Terence Young: 50 years of 007 on the big screen

Although Ian Fleming will be forever credited with the creation of James Bond, director Terence Young was responsible in many ways for the evolution of the smooth suave agent that people would later fall in love with. Young’s appreciation for tailored suits, fine wines and beautiful women was remarkably similar to that of Bond and he ensured that this was translated to the screen by teaching, a young Sean Connery how to walk, talk and act the part for his role in Dr No.

His resemblance to the onscreen character was so uncanny that at some point, some Dr No (1962) cast members felt that Sean Connery was not acting as Bond, but as Terence Young. As Robert Colton put it in an article on HMSS, “Terence Young was James Bond”. After From Russia with Love (1963), he turned down the opportunity of directing the next Bond movie, Goldfinger (1964). The position would later on be given to Guy Hamilton, returning for one more film with Thunderball (1965).

Terence Young was born in Shanghai China in 1915. Much has been made about the similarities of his early decades and that of Bond; like James Bond he served in the armed forces during the Second World War (as a tank commander) and was linked to several war-time intelligence projects, one of which was Operation Market Garden—the largest airborne tactical assault of its time.

In 1940s, he started his film career working as a screenwriter for a number of movies. By the 1946, he progressed into the role of director working alongside Brian Desmond on the movie Theirs is the Glory. His solo directional debut was on the movie Corridor of Mirror, a critically acclaimed movie that was made in France. The movie starred a young Christopher Lee who at the time was still relatively unknown. By the early ’50s his credentials as a director had spread to include half a dozen other movies. One of these was The Red Beret, a movie produced by Warwicks Films, a company half owned by Albert R. Broccoli.

Young’s relationship with Broccoli led to him being offered the position of director for the first Bond movie, Dr No. The success of the movie ensured that he returned a year later to direct From Russia with Love, which turned out to be an even bigger box office hit.

As well as the first two movies in the James Bond franchise, Terence Young also directed several memorable movies some of which included Wait Until Death and The Amorous Adventure of Moll Flanders. However, although many of the movies he made in the following decade well received, none of these achieved the same amount of success as his earlier movies.

He was reportedly given the opportunity to direct two other Bond movies For Your Eyes Only and Never Say Never Again, but he turned each offer down. He continued directing up until the ’80s where he worked alongside Lawrence Olivier in the movie Inchon.

Terence Young died of a heart attack in Cannes at the age of 79.

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