A fu­ri­ous ac­tor and a sui­ci­dal lead­ing lady

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CULTURE -

Rus­sia the fi­nal ma­jor Bond ac­tors to have their voice re­placed by that of a dif­fer­ent ac­tor.

The stunt gone trag­i­cally wrong

One of the film’s cen­tral ac­tion set pieces sees Bond pilot a minia­ture he­li­copter gun­ship known as ‘Lit­tle Nel­lie’, which he flies over the Miyazaki moun­tains in an at­tempt to un­cover Spec­tre’s se­cret vol­cano lair. In truth, Lit­tle Nel­lie re­ally did ex­ist, the film mod­i­fy­ing an au­t­o­gyro air­craft de­vel­oped by former Royal Air Force com­man­der Ken Wal­lis for use in re­search and demon­stra­tion.

Sadly, the aerial stunt quickly went awry, thanks in part to the weight of the rock­ets, mis­siles and ma­chine gun props at­tached to the rel­a­tively flimsy air­craft. While Wal­lis pi­loted Lit­tle Nel­lie him­self dur­ing shoot­ing, cam­era­man John Jor­dan at­tached him­self to the back of it via a har­ness to pho­to­graph from above.

The scene it­self called for Lit­tle Nel­lie to come un­der at­tack from Spec­tre as­sas­sins, who were fly­ing in he­li­copters near the minia­ture air­craft. One of the he­li­copter’s blades ended up slic­ing Jor­dan’s foot, forc­ing it to be am­pu­tated when Jor­dan re­turned to Lon­don.

In a tragic twist of fate, Jor­dan was killed just two years later after plum­met­ing four thou­sand feet from a bomber plane over the Pa­cific ocean while shoot­ing aerial footage for Catch-22. Jor­dan had lost his foot­ing on the plane, an ac­ci­dent that was quickly blamed on the pros­thetic foot he had at­tached fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent on the set of You also a frankly baf­fling mo­ment in which Bond, for some rea­son, must dis­guise him­self as a Ja­panese man, which he ac­com­plishes by hav­ing his eye­lids taped back, his chest waxed and an un­con­vinc­ing wig dumped on his head.

De­spite the cul­tural in­sen­si­tiv­ity, Ja­panese au­di­ences of the time didn’t seem to take of­fense at the film — or at least in com­par­i­son to Con­nery, who was asked on Ja­panese TV what he thought of lo­cal women, to which he replied “Ja­panese women are just not sexy,” be­cause wear­ing the tra­di­tional ki­mono ap­par­ently “hides their fig­ures”. The state­ment caused up­roar, un­til it was claimed that it was in fact an English-to-Ja­panese trans­la­tion gone badly wrong.

But it wasn’t the only scan­dal to hit Con­nery’s press tour for the film — he was also con­demned by the press for wear­ing a ca­sual t-shirt and san­dals dur­ing in­ter­views, and ne­glect­ing to sport his lux­u­ri­ous James Bond toupee.

Blofeld’s ter­ri­fied cat

Of all the strange in­ci­dents that be­fell the You Only Live Twice set, one of the most awk­wardly funny in­volves the fe­line ac­tor hired to por­tray Blofeld’s Per­sian cat. Dur­ing shoot­ing of the film’s ex­plo­sive fi­nale, in which bombs are det­o­nated through­out the iconic vil­lain’s vol­cano base, the fluffy cat be­came so scared by the noise that it fled the Pinewood set. Un­able to be found for days, it was pre­sumed dead, un­til it was fi­nally dis­cov­ered shiv­er­ing on the roof. Shots of the clearly up­set cat were ac­tu­ally used in the film, pre­sum­ably as it would have cost too much to re­place it with an ar­ti­fi­cial mog.

There have also al­ways been un­sub­stan­ti­ated ru­mours that the of­ten-pan­icked cat uri­nated in Don­ald Plea­sance’s lap when­ever he heard a loud noise, though that par­tic­u­lar tale, un­like the other leg­ends from the set, has nei­ther been con­firmed nor de­nied.

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