Last August, when the title of the 25th James Bond film was revealed to be No Time To Die, fans didn’t hold back. “Too cliched to feel like the real deal,” observed one commenter. “Sounds like a comedy version of a James Bond film,” wrote another. “More like No Time To Brainstorm New Titles,” offered a third.
Overly harsh? Probably. But you’ve got to feel for Eon Productions. It ran out of Ian Fleming book titles over three decades ago, or the good ones at least — nobody’ll be rushing to the local multiplex to see Daniel Craig in The Hildebrand Rarity, will they?
But, since The Living Daylights last used an official Bond book novel in 1987 — along with 2006’s Casino Royale, of course — the screenwriters and producers have spent many an hour scratching their heads and scraping the barrel in search of snappy, memorable monikers for 007’s cinematic adventures. Some have been hits; others misses. But what of the titles that almost made it? Below, we’ve rounded up the best — and worst — titles that almost were…
“James Bond, Secret Agent”
Before the franchise even began, it almost all went wrong. The first film was in production when producer Kevin McClory and screenwriter Jack Whittingham decided it should be renamed James Bond, Secret Agent for the big screen. It was to be an adaptation of Thunderball.
But, after a legal dispute between McClory and Ian Fleming himself, the producer was jettisoned from the project — and work started afresh on an adaptation of Dr No.
The problems proper started soon after The Living Daylights. The 16th Bond film, Timothy Dalton’s second, was originally titled Licence Revoked. Teaser posters were even produced with the title. But marketing executives feared the public would think the title referred to 007’s driving licence — so it was changed to Licence to Kill.
Another problem reared its head when a choice had to be made between either the British or US spelling of ‘licence/license’. British won out, naturally.
“The Property of a Lady”
Not the most inspired of names, ‘The Property of a Lady’ was another of Fleming’s own. When Dalton was set to reprise the role for a third time, pre-production began on a film with this clunky title.
It was to jet-set from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Scotland — and featured a plot that involved the villainous applications of nanotechnology. Dalton retired in 1994, however, and elements of the script were reworked into Pierce Brosnan’s inaugural outing as the superspy, called — somewhat more catchily — GoldenEye.
“Tomorrow Never Lies”
Now here’s a story. The original title of the 18th Bond film was Tomorrow Never Lies. It makes sense — the film was about the villainous Elliot Carver printing manipulations and untruths in his newspaper; Tomorrow. But, when a script was faxed to MGM, a sole typo — an ‘L’ for a ‘D’ — changed the title to Tomorrow Never Dies. Studio executives liked the change so much, they stuck to it.
Other titles considered for Bond 18: Aquator, Avatar, Dream Weaver, On Hot Ice, Risico, Zero Windchill
This one is odd. But not completely unfounded. For the first year of the new millennium, many franchises styled their titles this way. Godzilla 2000, Dracula 2000 and Shaft 2000 were all released the same year. Thankfully, the 19th Bond film shifted its release date to November 1999, and became The World Is Not Enough — the English translation of Bond’s latin family motto, ‘Non Sufficit Orbis’.
Other titles considered for Bond 19: Elektra, Death Waits for No Man, Fire and Ice, Pressure Point and Dangerously Yours
“Beyond The Ice”
It’s another title that sort of makes sense. There is a lot of ice in Die Another Day, after all. But there’s another discarded title for the 20th Bond film we think would have been even better; Double Cross.
Not only does the story feature Bond attempting to locate the mole in British Intelligence who betrayed him to the North Koreans, but a literal double cross (XX) is the Roman numeral for 20 — as in the 20th Bond film. Also, wouldn’t ‘Double Cross’ have made for a catchier refrain than Madonna’s dreadful ‘Die Another Day’?
Other titles considered for Bond 20: Death is Forever, For Queen and Country, Nobody Lives Forever
“The Man with the Red Tattoo”
Before Eon decided to reboot the series with Daniel Craig — and scrub out the dire memory of 1967’s Casino Royale comedy adaptation — the 21st Bond film looked to be based upon Raymond Benson’s latest James Bond continuation novel, The Man with the Red Tattoo. If the adaptation had followed the plot, the film would have seen Brosnan’s Bond travel to Japan in search of the creator of a mutated virus.
A rumoured title for Spectre, and the official working title for No Time To Die, Shatterhand has long been thought to make the transition from page to screen. Not the name of a Bond book, ‘Shatterhand’ was the alias of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Ian Fleming’s novel You Only Live Twice.
And, now Christoph Waltz has brought Blofeld back into the fold, who knows if the title might finally make it to the multiplexes for Bond 26…
Looking for more Bond content? From syphons to shakers, here’s how to stock your home bar like a superspy…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.