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In the days when Bond could only be seen in cinemas there were a multitude of prints of each film in circulation of varying quality. Many of the 35mm prints had been shipped around the country and became damaged through continued use. This meant that the Bond films could look completely different depending on where you saw them. The version of The Spy Who Loved Me shown in Aberdeen could be faded, spliced and even missing frames when it finally ended up in Bristol. In the days when films were a commodity it was unusual for new prints to be struck unless they were classics or prestigious art films screened at the National Film Theatre.

A James Bond Festival - London Pavilion 1980
A James Bond Festival - London Pavilion 1980

Six new prints were struck for a season of back-to-back Connery/Moore James Bond films shown at the London Pavilion from November 2, 1980 to February 2, 1981. Advertised as ‘A James Bond Festival’, no special poster was created but the advertising hoardings outside the cinema adapted the 1965 back-to-back artwork and stuck Roger Moore’s head on Sean Connery’s body. Dr. No was shown with Moonraker on Sunday/Monday & Tuesday; Diamonds Are Forever was paired with The Man With The Golden Gun on Wednesday/Thursday, with From Russia With Love and The Spy Who Loved Me screening on Friday/Saturday. The prints used for this festival were struck from the original negatives and looked far better than any others screened since the films initial release, although by now the venue itself was looking decidedly shabby. The Odeon Leicester Square is often called ‘the home of James Bond’, but it is the London Pavilion that had screened all ten 007 films at some point during the last decade (Dr. No did not screen at the Odeon; and Thunderball was only shown there for the press on December 27, 1965).

A James Bond Festival - London Pavilion 1980

Moonraker/The Spy Who Loved Me double-bill

The London Pavilion closed as a cinema on April 26, 1981 although its outside hoarding was used to advertise For Your Eyes Only, which would open at the Odeon Leicester Square in the Summer, where it played until early September. Before the release of Roger Moore’s fifth outing as 007, a brief re-release of Moonraker/The Spy Who Loved Me opened at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road where it played for the first two weeks of April 1981. For Your Eyes Only had its Royal Charity Premiere on the evening of Wednesday June 24, 1981 in the presence of Prince Charles and fiance Lady Diana Spencer. Also attending were stars Roger Moore, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Julian Glover and main title singer Sheena Easton.

For Your Eyes Only Odeon Leicester Square 1981

ABOVE: (top left) The London Pavilion in 1981 advertises the release of For Your Eyes Only at the Odeon Leicester Square (top right) The morning of Wednesday June 24, 1981 - contractors work on the Odeon Leicester Square display ahead of that evening's premiere (bottom left) Roger Moore and Julian Glover with For Your Eyes Only main title singer/performer Sheena Easton (bottom right) The bronze Lotus Esprit featured in the film outside the Odeon Leicester Square on premiere night.

Cassandra Harris also attended the For Your Eyes Only premiere with her husband Pierce Brosnan. It was Topol who suggested to producer Albert R. Broccoli that he should also invite his former partner Harry Saltzman and the pair were reunited for the first time in several years. Harry Saltzman attended with his children Hilary and Christopher. The For Your Eyes Only premiere was one of Saltzman's first public appearances following the death of his wife Jacqueline in 1980. Following the release of Dr. No in 1962, producers Broccoli and Saltzman founded a company responsible for the copyright and trademarks to the characters, elements, and other material related to James Bond on screen. The company was called Danjaq, a combination of Broccoli and Saltzman's respective wives' names Dana and Jacqueline. Their sister company EON Productions was responsible for the actual production of the films. In 1975 Harry Saltzman's personal financial difficulties forced him to sell his 50% share of Danjaq to United Artists.

ABOVE: (left) Harry Saltzman (with children Hilary and Christopher) attended the For Your Eyes Only premiere after an invitation from his former partner Albert R. Broccoli. The pair were reunited for the first time in many years. (right) Cassandra Harris also attended accompanied by her husband Pierce Brosnan.

For Your Eyes Only/Moonraker double-bill

Octopussy London Pavilion

For Your Eyes Only continued playing in London until February 1982 and was later re-issued on a double-bill with Moonraker at the Classic, Haymarket and Oxford Street cinemas for five weeks commencing July 2, 1982. The UK video rights to the James Bond films were acquired by Warner Home Video and their first releases in June 1982 were From Russia With Love and Goldfinger. The VHS and Betamax releases of all titles up to and including For Your Eyes Only were leased by video stores and available to rent by June 1984. It would be another five years before all the films up to and including A View To A Kill were available to own as sell-through titles. By December 1982 all James Bond films up to and including Moonraker had also now been shown on UK television. 1983 marked the 21st anniversary of James Bond in the cinema and Octopussy was advertised on the outside hoarding of the London Pavilion prior to its June premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square. Octopussy later became the first James Bond film not to have its first UK TV screening on the ITV network. The rise of cable networks in the early 1980s meant that The Movie Channel was the first to screen Octopussy in October 1984 - the film would not debut on terrestrial television until January 30, 1988.

Octopussy Press show invite-premiere brochure and ticket

“Double Double-O-Seven”
The 13th film in the official series was screened for the press on the morning of Monday June 6, 1983 at the Plaza cinema, Piccadilly Circus. Octopussy then had its Royal World Charity Premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square later that evening. The premiere was attended by Prince Charles and Princess Diana, stars Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis Jourdan (with his wife Berte), producer Albert R. Broccoli and director John Glen. After nine days at the Odeon Leicester Square the film had broken the house record. Octopussy then moved to the Odeon Marble Arch from September 21, 1983 where it played in a 70mm version on the largest cinema screen in the country.

Octopussy Odeon Leicester Square 1983
Roger Moore, Maud Adams, Louis & Berte Jourdan at the Octopussy Premiere

Although billed in the press as ‘The Battle of the Bonds’, Sean Connery’s comeback at 007 in Never Say Never Again didn’t really amount to a battle at the cinema as the films were never really in direct competition in the UK. Octopussy played across the country from June 1983 to January 1984; whilst Never Say Never Again didn’t premiere in London until December 14, 1983 (it had opened in the USA in October). However, the presence of a rival James Bond film clearly concerned EON Productions and UIP (the then distributors of the Bond films in the UK). A week before the opening of Never Say Never Again a triple bill of Octopussy, For Your Eyes Only and Thunderball opened at the Empire 1 cinema, Leicester Square. The print of Thunderball was struck from the original negative in 1979 (for the London Pavilion Festival) and was a clear signal to the makers of the rival film that although Roger Moore was the ‘official’ James Bond, it was Sean Connery in the same series that made the Never Say Never Again story first! Only one print of Thunderball was in circulation at that time, so at the Odeon Marble Arch Diamonds Are Forever was added to the triple bill in its place. The films played up until Christmas, and Octopussy stayed on at Marble Arch until early January 1984. Following its three-week run in London, the print of Thunderball was returned to the Rank Film Depot in Birmingham, and sometime in 1984 was thrown out with many old and damaged prints when the depot ceased operation.

Triple Bill 1983

Never Say Never Again was first shown in London on the morning of Sunday November 13, 1983 at the Warner West End cinema, Leicester Square. The special screening, at the invitation of distributors Columbia-EMI-Warner, was essentially for crew members prior to the films UK release. The print screened included the uncut version of the scene where Bond, with Domino, ride a horse over the parapet of the fortress in which 007’s been kept prisoner by Largo. The RSPCA took exception to the scene on the grounds of alleged animal cruelty, as the horse is clearly seen hitting the water from a great height, and persuaded the British Board of Film Censors to cut the film before its release in the UK. All subsequent UK prints feature a re-edited version of this scene removing the horse hitting the water and using an alternate angle of the horse swimming away safely. Also, in the scene where Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera) knocks Bond off the Q motorbike and instructs him to throw his Walther P5 to the ground, the sound effect on the preview print made the gun sound like it was a child’s hollow plastic toy hitting the ground; in all subsequent prints the sound effect was changed to make it sound like a heavy metal firearm had been tossed on to the concrete floor.

Never Say Never Again (1983)
Never Say Never Again London premiere - Warner West End

Never Say Never Again then had its Royal Charity Premiere at the Warner West End cinema on the evening of Wednesday December 14, 1983 in the presence of Prince Andrew. Sean Connery attended along with his second wife Micheline and his brother Neil. Director Irvin Kershner also attended with Kevin McClory, Barbara Carrera and Rowan Atkinson. Never Say Never Again opened across London from December 15 and the rest of the country the following day. Although ultimately not as successful as Octopussy, the distributors were quick to announce the initial box-office take after the first week of release in 237 theatres.

Octopussy/For Your Eyes Only Double-Bill Quad crown poster

London Pavilion 1985 advertising A View To A Kill

ABOVE: (left) The final UK double-bill Quad Crown poster (right) Although the London Pavilion had closed as a cinema in 1981, its exterior hoarding was used to advertise the next James Bond film, A View To A Kill, which premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square on June 13, 1985.

“James Bond will Return”
From the heights of ‘Bondmania’ two decades earlier when hundreds of prints of Thunderball were in circulation across the world, the last remaining one suitable for cinema exhibition was junked in 1984. There was one last release of Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only which had a very limited run in London at the 378-seat Plaza 2, Piccadilly Circus in July 1984. The double-bill had already briefly played at the Classic 1, Oxford Street for two weeks commencing December 23, 1983. With For Your Eyes Only already available to rent on video in 1984 (and bootleg copies of the film obtainable if you knew the right/wrong people), the golden age of cinemagoing was coming to an end. Although each subsequent Bond film has had a Royal Charity Premiere in London and initial release across the country, it is the home cinema market which now accounts for much of the series’ continued success.

From the early 1980s, video became more popular and affordable and TV screenings of the films increased in their frequency, hardcore Bond fans could own flawless (by the standards of the day) copies on laserdisc – with making-of documentaries and rare behind-the-scenes material. The advent of DVD and subsequently Blu-ray means that fans can now enjoy their favourites in a quality that far exceeds how the films looked on their original release in cinemas. Free from scratches, tears, missing frames and the well-remembered end of the reel snowstorm… but that was part of the fun, wasn’t it?

SEE ALSO
JAMES BOND ON TV

Thunderball 25th Anniversary screening


You Only Live Twice & On Her Majesty's Secret Service at The National Film Theatre

FACT FILES - The James Bond Posters


You Only Live Twice at the London Pavilion 1967


JAMES BOND NEWS

 FACT FILES