Duns uncovers Joseph Heller’s work on Casino Royale

Poster for Charles K. Feldman’s 1967 version of Casino Royale

Writer Jeremy Duns, who in 2011 researched Casino Royale scripts by Ben Hecht, has produced another chapter in the saga of the Charles K. Feldman production — work that Catch 22 author Joseph Heller did for Feldman’s project.

Duns’ research about Heller is contained in an April 20 article in The Times of London.

Heller was approached by producer Feldman after Hecht died in 1964. Hecht’s work was more of a faithful adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel.

However, according to the article, Feldman wanted to go in a more extravagant direction after Hecht’s death. Heller, who worked with novelist George Mandel as a co-writer, came aboard during this phase of the project in early 1965.

In one version of the Heller material, according to Duns, the fugitive Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele “is removing the brains of leading scientists” and storing them.

A very similar idea would be included in a March 1966 episode of The Wild Wild West, The Night of the Druid’s Blood. The series was set in the 1870s but the villain of the episode has removed the brains of scientists who are still alive, albeit disembodied. That episode was scripted by Henry Sharp, one of the show’s leading writers who earlier in his career had written for pulp magazines.

The Heller-Mandel material also includes the villain’s base is in a dormant volcano. As noted by Duns, both Our Man Flint, with James Coburn, and 1967’s You Only Live Twice featured the same concept.

Despite such flourishes, Duns says the tone of the Heller material has “a real sense of menace and suspense.”

Duns found the Heller material in the Charles K. Feldman Collection at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. Feldman’s family donated Casino Royale material in 1969 but the collection has been closed to the public until recently, according to Duns.

To read the much more detailed article, CLICK HERE. The article is behind a paywall. However, if you register for The Times’ site, you can see two free articles a month. The Times is offering a one-month free subscription plan. Duns also has his own summary of his research on his blog.

Some unanswered questions about Bond 24

Barbara Broccoli

Barbara Broccoli

It has been more than six months since Skyfall debuted in the U.K. and the 23rd James Bond film is now a home video staple. So is there anything up with the next film, Bond 24?

Probably but mostly there are unanswered questions. Such as:

How’s that director searching going, anyway? Your guess is as good as ours. Skyfall’s Sam Mendes said thanks, but no thanks for an encore.

At this point, the principals of Eon Productions, which produce the Bond films, aren’t tipping their hand, mostly talking about how Skyfall will be a tough act to follow. Eon co-boss Barbara Broccoli GAVE AN INTERVIEW TO THE TIMES OF LONDON. It’s mostly behind a paywall, but the MI6 Web site HAS A SUMMARY. One excerpt:

Asked about how they can top the incredible record-breaking $1.1 billion worldwide haul from ‘Skyfall’, Broccoli agreed it will be a tough challenge. “Yeah, it will be very difficult to compete with that film. It’ll be tough. But we’ll try.”

By contrast, when things were developing with Quantum of Solace, word leaked out that Roger Michell had been approached about directing but turned it down. Mendes’s involvement with Skyfall was reported long before it was officially announced. Nothing like that has happened — at least not yet — with Bond 24.

When will Bond 24 come out? Educated guess: Probably not until 2015. If a 2014 release were in the cards, there might be more publicity. But without a director in sight, chances are things aren’t yet that far along. Mendes was officially announced as Skyfall director IN JANUARY 2011 and filming didn’t start until November 2011.

How’s John Logan doing writing the Bond 24 script? There have been some feature stories about a play he has written but, naturally, he’s not commenting in detail about Bond 24. Something to remember: Logan was brought into Skyfall by Mendes, who won’t be around for Bond 24.

What do you mean by that? Well, when Marc Forster was hired to direct Quantum of Solace he wasn’t wowed by the script work that had taken place until then. That doesn’t mean the same thing will happen with Logan and Bond 24. But until a director is hired, fans shouldn’t assume Logan will see Bond 24 through to the end, even if Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer confirmed that Logan was hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25.

Put another way: anybody remember how Eon announced that Peter Morgan was hired to write what would become Skyfall? The man who brought Logan into the world of 007, Mendes, is gone. Things can change quickly in the movie business.

Will Michael G. Wilson, the other Eon co-boss, cut back his workload? Wilson, stepson of Eon co-founder Albert R. Broccoli and half-brother to Barbara Broccoli, is in his early 70s. He has worked on the Bond film series longer than anyone else, even his stepfather. Wilson has commented at various times going back to 1997 about how exhausting making 007 movies can be. We’ll see.

How real life may intrude on 007’s Olympics debut

This week, James Bond makes his Olympics debut during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Games in London. But real life may intrude on Bond’s appearance, at least on the U.S. broadcast, in the form of a serious real-life Olympics anniversary.

Daniel Craig’s Olympics appearance as 007 may not be the highlight of U.S. broadcast of the opening ceremonies.


While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, it looks as if 007 will be part of the opening ceremonies on July 27. This first surfaced on April 1 in a story in the U.K. newspaper, The Sun. According to that story, current 007 star Daniel Craig will play Bond in a film where he’s “knighted” by Queen Elizabeth II and heads to the Olympics site by helicopter to help get the Games started.

There have been numerous stories since in places as varied as the MI6 007 fan Web site, the London Evening Standard, the Daily Beast Web site in the U.S. and The Times of Malta, not to mention NBC’s Olympics Web site. Also, MI6 noted filming in June that seemed to be related to the Olympics film.

This has psyched up many Bond fans, including some who argue this is a de facto knighthood for Craig himself (CLICK HERE for a thread on a message board which includes that viewpoint.)

Meanwhile, in the U.S., at least, one broadcaster wants to make note during the opening ceremonies of a more somber event — the 40th anniversary of the killing of Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.

NBC’s Bob Costas, who will anchor his network’s coverage of the Olympics, intends to make note of the anniversary, including 60 seconds of silence, according to a July 18 story in the Hollywood Reporter.

An excerpt:

When the London games officially launch July 27, Bob Costas will stage his own protest of what he calls a “baffling” decision: the NBC sportscaster plans to call out the International Olympic Committee for denying Israel’s request for a moment of silence acknowledging the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the 1972 Games.

“I intend to note that the IOC denied the request,” he tells THR. “Many people find that denial more than puzzling but insensitive. Here’s a minute of silence right now.”

Assuming Costas follows through, it won’t be the first time he’s commented about the 1972 event. In the following video, there are two clips of him commenting on ABC’s Jim McKay, who announced the fate of the Israeli athletes in 1972:

Meanwhile, CLICK HERE for a short commentary in the July 21 edition of the Wall Street Journal that approves of the stand Costas is taking.