The Incredible World of 007 - Reviewed by Jake

Cubby Broccoli Ian Fleming

'The Incredible World of 007: An Authorized Celebration of James Bond' was first published in 1992 and compiled and written by Phillip Lisa and Lee Pfeiffer. The book's major section looks at the films - from Dr No to Licence To Kill in my copy but I believe it was later updated to include GoldenEye - and is packed full of enjoyable colour photographs. The authors are happily unafraid to present some subjective opinions and tell us what they think worked and what didn't and the book goes on to include further sections about Television, Lost Sequences, Bloopers, Gadgets, Merchandise and a range of interviews with everyone from Cubby Broccoli to Timothy Dalton to Roger Moore before ending with a piece called The Marketing and Promotion of A Very Special Agent. 

In the introduction we learn the origins of the book derived from a Licence To Kill review written by Pfeiffer. Legendary Bond producer Cubby Broccoli contacted Pfeiffer to thank him for the kind review and suggested he considered putting together a book about Bond. The late producer contributes the foreward to The Incredible World of 007 where he muses on the enduring success of the series. 'I'm not aware of any top secret formula,' writes Broccoli. 'However, as a producer I've always tried to give the audience full value for the price of a movie ticket and put every penny of the budget on the screen.'

A strength of the The Incredible World of 007 that is immediately apparent is the large number of posters and photographs that surround the text - starting with a montage of Bond promotional art through the years. There are some Japanese and Italian Bond posters included and it's fun to look at the range of styles. Some of the old illustrated Bond posters for the Connery and Moore films were amazing and put recent efforts to shame. There are some great full colour photographs that take up a whole page alone. One of Sean Connery and Ursula Andress posing together is wonderful and there is a big Live and Let Die publicity still with Roger Moore surrounded by the baddies from the film with Jane Seymour and Yapphet Kotto looking over each shoulder. Also fun is a huge The Man With the Golden Gun publicity shot of Sir Rog in white safari jacket and seventies flares with Britt Eklund and Maud Adams on each arm. There are some rare posters included too like a unused teaser poster for Licence To Kill with the original title of the film - Licence Revoked.

The authors thoughts on the films make for reasonably interesting reading with plenty of background details and notes on the stunts. While the details behind many of the most famous stunts and countless titbits - like John Gavin signing to play Bond in Diamonds Are Forever and having his contract bought out when United Artists persuaded Sean Connery to return at great expense - won't be especially new to Bond fans there is still some good stuff here. The authors tend to stick to the conventional line on the respective merits of each Bond film with Moonraker and The Man With the Golden Gun coming in for most flak but they do a nice job in sticking up for On Her Majesty's Secret Service - which has grown in stature over the years and now regarded to be the best James Bond film ever made by many, myself included.

'Now let's do justice to one of the most underrated films in movie history by stating unequivocally that On Her Majesty's Secret Service is a triumph,' the authors write. 'Whatever problems Lazenby made for himself and others on the set are irrelevant to a performance which deserves a good deal of praise. Although a bit wooden at times, he succeeds in showing both the compassionate and ruthless side of Bond. He rivals Connery in the action sequences and does a credible job in the romance department.' The writers also praise Timothy Dalton - arguably the most underrated of the James Bond actors.

There are sections about Bond on television, Bond merchandise and the gadgets deployed in the film, plus an interesting chapter on 'Lost 007 Sequences'. This is essentially about ideas that were dropped in the transition from page to screen or sequences that were actually filmed but not included. A sequence shot for The Living Daylights had Bond escaping in the Tangiers rooftop chase by riding a rug down some telephone wires where - of course - to those below it looked like a flying/magic carpet. It was dumped on the grounds that it was all a bit too Roger Moore and didn't suit the more down to earth atmosphere that came with Timothy Dalton. We also read here that when George Lazenby became Bond the concept was floated that they would say 007 had undergone plastic surgery to make him look slightly different for undercover missions and thus explain why he didn't look like Sean Connery anymore. It was dropped for being patronising to audiences who were perfectly capable of understanding that a different actor was now playing the part.

Near the end, the book includes several interviews with famous figures from the James Bond series and these are quite interesting and enjoyable. Cubby Broccoli talks about Cary Grant and Ian Fleming and casting Bond for the first time. An interview with Roger Moore is good fun as the actor talks about stepping into Connery's shoes and playing jokes on Desmond Llewelyn. Moore attributes the success of the series to the family atmosphere of the production and notes that he had a running backgammon game going from his first to last film on the set. Other people interviewed include Maurice Binder, Ken Adam, Peter Hunt, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn. There is an interesting little interview with Timothy Dalton too where he talks about there being no rehearsals for Bond films and how he flew into London on a Sunday from a film he'd just finished in the United States and was working on The Living Daylights on Monday morning.

This is an attractive book on the whole with some nice posters and photographs and compiled by two authors who obviously have a lot of affection for the series. It serves as a nice tribute to Cubby Broccoli and is a decent purchase for any Bond fan.

- Jake


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