James Bond is no stranger to extravagance. It's fair to say the spy’s escapades typically teeter on the wild side, with many of 'em being downright outlandish.
Yet none come close to the madness that is James Bond of the Secret Service, a 007 screenplay submitted to movie studios in late 1976.
Working alongside novelist Len Deighton and established Bond producer Kevin McClory, Sean Connery’s writing "talents” contributed to the crafting of the script. It was rejected for being (among other things), “Too out there.”
But "too out there" fails to expound this immense feat of absurdity. Not even a narcotic-riddled, hallucination-besieged Philip K. Dick could've concocted a story so mindbendingly mental.
The plot involves a plane that goes missing over the Bermuda Triangle. One of its passengers is the United Nations' Secretary General. Concerned by this development, the United States and Great Britain entrust James Bond with the task of cracking the case. An atypical set-up for a 007 flick, but there’s certainly potential for fun and frolics.
Or so you’d think.
The script opens with the abovementioned seaplane approaching the "Devil's Triangle," only for a laser beam blasted from an unseen location to knock out its power and force an emergency landing. Once on the water's surface, the craft is nabbed by a submerged contraption and dragged to the sea floor, which is littered with boats, planes, and a stash of gold bars. But something else lurks beneath the waves: An underwater kingdom! A graceless exposition dump reveals it's the city of Arkos.
(I guess now would be a good time to note that James Bond of the Secret Service is Sean Connery's one and only career writing credit.)
Lo and behold, the kingdom of Arkos is the work of a guy named Blofeld. His grand plan? Rid the world of pollution! Enraged by humanity's abuse of its oceans, Blofeld warns world leaders that further desecration will bring about dire consequences.
Enter James Bond! Er, sort of.
The only man capable of foiling Blofeld’s scheme (and what villainous goal could be any more dastardly than banishing pollution from the world's oceans?), 007 comes bestowed with a cover story to assist infiltration of the subaqueous kingdom: He's a finalist in the international backgammon championships! His opponent? Blofeld’s sinister minion, Largo. And this is where it all gets really weird....
While closing in on Arkos' watery wonders, Bond is assaulted by a robotic shark—scores of these mechanical abominations protect Blofeld’s kingdom. Meanwhile, a platoon of actual non-robotic hammerhead sharks have been fitted with nuclear weapons—they’re set to attack nations who disregard Blofeld's demands of clean, litter-free oceans.
But the backgammon master known as Largo has other ideas: The nuke-wearing hammerheads will be sent to New York City, where plans to blow up the Statue of Liberty and attack innocent civilians via the sewer systems are already in place!
What happens next? Well, Bond discovers that, erm--
Just ... no. The screenplay's unrelenting awfulness has left me a broken man.
A more comprehensive analysis of this nonsensical nightmare would warrant a Nobel Prize. It's not just the baffling premise that's so problematic; there's scarcely a hint of basic story structure to speak of. For starters, 007 barely features in the first half of the script. For a would-be movie titled James Bond of the Secret Service, the purported protagonist is curiously absent.
It's no secret that the James Bond canon is ambiguous, with films such as 1967's Casino Royale and 1983's Never Say Never Again taking place outside of any existing semblance of continuity (the latter stars Sean Connery, co-writer of this bloodcurdling script). But nothing uproots the 007-verse quite like James Bond of the Secret Service.
Rest easy, Timothy Dalton. All is forgiven.