The Battle for Bond, UK First Edition, 2008

The Battle for Bond, by Robert Sellers - 2008

Subject of the book

The foreword here represents one of the most recent pieces of writing from Deighton, who is now effectively in semi-retirement. This book by Robert Sellers - which the Bond Producers Eon tried to get banned in 2008 - is about the on-screen incarnation of James Bond, which the author argues was substantially the creation of Jack Whittingham and Kevin McClory and not Ian Fleming (who just wrote the books on which the film character is based). It's a tale of bitter recriminations and lawsuits. The 2nd edition has the Len Deighton foreword; the first edition had a Raymond Benson introduction, but was withdrawn due to breach of copyright issues with the Fleming Estate. So the second edition is the first legal issue.

Deighton's foreword

Deighton was involved in writing a script for a long-lost potential Bond movie with McClory, called 'Warhead', and even went to New York to explore locations. In his foreword, Deighton compares the characters of Fleming - whom he met only once - and McClory, and concludes by saying: 'Anyone with a desire to go into the entertainment world should read this exciting, gripping but in the end melancholy story; it should be enough to change their mind forever.' Clearly, his thoughts in the foreword are informed by his exasperation in the sixties and the seventies with the film world, which led him to retreat back behind his typewriter keyboard. The manuscript for Warhead recently sold at auction for £42,000.

Sample text

'Ian [Fleming] was always clean shaven and his hair was always the right length: never too long, never too short. Kevin's hair was long, white, windswept an wispy. Yet, when I heard someone ask him if it was true that he often flew from his Bahama home solely to have his hair cut in New York, he didn't deny it. It was a very special barber, said Kevin. "So why not fly the barber to the Bahamas?" I asked. Kevin smiled the mirthless smile with which he responded to direct questions. While Ian knew what he wanted, said it and usually did it, Kevin dithered and changed his mind so that people working for him were baffled and frustrated.'

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