Those of you who can’t wait for the latest and 23rd James Bond film –‘Skyfall’ have only two more days to wait but if even that is too far away, you can get some solace by watching a surprising good documentary on the Bond series ‘Everything or Nothing’- named after the film production company (shortened to EON) set up by Bond pioneers ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
As the documentary is made by the company it is about you could easily think it would be the corporate love letter suggested but it is far, far better than that- even better then the DVD Extra that Radio 5 Live’s Mark Kermode had also suggested.
It’s really aimed at the James Bond fan as it goes through the entire Bond history from Ian Fleming’s original penning of the character and novel, the various legal battles over the years about who owned copyright to the character and stories, the difficulties with Sean Connery, the truth about George Lazenby to its rebirth under Pierce Brosnan and carried forward to the present day with Daniel Craig- thereby celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Although it’s subtitle is ‘The Untold Story of 007’, much of it is familiar to us all but where it wins is in the breadth of contributor especially from the Ian Fleming era. You have Christopher Lee who was Fleming’s Step Cousin as well as playing Scaramanga in ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’, the actress Lucy Fleming his Niece, and Fleming’s assistant who could vouch for his ‘way with women’. Some of the most interesting elements in the whole story revolves around the depression that Fleming suffered and how he came alive with his Caribbean hideaway named ‘Goldeneye’ and his creation of Bond himself.
As with many successful creations, Bond had various false starts before it hit the big time with ‘Dr No’ in 1962 but the film does convey that Bond has had to justify itself when times changed- when the Berlin Wall came down, just who was the enemy? When Bond’s antics were out of step with contemporary living, what was his role?
‘Everything or Nothing’- depending on your take- is either harsh on Connery or just realistic. Despite making him the superstar he became, the film says he felt under appreciated and under paid and he does not provide any input to the documentary –the only Bond to do so. Ultimately the film charts the sad fall out between Connery and Cubby Broccoli in particular and it is only towards the end of the latter’s life that they make peace together.
It is an enthralling documentary and the contributions of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan are especially insightful and funny. The weakness of the film though is that there are no objective views of Bond or the films. We could have done with a non partisan view of the series- its highpoints and failures and an assessment of where it stands now –especially as it has recently been overtaken by the Harry Potter films as the most successful series of films.
But this is a minor consideration in what is as good an official history of James Bond as you will ever get. Well worth catching if you can find it before seeing 'Skyfall'.