I’ve been a big James Bond fan since I was a schoolboy and you may have noticed a couple of other Bond posts that I’ve written previously. The first Bond book I ever read was The Man with the Golden Gun which is a rather poor entry into the Bond world. Author Ian Fleming wrote the first draft but died before revising the book. His method was to write a first draft and then on the second, add in all the little bits of detail, such as Bond’s meals, drinks, clothing and so on that made the books so fascinating. I persevered, found the correct sequence of the novels, and have been a Bond fan ever since. Anyway, I’m getting away from my theme, eight things you may not know about 007.
1: The Longest Serving Bond.
Roger Moore made the most Bond films starting with Live and Let Die in 1973 and finishing with A View to A Kill in 1985. As much as I love Roger Moore, I really do feel he was the worst James Bond ever, totally unsuited for the role and a prime factor in me stopping watching the films during the 80’s. Adam West, TV’s Batman, Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds were all once in the running to play 007 but all declined, believing Bond should be played by a British actor. Cary Grant was also approached but turned down the role believing he was too old.
2: The Shortest Serving Bond.
George Lazenby was recruited to carry on as 007 when original Bond actor Sean Connery left. Lazenby was an Australian actor and the star of The Fry’s Chocolate Cream TV adverts. Lazenby was my personal favourite Bond actor and the one I’ve always felt that most resembled Ian Fleming’s description of Bond. He had the authentic black comma of hair that Fleming described in the books and his one Bond movie, ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was one of the very best. Such a pity that Lazenby didn’t go on to make more Bond films. He was given poor advice about the movie business; in particular he was advised that the Bond movies were on the way out. Away from the Bond set Lazenby dressed like a seventies hippy with long hair and a beard, none of which went down well with his movie bosses and PR men so Lazenby was out and Sean Connery asked back for one last 007 movie.
3: Who wrote the Bond books and where were they written?
Ian Fleming wrote the Bond books. After the war finished Fleming began work as foreign manager for the Kemsley newspaper group and as his contract with them gave provision for three months holiday during the
winter months, Fleming spent the time in Jamaica where he bought a house. He named the house after a wartime operation known as operation Goldeneye. He returned there every summer where he would work on the next Bond book. When all the books had been made into films, Eon productions, the makers of the Bond movies had to create new stories and new plots. The seventeenth Bond film Goldeneye was named after Ian Fleming’s Jamaica home.
Goldeneye the movie marked the debut of Pierce Brosnan as 007 when the movie franchise returned to the cinema screens after a brief hiatus. Apart from a rather silly tank chase, Goldeneye was one of the very best Bond movies.
4: Was there a real James Bond?
Indeed there was a real James Bond. When Fleming was planning his original novel he was looking around for the blandest and most anonymous name he could think of, and that’s when he came across a book called ‘Birds Of The West Indies’ by ornithologist James Bond. In 1964 Fleming gave Bond a first edition copy of ‘You Only Live twice’ inscribed by Fleming ‘to the real James Bond from the thief of his identity.’ When the book was auctioned in 2008 it fetched £56,000.
Many magazines and newspaper articles have put forward theories as to who the real Bond was but the fact is that while many of Fleming’s colleagues in the wartime SOE (Special Operations Executive) may have inspired him, the character of Bond was inspired by Fleming himself. Fleming was a commander in naval intelligence during the war, just like 007, and it was Fleming who drank the vodka martinis that James Bond liked so much. It was Fleming who wore the Sea Island cotton shirts that appear in the novels and it was Fleming who favoured scrambled eggs for breakfast, just like his creation, James Bond.
5: Which was the highest grossing Bond movie?
It was actually ‘Skyfall’, the 2012 Bond movie starring Daniel Craig as 007. The movie is easily the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films and there are some interesting aspects to the film in particular a visual homage to past Bond movies using a vintage Aston Martin. Until recently the top grossing movie was ‘Thunderball’ with Sean Connery.
6: How did two independent Bond movies come to be made?
Ian Fleming sold the movie rights to Casino Royale separately from the rest of the books and this enabled producer Charles K Feldman to produce a movie independently from Eon productions who own the rights to the other books. Feeling that he could not compete with the mainstream movies, he decided to make Casino Royale into a comedy version. David Niven starred as Sir James Bond and interestingly, Fleming had mooted Niven as a possible Bond when casting Dr No, the first movie in the series.
The other independent movie, ‘Never say Never Again’, came about due to a legal squabble. Fleming began work with producer Kevin McCLory and writer Jack Whittingham on a script which never came to fruition. Like many writers, Fleming was reluctant to waste this material and used it in his book Thunderball but did not credit McClory or Whittingham. McClory sued Fleming and won certain rights to the story. This enabled him to make what was essentially a remake of Thunderball in 1983 with Sean Connery returning for a last bow as 007.
7: Did the author ever kill off 007?
Not exactly but at the end of ‘You Only Live Twice’ in the novel, Bond is presumed dead or missing and M, the head of the secret service and 007’s boss, writes Bond’s obituary for the Times. It is quite interesting to read and M mentions that Bond was born of a Scottish father and French mother. The Bond family motto as we learn from ‘On Her majesty’s Secret Service’ is ‘the world is not enough,’ a phrase that later became the title for the 19th Bond movie.
8: Bond girls and voice overs.
A quick internet search tells me there have been 75 Bond girls but I’m not sure whether that includes minor flirtations or ladies like the formidable Miss Moneypenny herself. Two Bond girls were veterans of the British TV espionage series the Avengers: Diana Rigg played Tracy in ‘On her Majesty’s secret service’ and Honor Blackman was Pussy Galore in ‘Goldfinger.’ Terri Hatcher, formerly Lois Lane in the TV series of Superman played Bond’s love interest in Tomorrow Never Dies and Eva Green played Vesper Lynd in the new version of Casino Royale. The most famous is probably Ursula Andress who played the first ever Bond girl Honeychile Ryder in Doctor No. Interestingly, Ursula Andress’ voice was dubbed in the film by Nikki van der Zyl who did voice overs for many Bond girls. Apparently Ursula Andress was felt by the producers to have had too strong a German accent. Shirley Eaton played Jill Masterton in Goldfinger and it was she who was famously covered in gold paint. Jill’s voice was dubbed by Nikki in order to give her a softer voice. French actress Claudine Auger who played Domino in Thunderball was also dubbed by Nikki.
Miss Moneypenny, M’s secretary is not necessarily considered to be a Bond girl; however, in the films Moneypenny and Bond always have a certain amount of banter. Lois Maxwell played Moneypenny in the first fourteen Bond films. My personal favourite was Samantha Bond who played the role four times in the Pierce Brosnan era. The current Miss Moneypenny has been given a sort of backstory in Skyfall, that of a former field agent assigned to a desk role.
The 24th and latest Bond movie ‘Spectre,’ premiers later this year. Watch the trailer below!