Countdown to ‘Skyfall’ – A history of the James Bond film franchise Part 5
The end credits of the James Bond films began to make mention that James Bond will return were entirely wrong only once.
It’s worth noting that since A View to a Kill, the name of the next Bond film has been omitted from that statement, but prior to then it was almost always specified. In The Spy Who Loved Me, the end credits referenced For Your Eyes Only as the next film for the British super-spy. But, The Spy Who Loved Me was released in 1977, the year that Star Wars re-launched a major obsession with sci-fi and outer-space movies. So Cubby Broccoli decided to switch things up.
As a result, Moonraker became the next Bond film. The other time there was an error in the “Bond will return” credit was in Octopussy, but it involved only a minor title change. From a View to a Kill was how the credits read, but the film’s final title was A View to a Kill.
Again, the plot of the novel was largely ignored, although some specific plotpoints remained. One involves the central villain, “Hugo Drax” leaving Bond and an ally where they will be incinerated by the jet blast of the Moonraker’s engines when it is launched. There are rockets in both, but in the novel there’s no plan to build a space station or to kill all of the human beings on Earth.
Michael Lonsdale, who portrayed “Drax”, made a very credible central villain. Lois Chiles had been Cubby Broccoli’s first choice to portray “Major Amasova” in The Spy Who Loved Me, but he’d been told she was temporarily retired from acting at the time. Now she was available and got the role of “Dr. Holly Goodhead”. Richard Keel returns as the steel-toothed “Jaws”. If continuity errors are something you like, there’s a glaring one to watch for in this film involving a Bond girl. Corrine Clery plays “Corrine Dufour”, Drax’s pilot, who betrays him after Bond seduces her. Drax sends his dogs after her in the woods, and from the shot where he’s confronting her about the betrayal to the chase scene, her shoes change. If that’s not your kind of thing, enjoy the rest of the film.
On a budget of $34 million, the largest Bond film budget thus far, it passed the $200 million mark to reach $210 million in worldwide box office gross. It was another smash hit and even before its success, plans were under way for the follow-up, For Your Eyes Only.
For Your Eyes Only was a Fleming title, but not the title of a novel. It’s the title of a collection of short stories, among one of those stories bears the title, too. That short story, along with another entitled Risico, were used to create the script. Plot points and characters from both appear in the movie.
Roger Moore returned again as Bond. Carole Bouquet played “Melina Havelock” and ice skater turned actress Lynn Holly Johnson played “Bibi Dahl”, joining the ever growing list of Bond girls. Julian Glover, who had at one time been considered for the role of Bond, appeared as the main villain, “Kristatos”. Topol played his rival “Columbo”, who helps Bond bring Kristatos down and prevent the Russians from getting hold of a vital piece of British military hardware.
While it didn’t break the $200 million mark at the box office, For Your Eyes Only brought in $195 million on a budget of just $28 million.
Two years later saw the first and only time that there were competing Bond films in the theater in the same year.
Kevin McClory still owned the rights to the Thunderball script. The scripts was slightly retooled and became Never Say Never Again. The title came from the fact that Sean Connery agreed to play the role of Bond in the film, a part the actor swore he would never do again after Diamonds are Forever. It was released under the Warner Brothers banner in the fall of 1983. It did well, grossing $160 million on a budget of $36 million. However, it failed to outperform the official James Bond film released that same here, Octopussy, Moore’s sixth appearance as the MI6 operative. That movie grossed more money and with a smaller budget: $27.5 million to produce, $187.5 million at the box office.
Based very loosely on two short stories from a collection entitled “Octopussy and the Living Daylights,” the film marked the first time a Bond girl returned to the franchise playing a different, significant role. Maud Adams, who had portrayed the ill-fated girlfriend of “Francisco Scaramanga” in The Man With the Golden Gun, plays the title character. She is involved in a smuggling operation with “Kamal Khan”, Octopussy‘s main villain portrayed by Louis Jourdan. Kristina Wayborn is a beautiful Bond girl who works for both Khan and Octopussy, while tennis player Vijay Armitraj portrayed “Vijay”, an ally of Bond’s in India, where much of the film takes place. Octopussy also marks a change for “Q”, played as always by Desmond Llewelyn, who works in the field in a more active role than ever before.
In the next segment of “Countdown to Skyfall – A History of the James Bond Franchise”, the last Bond film for Roger Moore, a new Bond and the end of an era in other ways for the franchise.
To be continued…
James Bond will return