DAHL, ROALD

Entry Source: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin


(September 13, 1916–November 23, 1990): Legendary, whimsical Welsh author and screenwriter who was enlisted to write You Only Live Twice in 1966. Recalled Dahl, “I remember the phone ringing and this man saying his name was Broccoli. I thought he was joking. After all, a man with the last name of a vegetable? It was funny. I really hadn’t heard of him.

“He told me about the Bond films and about You Only Live Twice, the latest in the series. And then he asked me if I would like to write a script. Now that was an exciting proposition, because I had admired the films. I had seen one or two and I had known Ian Fleming well. My wife [actress Patricia Neal] and I had often stayed at his home in Oracabessa. So I went up to London right away, to Audley Square, where I met Cubby [Broccoli] and Harry Saltzman. And they asked me right off whether I could deliver a first draft in eight weeks, a second in four more, and a complete script in twenty weeks. I said I could, and that was that.

You Only Live Twice was the only Fleming book that had virtually no semblance of a plot that could be made into a movie. The concept of Blofeld patrolling his garden of poison plants in a medieval suit of armor and lopping off the heads of half-blinded Japanese was ridiculous. When I began the script, I could retain only four or five of the original novel’s story ideas. Obviously, the movie had to take place in Japan. We kept Blofeld and Tiger Tanaka and Bond’s pearl-diving girlfriend, Kissy. And we retained the ninjas—those masters of oriental martial arts who use their talents to raid Blofeld’s hideout. But aside from those bits, I had nothing except a wonderful Ian Fleming title.”[1]

A native of Llandaff, Cardiff, who flew Hawker Hurricanes as a fighter pilot with the RAF in World War II, Dahl was the author of many famous children’s books, including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, Matilda, The BFG, James and the Giant Peach, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Cubby Broccoli hired him again the year after You Only Live Twice to write Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), based on another novel by Ian Fleming.


[1] Roald Dahl, interview by Steven Jay Rubin, London, June 19, 1977.