Film history: Connery vs. Moore: 40 years ago, James Bond lived twice

Film history: Connery vs. Moore: 40 years ago, James Bond lived twice

2023-10-02 10:27:51

Film history Connery vs. Moore: 40 years ago, James Bond lived twice

James Bond star Sean Connery with his then wife Diane Cilento arriving at the world premiere of his film “You Only Live Twice” in London. photo

© Pa/PA Wire/dpa

In 1983, Sean Connery made an unexpected comeback as James Bond in “Never Say Never Again” and competed with his successor Roger Moore in “Octopussy.” On top of that, a third Bond actor returned.

The rumors about who will be the next JamesBond actors could change almost every week. But according to reports, the producers haven’t really started their search for the new 007 yet. Two years after Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, fans of the secret agent have to continue to be patient.

40 years ago it was completely different, because in 1983 there were even two James Bond actors. Roger Moore in “Octopussy” and Sean Connery in “Never Say Never Again” fought a duel at the box office.

Role change

Actually, Connery had long since broken up with the famous secret agent. After his fifth film, “You Only Live Twice,” he announced his departure from the role in 1967 because the 007 cult was too much for him and he no longer wanted to be addressed on the street as Mr. Bond. When his successor George Lazenby was thrown out after just one appearance, Connery was persuaded by Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli, usually called Cubby, and Harry Saltzman to make a comeback in “Diamond Fever” (1971). Roger Moore then took over the role, which he would play in seven films by Eon Production.

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“Never again Bond,” Connery is said to have said. But after a series of less than successful films, the Scot changed his mind when an unexpected opportunity presented itself. “Never Say Never Again” – the self-deprecating title supposedly comes from Connery’s wife Michelle – ran in competition with Eon’s 007 series, which has produced 25 films to date. This is why “Never Say Never Again” is sometimes referred to as an unofficial Bond film, which is not entirely correct. Because it is based on the literary original of James Bond creator Ian Fleming, just like the Eon films.

In fact, “Never Say Never Again” is a remake of the Eon film “Fireball” with Sean Connery from 1965. Long before Broccoli and Saltzman launched the longest-running series in cinema history with “James Bond 007 Chases Dr. No”, the Irish screenwriter and film producer Kevin McClory worked with Ian Fleming on James Bond scripts. There was no film adaptation at the time. However, Fleming used some ideas for his novel “Fireball”. McClory went to court, was awarded financial compensation and the film rights to “Thunderball” – the original title.

The error of the Eon producers

In 1965, a year after Fleming’s death and at the height of the James Bond hype, McClory teamed up with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to co-produce Fireball. It was contractually stipulated that McClory would not be allowed to film the material for ten years afterwards. The two Eon producers probably didn’t assume that anyone would still be interested in James Bond in 1975 – a mistake. As soon as the deadline passed, McClory began working on a new script. Broccoli, the sole owner of Eon after Saltzman’s exit, was alarmed.

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In producer Jack Schwartzman, who had previously worked as a lawyer for the major Hollywood studios, McClory found the ideal partner to be on the safe side legally. Many well-known Bond features were protected. For example, McClory and Co. were not allowed to use the 007 logo with the gun barrel, the famous music by Monty Norman and John Barry or the typical Bond intro, the so-called gunbarrel sequence. Characters like Ms. Moneypenny, Bond’s boss M or weapon master Q were allowed to appear. And at least they had Sean Connery, now 52 years old, as 007.

Given the legally sensitive situation and the threat of a lawsuit from Eon, the financial risk was high. Schwartzman, who was married to actress Talia Shire (“The Godfather,” “Rocky”), later said his wife appeared in “Rocky III” to secure financing for “Never Say Never Again.” For a long time, Schwartzman, McClory and Co. kept their project as under wraps as possible. It was only through an insider article in the German film magazine “Cinema” that many details became public. And Broccoli’s complaint promptly followed.

Kim Basinger als Bond-Girl

However, since the film, directed by Irvin Kershner (“Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back”) had already been shot and, in the opinion of the judges, Cubby Broccoli could have taken action against it much earlier, they decided in favor of his competitors. Sean Connery actually made his James Bond comeback to the cinema on October 7, 1983 in “Never Say Never Again”. The film, starring the Austrian Klaus Maria Brandauer as the villain Largo and Kim Basinger as the Bond girl, is controversial among 007 fans, but was a commercial success.

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Despite the defeat in court, Broccoli was able to feel like a winner. Because his film won the race at the box office. “Octopussy,” starring Roger Moore, not only hit theaters three months earlier than “Never Say Never Again,” but it also grossed more money. In the years that followed, there were occasional rumors about another “Fireball” remake. But that never happened. McClory died in 2006. His heirs eventually sold the film rights to Eon in 2013.

By the way, another James Bond actor made his spy comeback in 1983. George Lazenby, who didn’t have much of a film career after “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), had a guest appearance in the television film “Return of the Man from UNCLE”. In the spin-off of the TV series “Solo For ONCEL”, Lazenby played a spy named JB who drove an Aston Martin DB5. Curious: The additional German title of the film was “Thunderball”.


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