Bond 17 (1990)
22nd March 2023
Discover the first incarnation of Timothy Dalton's third James Bond film
By MI6 Staff
For many years, a 17-page treatment by writer Alfonse Ruggerio for what could have been Timothy Dalton's third 007 adventure has been doing the rounds with James Bond scholars. However, the script that is most commonly analysed for 'Bond 17', including on this website until recently, is a 1991 draft that added writers William Davies and William Osborne.
There exists a complete first draft script based on the original 17-page treatment penned by Ruggerio and Michael G. Wilson. Dated July 7th, 1990, this is a fully-fledged 135-page script complete with a pre-title sequence and all the trimmings. Many of its elements would survive through the re-writing process in the 1991 draft, but this script has the raw source material that fueled much of what would later become 'Tomorrow Never Dies', and key elements of 'SPECTRE'.
Connie Webb - American adventuress. CIA trained, now freelance. Early 30s.
Sir Henry Lee Ching - A 30 year-old electronics genius who develops cutting-edge weapons and now controls 83% of the world's arms industry. Based in Hong Kong, born to Chinese / British parents.
Rodin - Henchman.
NAN - Sir Henry's 'exotic beauty.'
Nigel Yupland (Ministry of Defence) - Wants the 00 section abolished and has slashed Q-Branch budgets.
Koho Nee twins - Chinese entrepreneurs, big and heavy set.
Denholm Crisp (MI6, Head of Section H) - A huge Scott based in Hong Kong who wears Hawaiian shirts.
Colonel Quen Lowe - Chinese Army general.
Mi Wai - Chinese agent. Works for Lowe.
Otto Winkhart - Disbarred Swiss lawyer.
Dr. Lombardi - Sociopathic scientist.
Pretitles Sequence: Bond teams up with Allison Ives, a professional hang glider sportswoman who has been seconded to MI6. The pair enter the world championship in South America as a ruse to drop Bond off on the roof of a hidden weapons facility. Bond plants plastic explosives and makes for his exit but is confronted by a high-tech security robot and narrowly escapes with his life. Jumping off a bridge after being blocked at both ends, Bond and Allison rejoin the race and take first prize.
South China Sea: A British pilot ejects from his Harrier Jump Jet after the systems fail. The Harrier comes back to life and flies into the Chinese mainland and crashes in to a village, killing locals.
Blenheim Palace: The Ministry of Defence, MI6, Police, and senior politicians meet to be briefed on the Harrier incident. Tensions are high as the new MOD chief, Nigel Yupland, is about to go to Hong Kong to negotiate the handover. Yupland blows off M and Bond's suspicions of foul play.
Vancouver: Connie Webb breaks in to Koho Nee Industries and switches out a microchip assembly in a robot. Bond follows the only lead, the recent break-in at a weapons lab that also supplies the Harrier's control systems, to Canada after Q helps identify the likely thief.
Ski Resort: Using a sample of a room-temperature superconductor as bait, Bond lures out Connie on the ski slopes in an attempt to discover who hired her. Bond and Connie have dinner where they are attacked by the Koho Nee twins.
Connie: "Well, here's to our partnership"
Bond: "I was thinking more of a merger"
Hong Kong: Sir Henry Lee Ching is in the lab of his high-tech headquarters and enters a Virtual Reality suite to remotely control a Koho Nee robot. Technicians at a nuclear power plant in Nanking (China) sacrifice themselves by flooding the reactor with coolant as the robot goes wild, trashing the facility.
Hong Kong: Bond flies in on a ticket left by Connie, followed by Q who arrives with the DB5 on a cargo plane. Meanwhile, Sir Henry is meeting the Koho Nee twins in their secure conference room. After rejecting his offer to take over their company, Sir Henry leaves them to their fate as Rodin has rigged the high-rise window washing machine with flame throwers.
Upon meeting Denholm Crisp and Mi Wai in the lobby of his hotel, Bond and Connie attend Sir Henry's party where he demonstrates his latest weapons and tech (including automatic shutters that make a floor airtight), and shows interest in purchasing the superconductor. Yupland blows Bond's cover and he flees in the DB5. Connie is taken prisoner.
Countryside: Sir Henry goes to his VR suite and takes control of a weaponized sports car to chase Bond in his DB5 with Mi Wai through the countryside north of Hong Kong towards the Chinese mainland border. Measure meets counter-measure as the two cars duke it out. Sir Henry uses the auto-tracking feature, but Bond turns the tables by ejecting himself and Mi Wai as he deliberately drives off a cliff, with Sir Henry's drone car following into the sea.
Hong Kong: Humiliated by Bond, Sir Henry vents his frustration on his lawyer Winkman by sending him to the trash compactor. Connie is sent to be drugged for interrogation.
Chinese Army Camp: Mi Wai reveals herself as a Chinese agent and takes Bond to an army camp near the border where he is questioned by Quen Low. The former enemies build an unlikely and fragile alliance as Bond uses Connie's stolen microchip to prove Sir Henry is behind the recent events that could stoke a China / British war. Quen Low sends Bond and Mi Wai back to Hong Kong to work together to take Sir Henry down.
Universal Exports / Station H: Bond confronts Yupland with their findings but is waived off. Bond erupts in a torrent of insubordination and vows to take care of the job himself as Sir Henry is watching the exchange on hacked CCTV. Bond and Mi Wai get in a roadster but Sir Henry has dispatched Rodin who eliminates the pair with a rocket from his motorcycle. Falling off the jetty into the harbour, Bond escapes the sinking car but fails to save Mi Wai. Denholm Crisp and Q arrive at the scene to find Mi Wai's body but no 007. Q gets emotional.
Hong Kong: Q and Denholm drown their sorrows and head back to their hotel somewhat worse for wear. Upon stumbling into his room, Q discovers Bond in his shower and is overjoyed, kissing him on the cheek. They all team up to go after Sir Henry but Bond suspects Connie was probably in on the scheme from the start.
Sewers: Bond and Denholm get under Sir Henry's building through the sewer line. Bond rigs the sprinkler system to overload and heads up to Sir Henry's penthouse suite by hanging from the bottom of an elevator car.
Crisp: "I feel like a miniature proctologist in one of those science fiction films."
Bond discovers Connie in the penthouse but is pulled from the ducts by Nan, who turns out to be an android. At the conclusion of a brutal fight, Nan hangs from Connie who hangs out of the 40th story. Bond cuts Nan loose to plunge to her 'death,' and the fire alarm is triggered, causing the security shutters to lock them in whilst the floor floods from torrential water jetting from the sprinklers.
Basement: Sir Henry is remote-controlling a British Navy Frigate and taking over the missile system to shoot down an approaching jumbojet from the Chinese mainland that has Quen Low and dozens of Chinese military officials aboard. Upon seeing the penthouse commotion, he sends Rodin up in the elevator (against the advice of his engineer).
Penthouse: The elevator opens at the penthouse and a tsunami of water downs Rodin and flushes down the shaft flooding the basement. The VR system is destroyed and the Frigate missile system is stood down seconds before it was going the launch against the jet. Bond and Connie hang on as the penthouse clears.
Bond's Hotel - Bond and Connie are relaxing when someone knocks on the door. Sir Henry appears wearing Rodin's motorcycle helmet and sidearm and is out for revenge. To dodge the helmet's thermal targetting, Bond cranks up the suite's heat and hides in a cold shower. Frustrated by the system's failure to find Bond, Sir Henry switches to manual targeting but Bond grabs the helmet and points it at Sir Henry, causing his sidearm to target its owner and kill him.
Notes & Trivia
The cover page features the note: "The robotic devices referred to in this script are complex and exotic machines designed for specific tasks and environments. They are not humanoid in form. They are to be designed especially for the film for maximum dramatic and visual impact." This turns out to be a knowingly false misdirection.
Copyright of the script is assigned to 'Warfield Productions' - the old company owned by Albert R. Broccoli before he formed Danjaq and EON Productions with Harry Saltzman. This was probably a legal dodge to avoid complications with Danjaq and MGM's legal disputes.
The script uses MI5 throughout instead of MI6. This is error is likely due to Ruggerio being American and not familiar with the intricacies of the British Secret Service.
The pretitles weapons lab is described as having glass walls bathed in purple light, much like Blofeld's in 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'
The weapons lab would be switched to a nerve gas lab for the 'GoldenEye' pretitles.
Bond uses a tube of plastic explosives concealed around his waist and squeezes it out in a homage to 'Goldfinger'
Page 27 describes Connie Webb as being in her early 30s, but on the very next page it states she is 27. She is identified as the daughter of Henry Leeland Webb. This name has no other mention and the father character has no relevance to this draft.
The script has British characters liberally using the word 'ass' (another Americanisation that would have been caught in re-writes).
When Q needs a more powerful computer to identify the weapons factory thief he name-drops the parallel processor from Sinclair in Cambridge - the company behind the popular (low powered) ZX Spectrum home computer.
Connie escapes the Koho Nee twins by having her black Lamborghini washed down to reveal red paint underneath. This was an idea lifted from 'Cannonball Ball II' (1984).
Sir Henry's backstory and motivations were transposed almost wholesale to Elliot Carver 'Tomorrow Never Dies'.
The room-temperature superconductor is the McGuffin of the film, disappearing from the plot after the party.
The assassination of the Koho Nee twins after rejecting Sir Henry's buyout offer (he'll instead buy it from their estate) is an adaptation of Ian Fleming's short story 'For Your Eyes Only.'
Clinging to the underneath of an elevator to reach a high floor in a modern skyscraper would be used in 'Skyfall'.
Bond having his photo taken (with a large flash bulb) by a Chinese agent upon entering Hong Kong is an homage to 'Dr. No'.
The cat and mouse ski chase between Bond and Connie would be used with Bond and Elektra in 'The World Is Not Enough', even with Bond saving her from a small avalanche.
The bulk of the story was used as the genesis for 'Tomorrow Never Dies'.
The following characters are prototypes for later films:
Sir Henry - Elliot Carver 'Tomorrow Never Dies'
Mi Wai - Wai Lin 'Tomorrow Never Dies'
Nigel Yupland - Max Denbigh 'C' 'SPECTRE'
Rodin - Hinx 'SPECTRE'
Denholm Crisp - Jack Wade 'GoldenEye' & 'Tomorrow Never Dies'
Dr. Lombardi - Valdo Obruchev 'No Time To Die'
Quen Low - Mr. Chang 'Die Another Day'
This script would form the basis of the 1991 version of Bond 17.