Website last updated: 7-5-2024

Book review: When Harry Met Cubby written by Robert Sellers

By: Brian Smith
When Harry Met Cubby book review
Robert Sellers is no stranger to the world of James Bond having previously written the acclaimed The Battle For Bond (exploring Kevin McClory’s forty-year legal campaign over the rights to the screen 007), as well as co-authoring Vic Armstrong’s autobiography, The True Adventures Of The World’s Greatest Stuntman.

In his latest book, When Harry Met Cubby, author Robert Sellers turns his attention to the story of the original Bond producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli, focusing on their business partnership between 1961 and 1974.

While some of this may be familiar ground to regular readers of Bond history, where the book comes alive are in the chapters charting their non-Bond careers, particularly in the opening biographies covering Broccoli’s Warwick Films days and Saltzman’s time with Woodfall Films, before forming their 50/50 partnership in 1961 to create Danjaq and Eon Productions.

Sellers examines how the duo worked as creative producers and also how they approached the business side of Bond. During the Sixties, outside of their partnership, Broccoli made one film - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - while Saltzman, the more restless of the two, developed multiple screenplays and brought to the screen seven films including the Harry Palmer trilogy and Battle Of Britain.

Throughout are stories from those within the orbit of their professional and personal ups and downs. The book benefits from the many interviews Sellers has conducted with a variety of key collaborators, such as Guy Hamilton and Len Deighton.

Although the consensus appears to be that Harry was the brash, stern, Hollywood-type mogul and Cubby was the quieter, more approachable one, it is pleasing that Sellers also gives voice to those who remember them differently, breaking down the usual preconceptions. Cherry Hughes (wife of director Ken Hughes) told Sellers that she liked Saltzman ‘tremendously,’ adding that she thought he was ‘the more interesting of the two Bond producers.’ Dyson Lovell, the casting director who assisted in the hunt for a new James Bond for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) recalled that he had a ‘real soft spot for Harry’. Conversely, screenwriter Richard Maibaum is quoted as saying Broccoli’s eruptions were ‘infrequent but devastating.’

Cubby Broccoli, George Lazenby and Harry Saltzman
Cubby Broccoli, George Lazenby and Harry Saltzman in 1968. Copyright © 1969 Danjaq S.A. & United Artists Corporation. All rights reserved.

The James Bond films were arguably a success because of the producers’ ability to consolidate their differing temperaments, ambition, creativity and business acumen. Although they were both North Americans, Saltzman and Broccoli understood the Britishness of Bond and the type of film they wanted to make, born from their respective years of making films in England. However, by the early Seventies the relationship had deteriorated beyond salvation. Saltzman was always developing new projects but the financial burden from making too many poor business decisions resulted in him pledging his Danjaq shares as collateral for loans he had taken out, contravening his original agreement with Broccoli. As United Artists director David Picker observed: ‘… [Saltzman] ventured into businesses he knew little about. His focus was spread, his ego was growing, and financial woes started to build up.’ Adding to the financial pressure was the news that Saltzman’s wife, Jaqueline, was battling breast cancer.

As with The Battle For Bond, Sellers has a nose for good story and the ability to tell it well. The events surrounding Saltzman’s departure are sensitively told. This is a fascinating window into the business side of Bond, culminating with the showdown of the lawyers in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Although a sad chapter in the history of the cinematic 007 it also opened up a new era as Broccoli’s stepson Michael G Wilson was on his legal team and cemented the start of his own bond with Eon Productions.

Ultimately, Cubby Broccoli understood that a series as popular as this required his undivided attention - for Harry Saltzman the world of Bond was not enough.

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

>Order When Harry Met Cubby from Amazon UK (published in the UK on 23 September, 2019)



Tag Cloud

Bond 25 Bond girls Bond villains Britt Ekland Daniel Craig Dolph Lundgren George Lazenby Izabella Scorupco James Bond museum Kristina Wayborn Mary Stavin Maud Adams No Time To Die Ola Rapace Pierce Brosnan Roger Moore Sean Connery Spectre Timothy Dalton

All information, text and graphics (unless otherwise stated) on this website are protected by copyright law. Please contact us to use anything.

This website is not in any way endorsed by EON Productions Ltd, Danjaq, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Sony Pictures, United Artists, Ian Fleming Publications, or any other James Bond copyright holders. It is an independently run non-profit website from a personal basis in spare time.

James Bond film images © 1962 - 2024 EON Productions Ltd, Danjaq LLC, MGM Inc. and United Artists Cooperation.

James Bond book covers © 1953 - 2024 Ian Fleming Publications and Glidrose Productions Ltd.

Founder & Managing Editor: Anders Frejdh