Tag Archives: moonraker

Faye dunaway and sybil danning, bond babes

Sybil Danning and Faye Dunaway were both considered for the title character in “Octopussy”. It`s doubtful that Dunaway would`ve seriously considered playing a Bond Girl at that point in her career, but B-Movie Queen Sybil Danning was ready for action. “Would she make love or war to James Bond in OCTOPUSSY?” As it turned out, neither. They both eventually lost out to Maud Adams, who screen tested James Brolin in his attempt to replace Roger Moore.

MeatLoaf should have taken a page from the book of Sybil Danning: never talk about a role you think you`re going to get until you`ve actually gotten it.

For those of you who don`t remember 1982 (yes, it was a real year) or weren`t born yet, you may be asking: “Sybil who?”. Sybil Danning was B-movie queen quietly working her way up the ranks of Hollywood. Octopussy could have become her big break. Instead, it became her big heartbreak.

Incidentally, Octopussy was not the first Bond movie she was up for. Danning was set to be cast in the role that Corrine Clery took in the 1979 film Moonraker, but because of a French cofinancing deal, that role was given to a native actress instead.

She was felt out  in 1981 and 1982 to determine her interest in playing the title role in Octopussy. Before she even had the part, she was posing for fashion photographer Firooz Zahedi in extremely suggestive Bond-like publicity stills, almost all of which involved either some sort of leather get-up or black evening gown complimented with the obligatory handgun. She graced the cover of Prevue Magazine in the summer of 1982 wearing a vulcanized black leather swimsuit with the zipper drawn all the way to the navel to display her, um, ample talents, and holding a gun with a caption that read: “SYBIL DANNING Will she make love or war to James Bond in OCTOPUSSY”?

The hype for Danning had already begun despite the fact that she hadn`t even signed a contract. But she apparently had gotten a look at the first draft.

“Most of the Bond girls are not really interesting”, said Danning. “Octopussy has to be much, much more. She must be unpredictable and dangerous; neither Bond nor the audience must ever know what she`ll do next: betray him or befriend him. That`s what their story is really about”.

“Their story” would be Richard Maibaum`s. Dick had created a treatment far darker than the Octopussy you see today. In his first draft Octopussy was a supervillainess on a quest for vengeance against Blofeld and SPECTRE; a retalation of sorts for a defeat her organization suffered at Blofeld`s hands. She recruits 007 in her revenge scheme knowing that Blofeld had killed Bond`s wife, Tracy, and would most certainly want to help bring Blofeld down (apparently being dropped 1000 feet down a chimney stack isn`t enough to kill off a supervillain these days). Bond and Octopussy were to team up to take on Blofeld and even disarm a super techno-weapon called the OCTO-PC (perhaps some sort of personal computer?). We`ll never know exactly what Maibaum had in mind because George MacDonald Fraser was brought on to steer the story in a different direction; away from Blofeld, SPECTRE, and any legal entanglements using them could bring about.

A thorough search through Maibaum`s archives may one day yield more clues to this interesting premise but it`s worth noting that yesterday’s discarded story treatments are often tomorrows plot lines. Octopussy would be made a bit softer; not quite as ruthless and certainly an admirer of James Bond. The Octopussy of Maibaum`s original draft would become, in perhaps an unconscious way, Elektra King, some 16 years later. In The World Is Not Enough, Elektra, the super villainess, recruits Bond, unknowingly, into her web to destroy her father and avenge her mother`s legacy.

Danning spoke too soon and the role was offered to Maud Adams. The rest is history, including Danning`s career. She was forever stuck in B-grade flicks and softcore erotica. The moral of the story: don`t count your chickens until they`ve hatched.

Shelly Hack

Shelly was under consideration for the role of Holly Goodhead in Moonraker. She may have even been the leading contender at the time. Hack agreed to a screen test but a chance encounter between Lois Chiles and Director Lewis Gilbert took the casting in a different direction, and Chiles won the role.

Hack went on to do a season of Charlies` Angels as well as several film and television features.

Moonraker – An Original Review

moonraker-posterWith thanks to Robert Baum, reprinted by permission

Review: Moonraker (1979)

       Having proven triumphant once again both in thwarting another fiend looking to finish off the world and regaining his footing at the box office, Roger Moore returns as James Bond yet again. Stopping the sinister stratagems of Karl Stromberg was child’s play for 007. This time, however, her majesty’s best known spy faces a far more formidable challenge.
      Not only is Bond now portrayed by an actor who is now just shy of over half a century (Sean Connery was just over forty when he made his final Bond adventure: 1971s Diamonds Are Forever) but there are a new crop of cinematic pickings prompting producer Albert Broccoli to look to the stars for 007’s latest endeavor. That mission has Bond seeking a stolen space bound shuttle: Moonraker. This effort reunites most of the key players from The Spy Who Loved Me: Broccoli, director Lewis Gilbert, screenwriter Christoper Wood, and of course Roger Moore.
      Having used his time between the last adventure to be of aid to fellow UK stars Richard Burton and Richard Harris as one of The Wild Geese, Moore returns to being a solo operative; but not before having a run-in with the metal-mouthed monster of a mountain from The Spy Who Loved Me, Jaws (Richard Kiel), in search of a new employer and wanting revenge. Following a briefing by his superiors (Bernard Lee and Geoffrey Keen) and receiving the latest state-of-the art hardware from MI6 weaponsmith Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Bond is off to California. There he meets Drax (Michael Lonsdale), a megalomaniac obsessed with venturing into the final frontier.
Bond also gets an encounter with a striking siren of a scientist with a good head on her shoulders named Holly (Lois Chiles) who gives Bond a taste of astronaut training which goes awry thanks to a jerry-rigged centrifuge, courtesy of Drax’s kendo-savvy manservant Chang (Toshiro Suga). Of course wherever Bond is, there’s a woman waiting to be swept off her feet even if in doing so, the results prove fatal; as they do for one of Drax’s employees (Corinne Clery) who goes to the dogs.
      With Gilbert at the helm for another mission, there are similar elements to the last cinematic mission for 007 which was a refashioning of another Bond adventure: 1967s You Only Live Twice which Gilbert also directed. This time the showdown is not at sea but takes advantage of the science fiction frenzy ushered in by the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. One certainly doesn’t need to guess much where the film winds up.
      Virtually no expense has been spared for Moonraker, despite it being a lightweight romp bordering on camp that is light years away from past Bond adventures; particularly From Russia With Love (1963). The effects courtesy of recent Oscar-winner Derek Meddings (Superman) and his colleagues are out of this world; and the stunts, as always are impressive. Still it is a joy to watch, though aficionados more fond of the earlier efforts might think otherwise. John Barry, missing since The Man with the Golden Gun, returns with a score that brings back the magic he has given to many a motion picture. The title tune performed by chanteuse Shirley Bassey offers aural aesthetics. Nothing against Carly Simon, or Paul McCartney, but when it comes to singing 007 theme songs, nobody does them better.