Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007

Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007

***1/2

Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

The Bond films are 50 this year, an anniversary marked by the release of the 23rd EON productions Bond Film, Skyfall, and this documentary about the many makings of Bond. Everything Or Nothing (EON is an acronym thereof) is the story of how Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman came to bring Ian Fleming's iconic character to the screen.

It's an entertaining film, touching in places, heartfelt in others, with some interesting anecdotes and a number of surprises - at least to those who are not already scholars of Bond trivia. Punctuated with clips from a variety of sources, making frequent, good, use of the many Bond scores, the clearances alone mean it couldn't have been made without the extensive cooperation of EON and the extended Broccoli and Saltzman families. That's telling in places, though the treatment of Kevin McClory and his various lawsuits springing from a dispute over the authorship of Thunderball is fairer than might be expected. Unfortunately, despite being a clear labour of love, Stevan Riley's film has the feel of a DVD extra, albeit a really good one.

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In particular, it does a good job of charting how the franchise has adapted and changed over the years, taking into its stride the height and then end of the Cold War, the rise of "non-state actors" in international relations, the changing tastes of the cinema-going public. It does this with interviews and also extensive use of archive footage - there are all sorts of interesting finds, from home movies to on-set interviews to press conferences to film where a nuclear artillery shell was fired from a canon nicknamed "Atomic Annie". It's a stark reminder that even among the invisible cars and laser watches many of Bond's gadgets were a pale reflection of the lunatic engineering of the early-nuclear era.

There's extensive participation from the Broccoli family, from the Saltzmans, even those more closely associated with McClory and his breakaway production Never Say Never Again. Production company United Artists and even some of the lawyers involved make an appearance. There's Christopher Lee, various directors including Skyfall's Sam Mendes, Judi Dench and even former President Bill Clinton. More noticeable, perhaps glaringly so, are those who don't appear.

We've got all the Bonds apart from Connery - he's well represented with archive footage, and his fallings out with Broccoli et al are fairly presented. While the scale of press reaction to Sir Sean was astonishing, in particular footage of the Japanese press during the filming of You Only Live Twice, it does go back to the initial casting decision and much of the negativity around it.

There's a good analysis of the reactions to each of the incoming Bonds - in short nobody's convinced by them, and sometimes they're not convinced by themselves. George Lazenby in particular gives an astonishingly confessional account of himself, of how a male model with no acting experience inveigled himself into one of the best roles in the film industry and then, having won his prize, squandered it. Roger Moore, ever the raconteur, manages to be both self-deprecating and aghast at his antics as Bond - as he points out many of his actions are unbecoming for a UNICEF ambassador. There's a compellingly forthright interview with Sam Mendes about how he felt Daniel Craig was wrong for the franchise at the time. It's Brosnan's anecdotes, however, that generate the biggest audience reaction. The story of how Brosnan was nearly Bond before Dalton, of his subsequent reaction to being cast, and the excesses of that era's Bond films all give plenty of opportunities for laughter.

There's also plenty of sadness - nothing that involves as many people that runs for 50 years will be untouched by death, by illness - and Fleming's own addictions and depression start the Bond story in darkness. Going back to the start, to Dr No, that confluence of fighter pilots (designer Ken Adam) and tank commanders (director Terence Young), to John Barry's score, Maurice Binder's opening sequence - the notion that a film about a British spy would survive to the extent that its tropes would become rich ground for longevity and then parody.

Mike Myers makes an appearance to discuss the latter, but it's the tropes that are where Everything Or Nothing really shines - in addition to the talking heads and the archive footage of the iconic stunts, we've got a pre-credits sequence featuring Daniel Craig, and then a multi-barrelled montage of that original sequence - an array of Bonds, those turns, those shots. There's even some allusions to the product placement - after Connery's return, that Coca-Cola poster "Can't Beat The Real Thing" with him standing tuxedoed in front. It's not by accident that there are Coke Zero and Carlsberg adverts that feature 007 himself, nor that Bond wears those particular watches, drives those particular cars.

The most absence, of course, is Connery's, but also there's no mention of 1967's absurd Casino Royale. It's not an unforgiveable oversight, but it is still a disappointment. So too a lack of focus on the gadgetry - while fans of Star Trek can point to the iPad and mobile telephone and say "we were there first", the rocket-belts and remote-control automobiles and palm-locked PPKs of Bond have reflections in reality.

It does well in reflecting the changes in the series - each Bond interviewed talks about the weight of intoning "The name's Bond. James Bond" given who had done so before. It ably handles the reaction to the darkness of The Living Daylights with a recording of Fleming himself stating his novels are "not for schoolboys". At times reactions are conveyed with shots of newspaper headlines, which appear to be later reproductions - it's unlikely a sub-editor would let "looses" through when "loses" was intended, but given the litany of clearances the vast amount of archive footage requered it is not surprising if they chose to save themselves the headache of licensing newspaper cuttings too. There are arguably a few spoilers but for the most part they're for films that are more than 40 years old and bank holiday staples. It's hard to escape the feel of the DVD extra, and for all its scope this film never quite seems to make full use of the big screen. The key stunts from Bonds previous are great to see, but there's no moment unique to Everything Or Nothing that fills the canvas it's afforded.

While clearly aimed at fans of Bond, there's a lot to sell this to those who are unfamiliar to the franchise. At the very least it serves to whet the appetite for Skyfall, and one would be amazed if it wasn't made available on anniversary editions or at least in anniversary box sets, but it deserves a wider audience. The few niggles don't derail what amounts to a loving tribute to an iconic film franchise. but more importantly all those who helped make it: the Bonds themselves, but also the designers, the composers, the singers, the stuntmen, and at the heart of it all three men, indeed, three families - the Flemings, the Saltzmans, and the Broccolis.

Reviewed on: 03 Oct 2012
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A documentary about the history of James Bond films.
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