Kevin McClory was an Irish screenwriter, producer, and director. McClory was best known for adapting Ian Fleming's James Bond character for the screen, for producing Thunderball, and for his legal battles with Fleming.
Ian Fleming and Ivar Bryce met in 1917, on a beach in Cornwall. Sharing similar interests and social status—Bryce’s father made a fortune in the guano business and Fleming’s grandfather founded a Scottish merchant bank—the two became fast friends. They attended the same college, and both served in British intelligence during World War Two. In 1950 Bryce married heiress Josephine Hartford, whose grandfather founded the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
In 1957, McClory produced and directed a film, The Boy On The Bridge, with financial assistance from heiress Josephine Hartford Bryce, the sister of Huntington Hartford II (the founder and owner of The Ocean Club) and her husband was Ivor Bryce. In 1958 Fleming approached McClory to produce the first Bond film. McClory rejected all of Fleming's books but felt that the character James Bond could be adapted for the screen. In 1961, without permission, Fleming novelised the draft screenplay Thunderball making it his ninth novel which initially did not credit McClory or any other writers of the screen adaptation of the character of James Bond.
Having received a pre-released copy of Thunderball, the novel by Fleming, McClory sued in 1961, postponing its release. In 1963, in an out-of-court settlement, McClory gained the literary and film rights for the screenplay, while Fleming was given the rights to the novel, although it had to be recognised as being "based on a screen treatment by Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and the Author”. Fleming, unfortunately, was unwell through most of this process and passed away August 12, 1964. The film, staring Sean Connery as Bond, premiered on 9 December 1965 in Tokyo and opened on 29 December 1965 in the UK; it remained the highest-grossing Bond film until Live and Let Die (1973).
The legal rights McClory had previously gained in 1963, allowed him to retell the Thunderball movie as 1983’s “Never Say Never Again”, marking the return of Sean Connery in the lead role, and also his last time as 007. It also was the only Bond dramatic feature made outside of the family of producer Cubby Broccoli. In fact, the movie was released the same year as another Bond pic, “Octopussy,” starring Roger Moore.
The Battle for Bond (2007), by Robert Sellers, is a cinema history book of how the literary character James Bond metamorphosed to the cinema James Bond. The book details the collaboration among film producer Kevin McClory, novelist Ian Fleming, screenwriter Jack Whittingham and others to create the film Thunderball.
The first release of the book features unpublished letters, private lawsuit documents and cast-crew interviews; there are also five Thunderball screenplays, two by Fleming, three by Whittingham, and two treatments by Fleming that document the creation and development of this James Bond project. The Ian Fleming estate, the Ian Fleming Will Trust, protested the inclusion of several Fleming letters in the book, which it said were used without permission. The book was subsequently withdrawn and unsold copies sent to the estate for disposal. The publisher, Tomahawk Press, later published a second edition without the letters, which it claimed were not fundamental to the story.