2009: Another big 007 centennial year

Last year was the centennial of the birth of James Bond creator Ian Fleming. It was a big year, with the release of a new Bond novel, Devil May Care and the release of the 22nd film of the Eon-produced series Quantum of Solace.

It turns out 2009 will also be a major centennial. It will be the 100th anniversary (on April 5) of the birth of Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, the producer who helped bring 007 to the screen, and (on May 26) Richard Maibuam, the screenwriter who’d be involved in 12 of the first 16 Bond films and, after Fleming, arguably the writer who had the biggest impact on Bond and his popularity with the public.

No new novels are on the horizon and who knows when Eon will have its next film. But for Bond fans this year will still merit a look back.

Meet 007 screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz

During its 2007 strike, the Writers Guild of America produced featurettes about its members. One was about Tom Mankiewicz (b. 1942), whose credits include three 1970s James Bond movies, Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun.

Mankiewicz also did the final shooting scripts for two Christopher Reeve Superman movies with the vague credit of “creative consultant.” He’s also part of a clan of writer-directors who’ve had an impact on everything from Citizen Kane to All About Eve to the script for the pilot of Ironside.

Mankiewicz gets a mixed reaction among 007 fans. His scripts ramped up the humor compared to previous films. Two examples: Blofeld in drag in Diamonds, and the presence of Sheriff J.W. Pepper in Live And Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun.

Still, in interviews for extras on 007 DVDs, the screenwriter comes across as articulate, with a gift for amusing anecdotes. So here’s a look at his WGA video:

Goldfinger: from typewriter to screen, conclusion

Our final installment looking at UK film historian Adrian Turner’s examination of how the screenplay to Goldfinger came together.

February 3, 1964: Sean Connery now weighs in on the Goldfinger screenplay. “No longer the hunk who came cheap, Connery had become an international star…and he wanted to ensure the film suited his own interests,” Turner wrote in his 1998 book on the film.

Connery attends a meeting with producer Albert R. Broccoli and screenwriter Richard Maibuam, despite the fact that Paul Dehn wrote the most recent draft of the screenplay. Turner quotes from Maibuam’s notes of the meeting:

“Connery feels tone of script all wrong. Wants serious approach with humor interjected subtly as in other films…Connery is very much against Pussy bouncing him around….He feels Bond is overshadowed completely by Goldfinger throughout.”

Shortly thereafter: Paul Dehn now crafts a second draft, which becomes the shooting script for the film. Dehn incorporates suggestions of Broccoli, his partner Harry Saltzman, Connery, director Guy Hamilton and Maibuam. The latter suggests a tweak that is used. Dehn’s first draft had Bond remarking that someone had a “crush” on Mr. Solo (Springer in earlier drafts, which was in line with Ian Fleming’s novel) when the gangster is killed. It’s Maibaum who suggests Goldfinger saying he needs to arrange to have his gold separated from the late Mr. Solo. Bond replies that Solo had “a pressing engagement.”

September 1964: On the day of Goldfinger’s world premier, Dehn sends Maibuam a cable: “Congratulations on Goldfinger am proud to have collaborated with you.”

(Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, page 206-208, 50)


Goldfinger: from typewriter to screen part II

We continue our look at the development of the screenplay for Goldfinger as documented in the 1998 book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger.

May 20, 1963: Screenwriter Richard Maibuam delivers a 54-page outline to producers Albert R. Broccoli and Saltzman. The writer also provides a letter to the Eon Production Ltd. chiefs saying it had been “a tough nut to crack” and that certain details of Ian Fleming’s novel wouldn’t hold up to scruntiny.

According to Turner, Maibuam’s treatment has the pre-credits sequence delivered as a flashback, with Bond describing an adventure in South America to his CIA ally Felix Leiter at the airport in Miami. Turner’s description: “The first treatment is little more than a boiling down of the novel to its essential components.”

July 8, 1963: Maibuam sends the producers a second treatment. An Aston Martin had been included in the first treatment but it has been replaced by a Bentley, Turner writes. Toward the end of the laser segment, Goldfinger asks Bond if he can drive a tank. When the answer is yes, Goldfinger offers him a job and $1 million.

Sometime later: Maibaum delivers a first draft screenplay. According to Turner, there is no Q/Major Boothroyd, with a Mr. Brackett showing Bond the new gadgets for 007’s Bentley. Bond and Tilly Master Masterson share a bed at a Swiss inn before she gets killed by Oddjob (in the first treatment she survives until the raid on Fort Knox, as in Fleming’s novel). Pussy Galore’s role expands and, for the first time, she emerges as Goldfinger’s personal pilot.

In this draft, at the end, Oddjob is sucked out of Goldfinger’s plane (as in the novel). Later, Bond strangles Goldfinger (again in line with the novel).

Things would soon change.


(Adrian Turner on Goldfinger, pages 190-196)