The ultimate Bond was always the ultimate movie star - best man at Cubby Broccoli's wedding. Cary Grant! He had embodied the perfect secret agent in Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious, 1946, “He had the style, the sophistication,” said Cubby. “He also happened to be a Bond aficionado.” However, he was not interested in the idea of sequels. So that was zat!
[courtesy Daniel Bouteiller/Telé Ciné Documentation]
BOND. JAMES BOND.
A kinescope recording of the first Casino Royale with the first screen Bond finally emerged as an extra on the MGM DVD of the second Casino Royale . It had been mentioned in most articles, books and analysis of the Bond phenomenon so, naturally, the CBS relic was both fascinating and disappointing. No charm. No suspense. No sense. Merely... quaint.
1954 Barry Nelson played Bond, “Jimmy Bond” (more like a Big Apple cop with a crew-cut) in the live hour version of Casino Royale, during the CBS Climax Mystery Theatre series on October 21, 1954. The tele-film was re-titled Too Hot To Handle and so, the first Bond Girl was not 1962’s Ursula Andress but Tyrone Power’s Dutch-Mexican wife, Linda Christian, as Valerie Mathis. Peter Lorre was an adequate villain, Le Chiffre.
Paradoxically, Michael Pate as Clarence Leiter, no less, was really Bond - a British Secret Service agent… in a far better tuxedo and bow-tie than US agent Jimmy’s clobber. Hiding his Aussie accent, Pate was trapped in the laundry list scenes as Nelson played Bond with all the allure of a deer trapped in the headlights
Aged 89, Nelson died, appropriately enough, in 2007.
Hollywoodians had no idea what they had. Nor it seemed did Ian Fleming. Even after the notorious (but not Notorious) CBS emasculation of Casino Royale. He said “there are plenty of bullets left in Bond’s gun” and tried to set up not one, but two TV series. He went to NBC with the Bond-inspired spy show called, Commander Jamaica, and then back to CBS, touting a more explicitly Bond idea. Neither notion even reached the pilot stage. Meanwhile, the author had sold the book’s rights to the Russian-born “actor”-“director” Gregory Ratoff - who would have made a wonderfully hammy Auric Goldfinger - and they fell into his agent’s grasp, hence the flying awful circus his agent-turned-producer Charles K Feldman made of it in the swinging London of 1966.
To be honest, Britain’s film-makers were no wiser than Hollywood or Fleming… The UK’s greatest action export was turned down by Alexander Korda (a top producer who should have known better) and the Rank Organisation (which never knew anything). Korda loved Live and Let Die but was more interested in the new writer than than his hero…
Korda wrote to Fleming: “Your book is one of the most exciting I have ever read, I really could not put it down Would you be interested in writing for the cinema? I feel that the best stories for films are always the stories that are written specially for films.”
At Pinewood studios, Rank’s top producer Betty Box confessed to me in the 60s how she was introduced to 007 by journalist Nancy Spain. “She kept praising Casino Royale which, she said, should be filmed. I agreed it was splendid, though not quite in my sphere. Nancy kept on and on about it... even when the next two books came out. I still said: No.” She then laughed... but not as if she meant it.
1955 At 43, John Payne, a tougher Ray Milland with a wide chest and a Cary Grant chin cleft and, often enough, the necessary comma of black hair, was preparing for his retirement. He had already made a success in real estate (and more so in 1946 from the Christmas classic, Miracle on 34th Street, which he’d pushed Fox into making, with much of his money (hence the starring role!). Now he saw Bond as an additional pension plan.
The musical turned action star was the first Hollywoodian to show any interest in 007 - and not for one film, but a full series. He bought the Moonraker rights, paying a monthly $1,000 option for nine months. He only quit further negotiations when finding he could not secure all the books. And that Rank had shelled out £5,000 for the Moonraker rights - if only to block Hollywood. The Rank (indeed!) Bond would have been Dirk Bogarde. Owch!
Not that Payne would have been any better. Fleming knew little about Payne, a journeyman performer who had made more than 50 movies at that point. Fleming, of course, knew diddley-squat about movies, having told his Hollywood pal, Claudette Colbert, that year that she “would be the perfect heroine” for any of his books that mght be filmed. Colbert was then 51.
In fact, not everyone in America knew Payne, either. . In 1953, the Los Angeles Examiner review of Rails Into Laramie referred to John Payne as… John Wayne. A fellow Universal-International contract star, Mara Corday, recalled him in their Restless Gun series, 1957-1959. “He had one expression - a raised eyebrow!” Hmm, an early Roger Moore…
1956 Far from Holly and Pinewood, a South African radio station turned Moonraker into a radio thriller(TV would not begin there for another 20 years!). The radio Bond was Bob Holness. And so,the Natal born Robert Wentworth John Holness become the second actor to portray 007.He finished up acting in - or presenting - TV shows in Britain.
Where, by the way, did Bond come from? High among Fleming’s influences was espionage (and occult) author Dennis Wheatley. His WWII CV matched Fleming’s. So did his own secret agent hero - suave, ruthless, orphaned at a young age, expelled from apublic school, smoking exotic cigarettes, had a facially scarred, bedding beautiful women and repeatedly saved the world from megalomaniacal villains. Only thing different washis hero’s cockeyed name. Sallust, Gregory Sallust.
Fleming, himself, insisted Bond was “a combination of all the secret agents and commando types” he encountered while serving with the British Naval Intelligence Division during WWII. Certainly, his boss, Rear Admiral John Henry Godfrey, was the model for M.
As for his looks, Fleming once drew him as a matrix for the comic-strip looking rather like Sherlock Holmes. (Ironically, one reader at the Jonathan Cape publishers complained that Bond “talks as though he were Dr Watson”).
And as for his name., Fleming wrote to a Mrs James Bond in Philadelphia on June 20, 1961. “I will confess at once that your husband has every reason to sue me in every possible position and for practically every kind of libel in the book, for I will now confess the damnable truth…. I was determined that my secret agent should be as anonymous a personality as possible, even his name should be the very reverse of the kind of Peregrine Carruthers whom one meets in this type of fiction, At that time one of my bibles was, and still is, Birds of the West Indies, by James Bond and it struck me that this name, unromantic and yet very masculine, was just wha I needed and so James Bond II was born and started off on the career that, I must confess, has been meteoric, culminating with his choice by your President as his favourite thriller hero.”
CBS invited Fleming to write a Bond series. He flew to the US in for talks in June, but but said his nephew, Fergus, “for one reason and another, the deal fell through.” One of his scripts had 007 connected with motor-racing - an idea picked up by Anthony Horowitz for the 25th Continuation Bond book, Trigger Mortis, in 2015
By November. Fleming was introduced to another producer who wanted to develop Bond for the cineda. Kevin McClory. He will return. To everyone’s misfortune…
1958 Long before Cubby and Harrry (he never foresaw the triumph), David Niven had tried to buy the 007 rights… for a TV series. Or, he asked pal Fleming if he could think of another suitable hero for him to play – “a high-class crook, a la Raffles or a super-modern Sherlock Holmes. (Again, Holmes!]. Will you, dear chum, look back through your files and come up with something a little off-beat that would suit me?” He offered a £1,000 for the chore. Fleming replied, he was just back from New York after working on just such a project “but for an entire television series.” However, Fleming no wish to entangle his copyright with Niven. Of course, Niven played Bond (among the many) is the first Casino Royale. And Fleming relinquished his rights to his Napoleon Solo series – that became The Man From UNCLE
1959 Hardly surprising, as it would eventually make the UNCLE shows, MGM was next on the Bond scent… Or at least Maurice Winnick was and this TV producer claimed links to Metro. Then, another old Fleming pal, financier Ivar Bruce, decided to become a film producer. He had a modest hit with The Boy and The Bridge - directed by a certain Irishman called Kevin McClory. Bruce offered to start a studio called Xanadu and give Fleming $560,000-worth of shares in exchange for one Bond story. He knocked one off. However, Winnick and Bruce folded their intents. McClory remained keen and silver-tongued…
Robert Knitte was not an editor for long at Jonathan Cape’s book publishers, but long enough to advise Fleming to get an agent to sort out the dog's breakfast he was making of trying to OK movie deals with Zanadu and Rank. And, oh yes, damn nearly selling Russia for $10,000 to producer Hubbell Robinson (87th Precinct and Burt Reynolds’ Hawk) as a Bond pilot for a 44-episode CBS series with James Mason as 007. Wise this once (or was it Knitte’s sagesse), Fleming chose Laurence Evans, the UK agent of numerous stars, toppermost the mighty Sir Laurence Olivier. (While accused of a lack of patriotism by living in Hollywood, Olivier was, in fact, working (under Korda) as a secret agent for the Special Operations Executive and MI5, at Winston Churchill’s behest, to help persuade influential Americans to support Britain in WWII. He then returned to the UK in 1941 and joined the Fleet Air Arm, completing 456 flying hours in the war).
By July, agent and client fretted about the Rank situation - did Rank own Moonraker or the entire farm? Neither, as it blissfully turned out.
What followed proved a convoluted and highly recriminatory tripartite with Fleming, Bryce and McClory was planning the first Bond movie, James Bond of the British Secret Service (aka James Bond, Secret Agent)… [The full story is in the Thunderball page]. McClory invested less money but knew more than his colleagues about film-making. He was associate producer of two John Huston films plus Mike Todd’s Around The World In 80 Days. (He actually introduced Elizabeth Taylor to Todd, her third husband). Kevin also did more about the project, locating directors (Guy Hamilton among them), finding writers to improve on Flemings’s Boy’s Own-ish scripts (as non-visual as his books), even taking up scuba-driving and testing underwater cameras. McClory devised much of the scenario - penned by himself and Jack Whittingham, with precious little help from Fleming.
“They’d had real trouble with Fleming’s novels,” recalled Sylvan Whittingham, daughter of the writer who made Bond filmable. “The violent, sadistic, colder, misosygnistic Bond of the books didn’t work on the big screen. There was no humour, no charm. Daddy turned Bond into the suave hero they needed. Thunderball was the one on which all the others were based, it gave the formula for what would succeed.”
Everything was aimed at Alfred Hitchcock. If smitten, Hitch would take it all over and that, felt Fleming, would help rid them of McClory. Hitch was hunting a thriller for James Stewart (!). Paul Dehn (not yet an 007 scripter) suggested the still rather overly theatrical Richard Burton - or Peter Finch. (Both became future Hollywood choices). Acccording to his cousin Christopher Lee, Fleming insisted Bond be English and named James Mason - already chosen for an unmade 1959 tele-film of From Russia With Love, as a pilot for a 44-episode series. Fleming accepted $10,000 from producer Hubbell Robinson (87th Precinct and Burt Reynolds' Hawk). McClory voted Trevor Howard, then the rather rough trade Richard Harris, while keeping his own Bond in reserve - a fellow Irishman, but of course. Enter: Terence Cooper. Terry had to wait a further decade before being 007 - among four other Bonds - in the lamentable circus made of Casino Royale, 1967
1960 Work continued on Bond in the Bahamas - Fleming, himself, came up with the final title: Thunderball - as the back-stabbing trio was still convinced it had an almost God-like right to make the first ever Bond film. Not so, due to the cavalier way Fleming had sold off some of his books. People with those rights were now thinking of using them, if only as a nuisance value: enticing the author to buy back the rights. He did buy Moonraker back from Gregory Ratoff for $5,000. But Ratoff, first to buy Bond, and then allowing the abysmal TVersion of Jimmy Bond, was suddenly announcing a big-screen Casino Royale, at his usual studio, 20th Century Fox - with Peter Finch. MCA looked over Fleming's second draft (using most of McClory-Whittingham's ideas) and felt it could go at Fox with Stephen Boyd - or at Warners with Finch.
McClory. meantime, gave up talks with ex-lover Shirley MacLaine and was chatting up Brigitte Bardot for Domino. He was given six months to set up Thunderball - when no one new who had rights to be first anymore. After what could be called a draft - Notorious - the truth is, of course, that Hitchcock had already made the first Bond film, North By North West. Why else had Thunderball previously been titled Longtitude 78 West or Latitude 25...? Hitch, of course, had done it differently. Eva Marie Saint was Bond and Cary Grant, the girl... Just as the snobbish Fleming was now Iago to Ivar Bryce's Othello as McClory was to be snuffed out like Desdemona. Except the Irishman fought back. With all the tenacity of Bond, himself.
Eons after I launched my often derided Hitchcock/Bond theory, I was rather chuffed to find that the latest Bondsmith, Sam Mendes, agreed with me. For Sam, the root of Bond movies was not Fleming but Hitch. “North by Northwest is the first true Bond movie,” he told Hollywood Reporter in 2012. “And Cary Grant is the antecedent of Bond. And that is the ideal, almost, of a thriller. And it also has great action sequences in it and great romance. You can see the echoes of that movie throughout the '60s movies. You know, Connery, when he started, was an echo of Cary Grant. Cary Grant was the real thing. He was the sexiest and the most suave - the best actor. We’d all like to get North by Northwest. It doesn't get any better than that.”
1961 Harry Saltzman buys an option on all 007 books, excepting Casino Royale… The Canadian producer, who helped start the UK New Wave with screen versions of the John Osborne’s plays, Look Back in Anger and The Entertainer, seemed an odd bedmate for Fleming.
So why a deal with Harry? It was 40 years before his family found out why Saltzman and his Woodfall Films were interested in espionage… Following a routine request about moving from LA to Quebec, his daughter Hilary, discovered that her father, who served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, had also worked for the Psychological Warfare Division of US Office of War Information (OWI) under Robert E Sherwood - a post that requiring instant US citizenship. All this was news to the Saltzman kin.
Harry’s secret WWII missions included being stationed in Algiers. Fleming was spent time there. It is possible, even probable, they “crossed paths” there, long before their official first meeting in 1961 - when Fleming gave Saltzman a six month option to film the Bond books excepting Casino Royale. And why? Saltzman’s daughter, Hilary, believed the two men shared some similar experiences - “even though they couldn’t publicize it,” she told Vanity Fair in 2012. “I really think Ian felt that this series was safe in my father’s hands.”
The option cost: $50,000. Saltzman could easily afford it. He could not, however, raise any backing for a full movie. No studio or distributor felt a British spy could fly.
Saltzman was five months into his option deal when the London based US producer Albert R (or Cubby) Broccoli was telling one of his scenarists, Wolf Mankowitz, how he longed to put 007 on film. “Oh really,” said Wolf. “Well, I know the guy who has the rights. I’ll introduce you.”
And that, said Cubby, was when
“the duck fell out of the ceiling.”
Broccoli (yes, the family created what he termed the “upper-class cabbage”) knew he was on the right track when the March 17, 1961 Life magazine numbered From Russia With Love fifth among President JFK’s 18 favourite books. The rest included the Churchill biographies of Malborough, plus others on John Quncy Adams, John Buchan, Byron, Lincoln, Andre Malraux, Melbourne, Montrose, Talleyrand… and Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Only other fiction listed,(at #3), was Stendah’s Le rouge et noir. Bond would get more US paise when the (soon to be azxed) CIA chief Allen Dulles, himself, said he wished the CIA had a half-a-dozen James Bonds!
Cubby had already tried to buy the 007 rights the previous year but had to miss the crucial meeting with Fleming when Mrs Broccoli fell ill. Cubby sent his Warwick Films partner, Irving Allen, to act for him. (Or them?) Trouble was Allen was no Bond fan. “These books,” he told Fleming, “are not even good enough for television.” End of meeting! And the start of Broccoli’s split from Allen.
Therefore, another partnership was far from his mind when Cubby met Harry. Broccoli’s aimed to buy Saltzman out of his option. Harry, however, was not surrendering anything, thank you very much. Hence, a new partnership was born, between the odd couple of an American action-movie producer and the Canadian (or was he?) supporter of the British New Wave.They agree d“we shall equally share” the rights to all Bond books. (The seventh, Goldfinger, was in bookshops at the time). Thanks to Broccoli’s Hollywood contacts (he used to work for Howard Hughes), Cubby won $1million from United Artists for one film during a 45-minute meeting on June 20.
David V Picker was the new head of production (and future head honcho) at UA. By chance, he had already been turned on to Bond by his brother-in-law, who recommended checking in o the rights situation… By another chance, Lew Wasserman, the biggest agent in movies - Ian Fleming was among his clients - flew into New York to break bread with the big brass at UA. Picker couldn’t wait. And he started the meeting ahead of his boss, Arthur Krim. “Mr. Wasserman, why can’t we get the rights to James Bond? It would be great for Mr Hitchcock - we’ve never made a film with him. It’s perfect.”
“Great idea, kid, but Fleming just won’t sell.”
The problem was that Ian Fleming
didn’t think much of movies!
And that is why it took nine years (and seven books) before 007 hit the screen when, as Picker phrased it, any intelligent studio production executive should have recognised that Bond was a franchise waiting to happen.
His next visitors, a few months later, were Cubby and Harry and their lawyer, Irving Moskowitz. Picker, as per usual, sat with one leg propped on the corner of the desk to help tilt his chair back. This time, Cubby opened the conversation. “We own the rights to James Bond - are you interested?” And Picker‘s chair hit the floor.
“I said in no uncertain terms that we would make a deal and that the key to the film[s] was spending enough money to maintain Fleming's tone in the sensuality, style, action and wit of the books. They never left that office until we had a deal. ”
On July 6, Cubby and Harry created Eon as the Bond production company. (Barbara Broccoli, his daughter and future 007 producer, was then a year old).
OK, they had the director and scenarist, Terence Young and Richard Maibaum, from several of Cubby’s Warwick films. All they needed was Bond.
Like Cary Grant in From Russia With Love directed by Howard Hawks (or Hitchcock!) for Cubby Broccoli. Hawks was also asked to helm Casino Royale in 1966 by his ex-agent-turned-producer Charles Feldman. After catching an early screening of Dr No, Hawks knew his place - and Sean’s! - and withdrew.
Broccoli had been Hawks’ assistant director for the two weeks they’d worked on The Outlaw in 1940, before Howard Hughes decided to control every-thang! The whole Jane Russell experience influenced Cubby’s future Bond Girl tit-tests. Like Cary Grant, Hawks (better Hawks and Grant) was a great notion... Eight years earlier, the director had discovered the first Bond Girl, Ursula Andress,at age 17. Hawks first wanted her to play the treacherous princess Nellifer in his Egyptian epic, Land of the Pharaohs, and then attempted to put her under contract, starting with Man’s Favourite Sport… which finally started shooting after Dr No was done and dusted.
“Bond’s a good idea and
I like it,” said Cary Grant.
Cary had been Cubby’s best man at his third marriage - just as Broccoli had also introduced Hawks to his iconic (second) wife, “Slim” Gross, the matrix for all Hawksian (and one might add, Bondian) women. Hitchcock had also beern requested because, after all, Cary Grant’s secret agent in Notorious, 1946, was a virtual template for 007. “Cary had the style, the sophistication,” said Cubby. “He also happened to be a Bond aficionado.”
That’s why, Grant said, he couldn’t be Bond. “How old Cary Grant” had just turned 58, Also, he never did sequels...
The first of the Bond series was due to be Thunderball until he designated producer and co-writer Kevin McClory refused any deals until the outcome of his court action against Ian Fleming for basing his book on this script. Scenarist Richard Maibaum switched to adapting Dr No (five times) and before Terence Young signed to direct, Guy Green, Guy Hamilton, Ken Hughes refused.
Incidentally, after releven days's work on Lolita, Peter Sellers and Stanley Kubrick were such a mutual admiration society, they began mulling over more joint projects. Kubrick wanted to make From Russia With Love as a parody with Sellers as 007, an idea that came true in the first Casino Royale, 1967- a project with far too many egos. And jolts.
“What do you think?” asked Fleming.
“Two films? Three? That’s about it.
Then, the joke will be over.”
The hunt for 007 had begun. Burton and Mason (Hamilton had made his Touch of Larceny, 1959) were mentioned. Fleming was also keen on Trevor Howard, Michael Redgrave, Edward Underdown - all too old to maintain credibility, never mind a series... if everyone got lucky. Underdown, a previous Terence Young star, turned up as an Air Vice-Marshall in the eventual Thunderball.
“Fleming thought David Niven [Sir James Bond in Casino Royale] would have made a great James Bond,” said Maibaum, “but David wasn’t all that physical." Next? Roger Moore. “I was, apparently on the short list,” he said in 2008. “I wasn’t aware of that, nor was I approached.” Saltzman was prepared to go with him but Broccoli said jolly Roger was too young and “a shade too pretty.”
Readers of the Daily Express, which ran a Bond comic-strip, voted for lantern-jawed Patrick Allen. Terry Young preferred Richard Johnson - Terence Young’s 1964 substitute for Connery in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders. Johnson was then chosen by Betty Box when, upon realising her Bond error, she attempted tried to breathe life into the corpse of another stalwart British hero, Bulldog Drummond, with Deadlier Than the Male, 1966, and Some Girls Do, 1968. No vast success. “I was so right for the part, I would have been wrong,” Johnson told Cinema Retro magazine about Bond in 2009. “Sean was so wrong for the part, he turned out to be right...”
There is also the highly questionable suggestion that Cubby offered a Bond test to Hollywood film-maker John Frankenheimer (a hot TV director, but not yet the Spielbergian wunderkind of his day). He was tall enough, handsome and charismatic enough. With two major faults. 1. He was no actor. 2. He was American. And Cubby, perhaps even more than Fleming, knew 007 had to be a Brit.
In his autobiography,Broccoli (or his ghost, showbiz journalist Donald Zec), said that James Fox was more uneasy about sex and violence… Steve Reeves said he refused the role (!)… likewise Stephen Boyd (or his fans). “I never have played and never will play,” vowed Patrick McGoohan, who also rejected The Saint, ”a character who gets a personal satisfaction out of violence and is too promiscuous."
"I'd rather do chicken farming,”
said Patrick McGoohan.
The tele-espionage series that made McGoohan a potential 007, Danger Man 1960-62, featured guest shots from such future Bondian folk as: Honor Blackman, Anthony Dawson, Walter Gotell, Charles Gray, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Zena Marshall, Lois Maxwell, Bill Nagy and Donald Pleasence.
“If ever John Drake came up against James Bond,” insisted McGoohan, “Drake would win, even if he had the stuffing knocked out of him. You see, Drake is a dedicated character. He may be more dull than Bond, but he does his job better, more efficiently. Anyway, I’m a family man. I wouldn’t want my children to see me slopping around with sexy pieces like Bond does or beating up people or being beaten up. Surely that does not make me a prude.”
“And I should be shot in the head,” craggy Aussie Rod Taylor told me during the 1997 Cannes festival. “Cubby Broccoli - dear old Cubby - said he had something for me. I should do a test. He had these books written by Ian Fleming. Whaddyer mean, I yelled, a fucking TV series. No fucking way!”
Another tough guy actor,the home-grown Stanley Baker refused to be Bond because of having to sign a three-picture deal. He had plans as a producer - and made a star out of Michael Caine the following year in Zulu, 1963. Apparently, Baker later offered to be a future Bond villain. A decade earlier, Baker had been in Broccoli’s first UK film, The Red Beret (US: Paratrooper), made by the Bond family: co-produced by Cubby, written by Richard Maibum, directed by Terence Young in 1952. Although the Welsh Baker was dubbed in the film, Broccoli used him again in another Warwick production, Hell Below Zero, 1953, again with Alan Ladd.
Two clean-cut British screen heroes Richard Todd and George Baker - 1954 co-stars inthe WWII classic, The Dam Busters - were also invited to be Bond. The facts only emerged in their obituaries, in 2009 and 2011 respectively. Fleming liked both but they were contracted to other UK studios. (Todd was no kin to the 007 films’ special effectichan of the same name). As a heroic actor (playing Wing Commander Guy Gibson, Robin Hood, Sir Walter Raleigh), he was as boring as his friends (Ronald Reagan included) and his future career (dairy farmer). Baker was Bulgarian-born (his father was a diplomat). I used to see him acting at Salisbury’s rep theatre in the late 50s. He popped up as an NASA engineer in You Only Live Twice and Captain Benson in The Spy Who Loved Me - and actually played Bond, by dubbing George Lazenby when his strine had a tough time trying to impersonate the pukka English genealogist, Sir Hilary Bray, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
McGoohan claimed he suggested Sean Connery. Except it was Dr No’s editor and future Bond director Peter Hunt who did that in October. “And Cubby saw something in Sean,” Maibaum confirmed, “which he thought was what they wanted.”
Broccoli and his third wife, Dana, were impressed by the 1953 Mr Scotland in Disney’s Darby O'Gill and The LittlePeople. “He played an idiot farmer but he had balls,” said Cubby, forgetting he had rejected the same ballsy Connery for a role in How To Murder A Rich Uncle, 1957 (the bit went to Michael Caine who delighted in reminding Cubby about it for years to come). When the Darby O'Gill screening finished at the Samuel Goldwyn Studios, Dana said: “That is our Bond. He’s sexy.”
Connery’s lover, actress Diane Cilento, told him to go for it. (She regretted that after marrying him). Unafraid of Broccoli and Saltzman, or anyone else for that matter, Connery took their Eon company name seriously. He, to, wanted Everything Or Nothing.
“He pounded the desk and told us what he wanted,” recalled Broccoli. “Sean didn’t want to do a screen test. ‘If you like me. That’s it.’ We agreed and we watched him bounce across the street like he was Superman. He moved like a cat.”
“Sean was a blasted milkman,” said Honor Blackman. He had made Action of the Tiger for Terence Young who now exclaimed: “Oh disaster, disaster, disaster.” Young saw himself as Bond and passed on certain tips to Sean who, heing the adroit actor he was, added most of them to his own ideas to make a definitive Bond… that had to be altered to suit Roger Moore’s pantomime hero. (Oh yes he was!).
For now, United Artists, having moved in in where Columbia feared to tred, cabled its comment about Connery: WE CAN DO BETTER.