Happy 100th, Richard Maibaum

Tomorrow, May 26, is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Richard Maibaum, who worked as a screenwriter on 13 of the first 16 James Bond movies produced by Eon Productions.

Maibaum was among a group of crew members — Ken Adam, Peter Hunt and John Barry were among the others — whose talents were key in launching Eon’s 007 series. According to film historian Adrian Turner, Maibaum received $40,000 for his work on the first film, Dr. No. He got the job in part because of his ties to producer Albert R. Broccoli; Maibaum had done scripts for Broccoli and this former partner Irving Allen in the 1950s. He also had scripted movies for Alan Ladd, the star Broccoli and Allen signed in the ’50s, a move that helped put the producing duo on the map.

Bud Ornstein, a United Artists executive, wasn’t high on Maibaum, according to a memo quoted by Turner. “I have not been impressed by Maibaum’s work and only hope he will come up with something better next time.”

The next times kept coming.

On Goldfinger and Thunderball, British writers Paul Dehn and John Hopkins were brought in to revamp early Maibaum drafts. Maibuam did receive sole screenwriting credit for From Russia With Love (although Johanna Harwood was given an “adapted by” credit) and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (where Simon Raven got an “additional dialogue” credit).

Maibaum’s 007 finale was 1989’s Licence to Kill, where his work was limited because of a Writers Guild of America strike. At least one of the trailer for the film listed Michael G. Wilson as the sole writer and didn’t mention Maibaum. The writer died at age 81 in January 1991.

Maibuam’s papers are housed at the University of Iowa, where film historian Turner studied the various drafts of the script for Goldfinger.

Also, below is an example of Maibuam’s non-Bond work. The video includes clips from Ransom! which Maibuam co-wrote with Cyril Hume. The movie was remade in 1996 with Mel Gibson subbing for Glenn Ford. Maibuam and Hume received a “story by” credit in the remake, which was released five years after Maibaum’s death.