“Bond is back. The real one.” That was how many entertainment reporters and film critics described Sean Connery returning to the role of James Bond in 1983’s Never Say Never Again.
I was only five years-old, but I do remember the Summer of 1983. It was the battle of the Bonds. At this time I was watching more 007 movies than Sesame Street. I believe the first VHS of a Bond movie I got as a gift was around this same time. If my memory is correct it was You Only Live Twice. And it seemed like at least once a month, a Bond movie was the ABC Sunday Night Movie. I couldn’t be any happier as a child.
My parents took me to see Octopussy in early June of ‘83 and it was a hoot. By this time Roger Moore was so settled in as 007, that maybe he was a little over the hill for the role. But that didn’t stop me or my family, or the movie-going public from seeing a Roger Moore – Bond movie.
Also in the Summer of ‘83, Sean Connery was set to return to the role in Never Say Never Again. An non-official entry into the world of Bond films. The title came from Connery’s wife, as Sean was famous for saying “never again” to playing Bond. Some production nightmares delayed NSNA and it was pushed to the Fall of ‘83. We never did quite get the head-to-head showdown. Moore vs Connery. Bond vs Bond. Who is the real 007? Kill or be killed at the box office.
TALE OF THE TAPE
Movie: Octopussy (June 1983)
Tenure Up To This Point: 6 official Bond movies (1973-present)
Age During Filming: 55
*Never Say Never Again is not an official James Bond movie*
Movie: Never Say Never Again (October 1983)
Tenure Up To This Point: 6 official Bond movies, 1 unofficial Bond movie (1962-1967, 1971, 1983*)
Age During Filming: 52
Which movie, which Bond won the worldwide box office battle?
Octopussy $183.7 million
Never Say Never Again $160 million
I do remember being a little confused. Roger Moore was like my Bond father and Sean Connery was like my Bond stepfather. I loved watching them play the role when I was a young boy, but I couldn’t understand how they could both be 007 around the same time, in two different films.
Short story of a very long story revolves around a producer named Kevin McClory. Back in the early 1960s he managed to talk Ian Fleming into making Thunderball before Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman started the official Bond film franchise. When the time came around to finally making Thunderball, McClory meddled and got the right to produce the film with Cubby and Saltzman, but no other official Bond movies. He could only remake Thunderball and McClory attempted just that in 1975 and finally succeeding in 1983. Never Say Never Again is very much a remake of 1965’s Thunderball.
Why did Connery want in on a rival Bond movie? He and the producers (Broccoli and Saltzman) ended on bad terms in 1967, although Sean did return for one other movie in 1971 (Diamonds Are Forever). Sean Connery always felt used and under-appreciated by them and this was his chance to get some revenge. He had been the first, and in most minds the best Bond. Official or unofficial, Sean Connery was back as 007.
For Roger Moore, who was good friends with Connery, he was a very popular Bond in his own right. Octopussy was his 6th out of 7 Bond roles and it was his chance to finally step out of Connery’s massive shadow.
As great as Connery was as Bond, a true Bond movie needs a few classic elements. The famous gun barrel opening, James Bond theme, title song with sexy girls dancing around, etc. Never Say Never Again wasn’t legally allowed to have all of those Bond goodies. Octopussy of course could. That’s a major difference.
Can you imagine in today’s social media-driven world if a rival Bond movie challenged the current franchise? Just like what happened in 1983? How about Idris Elba vs Daniel Craig? At the end of the day, there can only be one James Bond at a time. And it’s the one with all the official goodies.