No, Mr Bond, I expect you to sue

I caught a glimpse of it over on the right side of the Facebook screen: an advertisement, image included, for something I would find at www.BondDVDSettlement.com. I thought for a moment, took a guess as to what this could be all about, and discovered that yes, that’s exactly what it’s all about. Let us take a peek at the complaint in Johnson v. MGM Holdings, Inc., et al:

In order to capitalize on the success of the James Bond franchise, beginning in 2012, Defendants released a series of box sets of James Bond films on DVD and represented on the packaging of those sets that each set contains “[a]ll the Bond films gathered together for the first time in this one-of-a-kind box set — every gorgeous girl, nefarious villain and charismatic star from Sean Connery, the legendary actor who started it all, to Daniel Craig.” However, none of these sets contain “all” of the James Bond films or “every” gorgeous girl, nefarious villain, and charismatic star featured therein. The sets only contain the films produced by Eon Productions, a British-based production company that ultimately sold its rights to the James Bond movies it produced to MGM Inc.

Yep. I saw this one coming several kilometers away.

Two additional James Bond films that were not produced by Eon Productions, Casino Royale (1967) (in which actor David Niven, Ian Fleming’s first choice to play the role of James Bond, plays Bond) and Never Say Never Again (1983) (the last of seven (7) James Bond films in which the actor Sean Connery plays James Bond), are not included in the sets — even though MGM Inc. acquired the rights to these two films in 1997, some twenty (20) years ago.

I mention purely in passing that Thunderball, the fourth (4th) of the Connery Bonds, was tied up in legal red tape not once, but twice. Saith Wikipedia:

Originally meant as the first James Bond film, Thunderball was the centre of legal disputes that began in 1961 and ran until 2006. Former Ian Fleming collaborators Kevin McClory and Jack Whittingham sued Fleming shortly after the 1961 publication of the Thunderball novel, claiming he based it upon the screenplay the trio had earlier written in a failed cinematic translation of James Bond. The lawsuit was settled out of court; McClory retained certain screen rights to the novel’s story, plot, and characters. By then, Bond was a box-office success, and series producers [Albert R.] Broccoli and [Harry] Saltzman feared a rival McClory film beyond their control; they agreed to McClory’s producer’s credit of a cinematic Thunderball, with them as executive producers.

Later, in 1964, Eon producers Broccoli and Saltzman agreed with McClory to cinematically adapt the novel; it was promoted as Ian Fleming’s Thunderball. Yet, along with the official credits to screenwriters Richard Maibaum and John Hopkins, the screenplay is also identified as “based on an original screenplay by Jack Whittingham” and as “based on the original story by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming”. To date, the novel has twice been adapted cinematically; the 1983 Jack Schwartzman-produced Never Say Never Again features Sean Connery as James Bond, but is not an Eon production.

That said, Eon did release a Bond film in 1983: Octopussy, which outdid Never at the box office, but not by much: $184 million versus $160 million. And Eon remade Casino Royale in 2006, the first Daniel Craig interpretation of Bond; I find myself wondering why the plaintiffs didn’t complain about the 1954 version of Casino Royale, an episode of the TV anthology series Climax! starring Barry Nelson as James, or sometimes “Jimmy,” Bond. MGM owns that too, though they don’t have anything but a B&W kinescope of the show, which was actually shot in color — and on CBS, yet.

Anyway, the proposed settlement will provide downloads of both the ’67 Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again. Attorneys’ fees are capped at a modest $350,000.





4 comments »

  1. Brian J. »

    26 March 2018 · 1:22 pm

    Surely the fact that both of us mentioned Barry Nelson as Jimmy Bond on the same day will set all kinds of algorithms wondering why this important all of a sudden.

    I wondered if it was a Kinescope, as the videocassette that I recently watched was pretty grainy even for a VHS.

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  3. nightfly »

    27 March 2018 · 3:28 pm

    The ’67 Casino Royale is of course a comedy send-up of Bond, written (in part) by Woody Allen and Peter Sellers. Possibly the best part of the movie is Herb Alpert’s song of the same name.

  4. CGHill »

    27 March 2018 · 8:13 pm

    A distinctively different sort of Bond theme.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPHogQ02DFw

    Wonder who owns the soundtrack these days? Alpert owns all his own masters; the Colgems (“Columbia/Screen Gems”) label was shut down circa 1970 when Columbia took over the previously-independent Bell Records, subsequently rebranded “Arista” and eventually folded into RCA, which suggests Sony ownership.

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