Website last updated: 19-11-2019

Book review: Bond Behind The Scenes from The History Press

By: Brian Smith
Published:
2019-10-04
Bond Behind The Scenes book review
Another new book from The History Press stable is a slim volume of black and white stills sourced from Mirrorpix – the picture library and photographic archive of the Daily Mirror newspaper.

The back cover claim that the ‘relaxed, casual nature of their images is a far cry from the restricted and carefully stage-managed pictures we get for the modern Bond films’ does not entirely ring true. For example, the section described as being from ‘shooting the wedding sequence’ in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), was in itself a carefully stage-managed affair. The wedding was recreated separately from filming specifically for press publicity.

Fortunately, History Press Commissioning Editor Mark Benyon does a better job in his introduction contextualising why press access to movie sets today is limited and compares the availability of press stills from the early years to today.

Although not covered in the book, one of the reasons the Daily Mirror in particular was granted access to the sets of those early Bond films was due to Cubby Broccoli’s friendship with Mirror legend Donald Zec. In recent years this function has been replaced by the likes of freelance photographer Greg Williams, who captures more genuine candid images and has been lurking around in the background with his Leica camera since Die Another Day in 2002.

In the pages of the Mirror, Zec championed the casting of each successive Bond. Describing the casting of Sean Connery for Dr. No (1962) he said:

“If it was sex, sin and sudden death they were selling, Mr. Connery would be an admirable salesman.”


Sean Connery and Honor Blackman on the set of Goldfinger
Sean Connery and Honotr Blackman on the set of Goldfinger. Copyright © Mirrorpix Ltd. All rights reserved.

Of his first encounter with George Lazenby, Zec wrote:

“If the Bond genre demands good eating, stylish drinking, high-stake gambling and athletic womanising, then Mr. Lazenby promises well.”


And of Roger Moore he wrote that there was:

“No hint of that cross-grained, superannuated hero Sean Connery and no reminder of that towering, but temporary substitute, George Lazenby. A brand new Bond, possessed and programmed to take the latest Fleming epic, Live and Let Die (1973), to yet another triumphant foregone conclusion.”


It is therefore noticeable that the photographic coverage in the book diminishes around the time of Zec’s departure from the newspaper, ending Broccoli’s symbiotic relation with the paper. The three stills from The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) are all from the premiere (so why not include the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig premieres?) and virtually everything from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) onwards are from press calls, not during filming, before fizzling out with three pictures from The Living Daylights (1987).

Perhaps if the book had just been about Bond in the 1960s it would not feel as uneven as it does. That said, the photos are nicely reproduced and despite any shortcomings, the book is still an appreciated effort.


Review by Brian James Smith. Copyright © 2019 From Sweden with Love. All rights reserved.

>Order the book from Amazon UK (published in the UK on 26th August, 2019)

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