“Well, as long as the collar and cuffs match...”
BOND 8 . DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
Wanted - urgent - another James Bond.
Even the old one will do.
Lazenby's agent had suggested his arrogance was perfect for Bond. It also proved his undoing. George had agreed to Diamonds . And before the truth dawned about his first outing, United Artists had offered him a five-picture contract and sent a first instalment cheque for $100,000. He sent it back the same day... Bond was old hat, he said, meaningless for the Easy Rider generation.
“There were 14 Tarzans,”
Broccoli reminded Lazenby
as his head swelled and ego burst.
* The second Bond, George Lazenby,
had agreed to a second outing. In fact,
United Artists offered a five-picture
contract and sent him a first instalment
cheque for $100,000. He sent it back...
Bond was old hat, he said, meaningless
for the Easy Rider generation. D'oh!
[Photo: © Eon Productions, 1969]
He (or his agent) refused UA’s offer of a 14 year, 12 film contract (seven Bonds for $28m, five others for $5m) - and demanded $35 million for the Bonds alone.
“Do I regret? Some of it... I didn’t get the money that I was offered for the second one [laugh]. And people look at me like, ‘Oh, that’s the guy that failed. He’s the one that didn’t make it. He’s the only Bond that only did one. And they kicked him out.’ Bullshit. I was offered a million bucks on the table, any movie I wanted to do that United Artists had in between Bond movies, you name it, I could have had my own anything. But you have to look back at 1970 to know why I quit. I was in a suit; I had short hair. Everyone that was getting laid had long hair and bell bottoms. I’d go into a restaurant and I’d say “Waiter!” I looked like the friggin’ waiter, walking around with short hair. I was the only guy in London with short hair.
“I went to a psychic about it and she said: “Oh it’s just as well you gave it up. You would have had three houses in Beverly Hills with different wives in ‘em. You’d be a drug addict.” And I said ‘I had enough. I had got two wives and I was an alcoholic!’ ”
He laughed a lot about it during his Q/A session with Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin at the American Cinematheque in June 2011. Back when he became impossible, the producer said he’d finish up in spaghetti Westerns. (In fact, it was sweet ’n’ sour kung-fu and warmed-over Emmanuelle).
Older, wiser, Lazenby turned up as a Bond type in Return of the Man From UNCLE, 1983. Ten years later, he was reduced to listening to Sylvia Kristel recounting erotic adventures acted out by the TV Emmanuelle, Marcela Walerstein.
007 . “I was under the impression we were going with a new actor after OHMSS,” (under)stated Guy Hamilton. New York Post critic Archer Winston,, for oene xampel, had said that Lazenby’s acting was “non-commital to the point of being minus.” John Gavin was a possible. Saltzman favourite Roger Moore was tied to low grade TV. And a certain Timothy Peter Dalton felt too young: “Bond should be in his mid-30s, a mature adult who has been around. I felt it’d be dumb, really stupid, to take over from Connery... particularly at 25.” (Much the same reason why Pierce Brosnan was relieved at not being able to make Dalton’s Living Daylights). Broccoli took another pass at Michael Billington, now starring in the UFO series.
And praised Michael Gambon. UA was wary of another newcomer. Besides, Gambon said he was in terrible shape. “I like being rough round the edges. A big, interesting old bugger.” And he couldpass Cubby’s famous tit-test.Easily!
“I was given a smoked-salmon sandwich and a glass of champagne and Cubby said: ‘We’re looking for a new James Bond.’ And I started laughing. ‘James Bond, me? I'm not the right shape.’ He said: ‘Well, we have ice bags for Sean’s chest and [your jowls]doesn’t take more than two days and the recovery period’s a week. Teeth, well we can do that in an afternoon. And Sean wears a piece. I’ll get a toupee for you’!”
Hamilton preferred “an affable gent called Burt Reynolds, but the producers said he’s only a stuntman.” Although, if Burt had been British...
“I would’ve liked to have had a shot at James Bond, if for no other reason, I’d be very rich now, and I could’ve had a good time with him,” Reynolds told Mike Fleming Jr at Deadline Hollywood, December 22, 2015. “I would’ve at least smiled once in a while, whereas the new guy [Craig] doesn’t even chuckle.”
Reynolds also understood the main problem: an American as 007! Not that he was worried about the accent thing. “I thought I could make that passable. I’ve got a good ear, and I can play a lot of different things, and I wasn’t worried about that. That wasn’t the reason. I just felt that, at the time, I thought there might be a resistance from the public. I don’t know. What the hell was the matter with me? I should’ve done it.”
John Gavin wasn’t a Brit, either. Yet Broccoli also liked the look of Universal’s second-string Rock Hudson, “tall, good athlete, fine actor,” in Psycho and Spartacus. Cubby didn’t even care that Gavin had played the French copy-cat Bond, OSS 117. Indeed, Niente rose per OSS 117 (UK: OSS 117 Murder For Sale; US: OSS 117 Double Agent), in 1968, seemed to work as a Bond testy for the wooden Gavin - opposite past, future and nearly 007 players (Luciana Paluzzi, Curd Jurgens, Margaret Lee). He would have been the first American Bond since Barry Nelson on CBS TV in 1954. His spy (how many Americans are called by 117’s real name: Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath?). was loved by French/Italian critics, tanked in America and sank to the bottom half of a UK double-bill).
Terence Young, who should have known better, had a finger or two in the script Atout Cœur à Tokyo pour OSS 117 (UK: Mission To Tokyo), 1966, when the hero was taken over by Frederick Stafford. More like Stifford. As Hitchcock found out during Topaze).
John Gavin (Hitchcock called him
The Stiff during Psycho) won without a test
- as UA secretly talked Sean into a sixth for $1.25m.
Plus backing two of his own productions. He gave the money, all of it, to the Scottish International Educational Trust. Shootingstarted on April 5.Sean finished his final Bond on August 13.Or so he thought.
More wooden than Gregory Peck, Gavin was kissed off with his full $50,000 fee. And becamePreisdent Ronald Reagan’s Ambassdor to Mexico. (And then, like Reagan before him, Gavin was President of Screen Actors Guild, 1971-1973).
And asked by The Den of Geek website if he ever regretted nixingDiamonds Are Forever,Adam West said: “Not really. No, wait a minute. Yes [laughs]; one night, when I heard somebody saying that they liked Bond better than Batman. Then I thought: Well, why can’t I do both?’ [laugh]. But I thought that was a little greedy.”
Blofeld . With so much energy being spent on finding a Lazenby successor - or nailing Connery to a deal - the SPECTRE boss was allowed to slide. And so the villain became the weakest link in the chain. There had been some small debate about Richard Maibaum’s OHMSS’ idea of Gert Frobe coming back as Goldfinger’s (half?) brother. Although Skyfall’s co-scripter John Logan reckoned Charles Gray was an “underrated Blofeld,” the familiar toffee-nosed character actor was an uninspired, campy (above all, cheap) choice He could hardly have said no to such a pay-day, but Broccoli should have... Each time Frobe’s comeback had been mooted, his replacement was a washed-out cliché. Gray had been more effective as a good guy, 007’s Japan contact, Henderson, in You Only Live Twice.
Tiffany Case . Jill St John, who had been dating George Lazenby, was first offered Plenty O”Toole. However, her tests impressed Guy Hamilton enough to win Tiffany over strong opposition (Fayer Dunaway, Jane Fonda and a “too animal” Raquel Welch) to becomethe first AmericanBond Girl. Also the first to let slip a bare breast. Apres-coitus with Bond, she says “Twenty years to life?” and voila….
Plenty O'Toole . And with Jill St John gone to Tiffany, screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz’s suggestion led to Lana Wood as... “Hi, I'm Plenty.” “But, of course, you are!” “Plenty O'Toole.”“Named after your father, perhaps.”
Mr Wint . … of the gay Mr Wint and Mr Kid hit-man double act was given to Paul Williams, the diminutiveUS composer, singer and sometime actor. As if he wasn’t royalties-rich enough, he wanted more money on the table and thus, Mr Wint rapidly became Mr Bruce Glover. - “very surprised” because he had been seen as too normal for “a deformed Peter Lorre"! Mr Kidd remained the jazz musician Putter Smith. Mr Williams got more money - but for two jobs, actor and composer - during Phantom of the Paradise, 1974).
According to The Economist, which obviously counts more than dollars and euros, Connery bedded more women than Moore, but (supposedly) Lazenby beat both (what in one film?)
American critic Pauline Kael was right. “This picture isn’t bad, it’s merely tired.” And that was that for Connery. “Never again! Of course, the films will go on. But who will play me, I just don’t know.” He couldn’t guess it would be him never saying never again in 1983.