There is a tradition over the years of Bond documentaries giving you just enough information to keep you entertained yet still leaving you feeling unsatisfied. While Everything Or Nothing doesn’t leave you feeling unsatisfied, it does leave you wanting a lot more than the hour and a half running time gives you.
Covering James Bond from his inception in Ian Fleming’s mind right up to Skyfall, Everything Or Nothing (colon The Untold Story Of 007 – which should more accurately be coloned The Little Told Story Of 007) gets a lot of Bond history into its short running time. The problem with that is that it does at times feel like a preview for several other Bond documentaries that, sadly, don’t exist (how has a really good documentary about the EON/McClory battle for Bond never been made?).
Kevin McClory is very much painted as the villain of the film, even being blamed (via his attempts to sue him) for causing Fleming to have the heart attack that killed him. There is an attempt at balancing how McClory is portrayed by having friends speak on his behalf but this is a film that, rightly or wrongly, comes down very much on EON’s side. But then anybody foolish enough to try and set up a rival Bond series (with or without Connery) is always going to go down in history as the villain of a story of Bond.
The documentary features talking heads from those who were involved in the films, family and friends of Broccoli, Saltzman, Fleming and McClory as well as 5 of the 6 actors to have played the part. Sadly, Sean Connery is not present, his input instead being filled in with archive sound-bites and interview clips. It’s a real shame that he (for whatever reason) chose not to be involved, given how interesting and (for a long time) difficult his friendship with Broccoli was.
George Lazenby talks about how he lied his way into getting the part and how he thought that, once cast, he was he was on his way to being one of the biggest film stars in the world. He also speaks with genuine regret at the way he let bad advice and other people’s voices lead him to make the worst career decision in the history of cinema. Timothy Dalton talks with a genuine passion about how he wanted to bring Bond back to reality after Roger Moore’s time in the role and his approach to taking the character back to Fleming’s books. Both Dalton and Lazenby are largely overlooked when people talk about Bond so it’s a nice touch that they seem to be the most memorable interviews of the Bond actor bunch, with Roger Moore and Daniel Craig simply there because they also played Bond rather than because they have anything of any great interest to say.
But then if Die Another Day was your last Bond film, you’d be bitter too.
And then there is Pierce Brosnan; the only actor to have played Bond to have not been brought back (rather than leaving of his own choice). Brosnan talks about losing out on The Living Daylights just prior to his official announcement in the role and how heartbreaking he found it and then his genuine joy at finally getting given the part 9 years later. There is an impression that comes across in his interview that Brosnan felt he deserved the role, especially after losing out first time around. He comes across as knowing how ridiculous parts of Die Another Day were for him to do (kite surfing away from a tsunami for example) and, although he seems to understand why he was let go and how difficult it was for Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson to make the phone call to let him know, there is a clear bitterness that he wasn’t given another turn in the tuxedo. But then if Die Another Day was your last Bond film, you’d be bitter too.
The real triumph of the film though is the on and off “bromance” between Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, talking about how they came together, how close their families became, the bitter end of their EON partnership and their eventual reunion. This is a genuinely great story of two men who put everything they have into a project they believed and succeeded in creating a genuine icon of cinema. It’s a story worthy of a film all of its own.
Short of getting up to date 2-hour ‘Makings Of’ for each of the films, Bond fans will never get the Bond documentaries they want because there will always be bits that are left out that you really would like to see addressed. This film is a decent 90-minute breeze through all of the series; that gives you more than you are probably expecting to get, but nowhere near as much as you would really want. Although this is quite a cinematic experience to see on the big screen, you can’t help but feel it would’ve made a really nice inclusion as a bonus feature on the Bond 50 Blu-ray box set (and would’ve been infinitely more satisfying than the awful and lazy “new” features we get in that set).
Still, if this can get the three hour Blu-ray treatment that the PBS version of Woody Allen: A Documentary got, then Everything Or Nothing could become one of the most definitive documentaries on the subject of Bond that we will have had so far.