You Only Live Splice: The Editing of John Glen

Dan Gale returns from the field for his second JBR documentary: You Only Live Splice.

This time it’s a video only podcast exploring the editing work of everyone’s favourite 80s Bond director, John Glen. Get ready to be blown away with killer visuals, biting wit and more in-jokes than you could shake a Walther PPK at.

Note: This week’s podcast is only available on the JBR website or via the iTunes feed.

Watch Below…

iTunes: http://jamesbondradio.com/itunes
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jamesbondradio
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jamesbondradio

  • Dennis James Hardin

    Excellent podcast! This would make a great special feature on a John Glen Bond Blu-ray.
    Amazing work there and completely entertaining. I loved every frame.

  • Ben Eslinger

    As an editor myself I rather enjoyed this! The bit at 13:40 had me laughing my ass off! We are indeed a rather awkward bunch socially. Surprised to hear you still use FCP 7 although I must admit more than anything I’m jealous. I long for the days of that program again. All my clients now use either Adobe Premiere or Avid. Anyway, great doc sir!

  • Terry Adlam

    Great Stuff. Dan! You should really make more Bond docos. I do a bit of video editing in my day job and thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish!

  • Edgar Chaput

    My goodness. Dan, this was majestic. I don’t work in film, nor do I have any film school training (hence making everything I’m about to say nothing more than opinion from a film buff) but I am, honestly, a bit of a stickler for film editing.

    I was very, very excited when it was revealed that this was to be the next subject of your video essays and I must say that it was a pure joy to watch. Funny, informative and, well, sharply edited. I too have an appreciation for what John Glen (the editor and director, not the other one) did on the Bond films, but your more seasoned insights and analysis were a treat, especially with respect to the lack of continuity that actually makes certain scenes in OHMSS even better than they might otherwise have been. Rather true, rather true.

    Bravo. If this is the level of quality we’re going to get whenever you release an essay, boy, you take however long you need to make the next one.

  • Richard Fysh

    I’m only seventeen minutes in and this is already the best thing I’ve watched in ages. I even signed up just to be able to say so. Thanks, Dan. Where were you when I needed someone to get the specs off my poorly lit greenscreen footage? I’m totally embarrassed by my chroma key efforts now. Absolutely loving the anechdotes and humour too. It doesn’t hurt that I’m interested in editing anyway – I’ve read the Walter Murch book and others. Early impressions are that this doc of yours is going to replace the cutting edge as my favourite.

  • Clive Lennox

    Awesome video from Dan. I particularly liked all the stuff on Majesty’s.

  • Simon Hunter

    Great podcast, Dan. Not only did I learn more about the Bond films, but about editing itself. I never knew that those extended countdowns were deliberate.
    If it make you feel any better, I use Pinnacle VideoSpin, which must be older than your software and only cost £6.

  • Ralf Lewandowski

    Mister Gale, this is a masterpiece.

  • This is all very good to hear, so, everyone, Edgar, Ralf, thanks! Very kind.

    Simon: I’ve been using Final Cut Pro X as well for a year now and I’ve just had to get a new Mac so I’ll be FCPX from now on. It’s got its flaws (it’s a lousy agent) but the compensations speak for themselves (it’s so fast, it accepts any type of footage, the rendering is in the background, the Greenscreen is flawless and you export straight to YouTube or Vimeo without having to do the long three step process of old (export master file, convert to h264 THEN upload) plus the exporting doesn’t mean you have to stop editing! And it’s £500 less!)

    Clive: OHMSS really is John Glen’s masterpiece re editing. I enjoy the pacing of Spy and MR but the editing isn’t as experimental (bar the amazing centrifuge scene) so most of our film ended up being about that OHMSS.

    Richard: the clip I saw was brilliant! It’s not the keying out certain colours that makes a film good, it’s the story, otherwise everyone here would hate You Only Live Twice which has the single worst bluescreen work on any major motion picture I think I have ever seen. Yet it’s a great film! I think we’d all love to see the final thing when it’s done! It looked hilarious. And it’s cool you were still filming it that morning we all met.

    Terry: it is fun but takes a long time and real work often gets in the way not to mention headaches involving copyright – YouTube didn’t like it for example even though it’s a review and it’s free. With audio, the special effects are even better because they’re all in your head! Also there’s (slightly) less smug-git-syndrome…

  • Simon Firth

    Bloody hell Dan, that was just superb. Beautifully put together with an arid dry sense of humour that probably had me missing any number of post-quip 4 second chunks throughout.
    From writing to popping it up, how long did all this take you? It seems like a slice of work to undertake, to my uninitiated eye.
    John Glen’s directorial efforts also employed the lengthened count down in FYEO. The scene where the explosive charge is magnetically stuck to the JIM chap, the attached timer goes on for far longer than the number of seconds it was initially set for.
    Again, superlative work there. Loved it.

    • Hi Simon, thanks!
      I started it on October thinking it would be done by end of Nov but missed that deadline because of work which gave me more time to work on it. So Oct to Dec…2 and a bit months?
      I agree re JIM and could go on for ages, too, about my love of John Glen’s direction… I’ll spare you all that!

  • Kilian Birner

    First of all, thank you and the whole JBR team for this blog!

    Now, as much as I enjoy your way of presenting your information I cannot say how much I disagree with your evaluation of the cutting in “Majesty’s” and “Quantum”.

    To me, many of the things Glen (and also Hunt as his predecessor/director) did for/to OHMSS are just horrible. The beach fight is not only poorly written and choreographed (Who are these bad guys? What do they want? Why does one of them wait for Bond to finish his colleague first?), the cutting also takes me right out of the scene and the movie. Same goes for when Bond meets Draco and the terrible backscreen projections in the bobsled chase (and also in “Thunderballs” boat
    ride at the ending). I also dislike Lazenby’s dubbing as Sir Hilary as it’s so
    off-sync and strange.

    But what I really loathe in these early cuttings are the mid-action cuts that you
    described as “time-saving”. It just looks horrible, as if parts of the movie had been damaged. It hurts my eyes and continually annoys me while watching a film whose story I really like.

    As for “Quantum”, I do admit that in my first sighting on the big screen I
    did find the cuts overpaced, too. Having rewatched it at home I have come to a
    whole different impression tho. Not only have I always seen the gear-shifting
    (a great moment when the music breaks off shortly), I also don’t have the
    feeling of being lost in the action anymore. I also do see now how Bond kills
    the hitman lookalike, even without freeze frames. And the opera cutting is
    truly one of the masterpieces in the whole series (along with the pre-titles). I guess it’s a matter of if you want to like it and watch closely or rather not, as QOS seems to divide opinion a lot and I’m aware of my opinion being highly unpopular.

    However, those were only my two cents from over here in Germany.
    Keep up the great work!

    Best wishes!

  • Dan – You bastard!!! This is too good and you must be eliminated at once!

  • Actually Dan. I seriously think you should be the next Q. Get this audition off to Barbara!

    • I think she would disapprove of my inability to read the autocue with any confidence! (In my defence, it was my 4″ phone, it was 8 feet away and I could barely see it.)

  • kilianbirner

    I don’t know who keeps flagging my posts. This is my third try!!!

    First of all, thank you and the whole JBR team for this blog!

    Now,
    as much as I enjoy your way of presenting your information I cannot say
    how much I disagree with your evaluation of the cutting in “Majesty’s”
    and “Quantum”.

    To me, many of the things Glen (and also Hunt as
    his predecessor/director) did for/to OHMSS are just horrible. The beach
    fight is not only poorly written and choreographed (Who are these bad
    guys? What do they want? Why does one of them wait for Bond to finish
    his colleague first?), the cutting also takes me right out of the scene
    and the movie. Same goes for when Bond meets Draco and the terrible
    backscreen projections in the bobsled chase (and also in “Thunderball’s”
    boat ride towards the ending). I also dislike Lazenby’s dubbing as Sir
    Hilary as it’s so off-sync and strange.

    But what I really loathe in these early cuttings are the mid-action cuts that you
    described
    as “time-saving”. It just looks horrible, as if parts of the movie had
    been damaged. It hurts my eyes and continually annoys me while watching a
    film whose story I really like. It’s rather “Mutilate your babies” imo!

    As for “Quantum”, I do admit that in my first sighting on the big screen I
    did find the cuts overpaced, too. Having rewatched it at home I have come to a
    whole different impression tho. Not only have I always seen the gear-shifting
    (a great moment when the music breaks off shortly), I also don’t have the
    feeling of being lost in the action anymore. I also do see now how Bond kills
    the hitman lookalike, even without freeze frames. And the opera cutting is
    truly
    one of the masterpieces in the whole series (along with the
    pre-titles). I guess it’s a matter of if you want to like it and watch
    closely or rather not, as QOS seems to divide opinion a lot and I’m
    aware of my opinion being highly unpopular.

    I fully agree with you on the “Moonraker” scene tho, it’s absolutely brilliant!

    However, those were just my two cents from over here in Germany.
    Keep up the great work!

    Best wishes!

    • Hi Kilian

      Thanks for writing!

      I can completely understand why some would find some of the editing decisions in OHMSS jarring. It’s certainly edited in an unconventional manner but I think that’s mostly what I personally love about it, it’s trying something new.

      Quantum, also, is trying something new. I don’t think I was clear on my view of Quantum’s editing in the episode as a whole, there are some amazing bits (I completely agree with the opera and the following gun chase as highlights). However certain bits (the car and especially the boat chase) left me wanting to rewind the cinema so I could be sure what had just happened. A film should work on it’s first screening as most people only watch a film once (unlike us nutcases!) so we have the advantage of having had several screenings to let Quantum settle. Most non-Bond fans in the audiences may not have given it the crucial second viewing.

      I recently saw Baby Love (1968), the film John Glen edited before OHMSS (his first movie credit) and there are several jump cuts in that, too. I think that’s just his style. The goal is that they remain invisible but sometimes it doesn’t work. There may even be others we didn’t notice (there’s one blatent one in Dr No in Strangway’s house). In Baby Love, there is also, conversely, a long 5 minute take with no edits in it at all (clearly a directorial decision but one that involves editing…or lack of it).

      Terrible back projection and blue screen is just something that went with most colour films at that time! Thank goodness it was only brief. Watch Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) if you really want to see it overdone! He shot most outdoor scenes inside so he could control the lighting and it’s very distracting. If even Hitch couldn’t do it properly, we have to forgive Bond for sometimes failing, too! 😆

      I agree with the dubbing. As it’s done in a studio sound booth, it sounds completely different to any dialogue recorded on set. But the Bonds were usually really good with the timing of the mouth movements. It’s only this film, where they start improvising dialogue, where you get people talking with their mouths closed!

      Re the goons on the beach, I agree it’s not made clear but these are supposed to be Draco’s men. They were watching over Tracy for Draco and when Bond interfered, they were going to remove him. The “Get in!” guy is seen at the wedding, clapping with the other goons, including the “Gatecrasher!” chap from the hotel fight, also one of Tracy’s guardian angels. This is confusing admittedly until Draco hints “I have been informed of everything you have done for her.” which suggests he found out from these guys. You’re right, that could have been made clearer.

      Incidentally, the “Get in!” guy is played by Terence Mountain who was also one of Blofeld’s henchmen at the start of DAF alongside George Lane Cooper (“Get ya hands up!”). So when Draco says “Blofeld? Some of my men have recently defected to him…”, he could have been talking about him as he’s clearly working for SPECTRE just 2 years later (wedding scene ignored)!

      I’m pleased you like the episode though, and the centrifuge scene, thanks for taking the time to write.

      Cheers

      Dan

      • kilianbirner

        Dear Dan,

        thank you so much for your answer and for enlightening me about the goons. I thought one of them was also holding a knife against Stacy so I wasn’t sure if they were Draco’s men, but I actually didn’t pay enough attention to recognize them later in the film.

        Thank you also for pointing out the achievements of John Glen, truly a James Bond pioneer even beyond his record-setting directing. My comment wasn’t meant as a knock on him (or you for that matter), and I’m very sorry if it looked that way.

        I guess I sometimes feel an urge to defend QOS, which I love, against public opinion. However, I completely agree with you on the need to make things rather clearer on first sight. I had this problem in cinema mainly with the car chase and this fistfight in the hotel room, but they became clearer. The boat chase is another story, as it is poorly presented and still isn’t clear to me to this day.
        Quantum’s great weakness are some of the generic action sequences (boat and plane chase mainly).

        So, from one nutcase to another, thanks for your wonderful contributions to this blog (the audiobook post was fantastic, too) and thank you for the time invested.

        I’m greatly looking forward to seeing and hearing more from you.

  • keyna wilkins

    Can you guys also build us a nuclear bunker please?…due to the inevitable..Thanks

    • Wow. Hello Keyna. Fancy seeing you here. We have hollowed out an actual volcano for when the two big toddlers throw their toys out of the pram but finding the entrance is awkward. There’s a long tunnel and it smells of gas. This all sound like a euphemism but it really isn’t.