Photography | All About Bond: Photographs by Terry O'Neill

Photography | All About Bond: Photographs by Terry O'Neill

Since the launch of Dr No in 1962, Terry O’Neill has been the agent of choice for documenting the most famous spy of all time and a cult phenomenon all over the world – James Bond. In All About Bond, O’Neill’s exceptional photography, some of which has never been seen before, come together with articles focusing on the cars, the girls, the suits and most of all, the lives of those few men to have played the suavest character in all of fiction. Don’t let Daniel Craig’s portrait on the back cover fool you though; O’Neill’s work in this volume is largely comprised from his body of work in the 1960’s through the 80’s, teetering only at the edge of Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of the super spy.

Sean Connery is so dense with his cinematic history, quitting and returning to one of the biggest paychecks in Hollywood with Diamonds are Forever in 1971, not to mention his feuds with producers Harry Saltzman and Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, that there is hardly any space for George Perry to cover the man’s most important moments in his cinematic career. But his article on Roger Moore is more particular in showing us a man whose charm extended beyond the silver screen to his personal life. Perry reveals his many romances and the heartbreaks that came with them, such as moving on from his marriage in 1946 to Streatham ice skater Doorn Van Steyn (she changed her name in order to sound Dutch) to the Welsh singer Dorothy Squires “who installed him in a mansion and ensured he met the right people.” While having three children with the Italian actress Luisa Mattioli and only before marrying the Scandinavian Kiki Tholstrup in 1993, Squires spiraled into alcoholism. When suffering from cancer, Moore paid all of her medical bills in full. These gestures of goodwill were soon to be carried on later in his life when at her last breath, Audrey Hepburn would bestow the responsibility of UNICEF ambassador to Moore, which he has taken with zealous enthusiasm ever since.

Sean Connery © Terry O'Neill/All About Bond/Evans Mitchell Books

Sean Connery © Terry O’Neill/All About Bond/Evans Mitchell Books

A large segment of the book focuses on the ‘The Girls’. Photographed as part of marketing, these photos are considerably different to those monochrome moments caught between takes on set and have more than a tint of commercial appeal. If these airbrushed women show a sense of assimilation into the superficial glamour of the Bond franchise, then the recollections of Bond girls such as Madeline Smith and Shirley Eaton give them a unique and refreshing voice of their own, such as Honor Blackman’s thoughts on how Pussy Galore in Goldfinger was the first feminist on screen with Bond. After all, as Blackman points out, “you know that somebody who can have their own air force and fly a plane is rather special.”

Joanna Lumley’s account of her life as ‘The English Girl’ in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the most vivid and candid. She gives pathos to George Lazenby – the dejected and aggressively shunned Bond in the entire franchise, often seen as a colossal mistake – a form of dignity when she remembers how he was “rather a lost soul” and how in hindsight he “gave the best performance he could do” from what was arguably the hardest act to follow in cinema history. O’Neill’s photos of Lazenby with Jill St. John relaxing by the pool at her house in LA in 1969, during the filming of Diamonds are Forever which Lazenby pulled out from, show the reclusive life of a man off set and in the margins of Bond lore and makes a welcome addition to the archives of Bond photography.

Aside from photos of the Spoof rendition of Casino Royale in 1967, featuring the likes of David Niven, Woody Allen, Peter Sellers and Orson Welles enjoying a new lease of timely recognition for its “momentary flashes of visual brilliance… amidst the inchoate confusion”, the real jewel lies with Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming.

 Godfrey Smith’s memories of ‘The Bond Viveur’ offer a remarkable insight from a news editor at The Sunday Times who would meet Fleming, then the foreign manager at the newspaper, in the office corridors. On one occasion, he had Fleming sign his copy of Dr No (“To Godfrey Smith, a fellow scrivener, Ian Fleming 1956”), raising its value from just over 10 shillings to £10,000. Although “he didn’t say I was much cop of a scrivener”, Smith’s writing here proves the opposite, with an exceptional eye for detail and insight into not only Fleming as the creator of Bond, but the world he was in and the world he ran, sitting in his foreign office with a map behind his desk pinpointing ‘Mercury’, the name given to his group of 88 foreign correspondents, each speaking “3.1 languages a piece”. The application of his imagination from writing 1,500 words a day at his GoldenEye retreat in Jamaica was not confined to the literary world of fiction, but proved to be the most crucial asset in implementing wartime covert operations. Smith recalls how one of his ruses “was to crash a captured bomber in the North Sea with German speakers in it dressed as Luftwaffe men. This would lure out the German air-sea rescue service, who would have on board a still-uncracked naval code.”

David Niven © Terry O'Neill/All About Bond/Evans Mitchell Books

David Niven © Terry O’Neill/All About Bond/Evans Mitchell Books

These anecdotes, familiar to many Bond fans, may not be new in and of themselves, but coupled with the attention to detail, as with GQ’s Dylan Jones’s marvelous astuteness for differentiating the French cuffs of Turnbull & Asser shirts for Connery from the Italian lapels of Brioni suits Brosnan wore, and Terry O’Neill’s photographs, we gain perspective of the men and women in and out of focus of the camera lens who made the Bond Franchise where it stands today. The real delight of All About Bond lies in O’Neill’s corpus of work from the 60’s with Connery, purely for his unwavering and uncanny ability to capture the essence of solitary moments rarely seen amidst the explosions of glamour and glitz that coats the splendored aesthetic of Bond – James Bond.

 

All About Bond is published by EMI Books and is available now at £29.95

Featured Image Roger Moore © Terry O’Neill/Evans Mitchell Books

Ben Meagher

 

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