Tom Mankiewicz 1942-2010
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.