For every Bond movie we did get, there were probably a half-dozen half-finished movies that never made it past the conceptual stage. Sometimes, those aborted missions got pretty close to completion before they were shut down: delve into the rich history of Bond movies that never were and never will be…
Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Casino Royale’ (2005)
The Bond series fartsploded after the follow-through that was ‘Die Another Day’, so Bond producers were desperate to reintroduce some credibility to the franchise. One way they explored this was entertaining Quentin Tarantino’s interest in directing a reboot of ‘Casino Royale’. That reboot did happen, albeit with ‘GoldenEye’ director Martin Campbell back in the hot-seat, but Tarantino’s interest was real and Campbell confessed the American had bid on the rights. For what it’s worth, Tarantino’s take on the Ian Fleming novel would have been set in the 60s with a younger James Bond, but he still wanted 49-year-old Pierce Brosnan to play the role, which may explain why producers went another way.
‘James Bond Of The Secret Service’ aka ‘Warhead’ (1975)
You could write a book about Kevin McClory’s legal battles with Eon, but it’d be called ‘The Big Book Of Boring Courtroom Dramas’ and no one would want to read it. By far the most ridiculous prospective Bond movie on this list, Kevin McClory’s first attempt at remaking ‘Thunderball’ in 1975 had a major boon in the shape of Sean Connery, who agreed in principle to return to Bond. It saw SPECTRE lure Russian and American ships into the Bermuda Triangle where they’d steal nuclear weapons, then they’d commandeer the Statue Of Liberty to use as a base to unleash a robot shark armed with a nuke. Sold! Tragically, we were denied this obvious masterpiece and we had to wait until 1983’s ‘Never Say Never Again’ to see a past-his-best Connery re-don his mothballed tux.
George Lazenby’s ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (1971)
Aussie actor George Lazenby’s only got one shot at Bond but by all accounts, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was a classic. A direct sequel was forthcoming: ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ was originally planned to begin where ‘OHMSS’ ended, with Bond in mourning for his wife Tracy and vowing revenge. Characters including Irma Blunt and Marc-Ange Draco would return; the opening credits were even drafted, with Louis Armstrong’s ‘We Have All The Time In The World’ the tune chosen. However, Lazenby brazenly walked away from Bond, setting the scene for Connery to return to the role for a record $1.25 million salary. The ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ we actually got was… let’s just say… not a classic.
‘Warhead 2000 AD’ (1997)
Writer and dead horse flogger Kevin McClory attempted to kickstart another ‘Thunderball’ remake halfway through the Brosnan era, before the alt-Bond movie vanished during various courtroom sagas. Shame, because it had potential: ‘Warhead 2000 AD’ built up a lot of hype with the suggestion that a former Bond would return to the role – not Sean Connery this time (though he was rumoured for the villain) but Timothy Dalton. Nothing was ever confirmed, however, and in 2000 after Sony settled with MGM, the world was denied a third Thunderballs-up.
Pierce Brosnan’s fifth Bond (2004)
Before he was unceremoniously ousted in favour of Daniel Craig’s bulkier bruiser, Pierce Brosnan was all set to star in a fifth Bond movie – until ‘Die Another Day’ happened, that is. Initially only contracted for four movies, Brosnan made no secret of his desire to continue the role and his contract was extended for a fifth. “I will do another one,” he said in 2002. “It would be wonderful to do another one. After that, I do not know.” After Bond 20’s critical mauling, Brosnan’s requested paycheque for Bond 21 was considered too high and partly led to the decision to reboot the franchise. “Michael [G. Wilson, producer] was stoic and said, ‘You were a great James Bond. Thank you very much’” said Brosnan. “I said ‘Thank you very much. Goodbye.’ That was it.”
‘Dr. No’, starring Cary Grant (1962)
Britain’s premier secret agent was very nearly played by an American, albeit an English-born – and bloody suave – one. Uber-producer Cubby Broccoli urged the charming star to play the role that would eventually be played so memorably by Sean Connery in 1962’s ‘Dr. No’; the pair were close and Grant was even the best man at Broccoli’s wedding. It wasn’t to be: Grant would only commit to one movie, and he would have been 58 when it came out – the same age Roger Moore was when he hung up his Walther PPK.
‘For Your Eyes Only’, starring James Brolin (1981)
Before Roger came back for Moore, Bond’s shoes were briefly filled by American actor James Brolin (above) when he was hired to play 007 in the 1981 thriller. Brolin, husband of Barbra Streisand, aced his screen test for ‘Octopussy’ (which can be found on YouTube) thanks largely to his large screen presence and his impressive English accent. He was midway through prep for the movie when Rodge swanned back in the frame and decided he could handle yet more Bondage, denying us a proper peek at James Brond.
‘The Property Of A Lady’ (1993)
Falling halfway between the respective tenures of Dalton and Brosnan, this sequel to ‘Licence To Kill’ was originally set to star the Welshman in his third adventure, but eventually became ‘GoldenEye’ and ushered in the age of the Irish Bond. Many plot elements made it into ‘GoldenEye’: the script saw Bond deployed to the Far East to investigate a corrupt businessman, but instead he would rendezvous with retired spy Denholm Crisp (to be played by Anthony Hopkins) who wound up being a baddie à la Sean Bean’s 006. Dalton announced he was done in 1994 and after a few extra rewrites and a golden paint-job, the movie hit cinemas in November 1995.
‘Thunderball’, directed by Alfred Hitchcock (1959)
If Ian Fleming had got his way, the very first James Bond movie would have been directed by none other than the Master of the Macabre. The Bond author sent the ‘Psycho’ director a telegram asking him if he’d be interested in making ‘Thunderball’, what was then to be the first 007 movie, about the Mafia blackmailing Blighty with an atomic bomb. Sadly it’s unknown if Hitch ever read the telegram, because the two never met in person and the collaboration never took place. Part of the reason that Fleming was so keen to get Hitchcock on board was because he fancied James Stewart to play Bond. We were going to do an impression of James Stewart playing James Bond here but it doesn’t really work on paper so we abandoned it.
Halle Berry’s Jinx spinoff (2002)
We bet you can only remember one thing about Jinx, Halle Berry’s character from ‘Die Another Day’. Okay, two things: Berry’s memorable exit from the surf in an overworked orange bikini was the stuff dreams – and trailers – are made of. A spin-off starring the sultry NSA agent was talked up before the release of the main event and Berry was on board, but like another proposed lady-centric 007 spin-off – following Wai Lin from ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ – it never materialised. That illustrates the depth of hatred that ‘Die Another Day’ inspired; when faced with the prospect of spending more time frolicking with Berry in the ocean, audiences still said: “No thanks, we’re good”.
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