On James Bond

The Spy Who Would Not Die

An Alternate History of James Bond

By Mark W. Tiedemann

”Name’s Bond. James Bond.”

With those words, the moviegoing world was first introduced to Ian Fleming’s potentially explosive character in the first major motion picture production of Dr. No in 1963. What followed has frustrated and delighted Bond fans for years. The path by which James Bond finally became the iconic cinematic figure he is today took numerous unexpected turns and, by some opinions, far too long to attain prominence. What should have been the start of a phenomenon stubbornly refused to live up to box office expectations that, after the first three films, cast the franchise into the ranks of made and remade, attempted and reattempted, taking years before the right combination finally produced a lasting success.

What makes one film a box office phenomenon and another, well, not? Hollywood and its various clones have puzzled over this question since.

W. Griffith railed against the studios for hacking to pieces his arguably superb masterworks. One ingredient which all name and then fail to define in any useful terms is Chemistry. A film has it or it doesn’t. The frustrating part is that no one knows which it is until the product is finished and onscreen and the viewing public either loves it . . . or doesn’t.

When Ian Fleming’s hero attracted the interest of Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, everything ought to have fallen into place. The pair had formed EON Productions with the expectation of producing top-flight films, starting with–they hoped–the James Bond franchise. Fleming believed he had found the right  …

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