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'Broccoli . . . Cubby Broccoli' : How a Long Island vegetable farmer became the man who produced all of the real James Bond movies

July 09, 1989|JOHN CULHANE

"Harry and I had a meeting with Sean. I watched him running across the street with the grace of an antelope and I thought, 'This is our man.' Sean didn't want to do a screen test. He's a very opinionated guy. He said, 'If you like me, that's it.' But he did agree to test with the Bond girls. And that's what we showed United Artists. They said, 'Try somebody else.' I dug in my heels. I said, 'We looked around. Instinct tells me this is the guy.' We wanted Terrence Young to direct. Terence Young wanted Richard Johnson. I said, 'That's it. We're not going to change the actor. So if you want to do this . . .' So Terence Young accepted Connery. He groomed Sean to play Bond," says Broccoli approvingly.

Connery became a major international star with the success of the first five Bond movies, then begged off the role to broaden his career. George Lazenby assumed the role for one film, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969), then Connery came back for "Diamonds Are Forever" before saying--in words he would eat 12 years later--"never again."

Roger Moore took over for the next seven, beginning with "Live and Let Die" (1973) and ending with "A View to a Kill" (1985).

After another long search, the classically trained Timothy Dalton became Broccoli's fourth 007 and made his debut in 1987's "The Living Daylights."

"So we had a good subject: James Bond, 007," says Broccoli. "That's the real secret of the worldwide success. Whether Sean or Roger or George or Timothy or somebody else plays Bond, the symbol is there."

Others recognized it as a good subject, too. In 1967, "Casino Royale" was produced as a spy spoof by Broccoli's old boss Charles Feldman. The film had five directors--among them, John Huston--and featured no less than five 007s, male and female: David Niven (as Sir James Bond), Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Daliah Lavi and Terence Cooper. (SMERSH, the international crime organization, was headed this time by James Bond's own fiendish nephew, Jimmy Bonds, played by Woody Allen.)

"Never Say Never Again," which brought Connery back as Bond, was the result of a complicated legal battle that began before Broccoli and Saltzman were ever involved with Ian Fleming. An underwater sportsman named Kevin McClory collaborated with Fleming and Jack Whittingham on a screenplay entitled "Longitude 78 West." When plans to turn it into a film fell through, Fleming based his ninth James Bond novel, "Thunderball," on that story.

McLory alleged that Fleming did not acknowledge his contributions and went to court to claim his due. In the resultant settlement, according to Broccoli, McLory came away with the right to be credited as producer of the film "Thunderball" in 1965 (Broccoli and Saltzman had credits as executive producers) and to remake the story after 15 years. McClory did; "Never Say Never Again" went head-to-head with the Roger Moore-Bond "Octopussy" in 1983 and both films were hits.

Broccoli says he has no hard feelings toward Connery for leaving the role or returning to it for a film made by another producer. But Connery's name is conspicuous by its absence from Monday's tribute to the producer. The three other Bonds--Moore, Lazenby and Dalton--are honorary co-chairmen for the dinner, along with Bond directors Lewis Gilbert, John Glen, Guy Hamilton and Peter Hunt.

As for the violence in the Bond films, Broccoli sees it as so much dragon-slaying. The title of the current film comes from "The James Bond Dossier," stolen from the files of an unnamed foreign power, which identifies Bond as a British agent who, in Ian Fleming's words, "holds a Secret Service number with the 00 prefix--giving him the licence to kill."

All the old ideas are retained, Broccoli says: the erotic, glowing main title; the spectacular plane, helicopter, truck and submersible chases; the beautiful underwater sequences; the fantastic sets and "bash-your-eyeballs" locations; the endless seduction of glamorous women, the dry vodka martinis (shaken not stirred) and Bollinger champagne, the up-to-the-minute title song rendered by a popular artist (this time, Gladys Knight), and the distinctive Bond humor.

"We wanted the villain this time to become a drug lord," said Broccoli. "We wanted to point out the things that are happening right now--and the characters who are in power who shouldn't be in power. We wanted to point out to the world: There is a pestilence!"

So the villain, Sanchez, is a Latin American drug king whose wealth buys him power: If he does not like what a newspaper writes, he can buy out the newspaper; if he does not like the policies of a particular government, he can buy a president.

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Like the Broccoli business on Long Island, the Broccoli Bond business has become a family business. Broccoli's partnership with Saltzman ended in 1975, after "The Man With the Golden Gun," when Saltzman sold his interest in James Bond to United Artists, and Broccoli became the sole producer.

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