(Long time JBR listener, Matthew Grice returns to continue his fictional taste of what might have happened had the Kevin McClory/Ian Fleming dispute turned out a little differently. If you missed it, here’s part one).
Late 1963, early 1964 saw the production of ‘Goldfinger’. This was Connery’s third Bond film and was helmed by director Guy Hamilton. ‘Goldfinger’ again was based on Fleming’s novel which had been adapted by Richard Maibaum. It is said that director Guy Hamilton had ‘set the blue print’ for all future Bond films. ‘From Russia With Love’ saw the introduction of Desmond Llewellyn who played Major Boothroyd, and it was he who introduced Bond to a weaponised attaché case. In ‘Goldfinger’ the character was returned to introduce Bond to the gadget laden Aston Martin DB5 which featured in an exciting car chase. From then on the Bond films that followed would feature an exciting pre-title sequence, a scene with ‘M’, being given an array of gadgets and fast cars by Major Boothroyd, exotic locations where he would meet the very attractive Bond girl, and have a huge climatic battle at the end of the film.
Also ‘Goldfinger’ had the most humour of the previous three adventures and simply made ‘Longitude 78 West’ and ‘From Russia With Love’ look somewhat old for their time.
‘Goldfinger’ had been given a budget of $3,000,000. More than ‘Longitude 78 West’ and it made $124,000,000 at the box office. However ‘Goldfinger’ and the previous two films simply didn’t contain the stunning underwater photography that the first Bond film had.
Whilst ‘Goldfinger’ was in production Kevin McClory decided to take EON to court over the use of ‘SPECTRE’. This could have been motivated by jealousy as the EON series of Bond films were beginning to be a success and Bondmania was in progress throughout the world. These were now Bond films, not a Hitchcock film with a character called Bond. McClory was now claiming that ‘SPECTRE’ was an invention of his, and was also taking Fleming to court as he had used ‘SPECTRE’ in his previous novel ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ and his latest ‘You Only Live Twice’.
After a long drawn out battle that would eventually lead to Fleming’s death, it was decided that ‘SPECTRE’ was an invention of both McClory’s and Flemings, and that EON were free to use it because they had bought the rights to the novels. It was also ruled that McClory could use the name/organization if he wanted to in his films based upon the ‘Longitude 78 West’ film or script but not for twelve years.
During the production of ‘Goldfinger’, EON decided that the next screen adventure for Bond was going to be ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, but due to problems concerning locations, this was not to be. Saltzman had suggested ‘Moonraker’ and had even got in touch with Gerry Anderson, regarding puppets and spacecraft, and had even written a draft script. Gerry Anderson of course was the man behind Cult TV shows such as ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Captain Scarlett’ both famous for the use of marionettes.
In December 1964 producer Charles K. Feldman approached EON with a proposition to go into partnership for the production of ‘Casino Royale’. In December 1960, Gregory Ratoff who had bought the film rights for $6,000 in 1955, had passed away and Feldman had obtained them.
Feldman produced scripts that had been written by Hollywood script legend Ben Hecht. Hecht had written some of the earlier Hitchcock’s film. The scripts were dated late 1963 through to April 1964, which was when Hecht had suddenly passed away.
He showed Broccoli and Saltzman the scripts and realized that it was written with Connery in mind. Originally Feldman had wanted Cary Grant in the role as Bond, but with the phenomenal success of Bond, he simply thought ‘why not go with them, instead of against them’.
Broccoli had wanted to do ‘Casino Royale’ as it was “the first Fleming novel, and it only seemed right for it to be part of our series of films” claimed Broccoli. This seemed too much of an opportunity to miss and Gerry Anderson’s ‘Moonraker’ was put on the back burner.
By February 1965 a deal between EON and Feldman had been made, and Feldman was to act as associate producer. Both Broccoli and Saltzman were happy with the Hecht treatment but had passed it onto Richard Maibuam, who added additional dialogue and gave it a final polish. This was the first Bond film not to be entirely faithful to any of the Fleming novels.
‘Casino Royale’ was of course Fleming’s first novel and seemed very short compared to the others. The story opened up with Bond in a Casino playing baccarat with the villain Le Chiffre, who needed to win funds for ‘SMERSH’.
To translate this to celluloid version more of a back story had to be created to explain why Le Chiffre had to find money for his employer, and to generally give the film more exciting scenes than just being set in a casino. Hecht had done this wonderfully, by creating a pre-title sequence that involved Felix Leiter arresting United Nation Diplomats, alongside prostitutes they had been with. This so far was the first pre-title sequence that Bond didn’t appear in.
We now begin to see the ‘traditional’ title sequence first designed by Maurice Binder. He was unavailable for ‘From Russia With Love’ and ‘Goldfinger’.
Bond is then briefed by ‘M’ about ‘SPECTRE’s’ scheme of extortion, which involves UN Diplomats being blackmailed as they have film footage of them with the prostitutes. Bond is then introduced to fellow MI6 operative Vesper Lynd, and they both see ‘Q’ Branch together. They then leave for Hamburg, Germany where the rolls of film were being stored. A spectacular action scene takes place that involves the films being destroyed and Bond shooting Gita who is Le Chiffre’s wife.
Bond had shot the side of Gita’s jaw, and she now had to speak through a tube. What the audience sees is a silhouette of her head, with only the whites of her eyes being visible, and the sound of distorted speech. This method of filming and lighting definitely left more to the imagination and was certainly creepy, if not scary.
With Le Chiffe knowing that he has lost his blackmail ‘evidence’ he then decides to go to the Casino in the French resort Royale Les Eaux. This is where the film starts to become more faithful to the novel.
The infamous torture sequence was toned down slightly and it is at this point Bond sees Gita for the first time since shooting her. We now know that Le Chiffre is an agent for ‘SPECTRE’, and he is killed by their agents for not winning the money for them from the baccarat game.
Casino Royale starring Sean Connery as James Bond for the fourth time began principle photography in northern France in June 1965, and starred Gina Lollobrigida as Vesper Lynd and Claude Rains as Le Chiffre.
Originally Feldman had pleaded for Alfred Hitchcock to return but Hitchcock was in pre-production of ‘Torn Curtain’ starring Julie Andrews and Paul Newman. EON had approached Terence Young, who had directed ‘Dr No’ and ‘From Russia With Love’ but he said he was not available for their filming schedule. They finally asked Guy Hamilton, who returned for his second Bond film.
United Artists had given ‘Casino Royale’ a budget of $4,000,000 with Charles K Feldman agreeing to a 20% share of the profits. Ken Adam and the usual Bond crew had returned. After the title song ‘Goldfinger’ reaching number one in the United States, composer John Barry brought Shirley Bassey back once again, this time for the song ‘Whisper Of Love’.
John Barry had partnered up with lyricist Don Black and simply couldn’t write a decent song that contained the lyric ‘Casino Royale’. Broccoli and Saltzman believed that the theme song should always feature the title of the film, and after several attempts both Barry and Black found it impossible. Broccoli and Saltzman began to realise that having a song with ‘Casino Royale’ in it wasn’t plausible, so Don Black took the title of Chapter 13 from ‘Casino Royale’, ‘A whisper of love, a whisper of hate’ and developed some wonderful lyrics. These lyrics were then accompanied by a slow and daunting melody by Barry. Broccoli loved it but Saltzman didn’t. John Barry had learnt to take Saltzman’s opinion on his songs with a pinch of salt. Saltzman had said that ‘Goldfinger’ was the worst song he had ever heard, but it reached number one in the US, which no doubt had a huge impact on the film.
In September 1966 ‘Casino Royale’ had premiered and made $140,000,000 worldwide. It was the highest grossing Bond film, and the world was completely ‘shaken and stirred’.
Feldman was pleased with the result and was ‘pleased to have made a wonderful novel into wonderful film and it was an honour to have worked with Cubby Broccoli once again’. Feldman was Broccoli’s employer back in the early 1950’s when he had worked for Famous Artists.
After the huge success of ‘Casino Royale’ they decided that Fleming’s second to last novel before he had passed away, would be the next adventure.
‘You Only Live Twice’ was the third and final novel to feature the criminal organisation ‘SPECTRE’ and its leader Ernest Stavro Blofeld.
The film began production in December 1966 and was based loosely around the novel. In the novel Bond has lost his ‘zest for life’ after Ernest Stavro Blofeld had shot dead his wife in the previous novel, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, and clearly wanted revenge. The producers felt that this was fitting for Bond’s emotions after ‘Casino Royale’, with Vesper committing suicide because her life was being threatened by ‘SPECTRE’. In the past Bond had crossed them, firstly with Richard Burton’s incarnation of Bond having had dealings with them and then Connery’s Bond had a few more scrapes with them in ‘From Russia With Love’ and ‘Casino Royale’.
Bond now finally wants to hunt them down and take revenge. In the film directed by Lewis Gilbert, with the screenplay written by Roald Dahl, we see James Bond at his lowest ebb. At the beginning of the film Bond is on a mission that goes wrong. After being shot and faking his own death, Bond keeps a low profile whilst MI6 assume he is dead, until he turns up again. ‘M’ is obviously worried about him and sends him to the service neurologist, Sir James Maloney who suggests he needs a tough assignment that will keep him occupied.
The big ‘news’ in 1966 and 1967 was the space race between the Americans and Soviets, so Roald Dahl felt it would be appropriate to involve this in the film. This of course never appeared in the original novel.
The assignment Bond is given, is to travel to Japan and cooperate with the Japanese Secret Service to investigate the disappearance of both Russian and American spacecraft, whilst in orbit. The world is on the brink of World War 3 as each country is blaming the other for the disappearances. Bond travels to a remote island and discovers that ‘SPECTRE’ and its leader Ernest Stavro Blofeld is behind the thefts, operating from a hollowed out volcano with their own spacecraft called ‘Bird One’. This spacecraft simply swallows the other spacecraft and brings them down on Japanese soil. Only the back of a head and a pair of hands stroking a white cat, which represent Blofeld, is seen by the audience.
Bond is wanting to face Blofeld, but never does as he escapes, but he does however prevent another spacecraft being swallowed up by ‘Bird One’ by destroying it, and then taking part in a climatic battle with ninja’s against ‘SPECTRE’.
‘You Only Live Twice’ was released in October 1967 and made $111,000,000 worldwide. This was less than the previous two Bond adventures. Was Bond losing his touch? Had Bondmania come to an end? In Japan it certainly hadn’t.
After five films Connery was feeling the strain of being a worldwide icon. The Japanese went crazy whilst he was there and he couldn’t take the pressure of being James Bond any longer. Whilst the film was being played in picture houses across the globe he announced that ‘You Only Live Twice’ was his last film as James Bond.
This became a problem for both EON and United Artists. They now had to face a fresh challenge and look for a new James Bond.
They had first approached Roger Moore, but he was unavailable as he was contracted for another series of ‘The Saint’, and a very young Timothy Dalton was asked but he felt he was too young for the part. Eventually the part went to an unknown Australian model, who had no experience of acting whatsoever.
His name was George Lazenby and he was spotted by Mr Broccoli whilst at the barbers. It was decided that ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ would be the next film, and it was directed by Peter Hunt, who had spent the last five Bond films as editor.
Jeremy Dunn – Rogue Royale,
Wikepedia – James Bond Box Office
By Matthew Grice