From Russia With Love: When Ian Fleming met Len Deighton (sort of)

While paging through a few 007 reference works recently, we came upon this gem: that Len Deighton had a whirl at writing a James Bond screenplay. But not just any script. No, he attempted to adapt From Russia With Love, the 1963 film considered by many 007 fans sd one of the best Bond movies ever.

OK, this gets a little complicated. The book we saw this was Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films by James Chapman, published in 2000. In turn, Chapman quotes Backstory: Interviews with Screenwriters of Hollywood’s Golden Age, a 1986 book edited by Pat McGilligan.

In any event, the source of all this is none other than 007 screenwriter Richard Maibaum, the sole credited screenwriter of From Russia With Love (though Johanna Harwood got a vague “adapted by” credit). Maibaum said the following:

On From Russia With Love, they had Len Deighton start, and he did about thirty-five pages; but it wasn’t going anywhere, so they brought me in. I did the screenplay and got a solo credit on it. Johanna Harwood got an adaptation credit, because she worked some with the director, Terence Young, and made several good suggestions. I was a little put out that she was given an adaptation credit because I don’t think she deserved it, but there are always politics in these things.

Deighton, of course, wrote the novels that became the basis of the Harry Palmer films of the 1960s, that were produced by 007 co-producer Harry Saltzman. Saltzman, in turn, hired Bond veterans such as John Barry, Peter Hunt, Guy Hamilton and Maurice Binder to work on the Palmer films.

Over on the Mister 8 Web site, there’s an article that discusses other ties between Ian Fleming and Len Deighton and you can read it by CLICKING HERE.

5 Responses

  1. Very interesting post. Of course, Deighton also had a second Bond connection, in that he did develop a screenplay called ‘Warhead’, developed with Sean Connery and Kevin McClory in the early eighties which was subsequently the subject of litigation from the Broccoli camp (as recounted in The Battle For Bond by Robert Sellers).

    Len Deighton had originally met Ian Fleming in March 1963 during an interview with the Daily Express, and they seem to have got on famously; you can read about this meeting in ‘For Bond Lovers Only’, the Panther paperback

  2. […] Dr. No and 1963’s From Russia With Love and received co-writing credits for both films (over the objections of her male co-writer). Waller-Bridge told Deadline in May that James Bond “is absolutely […]

  3. […] No and 1963’s From Russia With Love and received co-writing credits for both films (over the objections of her male co-writer). Waller-Bridge told Deadline in May that James Bond “is absolutely […]

  4. […] Dr. No and 1963’s From Russia With Like and obtained co-writing credits for every films (over the objections of her male co-author). Waller-Bridge knowledgeable Closing date in May possibly that James Bond […]

  5. […] Dr. No and 1963’s From Russia With Love and received co-writing credits for both films (over the objections of her male co-writer). Waller-Bridge told Deadline in May that James Bond “is absolutely […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: