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Scenes We'd Like To See: Alternate Movies, Television & Other Pop Culture Miscellanea

Mr.E

Well-known member
Hi, I'm one of the writers on the Reds! TL, with Aelita and The Red Star Rising/Mental Omega(currently with new installments on Sufficient Velocity). I had an idea for this since reading about the various drafts of Casino Royale, and figured it'll do as a supplemental for a piece I wrote about James Bond in that universe (here:https://forums.sufficientvelocity.c...utionary-timeline.48563/page-64#post-14146160). Also figured it would be a nice addition to this thread, so here it is.

The Making of Casino Royale


In 1953, Casino Royale, written by former Naval Intelligence Officer Ian Fleming (a veteran of the Spanish campaign during WW2), was a massive hit across the Franco-British Union, combining the hard boiled style of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe with the spy adventure stories of Richard Hannay. With this success came offers for the film rights. Fleming turned down an offer to adapt Bond for Cuban television, instead ultimately selling the rights to exiled Russian-American producer Gregory Ratoff and MGM, both now stationed in Britain.

Ratoff would do uncredited work on the script, while MGM would find a director. Ratoff himself found the character of Bond unbelievable, and attempted to find a way to work around that, including making Bond a woman (“Jane Bond”), one set in WW2 era Spain (to parallel Fleming’s own experiences) or even a draft where Bond was absent, replaced by an Americuban gangster working for Franco-British intelligence. MGM would have none of that. MGM initially tried to move forward with popular British directing-screenwriting team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, (“The Archers”), who had helmed pictures like Black Narcissus and The Elusive Pimpernel (starring David Niven) for MGM and their partner London Films. However, growing money troubles and MGM’s insistence on changing Pressburger’s script led to their departure. They would eventually commission a script by Charles Bennett, who had written the 1935 Richard Hannay film The 39 Steps. Bennett would largely stick to the novel, though one draft combined the characters of Bond’s fellow JSB agent Rene Mathis and love interest Vesper Lynd into the character of Valerie Mathis, another combined Lynd with the novel’s secondary villain, American agent Felix Leiter. More importantly, Bennett’s previous major credit and its director would give MGM and Ratoff an idea.

Alfred Hitchcock was struggling in the early 50’s. Hitchcock had a successful contract with Cuban producer David O. Selznick, which saw the two produce hits, including Rebecca (1940), Greenmantle (1942), Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Spellbound (1945), and Notorious(1946), even through Selznick’s departure from Warner Bros. and the war. After their final film together The Paradine Case (where Hitchcock grew to dislike Selznick), Hitchcock attempted to start his own production company with Sidney Bernstein, Transatlantic, to do his own films. However, by the early 50’s, it was experiencing financial difficulties. Hitchcock also had the headache of having to appear before the Franco-British National Assembly’s “Select Committee on Communist Activity”, over one of his non-Selznick propaganda films, Saboteur, which had been commissioned as pro-American. While Hitchcock was cleared, it would strike a blow to Transatlantic, which dissolved. Hitchcock soon attempted to get support for a project he had developed with writer Fredrick Knott, Dial M for Murder, when MGM contacted him.

Hitchcock had considered doing another spy thriller and had conceived of some ideas to that end, but, ultimately, he agreed to do Casino Royale, if MGM agreed to back Dial M afterwards. Hitchcock did an uncredited rewrite of Bennett’s script, restoring the characters of Rene Mathis and Vesper Lynd. However, he made several changes, including removing DITR8R (Fleming’s attempt at transposing the Soviet SMERSH to American intelligence) from Leiter’s origin, instead making him a simple Section 1 agent, and moving the action to Monte Carlo. He also left Lynd’s suicide more ambiguous in part to skirt censorship. Another move to mollify censorship was the change involving Le Chiffre. In the novel, he had run a profitable brothel venture in Paris (which is where he invested the money given to him by Section 1 and Comintern), before the newly formed Franco-British Union shut it all down. This was why he needed to gain the money back. The film instead alludes to “bad investments” from “government intervention”. Hitchcock also changed Leiter carving the Cyrillic symbol “ш” unto Bond’s hand to carving the letter “S”, to make it clearer to Anglophone audiences.

With Hitchcock on board, other actors were in talks. David Niven, who had his career stalled after his war service and falling out with producer Samuel Goldwyn, was Fleming’s first choice for the role, and Hitchcock's name ultimately led to his interest and eventual casting as James Bond. Ingrid Bergman, Hitchcock’s leading lady on Notorious, would star opposite Niven as Vesper Lynd. Jean Gabin, the star of Pepe lo Moko, whose career had also stalled after the war, was cast as Mathis. Another veteran French actor, Jean-Louis Barrault was cast as the villain Le Chiffre. Hitchcock’s frequent collaborator Leo G. Caroll plays the JSB’s head M.

The biggest challenge was Felix Leiter. Hitchcock and Ratoff considered several British, Cuban, and Canadian actors for the role, but none were satisfying enough or had the right quality of leading man but menacing when need be. While in Canada auditioning actors, Ratoff caught a late night CBC television production, and contacted MGM immediately after it ended to say that he had found their Leiter. Thus, at 28 years old, Leslie Nielsen would make his feature film debut.

Hitchcock would utilize his trademark style in making the baccarat scenes intense and the effective centerpiece of the entire film, especially the tension between Barrault and Niven. He would combine the Shepperton Studio sets with location shooting in the South of France. Hitchcock approached Bond himself less as Fleming’s cold, efficient killing machine and more in the vein of his other spy protagonists: a mostly everyman worker who approaches his duty the same way any other worker does, and has a fascination with their leading lady. Much of Bond’s cold detachment is instead transferred to Felix Leiter, who was shown as a standard androit American killing machine, hyperfocused on the mission at hand.

Released in late 1954, the film was a massive critical and financial success, harkening Hitchcock’s return to cinema and introducing cinema-goers to the character of James Bond. Ratoff was convinced by Irish playwright Kevin McClory and Canadian producer Harry Saltzman to pool their collected rights to Bond in a new venture, Eon Productions, who would then option “Live and Let Die” as a sequel with MGM. Hitchcock would decline directing duties (focusing on finishing Dial M for Murder), though Niven, Nielsen, and Caroll would return, and the “Bond” series as known today would start, eventually leading to a 2009 remake of Casino Royale with Idris Elba as Bond.
 

RyanF

Abbot of Unreason
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Falkirk
Worthwhile considering some of the films Sean Connery turned down or missed out on since there are a lot of them.

He was invited to reprise the role of Bond for both On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Live and Let Die, and really in both instances I think its probably for the best we got George Lazenby and Roger Moore, respectively, instead. Connery comes across as so bored in You Only Live Twice and this would have just gotten worse if he did another one, the break meant that by the time he did come back for Diamonds Are Forever he's got something of the cool detachment back. Even so, Connery is looking pretty bloated in Diamonds Are Forever, which does enhance the ridiculous near-parodic tone of the film (the best Moore film Connery ever starred in!) but I think if he had come back for Live and Let Die we would have gotten that, plus him being bored again. Lee Tamahori wanted him to film a cameo for Die Another Day, since Tamahori likes the Bond-is-a-codename theory - yeah, no.

He was one of the many sought for the role of Deckard in Blade Runner, though my own preference would be for Robert Mitchum I think Connery in that period between Bond and The Untouchables would have been great in it. Then there's the sad set of circumstances that led to his retirement, where he turned down the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and a role in The Matrix sequels (long suspected to be the Architect) because he did not understand the content, but both went on the be financially successful. He took the next script that he did not understand, which turned out to be The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which flopped - and he retired soon after. It's strange to think he might have had another decade of roles in him, but considering the changes in the film industry that came as the 00s turned into the 10s I think it's fair to say there would be a lot of offers for films he didn't understand and would eventually trip up and accept the wrong one anyway...
 

Omund the Wooden-Leg

Chazadjin Marmaduke Brandybuck
Oooooh! Sean Connery as Gandalf! Imagine! Though, could you see him yelling at the Balrog: "You shall not parssh!"?
They were saying on the "In Memoriam" segment on the news that later in his life he laid down the law that he didn't want to hear the "B" word ("Bond") in his earshot.
 

Hendryk

Nothing ever ends
Published by SLP
Location
France
Worthwhile considering some of the films Sean Connery turned down or missed out on since there are a lot of them.
When Jean-Jacques Annaud told Umberto Eco that he was thinking of Sean Connery to play William of Baskerville, Eco was reportedly aghast. In his opinion Connery was a washed-out ex-James Bond and not at all the kind of actor he had in mind for the role. Which begs the question: who else might Annaud have gone with if he had caved to Eco's objection? Christopher Lee? Max von Sydow?
 

Tovarich

a sinking dumpling. He/Him.
When Jean-Jacques Annaud told Umberto Eco that he was thinking of Sean Connery to play William of Baskerville, Eco was reportedly aghast. In his opinion Connery was a washed-out ex-James Bond and not at all the kind of actor he had in mind for the role. Which begs the question: who else might Annaud have gone with if he had caved to Eco's objection? Christopher Lee? Max von Sydow?
When I read the book, shortly before the film came out, in my mind's-eye William of Baskerville was Alan Bennett and Adso of Melk was Derek Nimmo.
 

Hendryk

Nothing ever ends
Published by SLP
Location
France
When I read the book, shortly before the film came out, in my mind's-eye William of Baskerville was Alan Bennett and Adso of Melk was Derek Nimmo.
Looking it up (it's been nearly 30 years since I read the book), William's appearance is described as:

His height surpassed that of a normal man and he was so thin that he seemed still taller. His eyes were sharp and penetrating; his thin and slightly beaky nose gave his countenance the expression of man on the lookout, save in certain moments of sluggishness of which I shall speak. His chin also denoted a firm will, though the long face covered with freckles could occasionally express hesitation and puzzlement.
 

Time Enough

New Left Wing Political Queers-Micheal Moran
Pronouns
He/Him
Monster (2015-)
This award winning show on Netflix is probably one of their biggest successes after House of Cards and spawned a variety of psychological thrillers set in the 80s/90s. Based on the Manga by Naoki Urasawa and brought to TV by filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro this rather dark tale follows Dr Kenzo Tenma (Derek Mio), a Japanese surgeon living in 1990s Germany as his life goes into turmoil after getting himself involved with a former patient called Johan Liebert (Anton Yelchin). The series became famous for taking a Wallander approach to the story with the story still being set in Germany but mostly starring English and American actors as the main characters with various German actors filling out side characters with a surprise appearance from Udo Kier as Udo Heineman (mostly because Del Toro asked him if he could and being very passionate about it).

The show was praised for it's strong use of visuals (in particular the art design and cinematography) as well as it's soundtrack by Mica Levi (with various collaborations from artists like Trent Reznor and Ben Frost) although some criticism was given to Derek Mio's acting at certain points and the awkward nature of certain scenes due to various non-English actors speaking English. The show would help increase the profile of certain creators from Naoki Urasawa himself, to Del Toro regular Guy Davis (who drew and created various pieces of art around the world as well as help create the opening animation), NINA (German Synthwave act that performed in one episode) and Baran Bo Odar who would work with Netflix to create Pleasure to Kill the first German Language program there in 2017. Netflix would give Monster a Second Season before it even aired in 2015 and Season 2 would come out at the end of 2016 with a third season due in early 2018.
 

Elektronaut

This Man Spoke to Donald Duck
I'm wondering if they actually wanted Scheider, and it got bogged down in contractual stuff and they got on the phone to Central Casting and barked 'Gimme a guy who can wear a huge pair of glasses like hero dad nerd' or it's just a homage to Jaws or what.

Whatever the truth, it's interesting considering Seaquest DSV and all.
 
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