* Sean was gone... And here are the last five in the hunt to... Find A New 007 for OHMSS. Hans De Vries, Robert Campbell, Anthony Rogers, John Richardson (inset) and the winner... George Lazenby
[Photos: © Eon Productions, 1968]
“We have all the time in the world.”
BOND 7 . ON HER MAJESTY'S SERVICE
This was the thriller that Ian Fleming was yarning at Goldeneye when the entire Bondwagon started its incredible roll next door in January 1962... He nearly called it The Belles of Hell, rather too close to The Bells of Hell Go Ting-a-ling-a-ling by his pal and future Bond scripter Roald Dahl. (The filming of that book, with Gregory Peck, was canceled due to lack of Swiss snow!)
Fleming described Bond’s first and only (short lived) wife, Tracy, as blonde. And Italian. Broccoli agreed with Guy Hamilton's obvious choice: Brigitte Bardot. Next, Catherine Deneuve, who had lately inherited three BB cast-offs (films, not men), was not happy at being second. Besides, she was anti-actioners after being sacked from Mario Bava’s Italian thriller Danger: Diabolik (lucky her).
What should have been Connery's first, second, fourth or fifth outing was postponed due to impossible deadlines regarding Swiss spring snows. Connery made You Only Live Twice instead and once Broccoli got his OHMSS act together, he’d lost Sean. And BB.... They were together in Spain displaying remarkably little chemistry between them in the appalling Shalako Western - with Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), as well.
007 . As Connery refused $1m to come back, Bond got a new director, the series’ editor Peter Hunt - and Roger Moore was set as 007 until shooting clashed with his Persuaders TV schedule. And so a new search began for - what else - “a young Connery.”
And he would have two vital lines. “I hope I can live up to your high standards” and, directly to camera, “This never happened to the other fellow.”
Although more of a young Moore, Ian Ogilivy was approached. (He became Roger's Saint successor in 1978).
Also seen: Michael Billington
(soon enough, he was
something of a Eon house pet)
Broccoli was surprisingly keen on Jeremy Brett, after My Fair Lady, 1964, and he’d be seen again for Live And Let Die. The rather fey Brett later became the ultimate TV Sherlock Holmes, 1984-94. Ironically, Ian Fleming’s own pencvil sketch of Bond greatly resembled Holmes - featuring not only the famous comma of black hair, but a receeding hairline).
Broccoli’s most surprising idea was... Oliver Reed. An ex-Hammer Films werewolf (he once asked me if he should move to France, “where they like ugly men - look at Belmondo!”), Olly became the sole British star created by producer-director Michael Winner. For all his testosterone (Hammer called him satanic), even at 30 Reed had too many problems: drinking, brawling, weight and all the rest.
Broccoli decided that the need “to destroy his image and re-mould him” as Bond was too great. “We just didn't have the time or money to do that.” Reed showed 007 fans what they were missing, by going full-frontally nude in Women In Love.
Two telly-Americans were rumoured - Adam Batman West, bordering on the plump, and Roy Thinnes from The Invaders, bordering on the boring. And a third backed away from the role - Tom Selleck. “I was asked to screentest but I turned it down. Not because I had another job - I was perennially out of work.
“I’m sure that being between Roger and Sean
would not be a good career move.”
He thought his Magnum was taking over from where Connery left off as 007 (he did, honest!). Selleck, first choice for Indiana Jones, later replaced Moore in High Road To China, 1983.
Truth is only Adam West (and no one else) ever said that Cubby Broccoli offered him Bond while on a London promo visit in 1968. It hardly seems likely... Then again, West sidelined as a Bondish guy for a Nestle’s Quik commercial, just as Lazenby did for Big Fry chocolate... West, as Daily Mirror journalist Donald Zec was to say about Lazenby, would have been “as much a substitute for Bond as Mick Jagger is for Moses.”
Enter - and not for the last time - a handsome New Zealand schoolteacher turned actor David Warbeck - already a legendary UK hero in Hammer’s Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood at the time. “All that froth going on. They were seeing everybody. I went along just to meet the director and sort of argued with them that I was quite wrong… But when I heard the blokes that were going for it [laugh] I thought, well, why not me? No, I was still still too young.”
And the story about Timothy Dalton being called up was also rubbish. Putting that record straight, Dalton confirmed he was first approached about Bond after Wuthering Heights, 1969, and Mary, Queen of Scots, 1970 - long after OHMSS was cast, produceed, released... and a flop in the US.
Finally, and from an alleged 413 contenders, George Lazenby was announced as the youngest Bond. An Australian part-time model and car salesman. Lazenby had first been noticed, three years earlier, at Broccoli's (and Connery’s) favourite barber in Mayfair - exactly as planned by the Aussie. The producer checked up on the “handsome character,” just as Lazenby had made sure of Broccoli's next appointment. Having shone in his screen-test fights (he’d studied martial arts with Bruce Lee), the model known for his Big Fry chocolate commercials, was ill-chosen from the last five: Robert Campbell, Anthony Rogers (from Camelot) - and Hans De Vries, who had a bit in You Only Live Twice and immediately joined the 007 dream team of Connery and Bardot in Shalako.
Oh, and the handsome John Richardson, husband of that first double Bond girl, Martine Beswick - and who had previously lost out on being the female Bond’s side-arm, Willie Garvin, in Modesty Blaise, 1966.
There had been
a much wilder card
- Clint Eastwood!
When the story first appeared in 2010, it had all the authenticity of British tabloid flotsam, something made up to help fill a column and match a wannabe headline. However, by September that year, Clint confirmed all in a Los Angeles Times interview marking his 80th birthday.
After rejecting Warners’ invite to be Superman, “I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. This was after Sean Connery left. My lawyer represented the Broccolis and he came and said: ‘They would love to have you.’ But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal.
“It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it. I thought James Bond should be British. I’m of British descent but by that same token, I thought that it should be more of the culture there and also... it was not my thing.”
It remains inconceivable that the guys
who chose as correctly as Connery could have
made such a cock-up as Lazenby.
The Aussie model was presented to the media on October 7 and 13, 1968 at the Dorchester, just around the corner from the Eon offices. Very soon, the non-actor was behaving as he thought a star should. Bad-mouthing partners. Boasting about the broads and the bread. “Hot-headed, greedy and big-headed,” as he put it.
According to a Q/A session with Bond historian Steven Jay Rubin at the American Cinematheque in June 2011, Broccoli first saw Lazenby when he was having his hair cut by Sean Conery’s (and Cubby’s) barber. “I said: Cut my hair like Sean Connery’s. And after, as I was walking out, Cubby apparently said to Curt the Barber: That guy he would make a good Bond.” Lazenby went to the first interview with long sideburns and French coat. And they wouldn’t let him in. “So, I took note of how everyone was dressed and I went away and got ... the bits and pieces, thinking that it’s just a matter of time before they pick me. So, they picked this flitty guy from Australia. I still don’t why. I walked like a drunken bum from Australia, Peter Hunt told me. And they took the swagger out of me and made me walk like Prince Philip. And I had voice training…”
Hunt said they had more film on him testing than they had for the entire film. “We were off going testing for 4 months, because they said we’re not going to have a clothes peg [a male model] for James Bond. Harry Saltzman said: They’re all gay, all these male models.” So Lazenby’s sexuality was tested. “I was in this holding cell - a nice apartment. John Daly [a UK film producer] came around one night with a girl - a hooker - a to check me out to see if I was gay. That was a good night. [Laugh]. And so, you’ve got no idea what I went through, but at the end of the day it wasn’t that tough.
“Peter Hunt wanted to prove himself right, which he did. He was an amazing character. I mean he got his own way most of the time. If he hadn’t been on my side, I wouldn’t have had a shot. I had a little falling out on the first day of filming and he never spoke to me the whole nine months. It’s true. Didn’t bother me ’cos I’d never been an actor so I didn’t know who the director was from the cameraman. Every take I did was one take. But we did it from different angles so I got more than one go at it sometimes. But Peter Hunt was tough. I won’t tell you how we fell out, but it was just my big mouth.”
As soon as he became Bond, his 1965 screen debut as British Spy in Spain’s Marc Mato, agent S.077/Espionage in Tangiers, suddenly disappeared - 32 minutes of the film were cut. Lazenby’s minutes.
When masquerading as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, the new Bond even had to be dubbed - by George Baker. He was rewarded with an on-screen role in The Spy Who Loved Me - and, therefore, apparently forgiven, for playing “Bondus, Jamus Bondus” in a TV episode of the BBC’s ancient Rome farce, Up Pompeii, 1970.
“Cubby Broccoli will tell you that I was a failure and difficult to work with,” said Lazenby some years later “Unfortunately, he told a lot of people that and it meant that it was impossible to get employment.”
What Cubby actually said was this: “You’re only a star when the public says so.” And, even after a further 59 roles in 34 years, the public never said that about George Lazenby.
Blofeld . In his 1966 script, Richard Maibaum suggested Gert Frobe coming back as Blofeld, aka Goldfinger’s brother or half-brother. (The same notion was also run up the flagpole for Diamonds Are Forever). Then, two years later, the Mr Nasty was a case of “Let’s hope he looks like Max Von Sydow” (Someone remembered and 15 years later, Max was Blofeld for Connery’s finale, Never Say Never).
Che Che . The scenarist also mentioned Primo Carnera, Italy’s Ambling Ape, world heavyweight champ in both boxing and wrestling, as Che Che. He made 18 films, 1933-59, last being Hercules Unchained, as a giant (what else?) towering above Steve Reeves in 1958. Irvin Allen, who played Che Che - and would also turn up among the crew of Stromberg One in The Spy Who Loved Me - is not to be mistaken for Broccoli’s old Warwick Films partner, Irving Allen!
Broccoli and Hunt took note of the Maibaum thoughts - and rejected them all. (Cubby also refused the writer’s notion of bringing Frobe back - as Goldfinger’s brother this time - in the next movie, Diamonds Are Forever).
Irma Blunt . Harry Saltzman was keen on Greek star Itrene Papas but Peter Hunt felt was she too darned nice to be Blofeld’s henchwoman. Enter the German Ilse - due back for pre-credit vengeance in Diamonds Are Forever, but she died on December 22, 1969.
Tracy: Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo . After Bardot and Deneuve, various other blondes were seen as 007’s Italianate bride - Swedish Agneta Eckemyr, the French France Anglade and Marie-France Boyer - and a British brunette won it. Diana Rigg (second ex-Avenger in Bondland after Honor Blackman) never understood why she’d been chosen.
“They wanted an experienced lady with a certain degree of glamour to help along a totally inexperienced actor. Fine. It was much like being a coach. And it was well-paid. £50,000. Can’t complain.” And she didn’t until Lazenby began slagging her off… among many reasons why Broccoli did not want him around for the next one. Diamonds Are Forever.
Nancy . During some ten treatments and drafts, 1964-68, Maibaum also suggested the gorgeous American singer-actress Lola Falana as 007’s second target at Piz Gloria but Hunt fell for the Budapest-born Catherine Von Schell. (From hereon, she dropped the Von from her credits. Her real name is Katherina Freiin Schell von Bauschlott). Maibaum had a good eye: Lola was Sammy Davis’ Broadway co-star in the 60s’ Golden Boy anda year after her 007-rejection, the legendary Hollywood director, William Wyler, later picked her for his 71st and final film, The Liberation of LB Jones, 1969. The Bond team must have seen it because that is where they found the Live and Let Die villain: Yaphet Kotto).
Kleff . Who he? He worked with was 007’s future father-in-law, Marc Ange Draco (played by Gabriele Ferzetti, dubbed by David de Keyser). Takis Emannuel won the job and then tried to ape the new Bond by refusing to rehearse... Fight choreographer George Leech complained to Hunt and requested the Greek actor be dropped and swopped for a genuine stuntman.... like trampoline specialist Bill Morgan.
Lazenby is said by The Economist, no less, to have had more women in one film than Connery and Moore. Hardly true. OK, there were more girls in the film, but not all became bedpost notyches.. In just the one outing, Lazenby did, apparently, killed more foes than Dalton in two. (Well, he nearly bored me to death).
Just before the 1969 UK premiere, Lazenby shot himself in the foot. On November 23, 1969, he told the Sunday Mirror that OHMSS would be his first and last 007 film. And Eon opened the floodgates of anti-Georgie tales. How, for one swollen headed example, he threatened not to turn up for some vital re-shoots back in June. “Try,” snapped Saltzman, “I’ll finish the film with doubles.”
Harry Saltzman was soon making thing just as as clear to Lazenby.
"If you got hit by a truck tomorrow,
I wouldn’t be happy about it...
but I wouldn’t be out of business, either."