Interview – Hilary Saltzman On Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007
The name ‘Broccoli’ has been most closely associated with the James Bond film series over the last 50 years: famously...
The name ‘Broccoli’ has been most closely associated with the James Bond film series over the last 50 years: famously the late Albert R “Cubby” Broccoli, and now his daughter, Barbara (who co-produces the 007 movies with her stepbrother, Michael G Wilson.)
But in the early days — from Dr No (1962) to The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) — another producer shared the Bond film billings with Cubby: Harry Saltzman.
In fact it was Harry, a no-nonsense and flamboyant Canadian, who had originally secured the film rights from Bond author Ian Fleming. Already a successful film producer known for the British kitchen sink dramas Look back in Anger and The Entertainer, Harry teamed up with Cubby and kick-started the 007 franchise with their company, EON productions.
It wasn’t easy. Harry and Cubby wanted the then unknown Sean Connery to star as Bond while the studio was pushing for a household name. How Saltzman and Broccoli stood their ground, assembled a crack team of filmmakers, established a format and turned Bond into a worldwide phenomenon is highlighted in the 50th anniversary documentary, Everything or Nothing, now out on DVD. Throughout the 1960s, Bond was untouchable at the box office and made Saltzman and Broccoli wealthy men. Both eventually fell out with Connery, although the Bond bandwagon rolled on without him.
But then, in the early 1970s, everything began to unravel for Harry when his wife, Jaquie, was diagnosed with cancer. After nine Bonds, he duly sold his 50 per cent stake in the character in 1975, becoming estranged from Cubby in the process. Jacquie died in 1980 and Harry died in 1994, a month before his 79th birthday. At the premier of For Your Eyes Only in 1981, however, he and Cubby hugged and made-up. They’d been through too much together to remain angry at one another.
Two of Harry’s children, Hilary and Steven, appear in the Everything or Nothing documentary. On the eve of the DVD’s release, What Culture caught up with Hilary to find out more about her father: the man who played a huge part in introducing a cinematic icon to the world.
Bond… James Bond.
Hilary, the Bond films had their 50th anniversary in 2012. Harry didn’t just co-create a film series. He co-created a cultural phenomenon, didn’t he?
It’s extraordinary. And knowing that my father was responsible for co-creating it, I’m immensely proud.
Do you think Everything or Nothing gives a rounded view of what Harry achieved — and how he achieved it?
There’s a huge, intricate, complicated story behind each of these three gentlemen (Ian Fleming, Harry Saltzman, Cubby Broccoli). My father was absolutely a part of the gestation of the birth of the James Bond film series, along with Cubby and the rest of the team on board at that time. But my father made nine out of 23 Bond films, so the documentary couldn’t spend that much time on him. I do understand that. Let’s face it: my father’s life would make a whole documentary on its own. (And there is a good one already, which features as an extra on the From Russia with Love DVD, called Harry Saltzman: Showman).
Harry did a bit of Bond-like spying himself, didn’t he?
I only found out six years ago that my father served in the OSS (the Office for Strategic Services — the forerunner to the CIA) in World War Two. He was working for the Allied Forces in the secret service! Wow! Then I understood so much more about him. Those things didn’t make it into the documentary but that would have taken it off on a tangent. The only other thing that wasn’t explored — but anyone who’s interested can look it up — was that my father had a very strong filmography prior to starting the Bond movies. And he made some great films while he was making the Bond series, too. (These include the Harry Palmer spy trilogy with Michael Caine — The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and Billion Dollar Brain — and the war movie, Battle of Britain).
Were your father’s real-life spying exploits a shock to you?
It made such complete sense to me. I’ve not quite got the proof, but I’ve heard the rumours that his and Ian Fleming’s paths crossed during the war (Fleming was in Naval Intelligence). Even though they couldn’t acknowledge that they had known each other — because then they would be acknowledging what they had done during the war — I think that’s a large part of why Ian felt he could trust my father with bringing Bond to the screen. He felt he could trust him with getting across what he wanted Bond to be.
You were a kid in the 1960s. When did you realise that the Bond movies were a big deal?
When we had a lot of press following us. And also when I had a friend over from school when I was about 11… and she walked into my living room and fainted. There were a lot of people in that room that I had grown up with — Uncle Roger, Uncle Sean, Uncle Michael Caine. As a child, I knew they all worked in the same business. I didn’t quite understand the hugeness of that business.
Your father sold his share of the Bond franchise in the mid-Seventies, leaving Cubby as sole producer. Otherwise, we might still be seeing the names ‘Saltzman and Broccoli’ on the credits today. Only it would be you and Barbara Broccoli, of course…
That would have been a wonderful thing; but I think that it’s easy to look at this story in hindsight. A large part of what happened to my father was that everything he had built up collapsed around him. The most integral part of this was my mother’s illness. Also, a government decision was taken to run a motorway past our home, so immediately our property value was decimated. All these parts of my father’s life were slowly crumbling and he became desperate. His desperation wasn’t about making films. It was about spending the last few weeks, months, years — whatever they may be – trying to stop the cancer that was killing his wife. That was what was driving him at that point more than anything.
Plus, Harry’s relationship with Cubby broke down during that time…
He was devastated about what happened between him and Cubby. I don’t think he planned on that, but he was desperate. If my mother had not been sick, I think things would have been very different.
You grew up with Barbara Broccoli. Are you still close?
I saw a lot of Barbara growing up and whenever I’m in London we make an effort to see each other still. We really have a close relationship. We truly understand where we both came from. So we have a strong bond.
No pun intended. What would Harry make of the Bond films today?
I think he’d be thrilled. I honestly do. I don’t know if some of the directions that Bond went in (over the years) would have been decisions that he would have taken. But the fact is that these movies are still being made today. I think he would have loved Daniel. When I saw Skyfall and the end credits rolled, my first thought was how incredibly entertaining it had been. And that was exactly what my father strove to do. He strove to entertain an audience. Skyfall would have certainly met his standards. And I think that he and Cubby and Ian are absolutely BEAMING that Bond has had his 50th anniversary.
Do you ever say to Barbara: ‘Hey, it would be great if Bond does this next time…’
My brother does! But I’m not privy to the films before they come out.
What’s your favourite Bond film?
Every film brings something to the table. I’m fond of From Russia with Love — and I visited the sets of many films, so I’m fond of those ones too. I LOVED being on set. I grew up at Pinewood Studios. I loved nothing more than going to see the rushes every day with my dad — if I got my homework done and got there quick enough after school. I loved it. But maybe I haven’t seen my favourite Bond film yet…
Your mum is in From Russia with Love, isn’t she? Plus you’re in it too… sort of.
Yes, my mother and my grandmother are in it. They’re in the train scene — my mother has a headscarf on and she’s leaning on a railing out of the train window. Her mother is standing next to her (Connery stands between them at one point to look out of the window). And yes, my mother was pregnant with me at the time!
Harry and Cubby were reconciled eventually, which gives the Saltzman and Broccoli story a happy ending.
Just like any relationship they had their ups and downs and their arguments. But they did make up. There was a respect there — and that respect still exists between the Saltzman and Broccoli families today. A deep respect and love and appreciation.
Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 is out on DVD now and Skyfall is will be released on high–definition Blu-ray on the 18th February from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.