1974: Maibaum’s 1st try at scripting a Moore 007 film

The Man With the Golden Gun poster

The Man With the Golden Gun poster

Richard Maibaum, the veteran 007 screenwriter, wasn’t involved with the launch of the Roger Moore era of James Bond films. He was off doing other things as Tom Mankiewicz scripted Moore’s debut in Live And Let Die.

Maibaum, though, was summoned to return to the fold with The Man With the Golden Gun. Mankiewicz bowed out after after the earlier drafts (he’d be back for later rewrites).

Producer Albert R. Broccoli, doing the heavy lifting for this film the way Harry Saltzman had for Live And Let Die, needed help. He turned to Maibaum, an old associate.

Bond collector Gary Firuta provided a copy of Maibaum’s initial effort, dated Jan. 7, 1974. The title page simply reads, “First draft screenplay by Richard Maibaum,” so there’s no way to tell what Mankiewicz ideas were carried over.

Still, reading the draft, there are significant differences compared with the finished film, which was released for 1974’s Christmas film season. Some of the ideas in Maibaum’s draft are arguably improvements from the final movie, but the draft has other issues.

For example, it seemed pretty much established that Major Boothroyd and Q were one and the same. Desmond Llewelyn, who made his debut in the Maibaum-scripted From Russia With Love, was identified as Boothroyd in that film and known as Q thereafter.

In Maibaum’s draft, after the pre-titles sequence (pretty similar to the final movie), there’s a scene in M’s office. With M are Chief of Staff Bill Tanner and “ballistics expert” Boothroyd.

That’s on page 7. But on page 18 (more in a moment about what happened inbetween), Bond meets with Boothroyd *and* Q. Based on the stage directions, It’s clear that Q, rather than Boothroyd, is the character normally played by Llewelyn. In the final movie, Colthorpe is the ballistics expert and Q is his usual self (after a one-movie hiatus, having not appeared in Live And Let Die).

As in the final film, MI6 has received what appears to be a threat — a golden bullet with 007 inscribed — against its prize agent. M relieves Bond off his current assignment of finding a missing solar energy expert until the matter can be resolved. So now Bond is on the trail of Francisco Scaramanga, the title character.

As in the final movie, Bond travels to Beirut, where double-O agent Bill Fairbanks was believed to have been killed by Scaramanga. The trail leads to a woman called Saida.
Except, in this draft, Saida is a prostitute as a bordello, not a dancer in a cabaret. Maibaum’s description:

BOND’S P.O.V. SAIDA

Recling (sic) on king-size bed, she wears thin Turkish trousers, a short velvet bedjacket, is excessively plump and over made up, but definitely not an old bag. Her eyes light up.

This version avoids a visual gag of the final film (Bond swallowing golden bullet after retrieving it from her belly button). There’s a fight, but the context is different. Afterward, Bond is with Saida once more. She has the mashed golden bullet that is hanging “on ribbon in her cleavage.”

SAIDA’S VOICE
My lucky charm.

SAIDA IN BED. CAMERA ON HER BACK
She holds out her arms. CAMERA IN on BOND’s reaction. Big “Things I do for England” sigh

BOND
Reluctantly starting to take off his jacket.

After some, eh, “bliss” with Saida, Bond has the bullet and takes it back to MI6.

For a while, things proceed much as the finished movie, including Bond roughing up Andrea, Scaramanga’s mistress and a number of other scenes. Scaramanga kills Gibson, the missing solar expert, we meet Hip, the MI6 operative in the area and Bond tries to get the mission back on track.

The trail leads to industrialist Hai Fat. There’s a scene in the draft not contained in the film where Q meets up with Bond, Hip and Mary Goodnight before they can fly to Bangkok. Q gives Bond a camera that do a number of tasks except take photographs. It’s in this scene that Bond asks Q to make a fake third nipple so 007 can pass for Scaramanga.

We eventually get to Bangkok to meet Hai Fat, “an impressive Chinaman in his late forties.” Interestingly, the part would be filled by character actor Richard Loo, who was in his early 70s.

Bond, posing as Scaramanga, manages to get invited by Hai Fat for dinner. As in the final movie, Hip drives him to Hai Fat’s residence, accompanied by his nieces, Cha and Nara.

Things don’t go well. Bond is caputred and ends up in a martial arts academy. There are some interesting differences from the movie.

For one thing, Bond has an exchange with the academy’s headmaster. “Good morning, Mr Bond,” he says. “On hehalf of my academy I accept your challenge.”

This scene is populated by a number of “BLACK BELTERS.” There are also SPECTATORS, a group that somehow includes Hip and his two nieces.

After some preliminaries, Bond faces off against prized pupil Chula. Things don’t look good for 007.

CHULA knocks him down again, then grasps BOND’s neck in a both-hand squeeze, a possibly fatal hold. ANGLE SUDDENLY WIDENS as CHA and NARA come to BOND’S aid. Actually, they are professional Thai girl kick-boxers. Gasp of amazement from CROWD as they go to work on CHULA with their fists, elbows, nkees feet, event butting with their heads. CHULA goes down.

So, if anything, Bond looks even more impotent in the sequence than in the final film, where at least Bond bested Chula before being shown up by the girls.

The ensuing chase plays out a bit differently than the movie. Nevertheless, there is an appearance by J.W. Pepper and his wife. Unlike the film, though, that’s all there is for the good sheriff (a creation of Tom Mankiewicz, after all). Pepper falls into the water, but isn’t pushed by an elephant.

Jumping forward, Andrea is revealed as having sent the golden bullet, wanting to get Bond to kill Scaramanga. When Bond is supposed to meet her, there’s an interesting change from the final film. The event that’s supposed to be the site of the meeting is a tournament of girl Thai kick boxers.

Scaramanga and Nick Nack get the drop on Bond. But Scaramanga, in this draft, provides an attempt of an Ian Fleming-type travelogue.

“You know why these girls aren’t phony?” Scaramanga says of the contestants. “They’re fighting for husbands. Come from the mountain villages up north. Chiang Mai. You need a dowry up there…Win a few fights and you can pick your husband.”

The next major change from the final movie comes in the chase sequence, where Goodnight is in the trunk of Scaramanga’s car while Bond tries to pursue.

Bond needs a car and goes to a Ford Motor Co. dealership (it was American Motors in the movie).

A would-be Thai buyer gets into the car. “Give me demonstration, please. How is pickup?”

This, of course, is where Bond gets into the car and steals it to chase Scaramanga. For the rest of the sequence, PROSPECTIVE BUYER (as he’s called in the script) displays “true Oriental unflappability, his face is expressionless.”

So, instead of a screaming, over-the-top J.W. Pepper, we have a cool, calm Asian man along for the ride with Bond, including the now-famous car jump. (“Nice family car,” Bond quips after the jump.) As in the film, Scaramanga gets away in a flying car.

As Bond and policemen watch the flying car gets away, Prospective Buyer says he “no care for that model,” referring to the departing car plane. Gesturing toward the Ford that Bond stole, he says, “I take that one.”

Eventually, Bond makes it to Scaramanga’s island. They discuss the solar power system made possible by the solex agitator. The stage directions for one of Bond’s lines says “usual expertise when needed.” One difference: when Scaramanga destroys Bond’s plane, 007 responds, “Thanks. A very convincing demonstration.”

Maibaum also comes up with an interesting line when Bond and Scaramanga verbally spar during lunch. Agent 007 says, “You’d kill a blind cripple for tuppence. When I have to kill it’s a kind of justice.”

This draft has a more elaborate duel sequence, which was filmed (some scenes are in the movie’s teaser trailer) but don’t show up in the final version. Some of the dialogue, though, is a little clunky:

BOND BEHIND ROCK

BOND
(shouting back)
That just pumps my adrenalin (sic) faster. You’re playing it close. Is that what they taught you when you were a KGB punk?

SCARMANGA

SCARAMANGA
You’re a limey punk yourself — and so far it looks like they didn’t teach you much.

There’s more, but overall the Maibaum draft is mostly what we’d see on screen. Whether the draft is actually better or not is in the eyes of the beholder.

1961: Eon’s first try at a Thunderball script

Thunderball poster in 1965

Thunderball poster in 1965

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman formed Eon Productions in 1961 and immediately got to work trying to bring James Bond to the screen.

Their first effort, soon aborted, was to bring Thunderball, the newest Ian Fleming novel, to the screen. On Aug. 18, Richard Maibaum delivered his first draft. We got a copy from 007 collector Gary Firuta.

Maibaum, a veteran of a number of Broccoli-produced movies, went for a straight adaptation of Fleming’s novel. In some places, it bears a close resemblance to the movie that would arrive in theaters four years later. In other ways, it’s quite different.

Maibaum’s draft actually has a pre-titles sequence. However, it’s nowhere near as elaborate as the 1965 movie, which featured Bond with a jetpack.

Instead, it begins simply in Paris. It’s more or less how the 1965 movie plays after the titles. But instead of seeing Emilo Largo going to SPECTRE headquarters, it’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

The stage directions state Blofeld is 53 (the age of the literary Blofeld in 1961, not to mention Ian Fleming, with whom the villain shared a birthday) and is “over six feet, weighing 280 pounds, once all muscle.”

The sequence plays out much the way audiences saw in 1965, with some different details. We eventually witness the start of the SPECTRE board meeting. The gathering is larger; there are 20 SPECTRE members gathering.

Blofeld does his fakeout bit (killing No. 12, after putting No. 7 on the spot). The reason: a young woman was kidnapped by SPECTRE, but a member of the organization “conducted himself in a thoroughly unacceptable manner.”

The girl, we’re told by Blofeld, “is presently under intensive medical and psychiatric treatment.” After No. 12 is electrocuted, the main titles begin.

Afterward, we’re still at the SPECTRE board meeting. Blofeld (who apparently loves to talk) tells us SPECTRE has told the treasurer to return $300,000 (half of the ransom) to the girl’s family. We then have the financial reports.

Some of this would be in the movie Thunderball, but with changes. One example: in this script SPECTRE blackmailed  a former S.S. officer living in Havana under an assumed name. The group only got 240,000 pesos, “all the man had.”

We also get an additional detail: Blofeld gets 10 percent of the total take, and the other members get 4 percent each. Now, we’re on to talking about Plan Omega and the hijacking of atomic bombs.

On page 10, we’re introduced to Shrublands and on page 12, James Bond finally puts in his first appearance. Patricia Fearing is almost hit by a Bentley driven by Count Lippi (instead of Lippe as in the 1965 film). Bond “gathers her up by the waist” to prevent her from being struck by the car.

“She gasps as the Bentley skids to a stop and looks up in flurried astonishment into the face of JAMES BOND, whose right hand is momentarily cupped over one beautiful breast.” In other words, 007 copped a feel as he saved her.

Maibaum’s description of Bond is more or less direct from Fleming: “He is in his middle thirties, with dark, rather cruel good looks except for very clear blue-grey eyes. A scar runs down his right cheek.”

Later, Bond gets a rubdown from a masseur, who comments about all the scars on Bond’s chest and back. Bond also spots Lippi’s tatoo and calls Moneypenny as in the 1965 movie. It’s similar but in this script the scene is longer. Instead of “on yogurt and lemon juice? I can hardly wait!” Moneypenny says, “On nuts and youghurt? I can hardly wait!”

Eventually Bond and Lippi get cross ways (including Lippi trying to kill Bond on the traction machine). Bond gets even with Lippi in a slightly different manner. He still turns up the heat while Lippi while he’s in a steam cabinet. But 007 pretends to be an attendant and fakes a Cockney accent.

SPECTRE, of course, does succeed in hijacking the atomic bombs (and killing the crew of a bomber plane), thanks to sellout Petacchi. But instead of Largo doing in sellout Derval (as in the final film), it’s Vargas who kills Petacchi, and with a stiletto while the plane hasn’t yet sunk. Meanwhile, Largo doesn’t make an appearance until page 40.

Bond has a briefing with M. The MI6 chief makes an interesting comment: “The Double O section’s discretion to liquidate has come under considerable criticism. Exercise it with extreme caution. The usual denials of responsibility from The Service will be more emphatic than in the past.”

That’s pretty interesting, but a notion that’s not really developed in this script and wouldn’t come up when Eon made other Bond films. It sounds similar to Mission: Impossible’s “the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.”

Bond, after a false start or two, is assigned to Nassau. We finally meet Dominetta Vitali, Pettachi’s sister, on page 58 (this would be almost an hour into a movie filmed from this script). She and Bond meet and there’s a lot of chatting.

She drives him out to a restaurant, but after they’re done, she’s going the other way and he’ll have to catch a cab. After she departs, there’s this amusing bit of stage direction.

BOND
(if the censor will permit)
Bitch.

Bond gets back to his hotel room. The agent can tell somebody is in there.

VOICE FROM INSIDE ROOM
(very American)
Don’t shoot 007. This is 000.

Of course, it’s Felix Leiter. “He is an American version of Bond except that a steel hook replaces his right hand,” according to Maibaum’s stage directions.

Here, they’re depicted as being old friends. In a later scene, there’s even a reference to how they’ve both disobeyed orders when necessary.

The duo go out to Largo’s yacht, the Disco Volante, with Bond posing as someone interested in taking over the Palmyra — “the property I believe you rent from Mr. Bryce.” Presumably, that’s an in-joke reference to Fleming friend Ivar Bryce.

The rest of the script plays out, more or less as Fleming’s novel did with some flourishes that’d make it into the 1965 movie. Bond kills Vargas (shooting him with a regular gun, rather than a spear gun). There’s an underwater fight, but not as elaborate as the later movie.

Work on this, of course, ground to a halt because it soon became evident there was a dispute about the rights. Fleming had based the novel on scripts and story elements he developed with producer Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham. You can CLICK HERE to see our June 6 post about Whittingham’s 1960 first draft script.

Eon would soon change direction and begin developing Dr. No for the screen instead. Nevertheless, reading this first effort, Maibaum had set a direction for “the Biggest Bond of All.” He, along with writer John Hopkins, would take it from there a few years later.

A thought or two about the James Bond musical

Luciana Paluzzi and Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball

“I have to sing now?” “Be quiet, darling!”

We’ve had the first volley about a possible (unlikely?) James Bond stage musical. Here are a few reactions from this modest corner of the Internet.

“You don’t tug on Superman’s cape…and you don’t mess around with Jim (Bond)”

In this corner, we have Danjaq LLC (the holding company for Broccoli-Wilson family’s 007 interests, including Eon Productions). In the other, we have a daughter of Danjaq-Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman who says her stage production is a parody that’s protected by fair use provisions of copyright law.

Merry Saltzman announced last week she had secured the rights for a 007 musical. This week, Danjaq/MGM, which control the 007 film rights, said they also control the stage rights. Danjaq/MGM said they haven’t licensed those rights to anybody.

Merry Saltzman, the daughter of Danjaq/Eon co-founder Harry Saltzman, replied her planned stage production is a parody, which falls under fair use provisions of copyright law. In short, she doesn’t need to license any rights from Danjaq/MGM.

A little bit of history: Danjaq had been known to employ lawyers to try to shut down anything it viewed as a threat.

The original Danjaq founders, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, bullied 007 creator Ian Fleming to abandoning his activities related to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. television series. So much so, Fleming sold off his U.N.C.L.E. interest for one British pound in June 1963, at a time the success of the 007 film series was far from assured. Danjaq/Eon, famously, also went after Kevin McClory when he tried to mount movies based on the 007 rights he held.

Regardless of how sound Merry Saltzman’s case is, she probably has fewer resources for a legal fight than Danjaq/Eon. Lawyers may end up making money than this stage production will generate.

Is this really a good idea?

This is the broader issue. A half-century ago, Mad magazine did a parody of a 007 magazine.

It was pretty funny. Written by Frank Jacobs and drawn by Mort Drucker, it had a lot of good jokes and featured “songs” written to the tune of songs from Oklahoma!

Still, for all of the hard word by Jacobs and Drucker, that’s not anywhere near the effort to put on a Broadway stage production. Has Merry Saltzman really lined up enough entertainment to do a Broadway/Las Vegas show? Intentionally entertaining, that is.

Danjaq, MGM say they haven’t licensed a 007 musical

Skyfall's poster image

Oh, no, 007

Danjaq LLC, the holding company for James Bond rights held by the Broccoli-Wilson family, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer threw cold water on Merry Saltzman’s announcement about a James Bond stage muscial.

Danjaq and MGM said IN A STATEMENT they haven’t licensed the stage rights to Ms. Saltzman, daughter of Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Danjaq and Eon Productions.

“Danjaq and MGM jointly control all live stage rights in the Bond franchise, and therefore no James Bond stage show may be produced without their permission,” according to the statement.

Merry Saltzman last week announced she had secured the rights to a do a stage musical. She said at the time that a production called James Bond: The Musical could start performances by 2017 or early 2018.

Harry Saltzman sold his interest in 007 to United Artists in 1975 because he had encountered financial troubles. MGM acquired UA in the early 1980s.

A James Bond musical and flying cars

Skyfall's poster image

“Oh Vesper, I adore you…Oh Vesper I cannot have you!”

Riddle me this: What do a James Bond musical and flying cars have in common?

Answer: They have the same likelihood of taking place without a disaster happening.

Stop and think about it. A James Bond film (SPECTRE) just finished principal photography. What are people talking about?

They’re talking about what a James Bond musical would be like. That’s because Merry Saltzman, daughter of founding 007 film producer Harry Saltzman, announced plans for one.

The initial stories didn’t even pose BASIC QUESTIONS about the project, much less get answers.

In this Internet age, people have run with the idea. For example, there have been stories about POSSIBLE CASTING, even if we don’t really know how realistic the production is.

Dealing with issues such as how Ms. Saltzman got the rights are messy and complicated. It’s more fun to speculate. Such as how the opening song might go….

“Oh Vesper, I adore you…
Oh Vesper I cannot have you…
One day you were here by my side…
Now you’re buried and that I cannot abide!

This reminds us of a video the satire site The Onion did in 2007. The site showed a television interviewer who persisted in asking executives of automakers about their plans to make flying cars. For now, talk of a James Bond musical is about as relevant as flying cars.

Or, to channel The Onion, “It seems the jury is still out about a James Bond musical.”

UPDATE: Nicolas Suszczyk, a Bond blogger who occasionally writes guest posts here, put this out on Twitter:

Some questions about a James Bond musical

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman

It’s been a few days since stories came out that there are plans for a James Bond stage musical to be produced by Merry Saltzman, daughter of Harry Saltzman, co-founder of Eon Productions.

Since then, there haven’t been any more details about James Bond: The Musical. We can’t offer many answers, but we’re more than willing to pose the questions.

Where did Merry Saltzman get the rights for this project? Stories in BROADWAY WORLD.COM and PLAYBILL said Saltzman had “secured the rights” for a stage production. But where from?

Ian Fleming Publications, run by 007 creator Ian Fleming’s heirs, controls the literary rights. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Danjaq (holding company for the Broccoli-Wilson family) control the film rights.

Once upon a time, Harry Saltzman had half of Danjaq. But he sold his share in 1975 to United Artists because of financial troubles. MGM acquired UA in the early ’80s.

Neither Ian Fleming Publications or MGM/Danjaq has publicly commented about Ms. Saltzman’s plans.

Is there any kind of precedent for this? In the 1980s, there was an attempt to mount a non-musical Casino Royale play but nothing happened.

Raymond Benson, who’d go on to write 007 continuation novels published from 1997-2002, was involved in the ill-fated project. He gave an interview in 2007 to the journal Paradigm. Excerpts were published by the MI6 JAMES BOND WEBSITE as well as the COMMANDER BOND FAN WEBSITE.

According to the interview excerpts, the Fleming literary estate commissioned the play. Benson adapted Ian Fleming’s first novel into a play but the literary estate opted not to continue. By the late 1990s, Danjaq/Eon secured the film rights to Casino.

Benson is quoted in the interview as saying the “stage play cannot be produced without the movie people’s permission…I own the copyright of the play, but the Fleming Estate owns the publication rights and the movie people own the production rights.”

It should be noted that Merry Saltzman’s project is supposed to have an all-new story, rather than adapt any Fleming novel, According to the Playbill story it will have “several Bond villains, plus some new ones.”

Is this a good idea? Decades ago, there were probably some who scoffed that Pygmalion could be made into a musical. Yet, My Fair Lady was made. Then again, some people thought a musical play featuring Spider-Man was a sure winner and things didn’t turn out that way.

For now, color us skeptical. Until we know more, however, here’s a 2012 video that our friends at The James Bond Dossier found a few days ago.

Marvel Studios and the Cubby Broccoli playbook

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

Avengers: Age of Ultron poster

The Wall Street Journal, in a story by Ben Fritz, takes a look at how Marvel Studios operates. While it doesn’t come up in the story, it sounds like Marvel has read the old Albert R. Broccoli playbook.

Like James Bond movies produced by Broccoli, Marvel makes big, sprawling movies. But, like the Eon Productions co-founder, Marvel doesn’t spend top dollar for everything. Here’s a key excerpt:

But no company has eschewed A-list talent as consistently and effectively in the modern age as Marvel. All but one of its 10 films released so far have been hits, a record rivaled only by Pixar Animation Studios. And none have featured a major star or established action director.

Money is a key reason, say people who have done business with Marvel. The Disney subsidiary’s chief executive, Ike Perlmutter, is notoriously frugal and doesn’t believe that the millions rivals like Warner Bros. spend to get big-name stars like Ben Affleck and Will Smith are worth it.

“They are in the business of hiring the guy who hasn’t had a big success, because they don’t have to pay that guy very much,” said Mr. Whedon, adding that he made more money on his self-produced Internet series “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” than he did directing the first “Avengers,” which cost $230 million to produce and grossed $1.5 billion world-wide.

When Broccoli (first with Harry Saltzman and then on his own) produced 007 films, a formula eventually emerged where the actor playing James Bond would be paid well but Eon didn’t usually pay for A-list actors for other roles. “Regulars” such as Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn were paid relatively modestly.

As directors, Eon would hire journeymen such as Terence Young and Guy Hamilton. Or, with John Glen, promote from within, elevating him to the director’s chair from the second unit.

Marvel isn’t exactly the same, but there are similarities. The Journal describes how Marvel’s approach to talent is to seek out actors on their way up (who don’t cost top dollar yet) or are making a comeback (such as Robert Downey Jr.). There’s a similar strategy with directors, including Joss Whedon (referenced in the excerpt above) and Joe and Anthony Russo.

As we’ve written before, Eon’s strategy has evolved since the Cubby Broccoli days. Bond movies employ more auteur directors (Sam Mendes, Marc Forster) and more expensive actors for at least some roles (Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes).  Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, the co-leaders of Eon, have been putting their own stamp on the series.

In any case, if you want to read the entire Journal story about Marvel, CLICK HERE.

 

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