Peter Morgan's Bond 23 Treatment Revealed - "Once Upon a Spy"

http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/james-bond-007/news/a774577/once-upon-a-spy-the-lost-peter-morgan-james-bond-movie-that-led-to-skyfall/

Really fascinating stuff. I actually really like the idea conceptually, how it would have worked in practise is something completely different. I don't know how they could satisfyingly have 007 kill M but it's a damn interesting conceit, but a helluva job for any writer to pull off. Also I love the notion of the story flashing back the M's affair with a KGB agent. They would have had to cast Carey Mulligan to play the young Dench.

Also I really like the title "Once Upon a Spy", not so much "Nothing Is Forever".
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Comments

  • jake24jake24 Sitting at your desk, kissing your lover, eating supper with your familyModerator
    Posts: 9,875
    Thank you for posting this. A very interesting read.
  • I would be interested to hear why it is that Bond is forced to kill M. I agree with P&W I think that's taking it too far. M dying, OK, but Bond killing her? Don't know if that would fly with audiences.
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    Posts: 15,423
    Carey Mulligan DOES strike resemblance to a young Judi Dench!
  • I remember during production of SF (where, unlike Spectre, the plot was still a secret), there was speculation that Helen McCrory (who played the MP at the courtroom hearing) would be playing the younger Judi in flashback scenes.
  • Posts: 12,188
    Very interesting. I am far happier with the end product. Once Upon a Spy is a rather lousy title for a Bond movie. I don't know much Le Carré, but that does not sound very Fleming, neither is a lot of what Morgan wrote in his script. More like a part period drama with espionage in it.

    @Pierce2Daniel-A slightly different title, Nothing Lasts Forever, is actually the title of the novel that inspired Die Hard.
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    Posts: 15,423
    I have to disagree. I very much prefer Once Upon A Spy and I do wish Peter Morgan's concept stood still rather than what have seen with Skyfall. The latter strikes more in resemblance and spirit with the early Craig era Bond films such as Casino Royale.
  • Creasy47Creasy47 In Cuba with Natalya.Moderator
    edited November 2015 Posts: 32,440
    A movie involving M's sexual experiences and Bond killing M sounds horrible. Glad that was rejected. However, that is a good title, wouldn't mind seeing it used in the near future.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 3,468
    I like the title, though. It kind of follows Fleming in putting a twist on a common saying.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 3,615
    I think the "killing M" idea would only work if there was a payoff in a follow-up that gave it some sort of silver lining. Or if it had failed due to a third party - inspired in a way by TMWTGG.

    Even at that though, it would probably have veered way into melodramatic territory.
  • Posts: 1,358
    Very interesting. With work, it could have been something unique, but I'm happy with how Skyfall turned out obviously.

    On another note, like the two titles that were considered. Once Upon a Spy and Nothing is Forever. Wouldn't mind those being considered for the future
  • Posts: 4,622
    "We always found that really, really difficult to make credible or satisfying. It was very dark and frankly I don't think it really worked," he explained.
    "The only thing that remained was M's past comes back to haunt her and she dies at the end."
    I'll defer to the learned Wade here. Probably best that this treatment was shelved.
  • Posts: 1,580
    I think it would have been interesting to have seen this treatment more fully developed and ultimately made into a film. This version of M's past coming back to haunt her might have felt a bit more unique, as her betrayal of Silva really felt like it borrowed too many elements from the Trevelyan character. Plus, we don't know what would have transpired in the film between Bond being sent to pay off the blackmailer and being forced to kill M in the climax of the film. I suspect that they could have incorporated a lot of what was ultimately in Skyfall into that storyline as well.
  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,090
    Would have been a disaster.
  • Posts: 3,823
    What scenarios could work re Bond killing M? I am really struggling
  • JNOJNO Finland
    Posts: 135
    This is definitely very interesting and nice to know but I prefer the version that we saw on the screen.

    And yes, it reminds me of Le Carre, not Fleming.
  • Posts: 582
    Yes, feels very Le Carre. Le Carre and Fleming fictionalised worlds are very different. Would be interesting if he adapted it for a non-Bond spy thriller.
  • DrShatterhandDrShatterhand Garden of Death, near Belfast
    Posts: 800
    I remember Peter Morgan's name being mentioned in the run-up to (the then) Bond 23 and I was very pleased to hear he was working on it. He's an accomplished writer, his TV work such as 'The Deal', 'Longford' and the Christopher Jefferies docu-drama were first-rate, 'The Damned United' and 'Rush' were good movies too.

    However, I'm pleased they didn't go for his ideas here. For all SF's faults (of which, for me, there are many), I don't think anyone would have wanted to see Dench being killed by Craig, whatever the reason. That wouldn't have gone down well at all IMO. Do quite like the proposed titles though.
  • Posts: 3,823
    It just shows you that even the most respected writers can come with ideas that are just too "left field", his movies do have a theme of focusing on character even within an action packed environment. I wonder if this influence rubbed off a little with SF?
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 3,468
    I remember Peter Morgan's name being mentioned in the run-up to (the then) Bond 23 and I was very pleased to hear he was working on it. He's an accomplished writer, his TV work such as 'The Deal', 'Longford' and the Christopher Jefferies docu-drama were first-rate, 'The Damned United' and 'Rush' were good movies too.

    However, I'm pleased they didn't go for his ideas here. For all SF's faults (of which, for me, there are many), I don't think anyone would have wanted to see Dench being killed by Craig, whatever the reason. That wouldn't have gone down well at all IMO. Do quite like the proposed titles though.

    I agree. A little too 24. Filmgoers expect Bond to help M, even when M doesn't realize it.
  • edited November 2015 Posts: 442
    If could have worked, but we'll never know. Would have helped make Bond feel more of a ruthless spy who has to kill the only person he really loves in his life for his job.
  • Posts: 12,188
    echo wrote: »
    I remember Peter Morgan's name being mentioned in the run-up to (the then) Bond 23 and I was very pleased to hear he was working on it. He's an accomplished writer, his TV work such as 'The Deal', 'Longford' and the Christopher Jefferies docu-drama were first-rate, 'The Damned United' and 'Rush' were good movies too.

    However, I'm pleased they didn't go for his ideas here. For all SF's faults (of which, for me, there are many), I don't think anyone would have wanted to see Dench being killed by Craig, whatever the reason. That wouldn't have gone down well at all IMO. Do quite like the proposed titles though.

    I agree. A little too 24. Filmgoers expect Bond to help M, even when M doesn't realize it.

    I thought the same thing. Sounds very much like 24 and not in a good way: do the extreme thing to keep people hooked, creating an impact for impact's sake.
  • patb wrote: »
    What scenarios could work re Bond killing M? I am really struggling

    The only reason I can think of is if M commits treason to keep her past secret
  • Posts: 12,188
    dinovelvet wrote: »
    patb wrote: »
    What scenarios could work re Bond killing M? I am really struggling

    The only reason I can think of is if M commits treason to keep her past secret

    Even then, she'd do like Vesper and have the common decency to commit suicide, for Queen and Country.
  • edited July 2016 Posts: 3,319

    I think Morgan plotted a really fascinating idea.

    I'd love to had seen Bond kill M. I'm not sure it would have worked with Judi's M as she is a vulnerable woman in her 70's and it may not go over too well. It could work if M had been severely injured and Bond was merely pulling the trigger as a kindness to put her out of her misery.

    Even then, considering M's gender and her age it would have been a little painful. Something not for mainstream consumption.

    However, it would may a lot more sense with Mallory (who for some reason I struggle to call M - maybe my loyalty to Judi (Ma'am)). If Mallory had been injured and Bond shot him to end his pain - that could work. There is a certain male comradeship to the two - they are soldiers and understand the ethics of the warfare.

    Maybe Bond killing Judi's M was just too risque for Mendes's tastes....instead you could argue the scene we are left with is a little mawkish, overly sentimental and, worst of all, unearned. M's final line of "At least I got one thing right" doesn't sit overly well with me.

    latest?cb=20130307010456

    For me the line makes more sense having seen Spectre, what Judi was referring to was trusting Bond with the information on Sciarra. It was the last thing she did "right".

    It's clearly not what Mendes meant, but I'll take it.

  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,346
    What does that line mean? I never understood that.
  • jake24jake24 Sitting at your desk, kissing your lover, eating supper with your familyModerator
    Posts: 9,875
    What does that line mean? I never understood that.
    She was referring to Bond. At least that's how I took it.
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,198
    What does that line mean? I never understood that.

    That she trusted Bond. He shouldn't have been on active duty having failed the tests, but he's frickin 007.
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    Posts: 15,423
    And she died. So what's the point?
  • RC7RC7
    Posts: 10,198
    And she died. So what's the point?

    What's your point?
  • ClarkDevlinClarkDevlin Martinis, Girls and Guns
    Posts: 15,423
    I mean... She got one thing right and all that... Was it sort of breaking the fourth wall comment for keeping 007 around? Because if it wasn't, as far as I know, nothing was right in that Silva case. He definitely exacted his revenge and Bond failed his mission.
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