Archive for the Ian Fleming Category

Japan in You Only Live Twice

Posted in Ian Fleming with tags , , , on January 15, 2008 by Deborah Lipp

As I mentioned a few days ago, I just re-read Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice.

One thing that struck me during this reading was the view of Japan and the Japanese culture. I’d always thought of the novel as a kind of celebration, even fetishization, of everything Japanese. But on closer examination, Fleming is actually really hostile to Japan. The food is weird, sake is served in irritating little thimbles, the ninjas think they’re all that but the German SS would have wiped the floor with them, and the clothes are chintzy. They’re conformists, they’re obsessed with death, and they brought Doctor Shatterhand’s suicide garden on themselves. Barely a page turns without some dripping disdain pointed Japan’s way.

And what’s interesting is that YOLT is often described as a sort of loving travelogue, whereas it’s almost the opposite. Food for thought.


James Bond enjoys the movies

Posted in Ian Fleming with tags , , on January 2, 2008 by Deborah Lipp

In the novel You Only Live Twice, Kissy Suzuki has a cormorant named David. In this conversation, Bond and Kissy discuss the bird:

‘So this is David?’

‘Yes. I named him after the only man I liked in Hollywood, an Englishman as it happens. He was called David Niven. He is a famous actor and producer. You have heard of him?’

‘Of course. I shall enjoy tossing him a scrap or two of fish in exchange for the pleasure he has given me in his other incarnation.’

This is Fleming being cute, of course. David Niven was his first choice to play Bond. (And did play Bond, after a fashion, in Casino Royale, three years after this novel was published.

But back to the fictional Bond. It strikes me so odd that James Bond has received pleasure from the movies. I seem to recall Bond saying in the novel Casino Royale that he has no time for theater or film. One can easily see him in a cultural vacuum, what with the sense of isolation and the constant travel. I can picture him turning on the TV, at home, resting, or in an anonymous hotel room. But going to the movies? It seems very not-Bond. Does he like comedies, like Niven’s My Man Godfrey? Or drama, like Niven’s Separate Tables? I can imagine him getting lost in gazing at a beautiful starlet and losing track of the plot.

Married Bond Girls

Posted in Bond Girls, Casino Royale, Daniel Craig, Ian Fleming with tags , , , , , , on December 27, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

In the novel Casino Royale, Bond thinks about his preference for dating married women, because they have similar needs to keep things simple and have a life apart from him. In the movie Casino Royale, which, of course, sought to get back to Fleming’s roots, Daniel Craig’s Bond expresses a similar sentiment:

Vesper Lynd: Am I going to have a problem with you, Mr. Bond?
James Bond: No, don’t worry, you’re not my type.
Vesper Lynd: Smart?
James Bond: Single.

True to his word, Bond seduces the married Solange. So I started thinking, have there been other married Bond girls?

Although Bond is often connected to other men’s girlfriends, he has almost always stayed away from wives. Sean Connery’s James Bond was never tied to a married woman, nor was George Lazenby’s (except his own wife, of course). It was up to Roger Moore’s randy Bond to break that ground, and it was merely a kiss. In The Spy Who Loves Me, Bond and Felicca share an embrace while waiting for her husband, Max Kalba. But their lustful kiss is interrupted by an assassination attempt.

The next married woman to find her way to Bond’s arms is Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Before Solange, these are the only married women in Bond film history. So it took the film Bond forty-four years to match the three that the literary Bond was already seeing in the first book!

More information on Fleming the spy

Posted in Ian Fleming with tags , , , , on December 24, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

This is interesting stuff. I haven’t previously followed it closely, but more and more information is emerging about Ian Fleming’s role as a real life spy during World War II. It explains the credible feel of the novels even when plot elements are absolutely ridiculous.

The current news is about a woman who, after her step-father’s death, found papers indicating he was a spy working under Fleming.

Her painstaking inquiries led to her writing a book, now published, called Berlin to Bond and Beyond – The Story of a Fleming Man.

It tells how Terry had been recruited by Fleming as an intelligence officer and posted to various European countries under the guise of a foreign correspondent with the Sunday Times.

Fleming ran an intelligence agency called Mercury which used foreign correspondents working for the Sunday Times’ parent company Kemsley Newspapers, for which he was foreign manager, as spies.

The former SIS and MI6 agent Anthony Cavendish described the relationship in his book Inside Intelligence. He wrote: “At the end of the war a number of MI6 agents were sent abroad under the cover of newspapermen. Indeed the Kemsley Press allowed many of their foreign correspondents to cooperate with MI6 and even took on MI6 operatives as foreign correspondents.”

Fleming lived for a period in St Margaret’s Bay in a house he bought from his friend Noel Coward, who, it was revealed recently, also acted as a spy for the British in Europe and America.

Ian Fleming First Editions

Posted in Collectibles, Ian Fleming with tags on October 21, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

A person who attended a workshop I presented last summer has kept in touch with me. I guess you’d call him a fan. I was impressed with me, and I guess my workshop made a big difference in his life.

Anyway, he wrote last week to tell me that he’d found something Bond-related at a yard sale and he’d like to send it to me, could I please send my address?

Yesterday, a package arrived. In it were ten hardcover Ian Fleming first editions (all the novels except Live and Let Die and Diamonds Are Forever). First editions! I almost fell out of my chair.

The dust jackets are a little damaged, most of them have a horizontal black line or two in magic marker, making me think that once, long ago, a toddler had a marker and ran down a row of a bookcase with it. Most of the dust jackets also have small tears. The books themselves appear to be in perfect condition.

Needless to say, I am stunned by the generosity and the serendipity of this gift.

Happy Birthday, Charles Dance

Posted in Birthdays, Ian Fleming with tags , on October 10, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

Charles Dance starred in the other Goldeneye, the made-for-TV biography of Ian Fleming. (The film is perhaps not quite a biography, as it is speculative about exactly what Fleming did as a spy during World War II.)

Dance is pictured here with Judi Dench, whom he directed in Ladies in Lavender.

Charles Dance and Dame Judi Dench

Could Blofeld Ever Return?

Posted in Ian Fleming, James Bond with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

In comments, Zippertuck asks:

I am a bit confused as to exactly when CR takes place and wondering, even though he was shoved down a smokestack in FYEO, if Blofeld could ever return for an more appropriate death? Never ever liked how Bond never truly got to avenge the death of his wife in true Bondian fashion as happened in the novel YOLT.

Great question. I’m going to deal with CR and chronology in a future post. For now, let’s talk about Blofeld.

In order to understand what happened to Blofeld in the films, you need a little bit of familiarity with the lawsuit over Thunderball. The short version is that Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming collaborated on a television screenplay, but it never went anywhere. Sometime later, Fleming used the abandoned screenplay as the basis for the novel Thunderball. McClory and Whittingham sued. As a result, McClory established ownership of the right to make movies out of Thunderball (which he exercised when he made Never Say Never Again; a remake of TB). (Whittingham signed over his rights to McClory.)

The settlement also gave McClory the rights to unique elements of the novel, including the character of Blofeld. When McClory couldn’t finance filming TB on his own, he made a deal with Eon to co-produce TB, and that deal prevented him from remaking the movie for twelve years. During those twelve years, Eon continued to use Blofeld and SPECTRE. Blofeld was slated to be the villain for TSWLM, which fell outside those years, and that was changed to Stromberg for legal reasons. That was the end of Blofeld in the Bond films.

When John Glenn directed his first Bond film, FYEO, he wanted to resolve the issue of Bond’s revenge upon Blofeld. Thus, the “Man in Wheelchair” character was introduced into the teaser, allowing Bond to kill an unnamed enemy clearly designed to be Blofeld. (Glenn’s memoir, For My Eyes Only, explains that Blofeld was in a wheelchair because he had been injured in OHMSS. I guess he forgot that Blofeld walked just fine in DAF. Maybe he doesn’t see the ones he doesn’t work on.)

Kevin McClory died last year. It is unclear where the rights now reside, but it seems unlikely that SPECTRE or Blofeld will ever return.