Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 review

Review Duncan Bowles 1 Oct 2012 - 06:43

The life and times of James Bond are explored in the feature-length documentary, Everything Or Nothing. Here’s Duncan’s review…

James Bond is many things to many people. To some he’s a dismissible pop icon, to others a misogynistic relic, but to myself and most of the world, he’s an iconic hero. Indeed, as this October marks the 50th anniversary since Dr. No first burst its way on to cinema screens, it could be said that James Bond is the greatest action hero of all. Time hasn’t aged him, bullets have never stopped him and women have always loved him (and loved to hate him).

Bond has been in my life for almost as long as I can remember, always making public holidays, especially Christmas, that little bit more explosive, with his sardonic wit and breathless feats of daring. Roger Moore was the first Bond I saw, with my innocent young mind unaware there was anything remotely camp or knowing in his performance. That came many years later when re-watching A View To A Kill, and it was a slightly terrifying revelation.

I was just old enough to catch the tail end of Moore’s career as 007 at the cinema, so when Timothy Dalton’s debut came in 1987 with The Living Daylights, it marked a more adult Bond, and with my emerging teens a more grown up me (that’s what I told myself anyway), which could not have been more exciting, as by that point calling myself a fan would have been an understatement.

Licence To Kill was the first film I snuck into underage (take that BBFC), merely adding to the thrill of Bond on the big screen. Pierce Brosnan was gracious enough to be there for me when I first moved out of home and started university, when his long deserved time to shine finally came in GoldenEye. Due to my age, I only discovered Sean Connery and George Lazenby retrospectively, which means rather controversially that I’ve never been able to rate fan favourite Connery as highly as Dalton and Brosnan, or even Daniel Craig for that matter, as I’ve never had a personal connection to the great Scot’s era. I still love and respect his work in establishing the character, of course, but what you have to bear in mind is that the first Bond movie I saw starring Connery was Never Say Never Again, which went head to head with Octopussy, and I still remember my dad explaining that Connery had to wear a hair piece, that he was too old and that Never Say Never Again didn’t count as an official Bond film – it’s no wonder I grew up quite so opinionated and passionate about the making of movies.

The controversy surrounding the legal battle over the James Bond rights is one of the core subjects at the heart of Everything Or Nothing, a documentary which covers in detail the extreme highs and lows that have challenged the world’s greatest secret agent’s journey from his creation right up to present day. If my introduction above reads like a love letter to the fictional creation of Ian Fleming, it’s because Everything Or Nothing is an incredibly compelling, candid and emotional film that is as fascinating as it is affectionate.

Director Stevan Riley chooses to cleverly illustrate his documentary with clips from the entire Bond canon, showing a knowledge and passion for the subject, while also provides a tongue in cheek backdrop during some of the film’s bleaker moments, much like a Bond movie itself.

EoN (from where the production company gets its name, in case you thought the documentary was named after the rather ace game) logically chooses to chart the history of 007 in chronological order, giving personal insight from relatives of Ian Fleming and producers Albert R ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, with contributions from assorted cast and crew, including every James Bond, with the noticeable exception of Connery. He is present only through archived interviews and sound clips, perhaps on account of how hostile his relationship became with both Saltzman and Broccoli over the years, though I couldn’t help but feel it would have made some amends for him to state his case, especially when his fellow Bonds describe their own sad and premature ends in the role.

Lazenby frankly and humorously recalls how he finished his career as a global star before it had even started, coming across every bit the affable and old school Australian womaniser. A variety of people describe how Dalton’s portrayal was ahead of its time as the general public at the time of Licence To Kill were utterly unwilling to see such a dark and brutal Bond (shame on you). One joyous inclusion from that period is Kill’s own villain, the great Robert Davi, who manages to draw a comparison of the era’s events to pasta, while sporting a rather fine hat.

Pierce Brosnan is given the chance to relay the stories of his first experiences of playing Bond, as well as how the shift in audience expectations post 9/11 left him redundant and consequently ended yet another Bond’s time before it was due.

The bittersweet streak that runs through every person’s involvement with 007 only adds to the films’ strength and make the dedication to keep the franchise running, against the odds, one truly worth investing in for any fan. It also gives a great insight into how much of Bond’s longevity is down to the productions remaining a family run affair, with the fierce dedication of Barbara Broccoli in particular coming to the fore - Bond is her life, that much is certain, and I for one am grateful for that.

The main delight and the majority of laughs, of which there are many, come from the frank anecdotes peppered throughout, as well as seeing who makes an appearance from the hundreds of people who’ve worked with Bond over the years. It would spoil things for me to relay too much information in that respect, but rest assured there are some cracking revelations, so do try not to watch any before you see the film. 

The biggest gap in proceedings is the musical side of things, with John Barry’s contribution only lightly touched on and no mention of David Arnold’s stellar continuation of the scoring duties, which are just as much a part of the legacy as any other. Sam Mendes appears briefly, though that merely draws attention to the lack of Martin Campbell, who surely merits an appearance, having been entrusted with re-booting Bond twice in the last couple of decades. 

That said, there will always have to be omissions when covering 50 years of movies, and with Everything Or Nothing clocking in at a brief 95 minutes, I wonder how much was left on the cutting room floor – here’s hoping for an extended cut on Blu-ray. Still, my rabid enthusiasm for the subject matter wouldn’t have been satiated if the documentary had fun for several hours, so it’s hardly a criticism.

Leaving the screening and wanting more is high praise, as is the euphoric love and enthusiasm it stirred up in me for all the Bond movies. Everything Or Nothing will remind every fan why they love Bond, will instantly make you want to re-watch every previous outing, while heightening anticipation for the next adventure, Skyfall.

Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 is out in UK cinemas on Friday 5th October.

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Timothy Dalton's portrayal of Bond has been, until relatively recently, a criminally underrated one, not only was he the closest to Ian Fleming's depiction of the character (at least until Daniel Craig), his Bond effectively saved the franchise from self-parody, and was clearly ahead of both it's time and audiences tastes... it's just a pity that Roger Moore didn't leave the franchise one film earlier, leaving Dalton to debut as Bond in a grittier and harder-edged 'A View to a Kill', which would have been fantastic (especially with Christopher Walken as the villain).

It's also a pity that George Lazenby didn't return for 'Diamonds Are Forever', it hopefully would have been a much better film than the sleazy, seedy, camp nadir that ended up onscreen, with a clearly knackered and disinterested Sean Connery phoning it in for the whopping great payday he got for it. Lazenby's sole Bond film, 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service', is arguably the franchise's best and most mature installment (although the magnificent 'Casino Royale' is still my personal favorite), and I think Lazenby acquitted himself well in a poisoned chalice of a role, it's just a pity he heeded bad advice and skedaddled after one film.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to order the new 23-disc Bond DVD box set, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, does it better...

Always think it's unfair that Connery's wearing of a toupee is always brought up when Roger Moore wore one and dyed his hair for his later films (Including Octopussy, where he was more out of shape than Connery in NSNA). Dalton had to dye the hair around his temples in License To Kill (and gel his hair to obscure parts of his receding hair-line) and Brosnan had to dye his hair for all his films (along with wearing a small hair-piece to cover up a bald patch in Die Another Day.)
The fact is all men age and loose hair, but James Bond isn't meant to!

The first actor to ever play James Bond on a screen was American Barry Nelson in 1954 in a now-forgotten CBS TV version of "Casino Royale", which sounds remarkable. Just imagine, the great Peter Lorre played Le Chiffre, Bond was an American agent and Felix Leiter was changed to a British agent renamed as Clarence Leiter!!!! I missed seeing that one, but I was in the RAF stationed in South Africa in 1956 and I can clearly remember the radio version of "Moonraker" which played on South African radio and featured Bob Holness (yes, the immortal "I'll have a P please Bob") in the part of James Bond - and he was damn good. Shame these earlier versions seem not to be included in the documentary. I would imaging that there's no surviving version of either of these.

I'm sorry, but I hadn't realised that I had written the first part of that review! It is exactly ----- EXACTLY -------- the same experience of James Bond that I had (I actually started at Moonraker in the cinema). Are we twins Duncan, or worse are you just another part of my twisted mind? Just need to know so I can relay it to my shrink.

I love how this documentary is named after one of the best James Bond video games.

Without Connery this has to be closer to Nothing than Everything about Bond. Having said that, I agree with Northern Star; some of the best Bond outings were Dalton's in Living Daylights and Lazenby's in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

You'll be pleased to know that the 'Jimmy Bond' incident is covered and there's even a few bits of very entertaining footage from it too, I just chose to leave out a lot of details as there are so many pleasant surprises. Can't remember if the radio show was mentioned though (sorry, brain is a bit rubbish!)

I've always loved Dalton, so I'm glad to see some appreciation for the man on here!

That's exactly what I thought until I realised that EoN was their motto from the start. Such a great game and currently sat gathering dust on the shelf next to me!

You can blame my Dad for that!

Ha! You never know, I've been called a poor man's Ed Norton enough in my life that I could be a figment of your imagination... I don't think I saw Moonraker at the cinema, but I'm not 100%. Glad we were both raised with such fine Bond love!

How do you translate the elegant ( i.e. simplest yet most effective) Fleming text on screen? Watch Dalton's debut scene with Saunders in the Living Daylights...then read the short story...then watch it again. It is not literal but the scene surely captured the feel of it.

Dalton , from day one, achieved his objective of turning the spotlight back to the spirit of Ian Fleming. Unfortunately, the courts had to take center stage....... "What about the money, Patron?"

Many thanks for this info, Duncan. I wonder - if footage of the TV version still exists, perhaps the whole production does too? If so, it would make a very entertaining piece of deja-vu to compare it with the later Bond movies. I look forward to seeing this Everything or Nothing documentary. Thanks again.

It definitely must exist in master form somewhere - I have a copy of it on VHS which I bought (I live in Australia) in the 90s. Have to admit I haven't watched it in years, but I seem to recall it's about an hour long & was maybe produced as part of some sort of TV movie series?

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