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Dr. No/From Russia With Love press advertisement

“Double the excitement with Double DOUBLE-O-SEVEN!...”
Following Dr. No and Goldfinger’s run at the Gala cinemas which ended on Wednesday January 27, 1965 there was a brief five-week period where no James Bond films were showing in London's West End. From Russia With Love then screened at the Berkeley from Sunday March 7, where it played for six weeks; while at the Gala Royal, Marble Arch (also owned by Kenneth Rive) Dr. No was shown again from Thursday March 25 to May 3, 1965. From Russia With Love was supported at the Berkeley by the controversial 1961 ‘X’ certificate WWII drama During One Night (also known as Night of Passion); directed by Sidney J. Furie, and produced by Kenneth Rive's Gala Films. Although it had been Kenneth Rive who had kept Bond alive in London with revivals of the first three James Bond films, distributor United Artists then re-released Dr. No and From Russia With Love on an official double-bill which opened on Sunday November 7, 1965 at the 600-seat Studio One cinema at Oxford Circus, where it played until February 10, 1966.

Dr. No/From Russia With Love double-bill

The double-bill had already been successfully released in the United States in May 1965 and explains why the film logos used on the posters are the US versions, and not those seen on advertising materials created for their original UK release. Although the Exhibitors’ Campaign Book advertised the availability of a new quad-crown poster for the double-bill, the National Screen Service (the company who supplied publicity materials to UK cinemas) produced several variant posters and newspaper advertisements used during the initial campaign which utilised the layouts created for the US release. The various taglines would be re-used on all subsequent re-releases throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The double-bill was hugely successful and screened across the country for over six months, and was revived again in late 1966 where it played in many second-run cinemas.

Dr. No/From Russia With Love press advertisements
Thunderball premiere announcement Thomas Wallis window display November 1965

‘Bondmania’ Hits London!
The world premiere of Thunderball was originally scheduled for Thursday October 21, 1965 at the ODEON Leicester Square, but post-production delays resulted in the cancellation of the London opening and the film subsequently premiered at the Hibiya Theatre in Tokyo, Japan on Thursday December 9, 1965. Stanley Kramer's all-star drama Ship of Fools (1965) took over the ODEON premiere slot. Promotion for Thunderball was in full swing from Monday November 1st, when a display of props from the film (including the two-man submarine sled and the B.S.A. motorcycle ridden by Luciana Paluzzi) appeared at the Thomas Wallis department store in Oxford Street (pictured above right), close to the Studio One cinema where Dr. No/From Russia With Love would open on Sunday November 7, 1965.

Thunderball press screening ODEON Leicester Square and 007 Vodka reception

A press screening of Thunderball was held at the ODEON Leicester Square on Tuesday December 28, 1965, a day before the rescheduled premieres at the London Pavilion and Rialto cinemas. Attending the screening were Thunderball producer Kevin McClory, along with Luciana Paluzzi, Claudine Auger and Adolfo Celi (pictured above left). Following the screening press representatives were invited to a “007 Vodka reception” where guests sampled the ‘Thunderball cocktail’. “007 Vodka” was one of many licensed products released to capitalise on the success of the James Bond brand at the height of ‘Bondmania’ in the mid-1960s.

Thunderball premiere tickets

“Look Up! Look Down! Look Out!… James Bond Does it Everywhere!”
Thunderball premiered in London at two West End venues on Thursday December 29, 1965 with director Terence Young, stars Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell and Goldfinger's Honor Blackman and Tania Mallet attending at the London Pavilion; meanwhile Mollie Peters, Martine Beswicke [with her actor partner John Richardson] and Guy Doleman were among the celebrities appearing at the Rialto cinema 100-yards away on Coventry Street. Other guests attending the premieres and after show supper-dance at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington included producer Kevin McClory, composer John Barry, production designer Ken Adam and Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton. Sean Connery chose not to attend the Thunderball premiere. Also absent was Albert R. Broccoli who was in New York following the death of his mother two days earlier (although he was present at the Dublin premiere held on February 10, 1966). A second midnight gala performance of Thunderball then took place at the London Pavilion on December 29, 1965 to benefit the British Rheumatism and Arthritis Association. Tickets ranged in price from £1 in the stalls to £10 in the Dress Circle. The proceeds from the London Pavilion and Rialto premieres raised a staggering £12,000 for the Newspaper Press Fund.

Thunderball premiere London Pavilion 1965

ABOVE: (top left) Adolfo Celi and Claudine Auger attend the Thunderball premiere at the London Pavilion. (top centre) Large crowds gathered outside the London Pavilion on the evening of Wednesday December 29, 1965 to watch celebrities arriving at the Thunderball premiere. (top right) Goldfinger star Honor Blackman also attends the Thunderball gala premiere at the London Pavilion, whilst other stars appear at the Rialto cinema 100-yards away on Coventry Street. (bottom left) Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton with his actress wife Kerima. (bottom centre) Actresses Mollie Peters, Claudine Auger, Martine Beswicke and Luciana Paluzzi toast the success of Thunderball at the London premiere. (bottom right) Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny) and her husband TV executive Peter Marriott.
BELOW: (left) Crowds gather outside the London Pavilion hoping to catch a glimpse of Sean Connery, but were disappointed when the 007 star did not attend. (centre) A second charity midnight matinee of Thunderball was held at the London Pavilion on December 29, 1965. (right) Director Terence Young and actress Claudine Auger at the Thunderball supper-dance, held for 400 guests at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

Thunderball premiere London Pavilion/Supper-dance at the Royal Garden Hotel

Although Thunderball is technically captioned with a 1965 release date it would not actually have been seen by the majority of its audience until early 1966. After its double premiere at the London Pavilion and Rialto cinemas on December 29, 1965, Thunderball then went on general release in London and across the country on Sunday January 2, 1966. In a similar release pattern to that of its predecessor, Thunderball also opened at the nine ‘Premiere Showcase Theatres’ across London with sell-out midnight matinees on Saturday January 1, 1966 - with the ODEONs at Bromley and Streatham playing the film to standing customers. The nine ‘Premiere Showcase Theatres’ alone took a staggering £9,100 on Sunday January 2, 1966. Thunderball grossed a mammoth £8,120 at the London Pavilion in the first four days, and £3,724 at the Rialto in the same period.

Thunderball Box-Office

A week after its release the new James Bond film had broken the house records set by Goldfinger at the 11 London cinemas where it was playing. Thunderball remained at the London Pavilion for a staggering 19 weeks, and also played simultaneously at the Rialto for 12 weeks!

1966 Thunderball, Dr. No/From Russia With Love and Goldfinger all playing in London's West End

Goldfinger was then re-released exclusively at the 600-seat ODEON Haymarket on Thursday February 3, 1966 where it played for six weeks. With Dr. No/From Russia With Love still playing at the Studio One cinema at Oxford Circus, all four James Bond films could then be seen in the West End. Oxford Street department store Selfridges then displayed the BSA 650 Rocket Firing Motor Bike and Underwater Towcraft at their annual ‘Easter Show for Boys & Girls’ 4th-16th April 1966, where they were joined by James Bond's Aston Martin and Emma Peel's Lotus Elan from The Avengers television series. In January 1966 the CORGI Aston Martin DB5 had been announced as UK ‘Toy of the Year’ and ‘Best Boys Toy’ of 1965. ‘Bondmania’ had truly reached its zenith with children and adults alike cashing in on the cult of James Bond!

Selfridges Easter Show/Thunderball Continentale

Thunderball then played at La Continentale on Tottenham Court Road for two weeks from Thursday June 23, 1966. Kenneth Rive once again used the James Bond films as guaranteed money makers in brief engagements at his London cinemas between his usual programmes of foreign art-house films. He replayed the Dr. No/From Russia With Love double-bill three more times - firstly at his 360-seat International Film Theatre in Bayswater for one week from Sunday July 31, and again for another seven days from Sunday September 25, 1966. The pair then played at the Berkeley for two weeks from Thursday December 1, 1966.

“James Bond is Back to Back!”
There was then a six-month break before James Bond returned to the West End. As the rights to Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel CASINO ROYALE had not been available to EON Productions in 1961, there was always the possibility that a film version would be made by another company. Charles K. Feldman had acquired the rights in 1960 but was unable to come to an agreement with Albert R. Broccoli & Harry Saltzman to make it as an official entry in the EON series. Ultimately Casino Royale was produced as a spoof version along the lines of the producer’s previous success What’s New Pussycat? (1965).

Casino Royale poster by Frank McGinnis/Odeon Leicester Square premiere

ABOVE: (top left) Although not part of the official James Bond series Casino Royale had a poster designed by Robert McGinnis who painted the ‘Sean Connery with Girls’ panel on the US posters for Thunderball. This artwork was used exclusively on the UK quad-crown poster for Thunderball. He would go on to paint the posters for You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (with Frank McCarthy); and would be the sole artist for Diamonds Are Forever, Live And Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun. (top and bottom right) Over the weekend of 15th and 16th April 1967 a number of tattooed body-stocking-clad models were driven around London in a Ford Mustang convertible, taking part in a promotional drive and giving away film posters and copies of the PAN paperback tie-in of Ian Fleming's original novel. (bottom left) Casino Royale played at the ODEON Leicester Square for five weeks from 13 April - May 17, 1967 and was replaced by the comedy-thriller film Caprice starring Doris Day and Richard Harris, which played until June 11th; with You Only Live Twice then having its Royal World Charity Premiere the the flagship cinema on the following evening.

Casino Royale had its London premiere on Thursday April 13, 1967 at the ODEON Leicester Square where it played until Wednesday May 17th. The premiere was attended by co-producers Charles K. Feldman & Jerry Bresler, along with the five directors John Huston, and his daughter Angelica (pictured above right), Val Guest, Joe McGrath, Ken Hughes and Robert Parrish. Conspicuous by their absence were any of the films major stars, however other leading actors of the day such as Laurence Harvey and Mia Farrow added some Hollywood glamour to the occasion. Critically panned, but very successful at the box-office in London, taking £8,000 in its first three days at the ODEON Leicester Square, Casino Royale became the most successful Columbia film to play at the cinema up to that point. Casino Royale then went on general release across the country and was pre-booked into many cinemas for two weeks. However, the film proved less popular in the provinces and some cinemas cancelled the second week. The success in the West End was also short-lived, as Casino Royale then opened at the ODEON Kensington and New Victoria on Thursday April 22, 1967 where it only played for one week, despite newspaper advertising heralding the film as ‘London's Biggest Hit!’.

Casino Royale premiere

ABOVE: (left) Ticket for the Casino Royale Premiere held at the ODEON Leicester Square on Thursday April 13, 1967. The premiere was held in the presence of Princess Alexandra and attended by Producers Charles K. Feldman & Jerry Bresler; Directors Val Guest, John Huston [pictured below right with his daughter Angelica] and Kenneth Hughes; with actresses Joanna Pettet, Barbara Bouchet, Daliah Lavi and Vicky Hodge [pictured above right] also appearing. Conspicuous by their absence were any of Casino Royale's major stars, however other leading actors of the day such as Laurence Harvey and Mia Farrow [above centre] added some Hollywood glamour to the occasion. French actress Catherine Deneuve also attended together with her then husband, photographer David Bailey.

Casino Royale premiere - John and Angelica Huston
Casino Royale London's biggest hit!

Casino Royale spent another three weeks at the Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square from Thursday June 8 1967; and a brief engagement at Kenneth Rive's International Film Theatre, Bayswater in Christmas week 1967, before becoming a late-night attraction at many London cinemas in the following years. With its catchy tag line “Casino Royale is too much for one James Bond!”, its success obviously worried United Artists, who erected a huge poster on the roundabout at the Elephant & Castle in Southwark, reminding cinemagoers that “Sean Connery IS James Bond” and You Only Live Twice was coming soon!

Sean Connery hated this campaign as he was trying to escape his type-casting as James Bond and insisted that advertising at the premiere was changed or he would not attend. Although billboard posters across London still proclaimed ‘Sean Connery IS James Bond’, premiere tickets, souvenir brochures and all advertising outside the ODEON Leicester Square was hastily changed to read ‘Sean Connery AS James Bond’. Such was the power the star wielded at the peak of his career. Ironically, posters and advertising for Never Say Never Again (1983) also utilised the tag-line “Sean Connery is James Bond”, to which the actor clearly had no objections, in what was his second comeback in the role that made him famous. Perhaps the lowercase ‘is’ placed less emphasis on the association to the character, and was another acknowledgement that there were two James Bond films competing in the marketplace that year.

ABOVE: You Only Live Twice opened to the public on June 13, 1967 at the ODEON Leicester Square and in the weeks before its release it was impossible to avoid the posters with advertisements across London proclaiming ‘Sean Connery IS James Bond’. (top right) A huge 24-sheet poster was erected at the Elephant & Castle roundabout in Southwark, although advertising at the ODEON Leicester Square (bottom right) was changed to read  ‘Sean Connery AS James Bond’ in accordance with the wishes of the actor, who had announced this would be his last film as 007.

“TWICE Is The Only Way To Live!”
You Only Live Twice had its press show at the ODEON Leicester Square at 10.30am on Monday June 12, 1967 - with the Royal World Charity Premiere then taking place at 8.15pm in the presence of Her Majesty The Queen. Sean Connery attended along with his actress wife Diane Cilento; screenwriter Roald Dahl was accompanied by his actress wife Patricia Neal, and the late Ian Fleming’s close friend Ivar Bryce. Also attending was Goldfinger (1964) director Guy Hamilton; and Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes and Lionel Jeffries who were then filming Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Pinewood Studios. Also present was Desmond Llewelyn, who also played the small role of Coggins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), in addition to his recurring appearances as Q in the James Bond films. Actor Laurence Harvey, singer Tony Bennett and journalist & broadcaster Alan Whicker (whose TV series Whicker's World had featured a one-hour programme on the making of the You Only Live Twice broadcast on BBC2 on March 25, 1967) also attended the premiere. American actor-comedians Jerry Lewis and Phil Silvers (then filming [Carry On] Follow That Camel (1967) at Pinewood Studios) clowned for the TV cameras recording the event.

You Only Live Twice premiere and London Pavilion 1967

ABOVE: (top left) Sean Connery and wife Diane Cilento arrive at the premiere of You Only Live Twice (top right) Crowds gather outside the ODEON Leicester Square on June 12, 1967 (centre left) Sean Connery presents Diane Cilento to Her Majesty The Queen at the premiere of You Only Live Twice (bottom left) You Only Live Twice breaks the house record at the ODEON in its first week (bottom right) You Only Live Twice also played at the London Pavilion during September/October 1967.

Although Casino Royale was still playing in London, You Only Live Twice proved hugely successful and broke house records in its first week at the ODEON Leicester Square. You Only Live Twice also broke the house record at the ODEON Leicester Square in its second week taking £19,473. It even took in a respectable £9,160 in its final week before transferring to the London Pavilion from Thursday August 31, 1967, where it then played until Tuesday October 17th. You Only Live Twice was the penultimate film screened at the ODEON Leicester Square before it closed for ‘modernisation’ on September 21, 1967. Most of the beautiful art-deco features which had survived the London bombings in World War II were disposed of in the controversial revamp.

Best ever take in second week

The three-month £200,000 facelift included a new front-of-house canopy, restyled foyer & circle lounge and the auditorium was fitted with new seats. The cinema re-opened on December 27, 1967 the same week that Casino Royale played at the International Film Theatre, Bayswater.

You Only Live Twice also played concurrently at Studio One, Oxford Circus from Thursday September 14 until Thursday November 16, 1967 before transferring to the 320-seat Windmill Cinema (formerly The Windmill Theatre) in Soho until December 16, 1967. You Only Live Twice did not go on general release across the UK until mid-August 1967, two months after it premiered in London - although some south coast resorts had played the film for 7-days at the end of June; and also an exclusive season at the Dreamland Amusement complex in Margate over the Summer months. You Only Live Twice was still screening provincially almost a year after its London premiere.

You Only Live Twice - Odeon Leicester Square/London Pavilion 1967

ABOVE: (top left) The custom-made advertising at the ODEON Leicester Square was amended to read ‘Sean Connery AS James Bond’ at the request of the actor. (top right) Shaftesbury Avenue 1967 - The rear hoarding of the London Pavilion advertises You Only Live Twice which played there from August 31 - October 17, 1967 [bottom] the front of the London Pavilion, Piccadilly Circus at night also with the amended tag-line. All other advertising and posters for You Only Live Twice retained the original ‘Sean Connery IS James Bond’ tag-line outside the West End.

You Only Live Twice at the London Pavilion 1967


James Bond UK posters