Book Review: The Men Who Might Have Been Bond
Posted June 4th, 2012
There is no shortage of James Bond books in circulation. From production notes, to biographies of the actors and crew, to encyclopedic tomes, there is something for everybody. However, these works often have a lot in common. The same stories are retold from the point of view of a director, a stuntman, an actress, and a researcher. While it's very interesting to get an in-depth coverage from every realm of the production, it's sometimes nice to read up on a fresh topic.
Craig Robinson's The Men Who Might Have Been Bond is just that. Rather than focus on the more well known aspects of the Bond universe, Robinson delves into the group of actors who turned down the part. Most fans like to imagine what would have happened if Sean Connery had stayed on longer, or if Timothy Dalton's third Bond film had escaped production hell. This book proposes the more interesting question: what if Sean Connery had never been Bond at all, and someone else had taken the role?
The Men Who Might Have Been Bond begins with an introduction to some of the key people involved in the beginnings of Bond, to orient the reader. These include James Bond author Ian Fleming, producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, and writer turn producer Kevin McClory, who had sued for the film rights to Thunderball.
After setting the scene, Robinson chronicles twelve of the Bond candidates, giving a chapter to each. Of the twelve, I would imagine that most Bond fans will only know of three or four, in relation to the Bond universe. This makes for new and interesting material that most readers won't have read about elsewhere.
For each actor, Robinson includes a biography of their early life and careers, as well as a sample of their most critically acclaimed performances. He then links them to the James Bond role, telling stories of their near collision with the now infamous character. A gem of most chapters, is the author's personal opinion on the merit of each actor. Not only is the work thoroughly researched, but it seems as if Robinson has seen a good portion of the actors' films, enabling him to give a valuable insight.
There is evidence backing up the claims for each actor, as the author states:
In compiling these stories the author has only included actors for whom there is some factual basis for their claim to be the original 007. This includes correspondence from the actors themselves as well as information obtained from respected biographies or autobiographies.
At 115 pages, The Men Who Might Have Been Bond is fairly short for a Bond book. However, it has a satisfying level of detail, and should be of interest to almost any Bond fan. If you're looking for something out of the usual, this is a well written, well edited book that should make for an interesting weekend.
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