As U.K. celebrates Bond, U.S. fans are green with envy

James Bond film gunbarrel

James Bond is a product of the U.K. The character envelops U.K. citizens from birth and is a source of national pride.

It’s understandable that the 60th anniversary of the film franchise is a big deal. The movies are being shown in U.K. theaters. And even more is planned as the anniversary date of Dr. No’s debut approaches on Oct. 5.

At one time, Bond was a big deal in the U.S. as well. The gentleman spy had a fan in a U.S. president (John F. Kennedy). A prominent publisher (Hugh Hefner of Playboy magazine) was a big promoter of the character.

As recently as a generation ago, the U.S. was the site of two official James Bond fan conventions (1994 in Los Angeles, 1995 in New York City).

Today, not so much. American fans of Bond can only marvel at the U.K. events that are unfolding.

Early next month, tickets go on sale for British Film Institute events related to the 60th anniversary.

–Sept. 30 (tickets go on sale Aug. 4): Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions will discuss “their careers and the Bond films, in a richly illustrated discussion featuring clips from their films.” Price: 15 British pounds (about $18). Program is scheduled for 90 minutes.

–Oct. 1: A program titled “James Bond behind the scenes: Stunts and VFX.” Tickets go on sale Aug. 4. Participants include Chris Corbould. Price: 15 British pounds. Program is scheduled for 80 minutes.

–Oct. 1: A program titled “The Sound of 007.” A description:

This new documentary reveals the history of seven decades of Bond music, from the genesis of 1962’s Dr. No and Monty Norman’s iconic theme song, through to 2021’s No Time to Die. The film charts the ups and downs of Bond soundtracks, combining interviews with stunning Bond archive material from the franchise’s 60-year journey.

Again, the price is 15 British pounds.

There are also a series of screenings of films made by Eon Productions.

Sept. 30: A 60th-anniversary screening of Dr. No.

Oct. 1: A 45th-anniversary screening of The Spy Who Loved Me.

–A 35th-anniversary screening of The Living Daylights.

–Oct. 2: A 10th-anniversary screening of Skyfall.

–Oct. 2: A screening of SPECTRE.

–Oct. 2: A screening of No Time to Die

Terence Young accused of sexual harassment on Dr. No

The Really 007 podcast has released an interview with Marguerite LeWars, 82, in which the actress said Dr. No director Terence Young harassed her in 1962.

“I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told anyone ever before,” LeWars said just before the 22:00 mark.

LeWars said Young asked her to attend the wrap party in a limousine. “I’m sorry to say that Terence became aggressively making a pass at me. …He actually grabbed me in various places.”

LeWars says she slapped Young twice. The director, Lewis said, threatened to cut her out of the movie.

LeWars played a photographer in the employ of Dr. No who tries to get a photo of James Bond (Sean Connery) at the Kingston, Jamaica, airport.

“I never ever told anyone,” she repeated on the podcast. The actress said the incident explained why she was dubbed in the movie.

You can view the podcast here:

Monty Norman dies at 94

Monty Norman (1928-2022)

Monty Norman, the composer of The James Bond Theme, has died, the BBC reported.

Norman was hired to score Dr. No, the first Bond film produced by Eon Productions. There were disputes how much Norman contributed versus John Barry, who orchestrated the Bond theme for the movie.

Norman said he based the theme off something he wrote for a play titled A House For Mr. Biswas. Norman won a 2001 court case after suing The Sunday Times “over an article which said he did not write the James Bond theme,” the BBC reported at the time.

The composer only worked for Eon one other time — 1963’s Call Me Bwana, a comedy starring Bob Hope.

Starting with From Russia With Love, Barry composed six straight Bond films (From Russia With Love through Diamonds Are Forever). Barry ended up composing 11 Eon Bond movies overall.

Nevertheless, Norman’s Bond theme credit was included throughout the Eon series.

In 2013, Norman described how the Bond theme came together.

A new book about Dr. No is scheduled

Dr. No poster

A new book about Dr. No, the first James Bond film, is scheduled to be published later this year.

The book is by James Chapman, author of Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films.

Here is a description of Chapman’s new effort, Dr. No: The First James Bond Film.

When Dr. No premiered at the London Pavilion on October 5, 1962, no one predicted that it would launch the longest-running series in cinema history. It introduced the James Bond formula that has been a box-office fixture ever since: sensational plots, colorful locations, beautiful women, diabolical villains, thrilling action set pieces, and a tongue-in-cheek tone. An explosive cocktail of action, spectacle, and sex, Dr. No transformed popular cinema.

James Chapman provides a lively and comprehensive study of Dr. No, marshaling a wealth of archival research to place the film in its historical moment. He demonstrates that, contrary to many fan myths, the film was the product of a carefully considered transnational production process. Chapman explores the British super-spy’s origins in Ian Fleming’s snobbery-with-violence thrillers, examining the process of adaptation from page to screen. He considers Dr. No in the contexts of the UK and Hollywood film industries as well as the film’s place in relation to the changing social and cultural landscape of the 1960s, particularly Cold War anxieties and the decline of the British Empire. The book also analyzes the film’s problematic politics of gender and race and considers its cultural legacy.

The book is scheduled to come out in November. In the e-book format, it will be priced at $27.99 or 22 British pounds. The hardcover price is $110, or 85 British pounds. The paperback edition is priced at $28 or 22 British pounds. The publisher is Columbia University Press.

More 60th: What was happening in 1962?

Originally published in 2011 and 2012.

Jan. 15: NBC airs “La Strega” episode of Thriller, starring Ursula Andress, female lead of Dr. No, which will be the first James Bond film.

Jan 16: Production begins on Dr. No, modestly budgeted at about $1 million. Fees include $40,000 for director Terence Young and $80,000 each for producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, not counting their share of profits. (Figures from research by film historian Adrian Turner). Star Sean Connery tells Playboy magazine in 1965 that he was paid $16,800 for Dr. No.

Inside Dr. No, a documentary made by John Cork for a DVD release of the movie, says about 10 percent of the film’s budget went to the Ken Adam-designed reactor room set, where the climactic fight between Bond and Dr. No takes place. (Date of production start from research by Craig Henderson’s For Your Eyes Only Web site.

Jan. 17: Jim Carrey is born.

Feb 3: U.S. begins embargo against Cuba.

Feb. 20: John Glenn becomes first U.S. astronaut to orbit the Earth.

March 2: Wilt Chamberlain scores 100 points as his Philadelphia Warriors team defeats the New York Knicks 169-147 in a game played in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Chamberlain achieves the feat by scoring 36 baskets and, perhaps most amazingly, by hitting 28 of 32 free-throw attempts. (Chamberlain was a notoriously bad free-throw shooter.) The player averaged 50.4 points per game in the 1961-62 season.

April 16: The Spy Who Loved Me, Ian Fleming’s latest 007 novel, is published. The novel takes a radical departure from previous Bond novels. The story is told in the first person by a female character, Vivienne Michel, with Bond not appearing until two-thirds of the way through the story. Fleming, in his dealings with Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, specifies only the title is to be used for any movie. Broccoli (after Saltzman departs the film series) does just that in the 10th film of the 007 series, which comes out in July 1977.

May (publication date, actually likely earlier): The Incredible Hulk, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, debuts in the first issue of his own comic book.

June 1: Nazi Adolph Eichmann was executed in Israel.

July 3: Future Mission: Impossible movie star Tom Cruise is born.

July 12: Rolling Stones debut in London.

August (publication date actual date probably earlier): Amazing Fantasy No. 15 published, debut of Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, with cover art by Jack Kirby and Ditko.

Aug. 5: Actress Marilyn Monroe dies.

Aug. 6: Michelle Yeoh, who will play Chinese secret agent Wai Lin in the 1997 Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, is born.

Aug. 16: Future Get Smart movie star Steve Carell is born.

Aug. 16: Ringo Starr joins the Beatles.

Sept. 26: The Beverly Hillbillies debuts on CBS. In a later season, Jethro sees Goldfinger in a movie theater and decides that being a “Double-Naught” spy is his life’s calling.

Oct. 1: Federal marshals escort James Meredith, first African American student at the University of Missippi, as he registers at the school.

Oct. 1: Johnny Carson, a few weeks short of his 37th birthday, hosts his first installment of The Tonight Show. He will remain as host until May 1992. At one point during Carson’s run on the show, he and Sean Connery reference how Carson’s debut on Tonight and Connery’s debut as Bond occurred at around the same time.

Oct. 5: Dr. No has its world premiere in London. The film won’t be shown in the U.S. until the following year. The movie will be re-released in 1965 (as part of a double feature with From Russia With Love) and in 1966 (as part of a double feature with Goldfinger).

Oct. 14: A U.S. U-2 spy plane discovers missile sites in Cuba, beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis. The crisis will bring the U.S. and Soviet Union to the brink of World War III.

Oct. 22: President John F. Kennedy makes a televised address, publicly revealing the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

Oct. 28: Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev announces the U.S.S.R. is removing its missiles from Cuba.

Oct. 29: Ian Fleming begins three days of meetings with television producer Norman Felton concerning a show that will eventually be known as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (source: Craig Henderson) Fleming’s main contribution of the meetings is that the hero should be named Napoleon Solo.

Nov. 7: Richard Nixon loses race for governor of California, tells reporters “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore.” He’ll be back.

Freddie Young and David Lean

Dec. 10: The David Lean-directed Lawrence of Arabia has its world premiere in London. The film’s crew includes director of photography Freddie Young and camera operator Ernest Day, who will work on future James Bond movies. Young will photograph 1967’s You Only Live Twice. Day would be a second unit director (with John Glen) on The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

For a more comprehensive list of significant 1962 events, CLICK HERE.

State of the Bond franchise: Spring 2022

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

The James Bond film franchise, consisting of the films made by Eon Productions, has reached 25 movies. What’s next?

The run with actor Daniel Craig is over with 2021’s No Time to Die. That run lasted more than 15 years, extended by financial problems at Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Eon boss Barbara Broccoli wants to celebrate Craig and No Time to Die. There’s no sign that celebration is over yet.

Since No Time to Die was made, MGM got a new owner in tech giant Amazon. This week, in the U.K., Eon’s 25-film Bond catalog became available via Amazon Prime. Also, Amazon announced a Bond-themed reality show featuring contestants racing around the globe.

But what is happening with the core of the franchise — future James Bond movies?

Is Barbara Broccoli really ready to move on from Daniel Craig? The actor was her choice. Previous Bond actors were chosen by her father, Albert R. Broccoli.

But again, what happens now?

After six decades, the movie business has changed immensely from Dr. No in 1962. Sean Connery’s original film Bond today is derided as “rapey.” Home video and technology changes have altered how viewers get their Bond entertainment.

Once again, Bond is in a state of flux. The character has entered and exited previous such states.

We’ll see how it goes this time.

You Only Live Twice’s 55th: Mixed legacy

You Only Live Twice promotional art

You Only Live Twice promotional art

Updated and expanded from a 2017 post.

The 55th anniversary of You Only Live Twice isn’t just a milestone for a memorable James Bond film. It’s also the anniversary for the beginning of the end of 1960s spymania.

The 007 film series led the way for spymania. Over the course of the first four Bond films, everything skyrocketed. Not only did the Bond series get bigger, but it also created a market for spies of all sorts.

By June 1967, when You Only Live Twice debuted, that upward trajectory had ended.

To be sure, Twice was very popular. But there was a falloff from its predecessor, 1965’s Thunderball. Twice’s box office totaled $111.6 million globally, down 21 percent from Thunderball’s $141.2 million.

The fifth 007 movie produced by Eon Productions didn’t lack for resources.

Twice’s famous volcano set cost $1 million, roughly the entire budget of Dr. No. Helicopters equipped with giant magnets swooped out of the sky. A seemingly endless number of extras was available when needed.

At the same time, the movie’s star, Sean Connery, wanted out of Bondage. Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman adjusted the contract they had with the star. But their inducements were not enough.

You Only Live Twice marker in western Japan

You Only Live Twice marker in western Japan

It didn’t help that Broccoli and Saltzman themselves had their own, growing differences. Broccoli didn’t want to take on Connery as another partner — the same kind of arrangement Broccoli’s former partner, Irving Allen, bestowed upon Dean Martin for the Matt Helm movies.

Finally, there was another Bond film that year — the spoof Casino Royale, released in the U.S. less than two months before Twice. However, anybody who viewed Casino Royale’s marketing or trailers could mistake the Charles K. Feldman production for the Eon series.

Twice has a lot going for it. Ken Adam’s sets were spectacular. John Barry’s score was among the best for the Bond series. It was also the one film in the series photographed by the acclaimed director of photography Freddie Young.

In the 21st century, fan discussion is divided. Some appreciate the spectacle, viewing it as enough reason to overlook various plot holes. Others dislike how the plot of Ian Fleming’s novel was jettisoned, with only some characters and the Japanese location retained. Some fans even refer those changes as among the worst moves Eon ever made. CLICK HERE for a sampling.  One example: “What led the producers to discard the Fleming trilogy (the biggest single gaffe in the series´ history) is inexplicable.”

The longer-term importance of the movie, however, is that Twice symbolizes how interest in the spy craze was drawing to a close. Bond would carry on, but others — including U.S. television series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and I Spy — weren’t long for this world when Twice arrived at theaters.

Casino Royale’s 55th anniversary: Oh no, 007!

Adapted from a 2012 post

April Fool’s Day is as good as any occasion to note this month marks the 55th 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.

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 in 2011 by Jeremy Duns in the U.K. Telegraph newspaper. Hecht died in 1964, while still working on the project. In 2020, Duns uncovered additional details about an attempt by Joseph Heller to adapt Fleming’s first novel.

By the 1960s, 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.

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. He was 64.

Dr. No script Part V: Meeting the villain, Bond woman

Not what Dr. No's screenwriters had in mind.

Not what Dr. No’s screenwriters had in mind.

Adapted from a 2014 post. Concluding the blog’s look at an early 1962 version of Dr. No’s script provided by Bond collector Gary Firuta.

The first James Bond movie required a top-notch James Bond villain. The screenwriters of Dr. No envisioned an entrance for the title character that was different than what audiences would eventually see.

The January script by Richard Maibaum, Wolf Mankowitz and Johanna Harwood specifies the scene is “POV” (point of view) of Dr. No.

According to the stage directions, “All we see of DR. NO is the edge of his desk, and a slight shadow cast from a reading lamp as he makes a slight movement. In short, we see this scene entirely from his eyeline.”

This, of course, is the scene in the finished film where Dr. No’s lackey, Professor Dent, rushes out to the villain’s headquarters in broad daylight to tell his superior how Agent 007 refuses to be killed. After Dr. No says, “Good afternoon….Professor,” the stage directions add this detail.

“He makes ‘Professor’ sound like an insult.”

From here on out, the dialogue is similar to the finished movie, until this stage direction:

“DR. NO learns forward, extending one hand, still in silhouette, toward a nearby table, from which he picks up small glass cage. As he holds it out towards DENT we see something black and furry moving inside it. DENT recoils involuntarily.”

At this point, Dr. No says, “Since your attempts at assassination have been so ineffectual….let’s try ‘natural causes’ this time.”

In real life, production designer Ken Adam came up with a set, that maximized his minimal resources. The striking set created a strong visual. Dr. No’s voice is heard, but the audience doesn’t even see a shadow. The tarantula Dr. No provides Dent seems to materialize out of nowhere.

Meanwhile, the writing team also was faced with adapting one of Ian Fleming’s most memorable passages, where Bond meets Honey(chile) Ryder.

Ursula Andress as part of her entrance in Dr. No.

Ursula Andress as part of her entrance in Dr. No.

The sun beats down on BOND as he sleeps. In the distance, as if in his dreams, he can hear a WOMAN SINGING.

(snip)
146. BOND’S EYELINE. DAY

What he sees: HONEY, standing at the water’s edge, her back to him. She is naked except for a wisp os (sic) home-made bikini and a broad leather belt with an undersea knife in a sheath….Her skin is deep honey cooured (sic)….She stretches contentedly like a cat in the warm sun.

147. EXT. BOND’S EYELINE. DAY

BOND – appreciates what he see (sic), in a moment he takes up the calypso refrain.

At the end of the script, as in the finished film, Bond is in a boat with Honey that’s out of fuel. But before the pair can make out very much “we hear the throbbing of an approaching motor launch.” It’s Felix Leiter, of course, spoiling their fun.

LEITER
I’ve brought the Marines….

BOND
(with a sly grin, as he helps HONEY up to her feet)
You picked a helluva time to come to the rescue.

THE END
James Bond will return….

Dr. No script Part IV: Killing Professor Dent in triplicate

Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent

Anthony Dawson as Professor Dent

Adapted from a 2014 post. Continuing our look at a January 1962 Dr. No script supplied by collector Gary Firuta.

When Dr. No, the first James Bond movie is discussed, a lot of attention is paid to how Bond (Sean Connery) ruthlessly kills Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson), one of the villain’s lackeys.

Based on the January draft, completed shortly before principal photography began, the crew was still considering exactly how to portray that killing. The script provides three versions.

On page 71, Bond gets the drop on Dent. The dialogue isn’t exactly what would be in the finished movie.

Dent asks if Miss Taro (by now already in police custody) talked. “No,” Bond replies. “You gave yourself away. I was suspicious at the Queen’s Club – but when you told me that Strangways’ radioactive samples were worthless…well…” Bond asks Dent who he is working for

Meanwhile, Dent is “edging impercectable nearer to his gun on the floor. BOND goes on taiing (sic), seemingly oblivious of DENT’s manoeuvering.”

He makes a sudden swift movement toward his gun, picks it up and levels it at BOND. As his finger tightens on the trigger.

DENT (contd.)
(triumphantly)
…Dr. No!

But as in the finished film, Dent’s gun is empty.

“Only six bullets in a Smith and Wesson, Professor…and I counted them…” Bond then shoots Dent, killing him.

The first alternative version starts on page 72, with Dent, proclaiming triumphantly, he’s working for Dr. No.

“But BOND’s inattention has only been assumed,” the stage directions read. “He fires also, but that much faster and just that much more accurately. DENT’S BULLET SMACKS INTO THE WALL BEHIND HIM, AND BOND’S bullet hits DENT in the center of the chest.”

With the second alternative version. Professor Dent never says he’s working for Dr. No.

Instead, “He makes a sudden swift movement toward his gun, but BONDS (sic) inattention has only been assumed. Before DENT can reach his gun, BOND has fired.” There is no mention of the gun being empty as in the first version, but if it is loaded, Dent can’t get off a shot.

The final film uses the first version but tweaks were still made. For example, Bond lies, implying Miss Taro has already talked (“But of course.”) Instead of saying he counted Dent’s shots, Bond says, “It’s a Smith and Wesson and you’ve had your six,” before killing Dent.

Meanwhile, the professor doesn’t actually say he’s working for Dr. No, which was probably an improvement.

By this time in the movie, the audience is well aware of Dent’s allegiance. It’s clear Bond has figured it out. Having Dent yell, “Dr. No!” is unnecessary.

NEXT: Meeting the villain