This month, we watch the 2012 film Everything or Nothing. It tells the story of Ian Fleming, Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman’s journey to bring James Bond to the silver screen. It’s a thorough, compelling, and surprisingly moving documentary. Director Stevan Riley illustrates the real-life events with clips from the Bond movies.
It opens with an excellent composite of all the Bonds striding in formation across the screen and firing at the famous gun barrel.
“That’s funky,” says Mel.
It’s awesome, I agree.
“I wouldn’t say ‘awesome.’ It’s quite funky,” she replies.
One of the talking heads early in the documentary is a lady called Blanche Blackwell. The caption describes her as ‘Ian Fleming’s companion.’
“Companion,” says Mel. “WINK!”
We learn that Ian Fleming ‘lost his way’ after World War Two, bored of his job as a Sunday Times journalist. He wrote Casino Royale with two aims: to write the spy thriller to end all spy thrillers, and to escape the agony of his impending marriage.
“Why was he marrying her?!” asks Mel.
Cubby Broccoli is introduced into the 007 story. His daughter, Barbara Broccoli says, “`My father believed you could achieve whatever you wanted to, whatever you desired; if you worked hard any dream was possible.”
Mel says, “I agree with that.”
The third key player in the story is French-Canadian Harry Saltzman. We learn that he was devoted to his wife, and would draw for her the things that he wanted one day to be able to buy her.
Mel loves romantic gestures like this. “That’s amazing,” she says. “What a wonderful, lovely man. I want you to do that for me.”
Louise Armstrong’s We Have All the Time in the World from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service strikes up as Cubby Broccoli’s marriage to Michael G. Wilson’s mother is covered. Mel loves this song. She often gets a little teary when she hears it, and it was the last song we played at our wedding.
“I want you to play this at my funeral,” she announces.
Try and keep it light, darling, I ask.
Ian Fleming and others are unsure about casting Sean Connery. Barbara Broccoli reveals that her mother told Cubby that Sean Connery is very sexy.
“He’s a good-looking man, but I don’t find him sexy because he’s a sexist,” say Mel.
We learn about how close the Broccoli and Saltzman families were. Their children were like brothers and sisters, one big family.
“Aww. That’s lovely, ” says Mel.
Kevin McClory’s legal case against Ian Fleming is covered next. Fleming used elements from an aborted film he was working on with McClory and Jack Whttingham in his novel for Thunderball. Blanche Blackwell says that Ian Fleming died of a broken heart after he lost the court case to McClory.
Mel is sceptical. “Not proven,” is her verdict.
Sean Connery leaves the Bond franchise after press intrusion gets too much. He was in the toilet in Japan during filming You Only Live Twice when he looked up and saw a photographer.
Mel feels a rare moment of sympathy for the great man. “Aww,” she says.
Harry Saltzman considered that they had created a monster in Sean Connery.
“They did,” say Mel.
Connery leaves, but Broccoli and Saltzman want to carry on the series with a new actor. Enter George Lazenby. He regales us with stories of how he passed all the tests the producers put him through. He rode a horse until he wore out, beat up stunt men and fooled everyone into thinking he was an actor.
“Can you believe he did all that?” asks Mel.
Lazenby says, “Harry and Cubby were so concerned about my sexuality, because I’d been a male model, they did send a girl up to my apartment. I think, after that, they realised I was straight.”
Mel gasps. “Urrgghhh. They sent a prostitute up to sex him? And that’s OK to say on TV?”
It seems Lazenby hasn’t heard the maxim that a gentleman never tells. “It wasn’t difficult to get laid,” he says. “You’d get four or five girls a day.”
Mel says, “He is so crass and vulgar. I actually hate him more than any other James Bond now. I don’t know where he was on my list, but he’s bottom now.”
Lazenby says, “I’d blown my shot at being a big famous movie star.”
“Ha!” exclaims Mel.
He blames the influence of Radio Caroline’s Ronan O’Rahilly, an anti-establishment figure who persuaded Lazenby to become a hippy instead of 007.
“Well,” Mel tells him, “You’re an idiot. You thought you’d get one over on the people that made you. Suck it up. Take responsibility for your own actions. Be a man. Nobody else should tell you to grow a beard and have long hair. Make your own decisions.”
Mel’s opinion of actors does totally depend on how she feels about them personally. She liked Anthony Hopkins until she read something about how he treated his second wife.
Mel asks why we’re not watching Everything or Nothing on DVD. I reply that I recorded it from the TV about two years ago, but we waited until now to show it to her. This covers all the films we’ve already seen, so there were no spoilers for her.
“I love that you think I’d remember anything,” she replies.
Roger Moore tells of how he tried to reconcile Cubby Broccoli and Sean Connery, because he didn’t like seeing two old friends not getting on.
Mel approves. Even more so when Moore says, “Personally I loathe violence. I am a pacifist.” He says that he regrets knocking the young Thai boy off the boat in The Man with the Golden Gun.
After enjoying the heartwarming story of Cubby and Harry making friends again at the For Your Eyes Only premiere, Mel is enjoying the stories of these two dynasties. Then comes Connery’s return in McClory’s Never Say Never Again.
Charles Juroe says, “Anything I can do that’s gonna upset Broccoli, I’m gonna do if my name’s Sean Connery.”
Mel says, “What a dick.”
She is pleased to learn that the EON-produced Octopussy grossed $187 million to Never Say Never Again‘s $160 million. “Good,” she says.
We find out that Pierce Brosnan can’t remember the order of his four Bond films. I pause and quiz Mel. She can’t either, but she wasn’t in them.
Brosnan is visibly upset at being dropped from the franchise. I thought that this might illicit some sympathy from Mel, but she never really took to his version of Bond.
There is one further act in the Sean Connery 007 story. Barbara Broccoli relates the story of meeting Connery in a restaurant, and putting him on the phone to her father Cubby. The two men say that they love each other.
“Aww, that’s really sad,” says Mel. Her eyes are glistening with tears. I seem have something in my eye too.
I ask Mel what she thinks of the Bonds now, and she ranks them, thus:
1. Daniel Craig
2. Timothy Dalton
3. Roger Moore
4. Pierce Brosnan
5. Sean Connery
6. George Lazenby
I express surprise that Roger Moore has leapt up the chart from last place to third.
“I liked the way he said it was bad when shoved the kid off the boat. He’s not arrogant like I thought he would be, he’s a nice man. He’s a pacifist and he tried to get Sean Connery and Cubby to be friends again. I’m really looking forward to seeing him Blackpool next month now. I might ask him a question about how he reconciles the actions of James Bond with his personal morality.”
Mel will return… watching Skyfall.
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