Epix, MGM channel, plans Bond marathon

Dr. No poster

Epix, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s premium TV channel, has scheduled a James Bond movie marathon over Thanksgiving.

The marathon begins early Thursday morning with Dr. No, Bond’s 1962 film debut.

The films are run mostly in order through Die Another Day, which will be telecast early Saturday, Nov. 30.

The showings will include Never Say Never Again, the 1983 movie with Sean Connery as Bond that was not produced by Eon Productions. That will be shown early Friday morning, following by Octopussy, the 1983 Eon-made film with Roger Moore as Bond.

In 1983, Octopussy came out first, with Never Say Never Again released a few months later.

The schedule, however, does not include the 1967 Casino Royale spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman. MGM has the rights to the two non-Eon Bond entries, which were originally released by other studios.

To view the Epix schedule, CLICK HERE. There’s a calendar icon toward the top of the screen. You can look up the schedule for specific days.

h/t Steve Oxenrider

E-book on Ben Hecht’s Casino Royale scripts available

Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht

A new e-book about screenwriter Ben Hecht’s drafts for the ill-fated 1967 Casino Royale movie is now available.

The author is Jeremy Duns, who in EARLY 2011 wrote about the scripts by Hecht, one of the best screenwriters of all time, for the U.K. newspaper The Telegraph.

Duns has now expanded his work into the 11,000-word Rogue Royale: The Lost Bond Film by the ‘Shakespeare of Hollywood.’ Hecht did a mostly faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first novel. But Hecht died in 1964 and the writer’s death caused producer Charles K. Feldman to switch gears.

The eventual result was the 1967 spoof, which was expensive to make and generated a fraction of box office of the regular 007 film series produced by Eon Productions and released by United Artists.

You can check out the e-book at the U.S. VERSION OF AMAZON.COM or AMAZON U.K. Duns also has an entry on his blog about Rogue Royale that you can read by CLICKING HERE.

Earlier posts:

TELEGRAPH REPORTS ON BEN HECHT’S 1960S CASINO ROYALE SCRIPTS

CASINO ROYALE’S 45TH ANNIVERSARY: OH NO, 007!

Casino Royale’s 60th to be celebrated at University of Illinois

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The 60th anniversary of the publication of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, is scheduled to be celebrated at the University of Illinois starting in April.

The programs include the following:

Casino Royale and Beyond: Sixty Years of Fleming’s Literary Bond April 12-July 12. An excerpt from the university’s Web site:

The University Library’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library and Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, along with the Spurlock Museum, are planning several events this spring to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the publication of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale.

Library Friend Michael L. VanBlaricum, also an Illinois alumnus, was invited to curate a multi-venue exhibition. Not surprising, as VanBlaricum has amassed perhaps one of the finest collections of Ian Fleming material in private hands. He is also President of The Ian Fleming Foundation, dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of Fleming’s literary works, the James Bond phenomenon, and their impact on popular culture.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library will display all manner of editions of Casino Royale, as well as letters, reviews, photos, and other works. The Casino Royale and Beyond: Sixty Years of Ian Fleming’s Literary Bond exhibit will focus on Fleming, his background, profession, and books. VanBlaricum will give a special talk about the exhibition in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library when the exhibit opens on April 12th.

Unconventional Bond: The Strange Life of Casino Royale on Film April 16-June 16. The exhibit describes the 1954 one-hour CBS adaptation starring Barry Nelson as an American Bond; the 1967 spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman; and the 2006 film produced by Eon Productions that was the first Daniel Craig 007 film.

More information is available by clicking on the links above. The university is at Urbana-Champaign, in the east-central part of Illinois near where I-57 and I-74 intersect.

Casino Royale’s 45th anniversary: Oh no, 007!

April Fool’s Day is as good as any occasion to note this month marks the 45th anniversary of Charles K. Feldman’s Casino Royale, the producer’s 1967 send-up of 007.

Feldman, one-time agent (Albert R. Broccoli was one of his employees) turned producer, was nobody’s fool. He had produced films in a variety of genres such as 1948’s Red River (uncredited), 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire, 1955’s The Seven Year Itch and 1965’s What’s New Pussycat.

So, when he acquired the film rights to Ian Fleming’s first 007 novel in the early 1960s, Feldman recognized it had commercial potential even as the film series produced by one time associate Broccoli and Harry Saltzman was getting underway in 1962. (CLICK HERE for a post on Jeremy Duns’s Debrief blog for a more detailed history.)

Feldman tried to entice director Howard Hawks, his one-time colleague on Red River. Hawks was interested but the director backed out after seeing an early print of Dr. No with Sean Connery.

Feldman pressed on, signing distinguished screenwriter Ben Hecht to come up with a screenplay. Details of Hecht’s work were reported last year by Jeremy Duns in the U.K. Telegraph newspaper. Hecht died in 1964, while still working on the project.

By now, Eon’s series was reaching its peak of popularity with 1964’s Goldfinger and 1965’s Thunderball. Broccoli and Saltzman agreed to a co-production deal with Kevin McClory, holder of the film rights for Thunderball. James Bond, The Legacy, the 2002 book by John Cork and Bruce Scivally, presents a narrative of on-and-off talks between Feldman, Broccoli, Saltzman and United Artists, the studio releasing the Broccoli-Saltzman movies. In the end, talks broke down. (Behind the scenes, Broccoli and Saltzman had their own tensions to deal with, including Saltzman’s outside ventures such as his Harry Palmer series of films.).

So Feldman opted to go for farce, but not in a small way. His movie had an estimated budget, according to IMDB.com. of $12 million. The Cork-Scivally book put the figure at $10.5 million. Either way, it was more than the $9.5 million budget of You Only Live Twice, the fifth entry in the Broccoli-Saltzman series. Twice’s outlay included $1 million for Ken Adam’s SPECTRE volcano headquarters set.

Feldman’s film didn’t have that kind of spectacle. But he did pay money (or Columbia Pictures’ money) for talent such as John Huston (one of five credited directors), David Niven (playing the “original” James Bond, brought out of retirement, who implies the Sean Connery version of the Broccoli-Saltzman series was assigned the James Bond name by MI6), Peter Sellers, Orson Welles, Ursula Andress (now famous because of Dr. No), William Holden, Woody Allen and….well CLICK HERE to view the entire cast and crew.

Casino Royale, however, was less than the sum of its impressive parts. The humor is uneven, it doesn’t really have a story, despite employing a number screenwriters, including Wolf Mankowitz, who introduced Broccoli and Saltzman to each other. (For a more sympathetic view, CLICK HERE for a long essay on the subject.)

The’67 Casino managed a reported worldwide gross of $41.7 million. That was good in its day, though less than a third of Thunderball’s $141.7 million global box office.

Much has been written since 1967 about the stressful production, including reported feuds between Sellers and Welles. Perhaps all that took a toll on the film’s producer. Feldman died in May 1968, a little more than 13 months after Casino Royale’s premier, at age 64.

Ben Hecht’s Casino Royale

Yet another chapter in the saga of Casino Royale‘s journey from the page to the screen has been uncovered.

Ben Hecht

From 1954’s TV adaptation to 1967’s comedy aberration to 2006’s triumphal Eon series entry, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel has been kicking around Hollywood from almost the time of its initial publication. (HMSS’s Bill Koenig has previously written about Howard Hawks having considered filming it.) Now, Jeremy Duns reports in today’s The Telegraph that no less than Ben Hecht, “the Shakespeare of Hollywood,” had taken several swings at adapting the problematic novel for the big screen.

In 1954, producer and director Gregory Ratoff bought a six-month option, and the next year purchased outright, the film rights to 007’s first adventure. In 1956, it was announced that 20th Century Fox would release Ratoff’s production, scripted by a “noted scenarist.” Ratoff’s death in 1960 eventually led to the CR screen rights going to Charles Feldman, who eventually turned to Ben Hecht to write a screenplay. Hecht is best known to film fans as the writer of Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Notorious, and Howard Hawks’ The Front Page and Scarface. Hecht would eventually write four scripts of varying faithfulness to the Fleming novel — a couple of which seemed to be attempts to shoehorn the film into the Broccoli & Saltzman Eon James Bond series!

Duns’ story, Casino Royale: discovering the lost script, is a must-read for James Bond fans, movie fans, and students of the history of cinema. You’ll be amazed and intrigued (and perhaps a little regretful that it never came to pass).