Claudine Auger dies at 78

Sean Connery and Claudine Auger in Thunderball

Claudine Auger, who played the lead female character in Thunderball, died this week at 78, the French newspaper Sud Quest reported.

Auger died on Wednesday. The newspaper cited “the artistic agency Art Time who represented her” as the source of the information.

The actress won the role of Domino, the mistress of SPECTRE villain Emilo Largo (Adolfo Celi) in Thunderball. James Bond (Sean Connery) wins over Domino, who provides the British agent help on his mission. In the film’s climax, Domino kills Largo with a spear gun, saving Bond’s life.

Auger turned 24 during production of the fourth Bond movie. Other contenders for the role included Julie Christie, Raquel Welch and Faye Dunaway. Thunderball was a huge hit and came out at the peak of the 1960s spy craze.

The November 1965 U.S. television special The Incredible World of James Bond included a Thunderball scene at a Nassau casino where Auger and Celi could be heard speaking in their own voices. Both were dubbed for the final version of the movie, which came out a month later.

Auger’s IMDB.COM entry lists 80 acting credits, lasting into the 1990s.

Eastwood as 007? Just one of the worst James Bond film ideas that were seriously considered

The Express newspaper in the U.K., on its Web site, has run a short item that Clint Eastwood says he was approached by 007 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman about playing James Bond after Sean Connery quit the role.

The California-born star was approached by Bond bosses to play the superspy when Sean Connery quit the franchise, but he turned the role down.

And Eastwood insists he made the right decision – because he didn’t want to see the iconic character portrayed by an American.

He says, “I thought James Bond should be British. I am of British descent but by that same token, I thought that it should be more of the culture there and also, it was not my thing.”

There aren’t many additional details presented. But, as the Cinema Retro Web site says, if this is true, it probably happened between the release of 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, where Broccoli and Saltzman seemed convinced they needed an American 007.

If that’s the case, it only one example of the worst James Bond movie ideas that were seriously considered. By that, we mean ideas that were REALLY, REALLY close to being reality, at least closer to reality than 007 fans would prefer. Among the others:

— Considering Adam West for the role of Bond (source: the documentary Inside Diamond Are Forever and West’s autobiography).

— Signing John Gavin to play Bond in Diamonds until United Artists (principally executive David Picker) decided that Connery should be approached one more time; Picker’s gambit paid off and Gavin was paid off on the contract he signed with Broccoli and Saltzman.

— Considering Burt Reynolds to play Bond. This was primarily director Guy Hamilton’s idea. But in the period from 1970 into 1975, Hamilton had more influence on the Bond franchise except for Broccoli and Saltzman.

— Considering James Brolin to play Bond, to the point of having him screen tested in either 1981 or 1981, in the period between For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy, when it appeared Roger Moore would retire from the role. In the documentary Inside Octopussy both co-producer Michael G. Wilson and director John Glen claimed Brolin had a great screen test. But when some of our staff saw the screen tests at the 1994 007 fan convention in Los Angeles, Brolin came across as laughable.

— Passing over Julie Christie, one of the best British film actresses of the 20th Century, because her breasts were too small.

— The decision to both reverse filming of Ian Fleming’s novels On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice PLUS throwing out the plot of Twice altogether.

With the former, there are some quirks that fans just have to overlook and with the latter, the film producers tossed a wonderful story down the toilet. Twice screenwriter Roald Dahl has been quoted as saying the novel’s story was unfilmable. Really? At its core, Fleming’s novel is Bond’s ultimate “personal” mission where he finally settles accounts with Blofeld. Meanwhile, 1989’s Licence to Kill, 1995’s GoldenEye, 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, 2002’s Die Another Day, 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace all featured varioations of the theme “This time — it’s personal!” If Eon Productions actually makes another James Bond movie, we’re hoping it won’t be personal just because this theme is getting tiring and none of Eon’s attempts on theme have matched Fleming’s original.

Happy 100th, Cubby Broccoli

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of James Bond producer Albert Romolo “Cubby” Broccoli.

Broccoli’s life, as has been chronicled in various media, was not one of fast, or easy, success. He was a salesman of everything from Christmas trees to coffins. Eventually, he got into show business and began to have an impact as a producer after World War II in partnership with Irving Allen by making movies in the U.K.

As Bond fans know, that partnership would eventually dissolve and one major point of disagreement was Ian Fleming’s 007 series of novels, which Broccoli very much wanted to make and Allen didn’t. Allen later saw the error in his ways and eventually got into the 1960s spy game himself.

There’s a tendency to either elevate Broccoli to a kind of sainthood or trash him. He made his share of mistakes or questionable decisions, like passing over Julie Christie because of her breast size. On the other hand, he saved the title song for Diamonds Are Forever when then-partner Harry Saltzman wanted to junk it. And Broccoli’s instincts spurred the Goldfinger creative crew to take viewers inside Fort Knox, where Fleming’s novel did not.

The 47-year-old (and counting) Bond series of films that bears his name is the bottom line of his life’s work. In 1977, during an appearance on The Mike Douglas Show, (Roger Moore was the co-host) Broccoli correctly predicted Bond would be around long after “I’m gone.”