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Much like the secret agent it’s devoted to, Taschen’s The James Bond Archives has a license to kill. Literally: At 16 pounds, the 600-page, $200 slab is heavy enough to qualify as a murder weapon. Editor Paul Duncan was given a ridiculous amount of access to the relics at Eon Productions, which was formed by producers Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to make the first Bond film, 1962’s Dr. No — starring Scottish amateur bodybuilder Sean Connery — and has produced all 23 official 007 pics, including November’s Skyfall.
Archives starts with Bond’s beginnings as a series of novels written by ex-British Intelligence officer Ian Fleming, which gained popularity because they were favorites of President Kennedy, then weaves through the casting of the men who would make James Bond a household name: Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig (and, yes, Peter Sellers and Woody Allen, among others, in 1967’s Casino Royale spoof).
Duncan has assembled and annotated a bounty of rare stills, storyboards, set designs, production memos and script notes (Connery was rather displeased with Goldfinger‘s third draft; he was “very much against Pussy Galore just bouncing him around”). Simply put, The James Bond Archives documents, in breathtaking detail, the creation and evolution of cinema’s most enduring franchise.
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