Geek Dave smells like a tart's handkerchief.
1. While On Her Majesty's Secret Service was within its post-production stages, Richard Maibaum was tasked with writing an initial treatment and a subsequent script for Diamonds Are Forever. It was to be a revenge-themed sequel with Irma Bunt and Marc-Ange Draco returning, and Bond mourning his deceased wife Tracy.
When George Lazenby departed from the role prior to the OHMSS's release, a complete rewrite of Bond 7 was requested. Maibaum then developed a story with Auric Goldfinger's twin who was seeking revenge for the death of his brother. The plot was later changed after Albert R. Broccoli had a dream, where his close friend Howard Hughes was replaced by an impostor, so the character of Willard Whyte was created. But Maibaum's script was failing to impress Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, so Tom Mankiewicz was brought in to rework the story with the brief of having Diamonds Are Forever re-create commercially successful aspects of Goldfinger.
2. With Lazenby gone the search was on for his replacement. A new direction for the franchise was considered when Clint Eastwood was offered the role of Bond, but turned it down as he felt the
character had to be British. The same reason was given by both TVs Batman
Adam West and Burt Reynolds when they also declined the part.
Oliver Reed was briefly
considered as the new Bond, as was Michael Gambon who personally felt
he didn't have the looks to play 007 anyway! Future Bond Timothy Dalton was first approached to play 007 at this time, he had just completed filming Mary, Queen of Scots but felt he was too young to portray the character.
Finally a new James Bond 007 was found - John Gavin.
Gavin, who had been seen in both Psycho and Spartacus, was under contract to play Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, but Head of United Artists, David Picker, decided he wanted the box office insurance of Sean Connery and made Connery a highly lucrative offer to return - £1.25 million and the financial backing from United Artists to make two unrelated films of his choice! Gavin's contract was still honored in full, and he was given assurance that if Connery didn't stick around then he'd be playing Bond in the next film. But we'll get to that in due course.
3. Peter R. Hunt, who had directed On Her Majesty's Secret Service and worked in all previous Bond films as editor, was invited to return as director. Keen to do it but already committed to another project he requested that the production date be postponed, which the producers declined to do. So they reached out to Guy Hamilton, director of Goldfinger, further strengthening the connection between the two movies.
4. The third actor to play Ernst Stavro Blofeld on screen was Charles Gray. He was no stranger to the Bond franchise having already played an ally named Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice.
5. Raquel Welch, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway were all considered for the role of Tiffany Case before Jill St. John landed the part, becoming the first American Bond girl. St. John was already set to play Plenty O'Toole before this, but after vacating the role Lana Wood was cast following a suggestion from Mankiewicz.
6. Lana Wood was a certified diver and very capable swimmer, yet while filming the scene of finding Plenty O'Toole drowned in Tiffany's swimming pool she nearly drowned herself.
Wood actually had her feet loosely tied to a cement block on the bottom, whilst members of the film crew held a rope across the pool for her with which she could lift her face out of the water to breathe between takes. However, the pool's sloping bottom made the block slip into deeper water with each take, and eventually Wood was submerged. Thankfully she was noticed by on-lookers and rescued before actually drowning. Wood took some water but remained calm during the ordeal, although she later admitted to a few "very uncomfortable moments and quite some struggling until they pulled me out."
7. One more Goldfinger connection came in the form of Miss Shirley Bassey, who returned to sing her second of three Bond themes. Harry Saltzman reportedly hated the song and only the insistence of Cubby Broccoli kept it in the film. Saltzman's major objection was to the sexual innuendo of the lyrics. Indeed, in an interview for the television programme James Bond's Greatest Hits composer John Barry revealed that he told Bassey to imagine she was singing about a penis!
8. A cameo appearance by Sammy Davis, Jr. playing on the roulette table was filmed, but his scene was eventually deleted
9. Richard Maibaum's original idea for the ending was a giant boat chase across Lake Mead with Blofeld being pursued by Bond and all the Las Vegas casino owners who would be sailing in their private yachts. Bond would rouse the allies into action with a spoof of Lord Nelson's famous cry, "Las Vegas expects every man to do his duty." But not only had Maibaum been misinformed as there were no Roman galleys or Chinese junks in Las Vegas, but even in the planning stages the idea was deemed way too expensive to replicate, so it was dropped from his script early on.
The climax we ended up seeing on screen was originally intended to be much more spectacular. Armed frogmen would jump from the helicopters into the sea and attach limpet mines to the rig's legs. Blofeld would have escaped in his BathoSub and Bond would have pursued him hanging from a weather balloon. The chase would have then continued across a salt mine with the two mortal enemies scrambling over the pure white hills of salt before Blofeld would fall to his death in a salt granulator. However, permission was not granted by the owners for use of the salt mine, and the whole sequence was felt to be too long so many cuts and changes were made.
10. Sean Connery used his £1.25 million fee to establish the Scottish International Education Trust, where Scottish artists could apply for funding without having to leave their country to pursue their careers. As for those two movies that United Artists agreed to back, the first one was The Offence directed by his friend Sidney Lumet.
The second was to be an adaptation of Macbeth by William Shakespeare using only Scottish actors and in which Connery himself would play the title role. Sadly this project was eventually abandoned because Roman Polanski's version was already in production. But if you're upset at the loss of seeing Connery's take on Macbeth then fear not, as in 1961, just prior to his first foray into the world of Bond, Connery took the lead in a Canadian TV adaptation of The Scottish Play...
James Bond will return next Monday in 10 things you might not know about Live And Let Die.
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