Tom Mankiewicz 1942-2010

Tom Mankiewicz

Tom Mankiewicz, writer of three James Bond films in the early seventies, has sadly died. Mankiewicz was born on the 1st June 1942, in Los Angeles and studied at Yale University before he began what would be a long and successful career in film and television. His work on projects like Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, The Sweet Ride and the Broadway Musical Georgy Girl brought him to the attention of James Bond producer Cubby Broccoli who wanted an American writer to help fashion Diamonds Are Forever, a United States based Bond film that would make extensive use of Las Vegas. Despite the pressure of writing the film that would mark the much trumpeted return of Sean Connery, Mankiewicz was up to the job and his ability to give Bond witty lines made him a firm favourite of both Sean Connery and Roger Moore when Mankiewicz later wrote Live and Let Die and then The Man With the Golden Gun with Richard Maibaum.

In the book The Incredible World of 007, Moore named Connery's response to Lana Wood's Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever as one of the best one-liners in the series and added - 'Mankiewicz gave me a great line, which I loved as well, in The Man With the Golden Gun. When I hold the sights of the rifle down on the gunmaker and say "Speak now or forever hold your piece!"'

Although officially credited on three James Bond films, Mankiewicz also contributed drafts of both The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker before leaving the world of 007 to seek new challenges. He wrote films including The Cassandra Crossing and The Eagle Has Landed and worked on the television series Hart to Hart. Mankiewicz also played a key role in helping to bring Superman to the big screen and was credited as a 'creative consultant' on Superman I & II for his work with Richard Donner on fleshing out a script worthy of the Man of Steel. He worked with Donner again on the new cut of Superman II that was assembled in 2006 and also wrote the underrated eighties fantasy adventure Ladyhawke for the director.

Mankiewicz turned film director himself for the 1987 comedy Dragnet, an update of the old television series which he also wrote. This agreeable caper got good value out of its Dan Akroyd/Tom Hanks pairing. Mankiewicz's nous, gained from two decades of film and television work and his experiences working on big projects like James Bond and Superman, saw him in demand as a creative consultant throughout the eighties on films like Gremlins and Tim Burton's Batman. James Bond fans though will remember Mankiewicz most for his writing stint on the franchise where he played a pivotal role in helping to usher in the transition from Connery to Moore, a move that enabled the series to survive the decade and beyond.

Anyone who has ever enjoyed his genial and interesting presence on Bond DVD extras and chuckled at the witty dialogue he supplied for Sean Connery and Roger Moore over three Bond adventures will raise a glass to the memory of Tom Mankiewicz.


c 2010 Alternative 007