A View To A Kill’s script: Q goes out in the field

A View To A Kill’s poster

In 1984, the writing team of Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson commenced work on their third consecutive James Bond film.

A View To A Kill (shortened from the Ian Fleming short story title From a View to a Kill) would go all-in on a contemporary plot involving computers and microchips.

A copy of a script identified as a first draft (but with some pages saying they had been revised later) indicates the Maibaum-Wilson team had worked out most of the story issues.

The script is similar to the final film that reached audiences in 1985. But, as is often the case, there are interesting differences.

The most significant is that Q is out in the field during the long San Francisco sequence.

As in the film, Q first shows up in the briefing scene shortly after the main titles. He explains the importance of computer chips and how they can be rendered useless by electro magnet pulses. Bond also comments, “expertise showing,” according to the script.

From there, we’re off to Ascot, where the MI6 crew is at the races. We’re introduced to Max Zorin, described as “tall, slender, impeccably dressed, in his late thirties. Unusually handsome he has one grey eye and one blue eye.”

David Bowie (1947-2016)

Eon initially courted David Bowie to play Zorin. Bowie turned 38 in 1985 and had two different eye colors. He turned down the part and Christopher Walken. who turned 42 the year the movie came out, got the job.

The script also describes May Day as “a shapely, tall, somewhat bizarrely dressed twenty eight year old girl with a distinctively short hairdo and a beautiful but saturninely placid face.”

Most of what follows mirrors the final film until the story shifts to San Francisco.

Bond and Q are in a van using’s Q’s surveillance device, identified in the script as “Snooper.” They’re spying on Zorin and his minions, trying to figure out what he’s up to in his operation in San Francisco Bay. A sample:

IN VAN BOND Q

watching and listening at TV SCREEN showing GROUP in STATION CONTROL ROOM. Voices from TV are faint and somewhat obscured by sound of pumping.

CONLEY ON TV
We’re at maximum pumping now…

ZORIN ON TV
We have a deadline. I’ll hold you personally responsible if we miss it.

A guard dog menances the Snooper. The device sprays the dog with repellent that Q describes as, “Foul smelling stuff.”

Thanks to the Snooper, Bond and Q discover that the Russians are also trying to plant bugs on Zorin’s operation. One Russian is captured by May Day while the other escapes. The second Russian, of course, is Pola Ivanova. Bond intercepts her and things proceed more or less as in the movie.

Desmond Llewelyn (1914-1999)

In the script, we don’t hear anymore from Q until the end of the movie. Still, one suspects this idea resonated with the Eon creative team.

Previously, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) journeyed into the field to provide Bond with gadgets (Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and The Spy Who Loved Me). But in the script, Q is working with Bond side by side.

Q would venture out into the field to assist Bond directly in Licence to Kill.

A few more things of note:

–No Dick Tracy joke when a police captain tries to arrest Bond. In the script, the captain is in plain clothes, rather than a uniform as in the movie.

–Some lines of dialogue between Zorin and Mortner in the blimp were switched between this script and the final film.

–The scene where May Day, having been betrayed by Zorin, sacrifices herself reads flat. It has the dialogue (“Jump! “Have to hold the brake off…..Get Zorin for me!”). But it’s mostly explaining how we get from point A to point B.

After reading the script, I again watched the scene in the movie. Roger Moore and Grace Jones did a lot more with it than what was written. It’s possible director John Glen influenced that (an observation from reader Matthew Bradford made on The Spy Command page on Facebook). Also, having a John Barry absolutely increased the drama. I think it’s one of the best scenes in the movie but you couldn’t tell it by reading the script.

–At the end, it’s the U.S. ambassador to the U.K., and not Gogol (as in the movie) who is visiting M (who “looks very glum,” according to the stage directions).

“The president is most anxious to personally thank Mr Bond and inform him he will be the first foreigner ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor,” the U.S. ambassador says. In the final film, Gogol shows up with the Order of Lenin for Bond.

Bond is missing, which accounts for the sad mood at MI6. But, as in the movie, Q is on the job (and still in San Francisco) using the Snooper to track Bond down. In the script, Q shuts off the monitor and quickly calls M. In the film, the gag would be extended for a bit.

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For Your Eyes Only script: M goes undercover

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

Screenwriter Richard Maibaum returned to the 007 fold with For Your Eyes Only. He hadn’t been involved with Moonraker, which took James Bond into outer space.

For the 12th James Bond film, he was paired with Michael G. Wilson, stepson of Eon Productions founder Albert R. Broccoli. Their intent was for a more-grounded outing. Roger Moore returned as Bond but things would be much different.

An Aug. 12, 1980 draft, late in the scripting process, is very similar to the final film viewed by audiences in the summer of 1981. But there are notable differences.

Among them: M, who had been played by Bernard Lee in the 11 previous films, was still present. M shares some scenes with Bill Tanner, the chief of staff.

M also goes undercover briefly. It is the MI6 chief who dresses as a Greek priest and meets Bond in a confessional. “That’s putting it mildly, Double-O Seven,” M replies after Bond says he has sinned.

With the M version, there’s a subtle change in one of Bond’s lines. “I’ve contacted a well-informed person about that, sir –” (emphasis added) Bond says, referring to the many St. Cyrills in Greece. It’s the main clue Bond has about the whereabouts of villain Kristatos, who will supply a British device to the Soviets.

Lee, who died in January 1981 at the age of 73, wouldn’t be up to participating in the movie. Desmond Llewelyn’s Q would get the church scene. Tanner would end up with much of M’s other dialogue in the August 1980 script.

What follows are some of the differences in the script vs. finished film as well as additional information. In general, the script is a bit chattier than the film.

“MAN WITH CAT” menaces 007 at the start of For Your Eyes Only

Pre-credits sequence: The script specifies that Tracy’s headstone reads, “Teresa Bond, 1943-1969, Beloved wife of JAMES BOND.”

The scene between a vicar (telling Bond his office is sending a helicopter) is mostly the same as in the film. But the stage directions have some interesting points.

BOND
(subdued mood)
It usually is.

He places flowers on grave. CAMERA IN on his brooding face. SOUND OF APPROACHING HELICOPTER.

Bond soon in peril from “MAN WITH CAT.” As in the film the helicopter pilot is electrocuted.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Bond,” the not-so-mysterious villain tells Bond over the helicopter’s radio. “I thought we should celebrate the tenth anniversary of last meeting. Don’t concern yourself with the pilot — one of my less useful people.”

At the time, Kevin McClory, claimed ownership of the rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE. Blofeld had last appeared in Eon’s 1971 Diamonds Are Forever and this was a reference to that. The line was cut from the finished film but appeared in the Marvel Comics adaptation of For Your Eyes Only.

Well, it’s a James Bond movie, so Bond gets the upper hand, gaining control of the helicopter and uses the aircraft to spear the villain’s wheelchair.

In the script, however, Bond flies over the Thames and dumps the villain in it, rather than the smokestack seen in the movie. “The party’s a washout,” Bond says “grimly,” in the script.

For Your Eyes Only poster

Murder of the Havelocks: The Havelocks (Sir Timothy Havelock and his wife Iona) are secretly working on trying to find a sunken British spy ship equipped with ATAC (Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator) has sunk. They’re visited by their daughter Melina, who has been flown out to them by Gonzales.

The latter actually is a hired killer. He’s described in the script as “a pudgy amiable Cuban in his late thirties with curly hair and several gold teeth.”

The script includes an exchange between Sir Timothy and Max the parrot.

“Get up in there, Max,” Havelock says.

“Can’t get it up, can’t get it up,” Max replies.

“Watch your language, Max,” Sir Timothy says. “Melina’s coming.”

Gonzales, as in the film, kills the Havelocks with machine gun fire from his plane. ”

Opening MI6 scene: The Bond-Moneypenny exchange is very similar to the film. However, when Moneypenny uses the mirror in a filing drawer to apply lipstick, the stage directions say, “Obviously the vanity is a gift from Q.”

The briefing is conducted by M and Tanner. The dialogue is very similar to the film, except in the movie it was delivered by Tanner and the Minister of Defence.

Bernard Lee (1908-1981)

Gonzales villa: Stage directions describe Loque as, “Tall, lean, late thirties, he has a cadaverous impassive face with hooded eyes behind incongruous steel-rimmed spectacles. He wears black hat and suit.”

Bond initially wears “a business suit” while driving. Later, he “now wears a camouflage recce jacket.”

At the pool inside the villa, one of the women there is nude, according to the script.

Bond and Melina make their escape. Her car is specified as “a small dilapidated DEUX CHEVAUX COMPACT.” Melina wants to know what 007 was doing at the villa. “I’m a kind of detective, too.”

Second briefing scene: Upon his return to London, Bond is in a meeting with M. Tanner and the Minister of Defence.

Q Branch: In the script, Bond enters Q branch, watches one of Q’s assistants demonstrate the phony arm cast that can strike an enemy.

“Sneaky,” Bond says. “Have you got one for a leg?” The assistant responds: “We’re working on it.”

“The KGB should get a kick out of that,” Bond says.

Bond meets Kristatos: Kristatos says skater Bibi Dahl is, “An American girl from a broken home. I have taken her as my ward.”

Also, in the script, Bond says, “I have heard of Jacoba Brink,” Bibi’s teacher. In the movie, Bond says he has seen Brink skate.

Ferrara’s Death: Ferrara, an MI6 agent based in Italy, is the movie’s sacrificial lamb. In the script, Bond doesn’t immediately realize Ferrara has been killed. “We’ve got a lot to sort out. Where can we get a drink?” Bond asks, not realizing his fellow agent is dead.

Corfu Casino: Milos Columbo is described as “a tanned, well-groomed, well-tailored man in his middle fifties.”

In the script, the bug Columbo has placed to record the conversation between Bond and Kristatos is in a chair. The chair is removed by the Maitre D.

Bond’s showdown with Loque: Loque’s car, as in the movie, is precariously situation. The killer is wounded after being shot by Bond.

007, according to the stage directions, “gives car gentle push. CAMERA FOLLOWS IT DOWN DEEP TO THE BOTTOM.” Bond quips, “He never looked better.”

Bond and Melina join forces: Bond and Melina have this exchange:

MELINA
I’m not interested in your sex life, Mr Bond

BOND
I didn’t come here to discuss it. I need your help. It’s time we joined forces. Where can we — ?

Climax: Bond, Melina, Columbo and a few man confront Kristatos and his forces at the abandoned St. Cyril monastery. Columbo and Kristatos, in this script get in an exchange they didn’t have in the movie.

KRISTATOS
Let us see who cuts whose throat, Milos!

COLUMBO
I should have cut yours forty years ago!

Also, Bond sets a trap for Kriegler, the athlete who’s really a Soviet operative.

INSERT — KRIEGLER’S FOOT
hitting end of sprung board.

NEW ANGLE — BOND AND KRIEGLER
as board comes up and wacks him in the crotch. The weight of the font throws him off balance, backward and he falls against the window, crashing through it.

Bibi asks Bond what happened. Bond replies, “He just stepped out.”

The End: No Margaret Thatcher. Bond and Melina are skinny dipping near the a cutter” where M, the Minister of Defence, Columbo, Bibi and Brink are.

“Don’t dawdle out here too long, Double-O Seven,” M says. “You’re needed on active service. So get on with it!”

Bond and Melina get to the Triana (the Havelock boat).

“For your eyes only, darling,” Melina says while wearing only a towel.

Max the parrot gets in the last word. “Darling, darling — “

1990: Bond 17 treatment attempts a new direction

Timothy Dalton

In the spring of 1990, Eon Productions attempted to begin a new direction with its James Bond series.

Veterans such as screenwriter Richard Maibaum and director John Glen were gone following 1989’s Licence to Kill.

Michael G. Wilson, co-scripter of the previous five Bond films and stepson of Eon boss Albert R. Broccoli, worked with Alfonse Ruggiero, a television writer-producer whose credits included the crime drama Wiseguy.

For some, Licence to Kill came off as a bit drab. Locations were Key West, Florida, and Mexico. Its villain, Franz Sanchez, was a drug lord. A particularly powerful drug lord, but still a drug lord.

For Bond 17, Wilson and Ruggeiro appeared to want to make things more exotic, for what was intended as Timothy Dalton’s third adventure as Bond. Locations included Japan and Hong Kong.

Also present were robots.

At beginning of a treatment dated May 1990, there was this note: “The robotic devices refered (sic) to in this outline are complex and exotic machines designed for specific tasks and environments. They are to be designed especially for the film for maximum dramatic and visual impact.” More about that later.

The villain of the treatment is Sir Henry Lee Ching, “a brilliant and handsome thirty year old British-Chinese entrepreneur.” His plot is take over Hong Kong from the British and Chinese. His extensive business empire supplies key components for missile guidance, communications, navigation and weapon systems.

The female lead character is Connie Webb, “a beautiful American adventuress in her early 30’s.” She’s a former CIA agent who has gone free lance.

The robots involved primarily are industrial robots that malfunction, causing great calamity. Then, there’s the most sophisticated robot.

Sir Henry has a mistress named Nan. At one point, he emerges from a lovemaking session. “Through the open door Connie spots Nan laying prostrate on the bed behind a curtain of white flowing gauze.”

Later, Bond is reunited with Connie. But Nan appears “in form fitting corset and spandex shorts.” They decide they need to tie Nan up. However, Nan knocks Bond across the room. Connie tries her luck at subduing Nan. It is revealed….

“Nan is a lethal security robot!”

Of course, The Avengers television series had John Steed and Emma Peel deal with the Cybernauts in the 1960s. A few years later, the Austin Powers comedy films would have the International Man of Mystery coping with fembots.

This particular plot would not be produced and financial troubles at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contributed to a 1989-1995 hiatus for the 007 series.

However, the 1990 treatment shows that Eon was growing nostalgic for the Aston Martin DB5. Bond ends up driving one that has been revamped by Q. Bringing back the car was an idea that Eon retained.

The DB5 would show up later in the decade in GoldenEye and Tomorrow Never Dies. It appears to be the personal car of Pierce Brosnan’s Bond.

Daniel Craig’s Bond would win a left-handed drive DB5 in a poker game in 2006’s Casino Royale. He drives a right-handed drive DB5 (supposedly the Goldfinger car) in Skyfall and SPECTRE.

Footnote: Was Craig committed to Bond 25 all along?

Daniel Craig

Amid this week’s news about Daniel Craig, there’s a footnote. Was he signed to Bond 25 all along? Or not?

In 2007, then-Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CEO Harry Sloan said Daniel Craig was signed for four more James Bond films, according to a Hollywood Reporter account. Sloan made the comment at a conference.

Casino Royale was released the year before. So four more films would take you through Bond 25.

Of course, MGM went bankrupt a few years later. So there’s the possibility any such contract got altered.

Except…

Craig told Rolling Stone  in 2012, “I’ve agreed to do a couple more, but let’s see how this one (Skyfall) does, because business is business and if the shit goes down, I’ve got a contract that somebody will happily wipe their ass with.” (emphasis added)

Two more after Skyfall gets you through Bond 25.

Except…

Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions SAID IN THIS VIDEO from November 2015 after SPECTRE (Bond 24) that Craig wasn’t under contract although he added he expected the actor to return for Bond 25.

Which, of course, Craig announced this week.

So which (if any) was it? Contracts do get renegotiated. So did it change from one point to another?

At this point, it’s academic. Just another “little thing” (like Lt. Columbo used to say) to chew over.

Bond 25: ‘Mind you, all of this is pure guesswork…”

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Alert: What follows is just for fun. The blog wanted to make that clear following last weekend’s fiasco in The Mirror.

So, Bond 25 has some momentum following last week’s announcement of a 2019 release date.

That announcement left a number of issues unresolved. Channeling M in You Only Live Twice (“Mind you, all of this is pure guesswork, but the PM wants us to play it with everything we’ve got.”), here’s a quick look with more than a little guesswork.

Status of the story: The release date announcement also said Neal Purvis and Robert Wade were working on Bond 25’s story. That confirmed a March story by Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail. Thus, that story now becomes “news that hadn’t been announced yet” from the rumor category.

But how far along are Purvis and Wade? It depends on how long ago they were hired. It has been almost five months since Bamigboye’s story.

Guess: They’ve had enough time to come up with a treatment, perhaps even a full first draft script. If it’s the latter, that’s just the start. But it’s certainly a possibility.

Status of Bond 25’s distributor: Sony Pictures has distributed the last four 007 films. But its most recent two-picture deal expired with 2015’s SPECTRE. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio, can’t distribute films on its own. Unless, of course, MGM is feeling bolder seven years after existing bankruptcy.

With that in mind, it’s a natural question whether a Bond 25 distributor has already been selected.

Eon Production made the most recent announcement. But it has no distribution operation. It doesn’t finance its movies. The fact Eon made a release date announcement suggests a deal is in hand. We’ll see.

Status of Daniel Craig as James Bond: Craig is 49. Here’s the precedent involving actors in their late 40s/early 50s playing James Bond.

–Roger Moore was 49 when The Spy Who Loved Me was released. He came back for four more movies. Sometimes the negotiations went down to the wire (and potential replacements auditioned). But he was 58 when his final 007 film, A View to a Kill, was released.

–Pierce Brosnan was 49 when Die Another Day came out. He said on talk shows he had an offer for a fifth Bond outing. It didn’t happen that way and Daniel Craig replaced him.

The thing is, Brosnan was the final Bond selected by Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli. Craig was the first Bond selected by Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

Sometimes, it’s hard to let go. That’s true even if it contradicts your previous public statements.

The prestige media is mixed. The New York Times has reported Craig will be back. The BBC has said it “understands the actor has not yet signed a contract.”

The guess: Craig stays for Bond 25.

Status of the director: This is one category the blog won’t guess. It really depends on what Eon boss Barbara Broccoli is thinking.

Should Roger Moore get a shoutout in Bond 25?

Roger Moore in a 1980s publicity still

On Twitter, the MI6 James Bond website raised an interesting question: Should Bond 25, coming out in 2019, be “dedicated to the memory of Roger Moore’, like TND was for Cubby Broccoli?”

Eon Productions, which produces the 007 films series, has been a bit inconsistent when it comes to on-screen acknowledgements of those who helped make the series what it is.

When GoldenEye came out, following a six-year hiatus, there was no mention of 13-time screenwriter Richard Maibaum or long-time titles designer Maurice Binder.

Maibaum and Binder both died in 1991, during the long stretch when the Bond film franchise lay dormant.

However, special effects and miniatures guru Derek Meddings was mentioned in the end titles. (“To the memory of DEREK MEDDINGS”). This was his first Bond film since 1981’s For Your Eyes Only and he passed away about two months before GoldenEye was released.

The release of 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies occurred after the 1996 death of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli, the father of Eon boss Barbara Broccoli and the stepfather of Eon’s Michael G. Wilson. Understandably, this was acknowledged in the end titles (“In loving memory of ALBERT R. “CUBBY’ BROCCOLI”).

Bond 25 is scheduled for a U.S. release of November 2019 (even though, as this is being written, no distribution agreement has been announced). It will be the first 007 film to come out after one of the James Bonds of Eon’s series has passed away.

This may be a relatively minor point. But it remains to be seen whether Roger Moore, who played Bond more than any actor in the Eon series, is acknowledged in the next film adventure.

Some unimportant questions about Bond 25

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Following this week’s announcement of a 2019 release date for Bond 25 here are some unimportant questions about 007’s next film adventure.

Why make this announcement now? The announcement came the Monday after last weekend’s San Diego Comic Con. That event saw November’s Thor: Ragnarok film, this November’s Justice League movie and next year’s Avengers: Infinity War film grab a lot of publicity. Perhaps it’s a chance to remind audiences that James Bond is yet to be heard from?

Why announce a release date without a star, distributor or a director? We don’t really know. See answer (such as it is) to the previous question for a possible explanation.

What do you mean by that? The San Diego Comic Con has become a publicity launching pad for movies and television shows. 007 has been mostly a no-show at the San Diego Con. Although, to be fair, there were some 007-licensed dolls that were part of this year’s comic con festivities.

Why not announce more? Short answer: The principals aren’t ready to say more right now.

Of course, the short announcement on Monday wasn’t the last word.

The New York Times reported the same day that Daniel Craig’s return as Bond was a “done deal.” Deadline: Hollywood said there were three finalists to direct. And Variety said one of said finalists, Frenchman Yann Demange, is the front runner.

Could it be this is part of a marketing master plan by Eon Productions?

Well, if:

–Eon and Craig got together as SPECTRE wrapped production in July 2015 and knowing Craig was scheduled to do some interviews which would be embargoed until October, Eon publicists encouraged Craig to say he’d rather slash his wrists than play Bond again.

–When the interviews came out in October, the plan was this would create some uncertainty whether Craig would and create extra buzz as SPECTRE was being released.

–That Eon’s Michael G. Wilson, in an interview in November 2015, would say Craig wasn’t signed to a contract, to deliberately further stoke up the uncertainty and buzz.

–That Eon (or Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) deliberately planted stories like a September 2016 one in Vanity Fair saying that MGM CEO Gary Barber contacted Craig “to express his frustration in no uncertain terms” with the actor because of the “slash my wrists” interviews.

So, if all that happened, then, yeah, events of the past two years may have been part of a well-oiled plan worthy of Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Or maybe not.