Bermuda Film Blog
Everything or Nothing The thrilling inside story of the James Bond franchise
This article was originally published in 1/16/2013 edition of the Bermuda Sun; Writer Sarah Lagan
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 16: The story of Bond: Everything or Nothing explores the meteoric rise of a series of spy novels into a national treasure, an institution and a gold mine.
Following the shared dream of producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and writer Ian Fleming, we see how close 007came to failing before becoming the longest running film series in history.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary Bond: Everything or Nothing digs up reels upon reels of old footage from the Eon Productions’ extensive archive to help tell the inside story of the franchise for the first time.
All the big guns were gathered for this extensive documentary from the screenwriters, art designers, directors and actors to family members and friends.
The glaring omission is Sean Connery — the original and, as many believe, the best Bond of all.
He is sorely missed — much of the documentary focuses on his involvement in the films but we don’t really get to hear his opinions about the franchise that made him a household name. He doesn’t come out of the film looking very good.
Formerly an unknown actor, Bond made Connery an overnight star but as his fame rocketed so did the tension between him and the producers. Despite his success, it is suggested that Connery believed Broccoli and Saltzman were greedy with their money and that, as the star of the show, he deserved to be paid more.
Eventually he pulled out saying he would never return.
Then, in 1983, he made the ironically titled Never say Never Again after being artfully coaxed back by Kevin McClory — the litigious thorn in the side of Eon Productions.
McClory was determined to prove he had the rights to create a rival Bond franchise claiming to have co-written the storyline for Thunderball.
Other tensions rose within the Eon family as Saltzman fell into financial difficulties forcing Broccoli to carry on the franchise without him.
Daughter Barbara Broccoli explains how the opening scene of The Spy Who Loved Me — with Bond skiing off a sheer cliff face before opening up a Union Jack parachute — was a metaphor for her father’s gamble in continuing without Saltzman.
It’s the details like this that make this documentary more than just promotional fluff.
Aside from the archival material there are some great new interviews including those with all but one of the Bonds.
Roger Moore tells how bad he now feels for having to knock a little Thai boy off of a boat during a scene in one of the films, it doesn’t fit especially well with his role as a UNICEF Good Will Ambassador.
George Lazenby recalls how he tricked his way into the Eon offices and lied to the producers about his acting experience. Attracted by his audacity they gave him a shot but he blew it. His interview is candid — he talks of his deepest regret and how, when director Roman Polanski announced at a party “here’s George, the redundant actor!”, Lazenby had to go home and look up the word redundant in the dictionary.
The film makes clear that Fleming, a former Commander in the Royal Navy specializing in intelligence, created the man he wished he could be through Bond. It was “the autobiography of a dream,” says one interviewee.
Bond was his alter ego — Fleming is said to have once told a girl: “I hope you are not a lesbian” before passionately kissing her in true Bond fashion.
While Fleming is portrayed as a confident, charismatic man, we are given an insight into his vulnerability. As fellow actor Christopher Lee put it “the world was not enough for him”. Early on, unsure about the future of the books, he hit rock bottom before the producers came along to save the day.
The film is packed with clever editing that intertwines the story of Bond with the real off screen story at any given moment making for highly entertaining viewing.
The Presidential following of Bond plays a big part in the documentary with admiration flowing in from John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. We see footage of JFK reading his favourite books list and From Russia With Love was down as number four. The President even went as far to say said he wished he had Bond on his team.
Fleming offers some of the most vivid quotations throughout the film — he talks of wanting to, “thrill the reader right down to his taste buds.”
After a scene about Timothy Dalton’s reinvention of Bond as a violent, brutal killer, it cuts to an old clip of Fleming explaining: “It’s not for children, it’s for warm blooded, heterosexual adults”.
On the whole the story is extremely favourable of Eon and there are few voices included in the story that contest that. However it does explore the difficulties along the way not least Bond’s ongoing identity crisis following the lead of Connery. It is certainly worth watching though and not only for the die-hard fans — the documentary is a highly entertaining and informative watch.