Bond screenwriter was suspected of being a communist agent

Updated: Aug 26, 2010, 16:49 PM IST

London: Newly released Security Service files have shown that the MI5 had suspected the screenwriter of a James Bond film to be a communist agent.

Cyril Wolf Mankowitz, who wrote the screenplay for the unofficial Bond film ``Casino Royale`` in 1967 and was also involved in the film ``Dr No``, was according to the MI5 file monitored for more than a decade.

He was born in London``s East End, and attended Cambridge University where he joined the University``s Socialist Society and met his wife Ann, a Communist Party member.

MI5 first became interested in Mankowitz in 1944, when he and his wife were mentioned in a letter from suspected communist David Holbrook, prompting the agency to ask Newcastle police to investigate them.

Holbrook had written that the couple were "avoiding National Service and doing themselves well" earning 6 pounds a week lecturing for the left-wing Workers`` Educational Association.

In their report to MI5, the Newcastle police said Mankowitz "is known to frequently discuss the theories of Marxism with his friends whilst in lodgings".

Mankowitz, who then enlisted with the Territorial Army, was described by his commanding officer as a "highly strung individual of nervous temperament" who was awaiting an interview with a psychiatrist.

But he doubted he was a subversive influence, as he did not possess the personality or strength of character to pass them on to his fellow soldiers.

"There is no evidence that he has attempted to air these views whilst with this unit," the BBC quoted the officer as having written.

In 1948 Mankowitz applied for a job with the Government Central Office of Information but was blocked from joining the organisation.

In a letter, MI5 told the COI he was "known to be the husband of a Communist Party member and himself a convinced Marxist".

When in 1951, Mankowitz was commissioned by the BBC to translate the Chekhov play ``The Bear``, MI5 warned them of his communist past but suggested his working on the translation did not pose a threat.

The security agency was still interested in Mankowitz up to the mid-1950s, especially after he visited Moscow in 1956 as a guest of the Soviet Union.

But interest in him started to decline after he cancelled a follow-up visit to Moscow, and choose to go to the West Indies instead on film location.

The files are available at the National Archives in Kew.