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Shelved Donald Westlake Bond Script becomes FOREVER AND A DEATH


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#1 DavidJones

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 08:20 PM

Not sure where to put this as it's both film and book.

 

Before Tomorrow Never Dies, two treatments where written by respected genre writer Donald E. Westlake. He then wrote it into a novel, changing names, and it has now resurfaced after his death:

 

http://birthmoviesde...-lost-james-bon



#2 Dustin

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:09 PM

Great find, Westlake's involvement is one of the most interesting in the series, even though we already have a handover novel with 007. I would like to know whether Westlake did the rewrite from script to novel himself - and of course how his Bond would have turned out.

#3 DavidJones

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 09:38 PM

I seem to recall that Eon decided a handover would show the film to be dated, which would explain why this plot was dropped.



#4 glidrose

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Posted 31 August 2016 - 11:57 PM

Great catch. Not published until June 2017? makes me wonder if the publishers are negotiating with IFP to allow use of Bond.



#5 Blofeld's Cat

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 03:18 AM

Great catch. Not published until June 2017? makes me wonder if the publishers are negotiating with IFP to allow use of Bond.

Well, one of the producers have apparently written an "afterword" on the history of these treatments, so I assume it's sanctioned anyway.



#6 SecretAgentFan

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 04:31 AM

Interesting indeed!



#7 Dustin

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 05:22 AM

Without use of Bond there seems to be not a lot they could do to prevent it, as long as Westlake was allowed further use of his rejected treatments. There used to be mention of an unpublished novel he supposedly wrote based on this on Wikipedia. I didn't trust that info, sounded too much like wishful thinking to me. See what my judgement is worth...


That said, I wonder whether the book was even written with Bond in mind? The Bond books used to be not that big a deal by then, perhaps Westlake used the general plot for a different character. He was a pretty busy writer and had a range of protagonists who might fit into such an adventure.

On the other hand, why wasn't it published right then? Or did the contract with Eon forbid further use for a time perhaps?

Very intriguing topic...

#8 Jim

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Posted 01 September 2016 - 10:33 AM

Very interesting.



#9 glidrose

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 06:28 PM

Turns out Westlake wrote this book back in 1998. His agent didn't like the book at all. His publishers rejected it. Even his own wife didn't like it.

More info at https://thewestlaker...westlake-novel/

and at http://www.hardcasec...cgi?entry=bk144

Here's an EXCERPT from the book http://www.hardcasec...44&type=excerpt

And a plot synopsis http://gregtulonen.com/westlake/

Jeeze, this 610 page book really is plot heavy. I figured I was reading the book's climax and it turns out I'm only at the 1/3 mark.
 
Anybody hoping for a straight up novelization will be disappointed. This appears to be a radical reworking of the story focusing on the villain. Can't even tell which part was originally Bond's.



#10 Dustin

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Posted 03 September 2016 - 08:40 PM

Ugh...I read until '...the end of Act I of Westlake's three-act structure...' Frankly, this reads like it could have done with serious focussing work. Too many characters, no real gravitational centre that I can figure out from this. We get events of roughly a few days, flashbacks and character backgrounds included, on 650 pages. Having so many people clutter up the plot is not perhaps the best idea, even for a master like Westlake. Without having read it myself I would suggest to cut the characters down to three or four at the maximum. And probably cut 100 to 200 pages of the whole thing; however much of it is really necessary to tell the tale. Cut the rest out.*

In general I tend to view posthumously published material with scepticism. As others have already expressed before me, there is a reason material is not published - often enough this is a good reason. I can see why Westlake wanted to use his considerable research and outline work for TND; also why he wanted to pull out a distinctly different work from his hat. But in the end I think this would have needed considerable rewriting to come out as a really satisfying book. The - excellent! - Westlake Review blog already nailed it for me: today, it would be of interest primarily to Westlake readers. And now some Bond fans, too. But would it find its audience without the curious backstory of having been an almost-script for an almost-007-adventure?


*Yes, I'm also one of the readers who think King's The Stand was a better book in the shorter version.

#11 Harmsway

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Posted 04 September 2016 - 01:16 PM

cover_big.jpg

A FORTUNE IN STOLEN GOLD...
A DEVICE THAT WILL KILL MILLIONS...
AND JUST ONE MAN CAN STOP IT!

Two decades ago, the producers of the James Bond movies hired legendary crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond film. The plot Westlake dreamed up—about a British businessman seeking to destroy Hong Kong after being kicked out when the island was returned to Chinese sovereignty—had all the action and excitement, the danger and the sex appeal, of a classic Bond film—but for whatever reason, the Bond folks decided not to use it. Never one to let a good story go to waste, Westlake wrote a novel based on the premise instead—but then never published the novel either!

Hard Case Crime is proud to give that novel, FOREVER AND A DEATH, its first publication ever, and to give fans their first taste of the Westlake-scripted Bond movie that might have been.


http://www.hardcasec...cgi?entry=bk144

#12 Dustin

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Posted 06 September 2016 - 08:17 PM

Mod note: topics merged.


And since I'm writing here in the topic: Bond fans who haven't as yet discovered Donald Westlake's work are strongly urged to do so. With good reason his books are considered classics particularly of the heist genre. Personally I've been more entertained by most of what I've read from his pen than I've been by most continuation efforts. I'm guardedly sceptic about this Forever and a Death novel, but I can wholeheartedly recommend the Parker and Dortmunder series.

#13 templar5

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Posted 27 April 2017 - 03:09 PM

More info here:

 

https://www.mi6-hq.c...death-questions

 

Spoiler alert.



#14 glidrose

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 06:11 PM

Muffy Bhang???

#15 templar5

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Posted 29 April 2017 - 11:34 PM

Muffy Bhang???

 

Westlake had an unusual sense of humor.



#16 glidrose

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 12:15 AM

Now available. Anyone read it?

Producer Jeff Kleeman provides an afterword.

One amazon reviewer says it's like "Robert Ludlum on Angel Dust."


Publisher's Weekly review - https://www.publishe...8-1-78565-423-7

"Credible characters and tangible suspense distinguish this highly readable thriller, which is longer and more complex than most of Westlake’s work."


Kirkus reviews - https://www.kirkusre...er-and-a-death/

"[A] novel based on a treatment for a 1997 James Bond movie that the Chinese government’s displeasure prevented from going into production. [...] What’s most fascinating here, in fact, is watching Westlake thriftily remix the ingredients he originally assembled for a franchise entry into a stand-alone that’s all his. Not as tough as Westlake’s Richard Stark stories about Parker, not as humorous as his tales of the hapless thief Dortmunder, but a posthumous bonus fans will cherish anyway."


Book Reporter - http://admin.bookrep...ver-and-a-death

"What follows is a bit of predictable but nonetheless entertaining derring-do, with Manville trying to save his own life as well as that of the environmentalist (a competent and fetching young woman named Kim Baldur) and somehow thwart Curtis’ plan, which, over the course of the book, proceeds as scheduled. There are a whole room full of ticking clocks here, and you will hear every one of them as Westlake reaches his enigmatic and haunting ending. FOREVER AND A DEATH is worthy of an audience beyond Westlake completists. Even if Westlake is treading in somewhat unfamiliar waters here, his trademark setups are present, and frequently so. One of my favorites occurs in the first quarter of the book, when Manville, who is unfamiliar with pistols, uses his engineering skill set to locate the safety and figure out how to disengage it. It’s a great scene in a book full of them. Westlake and Hard Case Crime are marvels, and FOREVER AND A DEATH is one reason why the term applies to both."


The June 1st issue of Library Journal has a review but it's not yet online.


http://georgekelley.org/robert-bloch/

"Curtis’s convoluted plan takes over 400 pages to accomplish. That’s one problem. The other problem with Forever and a Death is that there really isn’t a protagonist. George Manville, an engineer, starts out in that role but then disappears for large chunks of the book. Henry James called novels like this “loose, baggy monsters” and just about fits. For a more positive review, you can check out Bill Crider’s take here. GRADE: B-"


http://billcrider.bl...e-westlake.html

"Forever and a Death is a long book, well over 400 pages, not my usual thing, but I found myself reading right along by Westlake's craftsmanship and storytelling. It might not be top-shelf Westlake."


http://www.bookgasm....er-and-a-death/

"In the mid 1970s [sic] the producers of the long-running James Bond movie franchise hired crime novelist Donald E. Westlake to come up with a story for the next Bond movie. [...] And thanks to Westlake’s masterful skills at completely delineating characters with only a few lines, we come to know and understand each character regardless of their intended role. Yet the majority of the focus stays with Curtis as he continually dodges attempts to derail his plans, using every scheme and manipulation at his disposal. Westlake livens things up with an almost countless supply of unexpected plot twists. And while Westlake fans will no doubt miss the humor that distinguished most of Westlake’s best-known works, they will nonetheless find themselves wrapped up in the suspense as the story advances to its inevitable race against the clock."


http://www.seattlemy...k/9781785654237

"The book is fun and engrossing, and was perfect for a round-trip flight to the Great Plains. It’s got glitz and grime, really bad bad guys and really good good guys. It uses Southeast Asia well, moving from open ocean to islands, Australia to Hong Kong, it doesn’t shy away from killing off significant characters – that adds to the suspense – and it’s fun watching the heroes put the pieces together to stop the disaster."


http://anthonycardno...er-and-a-death/

"Four out of five stars. Anyone diving into this book expecting a straight up Bond pastiche based on the back cover copy might feel a bit disappointed at first. [...] And that, to me, is what makes this an excellent adventure novel accessible to anyone instead of just another James Bond adventure, of which there are dozens readily available. Another great thing about the way Westlake has crafted the book is that even the secondary characters (the Australian, Singapore, and Hong Kong cops the heroes deal with, and Curtis’ henchmen) all have distinct personalities and backgrounds that influence the proceedings. [...] But the most compelling character in the book is Richard Curtis. His history, his motivations, his narcissistic personality, drive the book from start to end. Literally, as the first and last scenes hold him as the focal character. Curtis is a villain worthy of Bond, no doubt, both in personality and in the plan he’s so determined to enact. The fight scenes are dynamic as well, full of little details that immerse the reader in each fistfight, gun battle, and foot chase. The description of the first, legal, activation of the soliton wave, and an early cat-and-mouse chase aboard a dark yacht were my favorite action sequences. Full of interesting characters, engrossing action scenes, and a solid tie to an actual recent historical event, Forever and a Death is definitely worth seeking out[...] whether you’re a Bond fan or not."


http://www.seattleti...fiction-titles/

"Shamelessly escapist fun[.]"


https://www.criminal...ver-and-a-death
 
Not a review, but the author "claims" that "Kingsley Amis wrote one of the best continuations, Colonel Sun (1968), which was briefly considered for a film [sic] but then dropped. Hard to fathom that a character-driven plot with blistering action like Colonel Sun would have been passed over for the cartoonish drivel of Moonraker (1979) or A View to a Kill (1985)."
 
 
https://thewestlaker...er-and-a-death/
 
"His failures often tell us more than his successes. But this, I would say, is neither. Or maybe it’s both. Somewhere in between. [...] Westlake’s original 610 page manuscript has been trimmed down by about 10%, according to Ardai–mainly repetitive material, descriptions of restaurants, some local history relating to the various settings. Things that needed to be more fully digested into the narrative as a whole, and probably could have been if Westlake hadn’t been discouraged from doing any more work on the book, and if he’d had a sympathetic editor to work with. [...] I read the early chapters with a slight sense of disappointment. Then the pace began to build. I found myself turning the pages faster, needing to know the outcome. I felt the book was out of balance in some ways, but I wondered if maybe that was the point. There are many protagonists here, some more interesting than others, none entirely good or evil, all imperfectly knowing themselves, though the two most clearly heroic characters both end up knowing themselves better as the story goes on. [...] Well, there is no comic relief this time. [...] There is an Oddjob, though. That was maybe the thing I found most fascinating. We spend quite a lot of time in his head. Westlake must have really liked Goldfinger. Essentially, the improbable and largely mindless henchmen one finds in a Bond story are rationalized here, given souls and motivations and inner lives, comprehensible pragmatic reasons for their loyalty to the main villain (who feels no loyalty to anyone but himself). "

#17 templar5

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 04:34 PM

As long as you don't go in expecting a Bond continuation novel in everything but character names, you'll have fun with it.

 

Westlake was known for developing some pretty hilarious similes, and this book has one of his most amusing:

 

"He had a raspy scaly voice, like the whispery sound of a lizard moving on a stone wall."



#18 Dustin

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 07:26 PM

That's a very nice one.

As I said before - and doubtlessly will say again - Westlake was one hell of a fine storyteller.

#19 Blofeld's Cat

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 06:26 AM

Borg.com has a glowing review, stating......

 

The result surpasses all expectations from one of America’s most celebrated authors:  the adventure of Ian Fleming, the complexity of Michael Crichton, the surprises of Stephen King, the thrills of Peter Benchley, the pulse of John Grisham.

 



#20 saint mark

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 03:45 PM

It is a very good thriller by the excellent Donald E Westlake, you should read it for that reason alone. The bond part is the afterword and for us geeks.






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