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Never Say Never Again (1983)



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The origins of Bond's arch-nemesis Blofeld and his organization, SPECTRE, were in a committee (that included Ian Fleming and a man named Kevin McClory) working on a screenplay starring James Bond. Fleming found the committee to be relatively useless, left, and wrote the novel Thunderball, which introduced Blofeld and SPECTRE in to the book series. Shortly afterward, producers Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and Harry Saltzman wanted to get a series of Bond films started. Kevin McClory felt he had originated Blofeld and SPECTRE and some of the Thunderball story line and that Fleming had stolen the ideas from him. He wasn't about to let Thunderball go to the screen without him. The legal wrangling that took place is complicated, but what came out of it was this: Fleming would retain the literary rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE, while McClory would retain the screen rights. Broccoli and Saltzman could make a filmed Thunderball as long as McClory was the producer. In addition, McClory could produce his own remake of the story, as long as he didn't start work on it until after 1975. The legal battles are also the reason Blofeld does not appear in the films after Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 (except as an unnamed character in the pre-credits scene of For Your Eyes Only, Broccoli's good riddance to the whole mess). Never Say Never Again is McClory's remake. He didn't have the rights to any of the series trademarks, though, so you won't see the famous gunbarrel opening or hear the immortal James Bond theme. He obtained Sean Connery for the role of Bond, who vowed after Diamonds Are Forever that he would never play Bond again (hence the title of this film). Alec McCowan makes a wretched 'Q'. Blofeld is played by Max Von Sydow, one of the finest actors to play the part but grossly wrong for it. (Lot of good it did McClory to hold on to the character.) But the rest of the casting is inspired -- Klaus Maria Brandauer is a menacing Largo, Barbara Carrera is a nasty Fatima Blush, and Kim Basinger is sufficient as Domino. The story is intelligent and witty, a stark contrast to the good but different Octopussy that was released the same year. Unfortunately, Thunderball's flawed ending is made worse here, which is a severe letdown. A good but not great 007 adventure.

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