We caught up with Paul Duncan to talk about the behind-the-scenes 007 bible.
In collaboration with EON Productions, the new edition of The James Bond Archives includes all the same stunning imagery and behind-the-scenes knowledge as the original XL book, but with a smaller format and a softer price-tag. The new edition also features a new chapter about SPECTRE (2015).
1. How did you get involved with writing The James Bond Archives?
Paul Duncan: Fourteen years ago in my job interview with publisher Benedikt Taschen. He said, “I’ve always wanted to do a big James Bond book,” so it was an idea that had always been there. Then over five years ago he brought it up again, and a couple of months later I got a call from EON asking if we’d like to do the book for the 50th anniversary of Bond. I said, “Sure, when did Benedikt contact you?” But he hadn’t. TASCHEN and EON had the same idea at the same time. It was a great moment of synchronicity.
There have been hundreds of books published about James Bond, and I thought that maybe the world did not need another one. But EON said that we could have complete access to their vast archive – over a million photos, and over 100 filing cabinets – so I thought that maybe I could find something new for fans to read. I spent 30 months researching the archives, and decided to present the book as an oral history of how the films are made. I think the resulting book gives an accurate picture of the inventiveness, perseverance, and humor the cast and crew needed to employ to get the movies onto the screen, on schedule, and hopefully under budget.
2. How did you do research, and what was your most surprising discovery during the research?
Paul Duncan: The photos are stored in an underground bunker that is airtight and flameproof. I spent a year there. The following year was spent in an enormous warehouse, which is more akin to the vast repository seen at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. This contains all the production documents, artwork, scripts, press clippings, posters and so much more.
Looking through the documents, it soon became apparent that as well as the producers and the original directors (Terence Young, Guy Hamilton, Lewis Gilbert) there are many people involved in making the Bond movies, from scriptwriters, like Richard Maibaum, to production designers (Sir Ken Adam, Peter Lamont), special effects gurus (John Stears, John Richardson, Chris Corbould), stuntmen (Bob Simmonds, Vic Armstrong, Gary Powell), production managers (Anthony Waye), and editors (Peter Hunt). They all had great, and often hilarious, stories to tell about the problems they needed to overcome, and so this became the connecting thread of all the films. This is why the book became an oral history – it makes the book easy to read and entertaining. It’s also nice to have the people who experienced the stories tell them in their own words – the water is freshest at the source.
The great thing about the archive is that it can give extra little details about how the films were made, and how sometimes things go wrong. On The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger Moore was filming the scene where Stromberg shoots Bond with a gun hidden under the table. A pyrotechnic device was primed to go off under a chair Moore was supposed to be standing behind. But, at the last moment, Roger decided to sit in the chair. He didn’t get off quick enough and the device burnt his rear end. Whilst looking through the archives, I found the medical report, which reads: “Explosion on set A stage caught Roger on the right buttock, causing various fairly superficial burns to his flesh. Treated with cream and dressing.”
The documents also revealed that the producers did not want to make Dr. No as the first film, but wanted to make Thunderball instead, which was Fleming’s latest hit novel. A script was written for Thunderball, which is the first time the line “Bond, James Bond,” appears, and schedules were drawn up to film in the British West Indies and at Shepperton Studios, but ultimately it was decided to shoot Dr. No because it would be easier in terms of logistics.
On my very first day I found a cable in the files. While filming in Jamaica on Dr. No, producer Cubby Broccoli sent a cable to United Artists in New York asking for somebody to go down to Sak’s Fifth Avenue and pick up six white bikinis. This is a few days before they shoot the scene on the beach where Ursula Andress comes out of the water. They sent the bikinis to Tessa Welborn, who had her own boutique on the island, and she adapted the bikinis to be the one that you see on screen. It’s only with the aid of hindsight that we can go through these documents and pick out the things that are important.
3. How close did you work with EON Productions on this book?
Paul Duncan: Right from the beginning, EON gave their complete cooperation and access to everything. Every door was opened, and I was allowed to open drawers that nobody had looked through before.
During the production of both Skyfall and SPECTRE, I was given access to all the photos and documents, as well as the freedom to interview people on the production. This means that I was able to track the productions as they were being made. I felt incredibly privileged.
4. How proud are you of the book?
Paul Duncan: I hope that the book will be a definitive history of the franchise, at least until the next time the producers allow somebody to look through their archives… which will probably be in another 50 years!
5. Do you remember the moment you fell in love with Bond?
Paul Duncan: My first Bond film was Sean Connery’s Diamonds are Forever whilst on holiday in Ilfracombe in Devon. I got the Corgi Aston Martin DB5 as a present for my birthday, and then my dad took me to see a double bill of Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I loved the cars, the stunts, the exotic locations, but most of all I loved the confidence and humour of James Bond.
As I grew older, from The Spy Who Loved Me onwards, I made sure that I saw the films when they were released. As each new actor was introduced as Bond, it seemed to rejuvenate the character, and the series.
6. What was the most challenging aspect of writing The James Bond Archives?
Paul Duncan: Once I had acclimatized to the vast amount of paperwork generated by making movies – there are many filing cabinets full of insurance documents, contracts, purchase orders, and customs forms – I realized that the overriding concern of a movie was to finish the filming on time and under budget. So each movie is a thriller, a race against time, and each movie throws up its own problems. On Tomorrow Never Dies they wanted to film in Vietnam, obtained permission to film there, shipped containers full of camera equipment, vehicles, and special effects rigs by sea, and then were told that they could not film there. The ship had already sailed, but it had nowhere to land. So it was up to the location manager, director, and the producers to find locations within a week so that the ship could dock, and preparations be made so that they could start filming on schedule.
I decided that this “thriller” format was the one to follow, so I organized each of the chapters in chronological order, using the progress reports – the documents that tell you exactly what happened on every day of the shoot.
Although I wrote some of the chapters, I did not have time to write the whole book, so for many of the chapters I handed over the research to other writers – Ellen Cheshire, Danny Graydon, Howard Hughes, Michelle LeBlanc, Colin Odell, and Jamie Russell – who did a fantastic job under tight deadlines.
With all the information available to us, and all the great stories, my major problem was how to cut it down to fit it in. The text runs to over 200,000 words, but I could easily have run to 5 times that amount.
7. Did you try to do an interview with Mr. Sean Connery during the writing?
Paul Duncan: We reached out to Sean Connery but he was busy, which is fine.
8. Can you share some unknown facts about the new Bond film SPECTRE that you discovered?
Paul Duncan: I’m sorry, I had a very long answer, but it has just been redacted. You’ll just have to read the book when it is published…
TABLE OF CONTENTS
By Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli
By Paul Duncan
Chapter 1: Ian Fleming
The Playboy Interview: Ian Fleming
Chapter 2: Dr. No (1962)
Adventure with Attitude by Paul Duncan
Chapter 3: From Russia With Love (1963)
Spy Thriller by Paul Duncan
Chapter 4: Goldfinger (1964)
Guns, Girls, Gadgets Galore by Paul Duncan
Chapter 5: Thunderball (1965)
Money in the Bank by Paul Duncan
Chapter 6: Casino Royale (1967)
Beats the Devil by Joyce C. Greller
Chapter 7: You Only Live Twice (1967)
Technically Perfect and Inventive by Paul Duncan
Chapter 8: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
He Didn’t Like Being Told by Paul Duncan
Chapter 9: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
A Cross, A Privilege by Jamie Russell
Chapter 10: Live and Let Die (1973)
More of an Edge by Howard Hughes
Chapter 11: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Smooth Diamond by Howard Hughes
Chapter 12: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The Pure Essence of James Bond by Jamie Russell
Chapter 13: Moonraker (1979)
Bigger and Better by Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc
Chapter 14: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Back to Basics by Danny Graydon
Chapter 15: Octopussy (1983)
One Last Time by Danny Graydon
Chapter 16: Never Say Never Again (1983)
The Rolling Stone Interview: Sean Connery by Kurt Loder
Chapter 17: A View to a Kill (1985)
Theoretically Practical by Howard Hughes
Chapter 18: The Living Daylights (1987)
A Different Direction by Ellen Cheshire
Chapter 19: Licence to Kill (1989)
Darker, Grittier by Ellen Cheshire
Chapter 20: GoldenEye (1995)
Hard and Fast by Jamie Russell
Chapter 21: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Further to Fall by Danny Graydon
Chapter 22: The World is Not Enough (1999)
Fantasy in a Real World by Howard Hughes
Chapter 23: Die Another Day (2002)
The Bond of the Millennium by Jamie Russell
Chapter 24: Casino Royale (2006)
Becoming Bond by Jamie Russell
Chapter 25: Quantum of Solace (2008)
Seeking Revenge by Ellen Cheshire
Chapter 26: Skyfall (2012)
Death and Resurrection by Paul Duncan
Chapter 27: Spectre (2015)
We Watch Everyone by Paul Duncan
Text and Image Credits
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Paul Duncan has edited 50 film books for TASCHEN, including The Charlie Chaplin Archives, The Ingmar Bergman Archives, The Godfather Family Album and Film Noir: 100 All-Time Favorites.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Ellen Cheshire writes and lectures on film. She has written books on Audrey Hepburn, The Coen Brothers, Ang Lee and Jane Campion and contributed to others. www.ellencheshire.com
Danny Graydon is a journalist, author and academic specialising in Film and Comics. A critic for Empire magazine, he has written four books and lectures at The University of Hertfordshire.
Howard Hughes is the writer-researcher of a range of film books, including the Filmgoers’ Guide series. He has authored volumes on crime films, westerns, war movies, science fiction, and Italian cinema.
Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc are authors, broadcasters and film critics. They have co-authored books about Studio Ghibli, David Lynch, Tim Burton, John Carpenter, Jackie Chan, Horror Films and Vampire Films, and have contributed to The International Film Guide as well as a number of online and print journals. They are currently editors of online film salon Kamera.co.uk.
Jamie Russell is a contributing editor for Total Film and has written for the Guardian, the Sunday Times and others. He is the author of several books on cinema and videogames.