James Bond The Amazing Secret Agent
THE PAST DECADE has seen many changes in the international film scene; changes which have forced Hollywood to relinquish its once unchallenged position as “Movie Capital of the World.” Today, more and more of the major cinematic efforts are coming from abroad. “Runaway” Hollywood production units as well as established foreign operators are flooding the industry with their overseas productions.
These range all the way from the never-ending stream of “sand and spear” spectacles, HERCULES, GOLIATH AND THE BARBARIANS, MIGHTY URSUS, etc., to the more ambitious entries of this genre: SPARTACUS, BEN-HUR, EL CID, FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, CLEOPATRA, etc. And from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and THE GREAT ESCAPE to other stark contemporary dramas such as THE LONGEST DAY, THE GUNS OF NAVARONE and BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI.
First and foremost among the less serious imports—those offering the film-going public pure escapism and no messages—are the James Bond adventures from Britain. And what adventures! Not since the days of the old double features has there been a “series” so successful in catching movie fancies as these amazing exploits. But here the difference definitely ends!
For these elaborately mounted productions, boasting million-dollar budgets, reflect the rapidly changing* increasingly sophisticated tempo of today’s living. Such forthright treatments of sex and violence as would never have been permitted on the screen a few years ago, are now accepted as matter-of-factly by audiences as they once did Leo Gorcey’s Bowery banalities.
Ian Fleming’s fictional hero James Bond, otherwise known as Secret Agent 007, first created quite a splash in the literary world as the central figure in a chain of best-selling yarns and bidding for the screen rights had become keenly competitive by the time producers Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli closed the deal in 1961. They knew only too well that such a stalwart as Bond was a natural for the flicks; for rugged, relentless 007 (the number signifies that he has a Licence To Kill) is equally at home tracking down hired assassins, escaping from fiendish tortures or romancing beautiful, seductive foreign spies!
Selecting Dr. No as the first Fleming for filming, Saltzman and Broccoli lined up their cast and crew and planed to the island of Jamaica in the West Indies where shooting started in January 1962. Picking a comparative unknown actor, Sean Connery, for the lead was an astute bit of casting, for they felt that the actor should be decidedly subordinate to a role of this type. And right they were. Connery was ideal, appearance and personality-wise, and had the necessary professional background and natural talent for the demands of the part.
Most outstanding among the many beauties chosen as objects of Bond’s ardour was Swiss-born Ursula Andress, or “Undress” as the comics put it, who played the role of “Honey,” bikini-clad “girl of the tropics.” Jack Lord, TV’s Stoney Burke, and Joseph Wiseman, veteran Broadway performer, were signed for the parts of Felix Leiter, a CIA agent and Dr. No, Bond’s paranoiac arch-foe, bent on achieving world power.
doc needs no loot
Extensive exterior filming completed, the cast and crew returned to England where the balance of the picture was shot at Pinewood Studios outside London. It was there that the magnificently designed sets of Dr. No’s nuclear-equipped laboratory and decontamination chamber were constructed. Dr. No had smuggled an enormous fortune in gold bullion out of China so his quest for power was not hampered by any need to acquire funds.
Critical praise and acclaim for Dr. No upon its release in 1963 were echoed the following year when From Russia With Love made its bow. The Independent Film Journal went on record with: “Exhibitors who wisely said ‘yes’ to Dr. No will need no encouragement to welcome From Russia With Love to their theatre screens. And those who jailed to play the first of the James Bond adventure series should make haste to secure this one, for it is bigger, brasher and better than its predecessor, and should surpass, if not equal, the tremendous boxoffice success enjoyed by the former.
Photo: Shirley Eaton, one of the femmes in Goldfinger, provides Bond with an opportunity to get close to money; she being painted from head to foot in gold! Below, as part of his indoctrination course in assassination, Grant (Robert Shaw) uses a wire noose to choke quarry wearing a "James Bond mask!"
“One year ago, our reviewer called Sean Connery, the actor who portrays James Bond, an 'unknown who now has no problems about his future.’ Nostradamus could not have made a more accurate prediction! Whether romancing a beautiful female spy or fighting off an overwhelming horde of killers, Connery exhibits the cool poise, resourceful prowess and suave sexuality that is endearing to the ladies and dream material for the men. And he manages to top off each extraordinary feat with a choice, droll comment that will delight viewers.”
real Russian dressing
This time photographed in Turkey and again in Technicolor, Bond’s mission was to obtain a secret coding machine called a Lektor from the Russian Embassy in Istanbul. Also after the de-coder were the agents of Spectre, an international crime syndicate, seeking to grab the machine for re-sale to the Soviet and at the same time kill Bond, thereby discrediting the British secret service.
And if it were to be proven that many Russian cipher clerks are as delectable as Daniela Bianchi in the part of Tatiana, the unknowing tool of Spectre’s Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya), there would certainly be a mass defection of iron-curtain-bound males from the Western world. For when she turns the charm on Bond and says, “Jemz, you will love me when we get to England, won’t you?”—Look out!
Photo: Having practiced his lessons well, this time Shaw gets a chance at the real Bond in From Russia With Love.
Some of the film’s most exciting moments come during the climactic reels. A vicious hand-to-hand struggle aboard the famed Orient Express, the famous international train running between Paris and Istanbul, which results in the death of Grant (Robert Shaw), Spectre’s scientifically trained assassin, is equalled only by a hair-raising boat chase and battle across open water. Rosa Klebb’s final little surprise for James is the toe of her shoe, which just happens to be equipped with a hidden spring blade dipped in venom!
James Bond’s third tongue-in-cheek adventure is the currently-in-release Goldfinger, which revolves around America’s Fort Knox and a sexy blonde heroine with the highly provocative name of Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). You see, Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) intends to plant an atomic bomb in Fort Knox thereby contaminating the U.S. gold hoard so that the value of his own dust, earned by hard international smuggling labor, increases tenfold.
Perhaps the most gimmicky of the Bond films, Goldfinger presents an ingenious array of imaginative devices including a ray gun that cuts through metal, a bowler hat that can be used to kill when thrown like a discus because it has a razor concealed in the brim, Goldfinger’s solid gold auto and another blonde, Jill Master-son (Shirley Eaton), who is painted gold from head to foot!
Each Bond exposure leaves audiences anxiously awaiting the next and a new box-office bonanza is being promised by the producers every 14 months. In Bond, Connery, fantastic hokum and exotic womanhood, Saltzman and Broccoli have indeed found the winning formula!
Sean’s success story
Actor Connery’s own personal success story rivals that of James Bond. Born 33 years ago, Sean grew up in the tenement district of Edinburgh, Scotland. Forced by circumstances to work early in life, he got his first job at the age of nine. This was followed by many another during his post-school years: lifeguard, steelworker, cement mixer and a three-year stint in the Royal Navy.
His subsequent interest in commercial art— he worked as a model to pay for his lessons— eventually led Sean to his first encounter with show business. It was while on a holiday in London that a chance meeting with an old friend, who was appearing in SOUTH PACIFIC at the time, paved the way for his initial thespian activity in the chorus of that hit.
everybody’s James Bond
He stayed with the show for 18 months, then left in favor of work with a small repertory company where he had the further experience of playing a wide variety of dramatic roles. His work there attracted attention and parts in several English film productions followed. None, however, did much to enhance the professional reputation of the young Scot until he was selected by the readers of the London Express as "the ideal actor to portray James Bond.”
Dr. No proved to be the “big one” for Sean Connery; the “big one” that is hoped for by every aspiring actor and actress. And it was so big that today, in addition to the Bond series, movie producers around the world are clamoring for his services—for which he is reputed to be getting $400,000 per picture.
He has made MARNIE in Hollywood for Alfred Hitchcock and WOMAN OF STRAW opposite Gina Lollobrigida, both very non-Bond type of roles. Nevertheless, so strong has become the link with Fleming’s sleuth, that many theatre operators do not hesitate to decorate their marquees and advertising for these films with blurbs boldly proclaiming James Bond as the star!
Photo: There's no stopping JB when he starts a clean-up as exemplified by this encounter in Dr. No's laboratory. Below, in his latest escapade, Bond finds himself in the clutches of Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), a most unconventional adversary!
What James Bond did for Connery he also did for author Fleming but for him, unfortunately, time recently ran out. The prolific writer of the twelve Bond books died of a heart attack last August 12 at the age of 56. In addition to the three novels already filmed, Fleming also penned “Casino Royale,” the first in which 007 made his bow, “Thunderball,” “Live And Let Die,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “For Your Eyes Only,” “Moonraker,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” and the just-published “You Only Live Twice.”
get set for no. 4
Most of these are slated for filming by Saltzman and Broccoli, the next one due being Thunderball. Scheduled to go before the cameras early this year with extensive on-location lensing in the Bahamas, pic tells of Bond’s continuing clashes with Spectre, whose latest endeavor is the hi-jacking of two H-Bombs; said bombs being used to hold the entire Western world for ransom!
Promises to be another winner, eh? And with JB’s past track record who can doubt it? For with each workout, with each run through the adventure mill, our intrepid hero exhibits finer form and greater dexterity both in and out of the boudoir!
Photo: A quartet af delicious lovelies who have turned their considerable charms on Mr. Bond. Clockwise from top left: Ursula Andress, blonde beachcomber of Dr. No, Daniela Bianchi who came From Russia With Love, Uiker Sozlu, whose belly-dance enlivened that film, and Zena Marshall, one of Dr. No's more attractive accomplices.
[Source: Screen Thrills #10, February 1965, P.34-39]