Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

We know what Bond 25 won't be called, but what else hasn't it been called?

A fan site claims the Bond 25 title was pulled just before launch, which got us thinking, could this have happened before?

The cast of No Time to Die: from left Lea Seydoux, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch in Oracabessa, Jamaica. AP
The cast of No Time to Die: from left Lea Seydoux, director Cary Joji Fukunaga, Ana de Armas, Daniel Craig, Naomie Harris and Lashana Lynch in Oracabessa, Jamaica. AP

The on-set hiccups with Bond 25 just keep on coming. We’ve already had a change of director, casting uncertainty, new writers brought in, shoot-stalling injuries to Bond actor Daniel Craig and unintended explosions on set injuring crew members.

This week, the UK press are reporting that Grace Jones, who played May Day in 1985’s A View to a Kill and was due to have a cameo in the latest movie, has stormed off set after realising quite how small her cameo was. The Sun reports an insider as saying: “She was out of there quicker than it takes to rustle up a martini," despite the Bond team having pulled out all the stops to ensure the notorious diva was well-looked after on set.

Less well-reported, however, has been the revelation by Bond fan-site MI6 HQ that the new film actually had a title right up until the official live stream launch event from Ian Fleming’s Caribbean home in April.

The fan site claims that A Reason to Die was attached to Bond 25 until the night before the live stream, when the producers and studio decided in a meeting that the title was “not Bond enough.”

This, claims the site, is what led to producer Michael G Wilson’s not-entirely-convincing claim that Bond movies don’t normally have a working title when they go into production, despite photographic evidence to the contrary from the launch events for Spectre, Skyfall and A Quantum of Solace.

You don’t even need photographic evidence to further note that many of the Bond films are based on, and named directly after, Fleming’s pre-existing novels.

We can’t be 100 per cent sure that MI6 HQ are correct on this one, but we can't help but wonder if other Bond films may have had last minute title or script changes to capture that all important Bondness in the days before the internet was around to keep us up to date.

Here are 007, probably entirely fictional, suggestions of Bond title near misses from history.

001: Dr Yes (1962)

The entire Bond franchise could have gone very differently if the first film in the series had gone according to the producers’ original plans. The first draft for what would eventually become known as Dr No still featured Bond jetting off to the Caribbean, but originally he was there to recover from a particularly draining bout of cold war spying at a positive thinking retreat, run by notorious self-help guru Dr "Yes I Can" Yes.

The producers also hoped the selection of trust exercises and primal roars on screen would enable them to latch onto the zeitgeist of the growing experimental theatre scene of the 1960s.

Unfortunately, the film was terrible, and original producer “Cubby” Broccolli’s unilateral decision to bring in guns, Bond girls and a shady international terrorist group, along with the much more Bond sounding villain Dr No, would ensure the film’s eventual success.

002: Whitefinger (1964)

In the 1960s, the power of unions in the UK was at an all-time high, and the labour groups were becoming more outspoken too as prosperity returned to the nation following a post-war period of consensus in working relations.

Bond’s producers thought they could ride the tide of workplace health and safety concerns with a film about gold smuggler Auric Goldfinger. Goldfinger had an army of underpaid labourers mining for gold across South America, and thanks to poor safety practice the industrial illness vibration white finger (VWF), also known as hand-arm vibration syndrome was rife among the workforce. Bond sets out to unionise the workforce and scupper Goldfinger's plans.

Sadly, the health and safety angle ended up on the cutting room floor, and it was decided that Goldfinger himself and his smuggling operation would be a better focus point.

003: On Her Majesty’s Postal Service (1969)

MI6 has located an evil postmaster in the rural Yorkshire village of Greendale, with plans afoot to replace all human workers with robots loyal only to him. Bond goes deep undercover as the village postman. The situation is complicated further when Bond inadvertently finds himself competing in a TV talent show, opening up a war on two fronts with the manager of his main competitor.

Test screenings, however, showed that audiences didn’t relate to Bond as an amiable country postie, and the film was completely rewritten and renamed. The script didn’t go to waste, though. With minor tweaks it would eventually hit screens in 2014 as Postman Pat: The Movie.

004: Swarovski Cut Lead Glass Crystal is Forever (1971)

The Bond franchise is perhaps world cinema’s leading depository for product placement. From the seminal Aston Martin to lesser-known tie-ins such as the stake out from a KFC in Goldfinger or the assassination in a BP car wash in A View to a Kill. One tie-in that never saw the light of day was Bond’s partnership with the king of bling, Swarovski, and their film production arm. Although talks were said to be at an advanced stage to add some glamour to the 1971 Bond instalment, the producers ultimately decided that the title was a bit of a mouthful, and again “not Bond enough.” Diamonds are Forever was born.

005: Live and Let Live (1973)

When Sean Connery decided to quit as Bond following 1971’s Diamond’s are Forever, and with the memories of 1969’s Summer of Love still fairly fresh, Bond’s producers decided the arrival of a new Bond presented an opportunity for a change of direction. Roger Moore’s debut as the super spy still had him travelling to the fictional paradise island of San Monique and meeting the mysterious tarot reader, fortune teller and spiritual healer, Solitaire.

In early drafts, however, Solitaire then whisked our hero to a new age festival deep in the island’s jungle where they would while away several days discovering the power of crystals and taking part in drumming workshops. On returning to the capital, Bond shrugs and says “if Baron Samedi and Mr Big want to take over the entire US narcotics trade, let ‘em, man. Karma will come round.” Broccolli ordered reshoots.

006: James and the Giant Spaceship (1979)

Bond is sent to investigate following the hijacking of a Drax Industries Moonraker spacecraft. There’s probably a hint that Drax might turn out to be a villain in the fact that his earthly base is in a ruined ancient temple, while he spends his downtime on a space station, so it’s not a great surprise when we learn that he’s building a fleet of spacecraft to drop deadly nerve gas on the earth, wiping out the entire population and replacing it with a new master race. Thanks to the knowledge of industrial injuries Bond had attained in 1964’s Whitefinger, he manages to cease the construction of the fleet by immobilising the construction crew with vibration white finger, and the world lives on.

Roald Dahl’s people weren’t happy with the title, however, fearing it could lead to confusion with his similarly named book, and the film was retitled Moonraker. It was also decided to rewrite the industrial injury ending since workplace regulation took on a pretty low profile following the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979.

007: A View to a Hill (1985)

When Roger Moore announced he would hang up his Walther PPK following 1985’s instalment in the series, the producers originally intended to bring Bond to an end for good. With this in mind, 1985’s A View to a Hill was initially planned as a tribute. Bond would retire to a scenic cottage in northwest England’s spectacular Lake District, and spend the film hill walking, peacefully sailing on Lake Windermere, and recounting tales of his thrilling adventures, monologue-style, to the audience, before closing the film with a cup of cocoa.

Luckily for fans, the accountants intervened before production began and pointed out how much money the films made. Christopher Walken and Grace Jones were drafted in, an intern was sent to find Timothy Dalton’s contact details, and Bond lived to fight another 34 years, and counting.

Updated: July 3, 2019 05:30 PM

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