Unmade Bond Films

edited February 15 in Bond Movies Posts: 2,895
This thread is devoted to the best Bond films never made (and the worst, if they sound entertaining enough). The category ranges from planned adaptations that never made it to production (such as Fleming's Moonraker screenplay or Ben Hecht's serious 60s version of Casino Royale) to early versions of films substantially different from the released versions (like the Blofeld version of Octopussy)

While there will be discussion of articles and books about unused screenplays or early drafts, there must be no sharing or downloading of scripts (that's what got the Bond Scripts thread shut down).

Let's start with something really wild. Two weeks the excellent spy novelist and scholar Jeremy Duns published an article in The Telegraph on Anthony Burgess's outline for The Spy Who Loved Me, which he discovered in Texas. Jeremy has now reproduced the article on his website. Some highlights below.

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[It's] one of the wildest pieces of Bond literature ever written – one that somehow features Henry Kissinger, the Queen and an explosive appearance from the Archbishop of Canterbury. In early 1975, Anthony Burgess was in New York on a lecture tour when he was approached outside his hotel by producer Cubby Broccoli (Barbara’s father) and Guy Hamilton...They handed Burgess “a wad of paper and a portable typewriter” and asked him to write a “totally original script” for the next film in the series, The Spy Who Loved Me. The emphasis on originality was because Ian Fleming had stipulated that only the title could be used from his novel of the same name...

In 1988, Burgess’s flat in Monaco was flooded, partially destroying his collection of manuscripts, and among those he listed on his insurance claim as “ruined by water” was a 150-page film script for The Spy Who Loved Me.

But, surprisingly, some of the material he wrote for the film has survived, and since the 1990s has been sitting in the library of the Harry Ransom Center in the University of Texas along with 138 other boxes of Burgess’ manuscripts, correspondence and other items...[What survived] was a 44-page outline for the whole film...It’s a fascinating read. Burgess’s approach was not so much ultra-violence as ultra-absurdity...Instead of SMERSH or SPECTRE, Burgess created a new villainous group, the Consortium for Hastening the Annihilation of Organised Society, or CHAOS. The outline opens with the head of the organisation, Schnitzler, welcoming participants to the group’s eighth annual plenary conference.

He announces that their dividends will unfortunately be lower this year due to inflation and recession, takes a sip from a glass of milk, and dies. His poisoner, Feratu, immediately takes over as the new head of CHAOS, saying he has removed the ‘smell of defeatism’ and that dividends will not be reduced. The doors are flung open and a newcomer enters: Theodorescu, “gross, formidable” and in a wheelchair, long thought dead by the others. He is accompanied by his beautiful daughter Elaine, the left side of whose face is covered in a red stain. She shoots Feratu between the eyes, and her father takes over as the third head of CHAOS. This is all on the first page of the outline.

Theodorescu has a different attitude to his very recent predecessors. As Elaine burns five million dollars in notes in the conference room’s fireplace, he explains that money is irrelevant and that under his leadership the group will return to its initial aims and finally bring to fruition the “Global Takeover”. His plan is to destroy civilisation for the sheer thrill of it: motiveless terror on a grand scale. The camera lingers on a design above the fireplace: “an image of a shattered world, with the title CHAOS”.

...CHAOS blackmails the Pope into whitewashing Michelangelo’s frescoes from the Sistine chapel (a British ambassador’s daughter will be murdered if he doesn’t), extorts several world leaders, forces Henry Kissinger to carry out what is implied to be a sexual act, and blows up a plane with the Archbishop of Canterbury moments after he has put on his earphones to watch the in-flight film – which is The Spy Who Loved Me.

The world has been thrown into panic, and only one man can stop the threat. James Bond himself is rather traditionally portrayed: he wears black tie, fires a bow and arrow in a fight scene in Singapore, and makes cool quips about food and wine under pressure...In a scene in which M congratulates Bond for carrying out his 50th successful mission, he rejects a cigarette case made from the bullets of his enemies that Q has made: “I smoke cigars now, gentlemen. You’re confusing me with my predecessor, who carried the same number. Still – I’m grateful.”

...Theodorescu, who was also a character in Burgess’s 1966 novel Tremor of Intent, is very much in the classic Bond villain stamp. Working out of a tanker in the Pacific Ocean, he has instructed his agents in a clinic in Bavaria to secretly insert miniature nuclear devices into their patients during operations, with the idea that this “living arsenal” can then be remotely activated. They also find recruits among those contemplating suicide. Leading this work is Fleming, a thin, ascetic Scottish doctor. Having a character named after Bond’s creator as a prudish villain is a rather delicious touch.

To justify the film’s title, Burgess has Elaine Theodorescu try to kill Bond by trapping him above a furnace in a Bavarian dungeon, only for him to escape and the two to fall in love. They even plan to marry. It turns out she was spurned in an affair with another British agent, Tony Graham, 005, and that experience psychosomatically disfigured her.

A rival love interest is beautiful opera singer Jean Northumberland, who helps Bond when he is ambushed by CHAOS agents in a hotel room in Rome by using the power of her piercing high notes to shatter a light-bulb in the ceiling. However, she doesn’t know that CHAOS has already implanted a nuclear weapon inside her, and plan to use her to assassinate the Queen when she is presented to her at an upcoming performance of Salome at Sydney Opera House.

Bond swiftly operates on Jean’s stomach with acupuncture needles and a pocket knife, removing the miniature nuclear bomb. But in a TV crew van watching the opera nearby, Dr Fleming reveals that he has placed several of the nuclear devices inside Theodorescu during a routine gall-bladder operation, making him the back-up weapon to kill the Queen. Bond commandeers a motorbike from a bystander and chases Fleming and the others through the streets of Sydney. As he catches up with them, Theodorescu shoots his way through the doors of the van and his wheelchair transforms into a hovercraft. However, the bomb inside him is activated and he explodes over Sydney harbour.

Surviving the shootout, Fleming tracks down Bond and Elaine and reveals he plans to reform CHAOS under the name the New Association of Saints, The Inauguration of an Era of Sexlessness and Sinlessness. Bond points out that this all adds up to N.A.S.T.I.N.E.S.S. (although it seems to be missing a letter). “Man must be regenerated,” Fleming tells Bond. “Man has become an abomination, a foul stinking beast.” Bond responds by setting a boxing kangaroo on him.

The outline ends with the Bavarian clinic going up in a mushroom cloud thanks to Jean’s voice activating the correct frequency, and Elaine’s facial scar disappearing. Both women agree that they can’t restrain Bond’s life, so he flies off into the sunset. Burgess envisaged this as being the first Bond film to feature an operatic title song, and even gave a snippet of lyrics for it: “In he flew/Off he has flown/The spy who loved me/Me me, alone”. A note in the text indicates he had also written a musical treatment himself (Burgess was a prolific composer).

Unsurprisingly, the material was rejected by the Bond producers. Burgess wrote in [his memoir] You’ve Had Your Time that although he followed the formal pattern of the Bond films as closely as he could, “I knew from the start that it would not work, but a horrid fascination drove me on.” Most of his ideas were too outrageous, subversive or plain rude to have worked on screen (there’s a scene in which Bond performs acupuncture on Miss Moneypenny with accompanying double entendres and M tells him “this is no time for fornication”).

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Jeremy Duns has also written two must-read articles on the unused 60s scripts of Casino Royale. "Rogue Royale" discusses the very serious and very promising screenplay by Ben Hecht, the greatest writer from Hollywood's Golden Age, while "Catch 007" reviews the later comedic script by Joseph Heller, author of the classic novel Catch 22.

Comments

  • TheSkyfallen06TheSkyfallen06 Buenos Aires, Argentina.
    Posts: 987
    Screen Daily|James Bond's abandoned 'SPECTRE' mission from 1984
    https://www.screendaily.com/james-bonds-abandoned-spectre-mission-from-1984/5096117.article
  • Posts: 2,878
    I love reading about Burgess' TSWLM. I do hope at some point down the line a similar article about Boyle/Hodge's work on Bond 25 is written, with a similar breakdown of what was intended (but I suspect we'll have to wait a bit for that).
  • DragonpolDragonpol https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited February 16 Posts: 17,787
    This is a great idea for a thread, @Revelator.

    I've read Jeremy Duns's new article with great interest as back in 2006 I myself wrote a short article on this subject matter which I expanded into a fuller article in 2014 on my blog:

    https://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com/2014/03/anthony-burgess-on-spy-who-loved-me.html

    As you can see from the bottom of the article it was always intended as a two-parter and I hope to get that written up this year. It will look more at the content of Burgess's TSWLM script and trace influences to and from it in the later Bond films and perhaps even some of the ideas of villainy in the Fleming Bond novels and the Bond continuations as well. Jeremy's new article will be a big help in this regard but I have some fresh observations of my own to make as well.
  • DarthDimiDarthDimi Behind you!Moderator
    Posts: 23,530
    Excellent idea for a thread, indeed!
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