Cubby Broccoli’s relationship with United Artists

Steven Bach, a former United Artists executive, died March 25. He wrote a great book, Final Cut, about the making of Heaven’s Gate, the movie that doomed UA as a studio.

As it turns out, Bach’s 1985 book has a recurring, cameo chracter: Albert R. Broccoli, the James Bond producer. The book gives an insight (albeit in small doses) of the Eon bossman’s relationship with the studio that released the 007 films.

First, some background. In 1951, Arthur Krim and Robert Benjamin took over and revived UA. It was the Krim-Benjamin regime that first made the deal with Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to start the 007 series. Transamerica, an insurance concern, bought UA in 1967, while keeping on Krim and Benjamin. By 1978, Krim and his people bolted to start Orion. That led to the promotion of executives, including Bach, into key decision making roles.

In his book, Bach describes another UA exec, Danton Rissner and Andy Albeck, the new president of UA:

Rissner’s number two production job in the company had involved some important responsibilities, inclduing supervision of the James Bond pictures produced by Albert (“Cubby”) Broccoli and Blake Edwards’s successful Pink Panther series starring Peter Sellers, both of which were major sources of UA pride and income and which Albeck hoped to perpetuate. (Final Cut, page 68)

Later in the year, things weren’t going so well.

True, there were some bright spots. Moonraker was starting production in July (though there was still no formal budget when Albeck and I met with Cubby Broccoli and his staff at Studios Boulognes in June). (Final Cut, page 90).

UA hoped to control the Moonraker budget. It wasn’t going so well but UA wasn’t that concerned:

I filled the others in on my day at Studios Boulognes, where Moonraker was finally finishing months of production. We had hoped in June to contain the picture’s cost at $20 million, but it had gone beyond $30 million, a figure I was not about to raise here and now, and there was still unpredictable and costly special-effects work remaining at Pinewood…Whatever urgency I tried to convey about budget concerns was muted by assumptions everyone, including UA, made regarding Moonraker: James Bond couldn’t miss*

*He didn’t. Moonraker went on to become the biggest box-office success in the history of that remarkable series. Until the next one. (Final Cut, page 193)

Broccoli next comes up a couple of years later as the UA executive team is getting the ax following Heaven’s Gate and its heavy financial losses. Broccoli seems to act oddly when encountering UA exec Hy Smith in New York

Cubby seemed strangely, atypically nervous to Smith and left the restaurant quickly…

When Smith returns from lunch

Smith realized why Cubby Broccoli had beaten so hasty a retreat from Vesuvio’s…Broccoli confirmed that he had known Hy was fired and was shocked to realize…that everyone “on the street” but Hy knew that Hy was out of a job. Broccoli asked Hy to stay on with him as special marketing consultant on For Your Eyes Only. (Final Cut, pages 386-387)

If you can find it, Final Cut is a great read. And if you’d like to see Steven Bach’s obituary in The New York Times, you can just CLICK RIGHT HERE.