Bond Movies and their relationship to the novels.

A commenter suggests that “lots of Bond movies” are not based on source novels.

Well, that’s an interesting topic, so let’s take a look.

Doctor No (1962): Based on the novel and followed the novel closely.
From Russia With Love (1963): Based on the novel and followed the novel closely.
Goldfinger (1964): Based on the novel and followed the novel closely (except for the ending).
Thunderball (1965): Based on the novel and followed the novel closely.
You Only Live Twice (1967): Based on the novel but took only a few characters and locations; the core of the novel YOLT has never been filmed.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): Based on the novel and followed the novel closely.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Based on the novel and followed the novel partially. Scenes, ideas, characters, and sequences were incorporated into the film, while large chunks were changed or discarded.
Live and Let Die (1973): Based on the novel and followed the novel only a little.
The Man With the Golden Gun (1974): Based on the novel and followed the novel only a little.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): By contractual obligation, only the title from the novel was used. Fleming wanted to make sure the novel TSWLM was never filmed.
Moonraker (1979): Based on the novel but took only a few characters and locations, however, see Die Another Day.
For Your Eyes Only (1981): Based on two Ian Fleming short stories. The stories “For Your Eyes Only” and “Risico” are followed quite closely. In addition, a sequence from the novel LALD is used.
Never Say Never Again (1983): Based on the novel Thunderball, it doesn’t follow the novel quite as closely as the movie TB, but it is pretty close.
Octopussy (1983): Based on the Ian Fleming short stories “Octopussy” and “Property of a Lady.” “Octopussy is followed hardly at all; most of the story is used as background and appears in the scene where Bond first meets Octopussy. “Property of a Lady” is followed more closely, and is contained in the sequences involving tracing the egg to an auction and attending the auction.
A View to a Kill (1985): Named for the Ian Fleming short story “From a View to a Kill,” it films exactly nothing from that story.
The Living Daylights (1987): Based on the Ian Fleming short story “The Living Daylights,” it follows that story very closely; the entire opening post-credits sequence (up to the drive to the pipeline) is almost identical to the story.
Licence to Kill (1989): This movie has the first original Bond movie title; that is, the first title that isn’t a Fleming novel or story. However, story components, scenes, and characters are derived from the short story “The Hildenbrandt Rarity” and the novel LALD.
GoldenEye (1995): Wholly original.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Wholly original.
The World Is Not Enough (1999): Wholly original.
Die Another Day (2002): Based very closely on the novel Moonraker. In fact, the original name for the character Miranda Frost was released to the press as Gala Brand (the woman in MR). Although the story is modernized, the resemblance is still significant.
Casino Royale (2006): Based on the novel and followed the novel closely.

So let’s see what we’ve got:

Follows Fleming closely (novel or story/stories): 10
Follows Fleming only loosely: 8
Original: 4

So 18 out of 22 have some Fleming connection, 10 a very close connection. Only 4 (counting TSWLM) don’t follow source material at all.


8 Responses to “Bond Movies and their relationship to the novels.”

  1. Zippertuck Says:

    Thanks for setting the record straight, although I don’t remember surfing or ice surfing in the Moonraker novel. 😉 I am going to have to re-read Moonraker and watch DAD to re-evaluate the similarities. Never realized DAD was based so much on Moonraker. OF all the original Fleming novels it is the one I wish they would re-make and stay close to the source material.

  2. Deborah Lipp Says:

    OOh! Explaining how DAD is actually a filming of Moonraker will make a great future blog post. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Zippertuck Says:

    Apparently that is what I am here for! 🙂 You have inspired me as well. Love this sight! I have had this dream to remake Bond films or actaully make films that are far closer to the original source material than some of the films for quite some time. I think once we get to DAF and LALD the Fleming Bond feel is gone and hardly ever returns. Interestingly enough I think music is a big part of that and of course writing. Interestingly enough once Fleming died the feel of the films really changed. Moonraker would be one of them of course along with most of the Moore outings. Of course the delima is whether to remake them updated in the present time or to set them in their original Cold War time frame. Thoughts?

  4. My friend Joe is a big proponent of making Bond films as period pieces, but I like that Bond lives in our times, fighting our enemies. CR did a great job of retaining the same feel while modernizing the politics.

  5. Zippertuck Says:

    The second half of CR does a great job of keeping the feeling of the novel and the true Bond character, while updating it to our time. That has been an issue with the Bond films for a while. How to take these cold war stories and make them relevant for today. I was a little disappointed with the first half, but what can I do? I of course prefer the first four movies and then OHMSS above all the other films. They were true to the novels and they fit the time period they were made. When it comes to Bond I am old fashioned, but certainly open to other possibilities.

  6. Deborah Lipp Says:

    I think modern Bond movies have to tap into our anxiety. What you get from the Fleming novels, much more even than the movies, is the immediacy of the threat. Writing in England in the 1950s, World War II is very recent, with effects still being felt. A villain like Hugo Drax seemed just around the corner.

  7. Sergio M. Says:

    I started all this by writing the word “lots” instead of “few” or “many”. I’m deeply sorry. English is not my birth languaje, it’s spanish (I’m from Argentina). You’re absolutely right about it, “few” is the right word. But it doesn’t change the fact that any Fleming perspective about the life of a spy or secret agent is totally out of sight today.
    And it doesn’t change my opinion about Moore being the best and Craig being the worst, based on the humour, the charm, the charisma, the fun, the presence and the intelligence of not taking the role seriously.
    Sorry again for “lots”.

  8. Deborah Lipp Says:

    Sergio, you don’t have to apologize. It is an interesting topic.

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