The Lost Adventures of James Bond–New book discovers the lost Bond films and stories that almost were

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s crazy.  Only a year ago audiences were getting ready for the arrival of the next James Bond film No Time to Die.  Flash forward a year and here we are again, awaiting the same movie.  Also a year ago I reviewed an intriguing new book by Mark Edlitz called The Many Lives of James Bond (reviewed here at borg).  I instantly loved that Edlitz wasn’t the typical non-fiction franchise tie-in writer–he was a diehard fan and loved Bond as much as I did (actually more).  And it came through in his interviews with some of the key people in front of and behind the lens, as well as those who dabbled in the James Bond creative space over the years.  As luck would have it, Edlitz is back with more from his research.  In his new book The Lost Adventures of James Bond, Edlitz recounts story treatments, screenplays, and more, adventures that didn’t make it to the screen or your bookshelf.  More Roger Moore as Bond.  More Timothy Dalton as Bond.  More Pierce Brosnan as Bond.  Who’s in?

The goal of Michael G. Wilson and the Broccoli family in keeping the spirit of the 1960s double agent alive was continuing to ask themselves how to best translate the master spy from Ian Fleming’s original stories into new stories, especially to adapt the character to the big screen in new, exciting ways.  Edlitz interviewed screenplay writers who recounted firsthand what it was like to write alongside Wilson, Barbara and Cubby Broccoli, and Timothy Dalton, and the result is untold film history gold.

Edlitz interviews Alphonse Ruggiero, who co-wrote the treatment and an early draft script for what was on track to be the third Timothy Dalton Bond film.  If you ever wanted to know what goes through a writer’s creative process in developing the next great Bond villain, or learn the subject of what Cubby Broccoli called “the best Bond opening we’ve ever had”–that wasn’t filmed–you can find it here.  The William Davies and William Osborne expanded script (the pair co-wrote the box office hit Twins) is summarized by Edlitz–it telegraphs Daniel Craig’s beaten-up Bond, getting too old for the job, and slipping up, also a feature of Fleming’s novels and the comic strips, but perhaps with more self-doubt.  In this story the pokes at Bond–and humor–feel more Brosnan and Moore than Connery.

Edlitz also secured a treatment for (and summarizes in his book) another Dalton film-that-could-have-been: Richard Smith’s Reunion with Death, a discarded story which seems to have been cut for similar reasons as a certain Donald Westlake proposed script of Bond in Asia, later published in novel form as Forever and a Death (reviewed here at borg–and highly recommended).   Edlitz discusses other works: a Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson story treatment for what was to be Bond XV, a Casino Royale style prequel with some elements we’d see in Skyfall.

Readers of The Lost Adventures of James Bond may notice a theme which spans many major franchises–a return by the new writers in the room to go back to the well and try again some of those discarded elements from old source pieces.  Edlitz provides tidbits of Bond trivia, like the fact that novelizations of Octopussy and A View to a Kill were only released in Dutch, and many Bond comics are available only in non-English languages.  Germán Gabler’s Zig-Zag comics from 1968-1971 were all about Bond with “big criminals and fiendish plots,” faithful to Fleming, plus original stories, and the section on these comics highlights another interesting segment of Bond storytelling (plus an interview with Gabler).  Included are some full-color cover reproductions and interior pages.  An entire generation of Bond fans look to the original, pre-movie comic strips as their ultimate Bond fix, and Edlitz says Bond appears in more comics than any other format.  Edlitz interviewed comic strip illustrator John McLusky′s son in his earlier book.  Probably the most keen insight into who is Bond comes from the interview with comic book writer/artist Mike Grell (also in that book) whose graphic novel Permission to Die (reviewed here at borg) has been called the best Bond movie in print.

The 1991 James Bond Jr. animated series and books and even Marvel Comics chronicling The Adventures of James Bond, Jr. get detailed coverage and interviews.  Writer/director Nicholas Meyer (who I interviewed here at borg back in 2017) recounts offering up an intriguing villain to the Broccolis for Tomorrow Never Dies (an unused character who looks like part Blofeld from Spectre, and part Thanos from the Marvel movies), and a comic book writer gets to present his script for Moonraker to Cubby Broccoli (with art provided by Neal Adams).  Music, a commercial, a play, on radio, a dance, a theme park ride–there’s a lot more to get lost in in The Lost Adventures of James Bond.

As with Edlitz’s last book, this Bond book is supplemented with sketch art (from Argentinian artist Pat Carbajal) and peppered with black and white and color photographs of some of the books discussed.

To round out your Bond trivia, can you answer in what story does Bond truly die?  It’s Steven Oftinoski’s James Bond in Barracuda Run, also discussed in the book.

As with Edlitz’s first Bond book, The Many Lives of James Bond, passing fans of James Bond will find some interest revisiting Ian Fleming’s beloved character and diehards will be referring back to it for a long time.  The Lost Adventures of James Bond is another absorbing behind-the-scenes read, and a required companion to The Many Lives of James Bond for your favorite Bond fan.  It’s available now here at Amazon.

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