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Christopher Wood (1935-2015)

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The sad news has been announced that the author and screenwriter Christopher Wood has died, aged 79. He was writer on two Roger Moore Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979). He also penned two James Bond novelizations based on his screenplays for the Bond movies, books which were highly regarded at the time, and still very much stand the test of time today.

Christopher Hovelle Wood (born 5 November, 1935, in London’s Lambeth borough) graduated from Cambridge University in 1960 and, after Natonal Service, set his heart on a writing career. He thus worked by day as an account executive and spent his evenings pursuing his writing dream. He submitted various scripts for TV, but these were rejected, and so he turned his full attention to writing a novel, which – although published – did not seem to lead to the fame and fortune he was seeking. Realising there was a potential gap in the market, he turned his attention to writing erotic comedy novels instead as a way of generating quick money and, indeed, he became best known for the Confessions series of novels and films, which he wrote under the pen-name ‘Timothy Lea’. Both the books and the films were very popular in the UK, and this enabled Wood to leave his day job and become a full-time writer.

After carrying out some writing work for Lewis Gilbert a couple of years earlier, Wood found himself being wooed again by the director in 1976-77; the man who had returned to the Bond franchise to direct The Spy Who Loved Me turned to Wood after several other writers had pitched ideas to the producers and to Gilbert, but had not really impressed them.

SP.E.C.T.R.E. ’76

Guy Hamilton had originally been lined up in 1976 to direct Roger Moore’s third 007 adventure, and veteran writer Richard Maibaum had penned a treatment which saw the return of SP.E.C.T.R.E., now under the control of a new generation of activists, a kind of new and younger ‘vanguard’. After Hamilton left the movie to work on the new Superman movie, and Lewis Gilbert was brought in by producer Albert Broccoli, Wood re-worked the Maibaum screenplay. He kept SP.E.C.T.R.E., but dropped the ‘young vanguard’ idea, introducing instead a Blofeld-style main villain, named Stavros. However, faced with possible legal action by Kevin McClory, who claimed ownership of the concept of SP.E.C.T.R.E., Cubby Broccoli (now the sole producer on the new movie) instructed Wood to remove all references to the organisation, and the main villain now became Karl Stromberg, an independent shipping magnate.

Return Another Day

Gilbert was keen for Wood to inject some ‘comedy’ elements into the Spy screenplay, and this he did. In fact, the arrangement between the two men worked so well that Wood was recalled to work on Moonraker, again directed by Gilbert. This time Wood had more-or-less sole writing duties on the screen treatment, although there was also some work on the treatment by Michael G. Wilson and Tom Mankiewicz.

In 1982, the JBIFC had the pleasure of Wood’s company when he was a special guest at our third James Bond Convention, held at Wembley Conference Centre in London. The then Club President Ross Hendry was able to interview Christopher live on stage, and he proved a highly entertaining guest! Wood acknowledged that some Bond fans had been critical of the direction in which the 007 movies had gone in the late 1970s, and he did hint at one point that he himself had felt uneasy at times about how much ‘comedy’ had ended up in the final versions of his two Bond movies. In his defence, though, he pointed out that, in many ways, the Bond films by then had had a variety of different inputs; sometimes ideas were just created on the spot on location, and not everything was down to Wood himself.

On the other hand, he remained very proud of his involvement with Bond. As Wood later confessed, he had ‘a wonderful time’ on both the Bond movies he worked on, and he wrote affectionately and honestly about his experiences of the world of Bond in his memoirs, published as James Bond, The Spy I Loved in 2006.

Book Bond

Under his own name, Wood was arguably the first author to write novelizations of Bond films (a semi-novelization had been produced to tie in with The Man With The Golden Gun, but this was just something designed for serialisation in local British newspapers). Wood’s novelization of The Spy Who Loved Me, renamed James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me to avoid confusion with Ian Fleming’s original novel, had nothing in common with the Fleming book. Nevertheless, Wood was determined to capture the writing ‘style’ of Ian Fleming as far as possible.

Similarly, the plot of Moonraker, renamed James Bond and Moonraker, was almost entirely written by Wood, although (interestingly) it did share some similarities with Fleming’s original novel, in particular the villain Hugo Drax. Bond fans generally rate Wood’s novelizations highly. The first Bond continuation author, Kingsley Amis, wrote at one point in The New Statesman that, despite several reservations, ‘Mr Wood has bravely tackled his formidable task, that of turning a typical late Bond film, which must be basically facetious, into a novel after Ian Fleming, which must be basically serious… the descriptions are adequate and the action writing excellent’.

Post-Bond, Christopher Wood worked on a number of other projects, most notably writing the screenplay for the action film Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985), which was directed by former Bond director Guy Hamilton.

Sir Roger Moore posted a tweet about the news: ‘How sad to hear Bond screenwriter Christopher Wood has died. He wrote two of my best’.

Christopher Wood, 1935-2015. R.I.P.

Key Books by Wood for Bond fans:

1. James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977); 2. James Bond and Moonraker (1979); 3. James Bond, The Spy I Loved (2006).

Did You Know?

In Christopher Wood’s novelization of The Spy Who Loved Me, henchman Jaws’s real name is revealed to be Zbigniew Krycsiwiki. Although Jaws was back in a big way in the movie of Moonraker, in Wood’s novelization the character was not introduced until much later in the story. Wood said he had done this to ensure the character had a greater impact when he did finally appear.

 


Source: James Bond Fan Club updates – 007 JBB james bond best buy


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MI6 Confidential

Check out the latest issue of MI6 Confidential with a very interesting special about the artworks for “Licence To Kill”. The magazine is available here.


Source: Illustrated Bond – 007 JBB James Bond Best Buy


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Art Auction

James Bond artworks painted by Yves Thos. 

Thanks to Frédéric  from http://007collectors.jimdo.com/ for sharing these!
Source: Illustrated Bond – 007 JBB James Bond Best Buy


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A View to a Thrill: Sony ‘Made for Bond’ launch

Naomie Harris Mafe for Bond advert

Naomie Harris, who was Miss Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall and reprises the role again in the upcoming SPECTRE, was a very special guest at the launch party of the Sony technology ‘Made for Bond’ campaign, held in central London.

The James Bond films are, of course, renowned for their use of the latest technology and this hi-tech reputation was very much reinforced at the launch evening, which was held on the evening of October 12th at The Mondrian, overlooking the River Thames.

While Naomie and other celebrity guests helped celebrate and promote Sony’s ‘Made for Bond’ range of products, including the RX100 IV camera and the Xperia Z5 smartphone, they were also entertained by the popular hip hop and funk DJ Goldie (who, Bond fans will recall, had a role in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough in 1999).

The evening’s guests were also able to enjoy sipping on Belvedere Vodka Martinis, Heineken and glasses of Bollinger Special Cuvee, which are all products associated with SPECTRE. At the same time, they could take in the stunning views of the River Thames, which has featured heavily in the world of Bond on screen, including for some key sequences in SPECTRE. By day it is one of Britain’s busiest waterways, and by night the river is a filmmaker’s dream, with some breathtaking visual possibilities, including numerous embankment lights reflecting in the water, a series of iconic bridges, and some very famous buildings nearby, something director Sam Mendes took full advantage of for the 24th 007 adventure.

According to the JBIFC’s secret informants, the partygoers at the Sony launch event were also given the chance to test out Sony’s new technologies that have been ‘Made for Bond’, including the RX100 IV camera and the Xperia Z5 smartphone, both of which are superb pieces of equipment, worthy of any MI6 superspy. Miss Moneypenny was especially impressed. Naomie Harris said: ‘It was great fun tonight to take pictures of the guests and the photographers with my RX100 IV – it’s nice to see the roles reversed! Ultimately, at the centre of Bond is Britishness, so at the launch party we wanted to celebrate just that’.

As many Bond aficionados are now aware, the Sony ‘Made for Bond’ ad campaign has seen posters of Miss Moneypenny placed all over London, including on the sides of red buses, at bus-stop shelters, large poster sites, and on the Underground rail system. The impressive advertising campaign also has a glossy tie-in short film, which follows a tense chase across London’s South Bank and over the footbridge that leads to St.Paul’s Cathedral, as Moneypenny evades some mysterious henchmen to sucessfully deliver Bond’s Xperia Z5 smartphone.

The ad film was shot over two very hot days in the summer just as the SPECTRE second unit were finishing off their own River Thames filming further up the river.

SPECTRE will premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 26th. Are you ready?

Naomie Harris 1

Naomie Harris at the Sony ‘Made for Bond’ launch evening (image by courtesy of Sony).


Source: James Bond Fan Club updates – 007 JBB james bond best buy


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Bond By Design

Bond By Design – The Art of the James Bond Films” Large format hardcover in slip case, Meg Simmonds, Dorling Kindersley 2015.


Source: Illustrated Bond – 007 JBB James Bond Best Buy


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Book Covers from Finland

Book covers for “Live and Let Die”, “Goldfinger”, “Moonraker” and “Thunderball” from Finland, published by Gummerus.
Source: Illustrated Bond – 007 JBB James Bond Best Buy


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Happy Holidays

2015 was a very busy year for me which you might have noticed due to the infrequent updates. More to come in 2016!

I wish all my readers and contributors a nice Christmas break and a good start for 2016!

Peter
Source: Illustrated Bond – 007 JBB James Bond Best Buy


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Original Look Up Artwork by McCarthy

Original “Look Up / Jetpack” artwork by Frank McCarthy for the film “Thunderball“, 91 x60 cm, casein paint on artboard. I was fortunate to view the original and the detail and craftsmanship is simply stunning. 


Source: Illustrated Bond – 007 JBB James Bond Best Buy