Bond Could have been so Different – What Effect would this have had on Mainstream Culture?
It was recently revealed that a long-lost script for Moonraker had emerged, and it was vastly different from the James Bond films we know and love today. Prior to Eon Productions picking up the rights to most of Ian Fleming’s works in 1961, the author had written a screenplay for his 1955 novel that he was attempting to get made into a movie.
Fleming’s vision for 007 on-screen came without a few of the most important facets that are considered crucial to Bond films nowadays. It begs the question as to whether the character would have been as successful on-screen if Fleming had had his way.
Fleming’s Script was Without M and Moneypenny
Despite having written 12 Bond novels and two short-story collections about the character, Fleming was never tasked with writing any of the scripts for the Eon Production films that began with Dr. No in 1962. The former naval intelligence officer laid the framework and provided plenty of ideas for storylines, but the silver-screen offerings took the character to worldwide acclaim and established many of their own key features, characters, and inventions.
In a recently released article, it was revealed that Fleming had initially attempted to have Moonraker made into a picture in 1956. He’d just released the book the year before to critical acclaim. Fleming’s vision for the film was miles away from the version that was eventually released in 1979, however. For instance, the author didn’t include M or Miss Moneypenny, and there were fewer action sequences. Lewis Gilbert changed a lot in his movie and included some of the most memorable fights and chases in the franchise’s history.
Would Bond Have Had the Same Cultural Impact?
Imagine an alternative reality in which Fleming had become the screenwriter for the Bond films and Eon Productions had never bought the rights. It poses various questions about how successful the series would have been. It’s hard to say whether Bond would have had the same cultural impact in this scenario. Indeed, it’s the tropes and characters in the Eon Productions pictures that have made the films so popular and have kept viewers coming back for more.
If Bond hadn’t been successful, it could have had a major impact on other industries that have found a lot of their success thanks to the films. For example, Aston Martin sales have been boosted massively by Bond, with a 75 per cent rise recently thanks to Daniel Craig’s farewell outing, No Time to Die. People even go out to buy more suits whenever a new Bond film drops, thanks to the slick spy inspiring them to dress to impress.
Bond may even have influenced the online gambling industry. The MI6 agent has always been known to enjoy a flutter on games like baccarat, roulette, and poker, and there have been some legendary scenes featuring these games over the years. For instance, Casino Royale was released in 2006, when online poker and the online casino sector started to blow up.
When Martin Campbell’s film was released, online casinos had basic digital forms of table offerings. Nowadays, however, options like roulette have been improved massively, with plenty of live versions to choose from that use high-definition cameras to make players feel close to the action. It’s debatable whether the industry would have been able to develop so much without Bond.
What are the Key Factors that Make a Bond Film?
Any film studios that want to learn how to make an enduring franchise should look to Eon Productions’ Bond series for tips. Every picture has a different storyline and villain, but there are so many aspects that remain constant throughout. Viewers know that they are going to encounter these facets, and they can help evoke feelings of nostalgia for past films. It doesn’t even matter that the Bond actors change from time to time, as the fundamental structure of the pictures is what’s most important.
Most movies start with Bond looking down the barrel of a gun and shooting in the direction of the viewer. There is always an intense action scene before the opening credits, which usually take the form of a trippy music video backed by a song by one of the world’s hottest artists at the time.
Then there are the smart suits, the fast cars, the gambling scenes, the iconic drink, the Bond girl, the distinctive music, the gadgets, the chase scene, the henchmen… The list goes on. The movies don’t necessarily need to include all these things, but they need to have a few to be considered a Bond offering.
Everything happens for a reason in this world, and Fleming having his script turned down turned out to be a blessing. It meant that Eon Productions could go ahead with its vision, and led to one of the greatest movie franchises of all time.