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.

Patrick Macnee dies at 93, BBC says

Patrick Mcnee and Diana Rigg in a publicity still for The Avengers

Patrick Mcnee and Diana Rigg in a publicity still for The Avengers

Patrick Macnee, debonair actor best known for playing John Steed on The Avengers, died today at 93, according to the BBC, WHICH CITED MACNEE’S SON RUPERT.

There was also a statement ON THE ACTOR’S WEBSITE that said Macnee “died a natural death at his home in Rancho Mirage, California…with his family at his bedside.”

Macnee enjoyed a long career, playing dozens of characters. Still, The Avengers and his character of John Steed, with his bowler and umbrella, became Macnee’s career trademark. The show first went into production in 1961. Its greatest popularity came when he was paired with Diana Rigg’s Emma Peel.

The actor saw two of his co-stars — Honor Blackman and Rigg — leave the series to take the lead female role in James Bond movies (Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Another Majesty’s actress, Joanna Lumley, was Macnee’s co-star in a 1970s revival, The New Avengers.

Macnee finally got his turn at a Bond movie, A View to a Kill, in 1985, playing an ally of Bond (Roger Moore) who is killed by henchwoman May Day (Grace Jones). Macnee, years earlier, had played Dr. Watson to Moore’s Sherlock Holmes in a made-for-television movie. Macnee also made a properly dignified chief of U.N.C.L.E. in 1983’s The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E.

UPDATE: For the second time this month (Christopher Lee’s death was the other), Roger Moore bids adieu to a colleague:

Another View (to a Kill): Roger Moore’s farewell

A View to a Kill's poster

A View to a Kill’s poster

By Nicolás Suszczyk, Guest Writer
Three decades have passed since Roger Moore bid farewell to the role of James Bond with A View to a Kill, directed by John Glen.

The film had a striking marketing campaign, an effective cast and realistic action sequences, but nowadays it remains hidden in the hall of shame by many Bond fans.

There are issues: Roger was getting old, turning 57 during production. The film is way too Americanized. See the “Dick Tracy” police captain lifted out of an Police Academy film. Bond has lost his mystery and his lethal side compared to the Sean Connery days, perhaps.

But why is it that some Bond fans still keep A View to a Kill close to their heart?

Maybe because it’s Roger Moore’s Bond farewell party – and it is done with a lot of style: KGB, explosions, ski chases, dances into the fire, lots of women, luxury, exotic locations. Moore said goodbye in his way.

Delivering punches to his adversaries like when he played The Saint, drinking his trademark Bollinger champagne, smiling to young ladies with his rather evident wrinkles and adopting a snobbish alias (James St John Smythe, pronounced Sin-jin Smythe), the third official 007 threw out a party and we were all invited, before the dark side of Timothy Dalton’s dangerous Bond debuted onscreen in 1987.

Music is a key element of every party. In the case of A View to a Kill we had not only master composer John Barry, but the popular teen idol band Duran Duran, with a rocking main title song that reached No. 1 in the U.S. charts.

Band member John Taylor confessed to be a Bond and Barry fan and approached the composer to sing the title song. Barry, surprised by the young man knowledge of his career, agreed. It was a hit. Every trailer and TV spot voiceover reminded the audience Duran Duran performed the title song.

Former KGB agent Max Zorin was effectively played by Christopher Walken, providing the first ruthless and fiercely violent villain on the series. He guns down his accomplices while trying to escape from a flooding mine and enjoys it. He orders an intruder thrown alive into a propeller. He tires to maim 007 atop the Golden Gate with an axe.

Grace Jones as May Day also provided a shake off as an exotic beauty, a deathly henchwoman who gets close –- literally — with the aging Moore. She was prominently featured in advertisements for the film which asked if James Bond had finally met his match.

On the other side, we had Stacey Sutton, portrayed by Tanya Roberts. Irresistible and charming, Roberts was perhaps not so memorable in acting, but definitively memorable in beauty and sweetness with every expression and glance with her incredible blue eyes.

The action sequences of the film took a realistic approach –- well, if we forget Moore used doubles — with Willy Bogner’s direction of the opening sequence in Siberia, where 007 escapes the KGB troops on skis, snowmobile and an improvised snowboard.

In the style of the Moore era of parodying popular culture (as the Close Encounters of the Third Kind tune in Moonraker or the Tarzan yell in Octopussy), a cover version of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls” song is heard as 007 (actually stuntman Steven Link) “surfs” the snow successfully evading the KGB, but then the dramatic John Barry tune returns as Bond down a pursuing helicopter by shooting a flare into the cockpit.

Then we have Bond pursuing May Day through the Eiffel Tower and through the streets of Paris with a destroyed Renault and escaping the incinerated City Hall in San Francisco with his girl, in a thrilling scene where you’ll seriously wonder if he’ll survive or how he will do it.

A bit satirical and gag-filled scene is the part where Bond boards a fire truck and evades the police, yet Barry’s music brings needed drama to this sequence. Besides the Police Academy films with the silly cops, this action scene is unadultered Moore Bond fun, as is the fight atop the Golden Gate between Bond and his nemesis perpetuated on the film’s theatrical poster. A scene that is not out of drama, thrills, suspense and it still has Moore’s humorous touch.

The very last scene of Roger Moore as James Bond harkens back to the first shot we saw of him in 1973’s Live and Let Die: with a woman.

In his debut, Moore was with Italian agent Miss Caruso in his apartment following a mission. Unlike Sean Connery’s and George Lazenby’s detail close ups before their “Bond, James Bond” moment, Moore let himself be introduced in his incurable playboy fashion.

In A View to a Kill, 007, presumed missing, is sharing a shower with Stacey as Q’s robotic dog observes them. He throws a towel right over the device’s camera-eyes.

It’s pretty logical. The playboy won his girl on his farewell party.

A View To a Kill’s 30th: no more Moore

A View to a Kill's poster

A View to a Kill’s poster

To sort of steal from Christopher Nolan, A View To a Kill isn’t the Bond ending Roger Moore deserved, but it’s the one that he got when the film debuted 30 years ago this month.

Producer Albert R. Broccoli had prevailed at the box office in 1983 against a competing James Bond film with Sean Connery, Broccoli’s former star. Broccoli’s Octopussy generated more ticket sales than Never Say Never Again (with Connery as de facto producer as well as star).

That could have been the time for Moore to call it a day. Some fans at the time expected Octopussy to be the actor’s finale. Yet, Broccoli offered him the role one more time and the actor accepted.

Obviously, he could have said no, but when you’re offered millions of dollars that’s easier said than done. There was the issue of the actor’s age. Moore would turn 57 during production in the fall of 1984.

That’s often the first thing cited, such as THIS SUMMARY OF THE MOVIE posted on April 2 by What Culture, an entertainment website that specializes in “click bait” lists.

However, the problems go deeper than that. As we’ve written before, the movie veers back and forth between humor and really dark moments as if it can’t decide what it wants to be.

Typical of A View To a Kill's humor

Typical of A View To a Kill’s humor

Director John Glen and screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson constantly go from yuks and tension and back again. If the humor were better, that might be easier to accept. Typical example: In the pre-titles sequence, there’s an MI-6 submarine that’s supposed to be disguised as an iceberg but its phallic shape suggests something else.

For those Bond fans who never liked Moore, just mentioning the title of the movie will cause distress. Based strictly on anecdotal evidence over the years, many times admirers don’t mention it as one of his better 007 efforts.

We could critique the movie further, but most fans have heard it all before and, honestly, we don’t feel like going over the same ground here. If you want to experience that, go to a James Bond fan group on Facebook, type in, “I really like A View To a Kill,” and read the responses come in.

Regardless whether you’re a critic of Moore as 007 or a fan, he did hold down the 007 fort through some hectic times (including the breakup of Broccoli with his 007 producing partner Harry Saltzman). It would have been nicer to go out on a higher note than A View To a Kill. But storybook endings usually only happen in the movies.

Moonraker and the ‘guilty pleasure’

A "guilty pleasure" for some 007 fans

A “guilty pleasure” for some 007 fans

Over the past 40 years, the term “guilty pleasure” has become chic. In a James Bond context, some fans will cite the extravagant 1979 Moonraker as a guilty pleasure.

What does the term mean exactly? Wikipedia defines it as “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it. The “guilt” involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes.”

The term was popularized by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, in which the two Very Serious Film Critics (R) acknowledged they like some schlock on occasion. In 1979 and 1987, they came up with their lists of “guilty pleasures,” including such movies as The Greek Tycoon and The Fury.

Moonraker was the only Bond movie where 007 went into space. Before that happened, a space shuttle was hijacked, Bond fell out of a plane without a parachute, a boat chase took place in Venice, Bond fought Jaws (Richard Kiel) on top of a cable car in Rio, etc., etc. Nothing was done in a small way. There were clearly silly moments, including a double taking pigeon and Jaws finding true love.

In other words, nothing very subtle. It was a huge hit in its day. It even got a rave review in THE NEW YORK TIMES. Nevertheless, Eon Productions immediately decided Bond should come back down to earth both figuratively and literally in his next film adventure, For Your Eyes Only.

When Bond fans say Moonraker is a “guilty pleasure,” they’re putting some distance between themselves and the movie. It’s almost as if they’re afraid they’ll lose their “street cred” with other Bond fans. After all, in the 21st century, Bond is Serious Art deserving of Academy Award nominations.

To be fair, it should be noted that opinions of people change over time. They can like something initially, decide it really was awful, then eventually come back and decide it was good or at least not as bad as they thought. What’s more, in the case of Moonraker, some fans will tell you they hated it then, they hate it now. That group is being consistent.

Still, if you like a movie, maybe should own it and not worry about your “street cred.” In the case of 007 films, just because you like a lighter Bond entry doesn’t preclude from enjoying a more serious film also.

Groundhog Day: 007, U.N.C.L.E. fan comments

SPECTRE teaser poster

Daniel Craig in SPECTRE teaser poster

Like the movie Groundhog Day, some things in spy fandom happen over and over.

In the James Bond world, even though Daniel Craig was cast as 007 almost a decade ago, you can still find fan debates about the 47-year-old actor.

For example, a story IN THE U.K. MIRROR reported Honor Blackman said that Craig, and not Sean Connery was now the best film Bond.

“I’m sorry to say he’s a better actor – but I think Sean would acknowledge that,” the Mirror quoted Blackman, who played Pussy Galore oppose Connery in Goldfinger. “I think Dan is terrific. He’s capable of so much more.”

Naturally, on social media, Craig fans and supporters noted the story and got into it with critics of the actor.  It happens the other way round, of course, when someone famous — say Ursula Andress in a DAILY MAIL STORY — says Craig isn’t the best Bond (“‘Hes a great actor, but not James Bond.”) Fan critics seize on comments such as that and try to rub it in the nose of Craig fans.

Then again, maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. There are still 007 fans who harshly criticize Roger Moore — who hasn’t done a Bond movie in 30 years — for taking too light a tone with his Bond films.

At the same time, Blackman’s comments were totally comfort food for 007 fans.

“Now it’s no longer like Ian Fleming, it’s more like The Bourne Identity,” Blackman said about current Bond movies. “It’s a different kind of film.” A lot of Bond fans don’t like the comparison with the Bourne films.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. teaser poster

Meanwhile, fans of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. continue to have variations on a the same theme: Namely, should a movie version of the 1964-68 spy show have been made at all?

There are some fans of the original show who never wanted it made in the first place and view it as garbage four months before it’s due out in theaters.

Among the reasons: it changes the U.N.C.L.E. timeline (the movie depicts the beginning of U.N.C.L.E. in 1963, whereupon in the show it began sometime shortly after World War II); there’s no way the stars (Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer) can possibly compare to Robert Vaughn and David McCallum); and the movie has lost the “everyman” dynamic of the show because it with two leads over 6-feet tall, including the 6-foot-5 Hammer as Illya Kuryakin, originally played by the 5-foot-7 McCallum.

As details dribble out, such as the movie Solo has a history as an art thief, that debate intensifies.

Nevertheless, other U.N.C.L.E. fans, having gone without an official U.N.C.L.E. production since a 1983 television movie, are looking forward to the film and want to give it a chance.

Both are spy entertainment’s version of Groundhog Day. No doubt somebody will again gear up one or the other debate sooner than later.

Evolution of the spy turtleneck

David McCallum's main titles credit in the final season

David McCallum’s main titles credit in the final season

The unveiling of SPECTRE’s teaser caused a bit of stir when it was released on social media on Tuesday.

Star Daniel Craig, instead of the traditional Bond tuxedo or business suit, wore a black turtleneck as well as a shoulder holster while holding a gun. While a different look for the current 007, turtlenecks and spies have gone together for a half century. Here’s a quick look.

David McCallum, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: U.N.C.L.E. agent Illya Kuryakin had an iconic look with his black turtleneck. Ironically, he actually didn’t wear it that often in the show but it’s an image that many people remember.

As we noted IN THIS POST, Jon Heitland’s Man From U.N.C.L.E. book includes a photo of McCallum making an appearance in a parade accompanied by Boy Scout “bodyguards” wearing turtlenecks and carrying toy U.N.C.L.E. Special guns. The actor, though, was wearing a suit and tie.

Occasionally, Kuryakin might vary his wardrobe by wearing a gray turtleneck or, in a second-season episode, a white one with a red jacket when he was going undercover as a musician. Armie Hammer, who has the Kuryakin role in this year’s movie version of the series, has worn dark turtlenecks.

Dean Martin as Matt Helm with Stella Stevens in The Silencers.

Dean Martin and Stella Stevens in The Silencers.

Dean Martin, Matt Helm movies: Matt sometimes wore suits but he often favored light-colored turtlenecks, including tan and yellow ones. In the final film of the series, The Wrecking Crew, Helm donned a black turtleneck with white jacket and pants.

Sy Devore designed Dean Martin’s clothes for the 1966-68 film series. For whatever reason, turtlenecks (as well as dress cowboy boots) were a big part of the Matt Helm look. Devore had other celebrity customers, which is noted ON THE HOME PAGE of the store that bears his name.

Another moment of 007 clothing splendor

Another moment of 007 clothing splendor

Sean Connery, Diamonds Are Forever: Some fans make fun of the pink power tie that Sean Connery wore as 007 in his sixth Bond film for Eon Productions.

Yet, he had another outfit that sometimes draws comments: a brown turtleneck with a plaid sport jacket. Anthony Sinclair, it wasn’t. It’s only seen during a brief sequence where Bond accompanies Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean) to find out what Blofeld (Charles Gray) has been doing with Whyte’s business empire. Bond is back in a three-piece suit for the climax aboard an oil rig.

Roger Moore in Live And Let Die

Roger Moore in Live And Let Die

Roger Moore, Live And Let Die: Many Bond fans reacted to the SPECTRE teaser by saying it was an homage to Roger Moore in his initial 007 film in 1973. The actor donned black turtleneck and pants along with a shoulder holster to sneak around San Monique prior to rescuing Solitaire (Jane Seymour) and taking down Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto). The outfit was also similar to an outfit Steve McQueen wore in Bullitt, which came out five years earlier.

UPDATE (March 18): Feedback here (see Orange Wetsuit’s comment below) and on social media call for mentions of:

–Jonny Quest and his trademark black turtleneck. He wasn’t a spy, of course, but Race Bannon was.

–The Saint (Roger Moore), who, while not a spy, did wear turtlenecks as part of “sneaking around” outfits.

–Derek Flint (James Coburn), who wore a white turtleneck as part of a white outfit in In Like Flint.

–The Archer spy cartoon series.

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