“There’s no sense going out half-cocked.”
LIVE AND LET DIE
Guy Hamilton . 1972
“I enjoyed Bond,” declared Guy Hamilton, still in Leo Verswijver’s confessional. “I enjoyed the whole experience of Bond. After Diamonds Are Forever, I said: Bye-bye and thank you! But they said: Oh no, wait a minute, you are to do the next Bond without Sean! And so we went off with Roger Moore…”
And so, ater the youngest Bond, the oldest… Moore was 45.
“Sean was a good Bond,” Cubby Broccoli commented, “but he was never going to be the only one.” Oh really? So why try to lure him back again and again – offering a then astronomical $5.5m for this one?
Anyway, he was gone. Long gone. Rather like the other ’62 superstar, John Lennon, quitting The Beatles. Because why? “Because,” said Lennon, “I grew up.”
When all attempts failed, United Artists wanted a name. A safe name, however ridiculous a name. Steve McQueen! Paul Newman! Robert Redford! Even John Gavin and Burt Reynolds were back in the frame.“ Fleming would have spun in his grave,” was Broccoli’s comment. But they all sang from the same hymn sheet: Has to be an Brit, said the producers. Oh really? So why sign John Gavin for Diamonds Are Forever?
Bond 9 was started by Cubby, taken over by Harry as Tom Mankiewicz did his job. He wrote it for Sean. Of course. But Sean told Tom: ”You know what I hear, boyo, all the time? It’s my obligation to play Bond. When is my obligation over? After eight Bonds? Ten Bonds? Twelve Bonds? When do I stop having an obligation to play Bond? There’s only two things in my life that I’ve wanted to own: a golf course and a bank, and I have both.”
Tom’s s agent wanted him to get $100,000 Harry said $60,000. OK. said the agent Robin French (of IFA , International Famous Agency) he’ll do irt for $50,000. “Oh good.” And he wants 2% of the net profis. After a pause, Harry said: “Well, let’s not talk science fiction. OK. he’ll get 100,000.“ “To my knowledge,” said Tom in his memoirs, “this is the only James Bond film that was ever written end to end by one writer. I have sole credit.”
007 . This time instead of trying to replicate Sean they realised their mistake and moved Bond far away from the original. No dinner suit, no vodka martinis, no Q and no M’s office.
Broccoli voted Jeremy Brett again – “it would have spoiled me” – and saw Australian Tony Bonner, tele-Brits Simon Dee (a talk-show host), William Gaunt, Michael McStay, John Ronan, Jon FInch from Hitchcock’s final UK film, Frenzy, and Julian Glover, another Commander (Anderson) in the Spy Trap series – he tested again for Bond13, For Your Eyes Only, 1981.
And the story about Timothy Dalton being called upwas also rubbish. As he has stated many (many!) times. “I was not approached for Live and Let Die . But there was a time in the late 1970s, when Roger may not have done another one, for whatever reason. They were looking around then, and I went to see Mr. Broccoli in Los Angeles.”
Next suggestion: Hey, why not get the real thing… That meant the adventurous baronet listed by the Guinness Book of Records as “the world’s greatest living explorer” Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes – akaRanulph (or Ran) Fiennes. An Old Etonian like Fleming, Fiennes was the first man to conquer the world’s highest peak of Mount Everest (at the third attempt at age 65) and cross the North and South Poles unaided. He led more than 30 expeditions to places as cold as Antarctica and as hot as the desert of Arabia, where he helped discover the lost Oman city of Ubar – the “Atlantis of the Sands.”
His previous connection with movies led to him being kicked out of the SAS (for a while) for using Army explosives to blow up the ugly concrete dam built for Doctor Dolittle – ruining, he said, the prettiest English village of Castle Comb in all Wiltshire. (Clive Owen, a future 007 candidate himself, starred in Killer Elite in 2010 – based on a book by Fiennes).
Fiennes was 28 when getting into the final six.
“The fact that I couldn’t act seemed irrelevant.
“Mr Broccoli decided I was too young  and more like a farmhand than an English gentleman.” Plus, and this is a new negative: “his hands were too big and he has the face of a farmer.” Some 38 years later, during a failed attempt to walk to the North Pole in 2000, one of those hands, the left, suffered such that he eventually cut off the necrotic fingertips with a fretsaw..!
This real life hero is a cousin of Ralph Fiennes, who twice refused Bond, and became the new M following the death of Judi Dench in the climax of Skyfall, 2011.
Shooting was scheduled to start on October 14, 1972, and as late as May 1, Broccoli, Hamilton and an agent called Alan Foenander took a meeting at at the Bond HQ in Mayfair with a stage actor working under two names, his own, Guy Peters – and his nom-de-theatre, Peter Laughton. (“I’m related to the late, great, actor Charles Laughton on my mother’s side of the family”). He was a year too late. “Cubby Broccoli said that had he met me when they were looking for a new face, they might have used me instead of Lazenby but, now, they might want a known face to play Bond.”
And the story about Timothy Dalton being called up was also rubbish. As he has stated many (many!) times, he was approached for For Your Eyes Only, not for Live and Let Die.
Patrick McGoohan still refused
“the unlikable, immoral bully.”
This time, he recommended Roger Moore. (What did he have against us!)
Moore. was seeing much of Harry and Cubby – and not just just across the Curzon Street gambling tables. They were all working at Pinewood Studios: he was shooting The Persuaders, they were into Sean’s farewell, Diamonds Are Forever. “I knew the role was up for grabs again and declined Lew Grade’s offer to make a second series of The Persuaders. Just as well I did, my phone rang. It was Harry. “Cubby and I have decided we want to go with you as the next James Bond.”
Roger was ecstatic. Until, Harry kept phoning… with Cubby’s notes. Roger was overwweight… out of shape… and his hair was too long. “Why didn’t you just cast a thin, fit, bald fellow in the first place?”
“His TV image was too glossy and soft-centered,* said Broccoli, “compared with the virile dynamite we had in Sean. Essentially, we had to bury The Saint and the lightweight giggling of The Persuaders.” If The Persuaders didn’t bury Moore first.
Meantime, Broccoli again sent for Michael Billington – “and I produced my best Bond test for Guy Hamilton” – and David Warbeck. And he was Bond (or so he told me) until the eleventh hour – or beyond – when with a bound, Moore sprang free from his falling US ratings of The Persuaders … And on October 13 in Louisiana, he began ruining Bond for the next dozen years.
A change of rhythm (and not just Paul McCartney for John Barry) would be necessary from Tom Mank (Roger called him Wanky Mitz) when writing for Moore. “Roger is really an actor in a theatrical way. Where Sean would throw away the throw-away lines, Roger would play with them, Roger looks a nice man. Sean looks, in the best sense of the word – the best movie-star of the world – like a bastard. There’s a twinkle in his eye and there’s violence in his eye. When he comes into a room – look out! Roger is much more Fleming’s Bond.” (A blunt instrument, I think not).
In case he didn’t shape up, Broccoli alson sent for Michael Billington again – “and I produced my best Bond test for Guy Hamilton” – and David Warbeck. And he was Bond (or so he told me) until the eleventh hour – or beyond – when with a bound, Moore sprang free from his falling US ratings of The Persuaders … And on October 13 in Louisiana, he began ruining Bond for the next dozen years.
During the Press conflab in Jamaica, for the scenes in Kananga’s underground HQ (or was it Dr No’s?) in the Runaway Caves at Runaway Bay, Moore was pressed about following Sean (George was forgotten already). He trotted out his great yarn about being seen in a London play by none other than Noel Coward who told him: “Young man, with your devastating good loks and your disastrous lack of talent, you should take every job ever offered you. And, in the unlikely occurrence you’re offered two jobs simultaneously, take the one that pays the most money. “And, said Moore, here I am.”
UK critic Alexander Walker said:
“The school bully was replaced
by the school prefect.”
Retorted Moore: “Four or five thousand actors have played Hamlet.” Yes, Roger, you said it. Actors!
He signed on for three film with options for more… met up with old mates Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell (M and Miss Moneypenny) and started shooting in New York in October 1972.
Hamilton did his best. “Whatever you do, don’t try to play Sean Connery,” het told Moore. “You got to create your own Bond, and I will try and help you, because I know the things you’re good at and the things you’re not so good at. Every actor has strengths and weaknesses and as a director you’ve got to find that balance. Roger created his own Bond with a lighter tone than Sean Connery, but that’s because it’s very much his personality. When we were… you could notice that Roger was beginning to relax into the part gradually, no longer cautious that he was competing another Bond. He was beginning to feel Bond in the skin, and understood how he had to play it. Halfway through the picture, he was much more relaxed than in the first part of the picture.”
As it turned out, Roger’s debut was more suited to the hero and er, style, of Ben Stiller’s Zoolander.
Moore’s tribute to Tom Mankiewicz on his 2010 death called him, “one of the most innovative, clever and inspirational writers of the Bonds. He and Guy Hamilton would lock themselves away working out snake-pit scenarios for 007, and then plan inventive escapes whilst leading the the audience up one or two wrong turns. “Like in Live And Let Die when Jimmy Bond is stranded on an island in a lake full of alligators. Jimmy sees a boat nearby and switches on his magnetic watch to attract the metal oar rests… Aha, say the audience, that’s how he does it. But then we see the boat is tethered. Aha, says Tom! Think again, dear audience.”
* Sean had definitely gone this time. “Never again!” And Eon wanted a name – however silly. McQueen, Newman, Redford !!! Or a total newcomer: Michael McStay, Simon Oates John Ronane – and in the hot seat until the final bell, New Zealander David Warbeck – working as a London schoolteacher between acting gigs. He would be considered again and because of it, he became a spaghetti action hero, saying in one Italian thriller: “You’re muddling me with Roger Moore.” Nice guy – but not quite...
[Photo: © Flora Film/Gico Cinematografica, 1980]
By the time Pierce Brosnan really put his mark on Bond, the man who was so nearly 007 died of cancer in 1997. David Warbeck was 55, a New Zealander of Scots descent. He had studied at RADA in the 60s. Virtually ignored by UK films, he became an action star in Italian rip-offs of Bond, Rambo, Indy Jones or which ever hero was hot. He is also remembered as James Coburn’s pal in the Irish flashbacks of Italian super-director Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker!
In one of his spaghetti thrillers, Warbeck actually said: “You’re muddling me with Roger Moore.” Not… quite.
UA also wanted a safe script, and despite the (tad late) blaxploitation feel of the casting, insisted that scenarist Tom Mankiewicz change the colour of his leading lady, Solitaire, from black to white – and vice-versa for Rosie Carver. The year, it is worth remembering, was 1973 and not 1943.
Solitaire . Cubby must have beenthe only producer in the world to think of Goldie Hawn or Helen Mirren as a virgin – and a frightened, vulnerable virgin at that.When theywould have eaten the new Bond alive and spat himout…
“I knew she wasn’t interested,” recalled Mirren’s agent, Maggie Parker. But remembering Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg, Maggie checked out the offer. “The money would have been lovely [£250,000] and the promotional tour great fun but she’d never done it for the size of the cheque before andwasn’t about to go that way.”
This line considerably annoyed Broccoli at their meei at Verrey’s the Regent Street restaurant . It was one thing talking turkey, quite another to ruffle the turkey’s feathers. Ruffled, Cubby was and he rasped: “If this young lady thinks she is above our little film and just wants to hang about with these people from the RSC, thenletthat be her problem.”
Mrs Parker couldn’t help but laugh – as she knew Mirren would have, as well
Tom Mankiewicz (Roger called him Wanky Mitz) had written Solitaire for Diana Ross, but Eon played overly safe (with the South African and Japanese markets) by choosing the white Gayle Hunnicutt. Except she and David Hemmings were infanticipating future actor Nolan Hemmings. The supernatural heroine went to the long, swirling-haired Jane Seymour, the then daughter-in-law of Richard Attenborough. “Too young,” was Mank’s comment.
M . Bernard Leewas very ill during filming. Kenneth More stood by in reserve.
Harry was always on the set – Cubby was on the next one. Their relationship was becoming molten lava. Director Guy Hamilton said he could happily makea film withHarry, and happily make a film withCubby – “but not with the two of them together.”
Cubby Broccoli, alone, was satisfied with his new hero. Until 1985 when he told Roger:
“You’re a bigger pain
than Sean used to be.”
When voting against the very idea of a black Bond in 2015, Kaphet Kotto revealed that he jad been asked not to promote Live and Let Die at the time – as his portrayal would upset filmgoers! An ignoble demand. Even more so when you realise that with Kotto, Julius Harris and Gloria Hendry aboard LALD, Eon was shamelessly (and we now hear, shamefully) ripping off Hollywood’s blaxploitation syndrome, just as with Moonraker it would copy the science fiction brigade. “They were afraid the public would react negatively to a black villain,” Kotto said, “so they didn’t play my character up. That hurt me a lot, man. I went through a lot of goddamn emotional hell because they were afraid people would be angry that a black guy was not being Sidney Poitier. I was the opposite of everything he created.”
This was the first Bond film seen by future Bond aces Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes.Neither one knew the book’s original title was The Undertaker’s Wind – more (West Indian) meterological than digestive.
Mendes told Mike Fleming Jr (at Deadline Hollywood, November 5, 2015) that he had a completely clear memory of seeing Live And Let Die. “I was probably 10 or 11. In those days, no videos, no DVDs, no computers. So you’d go to the movies, or wait a year until it came on television the first time. I went three times, and that world, all the voodoo stuff and the dark and very weird world of adult sexuality and danger, that was unbelievably enticing and heart opening. Sartre has a great quote, that ‘A man’s work is nothing more or less than a slow trek to rediscover through the detours of art, the two or three great and simple images in the presence of which his heart first opened.’ And I often think of that in relation to Bond in Live And Let Die and think, well, something happened to me as a young boy there.”