The Real Story Behind Bond, James Bond


The world is not enough for James Bond: Skyfall is earning huge box office in Europe and Asia and is poised to dominate the U.S. box office this weekend. The brand-new olive in his shaken-not-stirred martini, Skyfall is earning the best reviews for a Bond flick in years, and the third outing for Daniel Craig sees the 44-year-old star hitting his stride as 007.

"I think that what they've done cleverly with Daniel Craig is that you get the sense that he is a blue-collar hero, but with this veneer of class around him; he's still wearing the suit, and he's learning how to wear the suit," says Paul Duncan, editor of The James Bond Archives by Taschen Books, out November 9. "The action hero model in cinema changed in the '80s, so you get people like Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the much more blue-collar heroes. But Bond remained the same. … [The producers] have always gone back to the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels each time they've rebooted, and I think that with Daniel Craig, they've given a much truer interpretation of what the novel Bond was originally.

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"The Bond in the novels is actually far more psychologically complex than the originally filmed Bonds would lead you to believe -- the more he goes through, the more disturbed he is by the job he's doing," continues Duncan. "This whole thing about the dinner jacket and the martinis, the bon vivant aspect of it, it's not only because Bond lives life to the fullest -- it's because he knows his next day could be his last."

Duncan has edited more than 50 books for Taschen, and The James Bond Archives may be his most Herculean effort yet. To create the definitive document of how the Bond movies were produced-- and the ultimate must-have for 007 fans -- Duncan spent 30 months poring over the EON Productions archives, sifting through well over a million images, a hundred filing cabinets of production documents (containing everything from call sheets to shipping papers to purchase orders), countless story boards, concept art, unused poster designs and much more.

"I had complete access to everything," says Duncan, whose strategy to tell the true story of 007 and organize the 600-page tome boiled down to profiling more than 150 men and women -- producers, directors, actors, screenwriters, production designers, special effects technicians, stuntmen, and other crew members -- who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes since the British secret agent was first introduced on the big screen in 1962's Dr. No starring Sean Connery.

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"There are hundreds and thousands of people who actually worked on the movies over the 50 years, and they were all working to help Bond save the world," explains Duncan, whose first big-screen Bond experience was watching Diamonds Are Forever with his dad. "It's a very cooperative environment, and it's also very creative, which means that there's tension, because people think that they know what's best for Bond."

Nothing ever runs smoothly on any film shoot, much less a 007 film shoot, and when you're traversing the globe to exploit the exotic locations required of a Bond movie -- from Istanbul and Shanghai to Greece and Egypt and everywhere in between -- problems will arise and obstacles must be overcome. The James Bond Archives details how the Bond producers often had to think on their feet in order to prevent production from grinding to a halt due to unforeseen circumstances.

While shooting The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore in Egypt, the entire crew's dinner spoiled one night and they were getting mighty hungry. Legendary 007 producer Cubby Broccoli scrambled around Cairo looking for fresh food, eventually finding enough pasta and cans of tomato sauce to make a big pot of Spaghetti Bolognese. Location managers on Tomorrow Never Dies with Pierce Brosnan had to act fast when their Vietnamese location fell through and a cargo ship full of their equipment was speeding their way. Under the gun with less than a week before it would arrive, they secured new locations in Thailand and rerouted the vessel without a moment to spare. And for the Casino Royale shoot with Daniel Craig, cranes needed for the production were commandeered to help rebuild New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, so the producers were forced to find replacements from Spain and the U.K . -- and ship them by sea.

"The people who actually did all this work, they are the people who should tell the story," says Duncan. "Everybody had their part to play, everybody gave 110 percent or more."

Of the new Skyfall, Duncan says, "It's Craig's third movie, so we're supposed to equate it with Goldfinger. I think one of the great things about Goldfinger was the dialogue, you know -- 'Do you expect me to talk? No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!' I think Skyfall has that wit, and I know from the last moment, at the very end, it will leave people with a smile on their face."

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Timed to coincide with the Golden Anniversary of the franchise, The James Bond Archives covers every James Bond film ever made, from Dr. No to Skyfall, including the 1967 Casino Royale spoof and 1983's Never Say Never Again, which saw the return of Connery in a film made by different, competing producers. In addition to the oral history of the making of the 007 movies, the comprehensive book contains 1,100 images, many previously unseen, and includes an original strip of film from Dr. No (with the first print run of the book only).