Peter Morgan, 007 fans hardly knew ye

Peter Morgan, screenwriter of Frost/Nixon and other prestige movies, joined a line of scribes such as Len Deighton and Anthony Burgess, who gave a try at writing a James Bond movie and couldn’t get it done. “The whole thing went to hell,” Morgan said in an interivew, published on the Indie Wire blog. “I’m so happy to be doing something else.”

Eon Productions put out a news release last year saying that Morgan would join Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in writing Bond 23. In the Indie Wire interview, which you can view for yourself starting around the 3:20 mark of the following video, Morgan says he “wrote a treatment, I never wrote a script…I went there with an orignial idea.” He never mentions Purvis and Wade.

Take a look for yourself:

In the next video, starting at the 0:15 mark, Morgan says the Bond is dated and “I’m not sure it’s possible to do it … I do think the absence of social reality in the Bond film…if they fix that, or they get that of if they get that in a script, which I’m so hoping they will, where you can actually believe in him, that he isn’t just a person in a dinner jacket…he is a creature of the Cold War, Bond….I just personally struggle to believe a British secret agent is still saving the world.”

Morgan goes on the praise Sam Mendes, the would-be director of Bond 23. You can see for yourself:

Eventually, the financial troubles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., which controls half of the Bond franchise, caused Morgan to cease his efforts, which he clearly doesn’t seem sad about. The fate of Bond 23 won’t be decided until MGM’s future is resolved.

Some observations and specuation about Morgan’s comments:

– Prestige apparently means more to current Eon boss-people Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli than it did to master showman Albert R. Broccoli, Eon’s co-founder with Harry Saltzman. Broccoli relied on Richard Maibaum, at least for first drafts, while Saltzman tried to entice more prestigious scribes, such as Paul Dehn (on Goldfinger) and John Hopkins (on Thunderball) to revamp Maibaum’s early drafts. Deighton also did some work on From Russia With Love, according to U.K. film historian Adrian Turner, and Burgess was among a gaggle of writers that pitched ideas for The Spy Who Loved Me. But the old Eon seemed to keep it all in perspective (i.e. they didn’t let the search for presige bog down the screenwriting process) than the current crew.

– Morgan sounds like he was never highly interested in the world of 007. You half expect him to sound like Sebastian Faulks, author of a 2008 Bond continuation novel, that it might be a jolly good romp to try writing a Bond movie.

– This is another case why press releases shouldn’t be viewed as any more than the tip of an iceburg.

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7 Responses

  1. It’s obvious Eon ( or at least part of it ) wants to ” go legit ” after nearly 50 years of pure entertainment movie business .
    Hence hiring top screen-writers who couldn’t care less about agent 007 , Ian Fleming or the art of mixing a perfect vodkatini…
    First Marc Foster, then Peter Morgan .
    Next : they’ll be announcing Martin Scorcese or the Cohen brothers as the next Bond23 director…

  2. Why Eon even considered the very politically-minded Peter Morgan is a little bit beyond my ken. I’m sure his attitude towards the James Bond character and the world he inhabits hasn’t changed; they may as well ask Paul Greenglass to work on the picture.

    Outside of making sure you’re not going places others have already gone, the making of a James Bond movie shouldn’t be rocket science. These are essentially cinematic comic books, albeit ones with large budgets and a dollop of wit. With all due love and respect to Purvis & Wade, I don’t see why a story treatment should take more than a couple of weeks, and a usable story and script banged out a month or so after that. Obviously, rewrites and dialogue polishing will follow, but would happen during the course of production, when inspiration and/or necessity strikes.

    The Bond film franchise was built on the yeomanlike work of film craftsman like Terence Young and Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz and Lewis Gilbert and Martin Campbell and Purvis & Wade. And Harry Saltzman & Cubby Broccoli. Hard-working guys who went down to the studio day after day and.GOT THE MOVIE MADE. Geniuses need not apply.

  3. [...] Also,the disclosure of Peter Morgan’s disclosure, hired last year to help write Bond 23, that he only wrote a treatment, or outline, and not a full script suggests Eon has a lot of work to do separate from developments at [...]

  4. [...] the Bond franchise that MGM doesn’t, hasn’t commented publicly. Eon’s hiring of screenwriter Peter Morgan apparently didn’t work out. We don’t really know how far along Bond 23 is and whether Eon could get a film ready for the [...]

  5. [...] (essentially a detailed outline), much less a first draft of a script. Even then, that was through an interview Morgan did after he departed the Bond project. Oh, and by the way, it turned out Morgan didn’t believe in the 007 [...]

  6. [...] Of course, this was the same Peter Morgan who declared in another interview that that James Bond is dated and didn’t sound like he particular cared for the character. [...]

  7. [...] the writer of Frost/Nixon, said after he exited Bond 23 that “I’m not sure it’s possible to do it …I just personally struggle to believe a Br… OK, it’s easy to figure out why Morgan sought the Bond 23 gig. A paycheck is a paycheck. [...]

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