Everybody’s `exclusive’ Skyfall video

On Aug. 16, the U.K. Telegraph (with a time stamp of 12:58 p.m. BST) said it had a Skyfall exclusive, a video featuring star Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes. You can CLICK HERE to see how the Telegraph presented the video.

Later in the day, 11:10 a.m. New York time to be precise, the U.S.-based Huffington Post Web site said it had this video exclusively. You can CLICK HERE to see the Huffington Post’s presentation.

Meanwhile, the official 007 Web site also put the video up. You can CLICK HERE to see that.

Finally, the official Web site also put it up on YouTube, where you can view it non-exclusively below. Mendes and Craig talk about filming in London. It’s OK but not nearly as elaborate as the maneuvering to claim being exclusive.

Ben Hecht’s Casino Royale

Yet another chapter in the saga of Casino Royale‘s journey from the page to the screen has been uncovered.

Ben Hecht

From 1954’s TV adaptation to 1967’s comedy aberration to 2006’s triumphal Eon series entry, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel has been kicking around Hollywood from almost the time of its initial publication. (HMSS’s Bill Koenig has previously written about Howard Hawks having considered filming it.) Now, Jeremy Duns reports in today’s The Telegraph that no less than Ben Hecht, “the Shakespeare of Hollywood,” had taken several swings at adapting the problematic novel for the big screen.

In 1954, producer and director Gregory Ratoff bought a six-month option, and the next year purchased outright, the film rights to 007’s first adventure. In 1956, it was announced that 20th Century Fox would release Ratoff’s production, scripted by a “noted scenarist.” Ratoff’s death in 1960 eventually led to the CR screen rights going to Charles Feldman, who eventually turned to Ben Hecht to write a screenplay. Hecht is best known to film fans as the writer of Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound and Notorious, and Howard Hawks’ The Front Page and Scarface. Hecht would eventually write four scripts of varying faithfulness to the Fleming novel — a couple of which seemed to be attempts to shoehorn the film into the Broccoli & Saltzman Eon James Bond series!

Duns’ story, Casino Royale: discovering the lost script, is a must-read for James Bond fans, movie fans, and students of the history of cinema. You’ll be amazed and intrigued (and perhaps a little regretful that it never came to pass).

Telegraph publishes extended version of its Ben Hecht/Casino Royale story

The U.K.-based Telegraph newspaper today published an extended online version of its story by Jeremy Duns about screenwriter Ben Hecht’s 1960s scripts for Casino Royale.

You can read THE ENTIRE ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE. What follows are a couple of excerpts.

Duns on what he discovered when he went to the Newberry Library in Chicago, where Hecht’s papers are kept:

To my amazement, I found that Hecht not only contributed to Casino Royale, but produced several complete drafts, and that much of the material survived. …Hecht adapted Ian Fleming’s first novel as a straight Bond adventure…The folders contain material from five screenplays, four of which are by Hecht. An early near-complete script from 1957 is a faithful adaptation of the novel in many ways but for one crucial element: James Bond isn’t in it. Instead of the suave but ruthless British agent, the hero is Lucky Fortunato, a rich, wisecracking American gangster who is an expert poker player…it seems likely (producer Charles K.) Feldman sent this script to Hecht as a starting point to see what he could do with it.

According to Duns, Hecht’s version of the story has Bond being directly responsible for Le Chiffre’s financial plight and need to win money back gambling (a very similar technique used by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis in 2006’s Casino Royale to set up the main Ian Fleming novel story). They have even met before the gambling begins.

Here’s Duns’s analysis, with April 1964 referring to the final draft by Hecht:

All the pages in Hecht’s papers are gripping, but the material from April 1964 is phenomenal, and it’s easy to imagine it as the basis for a classic Bond adventure….(T)here is also a distinctly adult feel to the story. It has all the excitement and glamour you would expect from a Bond film but is more suspenseful, and the violence is brutal rather than cartoonish.

Hecht died in April 1964. Producer Feldman ended up producing a mega-spoof instead.

Telegraph reports on Ben Hecht’s 1960s Casino Royale scripts

The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. has an article by Jeremy Duns about the scripts noted screenwriter Ben Hecht did for producer Charles K. Feldman’s ill fated Casino Royale movie.

Duns has a brief entry in his blog, the Debrief, which you can read BY CLICKING HERE. You can try to read the article itself by registering for a one-day free trial at the Telegraph’s Web site BY CLICKING HERE. The article is in the Telegraph’s Seven magazine.

Hecht died in April 1964. His long career including co-writing the play The Front Page (with Charles MacArthur, husband of Helen Hayes) and scripting Alfred Hitchcock’s 1946 film Notorious starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.

Based on some comments Duns has made on his Facebook page, Hecht’s drafts leaned toward a faithful adapation of Ian Fleming’s first novel, including a torture scene. Before Hecht was hired, Feldman had tried to interest director Howard Hawks in the project. Feldman later shifted gears, turning Casino Royale into a colossal, and expensive, spoof.

UPDATE: Jeremy Duns advises an extended version of the article will be on the Telegraph’s Web site in a few days. He also confirms that Hecht’s drafts are for a straight version of the novel, not the mega-spoof Feldman produced later.

UPDATE II: We couldn’t wait, so we did the one-day trial subscription. A few details from the Duns article:

1.) The Hecht drafts are at the Newberry Library in Chicago.

2) Hecht kept the basic plot, but as with Dr. No and From Russia With Love in the official 007 series, LeChiffre now works for SPECTRE, rather than the Soviets.

3) Hecht, in one of his drafts introduces the idea that the real James Bond has died and another agent is being re-named James Bond. In the rest of the script, “Bond” acts just like Bond.

The Duns article includes an excerpt of this draft where M informs the agent about the name change. This is the origin of an idea that will be greatly expanded upon in the final version of the 1967 Feldman film, which implies the Connery version of Bond in the official film series took the name of David Niven’s James Bond. It’s also a notion that gets recycled on message boards of fan Web sites in which some people argue that James Bond is just a code name, therefore, the Sean Connery version isn’t the same as Roger Moore, etc., etc., etc.

Mr. Duns notes the scene where Bond II is informed of his new name may simply have been inserted as a possible option for producer Feldman. It only appears in some drafts and isn’t part of others. Throughout the the remainder of Hecht’s material, Bond acts like Bond and he says you can even “hear” Sean Connery’s voice as you read Bond’s scripted lines.

4) Hecht invented a character called Gita, Le Chiffre’s wife, who gets half her face shot away when Bond uses her as a shield. She, rathern the Le Chieffre himself, later administers the torture. Le Chiffre has Gita stop the torture at one point and says, “M’sieur Bond may want to change his mind while he is still a m’sieur.”

5) Hecht was still working on Casino Royale at the time of his death.

007 composer Arnold to be music director of Olympics, Telegraph says

David Arnold, the composer of choice for five James Bond movies since 1997, has been named music director for the closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics in London, the U.K.-based Telegraph newspaper said. An excerpt from THAT STORY:

Luton-born Arnold, 49, said: ‘To be involved in the London 2012 Closing Ceremonies, where we celebrate the achievements of the best of the world’s athletes, is a once in a lifetime opportunity and a huge honour. As a nation we excel throughout the world in music, and our team will be readying an electrifying and thrilling soundtrack for this spectacular event.’

Arnold produced a 1990s CD celebrating James Bond music, Shaken And Stirred. That helped get him the job of composing the score of 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies after negotiations broke down with long-time 007 composer John Barry. Here’s a Barry-influenced Arnold composition from that film:

Arnold’s work on the Bond series draws strong opinions both pro and con. But Eon Productions keeps bringing him back and Arnold has said previously he’ll score Bond 23, due out in November 2012.

007, Our Man in Afghanistan?

Daniel Craig as James Bond 007, in a totally unrelated picture from three years ago.

Daniel Craig as James Bond 007, in a totally unrelated picture from three years ago.

The “silly season” of rumormongering between James Bond movies seems to have begun in earnest. Bond fan websites are reporting that the Telegraph UK is reporting that Bond fan websites are reporting that 007 may be bound for Afghanistan in his next screen adventure.

Apparently a former member of the British Foreign Office’s drug task force in Afghanistan has hooked up with Eon productions as a consultant, presumably to advise on matters concerning Afghanistan and drugs. This bit of news should be sufficient for Bond fans everywhere to suss out the plot of the next movie, and cry “rip off!” for a revisit to the background of 1987’s The Living Daylights. In that film, fans with large brains will remember that Timothy Dalton’s agent 007 got tangled up with opium-running Afghan mujahedin, eventually assisting them and helping to pave the way for the birth of the Taliban.

We should at this point also take pains to point out that Sebastian Faulks’ (Ian Fleming Centenary) novel Devil May Care will not be adapted for the next Bond film, nor the one after that, nor even the one after that.

You can read all the nothing about it at the Telegraph website right here

Be sure to check back with The HMSS Weblog regularly, for all your “Bond 23” non-news!