Contributed by: The James Bond Movie Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin

(January 4, 1962–April 12, 2013): American screenwriter who received story credit on GoldenEye. France always wanted to do a Bond movie, but it wasn’t until 1991, when he sold his spec script for what would become the Sylvester Stallone hit Cliffhanger (1993), his produced screenwriting debut, that he was given the chance. Recalled France, “I learned how to write action movies from watching Bond films. I always wanted to write one, and I had my agent pester Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Once they got past the legal problems they had faced for a couple of years, I was invited to lunch with Barbara and Michael at an Italian restaurant on Pico Boulevard in West Los Angeles called Osteria Romana Orsini. This was in January 1993. Before the meeting I crammed on everyone’s bios, and as soon as I showed up they started quizzing me, basically on what my attitude toward the character was, what I knew about 007, what I could bring to a new film to make it fresh and different from the blizzard of action movies that had come out in recent years. They liked the fact that I knew the movies. Many people didn’t know the characters. They were pitching old stories. I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was watching Goldfinger. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Richard Maibaum, not Bond.”[1]

France’s meeting with the producers lasted over ninety minutes. But for two months, France heard nothing. Finally, in March 1993, they called back, and France was given the opportunity to come up with a new story line. He explained, “We were all in agreement that we needed to treat Bond seriously and not to do one of the more comedic, sillier Bonds like Moonraker. By the same token, they didn’t want to be as serious as Licence to Kill. Goldfinger was considered the model Bond. They didn’t lay down the law—no formulas were mentioned. But it was very collaborative. We had meetings twice a week for several months with Michael, Barbara, Cubby, and Dana [Broccoli, Cubby’s wife]—either at Cubby’s house in Beverly Hills or at MGM. I also talked to some technical people like stuntman B. J. Worth and aviation coordinator Corkey Fornof.

“The movies that we kept coming back to as inspiration were the earlier Connery Bonds like From Russia with Love. That’s where we wanted the character and situations to be. We also wanted a villain on the level of Goldfinger—with an elaborate, unsinkable plot. At the same time, we also want him to be credible as a threat—that all of the story elements were based in reality, that these things could happen.”

France placed much of the story in Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union, with the island location in Cuba saved for the ending. He finished his final draft in February/March 1994, a full year after his first meeting with Wilson and Broccoli. British writer Jeffrey Caine was brought in to write the next draft of the screenplay. And he in turn was followed by Kevin Wade and Bruce Feirstein. Final credits gave Caine and Feirstein the screenplay credit and France the story.

A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, France also cowrote the films Hulk (2003), The Punisher (2004), and Fantastic Four (2005). After battling complications from diabetes, he died in 2013 at age fifty-one.

[1] Michael France, telephone interview by Steven Jay Rubin, June 15, 1995.


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