The Incredible World of 007 - Reviewed by Jake
'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.