed in my mother’s own handwriting so it must be true) was Donny Osmond. I assume it was a combination of those gloriously large and straight teeth and I was more “a little bit Rock n’ Roll” than “a little bit country.” And then came along the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mystery Hour. I secretly thought of myself to be Nancy Drew, undoubtedly. And at a time when all the other girls were dreaming of Shaun Cassidy or even his half-brother David, not me. I preferred the clean-cut looks of Parker Stevenson, frankly.

Fast forward to my post-puberty days of the 80s. While Duran Duran was my religion and my cult, my television heart throbs fell on the charming shoulders of Bruce Willis as David Addison, Jr. of “Moonlighting” (1985-1989) and Pierce Brosnan as “Remington Steele”(1982-1987).

My love for classic film was already blossoming back in the 80s and Cary Grant was then and always shall remain my biggest silver screen crush. As for the small screen, it now seems obvious why I was drawn to the Remington Steele and David Addison characters. These two had a lot in common with each other but also with my love of classic film leading men.

Remington_promo

REMINGTON STEELE:

The pilot episode highlighted a female licensed investigator, Ms. Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist). She’s educated, sharp, confident, attractive, ambitious, with a keen attention to detail. But she constantly finds resistance from clients because she’s a woman. So she creates a fictional male boss (“Remington Steele” is a name created from a combination of a typewriter and a football team) and suddenly business starts to roll in.

That is, until her next assignment. When a client hires her for an event with multi-million dollars’ worth of jewels, he insists on meeting Mr. Steele in person for his personal oversee. Ms. Holt isn’t worried though. She plans on a shell game to keep her fictional boss always somewhere else while still providing top-notch security. How could anything go wrong?

Remington

Things go awry when a rather dapper man named Ben (Pierce Brosnan) shows up saying he’s in an official capacity as a South African diplomat to ensure the jewels rightful return to their country of smuggled origin. But when Laura’s team, always-suspicious Murphy and eager-to-please Ms. Fox, dig deeper into his true identity, they find he’s not who he seems. They find 5 passports with different names. All are fictional characters from Humphrey Bogart films. Before you know it, he’s been found out to be a jewel thief and con man…a perfect set-up for his even sexier role in THE THOMAS CROWNE AFFAIR remake (1999), taken Remington Steele’s identity, solved a murder and charmed Ms. Holt. By the end of the pilot, he’s decided to take on the Steele identity and the PI gig on a permanent basis. But do we ever discover his real name?

Moonlighting 1

David Addison in MOONLIGHTING:

In the pilot, we are introduced to Madelyn “Maddie” Hayes (Cybil Shepherd) who is a self-made woman of independent success and distinction as a former model. Still beautiful, intelligent and confident, she wakes up one day broke. Her investment manager ran off with all her liquid assets leaving her with only with a handful of businesses designed to lose money on the books.  The City of Angels detective agency is one of them, with David Addison (Bruce Willis), private eye, at the helm.

Bruce Willis American actor as 'David Addison' Cybill Shepherd American Actress as 'Maddie Hayes' Stars of the award-winning television series "Moonlighting"

Addison is energetic, fast-talking, witty, playful, and completely persistent. Maddie attempts to fire him and shut down the business but with David’s pushy persuasions and with a murder case that literally falls into their laps, Maddie ultimately changes her mind. As an homage to the ‘Blue Moon Shampoo girl’ of Maddie’s cover girl days, Addison decides to change their business name to the Blue Moon Detective Agency. Before then, the two bicker and screwball their way through an investigation. When a man falls dead in front of Maddie and onto the floor, revealing a knife in his back, David dryly jokes, “that’s gotta hurt falling on your nose like that.” The wit and onscreen chemistry sizzles, even if it didn’t exist behind the scenes.

What these two shows also shared was the insertion of quirky characters like Doris Roberts as Mildred Krebs in “Remington Steele” and Allyce Beasley as the speedy-rhyming Agnes DiPesto in “Moonlighting”. Plus, an impressive list of actors that star and/or cameo. Do you recall Eva Marie Saint, Imogene Coca, James Karen, John Goodman, Sterling Holloway (as a narrator) and Ray Charles have all appeared in “Moonlighting”?

Then there’s the writing. After a few seasons, head writer Glenn Gordon Caron left “Remington Steele” to begin writing for “Moonlighting.” No wonder the similarities are obvious.

“Moonlighting” offered higher production value and was the most expensive show aired at that time at $1.6 million per episode. Replete with all the glossy style of 80s fashions, nods to classic film was also worked into every scene with David and Maddie. In attempt to copy the rapid-fire exchanges of over-talking like Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in HIS GIRL FRIDAY (1940), cast members and producers were asked to watch that film in addition to BRINGING UP BABY (1938) to capture the tone and dynamics of those hilarious screwball couples. Cybil Shepherd was often shot in diffused camera lens to repeat the soft, glowing look of the leading ladies of the 1940s. Not to mention it was just a flattering aesthetic.

Moonlighting_classictones

Besides both series being centered on detective duos, the leading men borderline as con men and cads in their charming and frequently mischievous ways. The women are bright, assertive and more fearless than what a majority of women were/are portrayed as in film. That’s what makes these couples so intriguing and the tension more delectable.

Remington and David would not be near as irresistible if it wasn’t for Laura and Maddie to challenge them. In the pilot episode of Remington Steele, Brosnan’s character Steele says, “I’m a man who enjoys impossible challenges,” as he smiles flirtatiously at Laura. Later as they chase the bad guy in an airport cart, Steele is driving as Holt is grabbing the wheel from behind, steering simultaneously. “I take it you wanted to drive,” he coyly smiles.

Remington_LauraDriving

And that’s why David and Maddie, and Remington and Laura, just like Walter and Hildy in HIS GIRL FRIDAY along with several other classic examples work. The power struggles for these couples are so appealing because the women are not yielding, subservient, dizzy dames. These ladies are equally strong, attractive, intelligent women who challenge these deliciously charming men. And when you turn up that heat with such fiery exchanges… well, no wonder my younger self was hooked.

Remington_tux

Both Pierce Brosnan and Bruce Willis went on to even more successful careers. But it was these roles and the portrayal of these characters that led them there. Brosnan was courted to be the next James Bond back in 85/86 but a surprise resurgence in the show (thanks to the Bond buzz) created a renewal of one more season and caused him to lose out to Timothy Dalton. Years later, Chris Columbus who worked with him on MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993) urged Brosnan to give it a go again, which eventually landed him the part as 007.

Bruce Willis received great success as John McClane in DIE HARD (1988) while still filming “Moonlighting,” which kicked off a long career of iconic action and sci-fi films. His success, the behind-the-scenes conflicts, including huge challenges by continuous filming delays all added up to kill the show.

Looking back, the sets seem hokey by today’s standards and these shows certainly do not have the same staying power as the classic films they aspired. But these memorable characters of Remington Steele and David Addison, Jr. permanently etched these actors forever on the American cinematic map and will always have a warm, fuzzy spot in my heart, too.


This was my contribution to the Reel Infatuation Blogathon, hosted by Silver Screenings and Font & Frock, taking place June 13-17th. Explore all the reel crushes from each day!

 

Reel Infatuation Banners

Advertisements

CASINO ROYALE (1967)

Casino-Royale-art-1-400x283

The swinging, silly, sexy, psychedelic sixties. This aptly describes the style of the times and of the outrageously fun flick, CASINO ROYALE (1967). I can’t say for certainty because I was just wee babe of six months old when this film was released in April 1967, but to me, this film is a stylish party that projects what many wanted the 60’s to be. Reality held a different image for many no doubt. But reality is a dish not served in this film.

A Little Background History:

Barry Nelson as James Bond in "Casino Royale" (Climax!) 1954

Barry Nelson as James Bond in “Casino Royale” (Climax!) 1954

“Casino Royale” was Ian Fleming’s first novel published in the infamous James Bond series in 1953. This film was released 14 years after the novel was published.  Interestingly, there was a television production of “Casino Royale” on the CBS show Climax! in 1954 starring Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre and a very Americanized Bond, awkwardly acted by Barry Nelson who is sometimes called Jimmy. Fleming continued with publishing a new Bond book every year until 1966. Despite these novels great successes it took several years for Fleming to bring his novels to the big screen. By 1961 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman with financial backing by United Artists created Eon Productions, to make the first of many James Bond films with Terence Young’s DR. NO (1962).

The "Bond girls" of CASINO ROYALE (1967) poster

The “Bond girls” of CASINO ROYALE (1967) poster

By the time producer Charlie K. Feldman decided to take the original “Casino Royale” story to the big screen (the first of only two non-Eon Productions of Bond films), other than the casino scene,most of the plot points had been taken for use in other Bond films. With very little to work with, he decided to make this James Bond production a parody with four main segments directed by separate directors and writers, starting with director John Huston. In the end, the four directors turned into six. The original three screenplay writers were assisted by another seven writer contributors including Billy Wilder, Ben Hecht and Terry Southern. And the original budget of $6 million doubled to more than $12 million with out-of-control spending, multiple sets and sound stages across the United Kingdom, Ireland and Scotland plus delays in production, earning it a reputation similar to Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s CLEOPATRA (1963). (Hardly justified considering CLEOPATRA’S 44 Mill price tag.)

CAST & CREW:

David Niven= Ian Fleming's vision of James Bond

David Niven= Ian Fleming’s vision of James Bond

When Ian Fleming wrote the James Bond character, he had actor David Niven in mind to best play the iconic part for the big screen. At the time, Niven was busy with his TV production company “Four Star Productions” which he founded along with a few big name stars like Dick Powell, who scoffed at the idea. Niven ultimately turned it down. Sean Connery kicked off the first Bond film roles instead. When it was decided to make this twist on Bond, Connery was approached first as he had been so closely associated with the role but was rejected due to his 1 million dollar salary request. Ian Fleming’s original James Bond pick of David Niven was ultimately, and very appropriately, chosen…

Directors: Val Guest, Ken Hughes, John Huston, Joseph McGrath, Robert Parrish, Richard Talmadge

Writers: Wolf Mankowitz, John Law, Michael Sayers (screenplay)/ Ian Fleming (original novel)/ Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, Billy Wilder, Val Guest, Ben Hecht, Joseph Heller, Terry Southern (uncredited contributors)

Cast and Cameo Highlights:

Ursula Andress and Peter Sellers headline the sexy stellar cast

Ursula Andress and Peter Sellers headline the sexy stellar cast

Peter Sellers (Evelyn Tremble/James Bond 007), Ursula Andress (Vesper Lynd/ James Bond 007), David Niven (Sir James Bond), Orson Welles (Le Chiffre), Joanna Pettet (Mata Bond), Daliah Lavi (The Detainer/ James Bond 007), Woody Allen (Jimmy Bond aka Dr. Noah), Deborah Kerr, (Agent Mimi/ Lady Fiona McTarry), William Holden (Ransome), Charles Boyer (Le Grand), John Huston (M/ General McTarry), Kurt Kasznar (Smernov), George raft (himself), Jean-Paul Belmondo (French Legionnaire), Terence Cooper (Cooper/ James Bond 007), Barbara Bouchet (Moneypenny), Jacqueline Bisset (Giovanna Goodthighs), Anna Quayle (Frau Hoffner), Bernard Cribbins (taxi driver), Geoffrey Bayldon (“Q”), Burt Kwouk (Chinese General), Erik Chitty (Sir James Bond’s butler), Geraldine Chaplin (a Keystone cop), Jack Gwillim (British officer), John Le Mesurier (M’s Driver), David Prowse (Frankenstein’s monster), Peter O’Toole (as Scottish piper ).

Producers: Charles K. Feldman, Jerry Bresler (producers), John Dark (associate producer)

Burt Bacharach's music for CASINO ROYALE earned both Oscar and Grammy noms

Burt Bacharach’s music for CASINO ROYALE earned both Oscar and Grammy noms

Music: Burt Bacharach/ main title theme by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Costume Design: Julie Harris, Anna Duse

STORY: (Warning-Spoilers may occur)

The Leaders of the spy world are a legendary line-up

The Leaders of the spy world are a legendary line-up

The film very loosely follows the “Casino Royale” story with characters of the same or similar names known from the Bond series. Our story starts with the death of ‘M’ and spy leaders force legendary Sir James Bond out of retirement to finally stop SMERSH and Le Chiffre (world-class evil nemesis) from taking over the world. Sir James (David Niven) strategizes that every agent will be henceforth called James Bond to play a game of bait-and-switch on the evil doers while the real James Bond gets to work. Evelyn Tremble (one of the fake 007s played by Peter Sellers) confronts Le Chiffre (played by Orson Welles) in a showdown game of baccarat. (On the set, Welles despised Sellers and was not subtle about it, to the point that they shot most of the casino scenes completely separately. Sellers eventually called in sick, permanently- forcing creative editing to be made for his unfinished scenes.)  Silliness ensues in a psychedelic roller-coaster as new agents confront the mayhem intended for the real Bond.

In real life, Peter Sellers hated Orson Welles' magic tricks for the casino scene

In real life, Peter Sellers hated Orson Welles’ magic tricks for the casino scene

Sellers and Andress play it cool for a game of baccarat

Sellers and Andress play it cool for a game of baccarat

Even a UFO finds its way into the silly storyline

Even a UFO finds its way into the silly storyline

In the end, the source of all this madness and our main villain is surprisingly revealed to be Sir James Bond’s neurotic nephew, Jimmy Bond aka Dr. Noah (clearly a play on the name “Dr. No” and played by Woody Allen), a SMERSH defector. Upon capturing The Detainer (another faux 007 played by Daliah Lavi), Dr. Noah describes his evil plan to launch a bacillus that will make all women beautiful and all men shorter than himself. He will then possess the confidence and virility he so desperately lacks and envies of his uncle James. The conclusion is a chaotic confrontation of non-sensical goofiness including cowboys and Indians on horseback, George Raft flipping a coin, French Legionnaires, Keystone cops and an explosive ending where Dr. Noah is tricked into swallowing his own A-bomb pill that “looks like an aspirin, tastes like an aspirin, but it is not an aspirin.”

Dr. Noah holds The Detainer captive- naked, of course.

Dr. Noah holds The Detainer captive- naked, of course.

I must admit that I have never taken any illegal drugs in my day. (I’m a product of my ‘hippies from the 60’s’ parents so my biggest form of rebellion was to NOT take drugs.) So watching this film I can only guess that this film is a “real trip.” There are some very psychedelic moments to be sure. And you really cannot expect to find any structured plot to speak of with the various directors taking turns without a cohesive thread to pull it together (although director/writer Val Guest did his best.)

Despite this disorganized mess, this film has some hilarious one-liner zingers and classic scenes I enjoy watching over and over again, thanks to the talented writers and directors. And where else can you enjoy such an amazing ensemble cast with a parade of cameos?! The music by Burt Bacharach and the title theme is perfection. No wonder it was nominated for an Oscar and Grammy. And the fashions… oh the sexy FASHIONS! The costumes and set designs are a true time capsule of the definitive sixties style and design.

The goddess gown is classic beauty on Ursula

The goddess gown is classic beauty on Ursula

Some spy training with the Bond girls looks more like a lingerie runway show

Some spy training with the Bond girls looks more like a lingerie runway show

Perfection in pink...

Perfection in pink…

While this film was a product of its generational influence and the perfect James Bond spy spoof, it later became an influencer itself. Not unlike Quentin Tarantino paying homage to his beloved spaghetti westerns via DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012), Mike Myers paid tribute to CASINO ROYALE (1967) and the James Bond style in his Austin Powers character and films. A parody paying tribute to another parody for a new generation to enjoy.

Dr. Evil and his fembots took notes from the CASINO ROYALE playbook

Dr. Evil and his fembots took notes from the CASINO ROYALE playbook

Did Austin Powers steal this look from HIS MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE? We think "yeah, baby!"

Did Austin Powers steal this look from HIS MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE? We think “yeah, baby!”

This was my contribution to the FILMS OF 1967 BLOGATHON hosted by SILVER SCREENINGS and THE ROSEBUD CINEMA – please read the full line-up of participants for a “swinging good time!”

1967Banner

%d bloggers like this: