Sam Mendes makes his Bond film case

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes has made points about his two-film tenure in the James Bond film series. Some are new, some provide new twists.

The director, in a Nov. 8 story by The Hollywood Reporter, made new versions of previous comments about his time on Skyfall and SPECTRE, the only Bond films made during the 2010s.

The Skyfall delay was good! Bond 23, which would become Skyfall, originally was to be written by Peter Morgan and the writing team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

Bond’s home studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, entered bankruptcy in 2010, resulting in delays. An excerpt from the THR story:

Mendes and his collaborators used the downtime as an opportunity to creatively resuscitate the film’s storyline.

Morgan exited the project while Mendes brought in writer John Logan to rework the scripting by Purvis and Wade. Mendes has said that process helped the film and he repeats that in the new THR story.

Skyfall was the first time acknowledging that Bond aged: Skyfall “acknowledged the passage of time, arguably for the first time ever, in the series. It acknowledged that they are mortal, that they are going to age and probably die,” Mendes told THR.

Arguably, no it wasn’t. When Sean Connery did interviews for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, he said he was playing Bond as older. In For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore’s Bond goes to the gravesite of his late wife Tracy. That movie came out in 1981 but Tracy’s headstone says she died in 1969 (the year On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was released). Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny in 1983’s Octopussy acknowledged being older.

For more details, CLICK HERE.

SPECTRE was something else: The director didn’t get additional time for 2015’s SPECTRE.

With SPECTRE, “that time was not afforded to me,” Mendes told THR. “[With Spectre], I felt there was some pressure. Certainly Barbara (Broccoli) and Michael (G. Wilson) exerted some pressure on me and Daniel to make the next one, so that makes a big difference. People saying: ‘We want you to do it,’ and passionately wooing me to do it, was a big thing.”

Of course, Mendes could have said no. In 2015, Mendes told the BBC he almost turned SPECTRE down. “I said no to the last one and then ended up doing it, and was pilloried by all my friends,” Mendes told the BBC. “But I do think this is probably it.”

While not referenced by THR, SPECTRE also saw entire scripts made public because of hacks into Sony’s computer system. (Sony released four of the five Daniel Craig 007 films.) In addition to scripts, details about tax breaks from Mexico for SPECTRE became public. With SPECTRE, the writing team of Purvis and Wade was brought in to rewrite John Logan.

Off-beat ideas for Bond 26 (and beyond)

One-time image for Eon’s official James Bond Twitter feed

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen various fan suggestions for Bond 26. Among the suggestions:

Bring Pierce Brosnan back for a proper farewell: Pierce Brosnan starred in four Bond movies produced by Eon Productions.

The relationship ended abruptly after 2002’s Die Another Day. Eon had gotten the film rights for Casino Royale, the first Bond novel by Ian Fleming. Brosnan was out, Daniel Craig was in, and he enjoyed (well maybe) a 15-year run.

Still, many Bond fans wonder what could have been. The argument goes that Brosnan, now 69, could come back for a one-off adventure featuring an older Bond.

Hey, what about Henry Cavill?!: Cavill, born 1983, was runner-up when Craig was cast in 2005.

In recent months, Eon’s Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, have suggested they want an actor who could be in place for more than a decade. Wilson, in particular, has tossed out the idea that the next Bond actor should be in his early 30s.

Cavill now is 39. He may have aged out based on Eon’s recent comments.

Should Bond 26 be lighter? That’s a popular fan theory. And in many ways it makes sense. You’ve had five really, really serious Bond films with Craig as Bond. Maybe it’s time for a change in direction.

Personally, I wouldn’t go banco on that. Eon boss Barbara Broccoli seems pretty set in her ways. She has even suggested when Bond 26 gets to the scripting stage (whenever that happens) will begin with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.

As usual, we’ll see.

Broccoli says Purvis & Wade will probably work on Bond 26

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis. (Paul Baack illustration)

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions, said on an Empire magazine podcast that writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade will probably work on Bond 26.

Toward the end of the podcast, Broccoli talked about the challenges of casting a new Bond actor.

“That’s something we’ll do probably with Rob (Wade) and Neal (Purvis),” Broccoli said 49 minutes into a 51-minute podcast with Empire.

Purvis and Wade have worked on the Bond series starting with 1999’s The World Is Not Enough. The scribes have scaped up bits from Ian Fleming’s stories for Eon’s film series since that time.

Die Another Day (2002) was the one Eon Bond film with the scribes as the sole writers. Purvis and Wade shared The World Is Not Enough screenwriting credit with Bruce Feirstein; with Paul Haggis on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace; with John Logan on Skyfall and SPECTRE; and with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Cary Fukunaga on No Time to Die.

Skyfall’s 10th anniversary: Brief return to Bondmania

Skyfall’s poster image

Adapted from a 2017 post

Ten years ago, the James Bond film franchise reached a level — unadjusted, adjusted for inflation, or whatever measure you’d like — not achieved since the height of Bondmania in the 1960s.

That was Skyfall, the 50th anniversary 007 film. It was the first (and so far only) Bond film to reach and exceed the global $1 billion box office level.

Even taking into account ticket price inflation, the 2012 007 adventure is No. 3 in the U.S. in terms of number of tickets purchased. On that basis (or “bums in seats” as the British would say), Skyfall is  No. 3 in the U.S. market for Bond films, behind only Thunderball and Goldfinger.

Bringing the 23rd James Bond film to cinemas, however, was a more difficult undertaking than usual.

Beginnings

Initially, Eon Productions hired three writers: The team of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as well as prestige film writer Peter Morgan. Morgan had been twice nominated for an Academy Award.

As it turned out, Morgan had deep doubts about the viability of the James Bond character, something he didn’t go public with until a 2010 interview. “I’m not sure it’s possible to do it,” Morgan said in 2010, after he had departed the project.

Still, Morgan’s main idea — the death of Judi Dench’s M — would be retained, even though the scribe received no screen credit.

But there was a bigger challenge. While the film was being developed, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the 007 franchise’s home studio, went into bankruptcy.

Delay

Eon Productions, on April 19, 2010, said Bond 23, as the yet-untitled film was known, had been indefinitely delayed.

MGM emerged from bankruptcy in December 2010. There was a cost, however. MGM, which had already shrunk from its glory days, was even smaller. It had no distribution operation of its own.

Skyfall teaser poster

Behind the scenes, things were happening. Eon was bringing director Sam Mendes on board. Initially, he was a “consultant” (for contract reasons). Eventually, Mendes got his preferred writer, John Logan, to rework the scripting that Purvis and Wade had performed.

Mendes also was granted his choice of composer, Thomas Newman. David Arnold’s streak of scoring five 007 films in a row was over. Roger Deakins, nominated for multiple Oscars and who had worked with Mendes before, came aboard as director of photography.

Revival

In January 2011, a short announcement was issued that Bond 23 was back on.

Mendes officially was now the director. Over the next several months, the casting of Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Ben Whishaw and Berenice Marlohe leaked out, with Eon not confirming anything until a November 2011 press conference.

Even then, some specific character details remained unconfirmed. For example, Eon wouldn’t confirm that Whishaw was the new Q until July 2012, well after the actor had completed his work on the film.

Publicity Surge

Regardless, Skyfall benefited from much hype. Being the 50th anniversary Bond film got the movie additional publicity.

What’s more, London hosted the 2012 Summer Olympics. A major part of the opening ceremonies was a Danny Boyle-directed sequence featuring Daniel Craig’s Bond and Queen Elizabeth supposedly parachuting to the festivities. Years later, Boyle would be hired to direct Bond 25 (No Time to Die) before exiting the project over “creative differences.”

Mendes, a director of the auteur school, also imported his style into the movie itself. Various segments were intended to provide dramatic moments to the principal actors.

Among them: A shaky Craig/Bond seeking redemption; a theatrical entrance for Javier Bardem’s villain; a dramatic reading of a poem for Judi Dench’s M, who is under fire by U.K. politicians.

Behind the Curtain

Not everything holds up to scrutiny if you think much about it.

–Bond deserted the service, apparently upset about being shot by fellow operative Naomie Harris, while MI6 doesn’t seem to mind that at all. This was based loosely on the You Only Live Twice novel, where Bond went missing because he had amnesia. That doesn’t appear to be the case in Skyfall.

–Bond has the Goldfinger Aston Martin DB5 in storage, all gadgets still operational. Purvis and Wade originally wrote it as the left-hand drive DB5 that Bond won in 2006’s Casino Royale in a high-stakes poker game. But Mendes insisted it be the Goldfinger car.

–M blathers on. She’s fully aware — because Rory Kinnear’s Tanner told her — that Bardem’s Silva has escaped.  But that’s secondary to the poem, which gives Silva and his thugs time to arrive and shoot up the place.

Unqualified Success

None of this mattered much with movie audiences.

Every time the Spy Commander saw the movie at a theater, the audience reacted positively when the DB5 was revealed.

Some British fans rave to this day how wonderful the M poem scene is. Yet, when you break the sequence down, the doomed MI6 chief got numerous people killed by Bardem’s thugs by keeping them around instead of letting them disperse.

For all the trouble, for all the script issues, Skyfall was an unqualified hit. The movie’s release was the biggest Bond event since Thunderball’s release in 1965.

Oscar Wins

Skyfall also broke a long Oscars losing streak for the 007 film series. The movie won two Oscars (for best song and sound editing). Both Newman and Deakins had been nominated but didn’t win. The Bond film series would go on to win Best Song Oscars for SPECTRE and No Time to Die.

Barbara Broccoli

Normally, a studio or a production company would want to strike while the iron was hot.

Not so in this case. Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli, in 2012 interviews, made clear she would not be hurried into the next 007 film adventure. There would be no quick attempt to follow up on Skyfall’s success.

At the same time, Mendes indicated he didn’t want to direct another Bond film. He relented and his hiring for the next Bond movie was announced in July 2013.

That movie, SPECTRE, would be released in the fall of 2015 after a soap opera all its own, including script leaks after Sony Pictures was hacked in 2014. Sony released Bond films starting with Casino Royale and running through SPECTRE.

It’s possible a bit of hubris set in. You can imagine people saying something like this: “If this movie did $1 billion at the box office, the next 007 film will surely do $1.5 billion!” Or whatever. That’s human nature after all.

Instead, the next Bond outing would run into a new set of problems. In fact, that movie performed a “retcon” (retroactive change in continuity) concerning Skyfall.

Mendes said in 2011 that Skyfall was not connected to Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. With SPECTRE (and 2021’s No Time to Die), Skyfall suddenly was part of one big epic. Javier Bardem’s Silva character was now a SPECTRE operative. Mendes’ 2011 comments were no longer acknowledged.

Nevertheless, that should not distract from what Skyfall achieved (even for fans who didn’t enjoy the movie as much as others) a decade ago.

Paul Haggis arrested on sexual assault charges

Paul Haggis, who worked on two James Bond films as a writer, has been arrested in Italy on sexual assault charges, Variety reported.

Haggis was a screenwriter on 2006’s Casino Royale and 2008’s Quantum of Solace.

Here is an excerpt from the Variety story:

According to multiple Italian press reports and a note from the public prosecutor of the nearby city of Brindisi, Haggis is charged with forcing a young “foreign” – meaning non-Italian – woman to undergo sexual intercourse over the course of two days in Ostuni, where he was scheduled to hold several master classes at the Allora Fest, a new film event being launched by Los Angeles-based Italian journalist Silvia Bizio and Spanish art critic Sol Costales Doulton that is set to run in Ostuni from June 21 to June 26.

When Casino Royale came out in 2006, Haggis got a lot of credit after taking over from Neal Purvis and Robert Wade in the scripting process.

Haggis’s pages referred to “James,” where most Bond scripts refer to Bond as “Bond.”

With Quantum’s final screenplay credit, Haggis got top billing over Purvis and Wade.

At one point, there were reports that Haggis supposedly contributed to the script of No Time to Die. The final credit went to Purvis and Wade, director Cary Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Haggis received no screenplay credit on No Time to Die.

Danny Boyle talks about Bond 25

Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle, as part of an Esquire profile, said his version of Bond 25 would have been “all set in Russia, which is of course where Bond came from, out of the Cold War.

“It was set in present-day Russia and went back to his origins, and they just lost, what’s the word… they just lost confidence in it,” the director told Esquire.

This isn’t entirely surprising. Thanks to an interview that production designer Mark Tildesley did, it was known that a Russian gulag set was being constructed in Canada. Also, during the Boyle period of Bond 25, a replica rocket was built.

Boyle also said his screenwriter, John Hodge, also introduced a Bond’s child character.

“The idea that they used in a different way was the one of [James Bond’s] child, which [Hodge] introduced [and which] was wonderful,” Boyle told the magazine.

Boyle also expressed to Esquire a stronger misgiving about becoming involved in a franchise movie.

“I remember thinking, ‘Should I really get involved in franchises?’ Because they don’t really want something different,. They want you to freshen it up a bit, but not really challenge it, and we wanted to do something different with it.”

Bond 25 (eventually titled No Time to Die) began pre-production in 2017 with Neal Purvis and Robert Wade as writers. Then, Boyle and Hodge figuratively raised their hands with their idea. In May 2018, it was announced Boyle would direct from a Hodge script.

Before the end of the summer of 2018, Boyle and Hodge exited. Purvis and Wade returned, with Cary Fukunaga directing (and writing also). The switch helped delay the project by about six months. COVID-19 then caused additional delays. No Time to Die didn’t come out until fall 2021.

Michael G. Wilson turns 80

Michael G. Wilson

Michael G. Wilson, during publicity for 2015’s SPECTRE

Michael G. Wilson, a producer and writer who worked longer on James Bond films than anyone else, celebrated his 80th birthday today.

Wilson, who has been involved with Bond for 50 years on a full-time basis, is the stepson of Eon Productions co-founder Albert R. Broccoli and the half-brother of 007 producer Barbara Broccoli.

Wilson and Barbara Broccoli took command of Eon in 1994 as GoldenEye was in pre-production and Cubby Broccoli suffered from ill health. The Wilson-Barbara Broccoli combination has produced every Bond film starting with GoldenEye.

Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli died in 1996, ending 35 years with the franchise.

Wilson’s mother, Dana, married Cubby Broccoli in 1959. She had earlier been married to actor Lewis Wilson, who had played Batman in a 1943 serial. The actor was the father of Michael Wilson.

Michael Wilson’s first involvement in the 007 series was as an extra on 1964’s Goldfinger, but that was a one-off. Starting in 1972, he joined Eon and its parent company, Danjaq.

Michael G. Wilson’s first 007 on-screen credit in The Spy Who Loved Me

In those early years, Wilson, a lawyer who also had training in engineering, was involved in the separation between Eon founders Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, the latter facing financial troubles. Eventually, United Artists bought out Saltzman’s interest in the 007 franchise.

Wilson’s first on-screen credit was as “special assistant to producer” on 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. Wilson got a small title card, sharing the screen with other crew members. But that belied how Wilson’s influence on the series was growing following Saltzman’s departure.

A Poster Changes

CLIP TO EMBIGGIN

A preliminary version of the poster for The Spy Who Loved Me, with a credit for “Mike Wilson.”

An early poster for Spy had the credit “Assistant to the Producer Mike Wilson.” It didn’t mention other notables such as production designer Ken Adam or associate producer William P. Cartlidge. Later versions didn’t include Wilson’s credits but Adam and Cartlidge still didn’t make the final poster.

For 1979’s Moonraker, Wilson was elevated to executive producer, a title which can be a little confusing. On television series, an executive producer is supposed to be the top producer or producers. For movies, it’s a secondary title to producer. This time, Wilson was included on the posters as were Adam and Cartlidge.

With 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, Wilson doubled as a screenwriter, working in conjunction with Bond veteran Richard Maibaum. Wilson received a screenwriting credit on every 007 film made by Eon in the 1980s. Starting with 1985’s A View to a Kill, he was joint producer along with Cubby Broccoli.

While adding to his production resume, Wilson also began making cameo appearances in the Bond movies themselves. A 2015 story in the Daily Mail provided images of a few examples. The cameos varied from a quick glance (The World Is Not Enough) to getting several lines of dialogue (Tomorrow Never Dies, as a member of the board of directors working with the villain).

‘Particularly Hard’

After Cubby Broccoli’s death, Wilson in interviews began complaining about the work load of making Bond films. “It just seems that this one’s been particularly hard,” Wilson said in an interview with Richard Ashton on the former Her Majesty’s Secret Service website concerning The World Is Not Enough that’s archived at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.

In an earlier Ashton interview, after production of 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies, Wilson described the pressure he felt.

“There are a myriad of things every day,” Wilson told Ashton. “From the producer’s point of view they want to know the schedule, does the set need to be this big? Are we gonna shoot all this stuff in the action sequence? How much of it is going to end up on the cutting room floor? You’re putting the director under pressure to make decisions all the time – and he has a point of view he wants to put across.”

‘Desperately Afraid’

Dana Broccoli was an uncredited adviser on the Bond films during Cubby Broccoli’s reign. She became “the custodian of the James Bond franchise” after his death in 1996, according to a 2004 obituary of Dana Broccoli in The Telegraph.

With her passing, Wilson and Barbara Broccoli were truly on their own. One of their first decisions was to move on from Pierce Brosnan, the last 007 actor selected by Albert R. Broccoli, and go in a new direction with Daniel Craig.

In an October 2005 story in The New York Times, Wilson described the process.

“I was desperately afraid, and Barbara was desperately afraid, we would go downhill,” said Michael G. Wilson, the producer of the new Bond film, “Casino Royale,” with Ms. Broccoli. He even told that to Pierce Brosnan, the suave James Bond who had a successful run of four films, he said.

“We are running out of energy, mental energy,” Mr. Wilson recalled saying. “We need to generate something new, for ourselves.”

Wilson and Barbara Broccoli also began pursuing other interests, including plays as well as movies such as the drama The Silent Storm, where they were among 12 executive producers.

Wilson as P.T. Barnum

Wilson, to a degree, also was the Bond franchise’s equivalent of P.T. Barnum. In separate interviews and public appearances he said he hoped Daniel Craig would do more 007 films than Roger Moore even as the time between Bond films lengthened while later saying Bond actors shouldn’t be kept on too long.

Legal fights between Eon and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (which acquired United Artists in 1981) caused a six-year hiatus in Bond films between 1989 and 1995. When production resumed with GoldenEye, Wilson no longer was a credited screenwriter.

Cubby Broccoli had benefited from a long relationship with Richard Maibaum (1909-1991), who ended up contributing to 13 of the first 16 Bond movies. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli seemed to search for their own Maibaum.

At first, screenwriter Bruce Feirstein seemed to fit the bill. He received a writing credit on three movies, starting with GoldenEye and ending with The World Is Not Enough.

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson in November 2011 Productions

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson in November 2011.

Later, the producing duo seemed to settle on scribes Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who received credits on six consecutive 007 epics. They ran began with 1999’s The World Is Not Enough and ran through 2015’s SPECTRE. They were hired in 2017 to work on a 007th film, No Time to Die, released in 2021. Director Cary Fukunaga and scribe Phoebe Waller-Bridge were among the other writers on the script.

Still, it wasn’t the same. After 2012’s Skyfall, Purvis and Wade weren’t supposed to return, with writer John Logan (who’d done Skyfall’s later drafts) set to script two movies in a row.

It didn’t work out that way. With SPECTRE, the followup to Skyfall, Logan did the earlier drafts but Purvis and Wade were summoned back. Eventually, Logan, Purvis, Wade and Jez Butterworth would get a credit.

Changing Role?

Cubby Broccoli seemed to live to make James Bond movies. Wilson  not as much, as he pursued other interests, including photography. By the 2010s, it appeared to outsiders that Barbara Broccoli had become the primary force at Eon.

In December, 2014, at the announcement of the title for SPECTRE, Wilson was absent. Director Sam Mendes acted as master of ceremonies with Barbara Broccoli at his side. Wilson showed up in later months for SPECTRE-related publicity events.

Nevertheless, Wilson devoted the majority of his life to the film series.

Making movies is never easy. Wilson’s greatest accomplishment is helping — in a major way — to keeping the 007 series in production. He was not a founding father of the Bond film series. But he was one of the most important behind-the-scenes figures for the film Bond beginning in the 1970s.

“When you go around the world you see how many people are so anxious, in every country, ‘Oh, when’s the next Bond film coming out?'” Wilson told Ashton after production of Tomorrow Never Dies. “You realize that there’s a huge audience and I guess you don’t want to come out with a film that’s going to somehow disappoint them.”

United Artists Releasing makes a NTTD script available

Robert Wade, left, and Neal Purvis. (Paul Baack illustration)

United Artists Releasing, which distributed No Time to Die in the U.S., has made a version of the movie’s script available as part of a push to get awards for the Bond film.

UAR has put a PDF of the script online. It’s described as a final script. That suggests it reflects the final version of the movie seen in theaters, pay-per-view, and home video.

As a result, there are likely no clues as to which writers (the credited Neal Purvis and Robert Wade team, director Cary Fukunaga, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge as well as the uncredited Scott Z. Burns) contributed what.

Still, for those who collect Bond scripts, there are interesting tidbits in the stage directions.

For example, there is this passage when the movie switches from a young Madeline Swann to an adult one.

EXT. GROTTO ON THE SEA, ITALY – DAY

SOUNDS OF OCEAN WAVES CRASHING

Madeline breaks the surface of the water as if Safin was pulling her out –

She gasps but is frozen — opens her eyes, he is gone. It was just a vision.

BOND stands like Adonis on a lido overlooking the sea. She turns, feeling his eyes on her.

BOND

You okay?

Madeline smiles, burying the past trauma. She’s been dealing with this for years.

United Artists Releasing is a joint venture between Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Bond’s home studio, and Annapurna Pictures.

Bond 26 questions: Bond’s return

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Spoiler for No Time to Die

At a recent event sponsored by the Deadline entertainment news site, Eon Productions boss Barbara Broccoli said Eon has yet to figure out how James Bond will return after the events of No Time to Die.

By the end of the 25th Bond film, Bond has been blown to smithereens and other characters are in mourning. Yet, in the end titles, it says “James Bond Will Return.”

“We’ll figure that one out, but he will be back,” Broccoli said. “You can rest assured James Bond will be back.”

Naturally, the blog has questions.

Another reboot?

This would be the easiest route. With 2006’s Casino Royale, Eon started things over. Eon finally had its hands on the rights to Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. So one continuity ended after Eon dismissed Pierce Brosnan, another began after it brought on Daniel Craig.

Having multiple continuities is not unprecedented. Look at Warner Bros. and its various Batman movies.

Four movies from 1989 through 1997 were one continuity (multiple actors played Batman but all four had the same actors as Alfred the butler and Commissioner Gordon). Films from 2005 through 2012 were another continuity. And various films with Ben Affleck as Batman comprise yet another continuity. Now, yet another continuity is in works with Robert Pattinson as Batman.

If you’re a fan of Daniel Craig’s Bond films, you can’t complain about reboots. Yes, Eon fudged things at times, primarily with the Aston Martin DB5. But a new reboot may be the way to go.

What about the “code name theory”?

That would be another way to go.

For the uninitiated, the “code name theory” is a way of explaining all the different actors who’ve played Bond in the Eon series. Under this scenario, “James Bond” is a code name assigned to different people.

Screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade have said there’s only one Bond, just played by different actors. Besides, 007 is Bond’s code number. Why does he need a code name on top of that?

Nevertheless the “code name theory” refuses to die. It traces its origins to the development of the 1967 Casino Royale spoof produced by Charles K. Feldman. The original James Bond (David Niven) orders all British agents to be named “James Bond” to confuse enemies. This notion may be the 1967 movie’s legacy.

You’re not serious, are you?

To be clear, I am NOT advocating for it. However, “code name theory” would be one way to retain Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Rory Kinnear as Tanner.

What would be the drawbacks?

A new Bond actor would be burdened by the Craig continuity. Remember, Craig’s Bond was burned out from Skyfall on. Personally, I would start fresh with a reboot. You DO NOT have to another Bond origin story. Just introduce your new Bond and go from there.

Sean Connery’s Bond never had an origin story. That worked out pretty well.

What’s left of Fleming for future Bond films?

Ian Fleming, drawn by Mort Drucker, from the collection of the late John Griswold.

The other day, the blog published a post about whether Ian Fleming content matters much anymore for James Bond movies. Still, how much “Fleming content” is left?

Bond screenwriters (most likely Neal Purvis and Robert Wade) have added scraps and bits over the past two decades. The first half of Die Another Day was a de facto adaptation of Fleming’s Moonraker novel. Skyfall, SPECTRE and No Time to Die have mined the novels On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and You Only Live Twice.

What follows is a partial list of what’s left. Consider this a starting point for a broader conversation.

–A brainwashed Bond tries to kill M: The Man With the Golden Gun novel is uneven because Fleming was in bad health. But the start of the novel includes a memorable set-piece where Bond, brainwashed by the Soviets, attempts to assassinate M.

Playboy magazine, when it serialized the novel, led off with an illustration of Bond (drawn, understandably, like Sean Connery) immediately after the failed attempt. It included an M drawn like Bernard Lee and a Moneypenny drawn like Lois Maxwell.

–Gala Brand: At one point, the lead female character of Fleming’s Moonraker novel was going to be named Gala Brand in Die Another Day. But the name was changed to Miranda Frost (a traitor) when the movie was filmed

–Bond vs. a giant squid: In the novel Dr. No, the villain sends Bond through an obstacle course. The agent eventually has to take on a giant squid. This never appeared in the first Bond film made by Eon Productions.

-The Spang Brothers: Jack and Seraffimo Spang were the villains of Diamonds Are Forever, Fleming’s fourth novel. One of the brothers owns an old western ghost town called Spectreville.

-Stuffing a fish down somebody’s throat: The character Milton Krest, from the short story The Hildebrand Rarity, has already been used in 1989’s Licence to Kill. But Krest’s literary demise, having a rare fish stuffed down his throat, still is out there.

Separately, a late friend of mine, Paul Baack, once designed a make-believe movie poster of an Alfred Hitchcock adaptation of The Hildebrand short story.