How ‘The Trouble With Harry’ still affects the 007 franchise

Our co-publisher has sounded the alarm on how troubles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. could imperil the movie future of James Bond. But in many ways, it’s merely the latest chapter of “The Trouble With Harry.”

Harry, of course, is Harry Saltzman who launched the Bond series with partner Albert R. Broccoli with 1962’s Dr. No. Saltzman, though, was never satisified with only doing 007 movies. He did other movie projects and got involved with business ventures. He ended up pledging his half of Danjaq LLC (and its production company, Eon Productions) as collateral to banks. As chronicled in the documentary Inside the Spy Who Loved Me, the banks began to foreclose, freezing operations at Danjaq/Eon for a time.

The situation was resolved when United Artists Corp., the studio that rleased the Bond movies, bought Saltzman’s half in the mid-1970s, and gained a direct ownership interest. Over the next two decades, UA got absorbed by MGM and MGM’s ownership changed hands multiple times. Danjaq/Eon largely retained creative control but studio types exercised influence. One small example: In GoldenEye, Bond’s original car was to have been as Aston Martin but the studio struck a deal instead of with BMW AG.

The Harry Saltzman deal thus tied 007’s future to a studio where the words “uncertain outlook” stick like glue. The trouble with Harry continues to haunt 007. For now, the words “uncertain outlook” also stick to James Bond.