MI5 looked into Bond writer Wolf Mankowitz

August 26, 2010

Wolf Mankowitz, the celebrated writer and playwright who wrote screenplays lauding James Bond, was under lengthy investigation for his Communist sympathies.

In reports that would make Bond's boss "M" blanch, the documents show that Mankowitz, a Jewish Eastender, was under surveillance, had his mail intercepted and was the target of wiretapping by the intelligence services as hysteria about Communist infiltration gripped Britain.

Even the BBC was put under pressure not to use him on Radio Three and on a television film.

Mankowitz, who wrote the screenplay for 1967's Casino Royale and contributed to the screenplay of Doctor No, was under active investigation from 1944 until the late 1950s, with security agents poring over his army records and his articles on the arts in the Soviet Union.

Among their discoveries was a telegram from Tom Blau, the London editor of Tass, the Soviet news agency, asking Mankowitz to use his "magic touch" in order to facilitate photo sessions with Russian leaders including Nikita Khrushchev.

In one "secret" file they pointed to his wife Anne's contacts with the Communist Party and declared him a "convinced Marxist". MI6 contacted the Royal Army Service Corps where Mankowitz had served during the war. His commanding officer said he was "aware of his Communist views".

In 1957, the intelligence services put pressure on the BBC which wanted to use Mankowitz on the translation and dubbing of a film version of Chekhov's The Bear.

Last updated: 2:56pm, August 26 2010