Lost Moonraker script written by Ian Fleming discovered by London bookshop

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A newly discovered Moonraker screenplay was penned by 007’s literary creator and jettisons a surprising number of the series’ iconic elements.

A lost screenplay has been discovered that gives an insight into Ian Fleming’s cinematic vision for the character of James Bond. The 007 franchise has spawned 25 official films that have introduced many staples into the long-running series. However, if the discovered manuscript is anything to go by, Fleming – the author of the 007 novels – would have created a markedly different cinematic incarnation of the English superspy.

The long-lost 150 page Moonraker script was unearthed by a couple of London bookshops specialising in rare tomes, and gives a fascinating glimpse into Fleming’s vision for the character’s big screen debut. Penned in 1956, some six years before the release of the first EON Bond film, Dr No, Fleming’s Moonraker would have adapted his then most recently written novel. The details that have emerged reveal that there would have been no Moneypenny character, no gadgets from the Q Branch, nor would Bond’s boss have been codenamed ‘M’.

Whilst Fleming’s take seems more grounded than the version we eventually got in 1962’s Dr No, the version of Moonraker that would make it to the screen in 1979 would be among Bond’s most far-fetched adventures. Jon Gilbert, a resident book expert at Harrington Rare Books, one of the shops that found the manuscript, has described it as ‘fascinating’ although he also added that it’s ‘far too descriptive” and an experienced scriptwriter would have ‘focused more on that dialogue.’

If nothing else, it’s an interesting Sliding Doors-style look at what might have been, but whether Fleming’s screen version of the character would have made it to 25 films in such rude health, we’ll never know.


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