In a way, cinema Bond’s 60th already is underway

Ian Fleming, Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli

h/t to David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier who researched the founding date of Eon Productions.

2022 will mark the 60th anniversary of the first James Bond film, Dr. No. But in one sense, the 60th already is underway when it comes to key events that led to the movie.

What follows is a sampling (hardly a comprehensive list) of key dates.

June 29, 1961: United Artists issues a press release that it will distribute a series of James Bond films to be produced by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. A partial image of the press release is shown in Inside Dr. No, a documentary included in Bond film home video releases.

The producers earlier agreed to join forces. Saltzman held a six-month option on most of Ian Fleming’s Bond novels. But he had been unable to reach a deal with a studio.

Broccoli had been interested in the Bond novels for years. He was introduced to Saltzman. Broccoli was unable to buy out Saltzman’s option. So they approached UA together.

July 6, 1961: Eon Productions is incorporated. It is the Broccoli-Salzman company that will produce the Bond films. A separate company, Danjaq, was formed to control the copyright to the movies.

Aug. 18, 1961: Eon receives a script by Richard Maibaum adapting Thunderball, Fleming’s most recent Bond novel. However, the novel had been based on material from an unmade film. Thunderball would generate legal fights. Eon would switch gears and begin its Bond series with Dr. No instead.

Aug. 23, 1961: Broccoli sends a note to Saltzman. “Blumofe reports New York did not care for Connery feels we can do better.”

The note appears in both Inside Dr. No and When the Snow Melts, Broccoli’s autobiography.

Blumofe may refer to Robert F. Blumofe, a West Coast-based UA executive from 1953 to 1966.

A 1961 article in The New York Times described him as “Hollywood symbol of cinematic revolution.” That referred to how UA provided producers and filmmakers more autonomy than other studios.

Connery, of course, was Sean Connery who got the Bond role. UA would soon change its mind about Connery’s suitability for the part.

UPDATE: Last year, Eon’s official Twitter feed listed Nov. 3, 1961 as the date when Connery’s casting was announced.

9 Responses

  1. And Roger was cast as The Saint a month or so later, so there was never that chance that he was up for the role.

  2. Harry Saltzman, at the time of casting announcement, said “It’s the acting plum of the decade,”

  3. Quoting this article, ‘Legend has it Connery was in Toronto when he received a telephone call from London offering him the Bond role. At any rate he never had to appear again in a television drama.’

  4. Unsure if you check the comments or not on your old posts, but just adding November 3, 1961 date was also on MI6-HQ fan site.

    The above article mentions James Gunn and curious if you heard before of Ian Fleming naming his gentleman spy character James Gunn? [Gunn is definitely a more Scot sounding last name than Bond]

    Also on casting [sorry if they’re articles with which you’re already familiar]

    Click to access sean-connery-64.pdf

    And curious if have other source(s) confirming or contradicting with the story that Sean Connery was on-location in Thika, Kenya shooting “Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure” when he first became aware of 007 casting?

  5. Fantastic Four No. 1 has a Nov. 1961 cover date. But in those days the comic books came out *months* before the cover date.

  6. Examples: Strange Tales 167 has an April 1968 cover date. It was actually published in January 1968. Daredevil No. 38 had a March 1968 cover date. It was also published in January 1968. I know. I bought both the same month.

  7. Good to know. There was a cover of one of the adventure books with James Bond, clearly based on Sean Connery, where he’s hang-gliding and attached to a speed boat, but haven’t been able to find it or even the title of the adventure story.

    Apparently, and unsure if all of this fits, but another story about the first 007 casting.

  8. This was cover I was referring to before and always thought this would have been a neater way for Sean Connery’s Bond to get to Crab Key in ‘Dr. No’ although it wasn’t from the book and probably didn’t have the budget either.

  9. Sorry, posted the wrong link. This was hang-gliding cover.

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