Mar 5, 2011

Jeremy Duns Examines Ben Hecht's Unfilmed 1960s Casino Royale Script

This is the must-read Bond story of the year. While it's always been public knowledge that Ben Hecht, one of the most accomplished and prolific screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age (whose work includes the Alfred Hitchcock spy classic Notorious) contributed to Charles K. Feldman's Casino Royale script, spy novelist (and all-around expert on the genre) Jeremy Duns actually tracked down Hecht's drafts at a library in Chicago.  Last weekend, he published a fascinating examination of them in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, along with script excerpts. Even though some of his ideas did indeed end up being incorporated in Feldman's sprawling, all-star 1967 mess of a spoof, Hecht's take on the novel was apparently a straightforward and relatively faithful adaptation.  All fans of Ian Fleming's novel and Hecht's work and Sixties Bond films—and all who enjoy speculating on What Might Have Been—should waste no time in heading over to The Telegraph to read all about it. Truly fascinating stuff!

Speaking of Duns, his blog, The Debrief, has been a link here for some time, and it's one that spy fans should definitely check in on regularly.  He's always posting interesting, in-depth and meticulously researched articles.  One recent post I learned a lot from debunked a lot of the myths about Ian Fleming that spring from the notoriously unreliable 1990s biography 17F: The Life of Ian Fleming by Donald McCormick.  I always just thought of the book as shamefully erroneous; I didn't realize that it was actually the work of a documented hoaxer.  I also had no idea as to the extent of his ceaseless hoaxing, and certainly fell for a few of his oft-reprinted assertions over the years, like the myth that Elizabethan spy and alchemist John Dee signed his secret correspondence "007." Duns explodes this and other misnomers started by McCormick and perpetuated in the press over the years in various news stories.  Check that out, too.

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