The James Bond Files ~
Untold Stories of 007, Part 3
– The Secret Script to Warhead
By Ronald Payne
Editor’s Note ~
In Part 1 and
Part 2 of my talks with Ron Payne,
we discussed his early connections with Hollywood, his work with
O.F. Snelling, his friendship with George Lazenby, and Ron’s
efforts to land work on an official Bond film.
In these memoirs, Ron described how he obtained a copy of the
script to Warhead, an unproduced 007 film written by
Sean Connery, Len Deighton, and Kevin McClory. Just what was in
that unproduced yarn? Ron tells all here . . .
Setting the Stage
When my wife and I returned to our flat in Mayfair, I began to
seriously study the script of Warhead. All the familiar
characters were there – James Bond, CIA buddy Felix
Leiter, M, the head of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and Q.
There was the ever faithful Moneypenny. There was the beautiful
Domino, whom we last saw in Thunderball. There was
Emilio Largo, a billionaire philanthropist living on Turtle Cay who
runs a shark laboratory under the guise of it being a cancer research
project. And there was Blofeld, the most important character outside
of James Bond himself.
But there were also some new characters with whom I was not
familiar. First and foremost, there was Fatima Blush. Fatima is the
daughter of a Korean mother and a Moroccan father. She is tall
and beautiful and an Olympic caliber swimmer, which is fascinating
when one first encounters it in the script.
Then, there is Maslov, the SPECTRE scientist who defected.
He is Polish. His plane disappeared mysteriously over the Bermuda
Triangle in the late 1940s. Justine Lovesit is the masseuse at
Shrublands. There is the sacrificial lamb, Hellinger, working for the
CIA. I liked the blood-red scar running down the side of his cheek.
His connection to Fatima Blush meant he would not last long in the
Also, there was a character who was to be used later –
Giusepeppe Petacchi. In Warhead, unlike the later
Never Say Never Again, Petacchi is not Domino’s
brother. He is there to impersonate Hellinger, who will soon meet
his own fate at the hands of SPECTRE. The character of Effie, I
particularly liked. She is the cleaning lady for SPECTRE. It was
obvious to me Sean Connery had made a nod and a wink to his
mother when this was written. Effie Connery’s little boy,
“Big Tam,” was now one of the world’s
most beloved and endearing film stars.
The cast of characters was rounded out by Fidelio Sciacca
and Bomba. Bomba is of special interest to me as I once read
the adventures of another “Bomba,” who
appeared in American comic books. In the Deighton, Connery,
McClory script of Warhead, Bomba is a black giant.
He’s the number one killer for Largo. He is vicious and
a wild, dangerous character. Forget Jaws of The Spy Who
Loved Me and Moonraker. Jaws could have
been played straight and we would have had Bomba but the
resemblance stops there. Bomba is a frightening visage in spite
of his silly name.
The locations are the exotic settings one comes to expect from
a Bond film. Start with London and New York (not too exotic, yet)
and move toward the Atlantic Ocean and Shrublands (now
relocated to the Bahamas and we are getting warmer in terms of
exoticness). A few spins of the roulette wheel and we are
somewhere in this script between the Azore Islands, Shark Island
(Bahamas) and the Bermuda Triangle (under water). Now, we are
talking exotic. Exotic in the sense that Captain Nemo is exotic and
Thunderball is exotic.
I liked one change: Shrublands is no longer a British health
clinic as it had been in Thunderball. It is the Bahamas
base for SPECTRE training, similar to what we first saw in
From Russia With Love when we first met Rosa
There is also Largo’s submarine, the Arkos,
that rises to the surface of the world’s oceans. It reminded
me a great deal of Stromberg’s “Atlantis”,
and I can see why Kevin McClory went to court against Cubby
Broccoli regarding The Spy Who Loved Me. One of
the most fascinating things about the Warhead script
is the use of heat-seeking electric sharks. They can be remote
controlled. If used seriously in this film, these heat-seeking sharks
would be on par with something out of Terminator.
The First Pages
Like Stromberg in the opening of Spy,
Warhead begins when Largo and Maslov bring down
a seaplane into the Bermuda Triangle. The Secretary of the
United Nations is in the plane. All this is done from aboard the
Arkos. The plane, broken in half now, is carried to the
“elephants graveyard,” where, perhaps, a hundred
planes have disappeared earlier. We also see for the first time
manganese, diamonds and gold hidden on the ocean floor. Treasure
for Largo and his cargo hold.
After discussing the U.N. secretary’s missing plane at
Shrublands – where there is an acquabatics school, and
after Blofeld contacts Washington, Bond first learns of Fatima
Blush while receiving a massage from Justine Lovesit. Bond and
Leiter search out Fatima Blush and her escort, Hellinger. Fatima,
ever sensual, is attracted to James Bond, but Hellinger is less than
“Get rid of him,” Hellinger says. Later, Fatima
and Bomba covertly get Petacchi into Shrublands. The script follows
Thunderball when he demands more money for his
involvement in SPECTRE’s hijacking scheme. Allegedly,
Petacchi suffers the bends and is in need of the decompression
As later in Never Say Never Again and previously
in Thunderball, Bond leaves his bed (and Justine
Lovesit) and sights Bomba outside Fatima’s room. He
soon finds Fatima and the two get inside her whirlpool.
Fatima’s lover, Hellinger, is fiercely jealous and
unbeknownst to Bond, turns up the controls (wildly) in hopes of
killing them. This plan does not work for obvious reasons. Bomba
violently snaps Hellinger’s neck as his replacement,
Petacchi, watches from the sidelines. Bond and Fatima struggle
not to drown when Petacchi, pretending to be Hellinger, slows
down the controls.
I never consider the logic in James Bond films, but the following
morning, Petacchi invites Bond for hang-gliding practice. This
reminds me, somewhat, of the scene in Thunderball
between Emilio Largo and Bond while skeet-shooting. Petacchi
deliberately steers the boat in the direction of the shark pens. The
sharks are in wait to eat Bond alive. Bond doesn’t waste
time leaping onto the pier and into the boat. Petacchi won’t
pull that stunt again. Bomba, who is deadlier than any blood-thirsty
shark could ever hope to be, waits nearby.
The thing that interests me the most is the way Largo gets the
warheads, which give title to this film. A Russian submarine is put
out of commission. It is electronically jammed. SPECTRE divers
enter the submarine and steal the warheads. This is quite different
from either Thunderball (1965) or Never Say
Never Again (1983).
The doors open on the bottom of a dredger. The warheads
are brought inside. Petacchi is murdered by Largo when he pushes
the self-destruct device of the recovery vessel. Remember,
Petacchi was pretending to be Hellinger, the CIA agent, responsible
for recovery of the warheads. This is a thin reworking of the scene
in Thunderball when Domino’s brother is killed
and his duplicate replacement is trapped inside the Viceroy fighter
jet at the bottom of the ocean.
Later, Fatima lies to Bond about her flight booking to London.
In London, Bond is reunited with his peers at Secret Service
Headquarters. The depressurized body of Fidelio Sciacca is
recovered. Q shows 007 where the Russian submarine was
destroyed in the Atlantic. The late Mr. Sciacca’s right
eye socket contained a computer terminal watch. Everything
points to SPECTRE.
Next come the pages I'm certain Sean Connery had the most
fun writing. The lethal maid, Effie, (named tongue-in-cheek for
his mother, I’m certain) plants two bombs – one
beneath his bed (as in Never Say Never Again) and
the other, at the hands of Fatima, in his Aston-Martin.
Fatima’s timing couldn’t be better. Hiding under
Bond’s bed, Effie must quickly dismantle the first bomb in
a hurry. When Bond tosses Fatima into the bed for some very
athletic sex, Effie, beneath, hits the deck.
Bond forthrightly confronts Fatima about not telling the truth.
She denies any knowledge of Bomba, whom Bond has spotted
outside her room. From the skylight above the bedroom, Bond
encounters a potential assassin. Bond attacks his attacker and
kills him as he smashes head first into the bathtub.
Several swift scenes follow with Bond running toward the
garage where his Aston-Martin is parked. As Bond opens the
door leading into the garage, he encounters a second henchman
whom he swiftly dispatches with a killer karate chop. There is a
ringing doorbell. Thinking it might be Felix Leiter, Bond looks
through the DeltaScope peephole. It is Q. In the meantime,
Fatima fires-up Bond’s Aston-Martin and is blown to
smithereens along with Effie, who was hiding.
Naturally, Bond is nonchalant about the fact that he has
already killed two of M’s best men, thinking they were
sent by SPECTRE. Q’s perfection of the computer watch
tells the whole story – Largo employed Effie to murder
both Bond and Fatima Blush. Bond’s meeting with Largo
at the backgammon championship on Paradise Island is less than
24 hours away.
Bond versus Largo
Later, as Bond and Q fly in a small plane toward Shrublands,
Q explains the latest gadgets. I can only see Desmond Llewellen
in my mind, but of course, Q would have been played by someone
new. The script really starts to roll once M shows up in a
Special Operations Room. Bond is informed about
SPECTRE’s contacting the President of the United States.
This is the first time we are told SPECTRE has three nuclear
warheads from the Russian submarine and that one will be fired
upon a major international city if SPECTRE’s demands
for ransom are not met within 48 hours.
James Bond used a Bell Jet Pack in the opening of 1965’s
Thunderball. Something similar was used in
1983’s Never Say Never Again when Bond
and Felix Leiter were searching for the warheads of Maximillian
Largo. But, in the 1976 Warhead script, Bond and
Felix use their jet packs to hover over Shark Island. Bond must
enter Largo’s treasure house – one of the most
beautiful and extravagant mansions in the Bahamas. Once getting
past the guards, Bond enters Largo’s private hideaway,
only to find Fatima?
“Impossible,” Bond says. “You’re
This is the first time, at least in this picture, that we meet the
beautiful Domino, who in this case, looks exactly like her identical
twin, the beautiful but deceased Fatima Blush. Domino would
like to murder Largo, so it’s no going back once Bond
kisses her. Domino, like so many other ladies in the past, will
follow Bond anywhere. The depths of her feelings about Largo
reach all the way to the bottom of the Atlantic. Bond is grateful,
at least for tonight.
Largo wins the backgammon championship by default when
Bond doesn’t appear. Bond couldn’t care less.
He and Felix are checking out the electronic/mechanical sharks
in Maslov’s laboratory. Unfortunately, with the
backgammon finals over, Largo is lucky once more when he traces
Bond and Leiter to Maslov’s scientific sanctuary.
“Put them in the decompression chamber,”
Largo commands his henchmen. We don’t see anything
like this again until the character Milton Krest, played by Anthony
Zerbe, is murdered inside a decompression chamber in the
Broccoli-produced Bond film, License to Kill, starring
Timothy Dalton. In the interim, Largo and Maslov discuss
mounting the mechanical hammerhead sharks with warheads.
Largo retreats to the Arkos and finding a homing
device belonging to Bond, takes his vengeance against Domino
for being Bond’s accomplice. In a scene worthy of
Fleming (see the novel Live and Let Die), Largo tightly
straps Domino to a diving board with the intention of making her
a four course meal for some lucky shark.
All this is happening as M orders troops to invade Shark
Island to find Bond and Leiter. Q has one of the largest scenes
of his entire cinematic career when he discovers a secret
entrance through the cliff-face. Bond and Felix Leiter are
rescued from the decompressing chamber. The only reason
they are alive is Domino, who ties her bandana about the
gears of the decompressor, causing it not to kick-in full
throttle. (Only in a Bond film.)
Once M’s troops have landed, they spread out in full
force, taking command of the entire island. Soon, Largo’s
dredger is discovered. On board, Bond and M listen to
Blofeld’s deadly message. Two nuclear warheads will be
exploded under the Antarctic Ice Cap, if SPECTRE’s
demands are not met.
The threat, turns out, is more than bombs. Leave it to Q to
determine the bacteria level of fecal matter on a manganese
nodule. The bacterial level represents 18,000,000 people.
Where does one find 18,000,000 happy crappers? In New York
City, of course, thank you, Mr. McClory. So, with that stated by
Q, Bond is off and running to New York City.
All of New York City is being looted and burned. There are
riots in the streets. Complete evacuation is the only way to save
the people who live there. Manhattan is empty. Buildings are
searched. Bond requests that the Colonel of the Aquatactical
Unit order soldiers to inspect overlooked and uninspected sewers
and pipelines. The Statue of Liberty is seized by SPECTRE.
Maslov arms the warhead on the hammerhead shark. A tiger shark
protects the Hammerhead’s flank as he accompanies it
into the highway of sewers beneath the city. The entire city is in
a state of panic, as it believes nuclear annihilation is inevitable.
The President will soon address the nation from the Oval Office.
Sharks are seen all over New York Harbor. Bond is alerted to
the fact that American soldiers are now inside the pipeline of
Bond orders, “Get them out! Get them out now!”
But it is too late, as a violent explosion rocks the streets above
and rips the concrete apart. We see the sewer spew human body
parts. It is one large, filthy mess. Blood, everywhere, mixed with
sewage and the things that accompany sewage.
“Liberty is our Symbol!” Blofeld states earlier in
the film. Sharks are spotted circling Ellis Island. To James Bond,
this can mean only one thing. SPECTRE is in the Statue of
Now, robotic sharks roam the sewers of Manhattan. They
guard all the manhole covers into the sewers. We hear men
shouting as they pneumatically drill into the subway wall to access
the sewer pipeline. Bond enters the sewer. He lights his way with
a large flashlight (torch). Three men follow Bond into the bowels
of this unearthly place. The fellow bringing up the rear is none
other than Bomba, as if you hadn’t already guessed.
“Ah, the pleasure he will get, when he snaps Bond’s
neck.” Or, so he believes.
From their hideaway, Largo and his lethal assistants watch their
mechanical sharks on a large map. Each red light lighting up on the
wall tells them where each shark is now moving and its exact
location. Largo feels a sudden sense of power and accomplishment.
However, he does not allow his mania for victory over rule his
Bond swims through the filthy sewage as a heat-seeking tiger
shark stalks him through this disgusting muck. Nothing could be
more visually different from the beautiful waters of the Bahamas
than this filth pit. Bomba awaits on the walk path above the dirty
water. He looks forward to murdering Bond. Already, he has
broken the necks of two sewer workers who get in his way.
Sharks and Sewers
Bond is menaced by a red-eyed shark at extreme close quarters.
The shark is close enough he could easily bite into Bond’s
flesh. Bond is wearing a protective aqua suit, but this would be no
protection against the shark’s razor-like teeth. The shark
lunges at Bond’s legs, as he hurriedly makes his way up
a wall ladder built into the concrete wall. Bomba, the hunter,
awaits. The karate punch sends Bond falling backward into the
dark, filthy water with the hungry shark, who is getting more
aggressive all the time. Bond lunges onto a metallic tail fin and the
powerful mechanical beast pulls him along through the sewer, we
might add, at breathtaking speed. Bond loses much of his
equipment as the shark thrashes him from side to side against the
Ahead, Bond brainstorms the idea of seizing a steam valve, thus
releasing a torrent of steam heat to attract the hammerhead’s
total attention. The shark is going mad as he attempts to rip the
valve apart with his powerful jaws. Bond, using a special screwdriver
provided by Q, rips open the wired underbelly of this monster and
tears apart all of its transistors and other SPECTRE support
systems. As a mechanical, computerized missile of destruction,
the hammerhead is finished. It goes belly-up and sinks to the
bottom of the sewer lane. Bond hurriedly makes his way to the top
Twin sewers are separated by a narrow catwalk. Bond reaches
for the miniature Geiger counter around his neck. The Geiger counter
shows something toward the rear, about two hundred yards away.
Bond keeps his cool as a second hammerhead lights up the inside of
the sewer. It quickly passes by and Bond watches it move eerily
through the dirty, contaminated water. (I hope Q provided Bond
with lots of shots before going in there.) As the screaming emergency
sirens fill the sewer with horrific noise, Bomba springs out of the
darkness intent on murdering 007.
Now Bomba is machine-like, throwing incredible karate punches.
Bond is kicked to the floor of the catwalk. He shakes his head as
Bomba lunges and picks him up by his throat. Bomba smacks Bond
against a solid wall of green-brown slime. The slime is so thick, it
could be a character in this film as well. (The special effects
department would have a great time with this as the wall is almost
Alien-like. We almost believe the slime-wall is capable of sucking
Bond inside itself.)
Bomba punches, kicks, gouges and generally uses Bond for a
punching bag, almost the same way Count Lippe does in the later
Never Say Never Again, except the violence here is
much more frightening and realistic. Bomba is Muhammad Ali on
Leaving Bond for dead, Bomba hurries away from his menacing
victory over the British agent. But the one thing most of Bond’s
adversaries fail to comprehend is this: Bond is tenacious. He will
use every ounce of strength he has left in his body to gain the upper
hand. (See the Orient Express fight between Red Grant and
Bond in From Russia With Love to make my point.)
Bond doggedly pulls himself up the cleated wall of rusty rungs and
Bomba turns around when he thinks he hears something that
might be another approaching assassin. A steam pipe crosses
above the twin sewers. In a move mindful of the scene between
Bond and Oddjob in Goldfinger, where Bond uses his
last ounce of strength to electrocute the great silent Korean inside
Fort Knox, Bond here improvises in a not-dissimilar way and uses
the nearest thing at hand – the hot steam of the pipes.
Crossing the pipes hand over hand above the filthy water of
the sewer, Bond hangs momentarily over a stalking tiger shark.
Bomba aggressively and violently goes after James Bond in
hopes of getting his one wish in life – “snapping
Bond’s neck for good.” No comebacks, double
O seven, if Bomba gets his kicks. Bomba lashes onto the steam
pipe with one hand while grabbing for 007 with the other. As the
pipe gives in to the weight of Bond and Bomba, it crashes throwing
Bond onto the catwalk between the twin sewers.
Bond pushes the burning hot water pipes away from his body.
Bomba is still attached to the pipe as it bends toward the filthy
sewer water. We hear Bomba’s screams as sharks rip
him apart, skewering the flesh from his mighty bones. There have
been scenes similar to this one in other Bond films. The piranha
eat the blond, muscled henchman who attempts to kill Bond in
You Only Live Twice. Broccoli did something
similar with Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, but Jaws
was so cartoonish, he survived his shark attacks and the audience
loved it. (Should I say the audience “ate” it up?)
Bomba’s demise in Warhead, depending
on how the film would be directed and edited, could be frightening,
gory and horribly realistic or just another Bond interlude. Brief.
Fast. And, onto the next good-looking henchman waiting in the
wings. I would love to hear from Bond fans and let them decide.
This scene could be made into one of the best Bond fight scenes
of all time, if only someone would film it the way I perceive Connery,
Deighton and McClory intended it. That is to say, film it very
seriously. Only the three aforementioned gentlemen can give us
the answer. I would love to hear Kevin McClory’s take on
Back to the story – Bond escapes by landing or leaping
onto the back of one of the hammerheads. It isn’t a long
journey by “shark back” before Bond reaches for
Q’s trusty screwdriver and dismantles the mechanical beast.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, SPECTRE style, Largo and Maslov
study the giant wall screen map with its red pin pricks of activity
lighting up all over New York City and its harbor. Suddenly, to their
dismay, the screen goes to fade out.
“What’s happening?” says the startled
“That’s what’s happening!”
Largo says angrily as Bond’s face appears before them on
screen. “Activate the time mechanism, now,” Largo
Bond steers the mechanical monster in its dying moments toward
the sewer wall, but something happens.
“Second life, old boy?” Bond says, as the
shark revives itself. “I’ve heard of self-starters.”
But there is no time for levity. Largo means serious and lethal
“WARHEAD ACTIVATED” appears on a red
lighted panel inside the shark as Bond pulls the monster out of the
water. The audience hears the loud ticking. Bond’s face
shows the proper anguish. Sweat builds on his brow as he
attempts to defuse the warhead without exploding it. Again, this
scene is similar to the one in Fort Knox when Bond must diffuse
Goldfinger’s atomic bomb inside the gold repository.
Someone else – a bomb expert – walks in, at the
last moment, and clicks the damned thing off. In this case, it is Q
dressed in helmet and sewer worker attire.
While this scene might be very funny, it is a cop-out to a
potentially exciting and riveting cinematic moment. Why throw it
away? I’d rather see Bond sweat it out and save the
world (at least New York and the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.)
on his own.
While all this is going on, New York is buzzing with terror.
People everywhere are frantic. (There were no such scenes in
Thunderball or NSNA.) Split screen
shots are used here as newscasters make futile attempts to
calm their television audiences. The twelve member Acuatical
Unit, unseen by Largo and his men, storm the Statue of Liberty.
Helicopters of all types move into the shot. There is colored
smoke, almost festive, to hide the attack by choppers that is
building outside. There is so much movement and genuine
momentum in this scene that it almost harks back to a similar
assault scene in On Her Majesty’s Secret
Service, when James Bond (portrayed by George Lazenby)
leads Draco’s men into Piz Gloria to ferret out Blofeld.
Bond attempts to get out of the sewer, but can’t.
(Why didn’t he just leave with Q when he was saved
from the nuclear blast earlier?) More mechanical sharks roam
and guard all the sewer exits. Finally, when he does make his
way out into daylight (lucky the streets are being evacuated;
Bond must smell a mess by now), Felix Leiter awaits with the
fastest speed boat this side of Miami Vice.
This is when we learn why Bond was taking all those hang
gliding lessons earlier in the story. On skis, Bond is great in
snow (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)
or water, which right now happens to be New York harbor.
Leiter drives right over the sharks and pulls Bond at high
speed right along with him. Bond’s skis ride right over
the backs of the mechanical sharks.
Now, have you ever had a day when you wished you had
a kite that turns into a helium balloon? No problem, if you have
Q branch as your candy store. From kite to helium balloon and
through the air to the face of the Statue of Liberty. It should be
written up in all the vacation literature for tourists (not
terrorists). Bond makes it look effortless. Landing, somewhat
vigorously now, Bond kicks Largo over. Largo, in turn, makes
a fast exit down the spiral staircase inside Miss Liberty’s
long arm. No, Largo does not run. Megalomaniac villains
hell-bent on world domination do not run: they slide down the
staircase awakening that child in them that says, “it’s
okay to steal warheads and work hard for nuclear blackmail
against your crummy neighbors.”
In the meantime, Marines are shooting holes through the left
eye of Liberty’s head as they push through. Largo uses
his Special SPECTRE Stiletto to stab a couple of America’s
best warriors before looking for another fast exit. The script
is tense and makes a special point to show blood tearing down
Liberty’s face, like a sacred Madonna come to life. It is
a mystical, if not holy moment for us, the audience. Using Marine
grappling hooks, Largo makes his way out (Hitchcock-style) of the
Statue. 007 is not far behind.
What I love about all this is the Jules Verne atmosphere as
the Arkos, like Nemo’s the Nautilus
rises from the ocean depths. Largo uses a pulley (this is scratched
out in the script) to make his way down the rope to the deck.
Bond does the same, but not for long. Largo cuts Bond loose
into the sea. Bond holds onto the top rails of the submerging
Arkos in much the same manner he held onto the
hydrofoil in Thunderball. (Let’s hope James
Bond never loses his grip in such matters.)
Maslov, under orders from Largo, prepares the warheads for
firing. Maslov has one weak spot, he likes Domino and unties
her. (Didn’t we see a similar scene in
Thunderball? But, that fellow lived and even learned
to swim, thanks to Bond when he made him leap from the
Disco Volante, just before it exploded.)
Maslov is not so lucky. For his insubordinate defiance, Largo
orders Maslov murdered by another SPECTRE agent, right there
and then. No messing around with Largo. You don’t
get to be Number One to boss Blofeld’s Number Two,
unless you’re willing to die for your seat on the Board of
Directors at SPECTRE. Those Enron chaps wouldn’t have
lasted five minutes under good old Ernst Stavro. He would have
given them all their special chair of privilege and cooked
But alas, someone has used a ballpoint pen and marked
through this section of the script. Maslov was not intended to die.
Largo did not order his murder. The SPECTRE agent acted
impulsively, when Bond swam up through the Moon Pool at the
center of the ship. Indeed, the writers changed their minds
somewhere along the plot line. Largo, indeed, needed Maslov
alive. Somehow, I always thought so. He survived all his previous
incarnations. Why start a new trend? Anyway, Maslov is dead.
That much is certain.
What’s not so certain is how Bond is going to stop
Largo. In the case of Warhead, Bond goes back to
stealth with knife poised in hand for surprise attack mode. A
SPECTRE engineer tosses a monkey wrench into Bond’s
plan when he shouts to warn Largo. As Peter Sellers might have
said as Inspector Clouseau – “Ah, yes, the old
shout and be tipped off ploy. It works every time.”
Largo defends himself against Bond. Shots destruct glass
tubes, and the ocean pours in around them. “The old
shoot the glass out of the submarine ploy.” Actually, all
kidding aside, this is a very exciting and dramatic moment if we
can forget all the other times Bond has killed Largo in previous
films. Remember, in Warhead, this is the first meeting
for everyone. That is why it is so important that this script be
filmed as a serious thriller.
Like Captain Nemo’s the Nautilus, just
before it implodes in the wonderful Walt Disney film of
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, the
Arkos is in perilous depths along the Hudson River
Canyons. The Arkos smashes into the cliff-face.
Red lights are flashing. Bells are ringing as they warn imminent
disaster for Largo and his SPECTRE crew. The Captain’s
wheel spins violently out of control. Everything is out of control.
The world seems to be ending. The glass tube that surrounds
Largo is impressive as it sweeps him away. It is right out of Jules
Verne. Largo, encapsulated inside his protective tube, enters the
ocean, free of the Arkos. Time and space as we
perceive it is on a roller coaster and running out of track. The
speed of the Arkos is incredible as it rips blindly
toward the underwater canyon shelf. Things blow apart inside the
Arkos. She is on a collision course. Largo’s
gold, like Captain Nemo’s in another story, is spilling out
into the ocean floor. Water quickly fills the interior.
James Bond and Domino make a rush for safety. We’ve
seen it all before, but perhaps, we haven’t. If only the
director and the cinematographer and the art director can pull
it all together and make it look new and more exciting than
anything else we’ve ever seen, we’ll have a
smash hit on our hands. Anyway, Bond and Domino fit quickly,
if not comfortably, into Largo’s submarine. The sub
drops (is propelled away) from the bottom of the dying
Arkos, as it speeds toward disaster. Bond and
Domino are now safe.
The film concludes as we see the Arkos beating
itself apart against one mountain range after another before lighting
up the surface of the water in an atomic explosion. (See the
Nautilus in Disney’s 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea.) Just before curtain and the closing
Bond and Domino are cozy in the sub. The line, “Oh,
James!” has become so familiar from Broccoli-produced
films, that this ending could stand a serious re-write. McClory
wanted to end the film with Rule Britannia playing
as the credits rolled, and the sub grew smaller as it moved into
For anyone who has seen Roger Moore in The Spy
Who Loved Me, one can only think that the only real
“spy” involved between Cubby Broccoli’s
production of that 1977 film and McClory&rsquos
Warhead script was a stenographer. I know I had
my version of the script locked away for safe-keeping. It is
easy for me to believe that someone at EON (possibly attorneys)
read the Warhead script by Connery, Deighton and
McClory. After all, it was not that difficult to get one’s
hands on it, even if it was top secret, if one were serious about
making the effort.
Warhead, unlike some other James Bond films
– Live and Let Die comes to mind –
has the potential to be a great Hitchcock-like thriller. There are
terrorists in the world today. There are people out there with
warheads and atomic devices. Kevin McClory and Ian Fleming
were forty years ahead of their time. The world is to be saved
from nuclear disaster.
This picture would make a wonderful thriller, even without
James Bond. It is just that Bond is like the icing on a good cake
that we love. He is the most important ingredient. If we must be
saved, let it be by someone we admire and who is cool and
well-dressed and likes his martinis shaken and not stirred.