“Keeping the British end up, sir.”
BOND 11 . THE SPY WHO LOVED ME
The worst book… A slice of an old man’s soft-bore porn. Written by Fleming as “Vivienne - Viv - Michel,” a young Canadian woman detailing her previous lovers before running into Jimbo… but only in the final third of the sexercise. The Glasgow Herald book critic said Fleming subsitited a lost ability for plot invention with “the sorry misadventures of an upper-class tramp, told in dreary detail.” “Oh Dear Oh Dear Oh Dear!” complaind The Daily Telegtaph, while The Oberserver hoped “this doesn't spell the total eclipse of Bond in a blaze of cornography.”
The author’s American publisher Thomas H Guinzburg, at Viking Press, was not content. “While it is certainly acceptable Ian Fleming it is not quite top-grade Ian Fleming.”
A failed experiment, admitted Fleming. “I am suffering from multiple contusions.” Such as “I do hope that this is not a new trend in your style of writing,” from Mrs Florence Taylor in Chesterfield and “Now look here, Fleming,” wrote David Ferney, “this catering to fifth form eroticism must stop. Do you hear?”
So this one had to be completely rewritten. Or forget the book - keep the characters - and come up with something new, instead of blue. But from whom?
“There are scriptwriters and there are Bond scriptwriters,” said Broccoli. “They are not necessarily the same animal.” Cubby discovered this by going through more writers than casting suggestions as he geared up his first solo 007 production. In fact, his first ever solo production - all his previous films were made with partners. He made use of twelve writers, including Anthony Burgess, original director Guy Hamilton, John Landis (!), StirlingSilliphant,Christopher Wood -until Dr No's RichardMaibaum “got us back to basics.”Too far back...
This looks like a re-hash of You Only Live Twice
- complete with the same director.
Yet it proved the biggest hit since Thunderball.
Hamilton left for Superman (finally a made by Richard Donner) and Lewis Gilbert came back after a decade’s absence - since You Only Live Twice. “I didn’t have any intention of going on with the series, though, because I had other films to do. But the Bonds were a tremendous amount of fun to work on. And that was mostly down to Cubby. He was a marvellous, expansive guy and a wonderful producer - he had this wonderful effect on people.”
As for the film…“By the time, Ian Fleming wrote it,” commented Gilbert, “he was runing out of steam...There wasn’t much there for a Bond film.There was no alternative but to start from scratch.”
“In the first two films,” Lewis Gilbert commented, “the producers were still thinking of the Sean Bond. That’s not Roger. What Roger had was something different. He wasn’t as good as Sean in the most sadistic moments - when Sean killed someone you knew they were really dead. With Roger you somehow never quite believed it - but Roger was much nearer to the Bond in the books. [How many times have we heard that about every actor playing Bond]. He also bad his own kind of breeziness and charm, more in the David Niven manner. When he did The Spy... he was off and away from the Sean Connery character for the first time and from then on he really settled into the part. Sean and Roger were the best.”
Karl Stromberg . James Mason was the first twice-almost-Bond to be invited to be the villain - not unlike his classic Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, 1954. Curt Jürgens was Gilbert’s idea, having worked with him on Ferry To Hong Kong, 1959. “We needed somebody very sophisticated which he was in real life.” (He was in surprisingly dullard form). Mason would be chased againfor the next one...also based on a Jules Verne character, Robur, The Conqueror.
Jaws - “who just dropped in for a quick bite”- is reallyZbigniew Krycsiwiki and Polish. He was inspired by a thug called Horror who had steel-capped teeth in the book, Fleming’s least favourite of his novels. Will Sampson, the Native American from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Star Wars’ giant David Prowse were first up for Jaws. Then, Jack O'Halloran - who went on to be the similiar Non in the first two Superman films.
Hearing Cubby Broccoli had talked with David Prowse (the man inside Darth Vader’s suit) made Richard Kiel feel Jaws was not an acting role. And acting is what he was into - The Longest Yard with Burt Reynolds, Silver Streak with Gene Wilder. Kiel was also felt, from the way Cubby described the character - “he kills people with his teeth” - made him a monster. And he’d done that a year earlier in Silver Streak, 1976. “So that put me off. But I loved the Bond series, so I had to make it work. I took a chance and said to Mr Broccoli: Whomever you cast, it needs to be an actor because a character who kills people with his teeth could become over the top quite easily. He needs some human characteristics, perseverance, frustration, those kind of things... He liked that. ‘What’re you doing for dinner tonight?’ And he invited me to meet his family and the writer who was staying in his pool house. And that’s how it came about. I guess I overdid it – I became too likeable to kill off! So they brought me back and Moonraker was the most successful box office success for the Bond series for a long, long time.”
Kiel went on into B-movies. “And some C ones as well. And D movies and maybe an F movie here and there. I was in a movie called Eegah and it was written up at one time as one of the 50 worst movies of all time. But it was quite successful at the box office and it was great practice. I’m not ashamed of those movies.”
Anya Amasova . They had the spy -now they needed the lover... an actress who could hold herown against Bond. Cubby’s much sought, seen and nearly signed Lois Chiles suddenly announced she was retiring - to attend actingclass, following criticism of her work. One of UA’s UK directors asked Gilbert to find a part for his lover, a certain Barabra Bach. Before long she had been promoted to The Girl. “So we saw a test that Tony Richardson had made of her for something else. She didn’t get that part but we thought she was very good - and by then, we were desperate. I said to Cubby that we should bring her over from Italy, where she was living at the time - and test her as soon as possible. So she flew over practically the next day, we tested her and that’s how she got the part. We knew she was inexperienced but that was a chance we were prepared to take.”
The boyfriend was… nervous.“I only asked if you could give her a small part.,” he complained. “I never meant to push her into this!”“This” meant meeting the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr - and marrying him!
Lois Chiles’ retirement was temporary .Lewis Gilbert found himself next to her on a plane with time enough to persuade her into Bond’s next adventure. Moonraker.
Sergei Barsov . Michael Billington, The Bond That Never Was, finally got in a film - and not just in tests for himself as Bond (for the fourth time) or playing 007 to test possible Bond Girls- but as Anya’s Russian KGB spy lover.
All in all, a yawn of a movie save for scripter Christopher Wood’s remarkable notion - the glorious opening Union Jack parachute ski-jump. Audiences went mad and robustly cheered - not that they knew him - the ski champ Rick Sylvester. He did the stunt from the Canadian Arctic mountain, Asgard Peak, on Baffin Island on July 1976. (The chute was repeated by the stunt doubles of Daniel Craig and his ultimate Bond Girl, Queen Elizabeth II, during a similarly priceless gag for Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics).
After this tenth (official) film from, by coincidence, the tenth book, the closing credits announced: James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only. Not so. Cubby (foolishly) decided to play catch up with Lucas and Spielberg, and Bond returned in a space suit for Moonraker.