On the eve of ‘Skyfall’, commemorating 50 years of James Bond films, comes a neatly produced ode to the movies and the 007 phenomenon—a PR exercise, venerating Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who together conjured up the Bond magic on screen.
‘Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007’, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is the story of how Bond became what he is. Director Stevan Riley leaves Bond dissenters safely out of his narrative, focusing mainly on the two movie moguls—their break-up and eventual reconciliation—and on the melancholic and fascinating figure of Ian Fleming, who did not live to see his creation achieve dizzying success worldwide. The film was screened at the just-concluded Mumbai Film Festival, and it released in the UK in early October.
Fleming received scathing reviews from London’s literary critics when his first James Bond book, ‘Casino Royale’, came out in 1953, but he worked hard at the books. It was, according to one of the producers at United Artists interviewed in the film, “an autobiography of a dream”—Fleming’s dream of himself as an alpha male figure. At one point, after Broccoli and Saltzman convinced Hollywood’s United Artists to buy the franchise and made an unprecedented success of it, Fleming was under immense pressure to make the spy better, in keeping with the world order.
There are interviews with actors, including the Bond men Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig—but not Sean Connery, who remained estranged from the producers for many years.
There’s a lot to enjoy in this crisply produced, trivia-filled story behind Bond. The success of Bond is a reassurance of the magic of the movies, of movies as the ultimate vehicle of escapism. The film reiterates that Bond is as relevant as the fantasy to be sexy and invincible—a fantasy that trumps difficulties to place Bond in the new world order where the enemy is undefined.
‘Everything Or Nothing’ is expected to be available on Amazon or Flipkart after the release of ‘Skyfall’.