The Spy Who Loved Me’s 45th: 007 rolls with the punches

The Spy Who Loved Me poster

The Spy Who Loved Me poster

Adapted from a 2017 post.

The Spy Who Loved Me, which debuted 45 years ago, showed the cinema 007 was more than capable of rolling with the punches.

Global box office for the previous series entry, The Man With the Golden Gun, plunged almost 40 percent from Live And Let Die, the debut for star Roger Moore. For a time, things got worse from there.

The partnership between 007 producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, unsteady for years, ruptured. Eventually, Saltzman was bought out by United Artists, leaving Broccoli in command. But that was hardly the end of difficulties.

Kevin McClory re-entered the picture. He had agreed not to make a Bond movie with his Thunderball rights for a decade. That period expired and McClory wanted to get back into the Bond market. Eventually, court fights permitted Broccoli’s effort for the 10th James Bond movie to proceed while McClory couldn’t mount a competing effort.

But that still wasn’t the end of it. Numerous writers (among them, Anthony Burgess; Cary Bates, then a writer for Superman comic books; future Animal House director John Landis; and Stirling Silliphant) tried their hand at crafting a new 007 tale.

Finally, a script credited to Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum, with uncredited rewriting by Tom Mankiewicz, emerged.

Guy Hamilton originally was signed to direct his fifth Bond movie but left the project. That paved the way for the return of Lewis Gilbert, who helmed You Only Live Twice a decade earlier. It was Gilbert who brought Christopher Wood to work on the script.

The final film would resemble Twice. Spy had a tanker that swallowed up submarines where Twice had an “intruder missile” that swallowed up U.S. and Soviet spacecraft.

With Saltzman gone, Cubby made his stepson, Michael G. Wilson, a key player in the production. Wilson was already on the Eon Productions payroll and was involved in the negotiations that saw Saltzman’s departure.

For Spy, Wilson’s official credit was “special assistant to producer” and it was in small type in the main titles. However, that downplayed Wilson’s role. An early version of Spy’s movie poster listed Wilson, but not production designer Ken Adam, whose name had been included in the posters for Twice and Diamonds Are Forever.

UA, now in possession of Saltzman’s former stake in the franchise, doubled down, almost doubling the $7 million budget of Golden Gun.

In the end, it all worked. Bond shrugged off all the blows.

Spy generated $185.4 million in worldwide box office in the summer of 1977, the highest-grossing 007 film up to that point. (Although its $46.8 million in U.S. ticket sales still trailed Thunderball’s $63.6 million.)

Roger Moore, making his third Bond movie, would later (in Inside The Spy Who Loved Me documentary) call Spy his favorite 007 film.

The movie also received three Oscar nominations: for sets (designed by Adam, aided by art director Peter Lamont), its score (Marvin Hamlisch) and its title song, “Nobody Does It Better” (by Hamilsch and Carole Bayer Sager). None, however, won.

About getting around WGA writing credits

No Time to Die poster

No Time to Die already had four credited screenwriters. A fifth, Scott Z. Burns, didn’t get a credit despite a lot of publicity when he joined the project. A sixth, John Hodge was brought on during director Danny Boyle’s short-lived tenure.

And, less noticed, a seventh writer, Nick Cuse, got a “consultant” credit for No Time to Die.

Cuse had worked on projects with Boyle’s successor, Cary Joji Fukunaga. Cuse has since gone after Fukunaga on social media, claiming the director stole credit for Cuse’s work, although the scribe did NOT specify the project involved.

The Writers Guild of America is supposed to have the final say on writer credits on films and TV shows released in the U.S. But, on occasion, projects try to get around those rules.

Example: With the first two Superman movies starring Christopher Reeve, there were serious drafts (courtesy of Mario Puzo) and campy drafts (courtesy of David and Leslie Newman). Tom Mankiewicz was assigned the job of melding these, similar to how James Bond films balanced drama and humor.

For his work, Mankiewicz got a “creative consultant” credit (part of the main titles) but wasn’t part of the screenplay credit.

Another example: the 1990 Dick Tracy movie. When the film’s novelization by Max Allan Collins came out, the title page said it was based “on a screenplay by Jim Cash & Jack Epps Jr. and Bo Goldman & Warren Beatty.”

The problem: The Cash-Epps writing team filed an arbitration with the WGA. They won. They got the sole writing credit on the finished film.

Beatty was already star, producer and director, so he was fine. But Beatty slipped in an alternative credit for Goldman in the end titles.

Diamonds’ 50th: Rodney Dangerfield of 007 films

Diamonds Are Forever poster

Diamonds Are Forever poster

Adapted from a 2016 post.

When Diamonds Are Forever came out 50 years ago this month, it was a huge deal. Sean Connery was back! Everything was back to normal in 007 land.

Nowadays, Diamonds is more like the Rodney Dangerfield of James Bond films, not getting any respect.

Some fans complain about too much humor, about Connery not being in shape, about Blofeld (Charles Gray) dressing in drag as a disguise and about Bond’s wardrobe (his fat, pink tie in particular). Also, Jill St. John’s Tiffany Case at times seems a capable criminal, while at other times comes across as scatterbrained.

Perhaps the biggest advocate of the movie was former United Artists executive David Picker (1931-2019). In his 2013 memoir, Musts, Maybes and Nevers, he says Diamonds saved the Bond series because he got the idea of paying Connery a lot of money to return as 007.

Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had cast American John Gavin in the role. But UA became more hands on with the seventh film in the series compared with previous entries. UA (via Picker) didn’t want to take a chance after George Lazenby played Bond in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Regardless, Diamonds reflected the creative team’s desire to get back to the style of Goldfinger. As a result, director Guy Hamilton returned. So did production designer Ken Adam after a one-picture absence. John Barry was on board and this time Shirley Bassey would return to perform the title song.

There was new blood, however, in the form of screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, brought in to rewrite Richard Maibaum’s early drafts. Mankiewicz would work on the next four films of the series, although without credit on The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

"What does that mean, anyway?"

Q was aghast at Bond’s tie.

Mankiewicz (1942-2010), part of a family prominent in both show business and politics, still generates sharp divisions among Bond fans.

Supporters say his witty one liners enlivened the proceedings. (“At present, the satellite is over Kansas,” Blofeld muses at one point. “Well, if we destroy Kansas, the world may not hear about it for years.”) Detractors say he simply didn’t understand Bond and made things too goofy.

The writer’s initial draft actually contained more bits from Ian Fleming’s 1956 novel than would be in the final film. (This 2011 ARTICLE has more details, just scroll down to the section about the Mankiewicz draft.) Still, with Diamonds, it was now standard practice that the films need have little in common with Fleming’s novels.

The legacy of the movie is mixed. Diamonds got 007 into the 1970s. But as late as 1972, people still questioned whether the series could survive without Sean Connery. That wouldn’t be evident until after Diamonds. And the movie clearly began a lighter era for the series.

Still, Bond was Bond. The movie was a success with moviegoers. It had a worldwide box office of $116 million, an improvement from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s $82 million and You Only Live Twice’s $111.6 million.

Diamonds fell short of Goldfinger and Thunderball ($124.9 million and $141.2 million respectively). But it did well enough that Eon Productions would again try to find a successor to Connery. James Bond would return.

About the ties between British and American Bond fans

John F. Kennedy statue in Fort Worth, Texas. Kennedy helped boost the popularity of James Bond.

I stirred a hornet’s nest this week by suggesting there are some British fans of James Bond who, shall we say, aren’t fond of American fans.

I posted a typical Twitter survey on the subject. I actually was encouraged by the bulk of responses, which indicated many British fans like their American counterparts just fine.

Still, there were some reminders that the feeling isn’t universal. For example:

What makes all of this amusing is the role Americans have had with the Bond film franchise.

Albert R. Broccoli, the co-founder of Eon Productions was American. Harry Saltzman, the other co-founder, was Canadian.

Also, Broccoli’s daughter, Barbara Broccoli, and stepson, Michael G. Wilson, were Americans The United Artists executives who gave the OK (Eon has never financed Bond films) were Americans. Screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz were Americans.

What’s more, two of the people who helped increase the appeal of Bond were also American: Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy magazine, and U.S. President John F. Kennedy. I know it’s a cliche, but Kennedy listing From Russia With Love as one of his 10 favorite books helped make Bond a thing in the U.S. in the early 1960s. Hefner’s Playboy serialized Ian Fleming short stories and novels.

From Russia With Love was one of the last movies Kennedy saw at the White House before he was assassinated in 1963.

The U.S. declared independence from Britain in 1776. The two countries had a major conflict in 1812. But, for most of the time since then, the U.S. and U.K. have had what is often described as the “special relationship.”

The “special relationship” may apply to Bond fandom. But, at least in the U.K., there are dissenters. So it goes.

Live and Let Die script: More mayhem

Part of the Live And Let Die soundtrack packaging.

Live And Let Die was a rare case for the James Bond film series. Only one screenwriter, Tom Mankiewicz, was employed throughout the production.

An Oct. 2, 1972 screenplay was labeled as the shooting script. It’s close to what moviegoers would see in the summer of 1973 for Roger Moore’s debut as Bond. But the script still contains notable differences. With the excerpts below, words between asterisks were underlined in the script.

A more gruesome death: The script opens with the deaths of three agents as in the finished film. But the demise of the third agent is implied to more gruesome.

A MACHETE BLADE FLASHES INTO FRAME: A sickening laugh i heard as the blade sweeps down at BAINES. CAMERA FREEZES FRAME ON GLINTING MACHETE BLADE.

Recognition phrase: When Bond arrives in New York, he meets up with a contact named Charlie. Except in this script, there’s a recognition phrase or code involved,

Charlie attempts to introduce himself in a more conventional way. Bond instead pulls his Walther PPK on Charlie.

CHARLIE
Oh!
(mechanically)
You want to go to Shea Stadium? The Yankees are playing a double header.

BOND
(smiles, lowers gun)
The *Mets* play at Shea. The Baseball season doesn’t begin until April.

CHARLIE
My mistake.
(sighing)
Sorry – I forgot. We don’t do too much of that over here anymore. Oh – Mister Leiter wants to talk to you.

This exchange doesn’t appear in the film. But the basic notion of American operatives giving up on recognition phrases while the British stick with them would be used in 1995’s GoldenEye.

Bond’s trip to Harlem: Bond catches a cab to Harlem while following a group of Dr. Kananga’s associates. For some reason, the cab driver addresses Bond as “Jim” twice even though no introduction had been made. In the film, as in this script, the driver shows up again in New Orleans calling Bond “Jim.”

Tombstones: Mr. Big/Kananga tells Bond that, “Names are for tombstones, baby.” In the film, it’s come out as, “Names is for tombstones, baby.” The latter is sometimes used as a catchphrase among Bond fans.

Bond dispatches Mr. Big’s thugs: Bond is being led from Mr. Big/Kananga’s New York office to be killed by two thugs. The description is a bit more violent than in the film.

As in the film, Bond uses a steel grating from a fire escape. The grating is coming at Bond’s face but the agent ducks. The grating “slams into GUARD ONE’s face with a terrifying crunch.” Bond gets the thug’s gun as the man falls. Bond then gets behind the first thug as the second fires. That shot kills the first thug. Bond shoots the second to death.

Bond arrives in San Monique: There is a scene that’s not in the movie. Bond goes through customs upon arrival. The customs area has photos of Dr. Kananga and “propaganda messages for San Monique.” Bond doesn’t notice that the customs official he’s dealing with takes a photo of the agent’s passport photo.

Bond’s San Monique bungalow: The scene is very similar to the final film but there are a few key differences. Bond manages to decapitate the snake intended to kill him. Rosie Carver is described as “a beautiful WHITE GIRL.” After Bond tosses her on the bed she is “semi-naked, her dress having been torn in half.” The part was played by Black actress Gloria Hendry in the movie.

Continuity: Bond and Rosie charter a boat. She doesn’t know it belongs to Quarrel Jr., who’s working with Bond. Eventually, the agent makes an introduction. “Rosie Carver – meet the man who shares my hairbrush – Quarrel Jr. His father and I locked horns with a Doctor named No several years ago.” The latter line wouldn’t make the final film.

Shark gun: This weapon, which fires gas-filled pellets, is introduced during the boat sequence of the script. After told about the gun by Quarrel Jr., Bond fires a pellet into the mouth of a shark. “CAMERA HOLDS ON SHARK as it suddenly *begins to inflate to several times normal size*, the huge balloon-like fish now disappearing in the wake of the fishing boat.”

Rosie’s death: In the movie, she is killed by a gun hidden in a Baron Samedi-style scarecrow. In this script, she’s running away from Bond when she “suddenly *jumps off the side of the road*, disappears from view.” It’s a long fall. “ROSIE’s body lies broken and mangled in a stone quarry some hundred feet below.”

New Orleans airport: Bond eventually meets up with Solitaire and takes her to New Orleans. The sequence set at that city’s airport has considerably more mayhem than in the final film.

Among other things, Bond attempts to take off in the Bleeker flying school plane (with kindly Mrs. Bell aboard). But he uses a runway where two private planes are landing. There are combined plane and car crashes. The gag where the wings of the Bleeker plane are torn off is in the script but adds Mrs. Bell feinting.

Toward the end of the sequence, the plane’s controls won’t respond. The aircraft hits a fence, its propeller cutting through the fence. The plane comes down at a 45-degree angle. Bond is hanging upside down, held in place by his seat belt. “He looks over at MRS. BELL who moans, starts to come out of her coma.”

Felix Leiter later summarizes events.

“Not too bad. Extensive damage to the hangar, five planes, four cars, and a forty foot section of fence. Not to mention giving a seventy-year-old Granny the worst jolt she’s had since her wedding night. Christ, James, what a way to sneak into town.”

Boat chase: This was the action centerpiece of the film. This script’s version is more frantic. For example, a boat towing a pyramid of water skiers gets in the middle of the chase. The skiers stay upright for quite a while before they inevitably come tumbling down.

Also, a boat involved in the chase goes from the water onto a golf course. A member of a foursome is about to attempt a 30-foot putt. He jerks, striking his golf ball involuntarily as one of the villain boats lands in a nearby bunker. Naturally, the putt proves successful.

The end: In this script, there is no Baron Samedi riding the train engine. Instead we have this symbolic ending of what Bond and Solitaire are doing. Perhaps it was an homage by Mankiewicz of North by Northwest.

EXT. TRAIN TRACK JUNCTION CLOSE ON RED SIGNAL NIGHT

CAMERA CLOSE on a large, circular sign hanging over one track at a central train junction: A red light blinks on and off over the words: *NO ENTRY*. With a loud “ding,” the sign flips down, is replaced by a bright, blinking green light as BOND’s train whistles through, and off into the distance…

FADE OUT

THE END

Yaphet Kotto dies

Yaphet Kotto with Roger Moore in Live And Let Die

Yaphet Kotto, who played the villain in the first Roger Moore James Bond movie, Live And Let Die, has died at 81, according to website Comicbook.com, which cited a post by Kotto’s official Facebook site.

Kotto played Dr. Kananga, prime minister of the fictional Caribbean island of San Monique. Kananga also impersonates American gangster Mr. Big, who operates out of Harlem in New York City. Kotto’s character, with both identities, opposes Moore’s Bond in his first 007 film outing.

All of that was a major change dreamed up by Tom Mankiewicz, the sole screenwriter for Live And Let Die.

In the documentary Inside Live And Let Die, Mankiewicz said he was approached by Eon Productions about what Ian Fleming novel he’d like to adapt. Mankiewicz was the second scribe on Eon’s Diamonds Are Forever, which featured the return of Sean Connery as James Bond. It was a hit and Eon wanted Mankiewicz back.

The screenwriter, in the documentary, quoted himself as saying he wanted to do Live And Let Die because it was edgier. The book was Fleming’s second Bond novel and featured Bond against Black villains in New York, Florida and the Caribbean.

Kotto had a long career. His credits included 1979’s Alien, Across 110th Street and a first-season Hawaii Five-O episode as a U.S. soldier suffering a head injury who thinks he’s back in Vietnam.

UPDATE (2 a.m., New York Time): Variety has a story about Kotto’s death that includes a confirmation from his agent.

A trivia note: Both Kotto and his Live And Let Die co-star, Julius W. Harris (Tee Hee), played Uganda President Idi Amin in competing productions about the 1976 Israeli raid at Entebbe. Harris appeared first (in a show produced on video tape) on ABC, while Kotto was on a filmed NBC production. The latter was directed by Irvin Kershner, who’d later helm The Empire Strikes Back and Never Say Never Again.

About that ‘James Bond knockoff’ thing

A James Bond Jr. character with a pencil communicator that looks a lot like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. pen communicator

A James Bond friend of mine misses much spy entertainment as examples of “James Bond knockoffs.”

OK. But the James Bond film franchise has, more than once, borrowed from others. A few examples:

From Russia With Love: Ian Fleming’s fifth novel didn’t include a sequence where Bond dodges a helicopter. This was something the filmmakers added to the movie to add visual excitement. Clearly, it’s an “homage” to North by Northwest where a crop-duster plane goes after Cary Grant.

More broadly, the Bond series owes a lot to North by Northwest. NxNW has a delicate balance of drama and humor. Director Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Ernest Lehman practically provide a blueprint for the Bond series that Eon Productions would go on to make.

Live And Let Die: The eighth Eon Bond film is based on Fleming’s second novel. But its popularity also owes much to the early 1970s “blaxplotation” craze. Essentially director Guy Hamilton and screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz drop Bond into the middle of a blaxplotation movie. Mankiewicz wanted to cast Diana Ross as Solitaire but Eon wouldn’t go that far.

The Man With The Golden Gun: The ninth Eon Bond film sought to take advantage of the popularity of 1970s kung fu movies. You’d see stories (ahead of the film’s release) about how Roger Moore was training furiously to credibly do martial arts.

Moonraker: In 1966, there was an Italian-based spy movie called Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die. It shares Brazilian locations with 1979’s Moonraker. Heck, you could easily argue the 1966 movie makes better use of Brazil, including Rio’s massive Jesus statue. Also, there are sequences of the 1966 movie that would practically be repeated in Moonraker.

In addition to all that, in Moonraker, we hear a key tune from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Licence to Kill: Bond has a gun with attachments (site, extended barrel, extended magazine, rifle stock) that looks an awfully lot like the U.N.C.L.E. special. In Licence to Kill, the base gun looks like a camera but all the attachments look like the attachments of the U.N.C.L.E. Special.

James Bond Jr.: Many fans disavow this early 1990s cartoon series. But it was officially sanctioned by Eon and Michael G. Wilson shares a “developed by” credit. In episode 9, “The Eiffel Missile,” a character has a pencil communicator that appears copied from U.N.C.L.E.’s pen communicator that debuted in the second season of that series.

Co-author discusses Nobody Does It Better

Cover to Nobody Does It Better

Mark A. Altman is an executive producer of television series such as Pandora. He also writes books with Edward Gross. The two have come out with Nobody Does It Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond.

The book runs more than 700 pages. It includes the viewpoints about 150 people, including those directly involved with the film series (producers, directors, writers, actors) as well as observers and followers of the film series.

The blog interviewed Altman by email.

QUESTION: What made you want to tackle a book about James Bond?

ALTMAN: After writing bestselling books on Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica, I was pretty much done, but my co-writer wanted to keep going. For me, they’re basically passion projects so I told him I was done and then I took a dramatic pause and said: “unless we could do a book on James Bond.”

Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, our agent sold it immediately and I found myself committed to it in short order. But I don’t regret it because I had more fun writing this than any book we did previously and it’s my favorite of all the oral histories we’ve written on a subject that is very near and dear to me.

Q: What does your bring to the table that other books haven’t covered?

ALTMAN: As Han Solo says, that’s the real trick isn’t it? I’ve been reading books about 007 since I was a kid and am a big fan of much of the scholarship about the Bond franchise. So the real question was what we could bring to the table that was different from previous books on the subject,. I had no interest in just covering the same ground given that books like Steve Rubin’s The James Bond FIlms and Raymond Benson’s Bedside Companion were dog-eared parts of my childhood and later I devoured John Cork’s Encyclopedia and, more recently, the wonderful Some Kind Of Hero.

Unlike with Star Trek where there were a lot of books, but most of them sucked, this was a subject where the bar was very, very high.  In terms of making it different, we seized on the format combining both making of behind-the-scenes and critical analysis which is what we all do every time we watch a Bond film and that made it different. It was also important to talk to as many people as possible, especially those who haven’t talked about working on a 007 film before or talk to them in a level of depth that hadn’t occurred before.

Q: How did you split up the work with your co-author Edward Cross?

ALTMAN: We basically split the book and then flip it. That’s essentially what we did here with Ed writing from The Road To Bond through On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and then I took over and wrote from Casino Roayle 1967 to License To Kill and then he took over the rest and then we flipped it and added and revised each other’s work.

Q: How long did the book take to complete? You’re a showrunner and that can be time-consuming by itself.

ALTMAN: The biggest problem for me is time since I have a day job running a TV show. It’s been a problem in the past on other books as well where I start during hiatus and then get busy on a TV series and have limited time to do interviews and then write and promote. This was no different, but we spent about two years on it off and on and I think it shows in the quality of the book.

On the other hand, my day job often gives me access I wouldn’t get strictly as a journalist. I also was able to revisit some interviews I did back when I was a journalist like Tom Mankiewicz which I never got to use and finally was able to share in this book and he was a national treasure so that was a real incentive for me to do this book as well.

Q: What was the biggest surprise (an anecdote, piece of information or something else) you encountered while working on the book?

ALTMAN: There’s so much to unpack here. One of the most interesting stories was Jeff Kleeman, the former president of United Artists, explaining what really happened with Timothy Dalton leaving the franchise for Pierce. Also, there are some great stories from Woody Allen about Casino Royale 1967 and I felt that Paul Haggis who did his first in-depth interview on Casino Royale and Quantum really had some terrific insight into how Quantum went off-the-rails.

I also loved so much of the Yaphet Kotto and Jane Seymour stories about Live And Let Die that go a little deeper than what we’ve heard before about that film and, of course, a real deep dive examining the Pierce era which it hasn’t really gotten before. There are also some great stories from John Landis about The Spy Who Loved Me which I thought were fantastic.

Q: What’s your analysis of where the series stands now? What impact will the delay in the release have?

ALTMAN: I was really disappointed when No Time To Die was pushed to Thanksgiving, but obviously in retrospect it was a very smart and necessary decision. I’m really hoping that it is a fitting capper to the Craig era and takes its cues from Casino Royale not to mention On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and doesn’t double down on the family drama of Spectre.

But I always go into every 007 movie hoping it’ll be the best one ever and sometimes I more disappointed than others. I actually think the release date might help the film as it could play all through the holidays. It’s not unlike when Force Awakens got bumped from summer and ended up being a huge hit for Christmas and changed the whole release pattern for Star Wars films with Solo proving a notable outlier.

Q: Is there something you’d like to add?

ALTMAN: I’m really proud of this book. I think anyone who is a fan of the James Bond films and the spy mania films they spawned in the ’60s is going to enjoy this book. No matter how much you think you know about 007, you’re likely to find some new and fascinating information and also some wonderful arguments that will potentially engage and enrage you as well. But that’s the fun of being a Bond fan.

Anyone who was alive in 1983 still is fighting the same battle of Octopussy vs. Never Say Never Again and that’s what this book is in a nutshell. Not to mention there are some GREAT Never Say Never Again stories in here. Barbara Carrera and Dick Clement were two of my favorite interviews despite the fact that I really don’t like that movie very much :))

The book is available in hardcover, digital and audiobook and a great way to spend your time in social isolation if nothing else.

To view the Amazon listing for Nobody Does It Better, CLICK HERE. You can follow Mark A. Altman at Twitter and Instagram @markaaltman. To read a review of the book from The Associated Press, CLICK HERE.

Broccoli & Wilson talk up diversity in Bond films

Barbara Broccoli, boss of Eon Productions

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions have talked up how the James Bond film series has embraced diversity over its almost 58-year history in an interview with the Blackfilm website.

We’ve always tried to have diversity in the films,” Wilson said in the interview.

“We’ve always had international casts, and they’ve all been different ethnicities,” Wilso added. “So it’s nothing new. However, people are more sensitive to what they want to see, and when they see it — they point it out. I think we have a great diverse cast from all over the world. It’s in keeping with the times, but I think we’ve always been a little ahead of the times.”

Barbara Broccoli added the following: “Look at Live and Let Die, which was 1973. It was one of the first interracial relationships, Bond with Gloria Hendry. I mean, it’s crazy.”

Fact check: In Dr. No, Sean Connery’s Bond told Quarrel to “fetch my shoes.” This occurred seven years after the Montgomery bus boycott (a major event in the U.S. civil rights movement) and hasn’t aged well since.

What’s more, Live And Let Die screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz got shot down when he proposed that Solitaire (Jane Seymour in the movie) be played by an African American actress. So Bond films weren’t that ahead of the times. (Soliaire was written as a white woman in Ian Fleming’s novel.)

Broccoli also talked about Lashana Lynch and Ana de Armas:

“These women have trained like you can’t imagine. They are absolutely in tip-top, peak condition, and they could take anyone on. It is not just strength; it’s flexibility. Your muscles have to be in good condition, you have to be able to stop and start. So it’s a constant training thing. And then they have weapons training. They have to look like they know how to shoot a weapon, and you want them to be safe, and you want them to look good. It’s been a long, intensive training program for both of them.”

Broccoli also talked up how No Time to Die ties up the Daniel Craig era for Bond films.

“I think the story is really an accumulation of the past four films and this one. So the five-film cycle, and I think the arc of his character — particularly the emotional arc of his character, is completed. We feel it’s a very satisfying conclusion to his movies; hopefully, the audiences will too.”

Maibaum’s ‘circular’ script structure

Christopher Reeve (right) with Roger Moore during filming of Octopussy.

A few James Bond films utilize a structure that, for the purposes of this post, I am crediting to veteran screenwriter Richard Maibaum (1909-1991).

That’s the “circular” structure — the audience sees something at or near the start of the movie that is repeated (with key variations) at the climax.

With the following examples, it’s difficult to give Maibaum full credit. Other screenwriters worked on the Bond films involved. But Maibaum is the only constant. So, without further ado:

From Russia With Love (1963): The film opens with James Bond apparently being stalked — and then killed — by Red Grant (Robert Shaw). However, Grant has only killed a double as part of a training exercise.

Grant kills Bond’s double using a garrotte hidden inside a watch. Later, Grant tries to kill the real Bond (Sean Connery) with the garrotte during a fight sequence on the Orient Express. Naturally, Bond turns the tables on Grant.

Caveat: Both Johanna Harwood (who got an “adapted by” credit) and Len Deighton (uncredited) also worked on the script.

The Man With the Golden Gun (1974): The film opens with a gangster (Marc Lawrence) hired to take out Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) on his home grounds, including a “fun house.”

Scaramanga has to scramble before he finally dispatches the gangster. Much later, James Bond (Roger Moore) is lured into the “fun house.” Bond loses his own Walther PPK. But he kills Scaramanga taking a PPK from a life-sized 007 figure.

Caveat:  Tom Mankiewicz was the original screenwriter, then Maibaum was brought in. Mankiewicz did the final rewrites.

Octopussy (1983): After the main titles, a 00-agent disguised as a clown flees from a circus. He’s fatally wounded by twin assassins who are also circus performers.

Toward the climax of the film, Bond (Roger Moore) is disguised as a clown — the same getup as his doomed predecessor — and manages to deactivate an atomic bomb just in the nick of the time.

Caveat: Octopussy began as a script with an effort by George Macdonald Fraser, which was later rewritten by Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson.