On Sunday night I was lucky enough to see the new documentary “Everything Or Nothing”, commissioned as part of the celebrations for the fifthieth anniversary of cinematic James Bond. While it received a cinema release in the UK, albeit on a limited number of screens, and was shown on cable in the US I had thought that since I live in neither of those countries I’d have to wait until its DVD release.
However, it was picked up by a channel in Spain and showed, along with “Bond Girls Are Forever”, on a night dedicated to the James Bond films.
The film, directed by Stevan Riley, went back in time to cover the origins of the film series, including Ian Fleming’s ill-fated attempts to bring 007 to the big screen. It draws upon archive footage and interviews inter-cut with movie footage, all of which is backed by John Barry’s music to take an affectionate look at the series.
While much of the footage has been seen before, this is probably the first time it has been assembled to make a complete narrative and a variety of people links to the world of James Bond voice their opinions; Fleming’s biographer John Pearson weighs in about how the Thunderball court case impacted the author’s health, lover Blanche Blackwell speaks of the first time she met Fleming, producers Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli speak of Cubby Broccoli’s legacy and how important it was that they continued the family business (raising the unanswered question, who takes over after them?), Harry Saltzman’s offspring talk about their father and his reasons for selling his stake in Eon Productions, and the actors who have played 007 spoke candidly about their experiences.
Notably absent from any recent interview is Sean Connery, who famously harbours a grudge against the producers who, he claims, still owe him money; you can read more about the reasons behind this in HMSS Weblog’s review of “Everything Or Nothing” here. Amusingly, Connery is shown on the Johnny Carson Show; when asked “who was the original Bond villain?” Connery immediately replies “Cubby Broccoli”.
George Lazenby speaks about how his agent, who he describes as being anti-establishment, convinced him that there was no future in the James Bond series and how, anyway, he wanted to grow his hair like everyone else at the time, in order to pick up girls; how that advice must have haunted Lazenby ever since!
Pierce Brosnan also speaks at length about how he was offered the role of Bond, only for his Remmington Steel contract to be renewed by the studio the very last day before their option expired; he was about to be announced as James Bond, and felt completely gutted. Having lost out on it once he was careful not to get too worked up about it the second time round.
A lanky and rather nerdy looking Michael G Wilson is shown from the 1970s, while Barbara Broccoli comes across as rather tough, as you would expect a movie producer to be, but also rather charmless too. Interestingly she seemed to confirm that Eon Productions is an acronym for “Everything Or Nothing”, which has long been rumoured, but contradicts what has been said in the past; the truth represented in this documentary seems to be quite fluid.
There is a lot of information in the film and it almost goes too fast at times. An example of this is dealing with the death of Ian Fleming, which seemed to suggest he died from a heart attack following the Thunderball case; in fact that occurred in 1961, he actually died three years later from a second heart attack.
Also, while Harry Saltzman’s depression following the death if his wife was a large part of the reason for him selling up his Eon stock, it was mentioned almost in passing that he and Cubby Broccoli no longer got along; the film delves a little into Saltzman’s poor relationship with Connery, but I’d have liked to know more about why the producers fell out.
All in all “Everything Or Nothing” provides a good opportunity to look back on the film series that this year has celebrated its half centenary and is sure to find its way into the DVD collection of many James Bond fans whether they’ve seen it already or not.