Tag Archives: thunderball

Warhead: Trial Pushed Off

The trial date for one-time James Bond movie producer Kevin McClory`s lawsuit against MGM over his rights to the 007 franchise has been pushed back from Nov. 9 until sometime next year.

The trial was set to start the day after the world premiere of the new Bond adventure, “The World Is Not Enough,” and just 10 days before the national release of the film on Nov. 19. The original suit had McClory allied with Sony two years ago, just as MGM was opening the last 007 movie, “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Sony settled with MGM earlier this year but octogenarian McClory is continuing with his part.

MGM has been successful in getting the trial moved back from the unfortunate timing of the morning after Monday’s world premiere of the “The World Is Not Enough.” The new trial date for the lawsuit brought by “Thunderball” producer Kevin McClory has been moved to Feb. 22.

McClory’s attorney Tom Girardi said Tuesday he is pleased with the delay because by that time “The World Is Not Enough” should be yet another successful installment in the Bond franchise. McClory claims that he is entitled to certain rights and profits relating to the entire 37-year-old Bond movie franchise because he collaborated with 007 author-creator Ian Fleming in translating Bond from books to cinema.

Girardi said he was also pleased by the court’s decision not to hold a separate trial on the issue of whether McClory waited too long to sue, regardless of whether there is merit to McClory’s claim. “The World Is Not Enough” opens in theaters Nov. 19. A settlement of McClory’s original suit against Fleming in 1963 resulted in McClory getting rights to “Thunderball,” which was remade as “Never Say Never Again” in 1983 with original 007 Sean Connery after another court battle. That film was distributed by Warner Bros. A pretrial hearing in the pending lawsuit has been set for Feb. 14.

The plaintiffs of this case, which include Eighteen Leasing, Seventeen Leasing, United Artists Pict, United Artists Corp, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Danjaq LLC appealed last Wednesday for a continuance in the trial which Judge Rafeedie has now granted.

Warhead: Ties Don’t Bond

Kevin McClory came to the end of the road March 31, when a federal judge dismissed his claim to a share of profits from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer`s $1 billion James Bond franchise.

McClory was a no-show – apparently U.S. visa problems kept him on the Isle of Man – but U.S. District Court Judge Edward Rafeedie ruled that McClory had delayed too long in bringing his suit alleging that he is the co-creator with Ian Fleming of the cinematic Bond.

Rafeedie then dismissed the case on the ground of laches – a legal term for excessive delay – without proceeding to a jury trial on McClory`s copyright claims.

MGM attorney Pierce O`Donnell said the ruling was “a total vindication” for the studio. McClory`s attorneys declined comment.

Briefly outlining the 40-year history of Bond litigation, Rafeedie pointed out that there have been at least three major lawsuits involving McClory and the Bond rights, but that it was not until 1997 that McClory alleged he was the co-owner of the Bond character.

In 1997, Sony announced it had purchased McClory`s Bond rights and would use them as the basis for a competing Bond franchise. MGM promptly sued, and that phase of the case ended in March 1999 with a settlement that put Sony out of the Bond business. But McClory vowed to press on, and the current trial is the tail end of MGM`s suit against Sony.

Rafeedie found last week that McClory had delayed at least 36 years in bringing his claim of Bond ownership despite numerous opportunities to do so.

Rafeedie also found that MGM and the other defendants had been”prejudiced” (damaged) by the delay because virtually all the witnesses who could “potentially help untangle McClory`s web of allegations and intrigue are long dead.”

The lengthy list included Fleming himself; Richard Maibaum, the original Bond scriptwriter; and producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. Rafeedie also noted the severe economic prejudice to MGM and the producer if McClory were now allowed to claim profits. He also found that there was no willful copyright infringement that would overcome a defense of laches.

Is this really the end of the James Bond sideshow?

Although Rafeedie`s ruling seems conclusive, as the expression goes, “Never Say Never Again.”

Warhead 2002 Plot Synopsis

Who`s in it: No stars are firmly attached, though McClory, in interviews has stated Connery is interested in playing the villian. He`s also expressed an interest in getting Timothy Dalton to play Bond. Thanks to `Peril` and `fotball` for their help.

Who`s directing it: No director has been announced.

Who`s producing: Kevin McClory

Who`s writing it: Presumably Kevin McClory, but expect others to do rewrite duties.

Who`s scoring it: Possible names include John Barry, but that`s very doubtful. The Bond theme is the property of EON and MGM/UA. Barry is unlikely to ever score a Bond picture again if he doesn`t have access to that material.

When will it be released: Never.

Locations covered: Ireland, New York and Australia.

The Path to Warhead 2001 A.D

The James Bond 007 franchise has been the most sucessful movie series of all time, in part because the legal rights have been owned by the same studio and the same family over the years. So how is it that Never Say Never Again and the proposed Warhead 2001 A.D have managed to be made or considered outside the scope of the Broccoli family (the owners of the films rights) or MGM/UA (the studio with distribution rights)?

1959-1965 Back in the late 1950`s, Bond author Ian Fleming began collaborating with screenwriter Kevin McClory. McClory had convinced Fleming, who at the time was trying to adapt his novels into working screenplays, that perhaps the first Bond film should not be based upon one of Fleming`s novels, but instead should be based on a wholly original script. Fleming agreed, and in time they were joined by Jack Whittingham. Several versions of “78 Longtitude West”, which would eventually become the basis of the novelThunderball were developed. The original financing for the film that McClory had hoped for fell through, and this seemed to precipitate the dissolution of the scriptwriting team.

Fleming retreated to Jamaica where he innocently (or not depending upon whose telling the story) took many of the ideas from the discarded “78 Longtitude West” scripts and turned them into his latest novel titled Thunderball. The name Thunderball was based on an old NATO term for stolen nuclear bombs.

Kevin McClory got a copy of Fleming`s work within weeks of it going to press in 1961, and of course was furious. Many of his ideas and collaborations ended up in a novel that he got no credit for. He sought an injuction against the book, but it was too late. So he sued, and ended up settling the case before it went to trial. Included in this judgement were the film (and T.V rights that are in dispute) to Thunderball. But it took nearly 3 years to resolve the suit and by that time Bond was big in both literature and on the screen. McClory shopped his rights around to other studios, but no one wanted to challenge the MGM/UA team, nor it`s ever increasingly popular star, Sean Connery.

McClory finally approached Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, then co-producers of the series, and discussed selling the film rights to Thunderball to them. McClory sold his rights to Thunderball for 20% of the film`s profit, a producer`s credit, and the option to remake Thunderball 10 years after it`s inital release date. Because Thunderball was so huge at the box office (adjusted for inflation, it made the same amount of money as Jurassic Park) McClory became rich and he got to work with top star Sean Connery. He was happy. And both Broccoli and Saltzman were happy, because it seemed like the legal issues were resolved, and neither one imagined that Bond would still be alive and kicking 10 years later. They assumed, wrongly, that Bond mania would have run it`s course by then.

1975- 1983 After the ten year period was up, McClory did begin trying to exercise his option to remake Thunderball. Why is up for debate. Money? Probably. But other things had happened that may have convinced him to strike now while he still could. Obviously he had to wait the ten year period out, but 1974-75 brought changes to the real Bond series that McClory may have felt comfortable trying to exploit. After the failure of The Man With The Golden Gun at the box office, it looked like the 007 series was losing it`s steam and it`s audience. Harry Saltzman sold his half of the series to Albert Broccoli. Broccoli was determined to show that Bond was still viable, and he didn`t need another Bond project interfering and competing with what would eventually become Bond`s comeback.

Broccoli began fighting McClory in court, trying to stop him from producing his version of a Bond film. It was a losing battle. No one could honestly dispute that McClory had the legal right to do Bond, so the best thing Broccoli could hope for was to keep McClory honest. That was a job in itself. Original versions of McClory`s script entitled “James Bond of Her Majestey`s Secret Service” and it`s alternate title “Warhead” strayed too far from the Thunderball premise. Elements in the script included robotic sharks swimming through the sewers of underground Manhattan, and a spectacular climactic fight on top of the Statue of Liberty.

Between 1976 and 1981 McClory shopped his rights around, but to no avail. With the enormous success of both The Spy Who Love Me and Moonraker, no other studio wanted to touch the legal issues nor fight against a proven, revitalized, and rejuvinated box office winner. That is until McClory convinced Sean Connery to return.

Up to this point, Connery had been standoff-ish about returning as Bond. But McClory gave Connery script duties, as well as producers credit on the film. With job duties involving more than simply starring, Connery`s interest was peaked and soon the ball got rolling on what would become Never Say Never Again.

1983 to the present Never Say Never Again hit U.S. theaters in 1983 and was a moderate success. Octopussy, on the other hand, came out several months beforehand and was an unqualified smash. Still, the news was that Connery was back, and no one seemed to mind the decidedly lackluster results in `Never`. The film did well enough in America and overseas to get McClory talking about about making more films. But that`s all it`s been. Just talk.

For all of McClory`s latest manueverings and deep pocket backing (Sony), his strategy seems to be the same as it always has been; to essentially push the envelope and test EON`s resolve to protect it`s assests. The feud goes back as long as many Bond fans have been around, and after you read McClory`s press release from July 20th, 1989, you`ll understand that there is bitter hatred between the two camps, personal egos in play, and a war in progress.

Though the war traces it`s roots back to the late 1950`s, we`re dipping into the archives of the mid-1980`s onward with articles and advertisements from both sides that show nothing McClory is trying now is really anything new. Starting with the February 15th, 1984 issue of Variety, McClory set off a new round of acrimony by announcing the following:

Paradise Film Productions III
anounces a
series of
James Bond
Productions
Commencing
with
“S.P.E.C.T.R.E”
(Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism and Extortion)

An important announcement
will be made shortly.

Overseas Enqueries:

Kevin McClory

(Producers, Thunderball, Executive Producer “Never Say Never Again”)

Apparently, flush with pride from the fairly successful Never Say Never Again, McClory decided to try and “license or sell certain James Bond properties including “SPECTRE”. In the Wednesday, May 9th edition of Variety, McClory took out another full page ad, this time proclaiming:

Paradise Film Productions III
Have Acquired The Right
To License or Sell Certain
James Bond
Properties
Including
“SPECTRE”
Special Executive For Counter Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion

Bids Will Be Considered Shortly
Nothing much happened on the McClory front until February of 1988. This time McClory took out another Variety ad dated February 10th, 1988 and stated the following:

The Organization
S.P.E.C.T.R.E
With It`s Chairman
Ernst Stavros Blofeld
Unique
to the JAMES BOND novel
“THUNDERBALL”
(Published in 1961)
“THUNDERBALL” was based on “Film Scripts” written
by
Kevin McClory
Jack Whittingham
& Ian Fleming
Prior to June 4th 1960

NOTE: The Organization SPECTRE was used as Bond`s adversaries in several of the James Bond films which were based on novels in which the Organization SPECTRE did not exist; including the first two films in the series, DR. NO [1962], FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE [1963]

THE SPECTRE CORPORATION HAS ACQUIRED THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO OFFER LICENSES TO MAKE
JAMES BOND
VS.
S.P.E.C.T.R.E
ANIMATED FILMS

United Artists immediately followed that announcement up with one of their own: a warning What follows is a Spring and Summer full of ads placed in Variety, with each side touting that they have the rights the other side is claiming to possess. To view a copy of United Artists own counterclaim in Variety, click here for Warning Page One and here for Warning Page Two.

The following month of April found McClory returning fire against United Artists, calling them “Economical With The Truth!”. To read his ad in Varitey, click here for “Economical With The Truth Part One” and here for Part Two

But that wasn`t the end of it. During that Spring and Summer, McClory would issue three more warnings all saying pretty much the same thing. On August 3rd, 1988 he issued a new ad in Variety: “PIRACY” which will be displayed in the future. In the ad he warns UA, Danjaq and Broccoli they have no right to Blofeld or SPECTRE. He also reasserted his desire to create an animated Bond film. That led to nothing on his part because EON was able to squash the whole plan of McClory`s. It did lead to James Bond Jr though, an 60+ episode that featured James Bond`s nephew. The cartoon was meant as more of a counter point to McClory`s project than anything else, and helped to diminish the value of any future McClory animated projects.

With his planned projects alternatively titled SPECTRE vs. JAMES BOND, and WARHEAD 8 dead in the water, and angry over “The New Official James Bond Book” released in 1989 that seemed to ignore Kevin, McClory released a lengthy press report stating his side of the facts In it he describes, and possibly exaggerates ???? his contribution to the Bond series. At one point he refers to himself and Jack Whittingham thusly : “McClory and Whittingham were originators, not interlopers”. He also alludes to being at the “Conception of the Literary Evolution of the James Bond films”.

Click here for Press Release Page One, Page Two, Page Three, Page Four, Page Five, Page Six, and Page Seven. It would appear Kevin McClory has made more of his contribution to the legacy of James Bond than his contribution merits. The language in the press release issued nearly 9 years ago is very similar to the language used today. Same tactics. Same strategy. Same angles. It seems like the only ones who are getting rich off this feud are the lawyers and Variety.

But will Warhead 2001 A.D. really happen? Should it even be allowed to happen? Please read our commentary, pro and con, and decide for yourself.

James Bond and the Oscars

1964 Goldfinger- Winner of Best Sound Effects (Norman Wanstall )

1965 Thunderball- Winner of Best Visual Effects (John Stear)

1971 Diamonds Are Forever – Nominated for Best Sound

1973 Live And Let Die – Nominated for Best Song (Lyrics by Linda and Paul McCartney; Sung by Paul McCartney and Wings)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me – Nominated for Best Song (Music by M. Hamlisch; Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager; Sung by Carly Simon)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me- Nominated for Best Score (Music by Marvin Hamlisch)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me -Nominated for Best Art Direction/ Set Decoration (Ken Adam, Peter Lamont, Hugh Scaife)

1979 Moonraker – Nominated for Best Visual Effects (Derek Meddings; P Wilson; J. Evans)

1981 – For Your Eyes Only Nominated for Best Song (Lyrics by Mick Leeson; Music by Bill Conti; Sung by Sheena Easton)

1982 Irving G. Thalberg Lifetime Achievement Award- Albert R. Broccoli

Thunderball

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Domino Vitale; The Villain: Emilio Largo; Supporting Characters: Guiseppe Petachi, Felix Leiter,Ernst Stavro Blofeld; Locations Covered: London, Shrublands, Nassau

Undoubtly one of Ian Fleming’s most memorable novels. It is the picture perfect Bond story with intrigue, murder, an impossible plot, two masterpiece villians, and the glorious girl. James Bond has returned once more in probably the most outrageous 007 thriller ever written. Ian Fleming, Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory have done a fabulous job on everything in this book from the planning of the high-jacking, the Chemin de fer game against Largo, the search for the plane and the bombs, to the creation of SPECTRE and Ernst Blofeld.

Other elements are the basic Casino scene between either Bond and the villain, or 007 and the beautiful girl. In this case, it is the villain, Largo at Chemin de fer. The Villain’s liking of Bond in the opening, but hating him by the end. And of course, the Morland Specials, Vodka Martinis, and Walther PPK are all present for 007 in his mission. Now, onto the story. 007’s health is in the toilet! He is packed off by M to a place called Shrublands. There, he becomes involved with the first SPECTRE agent, Count Lippe. After nearly ripping 007 limb from limb on “The Rack”, James Bond decides that he must fry the Count in a piping hot Sitz bath. SPECTRE is “The Special Executive of Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, Extortion.”

This is the begining of James Bond’s problems with SPECTRE. Immediately following that, SPECTRE decides that this is the time for the final haul, the retirement job. The job, stealing two nuclear warheads from NATO. This can be summed up by the letter from SPECTRE on pages 75 -76:

Bond reached into his pocket for a cigarette. It couldn’t be, but yet it was so. Just what all of the services of the World had been dreading. Every tin-pot little nation would be making bombs in their backyard, so to speak.

Apperently, now there was no secret about the things now. It had been the prototypes that had been difficult-like the first gunpowder weapons or machine guns or tanks. Today, these were everyones bows and arrows. Tomorrow, or the day after, the bows and arrows would become nuclear weapons. And this was the first blackmail case. Unless SPECTRE was stopped, the word would get around and soon every criminal scientist with a chemical set and scrap iron would be doing it. If they couldn’t be stopped, there would be nothing to do but pay up. ”

Fleming had a problem with the CIA. It is rather evident in this passage from Page 116:

‘The man from CIA was due in on the Pan America flight at 1:15. His name was Larkin, F. Larkin. Bond hoped that he wasn’t a muscle bound ex-college man with a crew-cut and a desire to show up the incompetence of the British.’

What does that tell you about what Fleming thought? Well, Larkin is actually Felix Leiter.

The main Bond Girl here is the strong willed Italian named Domino. She is written beautifully by Fleming and her character is very interesting. When she meets Bond, she is attracted to him instantly, (aren’t all Bond girls?), and is sort of clinging to him nearer to the middle of the novel. But, at the end of the novel, it is very clear who she is. Other than in the middle, her presence in this novel is extremely strong, but is knocked out of being the “most interesting character”, by one person. Her lover, Emilio Largo.

Largo is the self-discribed pirate of Nassau. He owns a massive estate named Palmyra, a glorious yacht called the Disco Volante, and most importantly, the High Commander of SPECTRE’s field organization, on Operation Omega (Thunderball to MI6). His character is what makes the book. His prescene in scenes adds a vast ammount of style and flash to the novel. The only character (villian wise) that can match him is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the famous head of SPECTRE.

The plot is a realistic one, compared to other Bond plots, (Doctor No, Live and Let Die, Goldfinger) and this one is more interesting than most of the other ones. The plot is still fresh today, (Broken Arrow, The Peacemaker).

The Casino scene where Bond plays Chemin De Fer against Largo is a highlight of the book. This is where Largo starts to really doubt that Bond is down here to buy property and that he is actually British Secret Service. The coolness that Largo shows is realistic and rather convincing.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld, (Who would reappear in later adventures) is basically a secondary character in the novel and that is rather well done. His character needed his own novels to develop and it was good that Fleming gave him that opportunity.

Roulette, Mister Bond?

American and European versions of roulette use the same rules. The difference between the two versions is that the American machines have a zero and double zero for 38 compartments, and the European machines have only the single zero for 37 compartments.

Each player is given his own colored set of chips (except in France, where some problems arise since all players use the same colored chips). The chips have no face value; each player tells the croupier the value of his chips when he purchases them. The croupier keeps track of the value of each set of chips by putting a small check chip with this value on the stack of chips.

Half the 36 numbers for the compartments are red and the others black. The zero and double zero are neutral colors (usually green).

The croupier asks the players to place their bets. A player does not have to sit at the table to place a bet. Once all bets are down, the croupier spins the wheel clockwise and then flips the ball counterclockwise around the rim of the wheel. Eventually, the ball lands in one of the compartments and the bets are paid off.

The simplest bet is to place chips on a single number. This is betting Straight Up (Plein); if the ball lands in this numbered compartment, the player is paid off at a ratio of 35 to 1.

Chips can be placed to cover several numbers at once. The diagrams on this page show the American and European roulette tables. The chip marked A touches “14” and “17”; this is called Split Numbers (Cheval). If either of these numbers wins, the player is paid off at a ratio of17 to 1. The chip marked B is placed on the corners of 26, 27, 29 and 30; this is called a Corner (Carre) and pays off at 8 to 1.

A Trio (Traversale Plein) bet is on the three numbers in a particular row (chip C in the diagram is betting on 28, 29, and 30); this bet pays off at 11 to 1. On the American version only, a Five Numbers bet can be made (chip D in the diagram covers 0, 00, 1 ,2, and 3); this bet pays off at 6 to 1. A Six Numbers (Traversale Simple) bet covers two rows (chip E in the diagram covers 10, 11, 12 , 13, 14, and 15); this bet pays off at 5 to 1.

A Column Bet (Colonne) covers 12 numbers (chip F in the diagram) in a column, and pays off at 2 to 1. The European tables allow a Split Column (Colonne a Cheval) that covers two columns (24 numbers); it pays off at 1 to 2. A Dozen (Douzaine) bet covers 12 numbers (chip G in the diagram covers 1 through 12); it pays off at 2 to 1. The European tables allow a Split Double (Douzaine a Cheval) where a chip covers 24 numbers; this bet pays off at 1 to 2.

Players can make Even Chance (Chances Simples) bets where the number that will come up will be red (Rouge) or black (Noir), odd (Impair), or even (Pair) or low (Manque; low numbers 1 to 18) or high (passe; high numbers 19 to 36.) These bets pay off even money.

In the American version, if the number that comes up is a 0 or 00, only single bets made on those numbers win. All Even Chance bets are lost in this case. In the European version, a 0 means the croupier “imprisons” the chips (that is, the chips stay on that bet until the next roll) but the chips lose half their value.

the thunderball transformation

Amazingly, all major characters from the novel went into the movie. The movie is missing some key scenes from the book though. First off is the opening of the book where M packs 007 off to Shrublands. In the movie Bond is there for no apparent reason.

The next cut from the book was seeing the face of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE. He was very visable in the novel, with a full description. We just see his hands in the movie. Following that, a very enjoyable lunch scene between Bond and Leiter was taken out, because it was tangent and had little to do with plot developement.

The two final cuts were from the climax. First Bond was on board a US naval vessel, recruiting for the fight against Largo`s men, underwater. This scene never happens, in the film and the US soldiers are just there to help 007. And finally the climax in the water featured a terrific fight between 007 and Emilio Largo and ended with Domino killing Largo. In the movie, the setting is changed to the bridge of the Disco Volante.

Yvonne Monlaur and Raquel Welch

Racquel Welch… She was actually signed for the role of Domino in Thunderball but got out of the role at the last minute at the request of her agent. She wanted to do a different project. Yvonne Monlaur…The French actress donned a black swimsuit and screen tested for `Domino` in `Thunderball` – she was most famous then for her superb performance in the Hammer horror classic `The Brides of Dracula`.