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Bond's bloodiest - and longest - battle,
This review is from: The Battle for Bond: Second Edition (Paperback)
Robert Sellers' very impressive The Battle for Bond isn't a perfect book, but this incredibly well researched account of the long running feud between independent producer Kevin McClory, author Ian Fleming and producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli over the screen and remake rights to Thunderball is a must for any serious Bond fan. In the 50s McClory was expected to be the next big thing and was one of the first to realise the screen potential for Bond, creating an original treatment that smoothed away some of the rough edges of the novels and set the template for the screen Bond that would become such a box-office sensation in the 60s. But when his directorial debut flopped, the financing dried up and the picture went unmade. That would have been the end of it - if Fleming hadn't decided to turn the screen story into a novel without clearing the rights. One nasty lawsuit later, McClory owned the screen rights and Saltzman and Broccoli's EON Productions had to start their series with Dr No instead. When that became a huge hit, McClory suddenly found himself with an increasingly valuable property and EON found themselves facing the prospect of a rival picture cutting into their market - leading to an uncomfortable alliance to make Thunderball. The film was he most successful Bond ever, selling more tickets than any Bond film since - around a billion dollars worth at today's prices - but the clause allowing McClory remake rights after a decade proved a ticking bomb that would lead to decades of bitter litigation...
This book itself didn't go without legal challenges: rather fittingly, the first edition of the book was sued and recalled, not by EON but by Fleming's estate over reproduced correspondence. This revised second edition loses those but adds much new information that gives a blow-by-blow account of the ongoing feud, from Sean Connery and Len Deighton's rather OTT Warhead screenplay treatment from the late 70s to the chaotic production of Never Say Never Again, which starts to look more of an achievement after reading this simply because they were able to finish the film despite constant lawsuits and an uncompleted script. Away from the EON-sanctioned histories of the series, it's not blind to the faults of the films or of the people involved on all sides of the feud, allowing for a more balanced look at a destructive vendetta that would see McClory's huge cut of the profits eaten away as he continued his legal attempts to make a third film well into the 90s. The writing is often not equal to the research, occasionally falling into awkwardly conversational sentences that should have been caught in the editing stage, and the typeface is absurdly small, but these are minor caveats considering the depth of information and research here. Undoubtedly one of the best books ever written about the Bond films, it's a riveting read for fans and those interested in the more litigious side of the film industry alike.