A bit of an oddity, this feels rather more like it should be an extended meta-extra to the Bond Blu-Ray boxset or else a special made-for-TV anniversary documentary, rather than a stand-alone film that made it into cinemas in its own right and which now receives a very barebones DVD release ahead of next month’s issue of Skyfall to home entertainment channels.
That’s not to say that this isn’t very well put together – it is, very polished and stylish, and it never lets the pace flag so there’s always something interesting happening with lots of clips and music from the movies and behind-the-scenes. In the end, it’s perhaps a little bit too fast-moving at just over 90 minutes and feels a little shallow as a result, telling a well-trodden story with familiar faces that we’ve seen and heard from many, many times before. There are nonetheless still gems that are new (at least to me) along the way, and all the new interviews (done talking head style and also used as voiceover rather than using a traditional narrator) are well worth the price of admission.
The story of the Albert R. Broccoli/Harry Saltzman partnership is the core, together of course with the lengthy legal and financial wrangles that have enveloped the film over the course of five decades, but in the end the highlights come from the new interviews with the various Bonds. Lazenby’s story of how he got (and lost) the role is pure comedy-tragedy, and Moore’s obviously warm and tender father-son relationship with Broccoli is a delight. Dalton is remarkably open and candid about his own time in the role, and Brosnan terrific about his own heartbreaking miss first time around. Inevitably Connery is a truculent no-show and perhaps as a result he comes out of this the worst – portrayed as a total arse, basically – but ultimately there is a lovely anecdote related by Barbara Broccoli about the last time that the actor and her father spoke on the phone.
In the end this is a film that will appeal to anyone with an interest in Bond and the Bond series, and having President Clinton as one of the glowing interviewees is a real coup that echoes the public endorsement of the original Ian Fleming book series by President Kennedy in 1962 that was one of the principle sparks for the phenomenon that followed.
Now available on DVD, and also showing on Sky Movies from February 16 2013.