It’s A Hell Of A Thing, Killin’ A Man: Unforgiven At 30.

The Western genre was huge decades ago. It really all began in the 1950s. Oh, I know that there were Westerns before the 1950s and the genre dates back to the early 1900s with The Great Train Robbery from 1903 being one of the first (there were even some Westerns from around 1895). However, it was in the 1950s and when John Wayne was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, that the Western genre really began to gain popularity.


By the 1960s, the genre had plateaued and began to fall out of favour as tastes changed… at least in America. In Europe, the Western was still a major draw and so the subgenre of the Spaghetti Western was born. These were a mix of various production companies over Europe working together to make classic Westerns with a more modern and European edge. I really should write a more detailed look at the Spaghetti Western subgenre one day. Anyway, Italian director Sergio Leone was one of the big Spaghetti Western filmmakers working in Europe in the 60s. Meanwhile, in America, a young bit-part actor by the name of Clint Eastwood, was struggling to find roles. At the time, Eastwood was appearing in the TV show Rawhide but could not break into movies. Long story short and Eastwood was suggested to play the lead in a new Spaghetti Western that Sergio Leone was making in Europe. That film was Per un pugno di dollari or, A Fistful of Dollars.

An even longer story short and Clint Eastwood stayed in Europe, did a few more Spaghetti Westerns and when they were eventually released in America a few years later, Eastwood became a major Hollywood star and the Western was reborn. From then, there was no stopping him as Eastwood ruled the box office for decades. Taking on iconic role after iconic role. I mean, Dirty Harry anyone? It was in the 70s when Eastwood also turned his hand to directing for the first time with the 1971 psychological thriller, Play Misty for Me. It turned out that not only was Eastwood a great actor, he was a damn fine director too. He began directing more and more films and his latest film as a director, Cry Macho, was released in 2021 when Eastwood was 91 years old. That’s a directing career of 50 years and more than thirty films. Not bad for a guy who couldn’t land a lead role in America in the 1960s.

Still, if I were to pick just one film that showcases Clint Eastwood’s talent as an actor and director, that film would have to be Unforgiven. Not only Eastwood’s best film but perhaps one of the greatest Western to ever be made too. Released back in 1992, Unforgiven is now 30 years old and I’m writing this article to celebrate its genius and take a look at just why it is so damn good.

While Unforgiven was released in 1992, it dates back a little further than that. David Webb Peoples was a film editor in the 70s as his main job, but he loved to write. In his spare time between editing jobs, he would sit down and pen screenplays. He got his first big job as a writer when Ridley Scott hired him to write Blade Runner in 1982. Still, back in the 70s when David Webb Peoples was working as an editor and writing in his spare time, he penned a Western film script with a harder edge than was being made at the time and that script had two working titles, The Cut-Whore Killings and The William Munny Killings. The script eventually found its way to Clint Eastwood in the 80s. However, he didn’t read it.

Instead, long-time associate of Eastwood, Sonia Chernus (she worked on Rawhide and The Outlaw Josey Wales with Eastwood) read the script and hated it. The script was overly violent and bloody with not much of a plot. Chernus told Eastwood that:

“We would have been far better off not to have accepted trash like this piece of inferior work. I can’t think of one good thing to say about it. Except maybe, get rid of it fast.”

Clint Eastwood trusted his associate’s judgement and didn’t read the script himself but, he didn’t follow her advice to ‘get rid of it fast’. Instead, he just put it to one side. A while later and when looking for a new project to work on, Eastwood picked up David Webb Peoples’ The Cut-Whore Killings/The William Munny Killings script and liked it. He recognised that it was rough and still need a lot of work, but he liked it. In fact, Clint Eastwood liked it so much that he felt not only should he play the lead but that he should direct it too. It was about 1986 and while Eastwood loved the script, he felt he was a bit too young to take it on. He decided to leave it for a few years and in that time, the script could be reworked and polished. Eventually, it became the shooting script for Unforgiven. From that rough script, Unforgiven went on to win four Oscars. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Gene Hackman) and Best Film Editing. Not bad for a flick that was once deemed so bad that it should be thrown away.


Unforgiven really is a wonderful piece of cinema that turned the Western genre on its head. Going back to classic films of the genre, the plots were always pretty basic. You had a good guy and a bad guy storyline and the Sheriff was always the good guy. With Unforgiven, Gene Hackman’s Sheriff ‘Little’ Bill Daggett was the bad guy, a really nasty bad guy too who was responsible for some of the most evil acts in the film. Daggett is even more violent than the cowboys that are responsible for kick-starting the plot of the film. Then, Clint Eastwood’s William Munny wasn’t exactly the hero in the white hat either. He had a history, a pretty bleak history. The film makes it clear that Munny is not or has not been a nice person and can never be redeemed for his past actions. The opening text crawl tells you that he is a known thief and murderer. William Munny will never be Unforgiven and there was this blurring of the line between being a good or bad guy in a Western.

Outside of the main two characters, Unforgiven is crammed with some amazing characters and performances. Richard Harris as English Bob, the legendary and ageing gunslinger is only in a few scenes, but those scenes stick with you. With Bob being followed around by Saul Rubinek’s W.W. Beauchamp, a very nervous writer wanting to capture the story of English Bob on the page. The whores that kick-start the story and their lust for revenge is so well crafted for such a simple plot. The Schofield Kid, played by Jaimz Woolvett is a wonderfully realised character that has all the bluster and front of a hardened killer, only for the exact opposite to be true. Of course, you can’t talk about the cast and characters of Unforgiven without mentioning Morgan Freeman as Ned Logan. One of William Munny’s oldest and best friends and an ex-outlaw with his own questionable past.


One of the great things about Unforgiven is how it handles the violence. There is no doubt that this is a violent flick, but it doesn’t necessarily take glory in that fact. If anything, it questions violence. Just going back to The Schofield Kid character and when he finally admits to having never killed anyone before and the whole ‘It’s a hell of a thing, killin’ a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have’ speech. It’s a very powerful scene and I don’t think a film had ever brought up killing in such a way before, especially in the Western genre. Even before that iconic scene and before the ‘heroes’ are about to kill one of the cowboys who cut up Delilah Fitzgerald at the start of the film. You have the Ned Logan character tell William Munny that he can’t kill anyone. There’s a morality here and several times through the film, violence is questioned as characters try to make sense of what they are doing. The film almost feels anti-violence even when it is at its most violent.


All through that violence, we are rooting for a bad guy. Clint Eastwood’s William Munny was a horrible character with many flaws. As mentioned, the opening text crawl tells you that he was a murderer. Then, at the end of the film, we learn so much more as Munny even admits as much himself.

“I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another.” 

He’s a child killer and we, the viewer, are on his side. He’s not a nice person, or at least he wasn’t. A retired outlaw turned pig farmer, trying to look after his two children since his wife died. Yet, he can’t escape his old life. We, the viewer, are caught in a trap with William Munny. We want him to go back to his farm and take care of his children. But, we also want to see him get bloody revenge. We know that he’s been responsible for some despicable acts in the past and yet, we can’t help but support him. It takes some impressive writing to get the viewer on side with a self-confessed child killer. But it works because (as I said before) the supposed good guy, Sheriff Bill Daggett is evil. Really, there are no ‘good guys’ in Unforgiven, just different levels of bad guys and it gives us one of the most honest depictions of the Wild West on film.


Then there is the pacing. Unforgiven comes in at over 2 hours and there are scenes that are slow, plodding. Very talky to help build characters. There are even times when the main plot just stops, as we learn more about William Munny. See the scene when he is talking to the cut-up whore, Delilah Fitzgerald and turning down her offer of a ‘free one’. For a good while, the main plot ceases to exist as Munny’s life and history become the focus. There are several scenes like this, where everything is slowed down and yet, the film never feels boring. It is constantly moving forwards, there is always something going on and the 2-hour runtime flies by, even when the film applies the breaks. You can really tell why this film won the Best Film Editing Oscar. Unforgiven has many a slow scene, but the film itself never feels slow and every single scene in the film deserves to be in the film. There’s not one wasted frame here.


You can’t talk about Unforgiven and not mention the cinematography. A lot of Westerns look good, purely based on the fact of their setting. With Unforgiven, you get that times a thousand. I mean, just look at the opening shot above. The scenery used and how it is shot is stunning all through the film. We get shots of beautiful scenery, sunsets and vistas that seem to go on forever. Scenes of people riding horses and talking, while awe-inspiring visuals engulf your eyes. But, there’s a wonderful juxtaposition going on as those beautiful shots are intercut with scenes from the film’s town setting of Big Whiskey. You can go from a prepossessing mountain range to the horseshit-filled streets of Big Whiskey. No more does this become apparent than in the film’s finale, shot at night and in the pouring rain. The use of light and shadow to show the good and bad sides of William Munny. The cinematography is astonishing.

And about that finale. Everything has been building to this for the last hour and 50 minutes. It’s been a slow but engrossing journey and we get to see William Munny as he was before he became a pig farmer. Cold, calculated and an unashamed killer. The last 10 minutes or so of Unforgiven are some of the greatest that you will find in any film. It’s dark, it’s moody and yet, there is still room for some light humour… before the slaughter of Sheriff Bill Daggett and his men. Brutal and brilliantly shot. then we get the closing shot, a mirror of the opening shot and Munny is back home on his farm and looking after his children.


This ladies and gentlemen, this is why Unforgiven is the greatest Western film ever made. Even now, 30 years later, it is still a powerful and emotive picture.

What Was The First Released Film To Use CGI?

What was the first released film to use CGI? That was a question I asked a while back and got some ‘interesting’ answers. 1993’s Jurassic Park was one of the answers. A good call as it did feature some early CGI work, but not the first. Someone mentioned the owl in the intro to Labyrinth from 1986 too. Yup, that was CGI, not the first though. The stained glass window scene in Young Sherlock Holmes from 1985 is another one often mentioned, and still not the first.


So then, what was the first released film to use CGI? Well, before I get to that (and other notable flicks), I just want to get my feelings on CGI down. Today, people seem to be quick to dismiss CGI work as being ‘easy’ or ‘lazy’ when compared to practical effects. ‘It looks fake’ is one comment I see popping up a lot in regards to CGI. Well yeah, it does look fake… because it’s fake. Practical effects are fake too, that is why they are called effects. CGI is far from easy or lazy and, more often than not, actually takes up a great many more man hours to produce than practical effects work.

Yes, some CGI can look pretty poor. Some practical effects can look dire too. That is because it is not the medium of the effects being used that is the issue. It is the time, money and talent that work on it. You can have really great CGI work, just as you can have really great practical effects. You can also have some truly awful CGI and practical effects work. It all depends on what went on behind the scenes. Some of my favourite effects work is practical. The werewolf transformation in An American Werewolf in London is one example, there’s a reason Rick Baker won an Oscar for it. Just as CGI work is also some of my favourites. I still think the T-1000 effects from Terminator 2: Judgment Day is impressive now.

T2 T-1000

In short, I’m not one of those ‘CGI sucks’ people. I don’t think that one is ‘better’ than the other and it all depends on what the effects are being used for. I don’t think there is such a thing as an overuse of CGI in a film, depending on what the film is, CGI is often the only viable option. Just going back to Jurassic Park for a second. I don’t expect the film-makers to invent time travel and go back to when dinosaurs ruled the Earth to capture real footage. So, in cases like that, CGI is a must. Yes, they use practical effects too and there had been examples of such effects in previous films with dinosaurs. Still, as much as I adore and respect Ray Harryhausen, growing up watching his work. Jurassic Park’s CGI looked better than anything he ever did on a practical level.


Anyway, I’m going off on a bit of a tangent now. I’m here to look at the history of CGI in films. So then, where did it all start and what was the first film to use CGI? We know it wasn’t the 90s, many people think the first film to use CGI came from the 80s. Possible, there were some great examples of CGI in 80s flicks. Tron, Flight of the Navigator? How about the 70s? Sounds a bit far-fetched to younger readers who didn’t even know that computers existed in the 70s. But yeah, there was CGI in films in the 70s. The awesome and classic Westworld from 1973 used CGI. For those not in the know or have only seen the recent TV show. Westworld was a film about a futuristic theme park going wrong when the attractions kill the visitors. Think Jurassic Park but with androids. Well, they were both written by Michael Crichton.


So yeah, CGI existed in the 70s. Westworld used computers to depict the vision of Yul Brynner’s gunslinging android. If you do a Google search for ‘first CGI in film’, then Westworld is the answer you will get. Many places have written articles similar to this one and credit Westworld as being the first too. Here’s one from Empire, one from Insider and YouTube is full of people making videos stating that 1973’s Westworld was the first film to use CGI. So, there you go, CGI in film dates back to the early 70s, many sites and even Google are happy to tell you that too. Except for one tiny problem, they’re all wrong. CGI in film dates back before 1973 and before Westworld was released. I’m not talking about a few days or weeks before Westworld either.

What if I told you that the first film to use CGI was pre-70s? What if I told you it was pre-60s? Yup, you’ll have to go back to the 1950s to find the first film that used CGI. 1958, in fact. The Alfred Hitchcock directed Vertigo used CGI first. John Whitney was the man who came up with the effect too. He used a World War II targeting computer (yes younger readers, computers existed back then) to create the film’s opening titles. Working with Saul Bass, the opening featured various spirals and they were all created using that WW II targeting computer.

There you go folks, the first use of CGI in a film. One could get pedantic and say that the CGI is not ‘in’ the film but just used for the title sequence. Still, the first film to use CGI was 1958’s Vertigo. Kind-of-CGI dates back even further though. There were few proto-computer animated short films that used oscilloscopes to create visuals. Titles like Around is Around (1951) Eneri (1953) and Abstronic (1954, which I couldn’t find a good video for) all used an oscilloscope. I think these three earlier examples really boil down to if one thinks that a short animation is a ‘film’ or even if an oscilloscope is a computer. Those last three may be debatable but one can not deny that Vertigo was the first to use CGI in a feature film.

What was the first fully CGI animated film? Pixar’s Toy Story, right? Again, debatable. If we were to say the first fully CGI animated ‘feature’ film, then Toy Story seems to be the rightful claimant. However, there were animated CGI short films way before Pixar even got into the game. As far as I can tell, Catalog (1961) seems to be the first fully CGI animated (short) film. It looks more like a basic screensaver by today’s standards but back in 1961, this was groundbreaking and made of very early and simple computers.


I don’t know if this counts but also from 1961 was Rendering of a Planned Highway. Again, not a feature film. This was actually a computer generated animation to show what a proposed new highway in Sweden would look like and was created by the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology. It was the world’s first fully digitally created ‘real’ environment. So impressive was it, at the time, that it was even broadcast on Swedish national TV on the 9th of November 1961. So ‘technically’ it was publicly released.

There’s actually a slew of released CGI created short films in the 60s. I’m not going to name them all here, but here are a few. Hypercube (1965) was the first stereoscopic 3D computer animation. Computer Ballet (1965) had the first ever CGI human animation. Mr. Computer Image (1968) had the first voiced CGI character. Even the 70s, before Westworld, had some impressive CGI shorts. Computer Animated Hand (1972) was the first film to feature polygonal 3D animation and shading. As a side note, the creator of this animation, Edwin Catmull, went on to co-found Pixar. So technically, this was the first ever Pixar film. Then we get into 1973 and Westworld.


Of course, those examples were all short films. Still, my initial question was: What was the first released film to use CGI? I never said feature film. In terms of CGI in released films, there were a lot before Westworld was released through the 60s and 70s. Around 25 or so short animated CGI films before Westworld reached the cinemas, in fact. In terms of feature films, then Hitchcock’s Vertigo definitely predates Westworld though and Google need correcting.

Movie Sequels We Never Got: Timothy Dalton’s Third James Bond Film

The James Bond movie franchise is 60 years old this year. I have already done a little celebration looking at films within the Bond franchise that celebrated their own anniversaries this year. Including the Timothy Dalton led, The Living Daylights, which is 35 this year. All of which, brings me to the point of this article.  Timothy Dalton (the best James Bond actor ever) only made two films in the Bond franchise. But, a third (and even more) film(s) was on the cards. Obviously, we never did get a third Dalton starring James Bond flick, but why?

Now, you may have heard that Timothy Dalton’s third Bond outing was going to be an adaption of Ian Fleming’s short Bond story, The Property of a Lady. I’ve seen a few articles and videos covering this very story. Well… it wasn’t. The Property of a Lady was never even considered as being a Bond film, as far as I can tell. This just seems to be an internet rumour that has spread recently. But before I do get into all of that, I do want to cover why Timothy Dalton only made the two Bond films.


As mentioned, a third film was most definitely on the cards, there was even an outline of the story (which I will get to soon enough). Dalton was all set to be in the next film too. However, there were legal issues going on behind the scenes at the time and this prevented any more Bond films from being made for a while. It is a very lengthy story that I’m not going to cover here, but the info on the whole thing is easy enough to find. Anyway, at the time, Bond films were being released at a steady pace. The gap between The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill was 2 years, which was pretty much standard in the franchise and had been for a while. The gap between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye was 6 years. With the exception of the filmed but multiple Covid-delayed No Time to Die, that is the longest gap between James Bond films ever.


Set to be released in 1991, another 2-year gap between films, Timothy Dalton’s third film was being worked on. Then, the previously mentioned legal issues arose and everything ground to a halt. So, why didn’t Dalton return as Bond once the legal issues were sorted? The truth is that he wanted to and the legendary Bond film producer, Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli wanted Dalton back too. Only Cubby wanted a bit too much, as Dalton recalled when talking to

“I think that I’d love to do one. Try and take the best of the two that I have done, and consolidate them into a third. And he [Cubby] said, quite rightly, ‘Look, Tim. You can’t do one. There’s no way, after a five-year gap between movies, that you can come back and just do one. You’d have to plan on four or five.’ And I thought, oh, no, that would be the rest of my life. Too much. Too long. So I respectfully declined.”

So yeah, Cubby wanted Dalton to commit to multiple films. But after having to wait for several years while the legal issues were sorted, Timothy Dalton felt that he just couldn’t do that. If the legal issues hadn’t stopped production on the films, we most probably would’ve had two or three more Dalton-starring Bond films, at least. As for that third film that wasn’t? Pretty much all of the following information has come from either Charles Helfenstein’s The Making of The Living Daylights or Mark Edlitz’s The Lost Adventures of James Bond: Timothy Dalton’s Third and Fourth Bond Films books.


Timothy Dalton’s last Bond film, Licence to Kill, ‘under performed’ at the box office. I didn’t flop. In fact, it made more than 4 times its budget back. However, it did make the least amount of money of all of the Bond films to date. Reviews of the film, at the time, probably didn’t help much. A lot of them called the film out as being too ‘serious’ and that perhaps, the franchise was getting a bit long in the tooth. That lack of ‘enthusiasm’ for the film panicked the Bond producers. They began to worry that they had made the films too gritty, too dark, too serious. In order to get the franchise back to its former (debatable) glory, they thought that they should make the next film more ‘light-hearted’.

A very early idea for Bond 17 (as it was called) was to even go for an out-and-out comedy, using the 1967 version of Casino Royale as a template, but with the ‘real’ James Bond. That idea was quickly thrown out though as it was just a panicked knee-jerk reaction to the reviews that called out Licence to Kill for being too ‘serious’. Whether that straight-up comedy idea was even taken on board in any meaningful way seems to be debated. However, it did lead to the idea of going back to the Roger Moore era of Bond and adding more jokes, one-liners and so on. The film even had a teaser poster shown at Cannes in 1990.


James Bond writer/producer Michael G. Wilson and writer Alfonse Ruggiero, Jr., known for his work on TV shows such as Miami Vice and Wiseguy, teamed up to write a draft story for Bond 17. Sticking with the idea of penning a lighter, Roger Moore-like Bond film, they wrote a rough story that involved robots going out of control that wouldn’t have felt out of place if Michael Crichton had written it. There are a few places that go over exactly what was in this story draft. Sites like and have plenty of details on this version of Bond 17. I’m just going to give you the outline of what the script entailed here.


Opening in Scotland at a chemical weapons factory. A team, led by the Minister of Defence, Nigel Yupland, discover a lab that is run completely by AI robots. One of the robots breaks down and bursts into flames and the investigating team tries to escape. The fire spreads and the factory explodes. In England, the Prime Minister ensures that an investigation of the explosion goes ahead, working with Yupland.

Cutting to M’s office. Of course, James Bond is the one brought in to find out what happened at the chemical weapons factory in Scotland. It turns out that MI6 received a letter that threatened the destruction of the factory. So, not an accident at all. Meanwhile, MI6’s Hong Kong office has also received a similar letter saying that another factory in China would also be destroyed in three days.

In Nigel Yupland’s situation room. He, Bond and Q are going over some low-quality photos and surveillance footage of possible targets, all of them have had a break-in recently. Q promises to get the images cleaned up so they can look for clues, but says that it will take 8 hours. Cutting to Tokyo, the Kohoni Industries complex is broken into by a mysterious figure. They find a crate heading to Nanking, China and swap the microchip in one of the robotic devices before making their escape.


An alarm sounds and the intruder is chased through Tokyo. They manage to make their escape in a Lamborghini and make their way to the docks, still being chased. They drive the Lamborghini onto a ferry and escape. But the chasing security take down the car’s license plate. Now free from their pursuers, the mysterious figure takes off their mask and is revealed to be the well-known cat-burglar, Connie Webb.

Back in England and Q has cleaned up the security footage of the other break-ins. Bond and Yupland ID the burglar as Connie Webb, revealed as being an ex-CIA agent and highly skilled. So, Bond is sent to Tokyo to track down Webb and find out who she is working for, using a new microchip that Q has created as bait to lure Webb out of wherever she is hiding. Before going to Japan, Q takes Bond to his garage where the iconic Aston Martin DB5 is kept. Q tells Bond that the car is going to be dismantled by Nigel Yupland as it is no longer in use. But Q does not want to see that happen, so he arranges for the car to be sent to Japan for Bond to use on his mission.


In Tokyo at a ski resort, Bond meets up with an ageing veteran spy heading for retirement called Denholm Crisp. Crisp has arranged for Bond to stay at the ski resort… the same resort that Connie Webb is staying at. Bond spots Webb and follows her. She gets into her Lamborghini, with Bond tailing her in his DB5. Realising that she is being tailed Webb puts her foot down and a car chase ensues. Webb heads to a helipad and makes her escape in a helicopter. Bond gets on another copter and has the pilot chase Webb.

The pursuit leads to a snowy mountain and by the time Bond gets there, Webb has already tried to make her escape on skis. Bond jumps from his copter (wearing skis) and so begins a classic ski chase with lots of typical jumps and such. Webb tries to lure Bond into a snow cornice (overhanging snow). However, she gets too close and the snow falls on top of her, she is trapped. Bond hurries over and saves Webb from her snowy tomb. The next day and they pair meet up for dinner, all while retiring agent, Denholm Crisp, watches on. Bond does what he does with his Bond girls and they go back to Webb’s room at the ski resort.


Inside Webb’s room, Bond shows her Q’s new microchip (bait) and asks her if she knows anybody who could be interested in buying the technology. As she is holding the chip, there’s a knock on the door but it’s not room service. Bond gets up to answer it and he is knocked out. He wakes up cuffed to a chair and the Kohoni brothers (the owners of the Kohoni Industries complex that Webb broke into) are in front of him. Webb is interrogated about the robbery by one of the bothers and says that they will tazer Bond if she does not talk. She keeps quiet and Bond is given several 1000 volts of electricity, knocking him (still cuffed to the chair) to the floor. He’s hit with another blast of the tazer, only this time, he grabs the leg of one of the Kohoni brothers. The electricity passes through Bond and takes out one of his captors. Breaking free from the chair, Bond fights the other Kohoni brother before he and Webb escape through a window. Now on the streets and still being chased, Connie Webb makes it to her Lamborghini and escapes (with Q’s microchip), leaving Bond behind. He uses a nearby torchlight parade as cover to lose his pursuers.

Back with Webb and she makes contact with Otto Winkhart, the person she has been breaking into factories for. Webb tells Winkhart all about Q’s new microchip that she now has and he is very interested in getting hold of it. She agrees to sell it to Winkhart and the two meet up.


Now with the chip, Otto Winkhart flies to Hong Kong to meet Sir Henry Lee Ching a man with his finger on the pulse of technology… and someone who wants Britain to withdraw from Hong Kong. This was written before the Handover of Hong Kong in 1997. Anyway, Ching was going to use Q’s microchip to create and spread a computer virus that would disable every military and commercial computerised machine in the world. Oh, and he has a ‘girlfriend’ that is a cyborg who would fight Bond at one point and even has a car chase, featuring a high-tech supercar.

In Sir Henry Lee Ching’s situation room, he has a map of the world and he highlights the Nanking power plant (where the crate that Webb swapped the chip was heading). He hits a button and what happened in Scotland in the opening happens in Nanking. Sir Henry Lee Ching, via Otto Winkhart, via Connie Webb, was behind the whole thing. Bond eventually turns up at Ching’s base of operations and the climax of the film occurs. Bond wins and saves the world once more.


That is the basics of what the story being Bond 17 was, as written by Michael G. Wilson and Alfonse Ruggiero, Jr. It was a rough outline of a story and it is quite clear that the aim was to make a fully original Bond film and not adapt The Property of a Lady, as others insist on claiming. I mean, that short story is about Bond getting involved with Fabérgé eggs and an auction to unveil a KGB agent. Nothing to do with robots and a megalomaniac wanting to shut down the entire planet’s computer systems. As far as I can tell, The Property of a Lady never was going to be Timothy Dalton’s third James Bond film at all.

That rough story went through various rewrites in 1990… and that was when all the legal stuff that stopped production on any Bond film happened. Work on the next Bond film didn’t pick back up until May 1993 when it was officially announced that the 17th Bond film was in production. Even then, it was still untitled and only known as Bond 17. No The Property of a Lady title anywhere. Elements of the story for Bond 17 and its several rewrites became the basis for the Pierce Brosnan era though. The not-so-serious tone, villain using advanced technology to threaten the world, etc. Even bringing back the Aston Martin DB5 made it into GoldenEye. In fact, GoldenEye was being written through 1993 and 1994 with Timothy Dalton in mind. 94 was when Dalton officially announced that he would not be returning and Pierce Brosnan was the new James Bond.


I looked, I’ve really, really looked and can not find any official mention that Timothy Dalton’s third Bond outing was going to be The Property of a Lady anywhere. The film was only ever referred to as Bond 17 and was written as a completely new story, not based on any of Ian Fleming’s previous Bond books or short stories. I don’t know where the rumour of Dalton’s third film being The Property of a Lady began. There’s not even a slight mention of this being the title of the film through the history of the film’s development. I’m genuinely curious how this all started because there are people making videos and writing articles explicitly saying that the film was going to be called The Property of a Lady and yet, there seems to be no basis for that information at all. I think it was just something that was casually mentioned on the Internet and it soon spread like wildfire.

TV Show Review: Depp v. Heard

I don’t really get to watch a lot of TV these days. I’ve been a bit busy writing books and working on this blog. But while channel hopping recently, I found this hilariously funny new comedy show called Depp v. Heard.

Now, I have missed a few episodes and so, I’ve only caught some of it. From what I’ve managed to work out, Depp v. Heard is a kind of mockumentary courtroom drama. Think Ricky Gervais’ The Office, only about a thousand times funnier. The cast is brilliant. You’ve got Johnny Depp (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Edward Scissorhands, Donnie Brasco) playing himself, except it’s like a really funny and exaggerated version of him. He has these really witty and well-observed comments that he makes regarding the whole case. Amber Heard (The O.C., Californication) plays this manipulative and clearly terrible liar, who is claiming that Depp beat her up but has zero evidence.


The plot seems to revolve around the idea that Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard for liable over her obviously false claims of his abuse that she wrote about in a newspaper column. So far Depp has had to defend himself against numerous allegations, that are very clearly false, thrown at him by Amber Heard’s lawyer. Now, this is where the real comedy comes from. So Heard’s lawyer is a guy called Ben Rottenborn. I’m not sure who plays this character as I’ve not been able to find a full cast list yet. Anyway, Rottenborn is not only a funny name, he’s probably the funniest character in the whole show. He could even be a contender for one of the most hilariously funny comedy characters ever made.

I don’t know who the writer is on Depp v. Heard but they deserve all the awards that should be coming to them for how brilliantly observed this Rottenborn character is. I mean, every good comedy show has the staple idiot character. The one who becomes the butt of a lot of jokes but also provides some of the best comedy a show has. Think Manuel from Fawlty Towers, an absolutely clueless employee that really is well in over his head. The only real difference is that Manuel had the excuse of being Spanish, so he didn’t really understand the English language fully. The Ben Rottenborn character doesn’t have that defence though as he is a native English speaker. Yet, he’s still utterly clueless and unable to do his job properly. I mean, I don’t want to get into spoilers here but there was one bit where Rottenborn raised an objection against a question that he himself asked. Fucking hilarious, if a little exaggerated as there is no way that a real lawyer could be so stupid.


What is really impressive about the Depp v. Heard show is that it is actually broadcast live. That’s a lot of pressure on the actors as live TV can really lead to a lot of problems with actors fluffing lines and so on. But to add a layer of authenticity, Sky News is broadcasting it via its YouTube channel. It really is a genius idea that adds a layer of ‘realism’ to the show and the whole mockumentary concept, even Ricky Gervais never did that. You can also catch previously broadcast episodes, easily found with a quick interwebs search. I recommend that you do too as it is hilarious.

If I have to find fault with the show, then there are times when you can hear people laughing in the background. This usually happens when Depp delivers one of his cutting witticisms or observations (“a mega-pint?”, “I wasn’t participating in the festival of ice cream.”) or when Rottenborn makes a complete idiot of himself, which does happen a lot. This does kind of break the immersion of the whole mockumentary courtroom drama feel. Plus, episodes do seem to drag on a bit sometimes. I’m talking several hours long and that can get a little boring after a while. Still, you can watch edited highlights which just gets to all the best bits. Also, there have been a few times when actors have broken character and you can see both Johnny Depp and his lawyer creasing up laughing at Amber Heard’s lawyer’s incompetence. Still, it is a live TV show and you kind of have to expect little bumps like this.


There’s a lack of characters. I mean, in real life when you have similar cases involving celebrities, multiple people always step forwards to collaborate the story of the accuser. Yet here, there hasn’t been anyone who has come forward to speak out against Johnny Depp except for Amber Heard. In fact, quite the opposite has happened with people very clearly stating that Depp has never abused them in any way and how he is a great person to work for and with. This does feel a bit unrealistic and it does give away the fact that you are really watching a TV show.

Another issue is that it is kind of obvious where the plot is going. Even a blind person can see that Johnny Depp is easily going to win this as Amber Heard’s legal team are complete jokers. Unless the writers can pull off some kind of clever twist at the end that sees Depp lose and shows the judge and jury as being as utterly clueless as the Ben Rottenborn character is, then I really don’t think the plot and resolve will surprise you.

Anyway, I say give Depp v. Heard a watch. It really is the best comedy show this year, if not this decade. I hope they release it on Blu-ray once it had finished its TV run. They could pack it with loads of special features that look at how the show was made, interviews with the writers and actors, etc.

Did Futurama ‘Borrow’ A Lot From Red Dwarf?

Well, it looks like Futurama is being brought back… again… again… again.

It took me a while to get into Futurama. I always saw it as a far less funny, sci-fi version of The Simpsons. For years I simply dismissed the show. In fact, it took me ten years to actually sit down and watch Futurama properly and when I did, loved it. Since then, I’ve watched had re-watched the episodes so many times (I have even just finished a binge-watch of the whole thing… again). So much, to the point where I began to notice quite a few times that Futurama has seemingly ‘borrowed’ from another brilliant sci-fi comedy show, Red Dwarf. Funnily enough, this was another show I also didn’t like at first, also a show that I really got into later and a show I ended up falling in love with.


When watching episodes of Red Dwarf after watching Futurama (or visa-versa), I began to notice quite a lot of similarities. Character traits motivations, and relationships. Even plots and story elements, which I felt that Futurama must’ve ‘borrowed’ from Red Dwarf. So I think I should get all of this down in writing and document the many, many times I believe that Futurama ‘borrowed’ from Red Dwarf.

First up, just a few general and very broad similarities to point out…
Of course, both shows are sci-fi comedies. That alone is not exactly unique but there are several things worth looking at. Lister is frozen in Red Dwarf and woken up many years later. Fry in Futurama, same thing Slightly different amount of years, I admit. But still, the basic premise is the same for both shows. There there are the names of Dave Lister and Philip Fry, both characters are known mainly by their last names over their first names. This extends to (Arnold) Rimmer and (Turanga) Leela too.


Both Lister and Fry are pretty slobby and oafish, both held dead-end jobs in their pre-frozen lives. Cat and Zoidberg are both animal characters who have evolved over the years… both really like fish too. This one is rather tenuous I admit but Starbug is green, so is the Planet Express ship. When not being used, Starbug rests in Red Dwarf, which is red. While the Planet Express ship rests in the Planet Express HQ… which is red. Lister is an orphan and often wonders about who his parents were, same for Leela. In both cases, we later learn about their parents too.

Those are just some basic similarities but now onto more episode-specific ones…
It is revealed in the first episode of Red Dwarf that Lister broke relegations by smuggling his cat, Frankenstein, onboard the ship. Leela is also found guilty of animal smuggling when she rescued Nibbler with the Planet Express ship. The Red Dwarf episode Future Echoes has the crew experience time-skips. This also happens in Futurama with the Time Keeps On Slipping episode. Also, Future Echoes features a toaster with a personality who bugs the crew. There is a talking toaster (that annoys Bender) in the Raging Bender episode of Futurama.


Lister learns that he is a god to the cat-race and that disagreements led to a Holy war. Bender is seen as a god in the Godfellas episode of Futurama and a Holy war breaks out between his followers. In both cases, Lister and Bender question the need for religion. In the Me² episode of Red Dwarf, Lister is told that the £17.50 he left in his bank account before he was frozen makes him incredibly rich on Earth due to compound interest. Unfortunately, he is lost in space so all his wealth is meaningless to him. In Futurama, Fry becomes rich after leaving a small amount in his bank and due to compound interest, in the A Fishful of Dollars episode.

In Red Dwarf, Kryten the robot is a big fan of the in-universe soap opera, Androids. Bender the robot is also a big fan of the in-universe soap opera, All My Circuits in Futurama. That’s not all. In Androids, the credits show that it had an all robot crew. The All My Circuits: The Movie shown in the Raging Bender episode shows all of its crew were robots. Cat talks about mermaids in Red Dwarf and claims that the fishtail on a woman’s body is the stupid way around as it makes sex rather difficult. Fry falls for a mermaid in the Deep South episode of Futurama. But when they go to bed together, Fry laments that she is not the ‘other kind’ of mermaid with the fish part on top and the woman on the bottom.


In the Stasis Leak episode of Red Dwarf, Lister discovers he is married to the love of his life, Kochanski thanks to time travel. Yet, he does not know how it happened and tries to work out how they ended up together. Fry has the same thing happen when he finds out he and Leela are married thanks to the time-skips from the Time Keeps On Slipping episode of Futurama. With Fry trying to learn how it happened too.

We learn that there is a parallel universe in Red Dwarf with the aptly titled Parallel Universe episode. In the other universe, the same characters exist, only the men are women and visa-versa. In Futurama, there is also a parallel universe (several of them) where the main thing that is different is that coin flips have the opposite effect when making decisions. The thing is that both shows have the parallel universe accessible via a basic box. With Red Dwarf, Holly creates the Holly-Hop Drive which is operated via a simple stop and start button. With Futurama, it’s just a literal box with a universe inside it.


Camille is an alien creature in Red Dwarf that disguises itself as a perfect match for whoever it meets. Basically, it becomes a female version of Lister, Rimmer, etc. Except for Cat where it becomes Cat. In the Futurama episode, A Bicyclops Built For Two, Leela meets Alkazar, a perfect male match for her. Of course, it turns out that Alkazar is just an alien that disguises itself as a perfect match for whoever it meets. Though to be fair, Alkazar has a much more ulterior motive for his actions than Camille did. Kryten actually becomes human in one episode of Red Dwarf, where he struggles to grasp the basic nature of being a human. Bander also became human in Futurama. It was in the Anthology of Interest I episode and yes, Bender does struggle with the concept of being human too.

Lister uses his pool skills to knock a planet into a white hole, using various planets as the ‘balls’. An idea the rest of the crew feels that Lister is not up to. Fry has a similar idea in the A Big Piece of Garbage episode where uses one big ball of garbage to hit another ball of garbage off course, via the gravity of several other planets. An idea that people don’t think Fry is up to doing. The Quarantine episode of Red Dwarf explores the idea of a positive virus that gives the infected special skills, like amazing luck. Fry has a similar experience when he eats a sandwich from a truck stop that gives him positive parasites and vastly improves his skills.


The crew of Red Dwarf experience a hallucination that was brought about by something called a despair squid. The episode (Back To Reality) ends where it began with the crew investigating the planet the despair squid was found. Bender also experienced a hallucination in the episode Obsoletely Fabulous. This one was brought on by an upgrade chip though, yet the episode ends where it began. Kryten has his guilt-chip removed in an episode of Red Dwarf. This allows the robot to function without inhibitions. Bender has his inhibition unit tampered with in Futurama and we get to see how he acts without it.

Lister finally learns the truth about his father when he goes back in time and actually becomes his own father. Fry also went back in time and accidentally killed his own grandfather. As Fry still existed, he believed his grandfather wasn’t his real grandfather… so he had sex with his own grandmother (when she was young), therefore Fry became his own grandfather. Both main characters of both shows are of their own parentage.


Kryten says that he has a degree (in sanitation) that he earned at university. Kochanski says that he never went to university and that the degree is just a program installed into him. Bender also says he learned bending at bending school. However, a flashback shows that it was just a program installed into him. After which, he is handed a degree.

Well, those are just some of the remarkably similar elements that Futurama seemed to have ‘borrowed’ from Red Dwarf. There are actually quite a few more I have spotted, I just don’t want this to go on too long.


There is another coincidence worth looking at, one that can’t really be blamed on ‘borrowing’. The last series of Red Dwarf was in 1999, the year that Futurama first aired. There was talk of doing another series of Red Dwarf and even the possibility of a movie. However, the BBC officially cancelled and cut all ties with the show back in 2007. It was revived in 2009 with a ‘film’ called Red Dwarf: Back to Earth on a different TV channel. I say it was a ‘film’ because that was how it was conceived and shot, but it was really three special episodes that could be viewed as a film, or just three connecting episodes. That ‘film’ led to the series eventually being revived, Anyway, Futurama was also cancelled in 2003. It too was brought back via films that could be split into episodes and it too was revived for more seasons (and the Yanks call them) by a different TV station.