With twenty-four “official” Bond films spanning 53 years it's perhaps no surprise that over time there have been planned Bond movies that haven't reached our screens for one reasons or another.
Last time we explored six of the those films from the early days of the franchise, and we continue this week with five more proposed Bond films and what happened to cause them never to be made.
With the 1969 film of On Her Majesty's Secret Service still in production, Eon tasked frequent Bond scribe Richard Maibaum with coming up with a new script for Diamonds Are Forever. Maibaum initially conceived of it as a revenge thriller with Bond and Tracy's father hunting Blofeld down after her death in the finale of OHMSS. With OHMSS considered a disappointment and Lazenby exiting the role of 007, a rewrite was called for.
Eon started looking for ways to bring the series back “on track”. Having noted the success of Goldfinger, Eon and Maibaum decided to use it for inspiration. It appears that Maibaum took this to heart in a major way, as he made the villain in his early drafts Goldfinger's twin brother. Goldfinger's brother would not only have been behind the diamond smuggling but would have been controlling the laser armed satellite from an oil tanker in shades of not only the finished film's finale but the later Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me.
Broccoli and Saltzman though were unimpressed and turned to writer Tom Mankiewicz to come up with a new script. Even after Mankiewicz presented what was largely the finished film, the issue of who would play 007 had yet to be settled, with American actor John Gavin being attached to the role until late in the day. It was at United Artists insistence that Connery returned to the role and the rest, as they say, is history.
James Bond Of The Secret Service aka Warhead
The co-production deal for Thunderball stipulated that McClory would have the right to make his own film based on the novel a decade after Eon's film was released. McClory was true to his word and starting in 1975, he announced plans for such a project. The result would be one of the longest gestation periods for any Bond film as it eventually led to 1983's Never Say Never Again.
What became that film started out as a very different project. McClory brought in the noted thriller writer Len Dieghton as well as Connery to work on the film alternatively known as James Bond Of The Secret Service as well as Warhead. A number of names were connected with the project at this time including Orson Welles in the role of Blofeld, Terrence Howard as M as well as potential directors including Richard Attenborough.
The script opened with SPECTRE hijacking nuclear weapons off both the Americans and the Soviets in the Bermuda Triangle. Events eventually lead to SPECTRE threatening New York City from a base on the Statue Of Liberty. The film would have featured a battle between the American military, led by Bond, against SPECTRE forces, including a gun battle around Lady Liberty herself.
It came surprisingly close to happening but events involving The Spy Who Loved Me, then in pre-production, would bring it to a halt...
The Spy Who Loved Me
Fleming's 1962 Bond novel, The Spy Who Loved Me, is as controversial now as it was then. Told in the first person entirely from a woman's perspective, Bond didn't appear until the final third of what remains the most experimental of the Bond novels. Despite its success, critical reactions to the book led to Fleming becoming disenchanted with it to the point that when he sold the rights to Eon he made it a condition that nothing from it could be used in their films.
So when the decision was made to make it as the next film after the near-disastrous The Man With The Golden Gun, Eon had to start from scratch. They approached a number of different writers to come up with treatments for the film including Anthony Burgess, writer of A Clockwork Orange. Burgess' treatment featured a terrorist organization called CHAOS (the Consortium for the Hastening of the Annihilation of Organised Society) apparently led by a wheelchair bound villain whose daughter is the former lover of one of Bond's fellow 00 agents. The results were more of a parody than anything else and Eon passed on Burgess treatment.
Other writers who worked on the film include John Landis, Cary Bates (who wrote a draft featuring Bond fighting Hugo Drax who had a lair under Loch Ness) and Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson. The script finally started coming together with the idea of hijacked submarines and a tracking system, though one element was quickly dropped: SPECTRE. Drafts by Richard Maibaum featured a resurrected SPECTRE made up of various terrorist groups of the time who sought to destroy the world's oil fields. When McClory's project was raised though, a legal battle ensued which saw McClory laying claim to SPECTRE full-stop, which led to yet another reworking of The Spy Who Loved Me. While McClory might have won that battle, he would have to wait years to find funding for a reworked version of his new film.
Before legal troubles derailed a third Bond film starring Timothy Dalton, plans were already underway for a it to come out in 1991. By the time work stopped and was eventually scrapped, a plot was beginning to come together for a film set in Hong Kong that would start shifting 007 into a post Cold War world. Details remain sketchy even now but a basic plot summary can be found at the MI6.co.uk page about the project:
“After terrorists target a Scottish nuclear facility, 007 is deployed to the Far East to investigate the prolific businessman Sir Henry Lee Ching. In Hong Kong, James Bond rendezvous with retiring spy Denholm Crisp, crosses paths with the Chinese Secret Service and teams up with jewel-smuggler Connie Webb to get to the bottom of Ching's shady past and prevent global pandemonium that could spark World War Three.”Behind the scenes issues caused the film to be postponed and eventually shelved. United Artists was sold to the Australian broadcasting group Quintex who wanted to take advantage of the Bond franchise by selling the films for TV broadcasting. Danjaq quickly entered into a legal battle against the company that wouldn't be settled in full until 1993. By that time the work on the film done in 1990 was thrown out and new writers were brought in to write would eventually become Bond's 1995 return in Goldeneye.
Tomorrow Never Lies
Before Bond 18 became Tomorrow Never Dies, it went by a slightly different title and a considerably different script. The film focused on Sir Jonathan Harmsway being involved with a plot that included the stealing of gold from a British warship as well as the destruction of Hong Kong on the eve of its 1997 handover from the UK to China. This draft saw a number of major differences including a lengthy section set in Venice (as opposed to Hamburg) as well as Robbie Coltrane's Valentin Zukovsky having been elected the leader of the Ukraine. A version of Paris Carver also featured.
The script included an expanded role for Joe Don Baker's CIA agent Jack Wade as well as Q who comes into the plot quite late in. It would also see a very different Bond girl from Chinese spy Wai Lin: Sidney Winch, a salvager who becomes involved with Bond following his discovery of the sunken British warship and her connection with Harmsway. After a car chase involving the Kuala Lumpur towers, the film's finale revolved around the attempted meltdown of a nuclear reactor, with Bond flying a helicopter to Harmsway's yacht which is moored off Hong Kong where a gun battle ensues.
Many of the ideas used in Tomorrow Never Dies can be traced to this early script. However changes were quick to come as Eon got nervous over using the Hong Kong handover as a plot point, even more so after being advised by none other than Henry Kissinger who warned that if an incident did occur that it might hurt the film. Ian Fleming Publications apparently had no such worries as Raymond Benson's Bond novel Zero Minus Ten (published the same year) featured an attempt to destroy Hong Kong as part of its plot.
The Bond Films That Never Were, Part One
Quentin Tarantino's Casino Royale
Matthew Kresal lives in North Alabama where he's a nerd, doesn't have a southern accent and isn't a Republican. He's a host of both the Big Finish centric Stories From The Vortex podcast and the 20mb Doctor Who Podcast. You can read more of his writing at his blog and at The Terrible Zodin fanzine, amongst other places.