Happy birthday, Sean Connery

Sean Connery, circa 1963

Sean Connery, circa 1963

Aug. 25 is Sean Connery’s 84th birthday.

A recent CBS NEWS POLL of Americans indicates he is still, far and away, the most popular screen James Bond.

In that poll, Connery was the No. 1 choice among 51 percent of those surveyed. The poll was performed July 16 to 20 among 1,024 adults across the Unites States. People were surveyed using both cell phones and land lines. The margin of error was 3 percentage points.

In the second position was Pierce Brosnan at 12 percent, with Roger Moore at No. 3 at 11 percent and Daniel Craig No. 4 at 8 percent.

Some Bond fans, expressing their opinion on social media, question the results, saying it sounds like a poll done before 2006. 

We suspect the results more reflect how Connery blazed the trail that others followed. No matter how well his successors have performed, he remains the original screen 007.

Happy birthday, Sir Sean.

Dr. No’s script Part IV: Killing Professor Dent in triplicate

Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent

Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent

Continuing our look at a January 1962 Dr. No script supplied by collector Gary Firuta.

When Dr. No, the first James Bond movie is discussed, a lot of attention is paid to how Bond (Sean Connery) ruthlessly kills Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson), one of the villain’s lackeys.

Based on the January draft, completed shortly before principal photography began, the crew was still considering exactly how to portray that killing. The script provides three versions.

On page 71, Bond gets the drop on Dent. The dialogue isn’t exactly what would be in the finished movie.

Dent asks if Miss Taro (by now already in police custody) talked. “No,” Bond replies. “You gave yourself away. I was suspicious at the Queen’s Club – but when you told me that Strangways’ radioactive samples were worthless…well…” Bond asks Dent who he is working for

Meanwhile, Dent is “edging impercectable nearer to his gun on the floor. BOND goes on taiing (sic), seemingly oblivious of DENT’s manoeuvering.”

He makes a sudden swift movement toward his gun, picks it up and levels it at BOND. As his finger tightens on the trigger.

DENT (contd.)
(triumphantly)
…Dr. No!

But as in the finished film, Dent’s gun is empty.

“Only six bullets in a Smith and Wesson, Professor…and I counted them…” Bond then shoots Dent, killing him.

The first alternative version starts on page 72, with Dent, proclaiming triumphantly, he’s working for Dr. No.

“But BOND’s inattention has only been assumed,” the stage directions read. “He fires also, but that much faster and just that much more accurately. DENT’S BULLET SMACKS INTO THE WALL BEHIND HIM, AND BOND’S bullet hits DENT in the center of the chest.”

With the second alternative version. Professor Dent never says he’s working for Dr. No.

Instead, “He makes a sudden swift movement toward his gun, but BONDS (sic) inattention has only been assumed. Before DENT can reach his gun, BOND has fired.” There is no mention of the gun being empty as in the first version, but if it is loaded, Dent can’t get off a shot.

The final film uses the first version but tweaks were still made. For example, Bond lies, implying Miss Taro has already talked (“But of course.”) Instead of saying he counted Dent’s shots, Bond says, “It’s a Smith and Wesson and you’ve had your six,” before killing Dent.

Meanwhile, the professor doesn’t actually say he’s working for Dr. No, which was probably an improvement.

By this time in the movie, the audience is well aware of Dent’s allegiance. It’s clear Bond has figured it out. Having Dent yell, “Dr. No!” is unnecessary.

NEXT: Meeting the villain

Dr. No’s script Part III: A friendship is forged

Jack Lord with Ursula Andress and Sean Connery during Dr. No's production.

Jack Lord with Ursula Andress and Sean Connery.

Continuing our look at a January 1962 Dr. No script supplied by collector Gary Firuta.

Dr. No’s screenwriting team of Richard Maibaum, Wolf Mankowitz and Johanna Harwood opted to bring in Ian Fleming’s Felix Leiter character into the film version of Dr. No even though he wasn’t in that novel.

Their challenge: establish the James Bond-Leiter friendship within a few minutes of screen time.

By the time Dr. No was nearing production, Leiter had appeared in the novels Casino Royale, Live And Let Die, Diamonds Are Forever, Goldfinger and Thunderball. Bond and Leiter had shared a number of adventures in the novels, including Leiter providing a major financial assistance in Casino and nearly getting killed in Live And Let Die.

But that back story wasn’t of use for the screenwriters. They would have to invent their own storyline of the forging of the Bond-Leiter friendship.

In the film, it gets off to a rocky start. The audience doesn’t realize it’s Leiter observing Bond at the Kingston airport. Bond gets the best of the encounter, losing Leiter and Quarrel, who are following him. Bond catches up to Quarrel and gets into a fight. Here’s how the script describes what happens next.

Behind him, and unknown to him, LEITER has appeared in the door. He gently takes BOND’S wrist and equally gently shoves a Walther into his kidneys.

LEITER
(softly)
Gently, bud, gently. Let’s not get execited, eh?

BOND stiffens. His position is now untenable and he’s not a bloody fool. LEITER stretches round in front of him and takes his gun. He tooks at two identical weapons with slightly raised eyebrows.

The exchange that takes place is similar to the finished film but there are some interesting stage directions.

Quarrel we’re told is “looking murderous, steps forward and expertly frisks BOND. (Expertly means to start at sock level and run and tap lightly upwards. A favourite place for keeping a second gun or a knife is taped to the inside of the thigh. QUARREL evidently knows this.)”

Leiter is “moving around so he can see BOND CLEARLY.” After Leiter tells Bond his got his gun from “a guy in Washington,” he then “suddenly breaks into a grin, puts his own gun into his shoulder holster, reverses one in his left hand and holds it butt first to BOND, simultaneously holding out now free right hand in greeting.”

The next scene is at the restaurant/night club as in the film. “In the background, FOUR ATTRACTIVE GIRLS, wearing just what they are forced to by law, are going through a particularly Jamaican type of Twist.”

As they discuss how Cape Canaveral rockets are being sabotaged, Bond “chooses his words with irony” when he asks if Leiter had “cased the joint.”

LEITER
I checked…unofficially. You…
(mimics BOND)
“Limeys” can be pretty touch about trespassing.

The TWO MEN grin at each other.

From here on out, the two men are friends, although there’s an occasional edge. Later, Leiter “thoughtfully” asks whether Professor Dent is a bad professor or a bad liar. Bond “grimly” says he intends to find out which.

When Bond finally shows up to head out to Crab Key, Leiter is “growling” when he asks where Bond has been.

When Bond and Quarrel get ready to make their approach to Dr. No’s island, Leiter “softly” says “Let me go with him” to Bond. The British agent replies, “We’ve argued all the way out. Strangways happened to be a friend of mine.”

Bond and Leiter “grin understandingly” after Bond says, “We’ll be back in twelve. If not, it’s your show, and you’d better bring in the Marines.”

NEXT: Killing Professor Dent in triplicate

Dr. No’s script Part II: Bond memes make their debut

Jack Lord and Sean Connery during Dr. No filming

Jack Lord and Sean Connery during Dr. No filming

Continuing our look at a January 1962 Dr. No script provided by collector Gary Firuta.

Bond, having bested Sylvia Trench (or Trenchard, depending on which page of the script you’re reading), gets ready to exit the casino. Bond invites Sylvia for golf and dinner, similar to the finished film with a few differences in dialogue.

On page 13, Bond enters the office. He says, “Hi….Moneypenny….” as he enters. There is no mention of him throwing his hat on the hat rack. The dialogue is again very close to the final version of the movie. Stage directions specify that she “takes in his appearance with mock admiration” as she says, “You never take me out look like that James….” She has a “deep sigh” and says, “You never take me out, period.”

Bond replies, “I’d take you out tomorrow, only I’d have me courtmartialled for illegal use of Government property.”

After Bond enters M’s office, there’s a description. “He is a man in his middle fifties, well-sel up, with some of the Navy about him.” M and Bond discuss the situation in Jamaica before Major Boothroyd enters to give Bond his new gun. Boothroyd “is a short, slim man, with snady (sic) hair.” When Boothroyd produces the Walther PPK he is “producing gun and shoulder holster from case with professional pride.”

As in the finished movie, Bond tries to sneak out his old Beretta from the office but M stops him. “They catch each others’ eyes. They really understand each other perfectly. BOND GOES.”

The intrepid agent goes back to his flat and gets a surprise in the form of Sylvia in Bond’s pajama tops. She is practicing chip shots “into the bowler hat which is laying on the floor by foot of bed.”

The rest of the scene plays out as in the finished film, but there’s an extra. As Bond and Sylvia make out, there’s this stage direction: “CAMERA PANS DOWN to take in his toes curling inside silk evening socks and her bare ones on tiptoe. The golf club drops onto the carpet; as his tie foins it, we….. FADE OUT.” (Note: it says “foins” rather than “joins” in case you’re wondering.)

Bond takes a BOAC flight to Jamaica, rather than PanAm, as in the film. He is met by a chauffeur, who says, “I’m Mistuh Jones, suh…chauffeur from Government House. Ah been sent to get you.” Bond even calls him “Mistuh Jones” in return.

007 calls Government House. Playdell-Smith takes the call. “Put him through, Miss Taro.” After talking with Bond, Playdell-Smith wraps up the call and says “(off-screen to SECRETARY) Thank you, Miss Taro. I’ll call when I want you.”

Meanwhile, at the Kingston airport, another figure takes in the scene: “a tall thin HATCHET-FACED MAN (FELIX LEITER).”

Bond and Jones depart the airport, followed by Leiter and a “humourous-looking, intelligent CAYMAN ISLANDER (QUARREL).”

The British agent, as in the film, loses his pursuers and gets Jones off alone to interrogate him. He still addresses him as “Mistuh Jones.” After Bond bests Jones in a fight, Jones commits suicide rather than reveal who he’s working for. Jones says, “The….hell with you….” before he dies.

With nothing else to do, Bond drives to Government House. “THE CHAUFFEUR’s body is propped up realistically in the back seat.” When he arrives, the agent utters a witticism to A UNIFORMED GUARD similar to the finished movie.

BOND
(indicating CHAUFFEUR)
Watch him. Make sure he doesn’t get away.

GUARD
(briskly)
Yes, sir.

He does a double take as he sees the DEAD MAN.

TO BE CONTINUED

Early 1962: Dr. No’s script takes shape Part I

Sean Connery in Dr. No

Sean Connery in Dr. No

By early 1962, the screenwriters of Dr. No finished their fifth draft of a script adapting Ian Fleming’s novel. That draft, dated 8-January-1962, greatly resembles the film that would ultimately premier that fall. But there were still elements that either got dropped or significantly altered during production.

What follows is a summary based on a copy supplied by Bond collector Gary Firuta.

The draft’s title page lists Richard Maibaum, Wolf Mankowitz and J.M. Harwood as the writers and Harry Broccoli and A.R. Broccoli as producers. The production company name is listed as Eon Film Productions Ltd., later shortened to Eon Productions.

The early sequences are very similar to the final product, but scenes have additional dialogue than would make the final cut.

In the stage directions, John Strangways, R.N. (ret.) is described as “Carribean Universal Exports Agent, or, less discreetly, the local representative of the British Secret Service. He is a tall, lean man with a black patch over his right eye, and the sort of acquiline good looks associated with the bridge of a destroyer.”

The bridge game at the Queen’s Club includes an exchange after Strangways departs the bridge game for his daily call from headquarters. Potter, one of the players, asks, “What is his wretched Company, anyway?” Professor Dent replies, “He’s the Carribean Agent for Universal Exports…”

In the script, Strangways realizes, too late, he’s in danger. “The tapping of the sticks” of the supposedly three blind men “ceases. STRANGWAYS turns partially back to the, the moment of silence registering.” (Yes, there appears to be a dropped word.) The stage directions specify Strangways is hit between the shoulders, small of the back and the pelvis. The driver says, “Hurry it up, boys…” rather than the “Hurry, man, hurry!” of the final film. Meanwhile, inside the hearse, the killers put on “roomy black alpaca coats” and replace their baseball caps with black top hats.

At Strangways house, Mary Prescott, “STRANGWAYS’ secretary and No. 2,” is described as “a striking-looking young woman despite her tailored dress.” As described in the stage directions, she only sees one of the assassins before she dies.

As in the final film, the scene switches to London. The script references “the M.I.6. building, a square eight-storey structure near Regent’s Park.” An operator even says, “Urgent. M.I.6. RT Control.”

We’re then off to Le Cercle Casino. On page 10, the stage directions refer to SYLVIA TRENCHARD, who is “willowly exquisitely gowned with a classic, deceptively cold beauty. The stage directions say at first she is playing the “MAN” As the game progresses, it’s specified “we have still not seen” the Man. He is then identified as BOND when he “takes a cigarette from a flat gun-metal case on the table besides him.”

The game continues. On page 11, Sylvia introduces herself as “Trench…Sylvia Trench.” Bond lights her cigarette.

SYLVIA
And I admire your luck, Mr….?

BOND
(as he brings the lighter up to his own cigarette, and for the first time we see his face.)
Bond….James Bond.

TO BE CONTINUED

1980: Jack Anderson digs up FBI memos about Goldfinger

Scene from Goldfinger

Filming during Goldfinger

Thirty-four years ago, syndicated newspaper columnist Jack Anderson obtained some FBI memos that showed how, in 1964, the bureau was concerned about how it might be portrayed in Goldfinger.

Here’s an excerpt from a column published in June 1980 in various newspapers. This excerpt is based on how it appeared in The Galveston (Texas) Daily News on June 24, 1980, via NEWSPAPERS.COM.

WASHINGTON — The FBI’s deep concern with the true-blue Americanism of such celebrities as Helen Keller and Humphrey Bogart has been chronicled in past columns.

Now I’ve obtained internal documents that reveal that the late J. Edgar Hoover was also worried about a fictional celebrity — Ian Fleming’s super-British Agent 007, James Bond.

Communist subversion may have been threatening the Republic in the 1960s — as Hoover assured Congress it was every year at budget time — but the FBI could still find time and agents to check into the possible effects of a James Bond movie on the agency’s pristine image.

Anderson quoted one FBI memo as saying, “The type of book written by Fleming is certainly not the type where we would want any mention of the FBI or portrayal of FBI agents, no matter how favorable they might look in the movie.”

Another memo recommended that “in the event the Bureau is contacted for permission to portray an FBI agent in the movie, it should be flatly declined.”

About half of the column was devoted to the FBI memos concerning Bond and Goldfinger. The rest of the column was devoted to several other topics. Anderson retired in 2004 and died in 2005.

NYT’s Upshot blog breaks down 007 by the numbers

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The New York Times, IN AN ENTRY IN ITS UPSHOT BLOG, performs a bit of numerical analysis on James Bond.

The Upshot used this week’s 50th anniversary of the death of 007 creator Ian Fleming to examine Bond. The Upshot stresses data-based reporting. The newspaper started the blog after Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN purchased the FiveThirtyEight blog, which used to appear on the NYT’s website, from journalist-statistician Nate Silver, who now works for ESPN and its sister company ABC News. Silver gained fame for using data to project the winners of political races.

The Upshot describes itself as providing “news, analysis and graphics about politics, policy and everyday life.” (For more information, you can CLICK HERE.)

The Bond post by Alan Flippen includes graphics about which authors wrote how many 007 novels (Fleming being in a tie with John Gardner at 14 each) and how many 007 movie titles are derived from Fleming. To read the entire post, CLICK HERE.

In addition, you can read the newspaper’s 1964 obituary on Fleming BY CLICKING HERE. If you want to see the obituary in its original form, you can find information on purchasing a copy, or getting a Times digital subscription BY CLICKING HERE.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 135 other followers