Connery vs Moore - the Battle of the Bonds

Who Won the Battle of the Bonds? - (Octopussy vs Never Say Never Again)

Connery vs Moore - the Battle of the Bonds

For James Bond fans, 1983 is known as the “Battle of the Bonds”.

Octopussy – Staring Roger Moore as 007

Never Say Never Again – Staring Sean Connery as 007

It was the year when veteran Bond actor Sean Connery dared to go up against Bond Producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli with a rival Bond film. Who would win the much-anticipated Battle of the Bonds and how did it all begin?

Sean Connery Never Say Never Again movie posterAfter For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore announced that he was stepping down from role of Bond. The person favored to replace Moore in the upcoming Bond film, Octopussy, was American actor James Brolin. But before Brolin could strap on Bond’s Walther PPK, it was announced in the summer of 1982 that former Bond actor Sean Connery would return to the role in a rival Bond film that was going to be released on the same weekend as Octopussy.

Because Connery was still very popular among Bond fans, Broccoli feared that Connery’s Bond film would upstage his own. Broccoli figured that an established Bond actor would do better against Connery so he approached Roger Moore to convince him to reprise the role one more time. Although initially reluctant, Moore ultimately agreed so Broccoli rescinded his offer to Brolin.

Filming for Octopussy began in August 1982 in the former West Berlin and later moved to Udaipur, India (though Q’s laboratory was located in Pinewood Studios). Afterward, the crew returned to London to film the last few scenes. The film was released on June 10, 1983. While in India, Moore was shocked to see the grinding poverty that many locals, particularly children, lived under which prompted him to get involved with UNICEF years later.

By contrast, the filming of Never Say Never Again was beset by numerous problems. Filming began in September 1982, in the French Riviera and then moved to the Bahamas two months later. But soon the production ran out of money which put the film months behind schedule.

Octopussy (1983)In addition, producer Jack Schwartzman’s relations with Connery were extremely acrimonious with the two barely speaking to each other. Filming was finally completed in the spring of 1983 but a few scenes had to be shot that summer which made it impossible to release the film in time for the summer blockbuster season. It was finally released on October 7, 1983, four months after the release of Octopussy.

The Battle that Wasn’t

By box office numbers, Octopussy clearly won the Battle of the Bonds. It grossed $67 million in the US market and $187.5 million worldwide and its production costs totaled $27.5 million. By comparison, Never Say Never Again grossed $55 million in the US market and $160 million internationally (through its production costs exceeded $36 million).

But this is an unfair comparison because Octopussy was released in the summer when cinemas show matinees every day so it had greater exposure, which put Never Say Never Again at a disadvantage. Thus, in reality, there was no Battle of the Bonds — but Bond fans still benefitted by two Bond films in one year.


About the Author: Nick Constantinou

I was born in Greece in 1965 and was raised in the United States. I have been a huge James Bond fan ever since I saw my first Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. I have seen all the films and have collected the DVDs from Dr. No. to Quantum of Solace. I currently live in Greece where I work as a translator and English teacher. 


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Watch Every James Bond Movie's Title Sequence

every-james-bond-title-sequence

James Bond Movie Title Sequences

Every James Bond movie features a beautiful title sequence that relates to the film, shows the credits, and has the theme song playing alongside it.

Some of these scenes are iconic (especially Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) – and most were ahead of their time when it came to design and implementation.

That said, some of them are downright terrible (I’m looking at you, The World is Not Enough).

The one thing you can’t deny is that they are a staple of the Bond series and that everyone has an opinion. After you watch some of the videos on this page, be sure to share yours in the comments.

Happy Watching.




























What do you think?

Which title sequence is your favorite?


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SPECTRE. a movie review

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SPECTRE.   the 24th James Bond Movie

 

For Bond fans, it’s always difficult to separate our excitement for the latest movie from the quality of the film itself. In the case of SPECTRE, the title alone succeeds in creating an instant state of nostalgia. Iconic villains are assumed, secret lairs are expected and everyone wonders if they will see a certain fluffy white kitty. But, is the movie any good?

On first viewing, SPECTRE succeeds as a classic Bondian thriller. It’s chock-full of exciting action, beautiful women, exotic locations, tongue-in-cheek humor, references to previous movies and a memorable villain.

SPECTRE is also an uneven movie with many flaws. The villain’s character is tragically underused, and his personal connection to 007 ruins his credibility. Bond’s romantic relationships feel forced, extraneous subplots run wild and the film’s action sequences rarely succeed in building tension.

Still, for those who grew up with 007, SPECTRE is sure to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and glee … even if it doesn’t feel like one of Bond’s best missions.

 

005 stars
out of a possible 007

 


 

… SPOILERS BELOW …

 

SPECTRE Teaser PosterSPECTRE marks the first Craig-era adventure to utilize the classic Bond movie formula. While many critics have lambasted this as a step backwards, it’s exactly what Bond fans have been hoping for.

After an action-packed pre-title sequence and an average theme song, Bond meets with the classic MI6 staff — M, Moneypenny and Q — before setting off for his next exotic destination.

From Mexico to London, Rome, Austria and Morocco, Bond is constantly on the move. At every stop, he’s punching, driving, flying, running, snooping, shooting, kissing and fornicating his way into the next clue.

007 seduces valuable information out of a beautiful woman, declares himself Bond, James Bond, follows a new lead and finds his main love interest of the film … who first claims immunity to his charms, before inevitably falling for him later.

He promptly orders a martini “shaken not stirred,” blows a bunch of stuff up, hops on board a train, kills a physically-superior henchman, discovers the villain’s plot, finds himself facing death, gets away, stops the villain, saves the girl and heads off into the sunset.

What more could you want from a Bond film? A cohesive plot, perhaps.

 

In the 1960s, it was easy to be SPECTRE

The Original SPECTRE LogoThe Cuban Missile Crisis was causing fear across the Western world; all Blofeld had to do was hijack some nuclear weapons and hold them for ransom. His scheme was simple … and universally terrifying.

Today, the West is more worried about unconstitutional governmental surveillance than global annihilation. Always one to evolve with the times, SPECTRE’s latest scheme is to secretly partner with nine world governments and take over their new massive global surveillance network. The end goal is to, presumably, do bad things with the data? Become Big Brother? It’s not entirely clear, but the fate of the free world seems to be at stake.

Despite clocking in as the longest Bond movie yet, SPECTRE never leaves the audience checking their watch. Christoph Waltz does a fantastic job portraying Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Although physical strength is not his forte, the head of SPECTRE comes across as creepy, menacing, evil, sadistic, cruel, calculating and brilliant. When he taunts Bond in the control room of his secret lair, it really feels as if 007 has met his match.

 

Christoph Waltz SPECTRE character posterBond v. Blofeld

With so much going right, one is left to wonder why the movie rushes through the showdown in Morocco? The entire third act of the film should have taken place inside the SPECTRE compound. After all, this is the matchup fans have been waiting four decades for: Bond vs Blofeld.

However, instead of building tension and developing their relationship, the movie quickly introduces convoluted new plot points, puts Bond in a laughably escapable situation and quickly moves the finale to London … presumably to give the MI6 staff more screen time.

Also confusing is why Blofeld had to be a face from Bond’s past. SPECTRE’s role in Bond’s recent heartbreaks is more than enough reason for 007 to hate Blofeld. Conversely, all the trouble Bond caused over the past decade is sufficient motivation for Blofeld to be vindictive towards 007.

Yet, instead of that plausible relationship, we are expected to believe that the world’s mightiest criminal organization has spent the past ten years trying to piss off James Bond just because their leader has daddy issues. It just doesn’t make sense, and cheapens the stories of Casino RoyaleQuantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Still, despite these shortcomings, SPECTRE is a great Bond movie. It succeeds on more levels than it fails, and hopefully sets the stage for another showdown with Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

 

 


WHAT WORKED

 

The Mexican Pre-Title Sequence

Filming in Mexico CityAfter opening the film with a classic gunbarrel sequence, the first four minutes glide by in one continuous take: without a single apparent cut in the filming.

This unique and beautiful style of directorial mastery has never been attempted in a Bond film, and its perfect execution adds a sense of intrigue to the scene and makes the audience feel like they are right there with 007. However, it’s worth noting that the effect was achieved by combining several meticulously choreographed long takes, edited together with shrewdly placed wipes and a small amount of CGI. 1

The rest of the pre-title sequence was equally as beautiful; as the producers recreated an entire Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City … complete with a thrilling helicopter battle above the main square. Truly one of the best of the series.

 

Theme Song and Titles

While Sam Smith’s oft-lambasted theme song lacks the punch of most other themes, the shortened version used in the movie works well alongside the beautiful visuals.

Daniel Kleinman did an outstanding job designing his seventh Bond title sequence. The dancing girls feature more prominently than they did in Skyfall, and Daniel Craig got a chance to show off his abs. Featuring scenes from the other Craig-era films was another great touch. And yes, even the strange oily octopus was cool.

 

Meeting SPECTRE

the SPECTRE boardroomThe SPECTRE board meeting provides one of the most tense, fun and retro scenes in the movie. For the first time since 1965’s Thunderball, we see all agents of this shadowy organization in one place at one time. All that was missing was a sliding door hidden in a Parisian NGO.

 

The Pale King

Another highlight of SPECTRE was Bond’s “chess match” with Mr. White. Sure, the metaphor was obvious and a bit of a cliché, but seeing Mr. White slide the octopus ring across the chess board next to the rook, followed by Bond passing his Walther PPK across the board… it’s enough to give you chills.

 

Franz Oberhauser   Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Ernst Stavro BlofeldBy naming Bond 24 SPECTRE, the movie instantly teased one of the series’ most beloved and iconic villainous organizations — one that could seemingly be led by only one man. That alone was enough to induce a Pavlovian response from the Bond faithful.

Although Christoph Waltz publicly claimed that his character was not Blofeld, most Bond fans expected that to change at some point during SPECTRE. And change it did.

When Bond saw the white Persian cat and heard Oberhauser introduce himself as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a wave of glee came over me. For an extended moment, I was as giddy as a little kid, thrusting my hands into the air and squeeing audibly in the theater.

The squees returned later in the film, when Blofeld reappears with his trademark scar and utters a variation of his classic line from You Only Live Twice. Waltz may have said, “Goodbye, James Bond,” but all I heard was Donald Pleasence’s voice shouting, “Goodbye, Meeester Bond.”

 

The MI6 Staff

Miss Moneypenny Character Poster - SPECTREOne of SPECTRE’s highlights is the extended use of the MI6 support staff: M, Q and Moneypenny. While M is busy trying to keep MI6 afloat, Q and Moneypenny are neck-deep in covertly helping 007 on his mission … at the potential expense of their own careers.

Although Ralph Fiennes spends too much of SPECTRE in angry/stressed mode, it’s great to see Judi Dench in a short cameo, leading Bond on his latest mission from beyond the grave. One can only hope that future movies develop the relationship with this new M in the same way.

The scene in Q-Lab is an instant classic, as Ben Whishaw channels his inner Desmond Llewelyn while making the role his own. The relationship between Q and Bond is playful, familiar, mutually respectful and yet slightly irritated: especially when Q finds 007 in Austria. It’s the best use of the character since Llewelyn joined Timothy Dalton in the field in 1989’s License to Kill.

Meanwhile, SPECTRE marks the first time we see a bit of Moneypenny’s personal life. Not only does she have a “friend” staying overnight, but she also has a fully-stocked fridge.

 

The Humor is Back

A side effect of the Craig-era Bond films’ grittiness was a lack of humor. In SPECTRE, the laughs return. A few highlights include:

  • Bond landing on a couch during the pre-title sequence
  • Bond’s reaction to receiving a green health drink instead of his vodka martini
  • The gadgets failing in his Aston Martin
  • Bond’s face when Q denies him a new car

 

A few others things to love about SPECTRE

  • The love scene with Monica Bellucci is a classic example of, “I’ll seduce the bad guy’s girlfriend to get a critical clue.” Except, for once, the woman lives.
  • Bond and his luggageBlofeld’s lair seemed like a mix between Dr. No’s hideout and Blofeld’s hollowed out volcano in You Only Live Twice.
  • The train scene was very reminiscent of the Orient Express in From Russia With Love.
  • Except for Omega and Heineken, most of the product placement was subtle. But boy, they sure did show Bond’s watch a lot.
  • For the first time, we actually see Bond carry luggage. And no, his briefcases and gadgets don’t count. It’s great to know that he has to pack for a mission, just like the rest of us. (see photo to the right)
  • The MI6 safe house is called “Hildebrand Rarity & Treasures,” which is a reference to a short story called the Hildebrand Rarity in Ian Fleming’s For Your Eyes Only.

 


WHAT DIDN’T WORK

For all that SPECTRE did right, there were quite a few things that didn’t quite work.

 

Madeline Swann

Madeline SwannWhen George Lazenby drove off with Tracy Bond at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, their love was obvious, pure and beautiful. When Daniel Craig mourned the death of Vesper Lynd across two movies, we felt Bond’s sorrow and mourned alongside him. However, when Madeline Swann confesses her love for 007, it seems unrealistic and forced.

One can assume that their relationship developed off-screen, as they had plenty of travel time to get to know each other and develop a sense of intimacy. But the audience isn’t along for the ride. We simply see a brief game of cold, then hot, then drunk, then cold, then love. Bond’s interest in Swann doesn’t appear to be much more than a casual fling … yet there he is, driving off to start a new life with her in his DB5.

 

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes directs SPECTRESkyfall was the most beautifully directed movie in the Bond series, especially the Macau casino floating candle scene and the blue silhouette fight atop a Shanghai skyscraper.

In SPECTRE, Sam Mendes seems to be lacking that flare. Other than the magnificent pre-title sequence and his brilliant use of empty space in Morocco, the film seemed a bit flat. Perhaps this is because Roger Deakins, his cinematographer for Skyfall, was absent from SPECTRE.

 

A Few Niggles

  • How was Silva a part of SPECTRE? He seemed like a throw in, just to tie all the Craig-era Bond films together. In reality, Skyfall was a stand alone piece … just like Goldfinger.
  • The car chase was amazing, but what was the purpose? Bautista never tried to overtake or smash Bond. He just chased him.
  • My opening night SPECTRE ticketsHow did the bad guys on the gondola in Austria know who Q was, and why were they chasing him?
  • Speaking of Austria, where did Bond find the plane he stole?
  • When the bad guys kidnapped Bond during the finale, was their plan simply to leave him in that lobby? If so, they were basically killed for successfully completing their mission.
  • So Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother? Sounds suspiciously like the plot to Austin Powers: Goldmember. While it doesn’t bother me, the connection does make the movie a bit of a joke in some circles.
  • How did the SPECTRE ring have the DNA of so many people on it? What are the odds that LeChiffre, Dominic Green, Silva and Blofeld all touched some mid-level SPECTRE agent’s ring?
  • SPECTRE IMAX movie posterMax Dengbhi, aka ‘C’, has too much screen time for someone who shares a mere minute with 007. Sure, Andrew Scott gives a devilishly delightful performance in the roll, but it seems that the character mostly exists to give M someone to battle, thereby taking the focus off Bond.
  • SPECTRE’s meaning is never revealed. Yes, previous adventures tell us it stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. But, they never say anything about that in the movie.
  • Hinx is underused. Though, for a character with no dialogue except one final expletive, they do a decent job of developing his character.
  • SPECTRE is in such a rush to get to the next destination, that no one place is ever explored in any detail. This feels like a missed opportunity
  • For most of the movie, Bond doesn’t even realize what he’s involved in. He’s just stumbling along and happens to find a guy in the middle of doing a bad thing.


The Flaming Hand of License to Kill

The Flaming Hand of License to Kill

license to kill movie header

The Urban Legend of the Flaming Hand in License to Kill

During the finale of License to Kill, Bond and Sanchez battle it out in tanker trucks over a stretch of highway known as the Rumarosa Pass in Mexicali. While filming a scene where a tanker exploded, a special effects crew member was taking photos from behind the scenes.

When he looked at his photos later, he saw what could only be described as a flaming hand reaching down from inside the explosion. Even eerier, director John Glen went through every single inch of footage filmed that day, frame by frame, and couldn’t find the hand anywhere else.

Dangerous Curves Ahead

Now, it can be said that this was just a trick of light from the angle the photograph was taken. However, the exact spot where it happened has a long and checkered history; years earlier a minibus full of nuns fell over the cliff and burst into flames. Since then the road had been closed due to its “dangerous curves.”

In addition to the flaming hand, the crew of Licence to Kill had all sorts of other mishaps over the course of filming.

While filming a scene where Sanchez shoots off a Stinger missile, the prop stinger went haywire and hit a utility worker on a telephone pole more than two miles away.

Other examples include the truck that mysteriously burst into flames in the middle of the night for no reason, the truck that started its engine and drove a few feet with no one behind the wheel.

Then, there were the apparitions that the security guards reported seeing that disappeared when challenged.

Were these all just random and freak occurrences or was there actually a higher power at work during the filming of Licence to Kill? Director John Glen thinks there might be, as evidenced by a quote from his book, For My Eyes Only.

There was definitely a strange atmosphere on that stretch of road. The special effects boys where convinced there was something spooky about the place. If there was any doubt left in my mind, it was dispelled by a bizarre photograph …

While we will never know for certain, it sure is fun to speculate.

 

Can you spot the hand?

Below is a gallery of screenshots from the License to Kill tanker explosion scene. Can you spot the hand? (spoiler alert – you can’t)

License to Kill Flaming Hand

License to Kill Flaming Hand

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License to Kill Flaming Hand

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License to Kill Flaming Hand

License to Kill Flaming Hand

License to Kill Flaming Hand

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License to Kill Flaming Hand

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License to Kill Flaming Hand


Universal Exports Film References

Universal Exports, Ltd.


First used in Fleming’s novels, Universal Exports operates as the cover for MI6. M is referred to as the “managing director” and Bond is a field agent. Although Fleming changed Universal Exports to “Transworld Consortium” in his novel The Man With The Golden Gun, this change was never reflected on in the films.

Over the years, MI6 has become much more open regarding its existence; however, the cover still proves quite useful in Bond’s fieldwork.


Universal Exports has appeared in these James Bond movies:

Dr. No

There are two signs that read Universal Exports: one in front of the building and one in front of Moneypenny’s office. Later, in Jamaica, Bond mentions UnivEx when he is speaking with the governor.

universal-exports-dr-no


From Russia With Love

When Bond is paged, he calls the office and says, “Come in UNIVEX, James Bond here, over.”

. . .

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

The movie opens with a shot of a sign that says Universal Exports (London) ltd.


universal-exports-on-her-majestys-secret-service


For Your Eyes Only

The helicopter that Bond is picked up in during the pre-title sequence says Universal Exports on the side.


Octopussy

  1. Upon meeting Moneypenny’s assistant, Penelope Smallbone, he says, “Welcome to Universal Exports.”
  2. Later, when he meets Vijay he introduces himself as being from Universal Exports.
  3. Later still, when Bond looks at the LCD camera in Q Branch, the screen on the TV says Universal Exports.

. . .

The Living Daylights

Right before the Q Branch scene, there is a shot of a building with a Universal Exports sign on it. Later, when Bond calls Station V (Vienna), they answer the phone as Universal Exports.

. . .

Licence To Kill

Bond tells Milton Krest that he is from Universal Exports and is looking to buy a Great White Shark.

. . .

The World Is Not Enough

When Bond meets Davidov he introduces himself as being from Universal Exports and proceeds to show him an identification card. Later, Bond uses that same ID card for the photo when he needs to forge a different ID.

universal-exports-id-card-the-world-is-not-enough

Die Another Day

When Bond goes to meet Raoul, his old contact in Cuba, he tells the receptionist that he is from Universal Exports and to check with his boss about the Delectados cigars (the cigars are a thirty-year-old code they use to identify themselves as allies).

. . .

Quantum of Solace

While investigating Dominic Green in Port au Prince, he comes across a security guard and hands him a Universal Exports business card.

Amazingly, the URL on that business card was www.universalexports.net. That’s right, THIS WEBSITE! So cool.

Universal Exports business card Quantum of SolaceUniversal Exports business card Quantum of Solace


James-Bond-Collages

James Bond Movie Header Collages

James-Bond-Collages

A Collage-Based Exploration of 007’s Cinematic History

Every James Bond movie has a dossier on UniversalExports.net. And, each of those massive sections has a hand-designed header.

I personally love scrolling through them, as they both represent 6 decades of James Bond and two decades of my own design style.

Hope you enjoy.


James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Dr. No

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - From Russia With Love

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Goldfinger

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Thunderball

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Thunderball

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - You Only Live Twice

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - You Only Live Twice

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - You Only Live Twice

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - On Her Majesty's Secret Service

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - On Her Majesty's Secret Service

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Diamonds Are Forever

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Live and Let Die

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - The Man With the Golden Gun

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - The Spy Who Loved Me

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Moonraker

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - For Your eyes Only

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Octopussy

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - A View to A Kill

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - The Living Daylights

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Licence to Kill

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - License to Kill

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - GoldenEye

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Tomorrow Never Dies

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Tomorrow Never Dies

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - The World is Not Enough

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Die Another Day

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Casino Royale

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art -Casino Royale

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Quantum of Solace

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - Skyfall

 

James Bond Movie Header Fan Art - SPECTRE

All for home products on DHgate.com


sean-connery-roger-moore-007

Kevin McClory, Sony and Bond: A 007 History Lesson

The Battle of the Bonds - Kevin McClory, Thunderball, and SPECTRE

Ernst Stavro Blofeld – head of SPECTRE – is arguably the most famous James Bond villain of all time.

However, his existence and disappearance have been marred in controversy since 1961; when Ian Fleming’s Thunderball novel neglected to credit (and pay) SPECTRE’s co-creator: Kevin McClory.

Sean Connery in ThunderballLawsuits followed; and, eventually, Kevin McClory was given the full rights to SPECTRE and the Thunderball story.

This settlement resulted in Never Say Never Again: a 1983 spin-off Bond movie; most famous for bringing Sean Connery back to the series.

In the decades that followed, various rumors were heard about McClory creating another unofficial film.

However, MGM was quick to file lawsuits and injunctions; ensuring that it never happened.

Finally, in 2013, the estate of Kevin McClory reached a settlement with the Bond producers; which brought the rights to Thunderball, SPECTRE and Blofeld back home.

It took less than a year for Danjaq to capitalize on the reacquisition: having just announced SPECTRE as the title of Bond 24.

. . .

For the full history of the 50 year battle over SPECTRE – including all the sordid details of never-filmed spin-offs, bickering, in-fighting and more – keep on reading.


 

KEVIN MCCLORY AND IAN FLEMING

Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory first met in 1958 at a screening of The Boy and The Bridge, which McClory had co-written, directed and produced.

At that time, Fleming had unsuccessfully tried to get all seven of his Bond novels turned into movies. The closest he had come to success was in 1954; when he sold the rights to Casino Royale to CBS for $1,000.

. . .

THUNDERBALL WAS ALMOST THE FIRST 007 MOVIE

It was McClory who suggested to Fleming that they take James Bond into an underwater world, as well as create a super-villain character.

Ernst Stavro BlofeldThis nemesis would be a diabolical, intelligent, seemingly invincible mastermind with formidable henchmen; whose single-handed defeat by James Bond would make James Bond evolve into a cinematic super-hero.

Fleming reluctantly accepted McClory’s offer; partly because, as Fleming said in 1959,

“…the trouble with writing something, especially for the screen, is I haven’t a single idea in my head.”

Fleming and McClory began to work on a script in early 1959 and were later joined by well known and accomplished British screenwriter Jack Whittingham.

The script, which included the introduction of SPECTRE and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, was written during a 10-month period in 1959 and 1960.

. . .

IAN FLEMING’S BIG MISTAKE

As Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham (photo to the right) were completing the script of Thunderball, Ian Fleming sent a draft copy to his agent, Lawrence Evans.

Jack WhittinghamThe novel Thunderball was published in 1961, based entirely on McClory and Whittingham’s script, and without the knowledge or consent of the coauthors.

On March 31, 1961, McClory and Whittingham filed a lawsuit against Fleming, citing a breach of copyrights, breach of confidence, conversion, of contract, false representation of authorship and slander of title.

The nine-day trial was held at the High Court in London, England, in November 1963.

During the proceedings, Fleming admitted to the court that he had indeed based the Thunderball novel on Whittingham and McClory’s scripts, and agreed to publicly acknowledge this fact.

On December 3, 1963, the court ordered Fleming to assign and sell the film copyright of the novel Thunderball and all copyrights in the screenplay to McClory.

Additionally, under the order of the British court, Fleming gave appropriate authorship acknowledgment in all future editions of Thunderball.

. . .

THUNDERBALL. the movie

In 1961, despite the ongoing legal dispute, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, together with United Artists, commissioned screenwriter Richard Maibaum to write a screenplay based on the Thunderball novel and/or McClory’s James Bond film scripts.

They had no assignment of film rights from Fleming, McClory or Whittingham.

You can clearly see McClory's name in this Thunderball posterSaltzman and Broccoli’s intended to film Thunderball as the first in a series of James Bond movies. In fact, they even used the script to lure Sean Connery to the series. He is quoted as saying,

“The first James Bond film which I was hired for was Thunderball for United Artists and the first [Bond] script I was given to read by Broccoli and Saltzman’s company was Thunderball.”

Despite being unable to use the script as the first Bond film, elements of Thunderball were incorporated into Dr. No; most importantly, the introduction of SPECTRE.

A 10 Year License

The first legal right for EON to use any material from Thunderball in a motion picture came on March 12, 1965.

This was in the form of a license from Kevin McClory’s company, Paradise Film Productions, which limited Danjaq/Eon’s use of Thunderball for one film only.

McClory insisted that the rights revert back to his company after ten years; so he could one day make further James Bond films. McClory also retained ownership of all shooting scripts and contents included in those scripts used to make Thunderball.

These rights did return to McClory; who, in 1983, produced Never Say Never Again.

 

DID YOU KNOW? Kevin McClory has a brief cameo in Thunderball; appearing as a guest smoking a cigar when 007 enters the Nassau casino. Below is a screenshot; courtesy of BondMovies.com.

Kevin McClory in Thunderball - a cameo

 


TEN YEARS LATER: BACK TO COURT

With the release of The Man With the Golden Gun in late 1973, Bond fans began to become tired of the Bond character.

Kevin McClory at a screening of Thunderball in 1965The film was a critical bomb, Albert R. Broccoli is working, for the first time, without his longtime partner Harry Saltzman, and the rights to Thunderball had returned to Kevin McClory.

Sensing that the time was right to get back into the ‘Bond-game,’ McClory promptly announced that he would begin production on a new Bond film, entitled James Bond of the Secret Service.

MGM promptly filed suit against McClory to stop him from making a rival Bond film. McClory’s argument was that he alone had the rights to SPECTRE and Broccoli and company could not use it.

Broccoli stated that McClory had no right to make a movie based on the original drafts; as he didn’t have Ian Fleming’s permission. Due to lack of financial backing, McClory backed down.

. . .

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. 1978 – 1983

In 1978 Danjaq/United Artists and the Fleming Trustees tried, in two separate actions, to prevent Paramount and McClory from making a James Bond spin-off movie called Warhead; which would be based on McClory’s Thunderball scripts.

Never Say Never Again Movie PosterDanjaq/UA did not proceed with their action, but encouraged and indemnified the trustees to bring the case to court, however unsuccessfully, in an effort to keep the project in limbo.

Fast forward to 1981.

The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker are global blockbusters and Bond is back in the limelight. Despite sneaking the “wheelchair villain” into For Your Eyes Only – an obvious reference to Blofeld – Kevin McClory still has sole rights to Thunderball, SPECTRE and Blofeld.

At this point, McClory has spent the last seven years talking about and trying to find financial backing to go win a court case and remake Thunderball.

All his problems were solved when McClory met Jack Schwartzman of Warner Brothers.

Schwartzman knew McClory had the rights to do the film; his case just had to be presented correctly.

The Fleming trustee case against Never say Never Again lasted until 1983, when the British High Court ruled for Kevin McClory. The ruling stating that the Deed of Assignment – dated December 31, 1963 – gave McClory full rights to both the novel and original scripts to Thunderball.

Thanks to the help of Warner Brothers’ lawyers, McClory was finally free to begin production on his remake.

. . .

Warhead Fan Art from 007ArtTAKING A BREAK.
1983 – 1997

Since releasing Never Say Never Again, McClory continued to hint at another remake. In 1989, he announced that he begin filming on Warhead 8; which never materialized.

. . .

THE GREAT SONY BATTLE.
1997 – 2001

From 1997 through 1999, the world watched as Kevin McClory once again found himself in court, battling for the then three decade old rights to Thunderball.

After announcing that Sony would be making a rival Bond film, MGM and Danjaq promptly filed a $25 million lawsuit in federal court; charging that Sony’s efforts to mount a rival Bond film are due to “a disgruntled former executive of MGM’s United Artists Pictures.”

In February, 1998, Sony Pictures counter sued MGM and Danjaq, claiming that Bond and the Bond movies are,

All based on the sort of action originally written in the story line for Thunderball.”

A fan's vision for a Warhead posterBecause of that, they claimed that McClory was the coauthor of the cinematic Bond.

Sony further claimed that MGM and Danjaq owed McClory fees for all the Bond movies they have produced because he was the coauthor of the cinematic Bond.

As the trial continued into the summer months, Sony began pre-production on their rival Bond film before MGM filed an injunction to cease all activities on the movie.

The injunction was issued on July 30, 1998 and production promptly halted.

This essentially marked the beginning of the end for the ill-fated second McClory remake. In the months that followed, the sides went back and forth.

The original December 15, 1998 trial date was pushed back indefinitely to give the appellate court an opportunity to rule on Sony’s appeal of the preliminary injunction.

The final blow came on March 30, 1999, when Sony reached a settlement with MGM.

“Essentially,” said Sony attorney David W. Steuber, “we have given up the universal right to make a James Bond picture.”

McClory promptly appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Their ruling was the same; and. on May 11, 2001, the original finding was upheld. McClory was not entitled to a share of the profits from the series.

. . .

A FEW FINAL RUMORS

Kevin McClory Despite that final nail in the Thunderball coffin, occasional rumors still trickled out over the next few years.

These rumors became particularly loud in 2004, when Sony Pictures entered a bid to buy MGM; which, it eventually did.

However, since all the official and unofficial Bond movies were now under the same umbrella, creating a “rival” Bond movie was no longer necessary.

Not to mention, Kevin McClory still owned the rights to the story and characters… even if he couldn’t do anything with them.

. . .

THUNDERBALL FINALLY COMES HOME

When Kevin McClory died on November 20, 2006, the rights to Thunderball, Blofeld and SPECTRE passed on to his estate.

Seven years later, on November 15, 2013, McClory’s family finally agreed to return those rights to MGM and Danjaq: the creators of all official Bond films.

Although the terms were not disclosed, the agreement finally put an end to a 50 year old rivalry… and paved the way for 2015’s SPECTRE.

UnivEx Coverage in the 1990s

In the late 90’s, Universal Exports reported extensively on the court battle. Below are links to some of the most important articles from the case.

 

* 2001 U.S. Court of Appeals Final Decision

* Sony Abandons Bond Ambition-3.30.99
* Connery to return in Doomsday 2000-10.24.98
* Judge postpones Dec. 15 trial date-9.18.98
* Sony co-CEO ordered deposed-9.14.98
* Judge Tells Sony To Stop-7.30.98
* James Bond Clone Killed-7.27.98
* McClory Makes Official Claims-7.14.98
* MGM Seeks Injunction-5.20.98
* MGM Takes Bond Action-4.15.98
* Sony Drops Bond Bomb-2.20.98
* Sony Strikes Back-2.20.98
* Sean’s Return?-1.16.98

* A Pending Lawsuit-10.18.97
* Official Announcement-10.13.97