was the fourth, and most successful, film in the James Bond series. With
a screenplay by Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins based on an original screenplay
by Jack Whittingham, it was directed by Terence Young. The story was originally
to be used for the first James Bond film but had been the subject of a legal
dispute since 1961 when, after publication of the book, former collaborators
Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory sued Fleming and claimed that it was
based on an unused screenplay that the three of them had written together.
The action was settled out of court with McClory walking away with an additional
credit on novel reprints and the film rights. McClory formed Bramwell Film
Productions with the intention of making his own Bond film but eventually
came to an agreement with Broccoli and Saltzman who allowed McClory to receive
the production credit for the EON film and to retain some of the screen
rights to the story and characters in order to avoid the possibility of
a rival film being produced. The movie had a huge budget compared to previous
films, over $9million, and an extended running time of 130 minutes which,
together with the extraordinary underwater filming sequences created by
the Ivan Tors Underwater Studios, helped make it the most financially successful
Bond film of all time, allowing for inflation.
A series of fairly action-packed incidents leads to James Bond arriving in the Bahamas to investigate the disappearance of a NATO bomber which has two atomic bombs on board. He uncovers the involvement of the super-crime organisation SPECTRE, on this occasion in the person of Emilio Largo and his beautiful, unsuspecting ward, Domino (played by Claudine Auger). SPECTRE had arranged for the pilot of the plane to ditch it in the shallow water of the keys but the situation is complicated by the fact that the murdered pilot was Domino's brother. Their plan is to use Largo's fantastic composite boat, the Disco Volante, to remove the two bombs and demand a blackmail payment of £100 million in diamonds from NATO in exchange for returning the bombs which, if not met, will result in the destruction of major UK and US cities.
After an attempt to infiltrate the organisation, Bond escapes from Largo's palatial estate via a pool filled with sharks and is eventually rescued by US CIA agent Felix Leiter and together they plan an assault on Largo's attempt to transport the bombs to his boat. A spectacular underwater battle ensues, during which Largo escapes by detaching the front section of his boat, a hydrofoil, but not before Bond has managed to get aboard. Domino saves 007 by exacting revenge on Largo with a harpoon gun for the death of her brother and she and Bond manage to jump clear of the out of control craft seconds before it crashes into a reef and explodes. Their final rescue from the sea is exacted by a US Navy plane equipped with a sky hook. The same storyline is the basis for Connery's later 'spoof' Bond film 'Never Say Never Again'.
The casting of the Domino Derval character proved to be a problem and candidates including Julie Christie, Raquel Welch, Faye Dunaway, former Miss Italy Maria Grazia Buccella, Yvonne Monlaur, Gloria Paul and a number of relatively unknown European actresses and models were considered and rejected for various reasons before the former Miss France Claudine Auger was chosen. The script was rewritten to change her character from Italian to French to suit her. Guy Hamilton was asked to direct, but declared himself to be 'creatively drained' after Goldfinger and so Terence Young was brought back, who had directed the first two Bond films. Special effects supervisor John Stears was supplied with some sort of experimental rocket fuel to use in the final explosion of the Disco Volante but, untrusting of the advice regarding its power, overdid the quantity required. The ensuing explosion shattered windows in Nassau, 30 miles away - and he went on to win an Academy Award for his work on the film!
Maurice Binder, who designed the title sequence, became involved in a dispute with Eon over having his name appear in the production credits. This was the first Bond film to be filmed in Panavision and the short iconic 'gun barrel' scene in the credits had to be re-shot, from inside an actual gun barrel. In the previous sequences stunt man Bob Simmons had been used but Connery himself was used for the first time in this new sequence. The silhouetted girls appearing in the title sequence were filmed in a tank at Pinewood Studios and this was the first time actual (concealed) nudity was ever seen in a Bond film. The title theme was written by John Barry and lyricist Don Black and recorded by Tom Jones, who said of singing the final note "I closed my eyes and I held the note for so long when I opened my eyes the room was spinning". The film premiere was held in Tokyo, Japan on 9th December 1965 and opened in the UK on 29th December.
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also see Bill Harry's Sixties pages on Sean Connery as 007
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