James Bond and Tarzan: The Hertfordshire Link

Spying in the Jungle

By Alan French

The following also appears in my blogspot ALAN’S BLOG for Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers’ website: www.hemelmoviemakers.org and will also be submitted to OUR DACORUM if considered suitable. Please enjoy.


Apart from certain anniversaries, such as the nail biting Cuba crisis, I think that I shall always remember October 2012 for some other anniversaries, particularly in the entertainment world.

Yes, some people enthused over the 50th anniversary of The Beatles appearing in the British charts for the first time with LOVE ME DO, although the group had been going for many years before.

Some people may enthuse over the fact that The Rolling Stones were formed coincidentally 50 years also. Enthusiasm may have waned when people saw how much the tickets were for their celebratory concerts, however. In fact, I remember seeing them twice at Watford during the 1960s. The prices were more modest then. Approximately around ten shillings, plus or minus two shillings. (50 pence, give or take 20 pence either way.)

But  two other commemorations that will also be remembered are those of two adventure heroes, who although may well have appeared at first in literature, did subsequently become major series within the film, and up to a point, television industry.


Agent 007’s debut was in a book titled CASINO ROYALE. In 1954, the first actor to portray Bond, Barry Sullivan, did his thing in an American television version. During October 2012, a telerecording of the production was broadcast on Sky Television. Bob Holness  became the second actor to portray James Bond in an adaption of MOONRAKER, this time on South African Radio. As far as I know, no recordings exist of his performance. Although, since the film series, a few plays presented by the BBC have materialised with other actors.

But the big anniversary that had the publicity was for the first film made for the cinema, DR. NO, in my opinion, with the excellent choice of casting Sean Connery in the role. The film’s 50th anniversary was well commemorated.

However, the biggest surprise of casting for a Bond girl came earlier in the year. Who was the girl? Her Majesty The Queen. This was for the 2012 opening of The Olympic Games. The Queen had also celebrated her 60th anniversary on the throne. The then current 007 Daniel Craig was seen in a short film, in which he collects the Queen for the Games.

The Hertfordshire Connection

Sir Roger Moore lived in the village of Leverstock Green, which comes under Hemel Hempstead.

The first film made at Leavesden Film Studios was GOLDEN EYE, featuring Pierce Brosnan as 007.

For Pierce’s next outing in the series, TOMORROW NEVER DIES, the disused Radlet Air Field/drome was used.

A short location sequence was shot at the one-time Bovingdon Aerodrome for THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.


Edgar Rice Burroughs was the son of an English woman and a successful American businessman. When he went out into the big world and got married, and found himself with a wife and family, he had difficulty in making ends meet. But he was rescued from a poverty stricken existance when he turned his talented imagination to writing.

His first effort was UNDER THE MOONS OF MARS, subsequently titled A PRINCESS OF  MARS. Originally it was written under the non de plume Normal Bean. It was a successful serial when published in an American pulp fictiion magazine THE ALL STORY. The tale has subequently been published in book form. An effort had been made during the 20th century to make an animated cartoon film of the story, but I gather that no financial backer could be found for this project. I have seen some very impressive hand-drawn animated images used as an experiment for the film. However, in 2012, it was released as a feature film, combining both live action and computer effects and animation, under the title of JOHN CARTER. Unfortunately, to date the film has not done so well at the box office as it had been hoped.

Edgar Rice Burroughs submitted another story called OUTLAW OF TORN. This was rejected. However, it has been published since.

His next story was submitted to the prospective publishers, who in turn are said to have read the manuscript in one sitting. Therefore, having such an impact, it came as no surprise when TARZAN OF THE APES was published in the October 1912 edition of THE ALL STORY MAGAZINE. Clinton McFee illustrated the cover, and Edgar Rice Burroughs dropped his pseudonym and used his own name.

Tarzan went on in other stories, at first in magazines and subsequently in book form during 1914. Work on the first Tarzan film commenced in 1917, followed by its premier in 1918. The background story about the making of this film could make a good film in itself. I have given reference elsewhere to this.

Therefore October 2012 commemorates the centenary of the publication of the first Tarzan story.

The Hertfordshire Connection

At least the grounds, and possibly Hatfield House, was used for some location work for the high-gloss GREYSTOKE: LEGEND OF TARZAN LORD OF THE APES. I know this because someone showed me a photograph of a man in an ape costume laying on the ground, but with his shoes still on. I believe that a castle was also used in Scotland. The photograph was shown to me by someone whose daughter was a make-up artist. Not sure if he or his daughter took the photograph.

And so there we are. Two major characters whose adventures, when expanded into films, were the basis for some of the biggest money spinning productions of 20th century cinema.

Thank you very much, Ian Fleming and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Alan French

Useless Information

Sean Connery appeared as a bad man in TARZAN’S GREATEST ADVENTURE.

In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, a Kodak spool of amateur cine film is seen. At the time, Kodak’s UK processing laboratory, was in Maylands Avenue, in Hemel Hempstead. Kodak in turn was a major employer in the town.

Some ape memorabelia from GREYSTOKE etc. were part of an exhibition display at the Bushey Museum some years ago.

When TARZAN’S SAVAGE FURY was shown at the Luxor cinema in Hemel Hempstead during 1952, a young man and woman garbed as Tarzan and Jane were in the foyer, near the paybox, for publicity purposes.

Reading Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books influenced my creative English at school. Therefore, if you do not like my writing and my blog spot, blame Tarzan and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

copyright Alan French October 2012


This page was added on 30/10/2012.

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  • The fact that Sir Roger Moore lived in Hemel Hempstead has been put into dispute.

    An article appeared in The Hemel Hempstead Gazette on this subject. Sir Roger Moore promptly denied this. But while letters and articles were being published as a reaction to this statement, Sir Roger sadly passed away.

    Alan French. May 2018.

    By Alan French (15/05/2018)
  • Since writing this, a movie was made at Hertfordshire’s Leavesden Film Studios. It was released during 2016. It’s title was/is THE LEGEND OF TARZAN. It features Alexander Skarsgard as Tarzan & Margot Robbie as Jane Porter.
    See legendoftarzan.com

    Alan French. 1/12/2016.

    By Alan French (01/12/2016)
  • Since writing this, Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers have had cause to start a new website:- http://www.hemelmoviemakers.org

    By Alan French (22/07/2016)