The first Felix Leiter would have been 87 years old today.
Archive for Jack Lord
A correspondent asks the following:
I am just curious if you know why Eon didn’t simply show Anthony Dawson in the Bond films where Blofeld appears and dub his voice again by Eric Pohlmann for the sake of continuity and consistency. After all, they have often used actors seen as other characters in different roles, like Charles Gray.
In the earliest films, Eon did care about consistency. We see this in FRWL, the second Bond film; Kronsteen references Dr. No by name. In Goldfinger, the third film, there is a reference to the gadget-briefcase from the previous film. However, Goldfinger is also the first departure from continuity; the replacement of Jack Lord as Felix Leiter. Lord wanted too much money, and Eon discovered that a replacement actor did no harm. So blame Jack Lord for the rotating hat of actors like Charles Gray.
Back to Blofeld. From the beginning, Broccoli & Saltzman had a vision of a continuing series with a continuing nemesis for Bond. SPECTRE is introduced late in the books—in Thunderball, the eighth of Fleming’s twelve novels. In the novels, Blofeld then returns for OHMSS and YOLT. But Eon wanted a thread of consistency, an overarching menace, and Blofeld fit the bill perfectly.
But menace can’t be introduced all at once, or it’s not menacing. Jacques Tourneur understood this in 1942, when he filmed Cat People without ever showing the titular monster. Now, I don’t have my reference materials in front of me, but I believe that it was Terence Young who put a cat in Blofeld’s lap, but it was the producers who decided that Blofeld’s face would not be seen. Undoubtedly, these film professionals were very familiar with a classic like Cat People, and understood that a tease is as important in creating fear as it is in creating arousal. To this day, many fans are disappointed by Donald Pleasance’s appearance in YOLT, and wished that Eon had sustained the mystery. However, by 1967, there was a huge fan outcry for Blofeld’s face to be revealed: Which is proof that the shadows had worked their magic.