Review: Everything or Nothing- The Untold Story of 007
PLOT: A behind the scenes look at the creation of the James Bond series, from its origins with writer Ian Fleming’s novels, to the early days of the franchise with Sean Connery, all the way through to the newest film, SKYFALL.
REVIEW: Friday, October 5th marks “Global James Bond Day”- celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the original theatrical release of the first James Bond film- DR. NO. To mark the occasion, the cable channel EPIX, in collaboration with EON (‘everything or nothing’) pictures- now under the stewardship of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, are debuting the brand-new, “official” fiftieth anniversary James Bond documentary. Named for EON itself- which was the motto of original producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, EVERYTHING OR NOTHING: THE UNTOLD STORY OF 007 purports to cast a critical eye on the making of the franchise, which is as popular as ever despite having been around for half a century.
Any of you who regularly read my reviews will know I’m a huge James Bond fan. I’m constantly sprinkling references to the series in my reviews, and four years ago- on the eve of QUANTUM OF SOLACE’s release- I re-reviewed each of the films in the series (READ THE REVIEWS HERE). This documentary claims to tell the “untold story” of the franchise, but really- anyone who’s watched the John Cork documentaries on the Bond DVDs or Blu-ray’s will already know most of it. It focuses primarily of the partnership between Harry Saltzman and Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli, who pooled their resources (along with United Artists) to produce the early films- only to see the franchise explode into a worldwide phenomenon after the release of the third film- GOLDFINGER, in 1964.
The doc explains the big gamble the two took by signing the mostly unknown Sean Connery for the lead role. Many, including series author Ian Fleming himself, thought this was a terrible choice, with the burly, balding, and Scottish Connery seemingly being a stretch to play the worldly sophisticated 007. Of course, Broccoli and Saltzman were dead-on, and Connery became a legend overnight. In a surprisingly bold move, the doc explains the factors that led Connery to leave the series following YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE in 1967 (only to return in ’71 for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER- at a record salary he gave to charity), mostly that he felt Broccoli and Saltzman were greedy- which, although disputed by the Broccoli family, is actually agreed with by former UA president David Picker. Connery himself is the only actor to play Bond that isn’t interviewed (not a surprise as he’s done everything he can to distance himself from the part) - but he’s treated fairly.
The film then goes on to tell the infamous George Lazenby story- with commentary by an older and wiser Lazenby himself, where this Australian model with no acting experience was hired to play Bond in 1969’s ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, and then fired due to both his diva-ish behavior, and the actions of his agent Ronan O’Reilly (founder of Radio Caroline- who was played in a fictionalized caricature by Bill Nighy in PIRATE RADIO). From there- they went to Roger Moore, whose career got off to a shaky start with LIVE AND LET DIE & THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, before he hit his stride with THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. The film keeps its focus mainly on Broccoli and Saltzman, with a big part of the film dealing with the end of their partnership before SWLM, which ended with Broccoli becoming the head of the franchise- with his company EON, through his step-son Wilson and daughter Barbara- still holding the reins today.
The most interesting part of the documentary has to be the story of Kevin McClory, a rogue Irish producer who once wrote a treatment for THUNDERBALL with Fleming- the result of which was that in his later years, he claimed part ownership of the character. As a result, he was able to produce the THUNDERBALL remake NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN- which saw the return of Sean Connery, who allegedly used it to get back at Cubby Broccoli. This chapter of the saga is often glossed over- and it’s nice to see that McClory- who indeed probably did have a legitimate claim as far as S.P.E.C.T.R.E went, isn’t demonized.
The part of the doc which will be most interesting to modern fans will no doubt be the selection of Daniel Craig to play Bond- which has shades of Connery’s initial hiring, with many Bond fans being up-in-arms, only to proclaim him the best Bond since Sean after CASINO ROYALE came out. The Craig saga had the unfortunate side effect of making Pierce Brosnan the odd-man out, despite his last (but worst) film- DIE ANOTHER DAY, having been the largest grosser in the franchise’s history. Brosnan himself is candid in the fact that he was slated to return, and was dismissed over the phone- and his treatment has always rubbed me the wrong way. Brosnan deserved to go out with a bang, and I always thought that rather than wait four years between DIE ANOTHER DAY and CASINO ROYALE, they could have put together a fitting swan song for the still-popular Brosnan, who never really got the Bond film he deserved. Alas, even Brosnan admits that the franchise had gotten pretty ridiculous by the time DAD came out, and doesn’t deny that Craig (and to a large extent new franchise mastermind Barbara Broccoli) have done a great job modernizing the series.
For a Bond fan, while a lot of EVERYTHING OR NOTHING may already be familiar, the fact that most of the Bonds are interviewed- including usual hold-out Timothy Dalton- who staunchly defends his own role in the series, makes this a must-see. I had a few issues with it mainly that barely anytime is devoted to the music (although it’s used liberally on the soundtrack)- which played a huge role in the franchise’s popularity. I also find it crazy that Desmond Llewelyn as Q isn’t mentioned once- although I suppose the focus had to stay on EON, although in his own way, he was just as iconic as any of the actors who played Bond.
While not a perfect summation of the series (no “official” doc ever could be) - EVERYTHING OR NOTHING is still a very entertaining rundown of my all-time favorite big-screen hero, although I’ll admit I’m an easy lay when it comes to 007. Hopefully, this is only the tip of the tentacle as far as the fiftieth anniversary goes, as what better way to mark the occasion than with a truly excellent addition to the franchise? Will SKYFALL fit the bill? Stay tuned.
EVERYTHING OR NOTHING is currently airing on Epix HD, and will come out on DVD (and presumably Blu-ray) later this year. For more info: VISIT THE OFFICIAL SITE CB
|Extra Tidbit:||While I like all the actors that have played Bond, I've said it before and I'll say it again. All of the other actors PLAYED Bond. Connery WAS Bond.|