With news breaking today that the next James Bond film is finally moving forward with Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes, you may have noticed it being referred to as the 23rd Bond film. If that number doesn’t entirely add up for you, it could be because you’re thinking of one of the following projects. From literature to television to other feature films, here’s the Top 007 Embarrassing Secrets of James Bond.
001. Jimmy Bond
Who was the first actor to play James Bond? If you said Sean Connery, you may be in for a surprise. A full eight years before Connery got his license to kill in Dr. No, Barry Nelson got the part of "Jimmy Bond" in a made-for-tv adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, which actually came close to launching Bond as a full-fledged television series with original scripts prepared by Fleming.
Running only 48 minutes, Casino Royale was thought lost for decades but is, for the morbidly curious, now available on the DVD version of the next item on our list.
002. Casino Royale
Before it was the debut of Craig’s new take on Bond, Casino Royale was, bizarrely, adapted into 1967 comedy starring Peter Sellers, David Niven, Orson Welles and Woody Allen (among many others). An awful mess of a film, Casino Royale had about as many directors as it did Bonds and the plot featured multiple iterations of 007 teaming up to stop Bond’s evil nephew (Allen) from a fiendish plot to use bio-weapons to kill men over 4’6" tall and to make women more beautiful. The production was allegedly a mess (and it shows!) with Sellers and Welles disliking one another to the extent that they wouldn’t act on the same stage together. Welles, too, apparently agreed to the film only if he could perform magic tricks which he does in a lengthy scene that has very little to do with the rest of the movie.
003. Never Say Never Again
Perhaps the most infamous Bond film, Never Say Never Again emerged thanks to a legal loophole that, in 1983, allowed Warner Bros. to loosely remake Thunderball outside of the regular EON Productions franchise. What’s more, they ponied up a huge amount of cash (which ended up going to charity) to get Connery to reprise the Bond role opposite Kim Basinger (as a woman named Domino Petachi) and under director Irvin Kershner, his first film since 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back. Suffice to say, it wasn’t quite as memorable a moment in cinematic history.
004. Quantum of Solace
Remember when you heard that they were calling the last Bond film Quantum of Solace and you said, "Where on Earth did they get that awful title?" Well, this one is an embarrassing sidenote for Bond fiction; a short story by Fleming published in the anthology collection For Your Eyes Only. It only barely features 007 and is, instead, a light comedy of manners in the style of W Somerset Maugham. Bond only appears in cameo as a dinner guest at a party of socialites. Not exactly the stuff of blockbusters.
By the way, the Bond films have been so desperate for "authentic" Fleming titles that they went so far as to name 1995’s Goldeneye after the house that the author owned. What’s left that hasn’t been used? The Hildebrand Rarity and 007 in New York.
005. The Moneypenny Diaries
You would think that by 2005 people would know better, but Guardian Angel is the first in a series of officially licensed James Bond novels, told from the point of view of Miss Moneypenny. With three books in the series, also including Secret Servant and Final Fling, The Moneypenny Diaries is the type of idea that puts Star Wars licensing to shame.
006. The Authorized Biography of James Bond
James Bond gets postmodern with a fake 1973 biography which suggests that, while the films and books are fictionalized, Bond was, in fact, a real secret agent. It goes on to detail in depth exactly what the "real" Bond was like and how his adventures correspond directly to the novels (except for Moonraker, apparently, which was just too ridiculous). The weirdest part is the entire book is related to author John Pearson by the "real" James Bond who happens to be an old man in Bermuda, dying from Hepatitis.
007. James Bond, Jr.
Reflecting on Saturday morning cartoons in the 1990’s makes it hard to keep a straight face where a lot of franchises are concerned, but James Bond, Jr. may take the cake for silliness. Featuring the nephew of James Bond (who, for some reason, is named James Bond, Jr.), the series also has a tech-friendly pal (nicknamed IQ, rather than Q) and Jr. actually comes up against a number of filmic Bond villains, including Jaws, Odd Job, Doctor No and Goldfinger. The worst part is that the series actually has a basis in the Fleming canon and a 1967 children’s book called, we kid you not, 003 1/2: The Adventures of James Bond Junior.