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Unsung heroes of Bond


When Harry Saltzman and Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli produced Dr. No in 1962, they brought together an artistic and technical family, some of whom went on to become legends in the film industry: John Barry, Ken Adam, Ted Moore, Maurice Binder, not to mention Sean Connery. Norman Wanstall won the series’ first Oscar (Best Sound for 1964’s Goldfinger) followed by John Stears, who won the series’ second Oscar (the 1965 Best Visual Effects Oscar for Thunderball) and who would win a further Academy Award for Star Wars over a decade later.

The films also changed industry standards for promotion (producing iconic film posters), release strategies (Goldfinger’s wide cinema release made it the fastest moneymaker in its day), marketing and merchandising (‘Bondmania’ in the mid-sixties set a template for the summer blockbuster of the mid-seventies). This was recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1982 when they bestowed upon Cubby the prestigious Irving G Thalberg award.

The nurturing of talent continued with Michael G Wilson and Barbara Broccoli and has led directly to the acclaim deservedly heaped on Skyfall, like caviar on toast. The most recent films feature the work of many Oscar winners: Paul Haggis (2005 for Best Original Screenplay, Crash), Chris Monro (2001 for Best Sound, Black Hawk Down), Lindy Hemming (1999 for Best Costume Design, Topsy-Turvey), Dame Judi Dench (1998 for Best Supporting Actress, Shakespeare In Love) and Peter Lamont (1997 for Best Art Direction, Titanic). Sam Mendes, the first Oscar-winning director to helm a Bond employed fellow Academy Award winner Javier Bardem in Skyfall which itself hit the Oscar jackpot with gongs for Adele’s title song and a Best Sound award for Per Hallberg. And Daniel Craig mentioned his insecurities about acting opposite double-Oscar winner Christoph Waltz in the most recent film, SPECTRE.

Barbara Broccoli is the Chair of First Light, the UK Film Council’s youth film-making initiative, which is appropriate as the Bond crews have developed generations of artists and artisans. Leading film-makers have been inspired by the series including the late Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott and Peter Jackson.

Film is the most collaborative art form in the world. When pundits were commenting on Daniel Craig’s suitability for the role of 007, they should have factored in the film-making environment into which he was entering. The new James Bond was in safe hands. These films are produced by industry leaders who have spent decades mastering their craft. Sometimes one feels that because of their enormous popular success, the skill level involved in not only making, but maintaining, the series’ Rolls-Royce standard is overlooked. 

So, beyond the stars and talent you know who are involved with Bond, here is Some Kind of Heros Top 5 list of unsung Bond heroes:

1. Johanna Harwood

The first official writer of the James Bond films, she worked for Harry Saltzman who initially bought the rights and helped craft the screenplay of Dr. No to get financial interest in it. She subsequently worked on From Russia With Love. Prior to this, she wrote a playful James Bond short story under the pseudonym J M Harwood because it was deemed inappropriate for a woman to be writing such tales. Some Kind Of Hero is pleased to set the record straight regarding her unique and vital involvement with starting the James Bond film series.

2.  Dana Broccoli

Wife of Bond producer Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and the mother of the current producers, Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, Dana was the silent, uncredited force behind Bond. It was she who gave the female stamp of approval for the casting of Sean Connery (attesting to his sexiness) and she has been involved with the casting and writing subsequently. A novelist and playwright herself, Dana also became the matriarch of what all refer to as the ‘Bond family’.

3. Charles Russhon

A US military advisor to the Bond films, it was he who gained access to the latest cutting edge-military technology (such as the jet-pack and skyhook in Thunderball) as well the newest explosives (the liquid propellent supplied to Thunderball blew out windows miles away). Russhon also helped secure locations in Japan and New York (helping shut down the FDR highway in Live And Let Die). He was known to the Bond crews as ‘Mr Fixit’.

4. Ted Moore

A taciturn South African, British-based cinematographer, he shot the earliest Bond films and established the glossy, international, sophisticated colourful look of the 007 series. Having worked extensively with Cubby Broccoli on his pre-Bond Warwick Pictures output, Moore was used to working in exotic and difficult locations and moved Bond beyond parochial British movie fayre.

5. Neal Purvis & Robert Wade

The ampersand denotes a writing team, (hence its use in Some Kind of Hero). Purvis and Wade have writing together since the 1980s and have now penned a record breaking six consecutive Bond films from The World Is Not Enough to SPECTRE. Their instinctual knowledge of Fleming and Bond, plus their easy going amenable style, has made them the go-to guys for the current Bond films, to augment the work of others or conjour initial drafts. Often the writers on a Bond film are overlooked but after a while (and the success of the Daniel Craig-era of 007) a pattern emerges – the pattern of sheer Bondian bravado can be seen in the bravura Bond of SPECTRE, the most recent 007 film.

By Matthew Field & Ajay Chowdhury

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