Tuesday October 5, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Bond, James Bond.
On this Day:
In 1962, “Dr. No”, the 1st James Bond film based on the novel by Ian Fleming and starring Sean Connery and Ursula Andress, premiered in London.
Welcome to the incredible and rich world of James Bond 007. James Bond, a fictional character created by author Ian Fleming, has, over the last 65 years, become one of literature and film’s most recognised characters.
About the Character
A spy, working for MI6 (the fictional version of the British Secret Service), Bond has risen to the ranks of 00-agent, meaning he is authorised to assassinate in the course of his duties and investigations. The 00-section, a brainchild of the head of MI6, known only as ‘M’, recruits the best field operatives in the service. Each carries a 00-number; James Bond carries the number ‘007’, and whilst other 00-agents are referenced in the course of the film and literary adventures, they are rarely an intrinsic part of the mission.
Little is known about his life ouside of his total commitment to his work. He was famously married, once, to Tracy Bond, who died suddenly after the wedding. He lives alone and employs a Scottish housekeeper, May, to look after the home. He (over)indulges in spirits, and gambling and enjoys driving fast cars. Bond was the orphaned son of Scotsman, Andrew Bond, and Monique Delacroix who both died in a climbing accident when James was 11. He briefly attended Eton, and was later sent to Fettes College, in Scotland. He spent his formative years in Kitzbühel, where a man named Hannes Oberhauser taught Bond to ski and became almost like a father figure. He joined the Navy as part of the Second World War and was recruited to the clandestine departments from there.
James Bond, as Ian Fleming wrote him, is typically tall, dark haired, and ruggedly handsome. He is described as having a cruel mouth and cold eyes, and his right cheek is blemished with a thin vertical scar. He is occasionally likened to Hoagy Carmichael; but other than that, his appearance is rarely of note in Fleming’s work. Over the film series his looks have not been strictly adhered to either. He has been played by Brits, Irishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen and even an Australian. Daniel Craig is the current film incarnation, the sixth in 50 years and, although some fuss was made over Craig’s blonde hair when he was cast, he’s grown into the role and is now generally accepted as the 007 of the era after the success of 2006’s ‘Casino Royale’.
Although spoofs and spin-offs, pastiches and more have been attempted over the years the Bond lore all stems from three official sources:
- Ian Fleming himself, who wrote 14 published volumes (12 novels and two volumes of short stories) between 1953 and 1966. Fleming passed away in 1964 before the publication of his final novel.
- Ian Fleming Publications (formally known as Glidrose Production), was purchased by Ian Fleming from John Gliddon and Norman Rose. It renamed in the 1990s. Under the watchful eye of Peter Janson-Smith, Glidrose managed international rights and translations until Fleming’s death. The company is now managed by Fleming family members and produces a series of official continuation novels by authors like Kingsley Amis, Raymond Benson, and Anthony Horowitz. Some, like Horowitz have attempted to emulate Fleming’s writing style and set their stories contemporary to his, but the majority have told original stories of James Bond in their own voice and present day.
- EON Productions and its sister company, Danjaq, were founded by Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and are today still run by the Broccoli family. EON purchased the film rights from Ian Fleming and produced 24 official James Bond films between 1962 and 2015. There have been several attempts to make Bond films by companies other than EON but these are considered unofficial or non canonical by many who follow the franchise.
The stories are often considered formulaic, with the girl, the villain, his henchmen all playing their parts. In the film universe we often meet Bond in medias res, romancing a woman or fighting his way out of trouble, or in the case of Fleming’s works, something more pedestrian – enjoying a meal, a card game, driving his favourite Bentley, etc. Bond is summoned to ‘M’, where he is briefed on his mission. On such occasions, Bond often demonstrates himself to be unexpectedly knowledgeable about a subject (diamonds, gold, brandy to name just a few). After having a puzzle or problem explained to him that seems to threaten national economies or securities, Bond is tasked with infiltrating the world of and disarming (often through charm, not weapons) a mysterious businessman, a lovely cypher clerk, a diamond smuggler, an oil heiress, etc. In the cinematic world, Bond is then usually dispatched to ‘Q-branch’, the Quartermaster. The man affectionately known as ‘Q’ heads the branch and Bond is given one or more gadgets or vehicles that could come in useful on the mission.
Bond then travels to some far flung corner of the globe. Although he might travel under an assumed name, announcing himself as from ‘Universal Exports’ – a cover that the service maintains for all its agents – the pretence often lasts no longer than a first meeting and Bond suddenly becomes endangered. A couple of attempts on his life will require 007 to draw on a satisfying combination of wits and Q-branch gadgets to escape the clutches of a henchman. Caught up in the mix is one or more women who are usually connected to the villain in some way: kept women, puppets in his plan, scorned lovers, investigative journalists, CIA agents, or victims of the villain’s past crimes. Bond talks them around to his side and wins an ally on the ground.
The final act of the story sees Bond and his accumulated allies mount one last attack on the villain’s main stronghold, which is often an impressive combination of architecture and defence. Some more memorable ‘lairs’ include volcanoes, super tankers, underground bunkers, trains, eco-hotels, or mountain-top clinics.
Aficionados of the franchise will no doubt quibble with the generalisations made above, but the summary serves to introduce new readers to the world of Bond. The films themselves hold a cult place in popular imagination and their timely plots, fantastic stunt sequences, charming allies and creepy villains all contribute to a picture of Bond in the popular imagination, often distilled beyond the nuances of each adventure.
With over 20 films, and almost 40 books, not to mention comics, videogames and radio plays, there’s a great deal of characters, locations, food, drink, cars, and gadgets to learn about (per MI6-HQ.com: the most comprehensive and active website dedicated to James Bond 007).
First, a Story:
What did James Bond’s mom, Monique Delacroix, say as she was giving birth? I’ve been expecting you, Mr. Bond.
Second, a Song:
In this case, not a song but rather a series of songs. Here is a medley of all James Bond 007 Theme Songs From 1962 To 2020 courtesy of Antonio Carlos Rodrigues dos Santos and YouTube.com in 6:19, set to images from all the Bond films. These songs are:
- 007 [John Barry]
- Dr. No [John Barry]
- James Bond Theme [John Arnold and Monty Norman Orchestra]
- From Russia With Love [Matt Monro]
- Goldfinger [Shirley Bassey]
- Thunderball [Tom Jones]
- You Only Live Twice [Nancy Sinatra]
- We Have All The Time in The World [Louis Armstrong]
- Diamonds Are Forever [Shirley Bassey]
- Live and Let Die [Wings & Paul McCartney]
- The Man With The Golden Gun [Lulu]
- Nobody Does It Better [Carly Simon]
- Moonraker [Shirley Bassey]
- For Your Eyes Only [Sheena Easton]
- All Time High [Rita Coolidge]
- Never Say Never Again [Lani Hall]
- A View To a Kill [Duran Duran]
- The Living Daylights [A-Ha]
- Licence To Kill [Gladys Knight]
- Goldeneye [Tina Turner]
- Tomorrow Never Dies [Sheryl Crow]
- The World Is Not Enough [Garbage]
- Die Another Day [Madonna]
- You Know My Name [Chris Cornel]
- Another Way To Die [Freddie Wadling]
- Skyfall [Adele]
- Writing’s on The Wall [Sam Smith] and
- No Time To Die [Billie Eilish].
I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“I will forever be a Bond. It’s a small group of men who’ve made this role. Someone said, ‘More men have walked on the moon than have played James Bond.’ ” – Pierce Brosnan
Have a great day!
Dave & Colleen
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky