The Death Collectors: Bond Films that Never Were

TBH, I can't see Connery pulling it off. His Bond is too cocksure, confident, whereas in the novel of OHMSS Bond is going into Blofeld's lair with no gadgets, back up, nothing but his wits. He's bricking it from the word go.

For my money, and having been fortunate to see it on the big screen in 2009, the existing film is one of the finest in the franchise. Lazenby has issues, yes, but he's spot on for the Bond of that book.
So, Alt Theme wise, we have

1) "The Living Daylights" by The Pet Shop Boys (OTL "This Must Be The Place I Tried So Hard To Leave)
2) "Tomorrow Never Dies" by KD Lang (OTL "Surrender")
3) "Per Fine Ounce" by Elton John (something from OTL "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", possibly the song of the same name)
4) "You Only Live Twice" by Bonnie Tyler (part of me wants this to be Tyler singing the OTL theme, but likely something from 1991 album "Bitterblue" - "Against the Wind" or "Whenever You Need Me" perhaps?)
Aye on the first two, the ideas for PFO and YOLT are very good! I didn't have a sound in mind for either, but those OTL songs sound convincing enough.

Am guessing that Belles of Hell is basically Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang by another name.

Indeed. Not that Thunderball isn't awesome, but I've always like Warwick's original song for the film.

TBH, I can't see Connery pulling it off. His Bond is too cocksure, confident, whereas in the novel of OHMSS Bond is going into Blofeld's lair with no gadgets, back up, nothing but his wits. He's bricking it from the word go.

For my money, and having been fortunate to see it on the big screen in 2009, the existing film is one of the finest in the franchise. Lazenby has issues, yes, but he's spot on for the Bond of that book.

It's a fair point, certainly. There's a tendency to assume Connery in OHMSS means the movie is immediately a triumph, but there's many ways they could have screwed it up (particularly if Connery had made the later, YOLT-like versions). It's obviously going to be a different performance (just like Dunaway's Tracy would be more damaged than Rigg's), but I do think Connery does have the ability to pull it off - aided by a script in which gadgets are more prominent - in a context in which he finally has "something" to dig into.

But for that it's worth, I strongly agree that OHMSS is a great film (powerful even at times) and that its rehabilitation is a welcome spot. Since we'll be seeing Lazenby at least once in a later entry, I think I won't comment on him beyond that.
I will admit that I will always have a soft spot for Telly Savalas.
Savalas was the best of the Actors that played Biofield.
I was really disappointed with Donald Pleasant (Who I like in other roles) .
He is so over the top .
And Charles Grey lack any sense of menace .
I can't see Connery pulling it off. His Bond is too cocksure, confident, whereas in the novel of OHMSS
Connery could act well , if the Director was able to get him to do so.
Guy Hamilton was not a director who could get Connery to act well.
So yes , there going to be problems .
Lazenby has issues, yes, but he's spot on for the Bond of that book.
I never cared for Lazenby .
He not a good actor .
This is most obvious with the death of Tracy .
I seen high School theater kids .with better acting
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Bond's reaction to Tracy's death is the second take. Apparently the first one showed Bond too vulnerable. Lazenby had based his performance in the first take on how he reacted to her death when he'd read the book. There were genuine tears.
8. A View to a Kill (1985)
Lewis Collins IS James Bond


I hear the bedroom scene with Grace didn’t go too well.”
“I’d rather not discuss it
(Euan Lloyd and Lewis Collins, 1984)​

Cubby Broccoli wasn’t fond of Lewis Collins. At least not at first, and certainly not by the end of it, but there was a time in which the powerful Bond producer developed sufficient faith on the intense British actor to take on a substantial gamble on his behalf. Having already had a brief, unsuccessful meeting back in 1980, it was only the combination of Roger Moore departing the franchise after contract disputes, and the financial collapse of Kevin McClory’s attempted Thunderball remake, which had conspired to open both men a second chance. Collins, by then fresh from portraying a sophisticated SAS operative in Who Dares Wins (1982), had gotten an audition thanks to Barbara Broccoli, who – taken in by Collins’s performance – suggested to his father that he was worth another look. Although the actor clearly desired the role, he was initially unwilling to make an effort to impress Broccoli until Euan Lloyd, producer to Who Dares Wins and something of a mentor to the young actor, made it clear to Collins that the simplest mistake could cost him the role for good.

Such is the origin for the rumour that Collins showed up dressed in character to meet Broccoli and the rest of the production team, which both the actor and Lloyd have dismissed as an exaggeration. In Lloyd’s own words, he merely tried to “smooth the rough edges”. Whatever the context of his audition, Collins made a sufficiently good impression to win the much desired role after some wrangling over his contract, and was announced to the world as the fourth James Bond in July 1982 right in the middle of the post Falklands War patriotic frenzy. The honeymoon, however, would not last very long as Octopussy became mired on production issues, personal conflicts and, perhaps crucially, Collins’ own dissatisfaction with a script he still felt reflected Moore rather than his own desired (and darker) take on the role. Still, Broccoli and the actor had soldiered on, with the former giving his new potential star some leeway with the more comedic elements of the script, and the latter dutifully promoting the film before the press. In the end, Octopussy neither impressed the critics nor smashed the box office, and to this day remains a competent yet not very inspiring entry on the franchise.

Thus, and perhaps hoping to avoid a repeat of Moore’s infamous second outing repeating itself, Broccoli and EON decided a different approach was needed, something that would both excite audiences and reverse the diminishing financial returns that had taken place ever since the late 70’s. Having announced the next entry as “From a View to a Kill” – soon shortened to A View to a Kill – a degree of continuity was maintained by retaining director John Glen, who worked with returning screenwriter George MacDonald Fraser to try and come up with an appropriate story. With both men interested in the prospect of another intrigue-filled adventure like Four Your Eyes Only, for which they wanted to use both the original story and unused material by Fleming, a competing pitch also emerged from Michael G. Wilson and Richard Maibaum, suggesting a technology-based plot regarding the destruction of Silicon Valley with means such as Halley's Comet or the San Andreas Fault, which some felt were reminiscent of Goldfinger.

In the end, and after much debate with Cubby Broccoli, the final plotline ended up resembling more of the latter rather than the original concept, although a number of elements proposed by Fraser were preserved. In spite of warnings that the story becoming too cluttered, a number of action sequences left over from the draft of previous films were also added. Perhaps unintentionally, the finished plot also appeared to resemble Role of Honour, one of the Bond continuation novels by John Gardner, which led to some tension – privately and secretly resolved – with Gildrose Publications. Other than the search for a more appropriate plot for Collins’ take on Bond, the biggest novelty was to be found in the casting, with EON consciously trying to improve its standing and appeal with younger viewers by, as a critic would later put it “appealing to the MTV crowd”. Having written main villain Zorin with David Bowie in mind – going so far as to give the Zorin character heterochromia -, they only signed him up for the role after long discussions. Combined with the somewhat unorthodox choice of Priscilla Presley and Grace Jones to be the main Bond girls, A View to a Kill soon proved to be drowning in free publicity.

The filming process, which took place in Iceland, England, France and Switzerland across the latter half of 1984, proved to be just as contentious than the Octopussy shoot. For one, although Collins’ military background helped immensely in ramping up the tension and scale of the action set pieces, his feuding with famed stunt coordinator Bob Simmons – which dated all the way back to a past conflict in Who Dares Wins - led to substantial tension, with both men having to be separated from each other at one point. For another, David Bowie often questioned and prodded Glen and the EON team regarding the merits of the plot and the depth of the characters, which he found insufficient. And for yet another, it was reported Collins didn’t quite get along with Grace Jones for unclarified reasons, though both them would jokingly dismiss the notion in later years. In a final publicity coup, Broccoli got the popular English band Duran Duran to perform the film’s main theme after a chance encounter, maximizing the film’s commercial appeal.

A View to a Kill’s pre-title sequence takes place in Paris, with James Bond (Lewis Collins) trying to recover an advanced microchip stolen by the Soviets at a meeting with a contact at a restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. When the contact is murdered by the mysterious assassin May Day (Grace Jones), a prolonged and violent chase takes place across the city, resulting in the assassin escaping and Bond being arrested. Back in London, and assisted by Moneypenny (Michaela Clavell) and Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Bond identifies the recovered microchip as coming from Zorin Industries, a powerful French-based company that supplies military hardware to NATO. Suspecting someone in Zorin’s organization might be working for the Soviet Union and passing hardware, M (Robert Brown) assigns Bond to investigate the organization, including its eccentric chairman Max Zorin (David Bowie). 007 partners up with fellow operative Tibbett (Michael Byrne), and both men enter Zorin’s massive estate, which is meant to hold a private motorcycling Grand Prix, under false identities.

After a brief encounter with Stacey Sutton (Priscila Presley), a woman who Zorin is attempting to buy off, Bond and Zorin immediately suspect each other and try to uncover their respective goals, with the industrialist persuading May Day – his bodyguard and lover – to seduce Bond in search of information, and Bond stealing additional microchips from Zorin’s vault. Having discovered the identity of his visitors, Zorin challenges Bond and Tibbet to what is meant to be a friendly motorcycle race, but which turns into an intense, murderous chase with May Day’s assistance. Tibbett is murdered, and Bond, left for dead after violently crashing into a nearby river, is saved at the last moment by Sutton. Learning her rescuer is the heiress to a California-based tech company, rival to Zorin, Bond enlists her help to uncover his newest foe’s plan. Before Zorin and May Day can fly to California to enact their mysterious plan, they’re unsuccessfully confronted by General Gogol (Walter Gotell), with Zorin revealed to be a former asset who has outmaneuvered and betrayed his handlers.

Landing in San Francisco, Bond partners up with old friend and CIA agent Felix Leiter (Powers Boothe), briefly spars against KGB operative Pola Ivanova (Maryam D’Abo), and works alongside Sutton to uncover Zorin’s goals. As the investigation goes on Bond and Sutton develop a romantic connection, and after infiltrating the San Francisco City Hall, they eventually uncover evidence that Zorin is placing extensive amounts of explosives beneath San Francisco. Ambushed by May Day and Zorin at the building, a vicious gunfight ensures. Leiter is injured, and Sutton and Bond are captured after a dramatic chase. Brought to a number of underground caves beneath the city, Zorin reveals his intent to use the explosives to cause a devastating earthquake, destroying Silicon Valley and taking out his entire Western competition. Combining his intellect with technology he has stolen from the Soviets, he is confident of an imminent technological monopoly, which will give him unprecedented power and influence to wield. To May Day’s surprise, Zorin reveals the extent of his psychopathy by setting her up to die alongside Bond, taking Sutton as a hostage and preparing to watch and celebrate the unfolding disaster from his private airship.

Disgusted by Zorin’s betrayal, May Day chooses to disable the firing mechanism in spite of it being rigged, willingly electrocuting herself in the process whilst ensuring Zorin is able to see her ruining his plans. As the businessman rages and orders the airship to take off to make his escape, Bond manages to free himself and cling to a rope, mooring the airship to the Golden Gate bridge. Once the airship crashes on the top the bridge, Bond saves Sutton from the wreckage before being attacked by a manic, axe-wielding Zorin, both men engaging in a brutal fight. Assisted by Sutton, and lowering Zorin’s guard by mocking his self-proclaimed superiority, Bond prevails in the fight and the businessman falls to his death. Shortly after, and as General Gogol visits M to award 007 with the Order of Lenin, Bond and Sutton – via a Q spy cam – are seen “together” at her mansion.

The film premiered on May 1985 to significant expectations and an intense marketing campaign, focused on Duran Duran’s main theme, the Bowie-Jones duo, and to a lesser extent, the promise of a more action filled Bond than the more recent installments in the series. To Broccoli and Glen’s partial disappointment, critic reaction was tepid, with a minority of critics supportive of the film and very complimentary of Bowie, Jones and Collins outweighed by a majority which, while not entirely dismissive of the film, judged it “unimaginative” and “formulaic”, taking issue with the unprecedented level of violence displayed on screen, and dismissing Presley’s performance as bland. However, this internal disappointment at EON was rapidly overturned by what can only be described as sheer box office gold, an unusually powerful response by audiences helping overcome Octopussy’s weak results for the most commercially successful outing since Moonraker. Unusually for the series, Duran Duran’s “A View to a Kill” also skyrocketed all the way to being a No. 1 song, with a resulting urban legend suggesting the film’s box office numbers were actually inflated by people who just came to hear the song and then left the cinema.

Now consolidated in the mind of audiences after a very difficult transition, partly due to an aggressive courting of publicity, Collins felt pleased at having been able to get closer to the Fleming character of the novels, put on a darker performance as Bond and move away from Moore’s style, even if he still found the plots he had to work with rather constraining. As Wilson and Maibaum made preparations for writing what eventually became Risico (1987), Collins’ third of four Bond films, the actor and Cubby Broccoli both agreed in the potential involved in a fresher, more intrigue-filled approach, which signaled the highest point of the relationship between both men before what would eventually be such a contentious end to the English actor’s tenure.

Retrospectively, A View to a Kill has been described as the “MTV Bond”, an action filled spectacle with a memorable villain which, nonetheless, fails to live up to its potential by reusing previously seen aspects and plots. Highlights of the film include Bowie’s intense performance as the psychotic Zorin, the main action sequences (including the Paris and motorcycle chases, and the final axe fight), Bond’s rivalry with Zorin, and the chemistry between Zorin and May Day.

Author’s Notes: I wasn’t really familiar with Collins before, but he seems to come up often as one of the most persistent “What Ifs”. Here, he takes over Moore in Octopussy and pretty much gets to be the 80’s Bond. I initially toyed with going with the original Halley’s Comet plot, but I found it too ridiculous. Then I wanted to craft a more original, TLD or FYEO-like concept, but there wasn’t much material to work with. This leaves us with an alt-AVTAK devoid of some of the most unnecessary or exaggerated aspects, while still retaining what is admittedly a very tired premise. It wasn’t like the franchise was brimming with creativity at that point, something Collins himself can’t really change (much like Brosnan being undermined by mediocre scripts). Finally, Bowie and Presley were indeed considered for the film.​

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I did like the fact that Fraser eventually gets his Isle of Mann motorbike race into a movie.

Indeed! I was going to save it for an Alt-Octopussy, but it seems unlikely we'll delve into that scenario.

Also, the coming scenario includes a twist (hint: it's not a 1994-1995 film), I wonder if anyone would venture a guess as to what it may be.
Indeed! I was going to save it for an Alt-Octopussy, but it seems unlikely we'll delve into that scenario.

Also, the coming scenario includes a twist (hint: it's not a 1994-1995 film), I wonder if anyone would venture a guess as to what it may be.

My thought is ...

Female Bond?
9. GoldenEye (1991)
Timothy Dalton IS James Bond


CHING: Beijing will experience the bitter taste of my revenge, Mr. Bond.
BOND: And England will get the blame for it.”
(Sir Henry Lee Ching and James Bond, 1991)​

Having once held great expectations about Licence to Kill (1989), Timothy Dalton’s second outing as 007, EON Productions were confronted with disappointing results at the box office and a critical reaction that was lukewarm at best, if not dismissive towards the dark tone and the increased level of violence. Although some blamed a disastrous advertising campaign and very stiff competition as the cause of the film’s underperformance in the United States, others were growing increasingly convinced that the film series as a whole was facing creative stagnation, and that the relevance of the character itself was becoming fragile with the dramatic developments taking place as the Cold War came to a sudden end. Being on very friendly terms with Dalton – who continued to receive criticism in the media over his darker take on the secret agent -, the Broccolis nonetheless came to believe that major changes were needed if they wanted to recover.

Although they wouldn’t touch their lead actor, longtime director John Glen and veteran scriptwriter Richard Maibaum were not asked to collaborate on future projects. In spite of attempts to downplay the significance of this move before the press, it soon became clear the decision not to retain them had been contentious in personal terms, adding to the bad publicity. To make matters worse, the mounting debt that was crippling MGM/UA made it extremely vulnerable to a takeover from outside elements, resulting in a number of desperate attempts to sell it via a negotiated deal before someone could take control. This, in turn, led to a spectacle of bids as media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Italian financier Giancarlo Parretti and others attempted their own acquisition of the company. There was even talk of a separate sale of the Bond rights, with Hollywood producer Joel Silver signaling his public interest so he could replace Dalton with Mel Gibson and reboot the franchise. The issue only resolved itself in the final months of 1989, with the Australian company Qintex narrowly outbidding Murdoch – very nearly bankrupting itself in the process – to successfully buy MGM/UA.

Although the new management would soon enter into a conflict with EON, the Broccoli family breathed a sigh of relief: Bond 17 would move forward, perhaps giving them a chance to provide the franchise with what they hoped would be the 90’s equivalent to Goldfinger or The Spy Who Loved Me. Bringing back plans to film an Asian-centric story that had been abandoned while creating Licence to Kill, producer Michael G. Wilson partnered up with television writer Alfonse Ruggiero to write a script, finally deciding on a Hong Kong-based, technology heavy plot that would pit Bond against a more classical villain and a highly competent Bond girl. Although the basic plot would remain essentially the same during the rest of production, the motivations of several characters were altered a number of times, including spirited debate regarding the allegiance of a character meant to be an aging spy. Another point of controversy was the script’s call for an intense focus on robotics and the planned appearance of a robotic character, a twist only removed at the last minute after flaws in the special effects and fears it would evoke the outlandishness of Moonraker.

After courting several directors to replace Glen – including the likes to John Landis and Renny Harlin – Cubby Broccoli decided on Ted Kotcheff, who had directed the first of the Rambo films. And, in another sign of the changing times, the young Barbara Broccoli was promoted to producer after years of assisting the franchise. On the casting front, Dalton and the MI6 supporting cast would return yet again, with John Lone being asked to play Sir Henry Lee Ching, the film’s British Chinese villain; and Sela Ward becoming Bond girl Connie Webb - thus pairing up Dalton with an American heroine for the second time – after an allegedly impressive audition. Supporting roles would include British character actors such as Frank Finlay, and rising stars from Hong Kong cinema, the key location of the film. In spite of initial hopes of bringing back the character of Bond ally General Pushkin – played by John Rhys-Davies –, this concept was ditched after he could not be satisfactorily added to the plot, being listed instead as a potential plot element for Bond 18.

Starting production in the first half of 1991 for a release late into the year, filming took place in Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom, a relatively efficient affair from the technical point of view that was made contentious due to an internal debate surrounding the tone of the film. Whereas one camp at a EON wanted to ramp up the humor to lighten the mood after Licence to Kill, others – Dalton included – would only go so far, arguing it would not be believable. With John Barry returning yet again to provide the film’s score, English singer Lisa Stansfield would provide the film’s main theme “All the Right Places”.

GoldenEye’s pre-title sequence takes place at a highly automated chemical weapons plan in Scotland, which experiences a major explosion after its internal systems and machine malfunction. Amidst scenes of chaos in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister vows to investigate. At MI6, James Bond (Timothy Dalton) and M (Robert Brown) are told by Nigel Yupland (Michael Pennington), a rising star at the Ministry of Defence, that the plant in question had already been threatened via letter, and that a similar document promises another attack in Hong Kong in 72 hours. Due the government’s intent to disband the 00 Section, they are to find the culprit as their final task. Meanwhile, in Japan, a mysterious and skilled intruder breaks into Kohoni Industries, replacing the microchip in a robot assembler destined to China before escaping after an intense chase. Having taken off her mask after said escape, Q (Desmond Llewellyn) is able to identify the intruder from photographs as Connie Webb (Sela Ward), a former CIA operative and famed thief. Believing the break-in to be associated with a number of similar incidents across the globe, Bond is sent to Japan to make contact with Webb and find out the identity of her employer.

In Tokyo, Bond works alongside elderly spy Denholm Crisp (Frank Finlay) and tracks Webb into a ski resort in the mountains. Rescuing her from an avalanche after a fiercely competitive ski chase, Bond presents the thief with a highly advanced microchip meant as bait, and both are forced to make an escape after the Kohoni Twins – joint heads of Kohoni Industries – try to capture them for interrogation. Having gone their separate ways, Webb ensures the microchip reaches her employer, Sir Henry Lee Ching (John Lone), a brilliant half-British, half-Chinese entrepreneur based in Hong Kong and owner of GoldenEye Industries. Taking the bait, Ching extends an invitation to Bond to meet with him at a coming party. Afterwards, the businessman has a Chinese nuclear plant sabotaged via the equipment Webb modified, and he has his henchman Rodin (Al Leong) murder the Kohoni Brothers after they refuse selling their company to him. Bond and Crisp fly to Hong Kong, being unknowingly followed by the local Chinese intelligence. After meeting with Webb for the second time, Bond attends at party at the GoldenEye HQ, Ching’s high rise building, where he is – unknowingly for the agent - unmasked by Yupland, an old friend to the businessman.

Webb is arrested, and Bond – using his Aston Martin DB5 - is pursued by Rodin in a highly advanced stealth car. After a dramatic chase across the streets of Hong Kong 007 is able to have Rodin crash into the sea, but is captured by Chinese operative Mi Wai (Michelle Reis). Brought to the presence of her superior Quen Low (Victor Wong), Bond is informed Beijing has received a threat to have their nuclear plants sabotaged unless Hong Kong is declared an independent state, with a Nanjing plant having already being destroyed. Working together, Bond and Low learn Ching is secretly the grandson of an old Chinese warlord, and is likely seeking vengeance for his family against the current Chinese government. After Yupland takes Bond off the case and with Rodin killing Mi Wai after another chase, 007 fakes his own death with help from Crisp and Q, who has arrived in Hong Kong to assist him. Assisted by both elderly operatives, Bond successfully infiltrates the GoldenEye HQ, inside which Ching’s command center is placed at the building’s immense basement. Placing a bomb and rescuing Webb, Bond is captured by Rodin and brought to the presence of his enemy.

Ching confirms the truth of his ancestry, and – with his technology being present on most of the key defence systems of the world – he asserts his intention to force a British submarine to fire a missile on Beijing, starting a campaign of revenge against China whilst punishing Britain for meekly surrendering Hong Kong. The bomb suddenly explodes, resulting in the rapid flooding of the basement levels and the disruption of Ching’s plot. After freeing himself and drowning Rodin, Bond kills Ching with the businessman’s own technology, making a successful escape with Webb. Being later informed by Crisp that Yupland has been arrested and the 00 Section saved from disbandment, Bond and Webb celebrate the New Year together.

With pre-production delays having prevented a summer release, GoldenEye premiered on December 1991, being thus accidentally spared from having to compete against the smashing success of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. On the whole, critical reaction to the film was mostly positive, with critics remarking Dalton seemed to have a better handle on the character and was finally starting to feel comfortable on the role. The lighter tone and the performances by Lone and Ward were also praised, although a minority was critical of the leading trio as not being convincing enough to carry the film. More substantial criticism was delivered towards the ramped up reliance in special effects and gadgetry as well as the plot, with a common argument stating that the film had not really addressed the issue of Bond’s actual relevance in a rapidly changing world. More importantly for EON, which had made a substantial investment towards a more efficient advertising campaign, audiences responded positively to the change in tone and helped GoldenEye become a clear box office hit, the most successful and profitable Bond film since For Your Eyes Only.

Although Timothy Dalton wasn’t fully satisfied with the franchise’s turn towards a more traditional model, he was nonetheless pleased with the generally positive reaction to the film. With his initial three-picture contract coming to an end with the release of GoldenEye, he agreed to sign up to a fourth (1994’s Reunion with Death) and then a fifth (1996’s Zero Windchill) film before ending his ten-year tenure on the role. Never having reached the popularity heights of Sean Connery or Roger Moore and remaining publicity-averse to the end, Dalton nonetheless remains appreciated by audiences for providing a credible transition for the franchise during the end of the Cold War, and ensuring the character was left more grounded after the comedic excesses of the early 80’s.

Retrospectively, and up to very recently, GoldenEye has competed with The Living Daylights as Dalton’s strongest outing and ranked among the best – but not among the greatest – of the Bond films, although both Licence to Kill and Reunion with Death have been somewhat rehabilitated in later years as their darker tone has become more popular with critics and audiences. Although the reliance on technology, the plot and some of the performances remain a point of contention, Dalton’s more relaxed performance has been consistently praised, with Lone seen as a providing a threatening menace and Ward judged to be the best – and most competent – of the heroines of Dalton’s tenure. Highlights of the film include Dalton and Rodin’s car chase, the chemistry between Bond and Webb, Ching’s displays of ruthlessness, and Q taking an active role in the field for the second consecutive time.

Author’s Notes: “The Property of a Lady” being the title for Bond 17 is a very persistent rumor, but it was recently revealed that “GoldenEye” was suggested for the first time as a title as far back as 1990-1991. Hence the twist. There are two competing outlines, one being the Ruggiero-Wilson (which you see here) and another being the Osborne-Davies, the latter of which I – and this is a very subjective opinion – find much weaker. This could have gone a number of different ways – I had it marked as one of the potential “bad” scenarios – but I felt Dalton could use the break. It’s not nearly as successful as OTL’s GoldenEye, but still a well-regarded film. Sela Ward apparently auditioned for Goldeneye or Tomorrow Never Dies and was (very bluntly) told they wanted her ten years younger, so consider this a bit of karmic justice.​

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I think Ward auditioned for Paris in TND.

No Whoopi Goldberg as Connie, which is a rumour I've seen before as she and Dalton dated in the late eighties or early nineties iirc

And no paragliding off a cliff into a moving speedboat PTS 😭
I think Ward auditioned for Paris in TND.

No Whoopi Goldberg as Connie, which is a rumour I've seen before as she and Dalton dated in the late eighties or early nineties iirc

And no paragliding off a cliff into a moving speedboat PTS 😭

I see! Certainly would have made an interesting Paris Carver.

Whoopi Goldberg? Huh, I had not heard that one. Brilliant actress, of course, but somehow I just can't picture her on the role, not sure how that would have turned out to be.

Forgive the ignorance, but isn't that PTS the one from The Living Daylights? (or is that a separate idea from the Osborne-Davies or the proto-GoldenEye scripts?)
In a time line that I worked on but ended up on more or less permeant hold.
The 1968 movie of Casino Royale has one director , Blake Edwards and is based on two books , Fleming's "Casino Royale " and Robert Sheckley 's novel "The Game of X".
MI6 hires a Mathematician who written on winning the game of baccarat, but it turns out ,he never played .
Peter Seller plays the Mathematician to beat Le Chiffre who trying to make up the money he lost at the Casino.
The Computer confuses the Mathematician common name James Bond with some other people so the Head of MI6 (Played by David Niven) thinks he has other skills including a expert on Birds.
Bond manages to deal with all the attacks on him by doing things like races a high speed boat. Niven M when hearing this , saids "The Computer said he was a expert on Boats '.
Bond gets to the Casino ,but his system does not work.
He has to play the opposite of his system , in order to defeat Le Chiffre .
10. Casino Royale (1966)
Roger Moore IS James Bond


ROGER MOORE: The dark Bond
(Newsweek’s retrospective article on Bond actors, 2021)​

A phenomenal success which had allowed Fleming to write a whole series of highly popular spy novels, Casino Royale had been almost immediately lined up for a TV or a cinematic adaption. Having already staged it as a single hour episode for CBB’s Climax! in the United States – resulting in the appearance of Barry Nelson’s Jimmy Bond – and with the rights bought in perpetuity by American producer Gregory Ratoff, the original Bond novel might well have been the first of them to hit the big screen. Alas, it was not to be. Ratoff proved unsuccessful in attracting serious interest from the Hollywood studios, holding onto the rights without much progress until his death in 1960. With his widow willing to sell, Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli – by then preparing to film their own Bond project after acquiring the rights to most of the novels- approached her with a tempting offer.

That is, of course, until producer Charles K. Feldman had advised her to keep his two rivals at bay, and had succeeded with his own bid to secure the film rights. Feldman had then moved to produce the film alongside Howard Hawks himself – who was willing to throw a pile of money to Gary Grant to star as Bond -, only for the project to fall apart with the unexpected success of Dr. No. Although Hawks was off the project, the steady success of the EON film series showcased the tremendous financial potential associated with the Bond character and plot, and sensing fame and profit, Feldman then decided to attempt every conceivable effort to get Casino Royale off the ground, commissioning screenwriting legend Ben Hecht to produce a script he could offer to a studio while also approaching Saltzman and Broccoli to test the waters for a joint venture.

To say that they didn’t agree would be an understatement. Already exhausted due to collaborating with Kevin McClory for Thunderball, neither of the EON producers were keen to repeat the experience (or yield to Feldman’s extensive list of demands) for the second consecutive time, and were willing to risk Feldman’s eventual film knowing he only had the rights for a single shot at the characters. Having overplayed his hand, Feldman maintained his balancing act by having Hecht – who had found writing for Bond to be an unexpected pleasure – develop the planned script, which went through several drafts and discussions regarding how to best adapt and expand the novel, notoriously shorter in scope than most of the titles EON already had its hands on. Eventually, Feldman and Hecht finally zeroed in by early 1964 a narrative linking novel villain Le Chiffre to the Spectre organization, although their efforts were almost derailed after Hecht almost died of a heart attack while writing at home.

Feldman now had a script, and after becoming fascinated with little known British actor Terence Cooper, he felt he also had a Bond that could compete with Connery. Approaching Columbia Pictures – having already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his personal efforts – he was almost rejected out of hand when it became clear the film would compete with EON, and told the project would only happen if Sean Connery was on it. Feldman then started enticing the increasingly unhappy Connery, almost getting him to sign a contract for $600,000 before Connery asked for a million. Unable to afford that, and then told by Columbia that Cooper was a non-starter, the project threatened to fall apart for the umpteenth time, at least until they realized someone else might be interested to play the increasingly iconic secret agent.

British actor Roger Moore had achieved significant fame in The Saint by playing Simon Templar, and had even been jokingly suggested as one of many potential successors to Connery. What many did not know was that Moore was very much interested in the role, and when approached, he proved willing to take on the herculean task. Feldman, who at this time was despairing enough to consider shifting his adaptation into a parody of EON, finally sold Columbia on a new script by Hecht, and armed with John Huston as the director and a budget of $6 million dollars, filming was set to start in late 1965 for a release in Christmas of 1966. Still, completing the cast was also a difficult task, with several actors – Elizabeth Taylor in particular – turning down key roles.

Finally, and after much work (if not outright harassment), Feldman managed to persuade the increasingly popular French leading man Jean-Paul Belmondo – who was wary of Hollywood – to play Le Chiffre, and after being turned down by Taylor, Brigitte Bardot and Shirley MacLaine, he got Joan Collins to sign in Vesper Lynd for a hefty salary. With Columbia shooting down several of his other casting preferences, Feldman pulled quite a few strings to get a star-studded cast, ranging from actress and model Capucine to more experienced faces like David Niven and Charles Boyer. Both Terence Cooper and Peter Sellers, who had been under consideration for the Bond role, were offered supporting roles, which both men eventually accepted. Thus, filming took place across late 1965 and early 1966 in England, Ireland, France and Italy, with the production quickly unraveling – and the budget rising – as extensive behind the scenes infighting between Huston and Feldman took place.

Casino Royale’s pre-title sequence takes place in Naples, where James Bond (Roger Moore) is on the search for Mila Brant (Joanna Pettet), the kidnapped daughter of a key British nuclear scientist. Infiltrating an old castle, Bond finds Brant about to be tortured by the sinister Dr. Mesker (Wolfgang Preiss), an infamous Spectre operative. Setting fire to the castle, Bond fights his way across the Spectre agents and rescues Mila, with Dr. Mesker managing to escape. Back in London, M (David Niven) informs Bond that Spectre had been trying to blackmail Dr. Brant via his daughter, and that a number of public figures are suspected or known to have also been blackmailed. With a lead linking Mesker to an extensive brothel network suspected to be operating in Germany, Bond is assigned to the case alongside female MI6 operative Vesper Lynd (Joan Collins). Although antagonistic towards each other at first, Bond and Vesper quickly develop a rapport and an attraction for each other.

Identifying and investigating Dr. Mesker in Hamburg, Bond and Vesper pose as a client and an escort-girl, and then identify the brothels as being part of a complex criminal ring led by the mysterious Le Chiffre (Jean-Paul Belmondo), a suspected Spectre operative; and his wife Gita, who runs the day to day operations. Infiltrating the main brothel, they discover Le Chiffre has been embezzling funds from Spectre, which he hopes to regain via an extortion and blackmail operation which includes the use of compromising films about political leaders. Caught and discovered by Gita, a chase across Hamburg ensues, culminating in Vesper and Bond destroying the films and escaping by using Gita as a human shield, who is shot by mistake by Le Chiffre’s henchmen. A desperate Le Chiffre realizes he must now come up with another way to find the money, and vows to take revenge.

Learning that Le Chiffre will be trying to win the money at a baccarat tournament at the Casino Royale in Monaco, M orders Bond and Vesper to the French Riviera under orders to beat the criminal mastermind and force him to defect to MI6. For his part, Le Chiffre tries to get rid of Bond several times before the game, first by having a brainwashed Mila Brant seduce him, and then by having him and Vesper ambushed and shot at the beach. Both attempts are respectively thwarted by fellow CIA agent Felix Leiter (Peter Sellers) and French agent René Mathis (Charles Boyer). Aided by Dr. Mesker, Le Chiffre successfully cheats Bond out of his funds at the tournament, only for 007 to be financially bailed out by Leiter. As Vesper distracts Mesker, Bond recovers and defeats Le Chiffre at the baccarat table. Believing he’s been betrayed, Le Chiffre has Mesker executed before attempting a last, desperate gamble.

Bond and Vesper are kidnapped and tortured by Le Chiffre and the now disfigured Gita, only for Spectre operative Gettler (Terence Cooper) to break in and murder the couple as punishment for their transgression against the criminal organization. Falling unconscious, Bond wakes up in the hospital alongside Vesper, who claims she killed Gettler and saved their lives. Having fallen in love with her and choosing to pursue a relationship, Bond’s romance is cruelly interrupted when he later realizes Gettler is following him. Killing the Spectre agent and rushing back to Vesper’s hotel room, he finds her dying after taking cyanide. After confessing to have been working – due to blackmail - as a double agent for Spectre, and of having saved Bond’s life by negotiating with Getter, Vesper dies. Bond returns to London after Vesper’s death, and although M tells him to take a vacation to Jamaica, 007 coldly requests another assignment.

Casino Royale premiered on Christmas Eve 1966, having been spared to go against an EON Bond film due to You Only Live Twice being delayed to the next year. In spite of a lackluster advertising campaign, audiences flocked to the cinema to see whether the new, rival Bond could measure up to Connery. The film would eventually earn over $50 million dollars at the box office, a normally impressive sum which nonetheless paled against the box office juggernaut of Thunderball, with Casino Royale earning less than a third in comparison. Critics were bitterly divided if not outright hostile, decrying the film as excessively bleak and brutal compared to the EON series. Even with Hecht’s chosen ending coming from the novel, a number of critics called it “a serious downer”, and found Moore’s Bond to be too brutal, his personal charm not being enough to balance the general lack of humor.

A significant amount of praise was directed to Moore and Collins for their chemistry (as both were on very friendly terms on set) and the perceived believability of their character’s brief romance, but even greater criticism was directed towards the general casting, with several critics noting that most of the supporting roles were distracting, miscast or underused, with many asserting that Belmondo had been wasted. All in all, although Saltzman and Broccoli were privately complimentary of Moore, both let out a sigh of relief. Feldman had failed. Columbia thought the same. Having been forced to fund a chaotic production which raised the budget upwards of $9 million, the cinematic event they were expecting failed to materialize, giving them a profitable yet disappointing film due to the extremely high expectations now associated to the Bond name.

Thus, one of the few saving graces – other than the film did make money – was the success of its soundtrack, produced by Burt Bacharach. The film’s title song, “Royale”, performed by Dusty Springfield, was a musical hit, and it’s been a persistent rumor that the song was almost nominated for an Academy Award. With Feldman lacking any other novel rights and passing away from cancer a couple of years after, any dreams of a long-term rival to EON dissipated, leaving “Casino Royale” as a rapidly forgotten interlude. Roger Moore returned to The Saint with greater visibility as an actor, and although he would secretly hold hopes that his performance might ultimately help him to succeed Connery, he was not considered to replace him once the famous Scotsman stepped out of the role. Still, a number of fans still remember Moore, a relatively obscure part of the franchise, as the “dark Bond”.

For years, Casino Royale was held up as an example of what not to with a Bond film and a cautionary tale in general, the first serious failure associated with the Bond name – soon to be followed by EON’s own failures – and thus something to be avoided. Indeed, it is only very recently that the film has started to be reevaluated as a more serious, grounded and somewhat mature take on the character, and some of the performances given greater praise than they received back at the time. Although fans and critics remain critical of how much of the plot was executed, many have celebrated Hecht’s decision to stick more closely to the novel in the latter part of the film, with the ending now being far better regarded than it was in 1966. Highlights of the film include the Hamburg chase, the baccarat duel between Bond and Le Chiffre, the torture scene and Gita’s behavior in it, and, of course, the ending.

Author’s Notes: Yes, the infamous 1967 Casino Royale turned into a serious film, the plot based on what I’ve read about the previous existing scripts before Feldman turned it into a parody. The combined POD here is Ben Hecht surviving his heart attack, allowing him to complete a serious script Feldman and Columbia can get behind, and Moore – who apparently wrote he would have been interested to play Bond at the time – being approached. It’s also a fun way to experiment with Moore being a darker Bond, particularly given that some of those darkest traits were arguably in display in LALD and TMWTG (up to a degree) before he was more humanized in TSWLM. Still turns out to be a mess, but unlike the OTL film, it is a mess with redeemable aspects.​

Ah - you must have read the Jeremy Duns books about this version of Casino Royale. Fantastic work as always, and welcome back!