Never Say Never Again (1983)

Above: "Never Say Never Again" DVD art

Sean Connery returns to the mantel of 007 one last time in this 'unofficial' 1983 James Bond adventure. 007 must track down the villainous Maximilian Largo, SPECTRE agent and terrorist, before he sets off two stolen nuclear bombs.

James Bond Sean Connery
Maximilian Largo Klaus Maria Brandauer
Ernst Stavro Blofeld Max Von Sydow
Fatima Blush Barbara Carrera
Domino Petachi Kim Basinger
Felix Leiter Bernie Casey
Q Alec McCowen
M Edward Fox
Miss Moneypenny Pamela Salem
Nigel Small-Fawcett Rowan Atkinson

Director Irvin Kershner
Writers Kevin McClory
Jack Whittingham
Ian Fleming
Producer Jack Schwartzman
Executive Producer Kevin McClory
Associate Producer Michael Dryhurst
Music Michel Legrand

Sean Connery
James Bond

Klaus Maria Brandauer
Maximilian Largo

Barbara Carrera
Fatima Blush

Vital Statistics
Running Time 134 minutes
Budget $36m
US Box Office $55.4m
Worldwide Box Office $160m

Best Quote
Fatima Blush: "Oh, how reckless of me: I made you all wet!"
Bond: "Yes, but my martini is still dry."

  Release Data
USA 7 Oct 1983
France 30 Nov 1983
Australia 8 Dec 1983
UK 14 Dec 1983
Finland 16 Dec 1983
Sweden 16 Dec 1983
Norway 26 Dec 1983
Denmark 20 Jan 1984
West Germany 20 Jan 1984

Facts And History
Although Never Say Never Again was not released until 1983 – the same year Eon released their thirteenth installment in the James Bond canon: Octopussy – the film’s history begins 24 years earlier, when Kevin McClory and scriptwriter Jack Whittingham collaborated with Ian Fleming on a series of original treatments and scripts in 1959-60. These scripts eventually evolved into the basis for Thunderball, which was intended to be released in 1960 as the first 007 film. There were concerns, however, with McClory being the producer on the film, and in 1961, Fleming published Thunderball as a novel (plagiarizing Whittingham’s script on over 200 pages with no acknowledgments), and signed a movie deal with Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.

Furious that they got the short end of the stick, McClory and Whittingham began taking legal action against Fleming for his plagiarism; but wanting to move forward with their deal, Broccoli and Saltzman dropped Thunderball and moved forward with Dr. No (with Richard Maibaum writing). Dr. No was released in 1962, and Broccoli and Saltzman (under the title of ‘Eon Productions’) moved forward with their next 007 film, From Russia With Love.

In December 1963, McClory and Fleming settled out of court. McClory was given the film rights to Thunderball (including Blofeld and SPECTRE); but lacking financial support, he eventually turned to Eon for backing, and Thunderball was released in theaters in 1965. According to the agreement between McClory and Eon, Eon was permitted to continue using Blofeld and SPECTRE after Thunderball for the next 10 years.

"Good to see you Mr. Bond. Things have been awfully dull around here. I hope we're going to see some gratuitous sex and violence!"

Above: Roger Moore in "Octopussy" was in direct competition with this McClory film.

In 1976, McClory and Sean Connery began writing the script for a new 007 adventure (to be entitled either Warhead, Warhead 8, or James Bond of the Secret Service), based on Thunderball, but United Artists filed suit, and McClory did not have the financial backing for another legal battle, so plans were scrapped temporarily. Eon also planned, in early scripts, on using Blofeld and SPECTRE for its upcoming production of The Spy Who Loved Me, but upon McClory’s objection, Blofeld was replaced with Karl Stromberg, and all references to SPECTRE were removed.

Then in the early 1980s, McClory met producer Jack Schwartzman, and they began working on the Warhead project again. Receiving financial backing from Warner Bros., they won a court case granting McClory the right to make his 007 film, as long as it was a basically a remake of Thunderball. Lorenzo Semple Jr. went to work on a new script, and in October 1983, Sean Connery returned as James Bond, Agent 007 in McClory and Schwartzman’s Never Say Never Again.

Above: Kevin McClory, Executive Producer onboard "Never Say Never Again".

An ‘Unofficial’ Bond Film?
Although Never Say Never Again stars Sean Connery as James Bond, and although the story is based strongly on Thunderball (which is considered part of the official 007 series), Never Say Never Again has always been billed as an ‘unofficial’ Bond film, for the simple reason that it was not originally produced/released under the Eon/MGM/UA mantle, and was intended as competition for the official series.

Ultimately, the 'official' series was the victor, with Octopussy beating Never Say Never Again at the 1983 box office - by a margin of $23 million.

In 1997, MGM did acquire the rights to this movie from Sony (who bought MGM with a group of investors in 2005), and is currently distributed for television alongside films from the official series, but most fans still view Never Say Never Again as a one-off spin-off from the official series and not part of the official canon.

Did You Know?
Besides Sean Connery, only one other actor was involved in both Thunderball and Never Say Never Again – Robert Rietty provided the voice for Emilio Largo in Thunderball, and he played the Italian Minister in Never Say Never Again. Five people were involved in technical aspects of both films: Michael White, Lionel Strutt, George Leech, Ricou Browning, and Jordan Klein Sr.

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