Over this month, we’ve talked about the controversy over Thunderball, with Ian Fleming not crediting Kevin McClory, which led to a copyright case and Ron Productions settling on a deal to use the novel as well as the Blofeld and SPECTRE intellectual property.
By the mid 1970’s, McClory wanted to remake the movie as Warhead and had Connery interested in coming back as Bond. This led to another lawsuit, as Eon thought that the results of the lawsuit allowed for the usage of elements of the story, but not Bond himself.
Another version of the movie was in development as James Bond of the Secret Service, with Jack Schwartzman coming on board as a producer and adding writer Lorenzo Semple, Jr. Connery asked Diamonds Are Forever writer Tom Mankiewicz to join the project, but he felt that wouldn’t be right due to his respect for Albert R. Broccoli.
After Connery had finished Diamonds Are Forever, he pledged that he would “never” play Bond again. His wife Micheline suggested the title and by the end of another lawsuit in 1983, this movie was finally about to get made.
Many of the Eon-produced Bond trademarks couldn’t be in this movie, such as the gun barrel sequence, the theme and even a pre-credit sequence.
In the post-Star Wars world that Moonraker attempted to navigate for Bond, this film embraces the Lucas team, with director Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back) and much of the Raiders of the Lost Ark crew, including first assistant director David Tomblin, director of photography Douglas Slocombe, second unit director Mickey Moore and production designers Philip Harrison and Stephen Grimes, coming on board.
Bond fails a routine training mission and is sent by M to get in better shape. While at a health spa, he watches as Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera, Condorman) beats a patient into oblivion and battles an assassin.
That beaten man — Bond is dealing with BDSM here — is Captain Jack Petachi, an Air Force pilot whose eye has been altered so that it is the same as the President of the United States. He’s played by Gavan O’Herlihy of Death Wish 3. He and Fatima are working for SPECTRE and its main boss, Blofeld, played here by Max Von Sydow.
Soon, he’s battling SPECTRE agent Maximillian Largo, seducing his mistress Domino (Kim Basinger) and, as always, saving the world all over again.
Former pro wrestler Pat Roach is in this as a henchman. Most people will recognize him from his roles as the giant bald Nazi mechanic Indiana Jones battles outside a Flying Wing in Raiders of the Lost Ark, as well as the Man-Ape in Conan the Destroyer and General Kael in Willow.
Bernie Casey is a welcome sight as Felix Leiter and Rowan Atkinson makes his screen debut as one of Bond’s assistants. Plus, a pre-fame Steven Seagal was the movie’s martial arts instructor. He broke Sean Connery’s wrist during training, a fact that the actor didn’t learn until nearly a decade later.
The end, where Bond winks at the camera, is fun. However, Connery and Roger Moore had an idea for an ending where they would bump into one another in the street and Moore would say, “Never say never again!”
Years after this, McClory announced plans to make another remake starring Timothy Dalton called Warhead 2000 AD, but it never was made. Sony acquired his rights and announced that since they held the rights to his material and Casino Royale that they would make their own Bond movies. As you can imagine, this led to another lawsuit.
After McClory’s death, MGM acquired the rights to his intellectual property, as well as both this movie and Casino Royale, meaning that finally Blodfeld could come back to the Bond storyline, as he did in Spectre.