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Den förlorade Bond-filmen "Warhead" var ruskigt nära att spelas in 1977. Men rättighetsproblem ställde till det. Sean Connery skulle ha spelat Bond igen, men även producerat och varit inblandad i manuset. Storyn omfattade den ondskefulla organisationen SPECTRE, metallhajar med kärnvapenlast och flygplansförsvinnanden i Bermuda-triangeln. Fakta om "Warhead".
IT IS the most ambitious and action-packed James Bond movie ever. Sean Connery returns as 007, battles a robot shark in the New York sewers, water-skis the Hudson River, and parachutes on to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
Sadly, however, it was never filmed and exists today in a few recently unearthed sketches and photographs. Warhead never made it in front of the cameras, let alone on to the big screen, falling victim not to SPECTRE, but to a bitter and complicated legal battle.
Not only would Connery have starred, but he co-wrote the script with top thriller writer Len Deighton and personally chose and scouted the international locations.
Bond aficionados have always vaguely known about "the great lost Bond movie". But only now has it become apparent just how close it came to being filmed in 1977. And the full extent of Connery's involvement - not just as the star, but also as producer and in the unfamiliar role of scriptwriter - is only now clear.
New documents have emerged telling the full story of this remarkable film, which would have seen Connery returning to the role he had last played six years earlier in Diamonds Are Forever.
The information came out when Robert Sellers, author and Bond fan, announced he was writing a book on the maverick Irish producer Kevin McClory, who figured in a string of legal cases over Bond rights from the 1960s to the 2000s and who died last year.
McClory worked with Ian Fleming on a screenplay for Thunderball in the late 1950s, even before it was published as a novel.
Sellers was contacted by a former friend of McClory, who insisted on remaining anonymous but agreed to a meeting in a Hampstead café.
Sellers was surprised when the mystery man turned up with a copy of the script for Warhead, bearing the names of Connery, Deighton and McClory as co-writers.
He was amazed when his source then handed over never-before-seen snaps of Connery on a location visit to New York and artwork for key scenes in the film.
"I didn't know they even existed," said Sellers, whose book The Battle For Bond is published by the small Tomahawk Press in Sheffield and should be in shops this week.
"Bond fans have heard of Warhead," he said. "It's like a mythical sort of beast, almost the Holy Grail, this Bond film that never was.
"But if you search the internet or look in Bond books or magazines, there's nothing visual at all about Warhead. So it was quite a revelation to see the pre-production artwork."
Sellers added: "He actually had the original script... This wasn't a proposal or a suggestion, this was an actual script, a fully-fledged, finished screenplay."
Sellers could hardly contain his excitement as he leafed through pages telling a dramatic story in which the mysterious disappearance of planes in the Bermuda Triangle is the work of the criminal organisation SPECTRE.
They are intent on causing havoc by exploding a nuclear warhead under Wall Street, delivered by a robotic hammerhead shark via the city's sewers. 007 not only has to battle mechanical sharks, but also a massive villain called Bomba.
"You had an underwater base that rises out of the sea, you had helicopter attacks on the Statue of Liberty," said Sellers.
"It would have been the most extravagant Bond film ever."
While scouting the New York locations, Connery climbed up the Statue of Liberty, but apparently drew the line at the sewers.
Sellers got short shrift from Connery's camp when he asked for an interview. But he talked to Deighton, who revealed his collaborator's reluctance to turn James Bond into Dirty Harry.
"Len Deighton actually went down into the sewers to have a look around, but Connery refused," said Sellers.
The author was surprised at the amount of work Connery, Deighton and McClory put into the screenplay, with meetings at Connery's house in Spain, and also in Ireland, where both Deighton and McClory lived.
After Diamonds Are Forever, Connery had said he would never play Bond again, but McClory persuaded him to work on the script with Deighton, the esteemed author of such Cold War classics as The Ipcress File and Funeral In Berlin.
Connery had been credited with some of the humour and the classic one-liners in the early films, but McClory was also clearly hoping the actor would agree to appear in the film as well, and Connery's involvement did re-ignite his passion for the character.
Paramount were behind it, with a budget of $22m, which was huge for the time. But producer Cubby Broccoli, who was making The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore, instigated legal proceedings and the project faltered.
In 1982, Connery and McClory worked together on Never Say Never Again, a straightforward remake of Thunderball. It proved Connery still had a big following as Bond, even in a retread.
But fans can only speculate just what Warhead might have done for 007 at a time when, in the view of some critics, Roger Moore's lightweight innuendo was reducing the series to the level of the Carry On films.
Sellers believes Warhead is one is one cinema's greatest unfilmed screenplays. "I think it would have been huge," he said.
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