Richard Maibaum (May 26, 1909 – January 4, 1991) was an American film producer, playwright and screenwriter in the United States best known for his screenplay adaptations of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels.
|Born||May 26, 1909|
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||January 4, 1991 81) (aged|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Alma mater||New York University|
University of Iowa
|Occupation||Screenwriter, playwright, film producer|
Among are the first anti-lynching play on Broadway, The Tree (1932); the first anti-Nazi play on Broadway, Birthright (1933); the first movie that dealt with the problem of medication abuse, Bigger Than Life, written in 1955, released in 1956; the first movie that dealt with the ethical and moral decisions in kidnapping cases, Ransom!; the first movie that introduced the American public to the importance of training airmen for the defense of the United States in a war many recognized as coming, I Wanted Wings (Spring, 1941); and Diamonds Are Forever, begun 1970, the first film that discussed the use of laser-like satellite mounted weapons for global warfare."
His papers now reside at his alma mater, the University of Iowa.
Maibaum was born to a Jewish family in New York City, and attended New York University. In 1930 he came to The University of Iowa's Speech and Dramatic Arts Department, where he studied under E.C. Mabie. He was graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1931, and in 1932 he received a master's degree, all the while writing plays and acting.
He was twenty-two and still at the University of Iowa when his anti-lynching play, The Tree, became a 1932 Broadway production under the direction of the young Robert Rossen, later known for Body and Soul (1947) and a life destroyed by the Hollywood blacklist.
Back in New York after graduation, Maibaum spent 1933 as an actor in the Shakespearean Repertory Theater on Broadway. He appeared in fifteen different roles in many productions.
As a young playwright in the early 1930s in New York City, Maibaum was involved with the challenging politics of the Depression. In 1933, the year in which Hitler ascended to his dictatorial powers in Germany, Maibaum attacked Nazism in his play, Birthright, also directed by Rossen. This was the first of several anti-Nazi plays to appear that year.
Maibaum then wrote Sweet Mystery of Life (1935) a stage comedy which eventually became the film Gold Diggers of 1937 (1936). His rapid rise as a playwright soon earned him a contract as a writer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, then the most powerful and prestigious studio in Hollywood.
While moving to LA and under contract to MGM, he wrote another play, See My Lawyer which was produced in New York by George Abbott and which starred Milton Berle. This was Maibaum's most successful play, running for 224 episodes from 1939 to 1940.
Maibaum's first credit was The Old School Tie (1936) at MGM. He did They Gave Him a Gun (1937) which he worked on with Cyril Hume. They worked on Live, Love and Learn (1937) and The Bad Man of Brimstone (1937) and Stablemates (1938) for Wallace Beery.
At 20th Century Fox he wrote Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942).
World War Two
Maibaum joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and, like many other Hollywood writers and directors, was commissioned as a captain in the Signal Corps, During his four and one-half years in the army, he produced war morale films, assembled and disseminated combat film footage (presumably while stationed overseas) and supervised a documentary history of World War II, whose title, length, whereabouts, and, indeed, purpose, are currently unknown. He eventually achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel.
He contributed to the story for the Olsesen-Johnson film See My Lawyer (1945).
With this experience under his belt, Maibaum returned to Hollywood for a contract at Paramount as a producer and screenwriter.
He wrote and produced his first picture, O.S.S. (1946), which starred Alan Ladd in a fictional story of the newly formed Office of Strategic Services, the precursor to the CIA. This was the beginning of his fruitful association with Alan Ladd.
In the 1950s, American producers Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli were making action films in the UK under their Warwick Films banner. When Broccoli signed Ladd on for a three-picture deal for Warwick, Ladd insisted on Maibaum co-writing the screenplays.
He also began writing for the new medium of television, including short teleplays for The Kate Smith Evening Hour, and the critically acclaimed "Fearful Decision", which he also co-wrote with Cyril Hume for The United States Steel Hour.
Maibaum returned to The University of Iowa in 1954 for one semester to teach and supervise the "Footsteps of Freedom" project, a teleplay writing course. For Warwick, he worked on the war story, The Cockleshell Heroes (1955) which starred Jose Ferrer.
Maibaum did another for Warwick, Zarak (1956), directed by Terence Young and starring Victor Mature. He and Young collaborated on the script for Warwick's No Time to Die (1958) with Mature and he did some uncredited work on Warwick's The Man Inside (1959). He wrote some episodes of Wagon Train (1958) and provided the story for Warwick's The Bandit of Zhobe (1959) and Killers of Kilimanjaro (1959).
Maibaum became executive producer at M.G.M.-TV in 1958, for whom he wrote and produced the TV series The Thin Man (1957–59). He also produced a pilot for a TV series Maisie (1960), based on the film series, and worked on the script for The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960). His strong ties to the Writer's Guild and the writing profession led him to resign in 1960 during a writer's strike.
Maibaum wrote and produced a war film for 20th Century Fox starring Audie Murphy, Battle on the Beach (1961). He then was invited by Albert Broccoli to write the first James Bond movie. And thus his future career was sealed.
Maibaum was brought on to write the first Bond movie, Dr. No (1962), sharing credit with Johanna Harwood and Berkely Mather. He wrote the episode "The Medal" for Combat! (1963), then wrote From Russia with Love (1963), sharing credit with Harwood.
You Only Live Twice (1967) was the first Bond film on which Maibaum was not credited as a writer, the producers using Roald Dahl. Albert Broccoli wanted to produce a non-Bond movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), and Maibaum did some work on the script.
Maibum received sole script credit for On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), starring George Lazenby. He did an early draft of Diamonds Are Forever (1971), then the producers wanted an American writer and hired Tom Mankiewicz to rework it.
Maibaum was brought back to the Bond movies to work on Mankiewicz's draft of The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). He was one of the many writers who worked on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), sharing credit with Christopher Wood. Maibaum was not used on Moonraker (1979), the producers preferring Wood. Instead, Maibaum worked on a Bond spoof, S.H.E: Security Hazards Expert (1980).
Maibum was brought back to work on the Bonds in association with Michael G. Wilson, Broccoli's step-son. Their first movie together was For Your Eyes Only (1981). It was followed by Octopussy (1983), on which George MacDonald Fraser also did a draft; A View to a Kill (1985), Moore's last Bond; The Living Daylights (1987), the first Bond from Timothy Dalton, whom Maibaum considered the best actor of the four Bonds; and Licence to Kill (1989).
Maibaum once told an interviewer that writing for Bond is "a case of Walter Mitty. I'm law-abiding and non-violent. My great kick comes from feeling that I'm a pro, that I know my job, and that I have enough experience that I can write a solid screenplay."
On writing the Bonds Maibaum said "The real trick of it is to find the villain's caper. Once you've got that, you're off to the races and the rest is fun." Maibaum is credited with adding the essential ingredient of humor to the James Bond stories, an element lacking in the original Fleming novels.
Maibaum continued working on Bond films until the end of his life. He died on January 4, 1991 at the age of 81, survived by his wife, Sylvia (who died in 2006), two sons, Matthew and Paul, and a granddaughter, Shanna Claire.
Partial filmography as screenwriter
- Birthright (1933)
- We Went to College (1936)
- Gold Diggers of 1937 (1937) -- story
- The Bad Man of Brimstone (1937)
- Live, Love and Learn (1937)
- They Gave Him a Gun (1937)
- Stablemates (1938)
- The Lady and the Mob (1939)
- Coast Guard (1939)
- The Amazing Mr. Williams (1939)
- 20 Mule Team (1940)
- The Ghost Comes Home (1940)
- I Wanted Wings (1941)
- Ten Gentlemen from West Point (1942)
- See My Lawyer (1945)
- O.S.S. (1946)
- The Great Gatsby (1949)
- The Red Beret (1953)
- Hell Below Zero (1954)
- The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)
- Bigger Than Life (1956)
- Zarak (1956)
- Ransom! (1956)
- No Time to Die (1957)
- Tank Force (1958)
- The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960) -- additional dialogue
- Killers of Kilimanjaro (1960)
- Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) — additional dialogue
- S*H*E (1980)
- Ransom (1996) — story
James Bond films
- Dr. No (1962)
- From Russia with Love (1963)
- Goldfinger (1964)
- Thunderball (1965)
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- For Your Eyes Only (1981)
- Octopussy (1983)
- A View to a Kill (1985)
- The Living Daylights (1987)
- Licence to Kill (1989)
Selected films as producer
- The Tree (1932)
- Birthright (1933)
- Sweet Mystery of Life (1935)
- See My Lawyer (1939)
- Middletown Mural
- A Moral Entertainment
- The Paradise Question
- "Sylvia Maibaum Widow of screenwriter Richard Maibaum". Variety. July 18, 2006.
- J.C. Maçek III (October 5, 2012). "The Non-Bonds: James Bond's Bitter, Decades-Long Battle... with James Bond". PopMatters. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Eleanor Blau (January 9, 1991). "Richard Maibaum, Screenwriter For James Bond Films, Dies at 81". The New York Times. p. D91.
- "Papers of Richard Maibaum - Special Collections - The University of Iowa Libraries". www.lib.uiowa.edu. Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Jewish Telegraph: "THE GREATEST EVER JEWISH FILMS Oy Oy Seven! Retrieved October 6, 2019.
- Brian Neve (1992) "Film & Politics in America: A social tradition" p. 13.
- "See My Lawyer – Broadway Play – Original - IBDB". www.ibdb.com. The Broadway League.
- Aljean Harmetz (July 9, 1989). "FILM; Creating a Thriller, Their Words Are Their Bond". The New York Times. p. 11.
- 2016, MI6-HQ Copyright. "MI6 :: The Home of James Bond". MI6-HQ.COM.
- Edward Gross (March 3, 2000). "An Interview with James Bond Screenwriter Richard Maibaum". Mania. Archived from the original on November 12, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
- Goldberg, Lee (1983). "Richard Maibaum 007's Puppermaster". Starlog. p. 23.