CommanderBond.net
  1. The Sylvan Whittingham Mason / Jonathan Whittingham CBn Interview

    James Bond films have been written by a wide variety of screenwriters, from those famous for their adaptations, Charles Helfensteinsuch as Richard Maibaum, to humorists like Christopher Wood, and even children’s authors like Roald Dahl.

    The first man to write a James Bond screenplay was Jack Whittingham, an Oxford-educated journalist and World War II veteran who had much more in common with Ian Fleming and James Bond than any of his Bond screenwriting successors.

    Whittingham’s early screenwriting on Kevin McClory’s ill-fated Thunderball became the center of a legal battle that would rage on for decades.

    Commanderbond.net recently spoke to Jack Whittingham’s heirs, daughter Sylvan and son Jonathan, about the genesis of Thunderball, the subsequent trial, their Beatles’ connections, and an unmade film about Ian Fleming.

    The Sylvan Whittingham Mason/Jonathan Whittingham CBn Interview

    Q: Your father had a long history of writing spy stories, from his first credited screenplay, Q Planes (1939) up through to the ’60s with Danger Man and James Bond. Was he a big fan of the spy genre?

    SWM: He did have a sneaking admiration for spies in the same way that some of us do for the big bank or train robbers. I wasn’t aware that this was a huge thing with him though I do still have his little Minox spy camera that was used in one of the films.

    Whilst I was growing up during the years 6 to about 11 he was in fact doing several films with children. Mandy, Hunted and The Divided Heart were a run of them and he often used to read his days work to us as a bedtime story. QUOTE: never heard my father say a word against Ian Fleming.One of our birthday parties was recorded for children’s voices and used in a scene in the Divided Heart. He also wrote a screenplay of The Prince and the Pauper for Disney.

    I remember Greville Wynne coming to see us in Malta and my father found him most interesting and had many conversations with him. But maybe you are right, as the last screenplay he wrote was based on the Penkovsky papers which was never filmed and which seems to have disappeared as I can’t find the screenplay among his papers. He was terribly enthusiastic about and engrossed in that subject and had enormous admiration for Penkovsky who he said was a true communist who had become disillusioned with the KGB and was horrified at how they were sorting away money and buying shares to become rich, and doing things like staying in luxurious hotels with mistresses and throwing expensive perfume on the carpet. He said it was because of Penkovsky risking his life to warn John Kennedy that the Cuba missile attack was thwarted. In fact, as I recollect, Col. Penkovsky was able to give Kennedy the information that the Russian ships in the vicinity did not have the launching equipment to fire the missiles so that Kennedy was able to make his strong stand.

    JW: Jack also was (jokingly, I hope!) concerned that his involvement with Penkovsky at that time would bring him to the attention of the Russian’s. He even spotted a submarine from his house on Malta, which was somewhat remote, and became convinced that they were about to hijack him and take him back to the USSR for a grilling!

    Q: What are your earliest memories of your father’s involvement with James Bond and Thunderball?

    SWM: My earliest memories would be at about the age of 15 when I was still at boarding school. My father went to New York and the Bahamas to meet Ian Fleming and co., and he used to send me the most wonderful postcards from these exotic places. They were huge and colourful and larger than life compared to the ones we had in England at that time and I was quite proud of what he was doing but, being a very shy child I didn’t tell many people. However, I enjoyed my school friends being envious of these glamorous postcards from the Rainbow Room or some exclusive club in the Bahamas.

    I remember that he came back from the Bahamas and was very ill. He had had a coronary heart attack whilst water skiing and went straight to hospital for three weeks and was not allowed any excitement. This had to be kept very quiet because “heart troubles” were the kiss of death for anyone working on a film in those days. Probably still are nowadays!

    I remember an air of excitement while he was working on the screenplay. Long, long story conferences on the telephone; going to visit Kevin McClory at his new wife’s elegant house in Cheyne Walk and seeing movies of sharks in tanks. Kevin was a very colourful and fun person to be around in those days, full of practical jokes. He would see someone he knew in a restaurant and, on the basis, that you don’t normally look at who is serving you, would borrow a uniform and pretend to be the waiter at that table and spill things everywhere till they actually looked at him and realised who it was.

    IMAGE: l. to r. Detective Kelly, Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Leigh Aman (Lord Marley)

    He borrowed someone’s black tie and tails to go water skiing in once, and he had a friend called Detective Kelly in New York whom he got to arrest people as a joke. I am attaching a mug shot of l. to r. Detective Kelly, Kevin, Jack, my father and Leigh Aman (Lord Marley) that Kevin asked Kelly to arrange to have taken ’for fun’.

    In his Memoirs of a Libel Lawyer the eminent and distinguished Peter Carter-Ruck, talks of being, exhaused, after a very long flight from London, trailing round Miami with Kevin and ending up at a bowling alley!

    “I had arrived in the late afternoon after leaving my home in Hertfordshire at 7 o’clock that morning. Kevin and his wife Bobo Sigrist took me in his open Cadillac all over town. By 10 o’clock that night I asked if we could stop for a meal and, after a talk, and bacon and eggs at one of the motels, I really felt like turning in after a twenty-hour day. It was then suggested that we should go to a bowling alley, by which time I was so tired that, taking up one of the bowls, I threw it so badly that it landed in the adjoining alley. Bobo Sigrist was approached by an American who asked her ‘Where did you pick up these two jerks?’ I finally went to bed at 2 o’clock in the morning having been up for 24 hours”

    On another occasion, Peter was met at the airport in Nassau by Kevin in his new amphibian car and, without any warning, driven at high speed straight into the water and across the bay.

    JW: My first memory was sitting at the kitchen table building a plastic model of a Lancaster Bomber. Jack came in and started asking me all sorts of questions about crews on bombers, their tasks, numbers etc. I was quite chuffed to be put in such a position of importance by him. I was however also disappointed to discover that the Lancaster was by then totally out of date and what Jack really wanted was information on crews for the postwar Bombers, such as the Vulcan and Victor Bombers, which by then employed smaller crews and much more sophisticated avoidance of detection techniques.

    Later on at Charterhouse, the Thunderball court case hit the papers and for a brief spell I enjoyed a position of begrudged envy and respect. It didn’t last. In fact it backfired when some boys took the side of Ian Fleming and then life returned to normal!

    Jack used to write in his study facing the garden. As children we learned to tiptoe around the house, or retreat to the furthest corners of the garden when he was working. His routine would involve getting up quite late, enjoying a leisurely breakfast and disappear into his “cave” around 10.00am. His first drink of the day often started around eleven. After lunch he would work for a while and then take a nap during the afternoon. Apart from a break for supper he would then work steadily until very late at night. As a writer he was plagued by the need to come up with fresh ideas and it took a huge toll. He would consume a lot of alcohol and horrendous amounts of tobacco. He kept a pet budgerigar from time to time that lived in a cage next to his desk. However they were always free to fly around at will, and became quite tame. He had one called Charlie. Charlie would sit and snooze propped up against Jack’s neck. Jack would sit at his desk waiting for his “muse”, a glass of gin in his left hand and the neverending cigarette in the other. Every so often Charlie would wake up and take a stroll down Jack’s arm to the well of gin at the end of Jack’s arm, take a sip and then make his weary way back up Jack’s arm and resume dozing. This would be repeated on a few more occasions until Charlie could barely make his way back up the arm. Then he would very quietly whisper or coo into Jack’s ear. Then Jack would begin to write!

    I met Kevin once during the early days when everything was exciting and looking promising. I must have been about 12 or 13 then. We went to a basement flat up in London to meet Kevin. I noticed that he had a rather intriguing model frogman which I seriously coveted. I let it be known to Jack that I would like to have that frogman which he promised to ask Kevin about. Either he forgot or Kevin declined. When Kevin contacted me in the 1980s I humorously reminded him that I was still waiting for the frogman. He apologised. I am still waiting!

    Q: After the novel debuted and they both had heart attacks, it appeared that your father and Ian Fleming were still cordial, leaving it up to the
    lawyers to settle the plagiarism issue. How would you characterize your
    father’s relationship with Ian Fleming?

    SWM: I never heard my father say a word against Ian Fleming. Jack understood the situation between Kevin & Ian though he chose to support Kevin because he felt it was the right thing to do. He had a good regard for Ian and they never fell out. In fact they were supportive of and concerned for each others health as can be born out by the following letters:

    From Jack Whittingham to Ian Fleming:

    The White House
    Oxshott
    Surrey

    6th May 1961

    Dear Ian

    I do hope that you are mending well, doing all you are told, and none of the forbidden things you would like to be doing! My main consolation was morphine, and I’m not too sure that I haven’t been hooked!

    Following the suggestion in your letter, I have asked Freddie Holdaway, who is the legal adviser to my agents – Christopher Mann – to get in touch with your lawyers,and this has been done. But very understandingly, he was told that you are not to be in contact with the outside world for a while.

    I am recovering slowly and impatiently and hope to be off on my travels for a new film at Whitsun.

    Best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery.

    Yours

    Jack

    From Ian Fleming to Jack Whittingham:

    As from the Clinic
    4 Old Mitre Court
    Fleet Street, EC4

    10th May 1961

    Dear Jack

    I am horrified to hear that you have been on morphine and not only that, but that you are already contemplating your next stint at Whitsun. Is this really wise, or can you take the new thing on in a fairly leisurely fashion? It seems to me that you are getting back into your professional stride a bit quickly!

    I am so glad that your legal adviser is now in touch with my solicitor. I don’t wish to sound ominous or to pre-judge anything, but I do think from what I hear from the legal cohorts on our side, that a graceful composure of such differences as you and I may have between each other might be wisdom.

    However, as I say, this is all on the ‘Old boy’ wave and the main thing is that we should both be in good heart (!) again as soon as possible.

    Again with warm thanks for your kindly letter

    Yours

    Ian

    They also shared a love of fine wines and cigarettes and both indulged in them to excess. Both were warned to stop these activities because of their health. I remember being told by my father that Ian Fleming had persuaded his doctor to agree to his having one drink only a day. His doctor said it must be a standard measure and just one. My father was highly amused because Ian had told him that he had done some research and found out that the strongest drink in the world was a Green Chartreuse and so that was the one drink he was having per day!

    QUOTE: I remember an air of excitement while he was working on the screenplay.

    My father was devastated at the news of Fleming’s death. I was with him in the South of France when he received the phone call and he visibly sunk down and put his hands over his face.

    JW: I concur entirely with Sylvan’s view of their relationship. I think Jack was rather in awe of Fleming, being an Eton man.

    Q: When the Thunderball case came to trial in 1963, you were working for the law firm that represented your father and Kevin McClory. Was the firm confident they would prevail? Did you attend any of the trial?

    SWM: I had gone to work for Peter Carter-Ruck’s firm, Oswald Hickson, Collier & Co via the Alfred Marks Employment agency in September 1961. It was just before my eighteenth birthday and it was my first job. I was an assistant Dictaphone secretary to one of the Partners.

    They were many high profile and famous people that the firm was acting for, and I used to go home in the evenings and report on who I had seen and so on to my parents. This brought the firm to my father’s attention. He investigated and the net result was that the whole case was taken to Oswald Hickson’s due to which Peter remained a constant and loyal friend until his death in 2003.

    IMAGE: Jack Whittingham & Charles Crichton on the set of HUNTED,  July 1951

    Once my father was a client, I funnily enough found it embarrassing. Peter Carter-Ruck who had never even noticed me before, started to stop me in the corridor; put his hand on my shoulder, and ask me how my father was. I felt others were jealous that I was being singled out and instead of trying for a raise on the £7.00 per week I was being paid at the time (as I might have taken the opportunity to do in later years), I left after a few months and went to work with my father on a film in Rome. Thus I cannot answer your question as to whether the firm was confident about the outcome of the case. I think we all felt that because we were in the right, that we would win, although I have learned through bitter experience that this isn’t necessarily always the case in law. As Peter CR once told me in later years, “The only thing you can be sure of, when embarking on litigation, is that it will be expensive!”.

    I did attend the Injunction for the book, but not the main court case. I think space was limited as to how many people you could take in with you at the High Court, and my father tended to take his secretary or my mother with him each day.

    We sat in a smallish court for the initial Injunction of the book. There may have been about 10—twenty people there. I think it took about two days. My father and Kevin were very disappointed that they were not able to halt the distribution of the novel which gave them no credit for the two years invested in this project. I remember the Jonathan Cape lawyer saying that the books were already stacked up in the shops and it was impossible to withdraw them at that stage. It was agreed that a piece of paper with the credits on would be inserted into each book for the first edition, and credits given on any further editions. However, I have two first edition of Thunderball and there is no slip of paper inserted in either. This first edition is the only place you won’t see a credit for my father’s contribution. Everywhere else, be it film, novel, DVD etc the credit is included.

    My father was suffering terribly with his heart at this time. He used to have a lot of angina attacks. He would clutch his chest and we would all hold our breaths as we waited for the pills that thinned the blood and took the pain away to work. I was very worried about him at this time.

    Q: The Thunderball case is incredibly complex, and you’ve tried to set the record straight with your website, using original documents and letters rather than guesses and rumors. What would you say is the public’s biggest misconception about the development of Thunderball?

    SWM: I suppose the main misconception from the public is that Thunderball did not begin as one of Fleming’s novels. I have met very few people who know that it was based on the original screenplay and not the novel.

    Secondly, I feel that the industry’s judgement that McClory mainly, and perhaps my father too were somehow “interlopers” or cashing in some way is a complete misconception; very sad and yet understandable. What people don’t understand is that, although Fleming’s novels were very popular with a certain genre in 1959, they were all turned down as potential films because they were too “sadistic, violent and unbelievable! Also, the tongue in cheek humour that makes the films so palatable was absent in the books”. In the late ’50s, drab kitchen sink drama was the genre, and Fleming had just about given up on any idea of films – he was even tired of the books and wanted very much to travel.

    Even though I, and my family, are no fans of Kevin McClory due to his treatment of our late father, I have to say, in all fairness, that it was he who originally got the ball rolling in this department. He would not take no for an answer. It was his idea to use a screenwriter to write a “believable”, “non sadistic” and “not too violent” screenplay using the character of James Bond with Fleming’s permission. Once this screenplay had been expertly crafted by my father using the various ideas that McClory and Fleming and indeed Ernest Cuneo had contributed, the big fish in the shape of Saltzman and Broccolli moved in and having read my father’s screenplay, were now interested as they could see how it could work.

    The problem facing Ian Fleming was that he did not think that Kevin was experienced enough or responsible enough to carry the vehicle onwards. His way of easing Kevin out by bringing out the novel with no credit for the huge contribution and amount of work that had been done already on the original film (story boards drawn up, budgets planned – they were casting for Bond!) was badly judged and came back to haunt him as we all know.

    Another misconception is the public not realising how far along the first film of Thunderball was into production when Fleming scuppered it.

    However, the biggest misconception which is the misconception that upsets us most of all, is the one where people have claimed that Jack “due to financial problems, backed out of the Main court Case and sold his part of the rights to Kevin McClory”. I quote from a letter that I send out recently which addresses this issue.

    “These totally untrue, inaccurate and unsubstantiated remarks are extremely damaging to our late father’s excellent and unblemished professional reputation.“

    The facts are that he was, at that time, considered one of the top ten British screenwriters who, having completed a very successful and financially rewarding run of films with Ealing studios had gone out on his own as a freelance writer, and, was at that time being woed by Walt Disney himself who wanted to put him under contract. QUOTE: My father said, at the time... that Kevin McClory had absolutely 'everything to gain'... whilst my father had 'everything to lose'.(see Thunderball years“ on my website sylvanmason.com which contains complimentary comments about this and about his talent from Ian Fleming)

    He had absolutely no ’financial difficulties’ whatsoever, and we as a family were enjoying a substantial lifestyle due to him being at the pinnacle of his career, however, as the Thunderball case grew larger and larger and with 999 documents as evidence, threatened to become one of the longest running court cases in history with legal costs that could prove astronomical; and as he had NO RIGHTS at all in the screenplay, having assigned them 3 years previously on completion of the screenplay, to Kevin McClory in a fairly standard Film Institute contract which (sadly for our family bearing in mind that Video and DVD had yet to be invented) assigned “all rights of whatsoever nature” to Kevin McClory; he was advised to step down as co-plaintiff which would carry legal responsibility for costs should they lose, and carry on as prinical witness to support Kevin who he felt had been wronged.

    My father said, at the time, and it might help you to understand his predicament to know, that Kevin McClory had absolutely “everything to gain” from this court case due to having financial backing by a South African millionaire friend, and his new wife Bobo Seigrist—heiress to the Hawker Siddely aircraft corporation, whilst my father had “everything to lose”. He had no rights in the screenplay should they win, and 50% liability for the costs should they lose. With two children in expensive boarding schools, he took the advice to drop co-plaintiveness status, and carried on loyally supporting Kevin as principal witness in spite of the same heart problems that Fleming was experiencing at the time. Problems which they amicably shared letters about during the case, and which killed them both in the end.

    My father who was described, even by Kevin McClory, who later abandoned him after the case, as “the most honorable man he had ever met” was very torn between his friendship and affection for Ian Fleming and his loyalty to Kevin whose plight he defended because he felt it was the right thing to do, in addition to the fact that his professional reputation was also at stake

    If he was going to take any “money” he could have done so, when it was ’allegedly’ alluded to by the other side in letters which I still have. That would have been far more lucrative but my father would never have contemplated that.

    Q: When Thunderball was finally released in late 1965—James Bond had reached the peak of his popularity. Did your father feel happy that something he had helped in its infancy had become so popular, or did he feel somewhat left behind?

    SWM: My father was bitterly disappointed that, after the Court Case in which he supported Kevin to no great advantage to himself, Kevin simply turned his back on him and went ahead with making Thunderball without him, and without even notifying him. In spite of the enormous success and financial rewards that Kevin was to have with the film of Thunderball which he eventually co-produced with Saltzman & Broccoli, he never contacted my father again—perhaps because he was too embarrassed that he had “sold out” to Saltzman & Broccoli—who knows?

    Because of this absence of contact, my father was not aware that Richard Maibaum & John Hopkins has been contracted to write a screenplay based on the novel that was based on the orginal screenplay. He presumed that Kevin would use their original one. Again it is understandable that Richard Maibaum would have been engaged as he had worked on previous films but it was a terrible shock for my father to find this out at a screening of the film. In addition the sole “based on an original screenplay credit” which my father is given in the film itself was left off the posters leaving only the “original story” credit which is shared with McClory and Fleming thus weakening the fact of his contribution and strengthening Kevin’s!

    JW: I went to a screening of Thunderball with Jack and my mother. I don’t remember where or when. I do however remember that Jack was quite depressed by the time the lights went up again. I didn’t understand at all why this would be so. Margot made some conciliatory comments about the credits but to no avail.

    After Jack died I went to Malta to be with Margot for a while(1972). We spent quite a lot of time reminiscing about Jack. Margot explained to me how angry and bitterly disappointed he had been with Kevin’s failure to fulfill what she claimed was a promise by Kevin to include Jack in the production of Thunderball ( by which I mean the further writing of the screenplay) in return for Jack’s loyalty to Kevin during the court case. She was very clear about it. In hindsight perhaps, one can see that Kevin was in a tough spot if he was ever going to see Thunderball on the screen. Saltzman and Broccolli certainly owed Jack nothing. However, if nothing else, Kevin should have been straight with Jack. He wasn’t. His later expectations of help from Jack’s children didn’t sit well with either of us. It still doesn’t.

    Q: Britain was the cultural center of the universe in the 1960s—and you had connections to the two biggest phenomenons: James Bond because of your father, and the Beatles because of Dezo Hoffman, as well as your own singing and songwriting career. What are your memories of that period when the world couldn’t get enough of England’s entertainment exports?

    SWM: Gosh—where would I start. Well, having been brought up in “Show Business” I was not that unused to being involved and around celebrities I suppose, so it was not that unusual for me that I would come across them. It really all became most exciting in the mid-sixties. My memories of ’64 are firstly of fashion. We were fashion mad and had to have the season’s latest thing. I remember vividly my ultra mini skirts and Mary Quant “kinky boots’. You couldn’t get to the upper deck on a routemaster bus without everyone on the ground floor seeing your knickers on the way up. I remember going to Florida in 1967 with my ex husband to record Gary Player, the golfer who was making an LP. We were invited to a smart soiree thrown by friends of Gary. I had realised that the mini skirt had not yet hit America en force and certainly not Florida so had selected the longest one I possessed. Still the hostess of the party could not contain herself and actually lifted up my skirt to see what I was wearing underneath! Tights had also not yet hit the States!

    I used to spend at least an hour putting on my make-up and doing my hair. Nowadays, (if I do it), it takes all of 30 seconds! The Dusty Springfield eyes and false eyelashes took up the most time.

    It was quite commonplace to see celebs at the nightclubs we frequented. I remember getting Paul McCarney’s autograph at the Ad Lib and seeing Ringo at the Aretusa in the same week.

    As far as music was concerned, you were either a Beatles Fan or a Stones follower – for me it was the Beatles.

    I remember leaving the cinema with my current beau having just seen Dr No, and everyone including us jumped into their cars and screamed off as if they were driving Aston Martin’s, and I know I felt like a Bond heroine. We all had to be (or to be seen to be) “Cool” in those days. Unlike today, it was not “cool” to show emotion or be impressed with anything. Everyone wore dark glasses. Everyone seemed to smoke pot!

    The thing that was so amazing about those days was how easily one could get a job or follow any path one wanted to. Having decided I was bored with the very good job I had at the Baker Street Advertising Agency where I had become Copy Chief’s secretary after only 3 weeks in the typing pool, I applied to work in Moyses Stephens florist; to put the records on at Annabell’s nightclub; and I also sent a tape of my singing and guitar playing to Cyril Stapleton’s Radio Luxembourg Talent Search where I came in the final six. IMAGE: Photos of home of Barry Mason & Sylvan Whittingham Mason bought from George HarrisonThree weeks later I had written and recorded a pop record having had absolutely no experience whatsoever of singing in public and a month later was appearing on “Thank Your Lucky Stars” and other pop TV shows.

    Most of us were also quite promiscous—that was cool too! The pill became available in 1960; there was no dire warnings about sexually transmitted diseases that you get nowadays, and in addition, we all thought that we were on the brink of nuclear destruction so “Make Love not War” was the young’s battlecry. I was actually taught how to build a fall-out shelter or seal off a room against fall-out, during my last term at boarding school!

    JW: I was living in a bed-sit in Kingston-on-Thames when “Sergeant Pepper’s” came out. Mike Harrison, Daryl Jackson and myself sat around till midnight smoking dope and listening to the album. Mike had a brilliant idea. “George Harrison lives in Esher. I know where. Let’s take him a joint and tell him what a great album it is”. So we did! He actually let us into his house and we sat around smoking more dope until he very politely suggested, at dawn, that perhaps we should depart as he was tired. His wife Patti was there and the two Psychedelic artists who painted his fireplace and Lennon’s Rolls. George was extremely gracious considering that we were intruders. We discussed the upcoming fishing season!. It was quite bizarre. By coincidence, Sylvan and her then husband Barry Mason, bought George’s house shortly thereafter.

    I was in a local band doing John Mayall covers mostly. We were called “Satan’s Disciples”. We had one gig. Friday night at the local Anglican Church Hall. As soon as we started someone would turn off all the lights. Since we now could not see what we were doing, Punk Rock was born. I had a 1940 Austin all painted up with RAF roundels and a giant “SATAN’S DISCIPLES” in gold letters across the back. The phone number of the lead guitarist’s family home was underneath. His father was a prominent doctor in the area. He was not amused to get midnight calls enquiring where the chickens or virgins were going to be sacrificed. My father hated that car. He was always making rude comments about it. When he and Margot left England for Malta, however, he had no way to get to the airport. I drove them there, Satan’s Disciples and all!

    Q: A few years after he had been involved with two lawsuits against Ian Fleming, your father was approached to adapt John Pearson’s biography of Fleming for a film. Your father’s status as one of Britain’s best screenwriters aside, wasn’t this an odd choice considering the litigation? Do you know any details of the production and why the film never got made?

    SWM: I suppose it was an odd choice. It had never occurred to me. He was approached by someone at The Sunday Times—the name John Junor springs to mind? It was a very good screenplay. My father portrayed the Bond persona stepping out of Ian Fleming’s body as he sat on a train on the trans Siberian railway whilst working for Reuters.

    I know that there was a limit on the time that The Sunday Times held the rights, which eventually ran out. I remember my father saying that the main obstacles to the film going ahead were Ian’s wife Ann who would never like the way she was portrayed, and who thoroughly disapproved of the books anyway. Anyway, it was decided that they could not proceed with it whilst Ann was alive. Incidentally, according to Dad, M stood for “Mother”.

    IMAGE: Sylvan Whittingham Mason with her father, Jack Whittingham

    Q: A lot of people were introduced to James Bond through their fathers. I would imagine for you and your brother it would be impossible to view a Bond film without thinking about your father (“dad would have loved that”, “dad would have written a better script than that”, etc.) Is it easy or difficult for you to watch Bond films?

    SWM: It is very easy for me to watch anything with Sean Connery in it!! but I, personally, have never felt any of the other Bonds came close to him and so only really enjoy the first five. I think one always feels that the first Bond you see is the real one.

    My brother and I have absolutely no problem otherwise watching the films. We are thrilled to have a historical link with them. We are proud of our father’s contribution. We have no hard feelings whatsoever as to what happened except for, as said, regarding Kevin McClory. We believe that the Saltzman and Broccoli team have done a fantastic job all the way along and were the right people to do so, and we wish Barbara every continued success with the next series.

    We are also very grateful to you for letting us put our view forward.

    Yours sincerely

    Sylvan Whittingham Mason

    JW: I agree with Suilven. I would also add that I loved the Fleming books. They were the perfect escape for a testosterone maddened 16 year old stuck in a male only boarding school . However I am glad to report that I have evolved past 16 years old. Apparently there are thousands of men in their fifties who have not! I find this quite amusing. Seriously, I stopped reading the books after Fleming died. I could not accept that a pseudo writer could step into the role. My opinion of the films is the same. I enjoyed the early ones but have never seen a Bond film since the 1980s. I make no connection between Jack and any of the modern Bond material. It is very easy for me not to watch Bond films. My greatest nightmare is that the same people who now run the world are also still Bond fans. Now that is scary!

    Best regards.

    Jonathan Whittingham

    Charles Helfenstein @ 2006-06-22
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