The very sad loss of four-times Bond director Guy Hamilton on Wednesday, 20th April, 2016, was keenly felt across the Bond world, especially by Sir Roger Moore. Guy Hamilton directed Roger in his first 007 adventure Live and Let Die in 1972-73, followed shortly afterwards by The Man With The Golden Gun.
The highly-talented director was instrumental in helping Roger find his confidence as the new James Bond and in giving him his own unique identity in the role. Roger’s appointment as 007 was first made ‘official’ on 1st August, 1972, when a press conference was held at the Dorchester Hotel, in central London, where the new James Bond was photographed alongside the EON producers Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.
Saltzman, who had pushed strongly for Roger to be offered the role of Bond, had agreed to be the production’s main executive contact (with Broccoli fulfilling the same function on the next Bond film). The shooting schedule on the new movie was to be tight: principal photography on Live and Let Die was scheduled to begin in October, 1972, with a release date planned for June, 1973 (in the end, the movie received its Royal premiere at the Odeon, Leicester Square, on 5th July, 1973).
And, in many ways, much of the success at bringing the film to completion, despite the huge location and other challenges involved, could be put down to the military-style efficiency of Guy Hamilton, who had served in the Royal Navy in World War Two.
In a further tribute to Guy Hamilton, the JBIFC offers seven brief memories of Hamilton and Live and Let Die, as recalled by Sir Roger Moore.
007 and Counting…
001: When Roger Moore first knew he was going to be Bond, 007 co-producer Harry Saltzman said it must be kept ‘top secret’. The producer was keen for the new man to meet director Guy Hamilton, but well away from the EON office, where they would not be seen. Roger recalled: ‘We met at Scott’s in Mayfair, in true Bond-style, over a dozen oysters and martinis. I confessed to Guy that in reading the script I could only ever hear Sean’s voice saying: “My name is Bond”… Guy said: “Look, Sean was Sean and you are you and that is how it is going to be” ‘.
002: On the night before the first day of shooting on Live and Let Die, Roger had slipped a note under Guy Hamilton’s door saying: ‘Good luck for the following day and do break a leg. If I don’t do what I am told you have my full permission to kick me up the backside’. On the first day of filming, after his early morning work-out, Roger found a little envelope had been pushed under his door in return. It was a note from Hamilton on French Quarter Inn notepaper. It was headed ‘Dawn. D-Day’ and, according to Roger, it read: ‘Into battle and very encouraged by your kind note. Here’s good fortune to us all. As ever, Guy’.
003: The first day of filming was in fact highly memorable: Roger and the crew were shooting part of the boat-chase sequence about 30 miles outside New Orleans, in a backwater bayou. At one point, Roger said he had ‘a nasty moment’ when, on a sharp bend, ‘my boat headed for the camera boat with Guy and about fifteen people sitting in it’. He managed to come round on the wheel and pull away at the last moment: ‘I fully expected Guy to bawl at me when I got back, but he was very nice and said: “Great, great” ‘.
004: Roger also recalled that, for the speedboat chase, Hamilton had assembled a small armada of high speed motor-boats, together with a small army of seasoned stunt veterans, the latter recruited from both Hollywood and the cream of the film-stunt profession in England. But the director was initially doubtful whether any of scriptwriter Tom Mankiewicz’s ambitious ideas could actually be filmed without killing half of all the stuntmen off! Nevertheless, a combination of Hamilton’s unflappable personality and the sheer guts of many of the stuntmen produced some extraordinary results on the screen. One stuntman, Jerry Comeaux, even set a world record at the time when he took his boat 110 ft (33.5m) over a road.
005: Writing in his personal filming diary on day number two of shooting, Roger commented: ‘They really are a great crew. The director, Guy, and Bob Kindred, the camera operator, tied themselves on the front of a boat today tearing at sixty miles an hour up and down the bayou photographing close-up reactions of me. That takes a lot of guts’. On day three of filming, Roger noted: ‘I am going to call Guy, our director, the General from now on. He is the complete commander in the field deploying his troops. There must be more than a hundred people on our unit and to get them all working together is no mean feat, especially in this heat’.
006: Guy Hamilton’s love of anything to do with boats and water became very evident throughout the shooting. On day number 27 of filming, Roger shot some scenes with Gloria Hendry (Rosie) and Roy Stewart (Quarrel Junior) aboard a boat at sea, and reflected: ‘Why I called Guy the General I am not sure because he is in fact a former Royal Navy Officer and he was in his element with our sea shooting’.
007: Roger’s introduction to the world of James Bond film-making was thoroughly exhausting at times and something of a baptism of fire. Hamilton, a veteran of two previous Bond movies, clearly also recognised how tough it could be, too. Moore told the UK’s Sunday Express in April, 1973: ‘I didn’t realise just how hard it would be. Twenty-two weeks of non-stop action. On the first day of shooting, Guy Hamilton said: “On the last day, you’re going to see a very drunk director”. And I did. He also saw a very drunk actor. We both got paralytic’.
Did You Know?
Guy Hamilton nearly directed Roger Moore as Bond for a third time, as he was lined up to helm The Spy Who Loved Me. Hamilton even started some pre-production work and planning on the movie, but when there were long delays due to the break-up of the Broccoli-Saltzman partnership, Hamilton decided to leave the project.