Introduction: Matthew Grice has written an epic alternate history of the Bond franchise. This 5th installment of his “Rough with the Smooth” series heralds the production of a 3rd Dalton film and proceeds through to the Brosnan era with the threat of Kevin McClory constantly looming. Take a journey with Matthew and his own unique take on how events might have unfolded within the Bond franchise if fate and happenstance had been just slightly askew.
McClory was once again making plans for his third remake of ‘Longitude 78 West’, which he wanted to call ‘Thunderball’. The name however, belonged to the Fleming estate and could potentially be used by Broccoli and his team. He knew that Connery would not be interested and would now be too old for the part so he approached Lazenby who declined. He was advised many times by friends that ‘people will not want to see remakes of the same film and that you need something fresh and original’. McClory refused to listen and clearly wanted to put his name on the Bond franchise. He believed that the story he had written with Fleming and Whittingham was his only answer. Without anyone now being interested in the proposed ‘Thunderball’ film, McClory tried a new medium and this was animation. He announced that he would make a cartoon series aimed at children, which would be based on remakes of ‘Longitude 78 West’.This news soon reached EON, whereby Broccoli and the Fleming estate quickly made sure that if there was to be a James Bond animated series then it would be produced and licensed by no one other than themselves.
In 1991 EON productions began work on ‘James Bond Jr’ which was an animated TV series that featured the adventures of James Bond’s nephew. Sixty five episodes were made in total and saw him fighting off villains and saving the world. McClory was now flummoxed and the idea of an animated TV series quickly disappeared and his hatred for Broccoli and EON just grew and grew.
Whilst ‘James Bond Jr’ was in production, the 17th James Bond film was being written. This was titled ‘The Property Of A Lady.’ In late 1991, EON was back at Pinewood studios in addition to location shoots in Hong Kong and China, where Bond would be involved in a gunfight amongst the ‘Terracotta Army’ and a motorcycle chase along ‘The Great Wall of China’. The ‘Terracotta Army’ and ‘The Great Wall of China’ were originally intended for ‘Licence Revoked’, but Michael Wilson felt that the 1987 film ‘The Last Emperor’ had somewhat “stolen the originality and magical aspect of filming in the far east. But that was four or five years ago. We’ve got over it”
The Property Of A Lady’ was another short story by Fleming, but the film resembled nothing of the story as the plot had already been used in the film ‘Octopussy’. Sadly in 1991 writer Richard Maibuam passed away, as did title designer Maurice Binder. The film therefore, was to be written by Michael Wilson and Alfonse Ruggiero. The plot involved a chemical weapons laboratory in Scotland exploding, which Bond was to investigate. This investigation leads him to Sir Henry Lee Ching who wants Great Britain to withdraw from Hong Kong.
If this was not agreed he threatened to launch software viruses that would cause havoc in the world. A line is included in the script where Bond politely says to Lee Ching “Hong Kong is the property of a lady”. During this mission Bond encounters retired spy Denholm Crisp as well as jewel smuggler/CIA Agent Connie Webb, who drives a Lamborghini Diablo
John Barry returned to the Bond fold cowriting the Bond theme ‘No Tears For Hong Kong’ with Don Black, which went on to be recorded by the band, R.E.M. The song, which was written as a ballad, complimented the credit sequence designed by Daniel Klienman.
‘The Property Of A Lady’ was directed by John Byrum, after John Glen had originally been asked. Glen declined saying that he felt he was
getting too old. Brian De Palma had offered to direct the film, as he would have loved to direct another Bond, but the fact he directed ‘Warhead’ didn’t do him any favours with Mr Broccoli.
The film opened in November 1992 with a budget of $45,000,000 and made $196,000,000, which was a lot more than ‘Licence Revoked’ had made. It starred Timothy Dalton, Antony Wong as Sir Henry Lee Ching, Michael Caine as Denholm Crisp and Lara Harris as Connie Webb. Some critics claimed it had reminded them of previous Bond films such as ‘You Only Live Twice’ and ‘For Your Eyes Only’, due to the locations.
McClory was once again on the scene, this time trying to take EON to court saying that parts of the latest film used ideas that were seen in ‘Warhead’. These ‘ideas’ of course, were the use of underground sewers. Nothing was ever made of this particular case as McClory’s solicitors advised him that he would be wasting his time.
In 1993 MGM/UA, who had distributed the Bond films, was sold to Qintex, who wanted to merge with Pathe Communications. All of the Bond films, which had been available on VHS since 1982, were leased to Pathe at lower than market value, without consulting Danjaq who were the copyright holders of the Bond films. Danjaq then sued MGM/UA. The court case went on for two years that led to Dalton losing interest in the role, as he believed; it was the end of Bond.
In 1995 EON was back, now under the management of Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, which meant the search for a new Bond was on. It was announced that Pierce Brosnan was definitely going to be the new Bond and as such he signed a contract for four films plus an optional fifth. Production on the 20th Bond film began in January 1996 at its faithful home of Pinewood.
The story was written by Michael France, and was finalized by Bruce Fierstein and it was based loosely on plot elements from the novel ‘Moonraker’. Martin Campbell came on board as director, whilst Peter Lamont returned as production designer. Peter Lamont had started on the Bond films in the 1960’s as a draftsman for Ken Adam, working his way up to sole designer for the film ‘For Your Eyes Only’. Lamont had worked on every Bond film since. Legendary composer John Barry returned for his 13th and final Bond film, and collaborated with Bono and ‘The Edge’ to write a song for Tina Turner simply called ‘Goldeneye’. Some music fans say that Barry’s Goldeneye score is a perfect sequel to his previous film ‘The Specialist’, which has some Bondesque sounds and daunting melodies.
The film opened up with Bond performing a breathtaking bungee jump off a dam to infiltrate a chemical weapons factory and rendezvous with fellow agent 006.Not only was the world facing a new Bond, but a new ‘M’. This time played by Dame Judi Dench. This was said to be the most risky decision that had ever been made during a Bond films, but it had felt right. How would Bond respond to taking orders from a female? Judi Dench played the role wonderfully and her character proved to be someone you didn’t want to mess with. Whilst the tense atmosphere between Bond and the ‘new’ ‘M’ slowly grew, Samantha Bond (no relation) would be in the office next door playing Miss Moneypenny. Desmond Llewellyn reprised his role as ‘Q’, introducing Bond to his new mode of transport, a BMW Z3. Also John Rhys
Davis, who had played General Pushkin in ‘The Living Daylights’ reprised this role although now he was a retired KGB agent with a nightclub.
Whilst filmed on a budget of $60,000,000 Goldeneye opened in November 1996 making $351,000,000,000 at the box office. This was the highest grossing Bond film of all time, and despite the three year hiatus, Bond would prove to always be a box office draw.
Goldeneye directed by Martin Campbell, was the first film to be produced solely by Michel Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. It starred Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean as Agent 006/Alec Trevelyan, Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova and Famke Jensen as Xenia Onnatop. Sadly Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli had passed away at the age eighty seven, just weeks before the premiere.
Whilst Bond was making big money once again, McClory announced his plan for a series of James Bond films under Sony Columbia. The first film would be titled ‘Warhead 2000’ and was to star sixty seven year old Connery as the villain.
Sony Columbia had distributed both McClory’s ‘Warhead’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’ and had held the rights to those films ever since. Sony was clearly on McClory’s side, and knowing how big James Bond was, would have done anything to launch their own Bond series. Again this was taken to court and Sony argued that McClory was entitled to a certain percentage of EON’s profits as the beloved formula of the cinematic Bond we all now know, could be first seen in ‘Longitude 78 West’, which McClory had worked on. Both Sony and McClory were told that it had been left far too late for them to have shares in the EON series. However, this didn’t stop McClory and Sony going ahead with ‘Warhead 2000’.
Production immediately began on Brosnan’s second Bond film, and once again this would be an original story with an original title.
‘Tomorrow Never Lies’ began principal photography on April 1st 1998. Production took place in the French Alps, Thailand, Germany and Beijing, and of course England. The film was offered to Martin Campbell, but he said that he “wanted to focus on other things as doing a James Bond film was a film like no other”.
Roger Spottiswood was given the role of director whilst David Arnold had now become the official in house composer for James Bond. John Barry had now retired from film composing but after hearing Arnold’s take on some of Barry’s Bond themes in his ‘Shaken and
Stirred’ album he told the producers that Arnold was clearly the man. Arnold had worked with Jarvis Cocker, the lead singer of Pulp, on his album and it was Cocker that sang the title song for the film.
The story and title was completely original and was the first film to make no references to Fleming. They hired Bruce Fierstein, who had worked on Goldeneye, to write something original as ‘there was no Fleming material left’.
The film starred Anthony Hopkins as the villain Elliot Carver, who was married to none other than Sylvia Trench played by Teri Hatcher. Sylvia Trench first made an appearance in ‘Dr No’, and then in ‘From Russia With Love’ and ‘Goldfinger’ and had been Bond’s casual lover. The producers thought it would be a nice touch to update the character and form a bit of continuity. Sadly Sylvia Trench (now known as Sylvia Carver) gets killed off by her husband in the film after finding out that her and Bond had history. Also Tomorrow Never Lies featured Ricky Jay who used his skills as a magician to play card-throwing henchman Henry Gupta. He came to his demise when Bond had burnt him alive whilst turning a flame eating trick, which Brosnan used to do in real life as a deadly weapon.
Filmed on a budget of $110,000,000 which was the first time such a large amount had been used for a Bond film, ‘Tomorrow Never Lies’ earned $338,000,000 at the box office which was less than Brosnan’s first outing. The fans and critics loved Brosnan as Bond and said that he had a bit of each actor in him. Rogers Moore’s humour, mixed with Connery’s coolness and Lazenby’s brutalness.
It wasn’t until November 1999 that production would begin on Brosnan’s third film. Brosnan wanted to explore the character of Bond and wanted to ‘peel back the layers’. It was decided that the next film would show Bond vulnerability and see him fall in love only to be betrayed. This was the first Bond film to feature a female as the main villain.
To handle a complex and emotional storyline, former Coronation Street director Michael Apted was brought in to direct ‘The World Is Not
Enough’. This was also the first Bond film for writing duo, Neil Purvis and Robert Wade. Named after Bond’s family motto, the story was again original and had elements of ‘Colonel Sun’ with the kidnapping of ‘M’. ‘Colonel Sun’ was the first continuation Bond novel, written by Kinsley Amis after the death of Ian Fleming.
General Pushkin again made an appearance, but he was killed by Elektra King.
‘The World Is Not Enough’ was released in November 2000 and was made on a budget of $135,000,000, which was $25,000,000 more than ‘Tomorrow Never Lies’ and made $361,000,000 at the box office. The film starred Robert Carlisle, Sophie Marcue and Denise
Richards and introduced John Cleese as ‘R’, who played ‘Q’s’ apprentice.
Desmond Llewellyn who had appeared in nineteen Bond films had announced that ‘The World Is Not Enough’ would be his last film as he was struggling at the age of eighty five to see and remember his lines. Sadly after the release of what was his final Bond film, he died in car crash.
During the production of ‘The World Is Not Enough’, McClory handed the final script in for ‘Warhead 2000’ to Sony and Liam Neeson who was about to sign the contract to play James Bond. It was believed that Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin, who had produced
‘Stargate’,Independence Day’ and had just finished ‘Godzilla’ would be directing it.
The ‘Warhead 2000’ shenanigans as Neeson would later refer it had cost him the role of playing Qiu- Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode 1. The role went to Nicol Williamson instead.
During this time, Sony showed a huge interest in the ‘Spiderman’ franchise, which was owned by MGM/UA. In a desperate bid to launch and create their own ‘Spiderman’ series, EON and MGM teamed up and asked a phenomenal amount of money for the films rights to ‘Spiderman’. This led to Sony agreeing to exchange ‘Warhead’ and ‘Never Say Never Again’ enabling them to receive the rights for ‘Spiderman’. ‘Longitude 78 West’ was distributed by Paramount, and to this day they still have the rights to that film. Sony came to terms with the fact that Bond was clearly MGM’s baby and nobody would ever be able to take that away. This made the McClory Bond films the property of EON and MGM, which of course put a complete stop to the production of ‘Warhead 2000’, as MGM refused to finance it. McClory then proceeded to take Sony to court for ‘not consulting him about his Bond films being exchanged for other film rights,’ but this would prove to be the end of the road for McClory. He spent all his time and money trying to sue Sony Columbia. He died in 2005.
It wouldn’t be until late 2001 that production began on Brosnan’s fourth Bond film and it was decided that it would coincide with the 40th anniversary of ‘Dr No’. ‘Die Another Day’ was directed by New Zealand born Lee Tamhori, who decided to push the boundaries for a Bond film by introducing CGI. This was clearly used in scenes that could not be filmed for real, and the film was to be later slated by fans as the worst Bond film ever. ‘Die Another Day’ was based on an original idea written by Neil Purvis and Robert Wade but featured the character Gala Brand who was Fleming’s heroine from the novel ‘Moonraker’. Contrary to the novel, however, Gala Brand turns out to be a traitor in this film. The villain, Gustav Graves, is also said to share similarities with the Moonraker villain Hugo Drax.
The Bond films have always been known for the lack of CGI and for the stunts to be performed for real. It wasn’t just CGI that upset fans, they felt that it was ‘too over the top’ and having Bond behind the wheel of an Aston Martin Vanquish that could become invisible at the touch of a button, just wasn’t plausible. To make up for these ‘poor’ touches, male fans were enticed by the fact that ‘Die Another Day’ was the sexiest Bond adventure yet and featured visible buttocks and bare breasts throughout steamy sex scenes. One sex scene involved Bond and Jinx and two were with Gala Brand.
With the film celebrating the 40th Anniversary since the release of ‘Dr No’, the producers wanted subtle references to the past. First Bond is taken to ‘R’s’ underground laboratory where all of the gadgets from previous Bond films have been stored, and then we have Jinx appearing from the sea, wearing a bikini, as a tribute to Ursula Andress.
The film starred Nigel Havers as the villain Gustav Graves alongside Rick Yune as henchman Zoa. Oscar winner Halle Berry played Jinx Jordan, a NSA agent, as well as 23 year old British actress Rosamund Pike. Michelle Yeoh reprised her character Wai Lin for a brief scene with Bond in a Hong Kong hotel. Wai Lin of course was the love interest in ‘Tomorrow Never Lies’. The film was also the first of a three-picture deal for Michael Madsen who played Damien Falcon, Jinx’s boss.
David Arnold returned to score the film whilst Madonna wrote and performed the title song and she even had a cameo in the film. Much like the film, the title song did not impress the fans either. However, David Arnold and Don Black wrote the song ‘I Will Return’ for the end credits, sung by David McAlmont, who also produced a cover of ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ for the album ‘Shaken And Stirred’.
The film had a budget of $142,000,000 and made $431,000,000 at the box office.
Even though the producers were happy with the box office takings, they weren’t happy about the fans reaction to the film. Fans wanted the Bond films to be how they used to be and didn’t want the use of CGI which produced scenes that were 100% unbelievable.
At the premier of ‘Die Another Day’, Bond producer Michael G. Wilson announced that a Jinx spin off film was in the pipeline. “MGM and ourselves and Halle thought it might be a good idea to make a Jinx film, so we’re just kicking around some ideas with the writers, to see if we can do something with that”. Robert Wade and Neil Purvis began writing the script for the yet to be titled ‘Jinx’ film and production began in June 2003 in Miami, Tokyo, Prague and the Warner bros studios in LA. EON felt there was no need to use Pinewood.
Martin Campbell who had directed Pierce Brosnan’s debut film was asked to return but was unavailable, so British born director Stephen Frears took up the directing job. The character of Jinx was very well received in the US, and was considered to be the female version of James Bond, and the aspect of her having her own franchise was thrilling. After the negative reviews of ‘Die Another Day’, as well as the negativity of using CGI, it was decided that they would produce the Jinx film more traditionally.
The film saw Jinx Jorden behind the wheel of her Ford Thunderbird with Micheal Madsen reprising his role as Damien Falcon. The story involved a former government security officer causing havoc in America through cyber terrorism thus proving how weak their system was. Jinx, after teaming up with CIA agent Craig Winters played by Ben Affleck set out to prevent further devastation being caused by Edward Dewhurst. Years later, fans claimed that this plot was very similar to ‘Die Hard 4’.
Danny Elfman, known for his collaboration with director Tim Burton provided the score whilst Daniel Kleinman provided the opening titles. Some of the Bond family provided the production design and special effects.
‘Pressure Point’, which had been a working title for ‘The World Is Not Enough’ was now the title of the first Jinx film and was released in the summer of 2004. Filmed on a budget of £120,000,000, MGM had hedged their bets just in case the film failed to meet box office expectations. They turned out to be right in doing so. Interestingly, the film was more of a success in the US, as it was seen as a typical American action film in Britain, and with it not starring James Bond, the fans didn’t rate it. The total box office was $232,000,000. MGM insisted on bringing Bond back.
Halle Berry was said to be furious with MGM’s decision not to produce any more Jinx films since she had been hoping that this would be the beginning of a film franchise like that of Bond, however, she went on to reprise her role as Storm in the second ‘X men’ film taking her talents to another popular action franchise.
by Matthew Grice
Wikipedia James Bond box office.
Jinx poster by Kimberley Dewhurst
Warhead 2000 with Connery: http://jamesbond007.net/hmtl/sony.html
Dalton 17th Bond film poster: http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/The_Property_of_A_Lady_(film)