Monday, 9 October 2017

James Bond at 55

As regular readers will know, I’m endlessly fascinated by the behind-the-scenes processes on films and have written about them on the blog often (you can read the posts on this link).  I’m also a huge fan of the James Bond series (especially the Roger Moore-era ones) and have written retrospectives on some of them, as well as covering the miniatures work by genius’ like Derek Meddings and John Richardson.

So when I discovered the 55th anniversary of the films fell on 5th October, I thought it’d be a good way to celebrate by combining the two - a retrospective with behind the scenes shots.

Happy anniversary, Mr Bond!
clockwise from top left - Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton
James Bond first appeared in Casino Royale, which was published on 13th April 1953 in hardback by Jonathan Cape.  A considerable critical and commercial success, Pan Books issued a paperback edition in 1955.  The novel was adapted into a one-hour television show as part of the CBS Climax! series in 1954, with Barry Nelson playing James ‘Jimmy’ Bond and in March 1955, Fleming sold the film rights to producer Gregory Ratoff (which is why it took so long for that novel to be filmed as part of the official series).

In 1959, Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli expressed an interest in adapting the novels for the screen but his partner at Warwick Films, Irving Allen, wasn’t keen.  In June 1961, Fleming sold a six-month option on the film rights to ‘published and future James Bond novels and short stories’ to Harry Saltzman.  Introduced by screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz, Saltzman and Broccoli formed Eon Productions (believed to mean ‘Everything Or Nothing’, though Broccoli often denied it) with the intention of producing the first Bond film.  Turned down by a lot of Hollywood studios for being ‘too British’ or ‘too blatantly sexual’, the two eventually signed a deal with United Artists to fund and distribute seven films.  Broccoli and Saltzman then founded Danjaq S.A. (named for their respective wives, Dana and Jacqueline) to hold the rights to the films Eon Productions was to produce.
from left - Cubby Broccoli, Sean Connery, Ian Fleming and Harry Saltzman on the set of Dr No (1962)
After producer Kevin McClory took Fleming to court for breach of copyright, the initial Eon choice of Thunderball as the first Bond film was shifted to Dr No and Mankowitz wrote the first draft with Richard Maibaum, the latter of whom would remain with the series until Licence To Kill in 1989.  Patrick McGoohan turned down the role of Bond and it was given to Sean Connery, who wasn’t either Broccoli or, indeed, Fleming’s first choice.  Terence Young signed on as director, Ken Adam became set designer (a role he would mostly continue until Moonraker in 1979), Maurice Binder created the title sequence (and introduced the gun barrel opening which has since appeared in all of the Eon films) and Monty Norman wrote the soundtrack.  His Bond theme, apparently written in two minutes, was arranged by John Barry.

Dr No received its premiere on 5th October 1962 (before going on wide release on the 7th) and, on a $1.1m budget, has since earned almost $60m.  It received a mixed critical reception but was a hit with the paying public, being the fifth most popular film of the year in the UK and a notable success in Europe.
John Kitzmuller (Quarrel), Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder) and Sean Connery film a sequence - director Terence Young is on the pallet below the camera
It was quickly followed by From Russia With Love (1963), for which United Artists doubled the budget.  Terence Young returned as director but Ken Adam (working on Dr Strangelove for Stanley Kubrick at the time) was replaced by Syd Cain.  It was the first film for which John Barry created the soundtrack.

With success building, Goldfinger (1964) was chosen next with the intent of cracking the American market.  Guy Hamilton was brought on to direct and he was keen to inject humour into the series, as well as including more gadgets along with bigger and more elegant sets.  Ken Adam delivered those in spades, creating a Fort Knox from his imagination that featured gold bars stacked on top of each other.  Ian Fleming, who visited the set at Pinewood Studios, died in August shortly before the film’s release.
Guy Hamilton finds his angles during the fight scene between Sean Connery and Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore) in Goldfinger (1964)
Unable to come to a compromise on Casino Royale with Charles K. Feldman (who took over Gregory Ratoff’s rights), the next film was Thunderball (1965), which had a troublesome history involving Kevin McClory and Fleming (they came up with plot elements together and McClory later remade the film as the non-Eon Bond Never Say Never Again in 1983).  The film earned $141m worldwide (the highest grossing instalment until The Spy Who Loved Me).
Director Terence Young on the set of Thunderball (1965) with Molly Peters and Sean Connery
Since the first four Bond films had been popular in Japan, Eon took advantage of the market and made You Only Live Twice (1967) next, with Lewis Gilbert directing.  Made on a budget of $10.3m (Ken Adam spent $1m building Blofeld’s huge volcano set at Pinewood), the screenplay was written by Roald Dahl and was the first Bond film to jettison the premise, retaining only the title, the Japanese setting, the use of Blofeld as villain and Kissy Suzuki as a Bond girl.  Released in the same year as the Feldman produced Casino Royale (which Roger Ebert called “possibly the most indulgent film ever made”), the posters stated “Sean Connery IS James Bond” though the actor, having grown jaded of the role and his importance to the producers, had already announced it would be his last Bond film.  At the time, Broccoli told Alan Whicker “it won’t be the last Bond under any circumstances—with all due respect to Sean, who I think has been certainly the best man to play this part. We will, in our own way, try to continue the Bond series for the audience because it's too important.”
Director Lewis Gilbert directs Tetsuro Tamba (Tiger Tanaka), Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki) and Sean Connery on Ken Adam's volcano set at Pinewood Studios for You Only Live Twice (1967)
Saltzman proposed that the next film be The Man With The Golden Gun, to star Roger Moore as Bond, but the star was signed up for The Saint TV series.  Instead, they picked On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), which had previously been considered to follow Goldfinger and Thunderball and the series editor Peter Hunt was allowed to make his directorial debut.  He “wanted it to be different than any other Bond film” and it was decided to drop the gadgets and focus more on plot (using the model of From Russia With Love).  George Lazenby, an Australian former model and car salesman, was chosen to replace Connery, even though he’d only acted in adverts before.  He developed an attitude as filming went on and declared, before the film was released, that he wouldn’t play the part again - meanwhile, the production went two months over schedule due to a warmer than usual Swiss winter.  Critical reception was poor, especially around Lazenby and even though it was popular, it only made half of what You Only Live Twice did.  Roger Moore said of the film, on the commentary for The Man With The Golden Gun, that it was a “very well made film.  Peter Hunt, excellent, excellent, excellent fight stuff, excellent snow effects...it was one of the better Bonds.”  The film marked the last occasion Peter Hunt worked on the series.
Peter Hunt directs Telly Savalas (Blofeld) and George Lazenby on the Piz Gloria location, Switzerland for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971) featured the return of Sean Connery, with a fee of $1.25m plus 12.5% of the gross (after the sting of George Lazenby, United Artists chief David Picker apparently insisted money was no object) and the condition UA would finance two films of his choice.  Connery used his fee to establish the Scottish International Education Trust.  Inspired by the commercial success of Goldfinger, Eon hired Guy Hamilton to direct and this was the last time Spectre featured in the series until the 2015 film of the same name.
Sean Connery and Trina Parks (Thumper) relax on the set of Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Live and Let Die (1973) marked the debut of Roger Moore as Bond, who tried not to imitate either his friend Connery or his own performance as Simon Templar in The Saint.  Screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz adapted the script to emphasise Moore’s persona, creating a lighter feel.  While searching locations in Jamaica, they discovered a crocodile farm (with its ‘Trespassers Will Be Eaten’ sign) owned by Ross Kananga, who inspired the villains name (and it was Kananga who performed the stunt of running over the crocodiles backs, after assuring the producers he could do it).  John Barry was unavailable so Paul McCartney was asked to write and perform the title song but his salary ($15,000 plus royalties) was so high they could only afford to hire McCartney’s old producer, George Martin, who had little experience scoring films.  The film was a critical and commercial success.
(you can read my retrospective essay here)
Roger Moore struggles to see where he's going, filming Live And Let Die (1973) in the Louisiana bayous
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) was filmed in the Far East after production designer Peter Murton saw pictures of Phuket bay in a magazine.  On a scouting trip in Hong Kong, Broccoli saw the partially submerged wreck of RMS Queen Elizabeth and decided to use it as the base for MI6’s operations whilst the 1973 energy crisis provided the backdrop (along with the MacGuffin of the Solex Agitator).
Christopher Lee (Scaramanga) and Maud Adams (Andrea Anders) relax on Phuket for The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
This was the last Bond film to be co-produced by Harry Saltzman.  Financial issues relating to other investments meant he was forced to sell his 50% stake in Danjaq to United Artists to raise much-needed funds.  The resulting legalities delayed production of the next Bond film and soured the relationship between Broccoli and Saltzman.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) lost Hamilton as its director after he left to pursue Superman (1978), which was ultimately made by Richard Donner.  Lewis Gilbert, who’d previously directed You Only Live Twice, signed up and brought Christopher Wood into the fold to write a script (with Richard Maibaum) that had been worked on by John Landis, Anthony Burgess and Stirling Silliphant, amongst others.  John Barry, who couldn’t work in the UK because of tax problems, suggested Marvin Hamlisch, who co-wrote Nobody Does It Better (the first Bond theme not to share a title) with Carole Bayer Sager (it was sung by Carly Simon), which was nominated for an Oscar.  Ken Adam’s design for the Stromberg Supertanker was so big, a special stage was built for it - the 007 Stage at Pinewood was the largest in the world and cost $1.8m.  Broccoli knew his first solo effort was a pivotal film in the series but it was a tremendous success and is Roger Moore’s favourite film of his tenure (a view I happen to share).  The end title card said it would be followed by For Your Eyes Only.
(you can read my retrospective essay here)
Filming the chase scene from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) - the production used the Lotus chairman's car for the camera crew
Moonraker (1979) replaced For Your Eyes Only in the schedule to capitalise on the box office success of Star Wars.  On a $34m budget (double any of the previous Bond films), the film was based in Paris due to high taxation laws in the UK at the time, though all of the Oscar nominated visual effects (supervised by Derek Meddings) were shot on the 007 stage at Pinewood.  Ken Adam’s sets were the largest ever constructed in Paris, taking over all available stages and it was to be his last film for Eon.
(you can read my retrospective essay here)
Filming on the space station set for Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981) was something of a reboot, a conscious return to the style of the earlier Bond films (and works of Fleming) using realistic sets and less gadgets than before.  John Glen (who’d worked for Eon since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) became director, Peter Lamont took over as production designer and the script used elements of the short stories Risico and For Your Eyes Only from the eponymous collection - the keelhauling sequence from Live And Let Die was also utilised.  Topol, who played Colombo in the film, suggested Broccoli might want to invite his estranged ex-partner Saltzman to the premiere - it marked the first re-union between the two men since their break-up in 1975.
(you can read my retrospective essay here)
Carole Bouquet (Melina Havelock), Roger Moore and Julian Glover (Kristatos) film the climax of For Your Eyes Only (1981), as Cubby Broccoli (far right of picture, behind Glover) looks on
Octopussy (1983) was the first Bond film released by MGM, who bought United Artists in 1981 after the studio fell into financial difficulties.  Roger Moore, whose original three-film contract expired with The Spy Who Loved Me, had suggested it was time for him to hand over the reins but news that Sean Connery was to play Bond in Never Say Never Again (1983) led to him being persuaded to return.  The film was a success, taking $183.7m at the box office over the rival’s take of $160m and although media reports talked of a ‘Battle Of The Bonds’, no rivalry existed between old friends Moore and Connery, who took the opportunity to have dinner with one another once a week.
Filming the circus sequence for Octopussy (1983), Roger Moore and Christopher Reeve chat 
A View to a Kill (1985) was the first film with Michael G. Wilson as co-producer at Eon.  He’d first worked on Goldfinger and had been involved with every production from The Spy Who Loved Me onwards, serving as Executive Producer from Moonraker.  Filming was disrupted when the 007 stage burned down on 27th June 1984 but it was rebuilt and re-opened in January 1985 in time for filming to take place.  During filming, Roger Moore decided this was his last Bond and, aged 57, handed in his Walther PPK.
Old friends Roger Moore and Patrick Macnee (Sir Godfrey Tibbett) share a joke whilst filming A View To A Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987) was written while the producers searched for Roger Moore’s replacement and they settled on Pierce Brosnan (who’d met Broccoli when his wife, Cassandra Harris, appeared in For Your Eyes Only).  He couldn’t take the role (his TV series Remington Steele was revived) so Timothy Dalton was cast.  This was the last Bond film to have its soundtrack composed by John Barry (who cameos as the conductor of Kara’s orchestra).
(you can read my retrospective essay here)
John Glen (centre of picture) directs Timothy Dalton and Andreas Wisniewski (Necros) on the set of The Living Daylights (1987)
It was decided Licence To Kill (1989) should continue the more realistic style of The Living Daylights (which suited Dalton’s performance) and also show the ‘darker edge’ of Bond.  With the removal of the Eady Levy in 1985, rising costs forced Eon to film completely outside the UK for the first time and they settled at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City.  A strike by the Writers Guild of America meant Richard Maibaum couldn’t write the script he’d developed with Michael G. Wilson and the plot uses elements of Live And Let Die (Felix getting partially fed to a shark).
(you can read my retrospective essay here)
Filming the aircraft sequence on Licence To Kill (1989)

Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
Licence To Kill was the end of an era for a lot of the crew and became the last Bond film for director John Glen, title designer Maurice Binder, Richard Maibaum and cameraman Alec Mills.  It was also the last film produced by the Albert Broccoli/Michael G. Wilson partnership.  A relatively poor box office performance (it was released the same summer as Batman, Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and Lethal Weapon 2) led Broccoli to question his leadership and he put Danjaq up for sale.  The situation was complicated in 1990 when MGM/UA was sold to Qintex who, wanting to merge with Pathe Communications, leased them the Bond back catalogue for less than the market value without consulting Danjaq.  Danjaq sued and Broccoli appointed his daughter Barbara to co-produce alongside her step-brother Wilson while he concentrated on legal matters.  The dispute was finally settled in 1993, the same year Timothy Dalton’s six-year contract expired and, after reading the script for the next film, he decided he wasn’t right for the role and left.

Goldeneye (1995) marked the long-delayed debut of Pierce Brosnan.  John Woo was originally asked to direct but turned it down (saying he was honoured by the offer) and Martin Campbell was chosen (he’d previously directed Brosnan in an episode of The Professionals).  With Pinewood Studios occupied, Eon converted an old Rolls-Royce factory at Leavesden Aerodrome into a new studio.  In a film full of excellent miniature work, this was Derek Meddings’ last film and he passed away shortly before the release. Goldeneye is dedicated to his memory.
Derek Meddings and Pierce Brosnan on the set of Goldeneye (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) was given a tight release date which didn’t leave Eon a lot of time for pre-production.  Campbell was replaced by Roger Spottiswoode and the script went through four different writers and was finished a week before principal photography began.  Leavesden Studios wasn’t available, Pinewood didn’t have enough capacity and so Eon converted an abandoned warehouse in Hertfordshire for filming.  David Arnold joined the Eon team as composer.
Pierce Brosnan filming the pre-credit sequence on Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World Is Not Enough (1999) saw Bond finally back at Pinewood Studios.  Barbara Broccoli originally wanted Peter Jackson to direct (having enjoyed Heavenly Creatures) but changed her mind after watching The Frighteners.  Michael Apted, who directed, re-wrote the script with his wife, Diana Stevens and the changes didn’t please Brosnan, so Michael G. Wilson re-wrote parts of it himself.  David Arnold won an Ivor Novello award for his soundtrack.
Pierce Brosnan drives the Q Boat on the Thames for the pre-credit sequence of Tomorrow Never Dies (1999)
Die Another Day (2002), the 20th official Bond film, was released on the 40th anniversary of the Bond film series.  Directed by Lee Tamahori, it features a lot of nods to the earlier films (the bikini from Dr No, Q’s lab full of old gadgets and Roger Moore’s daughter as an air stewardess) but doesn’t really work (and features some truly dreadful CGI).  Brosnan was too good a Bond to have this as his final film in the series but, unfortunately, it was.
Pierce Brosnan filming part of the ice-field chase in Die Another Day (2002)
After various legal squabbles, MGM obtained the rights to the 1967 version of Casino Royale from Sony Pictures Entertainment who, in turn, bought MGM (suffering, again, from severe financial issues) in 2004.  At the time, Barbara Broccoli said in interview, “For years, my father wanted to make Casino Royale - it’s the Holy Grail.  We wanted to make a tougher film, the way it should have been made years ago.”  Michael G. Wilson said, “We felt the last film was too fantastical, so we decided to go back to basics and update.”  Unfortunately, they kept the same writers - Neal Purvis and Robert Wade - who started the script with Pierce Brosnan in mind, though Paul Haggis was later brought in.  Martin Campbell was brought back as director and the producers chose not to renew Brosnan’s contract, announcing Daniel Craig as the new Bond in October 2005 to a storm of online protest even before a second of film had been shot.

Casino Royale (2006) was based at Barrandov Studios in Prague with the finale in the collapsing house shot at Pinewood on the 007 stage.  The reboot was hugely successful (it was the fourth highest grossing film of 2006 and the highest grossing Bond film to that time)  with Craig praised in the lead role.  The film was Peter Lamont’s last, as he retired.
Daniel Craig and Eva Green (Vesper Lynd) filming the beach scene for Casino Royale (2006)
Quantum Of Solace (2008), based on an original idea by Michael G. Wilson, was hit by the 2007-2008 Writers Guild strike which meant director Marc Forster and Daniel Craig were forced to re-write Purvis & Wade and Haggis’ script themselves.  Forster, who felt Casino Royale was too long, wanted this to be “tight and fast, like a bullet” but achieved it with editing that was often so quick it became unwatchable.  Craig later told Time Out he wasn’t as happy with the final product as he would have liked and admitted “I guess the solution was: ‘Do more chase scenes’.  I guess at no point did Forster pipe up and say, ‘Yeah, I’m not really good at shooting those’.”  The situation led to him being allowed more say in choosing the director of the next film.
Setting up the rooftop to balcony jump on location in Siena for Quantum Of Solace (2008)
Production of Skyfall (2012) was suspended through 2010 because of MGM’s financial troubles and given official approval in January 2011.  Sam Mendes, who Daniel Craig had worked with in the past, was chosen to direct.  Thomas Newman, who had a long working relationship with Mendes, replaced David Arnold and Adele’s theme song won an Oscar, the first Bond film that happened on.  Shot on a budget of $200m, the film earned $1.1bn.
Daniel Craig throws himself into a stunt on the London Underground for Skyfall (2012)
Spectre (2015) retained Mendes as director and, at $245m, is the most expensive Bond film to date.  Daniel Craig was listed as co-producer and said in interview, “I’m just so proud of the fact that my name comes up somewhere else in the titles”.  An original story, it uses Hannes Oberhauser (ie, Blofeld’s father) who was a background character in the Octopussy short story whilst Charmain Bond, mentioned as Bond’s full-time guardian, maintains the back story Fleming established.  The theme song, by Sam Smith, won an Oscar, which must have grated on previous Bond composers since it’s not one of the best.  Sony Pictures’ contract to co-produce the Bond films with MGM and Eon expired with this film.
Daniel Craig on a rooftop in Mexico City for Spectre (2015)

The James Bond films are the longest continually-running series in history, from 1962 to the present day (the longest gap being the six years between 1989 and 1995).

In 1986, Albert and Dana Broccoli acquired United Artists 50% stake and so assumed complete control of Danjaq.  Following the death of Cubby in 1996 and Dana in 2004, control of Danjaq was passed to Michael G. Wilson.  Eon Productions is still owned by the Broccoli family, with Wilson and Barbara Broccoli acting as current producers of the films.  Cubby Broccoli’s name has appeared in the opening “presents” credit of every Bond film - up to The Man With The Golden Gun, the credit read ‘Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman present’ (the order of names was sometimes switched), then from The Spy Who Loved Me through to Goldeneye it was ‘Albert R. Broccoli presents’.  After his death, the opening credit became ‘Albert R. Broccoli’s Eon Productions presents’.

With a combined gross of over $7bn, the Bond films are the third hightest-grossing series behind Harry Potter and the Marvel Universe though, taking inflation into account, the gross is closer to $13m making them the highest.
Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, at the Cubby Broccoli Memorial Service held at the Leicester Square Odeon, November 1996
Harry Saltzman (born Herschel Saltzman on 27th October 1915) died of a heart attack on 28th September 1994.

Albert Romolo Broccoli, CBE (born on 5th April 1909) died of heart failure on 27th June 1996.


Dr. No (1962)
From Russia with Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Octopussy (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987)
Licence to Kill (1989)
GoldenEye (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Die Another Day (2002)
Casino Royale (2006)
Quantum of Solace (2008)
Skyfall (2012)
Spectre (2015)


sources:
Wikipedia
DVD documentaries and commentaries
Daniel Craig Time Out Interview

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