Sean Connery with Cubby Broccoli © 1962 Danjaq, LLC & United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved.
Subtitled “The Untold Story of 007”, Stevan Riley’s film is precisely that - the story of how James Bond came into existence. It’s an appropriate tale to tell in 2012, the 50th anniversary of the first Bond film but, but Riley’s focus is on all three men who made Bond the longest running franchise in cinema history; author Ian Fleming, and producers Albert R (Cubby) Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. The film itself is even titled after the full name of Broccoli’s and Saltzman’s production company, Eon – and it’s a name that Riley shows to have been deeply prescient.
The key to the documentary’s success is that, for once, claims that the makers have had “unprecedented access” are something of an understatement. The team had access to the key players in the tale and Eon’s own extensive archive and, thanks to some incredible editing by Claire Ferguson, the story is told through a mix of talking heads, ancient footage and frequently witty use of Bond movie clips.
The films form the heart of this story, but proceedings start with a fascinating look at Fleming – via footage of the man himself as well as interviews with his niece Lucy, old friends and a former companion – and his struggles with his creation. The expression “warts and all” is overused in situations like this, but Fleming’s flaws are certainly to the fore, not least as many of them were/are also Bond’s.
Fleming was, it appears, desperate to see his antihero creation on the screen. While that desperation resulted in many legal rights disputes further down the line, not to mention a terrible 1950s US TV adaptation of first novel Casino Royale with an American agent called Jimmy Bond (and yes, there are clips of that here), it’s also what made Broccoli and Saltzman the perfect pair to push Fleming’s vision further for the big screen. Their story is movingly told here, through the ups and downs, the gambles, the rewards, the disputes, the financial problems... Again, Ferguson weaves recent interviews, with those who knew Broccoli and Saltzman best, with archive footage to powerful effect.
The evolution of Bond is also considered. While the actors have brought their own interpretations to the role – and all but Connery (for reasons that will become obvious as you watch) are on hand to discuss the character, their portrayals, and relate some highly amusing anecdotes – the character has seen us through the Cold War, nuclear threat and global terrorism. As demonstrated by this simply excellent documentary, Bond’s ability to survive against the odds wasn’t just restricted to what happened on the screen. Everything or Nothing is a fascinating story, brilliantly told.
Everything or Nothing is in cinemas from Friday, October 5.