30 January 2013 | timdalton007
Behind The Spy Who Thrilled Us
Produced as part of the celebrations of the James Bond film series reaching its fiftieth anniversary and sanctioned by those behind them, the documentary Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 might appear on the surface to be just another piece of celebratory fluff. After all, there have been countless documentaries produced on the series both for television and, more recently, on the various DVD releases of the films. So what could possibly be left to say about the history of the franchise? The answer, as revealed over a bit more than ninety minutes, is quite a bit.
What perhaps makes the documentary most notable are those being interviewed. Five of the six actors who've played the part are featured (the sole exception being Sean Connery whose love/hate relationship with 007 is illustrated throughout). Each of them is nothing short of interesting ranging from George Lazenby's candidness about letting the part go to his head to Timothy Dalton reflecting on how his take on Bond was received to Pierce Brosnan on the pain of losing out the chance to play Bond in 1986 and how he handled the phone call telling him he wasn't getting to do another film after Die Another Day. Representing those either unwilling to be interviewed (such as Connery) to those no longer with us (such as Bond creator Ian Fleming, producer Cubby Broccoli, producer Harry Saltzman and surprisingly even Kevin McClory) is a wealth of mainly audio archival clips. Last but not least are a wealth of others interviewed such as the usual suspects including various Bond girls to current producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Somewhat more intriguing are the less usual suspects including Fleming's friend/biographer John Pearson to McClory's friend Judy Geeson and former United Artists executive David Picker. The results help to make this far more than your usual making of documentary.
Everything Or Nothing is also well produced and stylishly done. Yes, there are the expected clips from all of the films, but they are put to surprisingly effective use not just as samples from the respective films but also to illustrate, often metaphorically, events taking place behind the scenes. There's also a wealth of archival material as well that give it a larger scope than many of its predecessors as well. There's also a stylishly done opening black and white teaser sequence that sets the stage for it is to follow that is excellently done. If I would fault the documentary, it would be that it perhaps paced too rapidly and jumps around quite a bit, rarely stopping long enough to focus on any one film in particular.
The result of all of these materials being brought together is that this is less a making of documentary and more of a look at the history of the series overall and how it has survived across five decades. It charts the course through the series by telling a story about strong individuals, egos, money and perseverance as much as anything else. Despite being officially sanctioned, the documentary does point out the flaws of various films and when the series went astray. Perhaps most surprisingly, it even goes into some depth about the controversy surrounding McClory, Thunderball and Never Say Never Again in a manner that is as even handedly as one can expect in light of what is still a controversial subject in Bond circles.
From its interviews and archival materials to a stylish production, Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 is far more than just another documentary on the history of a long running franchise. It is a journey through its history, its ups and downs and even some of its points of contention. It is the story behind the spy (and the films) that have, and will hopefully, continue tom thrill us.