The mysterious 007 movie writing credit

One of the more intriguing credits — and one we suspect has an interesting story behind it — is in the main titles of You Only Live Twice. It reads, “Additional Story Material by Harold Jack Bloom.”

It appears in a noticeably smaller font than the “Screenplay by Roald Dahl” credit. What does this mean exactly?

Some Bond reference sources omit mention of Bloom’s work on YOLT entirely, including James Bond, The Legacy by John Cork and Bruce Scivally and James Chapman’s Licence to Thrill. You can read all sorts of things about Roald Dahl, a prolific author who made his screenwriting debut with YOLT, helped by the fact that Dahl himself described his 007 experience in Playboy magazine.

But what of Bloom? Cork and Scivally provide a few clues in their Inside You Only Live Twice documentary that Cork wrote and directed and Scivally co-produced. Ken Adam, the film’s production designer, said this in the documentary:

We were in serious trouble. Because the film had a release date, Sean’s contract was running out and we had no script. So, the pressure was on everybody and we lost the writer.

As Adam says this, there is one shot of five men sitting at a table. Four are recognizable: producers Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, director Lewis Gilbert and Adam, smoking one of his trademark cigars. At the far left fo the shot is a man who is apparently Bloom, but he’s not identified as such. A few seconds later is a headshot of Bloom, who looks to be the same man as in the previous shot but we’re not told that for sure.

Narrator Patrick Macnee simply says, “After Harold Jack Bloom’s departure, the producers decide to hire noted short story writer Roald Dahl.” No further mention of Bloom, or his apparent troubles, is made.

After Dahl’s death in 1990, Starlog magazine profiled the writer and described how he worked on YOLT.

In the midst of that 1991 article, there’s this mention:

“We had a writer,” Broccoli told a gathering at the Museum of Modern Art in 1979, “who came up with the idea of having these Ninja-like Japanese characters crawling all over Tokyo, and it just wouldn’t work. So, we flew all over Japan with a fleet of kamikaze pilots,, and that’s when we found the volcano.”

So the question remains how much of Bloom’s work made the final film. A set piece or two? If that’s the case, why give Bloom a credit at all? Or did Dahl actually rewrite a Bloom draft rather that coming up with his own story?

This was the first time Broccoli and Saltzman junked the plot of a Fleming novel, retaining only the title and a few characters. The principals in this tale are mostly dead (Bloom died in 1999, Saltzman in ’94 and Broccoli in ’96). Richard Maibuam, whose papers are at the University of Iowa, didn’t work on the film.

In any case, here’s a sample of Bloom’s work pre-YOLT. If you CLICK HERE you can see the trailer to The Naked Spur, a 1953 James Stewart Western co-written by Bloom and Sam Rolfe.

Eleven years later, Rolfe had developed and was producing The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Its second episode was The Iowa Scuba Affair written by Bloom. Here’s a scene;

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