James Bond films' history as dramatic as the movies

Thu Oct 4, 2012 5:30am EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - As a new documentary shows, the real story behind the James Bond film franchise is almost as dramatic as the 007 fantasies themselves, full of twists and turns, personality clashes, heroes, villains, beautiful women and narrow escapes.

"Everything or Nothing" is released in theatres on Friday, branded "Global James Bond Day" to mark 50 years since the world premiere of "Dr. No" which introduced author Ian Fleming's suave, sophisticated secret agent to the masses.

An anniversary Blu-ray box set, a swanky charity auction at Christie's and the new "007" fragrance for men are some of the ways in which Bond is being celebrated, underlining the lasting appeal of a character who has been constantly reinvented.

A measure of the fictional spy's popularity in Britain came during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, when Bond actor Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth shared a short, comic and hugely popular scene filmed in Buckingham Palace.

Craig's first two outings on her majesty's secret service both earned around $600 million at the box office and "Skyfall", the 23rd official Bond film, hits theatres in a few weeks.

But the new documentary, directed by Stevan Riley and featuring interviews with five of the six official Bond actors, underlines how the series was not always so secure.

"We've been through two bankruptcies of the studio, and we've been through various attacks by competing series so we've had our ups and downs," said long-time Bond producer Michael G. Wilson of the franchise's more serious setbacks.

"And of course we've also painted ourselves into a corner a number of times when you have to jump out of it," he told Reuters in a telephone interview.   Continued...

A worker walks past a complete set of original cinema door panel posters from the film "Thunderball", during a media preview of "50 Years of James Bond - the Auction", at Christie's in London September 28, 2012. The set is estimated to sell for 5,600 - 7,400 GBP ($9,100-12,000) at an online-only auction from September 28 to October 8. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth