Original publication: 2015. Updated edition: 2018 (softback, RRP 20 pounds sterling). Foreword by George Lazenby. Published by The History Press. 

For fans of the Bond movies growing up during the eras prior to Pierce Brosnan's GOLDENEYE (1995), it was slim pickings indeed when it came to books on the making of the films, and even slimmer pickings when it came to books that went beyond the usual PR fluff. The tomes that were essential included Steven Jay Rubin's 'The James Bond Films' (1981) and Raymond Benson's 'The James Bond Bedside Companion' (1984). Since the Brosnan era, there have been a plethora of books dedicated to the film franchise or respective films. So, what makes 'Some Kind of Hero' one of the books you need on your Bond bookshelf?   

As stated in the pages of the book, 'Some Kind of Hero' has been an endeavour two decades in the making. The authors have done exhaustive research on the history of the film series, but the main highlight is the information gleaned from over 120 new interviews with people connected to the franchise, including all of the actors who have played 007 in the series and the current producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Field and Chowdhury's 'mission' is to tell the story of how the Bond series has managed to survive almost sixty years as a relevant, commercially viable enterprise. The reader learns of the great challenges and hardships faced by Eon Productions, originally under the leadership of Harry Saltzman and 'Cubby' Broccoli and now Broccoli's stepson and daughter, throughout Bond's filmic career. We learn of the long struggle to bring Bond to the screen in the first place, of the great struggle that EVERY Bond film endures to make it to the cinema, and of the competition and enemies Eon has had to face off against to ensure the survival of the franchise. 

One of the threads that runs throughout this story is that the changing gatekeepers of the franchise have maintained their great passion and drive to each time bring to the screen a Bond adventure that shows its budget onscreen and is on the pulse of not only the issues that are dominating the world right now, but also 5 minutes into the future. The book goes into detail on the creation of the screenplays for each film, and in doing so celebrates the hard work and craft that goes into putting each new story onscreen. Excitingly, the book also looks at the ideas, treatments and drafts that never made it to the screen, such as the attempts to make a third Timothy Dalton Bond film and the early incarnations of GOLDENEYE. Through their painstaking research and ruthless attention to detail, the authors manage to make the journey come alive, and they seemingly have spoken to EVERYBODY, including studio and marketing executives, who give their own unique angle on working with the producers and advising on creative decisions. The book is also peppered with anecdotes that are alternately hilarious and mindblowing.

The book will make you reassess what you thought you knew about the Bond series. If not for the efforts of the filmmakers, and their abilities to constantly take a hard look at what they have done and where they are heading with the series, there have been quite a few instances where the franchise may have died. And touchingly, it is the ghost of Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, who has indirectly saved the series, time and time again. When the producers sit with writers and discuss a new script, they consider what Fleming's Bond would do, and what Fleming material they can use or consult. 

Another remarkable quality about the book is its frankness. Although the authors are rightly in awe of the achievements made by the filmmakers, they are not apprehensive about including criticisms levelled at certain actors or filmmakers by others for their behavior or creative decisions. Far from adding a salacious element to the book, this frankness only makes the story more human, and in the end, more extraordinary. 

With Bond 25 on the horizon, which is expected to be Daniel Craig's final bow as 007, this new, updated version of 'Some Kind of Hero', complete with an extensive chapter on the making of SPECTRE with lots of new information, a chapter on the early road to Bond 25 and a memorial to Roger Moore, is a perfect opportunity to properly get ready for the new film and place the past achievements of the series in proper context. At nearly 800 pages long (with some fantastic colour and black and white behind the scenes photos), it's a huge book, but it is so beautifully and concisely written, so entertaining and constantly fascinating that the time will fly by, and you'll find yourself returning to the book time and time again, especially after you revisit the films. The book is a testament to the the men who brought Bond to the screen - Harry Saltzman and "Cubby' Broccoli - and the current team that continue to mantain their legacy. 'Some Kind of Hero' particularly makes the larger than life personalities of Saltzman and Broccoli come alive, and makes one realise how many unsung heroes the series has, not least United Artists executive David Picker, who recently passed. It is no exaggeration to say that 'Some Kind of Hero' is certainly the most definitive book ever written about the making of the 007 series, and cannot be more strongly recommended.

The book can be ordered via The History Press  here.  The e-book is available via The History Press here. 

Copyright © Paul Rowlands, 2019. All rights reserved.

No comments: