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on 12 July 2007
Kevin McClory, who died last year, was one of the more controversial characters associated with the 007 legend. His ongoing feud with Eon Productions spanned four decades, during which time he made numerous attempts to create a rival Bond movie franchise. The problem for him was he only owned the rights to one Ian Fleming book: 'Thunderball'.

It began in the late '50's when Fleming wrote his ninth Bond novel, and McClory was astonished to find that it contained no credit either to himself or Jack Whittingham, all of whom had collaborated on an unmade screenplay called 'Longitude 78 West' a.k.a. 'James Bond Of The Secret Service'. He sued, and after a lengthy court case, triumphed.

In 1965, he teamed up with Albert R.Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to make 'Thunderball' the fourth Bond movie. It was a gigantic success, arguably the most profitable Bond film of them all.

Ten years later, McClory announced a new version of the story, to be called 'Warhead', written not only by McClory, but also Len Deighton and, surprisingly, Sean Connery.

The full incredible story is here, told in fascinating detail. Author Robert Sellers had access to the papers of the late Jack Whittingham, provided by his daughter Sylvan. The way the story evolved from draft to draft provides a welcome insight into the minds of its creators. You have to remember that there had never been a Bond movie before, so no-one was really sure how to go about it.

It was only McClory's lack of a track record at the box office which stopped him from making his film. Cubby and Harry both had these, and they got Bond on the big screen first. You cannot help but feel sorry for McClory, no matter how appallingly he may have behaved to others, such as Whittingham's family ( he never remunerated them for 'Never Say Never Again' ). There's also a bizarre chapter in which he got a friend to travel to Nassau to sell a property he owned there. Read it and be amazed.

Full of never-before published photographs and revealing new information, this is indeed a must for the shelf of any true Bond fan, and should take away the unpleasant taste left by Simon Winder's 'The Man Who Saved Britain'.
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on 29 July 2008
This book has been in the development stage for many years; it used to be on the publisher's list that I used to work for. In a word this book is excellent. Robert Sellers has done a brilliant job and made full use of all the new materials at his disposal. There are so many James Bond books out there, many repeating the same old stuff and the same old pictures, it's overkill. But this one is different.

Sellers has brought all the elements of the Thunderball case and woven them together to create the definitive Thunderball scripts story. This book should find its way onto any 007 fan's book shelf.

Having read the original book, and followed the subsequent pulping because of passages that offended the Ian Fleming Trust, frankly I can't see what they're getting worried about. The creator of 007 wasn't blameless in this case and, although I don't think he acted with malice, he was certainly naive and misguided. Basically, if you buy the second edition you're not missing out because the book is far bigger and so informative that its dispute with the Fleming estate cannot diminish what is a really good book.
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on 8 January 2013
For anyone interested in James Bond, or just movie-making in general, this is a must-read. In fact, it's more exciting than most film scripts, with gigantic egos clashing, betrayals and legal vendettas lasting over 40 years. It makes you wonder how a film actually does get made. This is the intriguing story of how James Bond went from the page to the big screen and how "Thunderball" (as it became known) was supposed to have been the first Bond film in 1959 but ended up being the fourth in 1965, though the saga did not end there. Above all it is the story of Irish film producer Kevin McClory's long-running battle to be recognised as the creator of the cinematic James Bond, a battle which he continued by remaking "Thunderball" as "Never Say Never Again" in 1983 and which, it could be said, contributed to the early death of Ian Fleming. There are walk-on parts for a host of star names, especially in the early frenetic days when Bond's cinematic debut was being planned. Could Hitchcock be persuaded to direct? Would Richard Burton or David Niven play Bond? Above all, who would write the script? (And therein lay the seeds of a feud.) There's even a rather gruesome revelation about how the film-makers got their (real) sharks to behave in the underwater scenes. This is a story with more suspicion and betrayal than the majority of bestselling thrillers and it is beautifully complemented by Len Deighton's recent memoir just out on Kindle.James Bond: My Long And Eventful Search For His Father (Kindle Single)
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on 26 June 2007
Robert Sellers book, The Battle for Bond, is a must have for fans of James Bond and film buffs. For years, I have had an interest in events leading up to Thunderball which included the trial concerning the book Thunderball and subsequently the making of film Thunderball. Robert's research has been thorough and covers even more about the other conflicts that developed between Bond producers. The pictures included are also a most.

John Griswold -

author of Ian Fleming's James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming's Bond Stories
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on 8 August 2009
In the late 1950s, Ian Fleming was eager to capitalise on the literary success of his James Bond books and began a series of fateful attempts to develop the character for either television or the cinema. Eventually he was introduced to the larger-than-life character that was the young film maker Kevin McClory and shortly afterwards there began an almost fifty year story of litigation, acrimony and early death.

Over the course of nearly 250 (rather too) tightly-packed pages, Robert Sellers tells us first about the fateful confluence of Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory and the subsequent plagiarism court case that seems to have played a large part in Fleming's decline. This is the most complicated part of the story and very interesting if a little dry, presumably because of the fact that it is about a court case and not about the later shenanigans of the movie business. Then he moves on to tell the quite entertaining story of the filming of both THUNDERBALL and NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN, the 2 films that eventually resulted from all this legal jiggery pokery, before finishing the book with the fascinating ongoing saga of legal and financial battles that took up much of the later part of Kevin McClory's life as he fought to gain the recognition he believed he deserved from the mighty machine that the Bond franchise became.

Neither Ian Fleming nor Kevin McClory come across as the most pleasant of men on the page, but with Fleming's death relatively early on in the story, it is the colourful descriptions of McClory's life and times that become the most memorable (and sometimes quite astounding) parts of the book as other lesser or better known characters cross his path. Writer for hire Jack Whittingham was hired by McClory to produce early drafts of the screenplay and it is his story that eventually comes across as being the very soul of the book and ultimately it is with him and his family that your sympathies lie.

The synopses of five screen treatments make up the appendices to the book based on a memo by Ernest Cuneo, two screenplays by Ian Fleming and two by Jack Whittingham and intriguingly show the script development process unfurling and all of which played a large part in the claims and counterclaims made over the years.

We'll never know how different the cinematic world of James Bond might have been if the first film had been made in the austere 1950s instead of the swinging sixties, but this makes for a quite fascinating read.
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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.
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on 12 August 2008
Thank goodness the banning of this book that resulted in the pulping of the 1st edition has been overturned.
This excellent book tells the story of the 1st attempt to make a Bond film that resulted in the scripts that were partially cannibalised for the novel "Thunderball"
The main meat is the unsucessful attempts by Kevin McClory to set up a Bond film and the court case that resulted from the accusations of plagiarism of the scripts for Fleming's novel. Sellers paints a fascinating picture of a film world that was intrigued by James Bond but never enough to put serious money or commitment into it.
It becomes clear that despite an positive start to the venture Fleming and his mate Bryce fell out with McClory and they ended up as a group who couldn't work together.
One of the possible reasons that the Ian Fleming Trust saw red with this book may be because no one emerges with much credit. Fleming did plagiarise to some extent but given there is nothing ever stating his position we'll never know quite how aware he was of his position.
The book goes on past the court case to detail the making of Thunderball and Never say Never Again, plus the lengthy development of the orginal incarnation of Never, Warhead. The story is brought up to date with the further attempts to make new versions of Thunderball and McClory's final attempt to gain some control over the Bond franchise.

Interesting things emerging include the potential involvment of Hitchcock, how much Connery clearly liked McClory, the fact that the original screenwriter Jack Whittingham lost the most of all (he liked Fleming but felt he had to support McClory's court case and having been paid for his work never got anything out of it)and how little there was in place supporting McClory's post Never attempts to make a new Bond film.

Lengthy summaries are available for Fleming's treatments, Whittingham's scripts and the Warhead script.

If you are a fan of 007 books, films or both then this is a must have.

Here's hoping Robert Sellers does a similar volume on Casino Royale!
Thunderball (Penguin Viking Lit Fiction)James Bond - Thunderball (Ultimate Edition 2 Disc Set) [1965]Never Say Never Again [1983]
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on 19 March 2015
The Battle For Bond looks at story of Thunderball, and the battle of the screen rights to it.and looks at the return of Sean Connery as 007 in Never say Never Again.so if you like these two bond films you're enjoy this book.
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on 18 May 2010
Most Bond fans would be familiar with some of the backstory to the book and subsequent film THUNDERBALL and it's court approved re-make NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN.Several extras on Bond dvd's give some insight into the conflicts and eventual court case.
Here we have the full epic story in great detail a very worthy read for Bond fans whether they be completists or casuals.
The only fault I found was the type set of the book which is rather small however that's just a personal opinion
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on 17 November 2013
Initial impressions aren't great. Not the highest quality of printing - feels like it's been printed cheaply, with tiny print. The first part of the book, when the main characters are introduced and the main litigation is described, is a bit turgid. The style of writing feels a bit clunky too. However, once it gets past that part and into the making of Thunderball and other Bond movies, the pace picks up, the content becomes fascinating and the style gets in the way less. Ends up as a good read. Overall, worth it for Bond fans.
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