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The James Bond Codename Theory was Always in the Script

The codename theory of James Bond, if you’re not familiar with it, is that James Bond isn’t a name, but a codename. It’s often passed off as a fan idea, but it was in the original darker Ben Hecht script for Casino Royale.

The 40 pages of the draft dated February 20 1964 elaborated on many of the scenes and ideas in these pages, but add an unusual gimmick. Bond is precisely the same character as he was in the other drafts: suave, laconic, ruthless and predatory. But he is not James Bond. Instead, he is an unnamed American agent called in by M who is given the name James Bond. M says that “since Bond’s death” MI6 has put several agents into operation using his name: “It not only perpetuates his memory, but confuses the opposition.”

After this scene this agent is indistinguishable from Bond, and doesn’t seem American at all. It may be that Feldman was also considering how to make the film with an actor other than Sean Connery. There are very few logical inconsistencies in Hecht’s material – this gimmick sticks out like a sore thumb.

The producers flirted with an American James Bond and Ben Hecht’s solution for preserving continuity and canon was the codename theory.

The fan idea had already been thought up long beforehand by the writer behind Underworld, Scarface, The Front Page, The Thing and Gone With the Wind.

 

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