Thursday, 15 November 2012

Musings on the Literary James Bond and Religion

The subject of the literary James Bond’s religion is a topic rarely touched upon, so here is a short addition to the available literature on the topic. It is my belief that James Bond was a Protestant of some denomination (probably Presbyterian) as he had a father who was Scottish, Andrew Bond, and his creator, Ian Fleming had a Scottish heritage and was brought up in the nonconformist religion. In John Pearson’s 1966 biography The Life of Ian Fleming, there is a very interesting letter Fleming wrote to a minister concerning comments he had made in a sermon about James Bond in 1961:
“…it was now that [Fleming] gave the only sign of concern he ever made about the possible effect that James Bond was having on the world at large. In a letter to the Rev. Leslie Paxton, of the Great George Street Congregational Church, Liverpool, he revealed a side of himself few of his friends can have suspected:
I see from the public prints that the Sunday before last you preached a sermon against the leading character in my books, James Bond, and, presumably by association, against myself.
Now, having had a Scottish nonconformist upbringing and considering myself at least some kind of a sub-species of a Christian, I am naturally very upset if it is thought that I am seriously doing harm to the world with my James Bond thrillers.
Would you be so very kind and let me have a copy, if you have one, of your sermon, so I may see the burden of your criticisms and perhaps find means of mending my ways if I feel that your arguments have real weight behind them.
I can, of course, myself see what you mean about my books, but it occurs to me that you may have put forward profounder arguments than those that are already known to me.
This unlikely mood of death-bed repentance did not last long. Mr. Paxton hastened to assure him that he had never implied that the creator of James Bond had done the world a serious disservice. Reassured, Fleming turned his thoughts once more to making the best of a distinctly strained future.”
This letter has always interested me. I think it shows how Fleming worried about the effect Bond was having and was a sign he was becoming a more puritan, moralistic person by the time he was writing the Bond novels than he had been necessarily in his youth.
Kingsley Amis in The James Bond Dossier, (1965), p. 85 in the Pan 1966 paperback edition points out that:
“The moral content of Mr. Fleming’s work, the values expressed or implied, whether through Bond or directly by the author, have been denounced all over the place. Bernard Bergonzi, in a long piece in The Twentieth Century, March 1958, lamented the ‘total lack of any ethical frame of reference’ in the books. In the course of reviewing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the Sunday Times, Raymond Mortimer complained that Bond’s values were ‘both anti-humanist and anti-Christian.’”
Amis goes on to defend Bond’s moral values, stating:
“I should have thought that a fairly orthodox moral system, vague perhaps but none the less recognizable through accumulation, pervades all Bond’s adventures. Some things are regarded as good: loyalty, fortitude, a sense of responsibility, a readiness to regard one’s safety, even one’s life, as less important than the major interests of one’s organization and one’s country. Other things are regarded as bad: tyranny, readiness to inflict pain on the weak or helpless, the unscrupulous pursuit of money or power. These distinctions aren’t excitingly novel, but they are important, and as humanist and/or Christian as the average reader would want. They constitute quite enough in the way of an ethical frame of reference, assuming anybody needs or looks for or ought to have one in adventure fiction at all.”
There are strong religious symbols and themes used throughout the Bond novels. The best example is the reference to Bond as a St. George figure slaying the dragon and rescuing the damsel in distress. For example, Tiger Tanaka says to Bond in You Only Live Twice, “You are to enter this castle of death and slay the dragon within.” This religious reference is also continued in the John Gardner Bond novels. The Bond novels display the classic battle between Good and Evil and the St. George references are an interesting way of highlighting this.
There are also some more direct references to the Christian religion and the Bible throughout the Bond novels and short stories. In Fleming’s The Property of A Lady, set in an auction room, there is the following:
“Bond picked up a wood and ivory plaque that lay on the table. It said:
It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer.
But when he is gone his way, he boasteth.
- Proverbs XX, 14
Bond was amused. He said so. ‘You can read the whole history of the bazaar, of the dealer and the customer, behind that quotation,’ he said. He looked Mr Snowman straight in the eyes. ‘I need that sort of nose, that sort of intuition in this case. Will you give me a hand?’”
In John Gardner’s Nobody Lives Forever it is revealed that Bond had a very Calvinistic upbringing. John Calvin, of course, was one of the great Protestant reformers. John Gardner himself was a one-time Anglican priest in the Church of England, following his father into the profession until he gave it up, becoming an agnostic for many years until re-entering into the Christian faith a number of years ago. There are references to the Bible and poetry spread throughout his continuation Bond novels. John Gardner's seventh Bond novel Scorpius (1988) has the religious cult ‘The Society of the Meek Ones’, taken of course from one of the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ, ‘The meek shall inherit the Earth.’ Father Valentine in the novel uses an amalgam of faiths to convert disciples to carry out his suicide bombings and assassinations of politicians for him. As a more recent example in Raymond Benson’s first Bond novel, Zero Minus Ten (1997), there is the following passage in Chapter 20, ‘Walkabout’:
“The Aborigines are known for practicing something called a ‘walkabout’, a rite of passage for young and old people alike. They would go out into the bush and stay there for days, weeks, or even months, living off the land, becoming one with the spirits whom they believe live there, and then return. Some say that the spirits act as guides and protect the humans. Bond wasn’t a religious man, but he stood there under the stars and closed his eyes. He breathed deeply several times, concentrating on the silence of the desert.”
From what is known about Ian Fleming’s background, and the fact that he based much of Bond on his own experience, it is fair to say that Bond was probably from a nonconformist Protestant background, as his father was a Scot from Glencoe, and Fleming himself was of this religion. The Protestant religion also fits more with the Anglo-Saxon, British Raj, patriotic elements which the pre-war spy thrillers with their support of the British Empire, which the Bond novels were partially descended from where the villain was mostly a foreigner, usually from Europe, and never from within Albion’s shores. As Amis points out in his Dossier, “Throughout Bond’s adventures no Englishman does anything bad. The villains are Americans, Bulgars, Chigroes, Corsicans, Germans, Italians, Jugoslavs, Koreans, Russians, Sicilians, Spanish-Americans and Turks.” “To use foreigners as villains is a convention older than our literature.” The rightness of England has with the attendant notion of the rightness of the Anglo-Saxon mainly Protestant view of England (the "Protestant work ethic" etc.), and this is why I think I can accurately pinpoint what religion Bond was born into and practiced - the Protestant religion and the Scots Presbyterian denomination.


TBB Article No. 19.

© The Bondologist Blog, 2006.

H.R.F. Keating on the James Bond Novels

In the documentary The Truth about Len Deighton broadcast on BBC Four in the UK in January 2006 the novelist and critic H.R.F. Keating, the author of the Inspector Ghote books about an Indian detective said the following about the range of spy fiction:
‘The spy story can vary enormously. It can be at one low pole, if you like, Ian Fleming, writing to get himself readers and get himself money. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s true. And at the other extreme is Len Deighton, using the spy story to say things about people and about the world in just the way that Graham Greene used the spy story for that. In Conrad – very happy to use the spy story to penetrate into people and their motives and why they do extraordinary and absurd things and Len is with them all along.’
Now, I have no doubt that what Keating is saying about Deighton is completely accurate. Deighton does not write mere ‘kiss kiss bang bang’ spy thrillers, but I think he is being a little unfair in his assessment of Ian Fleming, who always seems to be so undervalued as a ‘popular’ spy novelist.
Let us not forget that it was HRF Keating himself who acted as the go-between for Glidrose in 1980 when John Gardner was asked to be the continuation James Bond author. From John Gardner’s site:
‘In the autumn of 1980 I was living in the Republic of Ireland: about two miles outside Wicklow town. There, on a glorious morning when the leaves were turning to red and gold, I received a letter from HRF Keating, the author of those wonderful Inspector Ghote books. In fact I did not recognise his handwriting so I put it into the pile I usually held back until my lunch break: the letters I thought were either love or hate mail. When I finally opened the envelope – Basildon Bond notepaper – I found that Harry Keating was acting as a go-between for Glidrose, the literary copyright holders in the James Bond books. They were sounding me out: would I consider writing a continuation James Bond novel?’
Perhaps some of Keating’s view of Fleming’s Bond novels comes from the article Ian Fleming wrote in 1962 entitled How To Write A Thriller,
‘I am not an angry young, or even middle-aged, man. My books are not “engaged”. I have no message for suffering humanity and, though I was bullied at school and lost my virginity like so many of us used to do in the old days, I have never been tempted to foist these and other harrowing personal experiences on the public. My opuscula do not aim at changing people or making them go out and do something. They are written for warm-blooded heterosexuals in railway trains, aeroplanes or beds.’
Fleming continues he once asked an ‘angry young’ writer ‘of renown’ ‘how he described himself on his passport’:
“I bet you call yourself an Author,” I said. He agreed, with a shade of reluctance, perhaps because he scented sarcasm on the way. “Just so,” I said. “Well, I describe myself as a Writer. There are authors and artists and then again there are writers and painters.”
This rather spiteful jibe, which forced him, most unwillingly, into the ranks of the Establishment, while stealing for myself the halo of a simple craftsman from the people, made the angry young man angrier than ever and I don’t now see him as often as I used to. But the point I wish to make is that if you decide to become a professional writer, you must, broadly speaking, decide whether you wish to write for fame, for pleasure or for money. I write, unashamedly, for pleasure and money.
I also feel that, while thrillers may not be Literature with a capital L, it is possible to write what I can best describe as “Thrillers designed to be read as literature”, the practitioners of which have included such as Edgar Allan Poe, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Eric Ambler and Graham Greene. I see nothing shameful in aiming as high as these.’
Perhaps Fleming here is being a little too modest, polite and admirably unpretentious, as Kingsley Amis in The James Bond Dossier (1965) points out in pages 140-1 in the 1966 Pan paperback version:
If Mr. Fleming had wanted the Bond books to be read as literature (a big ‘if’, I would bet), he certainly went about it the wrong way. To begin with, he shouldn’t have behaved as unpretentiously, even flippantly, as he did when interviewed.
‘My books tremble on the brink of corn.’
‘I have a rule of never looking back. Otherwise I’d wonder, “How could I write such piffle?”‘
‘[I am concerned in] the business of getting intelligent, uninhabited adolescents of all ages, in trains, aeroplanes and beds, to turn over the page.’
That’s no way to go on. Mr Fleming seemed never to have heard of the most elementary maxim of the writer’s trade, People take you at your own valuation. If you tell them you’re a genius, or a mere entertainer, they’ll tell one another you’re a genius or a mere entertainer. The remedy was plain to see and not onerous. A few public statements with every other sentence beginning, ‘As a writer I…,’ a couple of articles explaining that the lot of 007 allegorized the lot of Western man, the Secret Service symbolized the contemporary consciousness, and critical esteem would have gone shooting up.’
And at p. 142 Amis continues,
‘That huge virtue of never stooping to pretentiousness, of never going in for any kind of arty or symbolic flannel, has cost Mr Fleming a formidable amount of critical acclaim, but it’s done as much as anything to bring him readers. Whatever the rights and wrongs of using literature as escape from life, there’s a lot to be said for using one kind of literature as escape from others.’

TBB Article No. 18

 © The Bondologist Blog, 2006.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

George Lazenby and the film of Len Deighton's Horse Under Water (1963) that never was

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.”

With most of the general discussion on contemporary spy fiction and films currently revolving around the “Bond-Bourne” debate, a rather reluctant spy from the 1960s who could give both characters some competition and is long overdue a comeback is Harry Palmer. This was the bland name given by Michael Caine to the nameless ‘anti-hero’ of Len Deighton’s original spy novels. The most appropriate source for a Harry Palmer comeback film would be Len Deighton’s second novel, Horse Under Water (1963) which, although it fell between The Ipcress File (1962) on the one side and Funeral in Berlin (1964) and Billion-Dollar Brain (1966) on the other, remains tantalisingly un-filmed at present. Horse Under Water was first published in Britain by Jonathan Cape on 21 October 1963, with an original print run of 15,000 copies.[i]

In Len Deighton’s perceptive article on the 1960s spy-craze, entitled “Why Does My Art Go Boom” in the May 1966 edition of Playboy magazine, he revealed that after the success of the film The Ipcress File (1965), the film’s Canadian producer Harry Saltzman bought the film rights to the follow-up ‘Harry Palmer’ novel Horse Under Water:

“In the autumn of 1963 my second book, Horse Under Water, was published and Saltzman bought the film rights of that, too. There was more conjecture in the press. “Out-Bonds Bond” and “Anti-Bond,” they said.”[ii]

In an interview with author Edward Milward-Oliver ("EMO" below), Len Deighton revealed another connection which his second novel Horse Under Water had with James Bond:

“EMO: Had you already written your second novel Horse Under Water before The IPCRESS File was published?

DEIGHTON: It was in first draft. I took it to Hodder & Stoughton and asked them to read it through, because they’d warned me that second books always get slaughtered by the critics. So I got a bit nervous about this, and took a long time writing it – even today I must be one of the world’s slowest writers – until finally I had it ready. I took it to them, and they said they didn’t want to read it. They told me they had a policy of not dealing with a second book until the first had come out.

EMO: Tom Maschler at Jonathan Cape published Horse Under Water.

DEIGHTON: That’s right. And that enraged some people, who claimed I was now going to be trained as the successor to Ian Fleming, who Cape also published.”[iii]

Indeed, Queen reviewed Horse Under Water at the time in the following way:

“James Bond’s most serious rival…Deighton decorates his thrilling plot with equally enthralling detail about secret service routine.”[iv]

It has long been something of an enigma why Horse Under Water was never filmed along with the other ‘Palmer’ novels in the 1960s. It certainly had the potential for being the source for a successful film, as, for instance, the “whole of the first Penguin edition of Len Deighton’s Horse Under Water – over 60,000 books – sold out completely within 48 hours of publication.”[v]

Christopher Bray’s recent biography of Sir Michael Caine, Michael Caine: A Class Act, (2005) has an interesting passage in the 1966-67 chapter which reveals that plans to film Horse Under Water in the 1960s were actually dealt a fatal blow by what could be described as the “Anti-Palmer” (at least in commercial terms), namely, the arrival of the first replacement James Bond actor in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) - the Australian ex-model George Lazenby:

“The critical reaction to the film [Billion Dollar Brain (1967)] was the most negative any of the trilogy had had, and while Saltzman had plans to film Deighton’s next Palmer novel, Horse Under Water, Caine was adamant (rightly enough as it turned out) that he had done everything he could with the character. ‘I hope some new actor can give his interpretation of Harry,’ said Caine, ‘but after three films I don’t think the Palmer character holds anything for me anymore.’ Saltzman did look around for another actor – ‘We don’t want anyone who looks like Mike and he probably won’t even wear spectacles or even be a cockney,’ he said – but nothing ever came of the idea. Since Saltzman was talking during the period of Sean Connery’s absence from the Bond series, when the part was taken over – disastrously, as far as the box office was concerned – by George Lazenby, he had good reason to change his mind and let the series go.”[vi]

Christopher Bray takes the quotes from Caine and Saltzman on the possibility of a new Palmer film from an article in the Daily Mirror on 3 December 1968.[vii] It is believed that the actor that producer Harry Saltzman had in mind to replace Michael Caine in the role of Harry Palmer was Nigel Davenport.[viii] It is interesting that Michael Caine felt he could do no more with the role of Harry Palmer, and in some ways this mirrors Sean Connery’s attitude towards the role of James Bond, especially during his experiences with an intrusive media whilst filming You Only Live Twice (1967) in Japan. This led to him vacating the Bond role after what was to be his fifth (and seemingly final) Bond film.[ix] It is also interesting to note that if the projected film version of Horse Under Water had went ahead as planned the Harry Palmer character would probably have been visually and audibly very different from the blonde and bespectacled chippy cockney spy in the mackintosh raincoat as portrayed by Michael Caine in the three preceding films, The Ipcress File (1965), Funeral in Berlin (1966) and Billion Dollar Brain (1967).

It is submitted then that the main reason for the proposed film version of Horse Under Water being ‘dead in the water’ had as much to do with Harry Saltzman’s negative experience with the first change of lead actor in the James Bond film series at the time as it had to do with the relatively poor critical reaction to the film of Billion Dollar Brain. It is fascinating to consider how the Harry Palmer series might have continued had a new actor been cast for a film of Horse Under Water. It is revealing how contemporary events in the ‘rival’ James Bond film series (which had the ever-restless Harry Saltzman as co-producer, alongside Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli) impinged on the Harry Palmer film series and ultimately ensured that the Palmer character did not have a fourth film in the classic 1960s “spy-mania” era. Either a 1960s period piece or a contemporary film version of Horse Under Water would still be a very welcome prospect for fans of Harry Palmer – and would surely represent a much more fitting comeback for the Palmer film series than the ‘straight-to-video’ Bullet to Beijing (1996) and Midnight in St. Petersburg (1997) were, in which Michael Caine reprised his famous role as Harry Palmer. Neither Bullet to Beijing nor Midnight in St. Petersburg were based on any Deighton material, (though the project did have the author’s blessing)[x] but if ever a future film producer or director deigns to notice the obvious potential of Len Deighton’s ‘Harry Palmer’ a film of Horse Under Water would be as good a place to look for cinematic inspiration as any. In the meantime, Deighton and Palmer fans can only hope that this particular Horse will yet get a to have a refreshing drink at the box office at some point in the not-too-distant future.[xi]


Bray, Christopher, Michael Caine: A Class Act, (Faber and Faber, London, 2005),

Deighton, Len, Funeral in Berlin, (Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1966 reprint),

Deighton, Len, Horse Under Water, (Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1970 reprint),

Deighton, Len, “Why Does My Art Go Boom”, (subtitle ‘as the spy craze continues to spiral skyward, the author of  “the ipcress file” files a personal report on the phenomenon’), Playboy (Chicago, May 1966),

Milward-Oliver, Edward, The Len Deighton Companion, (Grafton Books, London, 1987).


This article originally appeared on The Len Deighton Discussion Group and Archive in February 2009 to celebrate Len Deighton's 80th Birthday.

TBB Article No. 17

© The Bondologist Blog, 2009.

[i] Edward Milward-Oliver, The Len Deighton Companion, (Grafton Books, London, 1987).
[ii] Len Deighton, “Why Does My Art Go Boom”, (subtitle ‘as the spy craze continues to spiral skyward, the author of  “the ipcress file” files a personal report on the phenomenon’), Playboy (Chicago, May 1966), p. 182.
[iii] Edward Milward-Oliver, The Len Deighton Companion, (Grafton Books, London, 1987), pp. 13-14.
[iv] Quoted on the Horse Under Water Penguin paperback back cover, (Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1970 reprint).
[v] Quoted on the Funeral in Berlin Penguin paperback back cover, (Penguin Books, Middlesex, England, 1966 reprint).
[vi] Christopher Bray, Michael Caine:  A Class Act, (Faber and Faber, London, 2005), pp. 104-105.
[vii] Ibid, n. 19 and 20, p. 294. 
[viii] From Kees Stam’s unofficial Harry Palmer Movie Site:
 “Bob Engesser added this on the messageboard, interesting enough to add here: “I recall a press release from the late 1960s stating that Harry Saltzman would produce Horse Under Water with Nigel Davenport and not Michael Caine as Harry Palmer. Poor box office from Billion Dollar Brain the movie and not poor sales from Horse Under Water the book probably killed this project. Davenport costarred with Caine in the underrated war film Play Dirty which was produced by Saltzman.”” (from:, accessed 17 February 2009).

[ix] Sean Connery was actually contracted for six James Bond films, but he would later return to his most famous role as 007 in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) for the official Eon Productions series after George Lazenby’s sole Bond outing, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), and later in the aptly titled and unofficial film Never Say Never Again (1983), a remake of his fourth Bond film, Thunderball (1965), which was released in the same year as Eon’s Octopussy, starring his successor Roger Moore as 007, prompting the press to refer to the ‘Battle of the Bonds’ in 1983.
[x] Christopher Bray, Michael Caine:  A Class Act, (Faber and Faber, London, 2005), p. 254 and n. 11, p. 304, “Quoted in the Sunday Times Magazine, 23 July 1995”).
[xi] © 2009, “The Len Deighton Discussion Group” Moderator.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Whatever Happened to the Literary James Bond in the 1970s?

The literary James Bond’s life and adventures are chronicled from the early 1950s onwards, and we know something of his life in the period before this. We know of his missions on into about the mid 1960s, with Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun (1968). After this mission however the life of Bond becomes sketchier. In fact the only decade of the literary Bond’s life that we do not seem to know very much about is the 1970s. This decade had no real continuation novel connected to Ian Fleming’s Bond novels as such, but it did have John Pearson’s James Bond: The Authorised Biography of James Bond (1973). It details Bond’s life from his birth to the events just after Colonel Sun, which means that it is still set in the 1960s.

The other real literary continuation of James Bond in the 1970s were the two screenplays from the two last Bond films of the 1970s, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, published by the screenwriter and novelist Christopher Wood under the titles James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me and James Bond And Moonraker, published in 1977 and 1979 respectively. As these are novelisations of the films to tie in with the Fleming Bond universe, they are not really seen by fans as being part of the literary Bond continuation. They do however tie in well with Fleming’s style of writing, making the books of the film at least owing more to Fleming than the films on which they are based. When Glidrose continued the literary Bond series proper with Licence Renewed (1981) by John Gardner, there are some very interesting details of Bond’s life in the period in between. We learn that “there was not much to console Bond these days. There had even been times, recently, when he had seriously considered resigning – to use the jargon, ‘go private’.” There is recalled the famous exchange between M. and Bond on the disbanding of the Double-O Section, 
“‘Changing world; changing times, James,’ M had said to him a couple of years ago, when breaking the news that the elite Double-O status- which meant being licensed to kill in the line of duty- was being abolished.
“This was during the so-called Realignment Purge, often referred to in the Service as the SNAFU Slaughter, similar to the C.I.A’s famous Hallowe’en massacre, in which large numbers of faithful members of the American service had been dismissed, literally overnight. Similar things had happened in Britain, with financial horns being pulled in, and what a pompous Whitehall detective called ‘a more realistic logic being enforced upon the Secret and Security Services’.”
Gardner assures us that Bond’s role will still remain much the same. As M says to Bond, we are told a two years before Licence Renewed begins, so it can be assumed this was in 1979, 
‘As far as I’m concerned, 007, you will remain 007. I shall take full responsibility for you; and you will, as ever, accept orders and assignments only from me. There are moments when this country needs a trouble-shooter – a blunt instrument – and by God it’s going to have one. They can issue their pieces of bumf and abolish the Double-O Section. We can simply change its name. It will now be the Special Section and you are it.”
Later we learn,
“Bond had left M’s office on that occasion in an elated mood. Yet, in the few years that had passed since, he had performed only four missions in which his Double-O prefix had played any part. [...] It was the active life that Bond missed; the continual challenge of a new problem, a difficult decision in the field, the sense of purpose and of serving his country. Sometimes he wondered if he was falling under the spell of that malaise which seemed, on occasions, to grip Britain by the throat – political and economic lethargy, combined with a short-term view of the world’s problems.
Bond’s four most recent missions had been quick, cut and dried, undercover operations; and while it would be wrong to say that James Bond yearned for danger, his life now seemed, at times, to lack real purpose.”
We learn of the changes in Bond’s lifestyle since the 1960s,
“Bond had even managed to alter his lifestyle, very slightly, adapting to the changing pressures of the 1970s and early 1980s: drastically cutting back – for most of the time – on his alcohol intake, and arranging with Morelands of Grosvenor Street for a new special blend of cigarettes, with a tar content slightly lower than any currently available on the market.”
“With fuel costs running high, and the inevitability that they would continue to do so, Bond had allowed the beloved old Mark II Continental Bentley to go the way of its predecessor, the 4.5-litre Bentley.”
The most interesting titbit of information comes when the details of Dr. Anton Murik and Franco are being told to Bond in M’s office. Bond says,
‘Not a healthy mix – an international terrorist and a renowned nuclear physicist. Been one of the nightmares for some time, hasn’t it, sir? That some group would get hold of not only the materials but the means to construct a really lethal nuclear device? We suspect some of them have the materials – look at that fellow Achmed Yastaff I took out for you. At least four of the ships he arranged to go missing were carrying materials…’
M snorted, ‘Don’t be a fool, 007. Easiest thing in the world to construct a crude device.’
It would perhaps be an interesting idea for a future Bond continuation author to look afresh at the literary Bond in the 1970s because there has been so little written about Fleming’s creation in this particular time period. It would give new scope and new ground for the literary Bond to work within. Perhaps the mentions of the four missions where Bond used his licence to kill could be expanded on in a novel or short story collection by a new continuation author at some stage, including the story of Achmed Yastaff. It might be some sort of an answer to the problem some see in continuing the literary Bond character indefinitely into the future, as the dates given in Fleming’s work give his revised date of birth as 1924. It would also be an adult antidote to the ‘Young Bond’ series. Of course in the novels Bond hasn’t really aged very much, but the 1970s could be an interesting retro angle rather than writing adventures in between the 1950s novels as some have suggested.

TBB Article No. 16. 

© The Bondologist Blog, 2005.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli and the Blueprint for James Bond

By the time of Ian Fleming’s death in 1964 his publishers had “sold 30,000,000 copies of his 12 books in 12 years – give or take a couple of million.”[1]

Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli estimated that half of the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond film.

In a television interview in 1996, “Cubby” Broccoli, the world-famous producer of the James Bond films, recalled the origins of the most famous literary and cinematic character in the world:

“Well, it all started with a man named [Ian] Fleming. Fleming’s books were very interesting to me, and I read them and reread them and was very surprised that no one had ever done them…Much to my surprise, I found that Fleming had made a deal with a man called Harry Saltzman who had an option for twenty-eight days. After some discussions, we made a deal where we became fifty-fifty partners and we started James Bond.”[2]

Cubby Broccoli had first tentatively tried to acquire the film rights to Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels in 1959 so he was therefore eager to make a film partnership deal with the Canadian producer Harry Saltzman.[3] Broccoli continued the story of the birth of the cinematic James Bond in his autobiography, When The Snow Melts (1998), co-written with his close friend Donald Zec, where he described in more detail his meeting with Harry Saltzman:

“What mattered to me was following my hunch that Fleming’s books, James Bond, had great film potential. I could see that the only way I could proceed with the project was by going into partnership with Harry. For better or for worse I was reluctant, and it showed. But the danger was, if he dropped the option someone else might immediately pick it up. I was convinced that sooner or later others would catch on to 007. Rather than take that chance – Harry might even have considered renewing the option – I agreed to go into business with him.

‘We’ll make a deal,’ he said. ‘We’ll draw up a piece of paper now.’

Mark Elms, who had been managing director of Warwick Films, was still working in that office. Harry talked to him and brought out this piece of paper.

He said cheerfully, ‘You’ll have forty-nine per cent, I’ll have fifty-one per cent.’

I said less cheerfully, ‘No, Mr Saltzman. If you want to make the deal with you having fifty-one per cent, forget it.’

Saltzman half smiled. ‘What’s the difference? It’s only a couple of percent.’

‘Look, Harry, forget it!’

‘All right, we’ll have it drawn up. Fifty-fifty.’


We shook hands. I left with the feeling that this was going to be an interesting partnership.”[4]

Steven Jay Rubin in The James Bond Films (1981) continued the story of the genesis of Eon Productions and the James Bond films:

“[Broccoli] decided to offer the project to United Artists and on June 20th 1961, he and Saltzman flew into New York City for a meeting with United Artists president Arthur Krim. Fortunately for the future of James Bond, United Artists was ready to deal. On the recommendations of David Picker, who was a Bond fan and UA London Chief, Bud Orenstein, Krim decided to go for the project. When Broccoli and Saltzman entered his office they found, to their surprise, the entire UA Board of Directors waiting for them. Within minutes, as Broccoli remembers, they had agreed a six picture deal.”[5]

In a television interview in 1996 Cubby Broccoli described the first birth pangs of the later phenomenon of “Bondmania”[6] after the release of Dr No in the cinemas:

“The audience reaction to the first picture, Dr No, was fantastic. They broke the doors down of the cinema. It was incredible.”[7]

The story behind the influence of author Ian Fleming on producer Cubby Broccoli is equally incredible, and there are perhaps facets of the short but interesting creative relationship between the two men that remain unexplored. A study of the Fleming Bond novels and his memorandum advice to Broccoli reveals the hidden depths of the literary influence on the subsequent highly successful Bond films produced by Eon Productions and also the visible influence of the early Bond films on the last few novels of Ian Fleming.

When work began on the script of what was to be the first James Bond film, Dr No (1962), based on Ian Fleming’s sixth James Bond novel, Cubby Broccoli revealed the extent of the influence which the author had over the production:

“…Ian attended several of our meetings well before the picture started. It was good having him around. His whole persona, the way he held his cigarette, his laidback style, that certain arrogance was pure James Bond. He never interfered in any way. There was no agreement giving him approval of the scripts, but we let him see them just the same, partly as a courtesy, but mainly because we valued his expertise. He was not concerned about the stories, but occasionally he’d make marginal notes in his miniscule handwriting, mostly on matters of protocol. For instance, Bond should never call M by that title in the Club; he should always address him as ‘Admiral’.”[8]

An example of this social etiquette in Fleming’s Bond novels may be found in Moonraker (1955) where Bond is asked by M to visit the Blades private card club to investigate the cheating of one of the members there, the national hero Sir Hugo Drax:

‘Bond pushed through the swing doors and walked up to the old-fashioned porter’s lodge ruled over by Brevett, the guardian of Blades and the counsellor and family friend of half the members.

“Evening, Brevett. Is the Admiral in?”

“Good evening, sir,” said Brevett, who knew Bond as an occasional guest at the club. “The Admiral’s waiting for you in the card room. Page, take Commander Bond up to the Admiral. Lively now!”’[9]

This scene from Fleming’s third novel is mirrored in the sixth Eon James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), starring Australian ex-model George Lazenby as 007 in his first and only appearance in the role. Bond has driven to Quarterdeck, the residence of his chief, M, which was described in the original novel and faithfully portrayed in the film version by director Peter Hunt. However, the dialogue when Bond rings the ship’s-bell at the front door of the house and meets Hammond (M’s Chief Petty Officer on the HMS Repulse, who had followed him into retirement from the Royal Navy) was not in the original novel, but was actually taken from Fleming’s memorandum advice to Broccoli, and, by extension, from the scene in the Blades club in Moonraker where Bond asks for “the Admiral”:

HAMMOND: “Good afternoon, James.”

BOND: “Good afternoon, Hammond.”

              “Is the Admiral in?”

HAMMOND: “Certainly, sir.”

[Hammond shows Bond in to M’s study.]

M: “Um.”

HAMMOND: “Excuse me, sir, Commander Bond to see you.”

M: “Right, show him in.”

HAMMOND: “Aye, aye sir.”
[to Bond:]        “If you please, sir.”

BOND: “Thankyou.”[10]

Cubby Broccoli recounted how Ian Fleming had sent a fascinating memorandum to him after one of their enthusiastic talks about James Bond over dinner. Broccoli described Fleming’s ‘Editorial Notes’ as “the definitive thesis on the way James Bond should be structured and played.”[11] Therefore Bond aficionados should regard the excerpts that Broccoli gave in his autobiography from Fleming’s memorandum as the blueprint for James Bond as both a literary and cinematic character, the very touchstone of what makes the character in the novels and films ‘James Bond’ as opposed to any other standard secret agent character:

“‘Atmosphere: To my mind, the greatest danger in this series is too much stage Englishness. There should, I think, be no monocles, moustaches, bowler hats or bobbies, or other “Limey” gimmicks. There should be no blatant English slang, a minimum of public school ties and accents, and subsidiary characters should, generally speaking, speak with a Scots or Irish accent. The Secret Service should be presented as a tough, modern organisation in which men may dress more casually than they do in the FBI. Above all they should not slap each other on the back or call each other “old boy”. James Bond; James Bond is a blunt instrument wielded by a Government Department. He is quiet, hard, ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic. In his relationships with women he shows the same qualities as he does in his job, but he has a certain gentleness with them and if they get into trouble he is sometimes prepared to sacrifice his life to rescue them. But not always, and certainly not if it interferes with his job. He likes gambling, golf and fast motor cars.’”[12]

It appears that Terence Young, the director of From Russia with Love, took Fleming’s memorandum advice to have subsidiary characters in the Secret Service speaking with accents from other parts of the UK and Ireland on board. Desmond Llewelyn, who played the role of the gadget boffin “Q” in seventeen James Bond films, had starred as a Welsh tank driver in the war film They Were Not Divided (1950), which was directed by Terence Young, and Young was keen for Llewelyn (who was Welsh) to also use this accent for the role of M’s “Equipment Officer”[13] in From Russia with Love (1963), later called “Q” in Goldfinger (1964) and the subsequent films. Llewelyn humorously recounted the story in a television interview broadcast in 2000:

“He sort of thought it would be a good idea to have me as a Welshman because when I went to rehearse he said, ‘How are you going to play this’, and I said, ‘Well, he’s an ordinary civil servant.’ He said, ‘No, I want you to play him as a Welshman.’ Well I said ‘Well, it wouldn’t work.’ I said, ‘Alright Terence, is this what you want?’: [in a Welsh accent] ‘This lovely case I’ve got ’ere. I push a butt-on and out comes a knife,’ and he said ‘No, no, you’re quite right!’ so I’ve played him as a toffee-nosed Englishman ever since.”[14]

Ian Fleming’s memorandum to Cubby Broccoli delineating the blueprint for the James Bond character continued:

“‘Neither Bond nor his Chief, M, should initially endear themselves to the audience. They are tough, uncompromising men and so are the people who work for and with them.”[15]

Ian Fleming further elaborated on this perhaps surprising conception of James Bond in an interview with Playboy magazine, which was published after his death in December 1964. When the interviewer asked Fleming if he agreed with a reviewer who said that Bond was “the bad guy who smoulders in every good citizen” Fleming replied:

“I don’t think that he is necessarily a good guy or a bad guy. Who is? He’s got his vices and very few perceptible virtues except patriotism and courage, which are probably not virtues anyway…I quite agree that he’s not a person of much social attractiveness. But then, I didn’t intend for him to be a particularly likeable person. He’s a cipher, a blunt instrument in the hands of the government.”[16]

Broccoli, Saltzman and the scriptwriters incorporated the more unpalatable elements of the Bond character in the first film Dr No, in the scene where Bond shoots Professor Dent once in the front and then once in the back with his silenced gun (“That’s a Smith and Wesson, and you’ve had your six”, says Bond[17]). Professor Dent had already emptied the chamber of his own gun into Bond’s mocked up bed, and director Terence Young’s “preferred version had the unfortunate Professor being shot a further four times”[18] beyond the two shots fired by Bond in the finished film. Bond’s first screen kill was “cut down from the original at the behest of the censor.”[19]  Although neither this scene nor the minor villain character of Professor Dent appeared in the original Fleming novel, of which the film is otherwise a faithful adaptation, it shows that from the very start the Bond producers were willing to follow Fleming’s advice of not always showing Bond in a heroic or particularly popular light. James Bond was first and foremost a government-sanctioned assassin with a licence to kill the enemies of the state in the line of duty, but he was conversely also a hero. Another clear example of this juxtaposition between the heroic, likeable Bond and the unappealing, cold and ruthless killer may be found in the most recent James Bond film, Quantum of Solace (2008), a post-Cubby Broccoli production, where Bond’s ally and friend René Mathis is shot and fatally wounded by enemy police officers. After a very poignant scene where Mathis’ life ebbs away in the arms of Bond, Bond takes his friend’s lifeless body and roughly places it onto a dumpster at the side of the road. Camille, his female ally, asks, “Is this the way you treat your friends?”, to which Bond replies that Mathis was “not the sort to care”.[20] As Bond and Camille walk to their Land Rover and drive away, the director’s camera lens stays purposefully on the shot of Mathis spread-eagled atop the skip. The purpose of this approach appears to be to point out to the viewer, “What sort of a man is James Bond to do such a thing with his friend?” The silent lingering of the scene is one of the most powerful statements (and indictments) that the film makes of James Bond as a character, yet none of this should come as a surprise to the reader of Fleming’s novels, as Bond does sometimes do inexplicable, and seemingly uncaring and inhuman things in them. However, from a practical point of view, the viewer might also consider that Bond is too practical an agent in the field to allow the death of an ally and friend to alter his determination to see the job in hand through and it was perhaps neither the time nor the place to be distracted by a corpse or to be overly sentimental. Robert Harling, a friend and wartime colleague of Fleming revealed the possible source for Bond’s sometimes cold and unfeeling character in a television interview in 2002. Harling referred to how Muriel Wright, a wartime girlfriend of Fleming’s had been killed in an air raid and its subsequent effect on Fleming:

“I said to Dunstan [Curtis, of Fleming’s wartime 30 Assault Unit] that Fleming had gone off to identify her. I said he was so cut up. Dunstan said, ‘Well, you know that’s one of the troubles with Fleming. You have to get yourself killed before his emotions are involved.”[21]

In these examples from the Bond films, it is clear that the spirit of Fleming still lives on in the film series that Cubby Broccoli more than any other helped to initiate and sustain, even after the departure of his partner Harry Saltzman following The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). Broccoli recounted in his autobiography how Fleming continued his detailed description of the headquarters of the British Secret Service, and his recommendation that it be located “on the entire upper floor of a modern block of offices with shops below”:[22]

‘The list of other occupants of the building is innocuous: Universal Export, Central Radio Communications and so forth. Bond’s secretary, formerly of the WRNS, should be attractive, sexy, but extremely efficient and rather severe. She would obviously look much prettier away from the office. She is inclined to mother Bond – brushes his coat and so forth. They have a friendly, businesslike relationship with occasional sparks of flirtation from Bond. Their relationship…is rather similar to that between Perry Mason and Della Street. Bond’s office, looking out over the park, should contain a number of office gadgets, such as a twenty-four-hour clock, Phonodeck, oddments like a shell-base for an ashtray, a shrapnel fragment as a paper-weight, three telephones, two black and one white – the latter direct with M and his Chief of Staff.’
Also, M’s clothes are described, right down to the bow-tie: dark blue with white spots.”[23]

This description of the headquarters of the British Secret Service provided in the memorandum by Fleming is very similar to the description given in his third Bond novel, Moonraker (1955):

“The ninth was the top floor of the building. Most of it was occupied by Communications, the hand-picked inter-services team of operators whose only interest was the world of microwaves, sunspots, and the ‘heaviside layer’. Above them, on the flat roof, were the three squat masts of one of the most powerful transmitters in England, explained on the bold bronze list of occupants in the entrance hall of the building by the words ‘Radio Tests Ltd.’ the other tenants were declared to be ‘Universal Exports Co.’, ‘Delaney Bros. (1940) Ltd.’, ‘The Omnium Corporation’, and ‘Enquiries (Miss E. Twining, OBE)’.

Miss Twining was a real person. Forty years earlier she had been a Loelia Ponsonby. Now, in retirement, she sat in a small office on the ground floor and spent her days tearing up circulars, paying the rates and taxes of her ghostly tenants, and politely brushing off salesmen and people who wanted to export something or have their radios mended.”[24]

Fleming’s description in the memorandum to Broccoli of what Bond’s office should contain also has a precedent in his novels. For instance, in Dr No (1958), there is the following description of M at his desk:

“When he had finished he tossed the pile into his Out basket and reached for his pipe and tobacco jar made out of the base of a fourteen-pounder shell.”[25]

Broccoli summed up the influence of Fleming’s notes, when combined with his series of James Bond novels and short stories:

“[E]verything about Ian Fleming made him an ‘original’. The success of the films, I have always believed, depended crucially on getting this authentic ‘feel’ behind the fanciful ideas, the spectacular stunts and the tongue-in-cheek dialogue. This is why we scoured the world for the perfect locations and built vast sets in meticulous detail, whatever the cost. It achieved the sort of visual impact television couldn’t possibly compete with.”[26]

In his autobiography, Broccoli described how Ian Fleming’s novels also provided the “careful blocking out of the character”[27] that was needed to translate the James Bond of the books onto the silver screen:

“Fleming’s physical descriptions of James Bond were also very well drawn. He saw him as ‘very good looking. He reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless…’ (Casino Royale, Chapter 5). ‘His grey-blue eyes looked calmly back with a hint of ironical inquiry and the short lock of black hair which would never stay in place subsided to form a thick comma above his right eyebrow. With the thin vertical scar down his right cheek the general effect was faintly piratical…’ (Casino Royale, Chapter 8). Fleming gives Bond’s height as a little over six feet, his weight as around one hundred and sixty-seven pounds, and his build slim. Furthermore, the various descriptions confirm that Bond possesses ‘dark, rather cruel good looks’ and that women find him devastatingly irresistible. Well, we had our blueprint, but where was there an actor to fit it?”[28]

In July 1961 the columnist Pat Lewis announced that Broccoli and Saltzman were “having trouble casting James Bond for their upcoming series of feature films.”[29] The story of the producers’ search for an actor to fit the 007 role is contained in the book James Bond, The Legacy (2002) by John Cork and Bruce Scivally:

“[Pat] Lewis announced a ‘find James Bond’ contest. Ian Fleming offered a description of the role: “He likes gambling, golf and fast motor-cars. He smokes a great deal, but without affectation. All his movements are relaxed and economical.”

Lewis put out her own criteria: “Compoetitors must be aged between 28 and 35; measure between 6ft. and 6ft. 1 in. in height; weight about 12st.; have blue eyes, dark hair, rugged features – particularly a determined chin – and an English accent.”[30]

The description of what the producers were looking for in their potential James Bond star matched the most complete description that Fleming ever gave of his secret agent in the novels. In From Russia, With Love (1957) Fleming used the literary device of the 1953 SMERSH file photograph of Bond which the chief of the Soviet organ of death, Colonel General Grubozaboyschikov (‘General G.’) pores over, to fill in the physical characteristics of the agent:

“It was a dark, clean-cut face, with a three-inch scar showing whitely down the sunburned skin of the right cheek. The eyes were wide and level under straight, rather long black brows. The hair was black, parted on the left, and carelessly brushed so that a thick black comma fell down over the right eyebrow. The longish straight nose ran down to a short upper lip below which was a wide and finely drawn but cruel mouth. The line of the jaw was straight and firm. A section of dark suit, white shirt and black knitted tie completed the picture.”[31]

General G. then reads some extracts from the SMERSH file on Bond:

“First name: JAMES. Height: 183 centimetres, weight 76 kilograms; slim build; eyes: blue; hair: black; scar down right cheek and on right shoulder; signs of plastic surgery on back of right hand (see Appendix ‘A’); all-round athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower; does not use disguises. Languages: French and German. Smokes heavily (NB: special cigarettes with three gold bands); vices: drink, but not to excess, and women. Not thought to accept bribes.”

“This man is invariably armed with a .25 Beretta automatic carried in a holster under his left arm. Magazine holds eight rounds. Has been known to carry a knife strapped to his left forearm; has used steel-capped shoes; knows the basic holds of judo. In general fights with tenacity and has a high tolerance of pain (see Appendix ‘B’).”

“Conclusion. This man is a dangerous professional terrorist and spy. He has worked for the British Secret Service since 1938 and now (see Highsmith file of December 1950) holds the secret number ‘007’ in that Service. The double o numerals signify an agent who has killed and who is privileged to kill on active service. There are believed to be only two other British agents with this authority. The fact that this spy was decorated with the CMG in 1953, an award usually given only on retirement from the Secret Service, is a measure of his worth. If encountered in the field, the fact and full details should be reported to headquarters (see SMERSH, MGB and GRU Standing Orders 1951 onwards).”[32]

The reason for the relative scarcity of detailed physical descriptions and details of Bond’s past life in the novels was explained by Fleming in an interview conducted by Roy Newquist in 1963:

“Now, you’ll notice that the James Bond of the first book was a straightforward man who didn’t really possess a total personality. In fact, in the first several books you’ll find absolutely no discussion of his character, few of his mannerisms, no character study in depth. The closest to this comes when the Russian Secret Service, the KGB scrutinizes him rather closely in From Russia, With Love. But I kept him quite blank, in a way, at first, giving him no quirks, no particular morality or immorality, not even a detailed personal appearance.

As the series has gone on, however, James Bond has become encrusted with mannerisms and belongings and individual characteristics. This is probably a natural outgrowth of getting to know him better. I don’t know if this is good or bad, and I don’t know where all the elements that compose Bond come from, but there they are.”[33]

After some searching for the leading actor, the producers cast the then virtually unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery in the role of James Bond. Although Ian Fleming initially had reservations about Connery, Dominic Sandbrook in his book, Never Had It So Good (2005), on Britain between 1956 and 1963, revealed that the reason for Fleming changing his initial opinion on the casting of Bond was the sense of a shared national identity between the author and the actor:

“Since Bond himself was half-Scottish and had attended an Edinburgh public school, and since Fleming was the grandson of a Dundee millionaire, Connery’s gentle Edinburgh accent was not quite as incongruous as is often claimed. ‘Not quite the idea I had of Bond,’ Fleming later admitted, ‘but he would be if I wrote the books over again.’[34]

In a sense, Fleming did write the books over again, with a very noticeable nationality change in the last few novels. These particular novels were written while the first few James Bond films were being produced and Fleming displayed signs that he was becoming influenced by the image and style of the Eon James Bond films which had brought his novels to a steadily widening readership. The most evident examples of this occur in the first new James Bond novel to follow the release of Dr No in October 1962, namely On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963). In this, Fleming’s eleventh novel, James Bond is operating undercover as Sir Hilary Bray from the College of Arms, ostensibly to research the claim of SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld to the extinct heraldic title of Monsieur le Comte Balthazar de Bleuville. In reality Bond is in Piz Gloria to track down Blofeld and find out what scheme he has dreamt up since the time of ‘Operation Thunderball’. In one passage in the novel, Bond’s German host at Piz Gloria, Irma Bunt, points out a guest at Piz Gloria immediately recognisable to all James Bond fans:

“‘A most interesting crowd, do you not find, Sair Hilary? Everybody who is anybody. We have quite taken the international set away from Gstaad and St Moritz. That is your Duke of Marlborough over there with such a gay party of young things. And near by that is Mr Whitney and Lady Daphne Straight. Is she not chic? They are both wonderful skiers. And that beautiful girl with the long fair hair at the big table, that is Ursula Andress, the film star. What a wonderful tan she has! And Sir George Dunbar, he always has the most enchanting companions.’ The box-like smile. ‘Why, we only need the Aga Khan and perhaps your Duke of Kent and we would have everybody, but everybody. Is it not sensational for the first season?’

Bond said it was.”[35]

Ursula Andress had memorably played the first Bond girl, Honey Ryder (Honeychile Rider in the original novel, shortened to ‘Honey’) in Dr No (1962), where she had emerged from the sea onto Dr No’s island Crab Key singing the song ‘Underneath The Mango Tree’. Fleming had met Andress on the set and several  photographs show the author and the actress together. The scenes on the beach where Bond meets Honey for the first time were filmed not far from Fleming’s Jamaican residence, Goldeneye in Oracabessa (where he wrote all of his James Bond novels and short stories). The topical reference in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service where Irma Bunt points out Andress to Bond is one of the clearest examples of the influence of Broccoli and Saltzman’s work on the creator of 007.

Another example of the influence of the Eon films in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1963) is evident in a number of passages where Fleming seemed to have derived inspiration from the casting of the Scottish actor Sean Connery as his hero. In the first interesting passage, James Bond has went to see Griffon Or, Pursuivant at the College of Arms to see if he can track down the whereabouts of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. However, Griffon Or instead thinks that Bond is there to enquire about his own heraldry:

“Griffon Or held up his hand. He said severely, ‘Where did your parents come from, if I may ask? That, my dear fellow, is the first step in the chain. Then we can go back from there – Somerset House, parish records, old tomb-stones. No doubt, with a good old English name like yours, we will get somewhere in the end.’

‘My father was a Scot and my mother was Swiss. But the point is…’

‘Quite, quite. You are wondering about the cost of the research. That, my dear fellow, we can leave until later. But, now tell me. From whereabouts in Scotland did your father come? That is important. The Scottish records are of course less fully documented than those from the South. In those days I am forced to admit that our cousins across the border were little more than savages.’ Griffon Or bobbed his head politely. He gave a fleeting and, to Bond’s eye, rather false smile. ‘Very pleasant savages, of course, very brave and all that. But, alas, very weak at keeping up their records. More useful with the sword than with the pen, if I may say so. But perhaps your grandparents and their forebears came from the South?’

‘My father came from the Highlands, from near Glencoe. But look here…’

But Griffon Or was not to be diverted from the scent. He pulled another thick book towards him. His finger ran down the page of small print. ‘Hum. Hum. Hum. Yes, yes. Not very encouraging, I fear. Burke’s General Armory gives more than ten different families bearing your name. But, alas, nothing in Scotland. Not that that means there is no Scottish branch. Now, perhaps you have other relatives living. So often in these matters there is some distant cousin…’ Griffon Or reached into the pocket of the purple-flowered silk waistcoat that buttoned almost up to his neat bow tie, fished out a small silver snuff-box, offered it to Bond and then himself took two tremendous sniffs. He exploded twice into the ornate bandana handkerchief.

Bond took his opportunity. He leaned forward and said distinctly and forcibly, ‘I didn’t come here to talk about myself. It’s about Blofeld.’”[36]

A little later on in the same chapter there is the indication that Fleming was also influenced by the tongue-in-cheek and humorous elements (such as the Bondian one-liners) introduced into the film characterisation of Bond in Dr No (1962), as well as the mention of the title of a future, post-Cubby Broccoli 1990s Bond film title:

‘This is the very warp and woof of history, Commander Bond.’ He reached for another volume that lay open on his desk and that he had obviously prepared for Bond’s delectation. ‘The coat of arms, for instance. Surely that must concern you, be at least of profound interest to your family, to your own children? Yes, here we are. “Argent on a chevron sable three bezants”.’ He held up the book so that Bond could see. ‘A bezant is a golden ball, as I am sure you know. Three balls.’

Bond commented drily, ‘That is certainly a valuable bonus’ – the irony was lost on Griffon Or – ‘but I’m afraid I am still not interested. And I have no relatives and no children. Now about this man…’

Griffon Or broke in excitedly, ‘And this charming motto of the line, “The World is not Enough”. You do not wish to have the right to it?’

‘It is an excellent motto which I shall certainly adopt,’ said Bond curtly.”[37]

Later on in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Bond asks Teresa (Tracy) di Vicenzo if she will marry him. Bond says to Tracy:

“‘Let’s get married in Munich. At the Consulate. I’ve got a kind of diplomatic immunity. I can get the papers through quickly. Then we can be married again in an English church, or Scottish rather. That’s where I’m from…’”[38]

In O.F. Snelling’s early critical study of the literary James Bond, Double O Seven James Bond: A Report (1964) there appeared a throwaway reference to a 1964 interview in a footnote, which suggested that Fleming had intended both of James Bond’s parents to be of Scottish nationality, despite his having already stated in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service that Bond’s father was a Scot and his mother was Swiss.[39] The following quote from Fleming arguably shows the influence of the recent casting of the Scottish actor Sean Connery in the lead role on his writing process:

‘Bond is Scottish. On both sides, as I shall explain in my next book.’ Ian Fleming to John Creusemann, in an interview in the Daily Express, 2 January 1964.’[40]

Ian Fleming’s “next book” was You Only Live Twice (1964), and in it he instead remained faithful to the details he had written of Bond’s Scot-Swiss parentage in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. From the very beginning of his penultimate novel, Fleming continued to display the influence of the Scottish lead in the early James Bond films in his writing. In the first chapter Bond is playing the game of ‘Scissors, Paper, Stone’ with his host, ‘Tiger’ Tanaka, the Head of the Japanese Secret Service:

“‘Please tell our dainty and distinguished audience that I propose to rub your honourable nose in the dirt at this despicable game and thus display not only the superiority of Great Britain, and particularly Scotland, over Japan, but also the superiority of our Queen over your Emperor.’”[41]

Later on in the novel, Bond is diving along with the awabi girls from Kissy Suzuki’s boat. Fleming describes how Bond felt after his “very honourable first catch”[42] of ten shells:

“Ridiculously pleased with himself, Bond took a vague bearing on the island which, because of the drifting of the boat, was now only a speck on the horizon, and gradually worked himself into the slow unlaboured sweep of a Scottish gillie.”[43]

In Scotland a ‘gillie’ is a term for a man or boy who attends someone on a hunting or fishing expedition.

A further example of the influence on Fleming’s writing of the sardonic humour that became a hallmark of Sean Connery’s portrayal of James Bond is also found in You Only Live Twice. Bond, who is under the guise of a deaf and dumb Japanese, has been captured in Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s Japanese “Castle of Death” and has been placed “directly above a geyser that throws mud, at a heat of around one thousand degrees Centigrade, a distance of approximately one hundred feet into the air.”[44] Fleming describes Bond’s reaction to his predicament above the geyser about to erupt, designed to make him speak:

“Bond turned and faced the couple under the clock. He said cheerfully, ‘Well, Blofeld, you mad bastard. I’ll admit that your effects man down below knows his stuff. Now bring on the twelve she-devils and if they’re all as beautiful as Fräulein Bunt, we’ll get Noël Coward to put it to music and have it on Broadway by Christmas. How about it?’

Blofeld turned to Irma Bunt. ‘My dear girl, you were right! It is indeed the same Britischer. Remind me to buy you another string of the excellent Mr Mikimoto’s grey pearls. And now let us be finished with this man once and for all. It is beyond our bedtime.’”[45]

The playwright, actor and composer Noël Coward was actually a friend of Fleming’s who lived in a house called Firefly in the mountains above Fleming’s house Goldeneye in Oracabessa in Jamaica.[46] Such a humorous retort from Bond was not a feature of the earlier Bond novels, which were known for their humorlessness, and it represents further evidence of the influence of the Bond films.

The most significant reference to James Bond’s Scottish ancestry and early life comes in the obituary written by M that is rather prematurely printed in The Times, which appears in chapter 21 of the novel. James Bond is “missing, believed killed”[47] after his infiltration of Blofeld’s Japanese suicide “Garden and Castle of Death”. The obituary of Commander James Bond CMG, RNVR, a brilliant literary exposition device deployed by Fleming, further reveals the influence of Sean Connery as Bond on the novels:

“James Bond was born of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond of Glencoe, and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix, from the Canton de Vaud. His father being a foreign representative of the Vickers armaments firm, his early education, from which he inherited a first-class command of French and German, was entirely abroad. When he was eleven years of age, both his parents were killed in a climbing accident in the Aiguilles Rouges above Chamonix, and the youth came under the guardianship of an aunt, since deceased, Miss Charmian Bond, and went to live with her at the quaintly-named hamlet of Pett Bottom near Canterbury in Kent. There, in a small cottage hard by the attractive Duck Inn, his aunt, who must have been a most erudite and accomplished lady, completed his education for an English public school, and, at the age of twelve or thereabouts, he passed satisfactorily into Eton, for which College he had been entered at birth by his father. It must be admitted that his career at Eton was brief and undistinguished and, after only two halves, as a result, it pains me to record, of some alleged trouble with one of the boys’ maids, his aunt was requested to remove him. She managed to obtain his transfer to Fettes, his father’s old school. Here the atmosphere was somewhat Calvinistic, and both academic and athletic standards were rigorous. Nevertheless, though inclined to be solitary by nature, he established some firm friendships among the traditionally famous athletic circles at the school. By the time he left, at the early age of seventeen, he had twice fought for the school as a light-weight and had, in addition, founded the first serious judo class at a British public school. By now it was 1941 and, by claiming an age of nineteen and with the help of an old Vickers colleague of his father, he entered a branch of what was subsequently to become the Ministry of Defence. To serve the confidential nature of his duties, he was accorded the rank of lieutenant in the Special Branch of the RNVR, and it is a measure of the satisfaction his services gave to his superiors that he ended the war with the rank of Commander. It was about this time that the writer became associated with certain aspects of the ministry’s work, and it was with much gratification that I accepted Commander Bond’s post-war application to continue working for the Ministry in which, at the time of his lamented disappearance, he had risen to the rank of Principal Officer in the Civil Service.”[48]

Some elements of the literary Bond’s obituary in You Only Live Twice have made their way into the Broccoli produced Eon films. In Roger Moore’s third Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Commander Benson introduces Commander James Bond, dressed in his naval uniform, to Admiral Hargreaves, Flag Officer, Submarines. Hargreaves says to Bond, “Ark Royal, wasn’t it?” to which Bond replies, “Yes, sir”. Bond also appears in his naval uniform in the films You Only Live Twice (1967) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Later on in The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond meets Major Anya Amasova, Russian Agent ‘Triple X’, at the bar in the Mujaba Club run by Max Kalba. When Bond conveys that he knows Amasova’s identity as a Russian agent, she replies:

“Commander James Bond, recruited to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy. Licence to kill, and has done so on numerous occasions. Many lady friends, but married only once. Wife killed in…”

BOND: “Alright, you’ve made your point.”

AMASOVA: “You’re sensitive, Mr Bond.”

BOND: “About certain things, yes.”[49]

The Spy Who Loved Me was the first film that Broccoli produced after the breakdown of his partnership with Saltzman, and it is evident that he was keen to reassert the character of James Bond as originally defined by Fleming. A further reference to the obituary from You Only Live Twice is found in the scene in GoldenEye (1995) where Bond comes face to face with Janus, the head of the Janus crime syndicate. Janus turns out to be none other than his old friend and colleague 006, Alec Trevelyan. Bond confronts Trevelyan about his past:

“How did MI6 screening miss that your parents were Lienz Cossacks?”

TREVELYAN: “Once again your faith is misplaced. They knew. We’re both orphans, James, but where your parents had the luxury of dying in a climbing accident, mine survived the British betrayal and Stalin’s execution squads, but my father couldn’t let himself or my mother live with the shame of it. MI6 figured I was too young to remember and in one of life’s little ironies the son went to work for the government whose betrayal caused the father to kill himself and his wife.”[50]

The influence of the obituary featured in You Only Live Twice extended to the “reboot” of the Bond franchise in Casino Royale (2006), an updating of Fleming’s 1953 debut novel, where Cubby Broccoli’s successors as producers, Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, presented a more “back-to-basics” Bond film. When Vesper Lynd, the International Liaison Officer for Her Majesty’s Treasury, makes contact with Bond on the train in Montenegro, she attempts to surmise details about his character from his appearance, dress and demeanour:

“By the cut of your suit, you went to Oxford or wherever, and actually think human beings dress like that. But you wear it with such disdain my guess is you didn’t come from money and your schoolfriends never let you forget it. Which means that you were at that school by the grace of someone else’s charity, hence the chip on your shoulder. And since your first thought about me ran to orphan that’s what I’d say you are.”

[Vesper deduces  the accurascy of her last statement from the reaction on Bond’s face]: “Oh, you are.”

VESPER: “Hm, I like this poker thing. And that makes perfect sense since MI6 look for maladjusted young men that give little thought to scarifying others in order to protect Queen and country. You know, former SAS types with easy smiles and expensive watches.”

[Vesper looks at Bond’s watch]: “Rolex?”

BOND: “Omega.”

VESPER: “Beautiful.”

VESPER: “Now, having just met you I wouldn’t go as far as calling you a cold hearted bastard…”

BOND: “No of course not.”

VESPER: “But it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine you think of women as disposable pleasures rather than meaningful pursuits.”[51]

The evident influence of the Eon Bond films on the Bond novels continued into Ian Fleming’s last novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, which was published posthumously in 1965. In the final chapter Fleming has Bond again refer to his Scottish ancestry in a cable refusing the offer of a knighthood from M which he dictates to his former secretary and love interest in the story, Mary Goodnight:


Mary Goodnight expresses her anger after transcribing Bond’s cable to M:

“‘Well really, James! Are you sure you don’t want to sleep on it? I knew you were in a bad mood today. You may have changed your mind by tomorrow. Don’t you want to go to Buckingham Palace and see the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and kneel and have your shoulder touched with a sword and the Queen to say “Arise, Sir Knight” or whatever it is she does say?’

Bond smiled. ‘I’d like all those things. The romantic streak of the SIS. – and of the Scot, for the matter of that. I just refuse to call myself Sir James Bond. I’d laugh at myself every time I looked in the mirror to shave. It’s just not my line, Mary. The thought makes me positively shudder. I know M.’ll understand. He thinks much the same way about these things as I do. Trouble was, he more or less had to inherit his K with the job. Anyway, there it is and I shan’t change my mind so you can buzz that off and I’ll write M. a letter of confirmation this evening…’”[53]

After Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, the next most important figure in the history of the success of the James Bond character is undoubtedly Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. Broccoli indelibly stamped the Bond films with some of his own personal experiences. Steven Jay Rubin noted the influence of the life experiences of Broccoli on the Bond films:

“Cubby Broccoli was a former coffin salesman (the inspiration for the flaming hearse in Dr. No, the funeral parlour of Nathan Slumber in Diamonds Are Forever, and the graveyard world of Baron Samedi in Live and Let Die comes from this experience).”[54]

To this list by Rubin of scenes from the Bond films influenced by the life of Cubby Broccoli there could be added the knife-throwing assassin secreted in a coffin on the funeral barge on the canal in Venice in Moonraker (1979), and most recently the scene in Quantum of Solace (2008) where a vehicle spills its cargo of coffins onto the road as Bond and Camille are pursued by an enemy on a motorbike. 

In his autobiography, Broccoli recounted his and his wife Dana’s reaction to hearing of the death of Ian Fleming from a heart attack on 12 August 1964:

“Not only did we like Fleming immensely, and admire his taste and intellect; we also valued his ideas at the conference table. We were particularly sad he missed the opening of Goldfinger, though I’d shown him some of the early rushes. He was pleased with what he saw. All in all, I believed we served him well. Fortunately, Fleming’s interest in the films, plus the massive boost they gave his books, achieved his one ambition: to leave a handsome legacy to his family. We were glad of that, but shocked that he should die so young, just fifty-six years old. I don’t know how bad his heart was, but maybe if the bypass operation was as common then as it is now, he might be alive. But he was gone, and we had to do the best we could without him.”[55]

Cubby Broccoli continued until his death as producer of the James Bond films, and the success of the subsequent films was due in no small part to his unique attributes in that vital role. His greatest legacy was the continuation of the further adventures of James Bond among different lead actors and directors and he would surely be proud of the achievements of his son-in-law Michael G. Wilson and his daughter, Barbara Broccoli, who succeeded him as producers of the Bond films. Donald Zec summed up well the determination of Cubby Broccoli to continue to contribute to the Bond legacy when he compared the late producer favourably with the vegetable which shares his surname:

“…the sturdier the roots, the more resilient the plant. ‘This is particularly so,’ say the experts ‘with broccoli, which has the strongest roots and flourishes under the most adverse conditions.’

On that score, its famous namesake Cubby Broccoli can truly, and proudly, rest content.”[56]

It is appropriate to conclude with two quotes from the actor Desmond Llewelyn, who starred in seventeen of the James Bond films as “Q” between 1963 and 1999, more than any other actor in the history of the series. In a television interview in 1997 in a programme to mark the release of the eighteenth official Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997),[57] Llewelyn revealed what was at least one of the special ingredients in the phenomenal success of the Bond films:

“I’d never met a producer before. Producers don’t come onto the set and shake hands and welcome a small part actor. I mean the producer is sort of, well I suppose he’s God in a way [laughs]. But I mean you never sort of meet them or anything, but Cubby was always there.”[58]

A little later in the same interview Llewelyn, whose face it is believed is known to half of the world’s population,[59] as the longest-serving actor in the Bond films, said of the key importance of Cubby Broccoli as the producer:

“He really was the most remarkable man and I mean if it wasn’t for Cubby there wouldn’t be Bond today. There’s no doubt about that.”[60]

This article is dedicated to the memory of Albert Romolo “Cubby” Broccoli (1909-1996) on the occasion of the one hundredth anniversary of his birth.



Broccoli, Cubby with Zec, Donald, When The Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli, (Boxtree, London 1999),

Callan, Michael Feeney, Sean Connery, (Virgin Books, London, 2003),

Cork, John and Scivally, Bruce, James Bond, The Legacy, (Boxtree, London, 2002),

Fleming, Ian, Dr No, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1958),

Fleming, Ian, From Russia, With Love, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1957),

Fleming, Ian, Moonraker, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1955),

Fleming, Ian, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1963),

Fleming, Ian, The Man with the Golden Gun, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1965),

Fleming, Ian, You Only Live Twice, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1964),

Newquist, Roy, (ed.), Counterpoint, (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1965),

Rubin, Steven Jay, The James Bond Films, (Talisman Books, London, 1981),

Sandbrook, Dominic, Never Had It So Good, (Little, Brown, London, 2005),

Smith, Jim and Lavington, Stephen, Virgin Film: Bond Films, (Virgin Books, London, 2002.),

Snelling, O.F., Double O Seven James Bond: A Report (1964) (Panther, London, 1965 edn),


Playboy, December 1964 Ian Fleming interview,


Dr No, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1962),

From Russia with Love, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1963),

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1969),

The Spy Who Loved Me, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1977),

GoldenEye, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1995),

Casino Royale, (Eon Productions Ltd., 2006),

Quantum of Solace, (Eon Productions Ltd., 2008),

Television Specials

“Now Pay Attention 007” A tribute to actor Desmond Llewelyn, (Broadcast: Channel 4, 22 January 2000),

Shaken and Stirred (Broadcast: ITV, 11 December 1997),

The Real James Bond, (Broadcast: Channel 4, 12 March 2002),

The World of James Bond: A Tribute to Cubby Broccoli (Broadcast: ITV, 18 August 1996)

[This article originally appeared on on Sunday 5 April 2009 to celebrate the Centenary of the birth of Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli (1909-1996) I was an occasional Guest Author on this now defunct Felix Leiter fan site run by Chris Wright (aka Righty007)]

TBB Article No. 15

© The Bondologist Blog, 2009.

[1] Introduction to Ian Fleming interview, Playboy, December 1964.
[2] Cubby Broccoli quoted in the introduction to The World of James Bond: A Tribute to Cubby Broccoli (Broadcast: ITV, 18 August 1996).
[3] Michael Feeney Callan, Sean Connery, (Virgin Books, London, 2003), pp.108-109.
[4] Cubby Broccoli with Donald Zec, When The Snow Melts: The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli, (Boxtree, London 1999), (hereinafter “Autobiography”), pp. 149-150.
[5] Steven Jay Rubin, The James Bond Films, (Talisman Books, London, 1981) p. 9.
[6] This term truly arrived with the release of the third Eon James Bond film Goldfinger in 1964.
[7] Cubby Broccoli interview in The World of James Bond: A Tribute to Cubby Broccoli (Broadcast: ITV, 18 August 1996).
[8] Autobiography, p. 159.
[9] Ian Fleming, Moonraker (Jonathan Cape, London, 1955), Chapter IV.
[10] On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1969).
[11] Autobiography, p. 159.
[12] Ibid, pp. 159-160.
[13] From Russia with Love, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1963).
[14] Desmond Llewelyn interview in “Now Pay Attention 007” A tribute to actor Desmond Llewelyn, (Broadcast: Channel 4, 22 January 2000).
[15] Autobiography, p. 160.
[16] Interview with Ian Fleming in Playboy, December 1964.
[17] Dr No, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1962).
[18] Jim Smith and Stephen Lavington, Virgin Film: Bond Films, (Virgin Books, London, 2002.), p. 16.
[19] Ibid, p. 16.
[20] Bond quoted in Quantum of Solace, (Eon Productions Ltd., 2008).
[21] Robert Harling interview in The Real James Bond, (Broadcast: Channel 4, 12 March 2002).
[22] Autobiography, p. 160.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Ian Fleming, Moonraker, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1955), Chapter II.
[25] Ian Fleming, Dr No, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1958), Chapter II.
[26] Autobiography, pp. 160-161.
[27] Ibid, p. 163.
[28] Ibid, p. 164.
[29] John Cork and Bruce Scivally, James Bond, The Legacy, (Boxtree, London, 2002), p. 31.
[30] Ibid,  p. 31.
[31] Ian Fleming, From Russia, With Love, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1957), Chapter 6.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Ian Fleming interview, conducted in London in October 1963, featured in Roy Newquist, (ed.), Counterpoint, (George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1965), pp. 210-211.
[34] Dominic Sandbrook, Never Had It So Good, (Little, Brown, London, 2005), p. 584.
[35] Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1963), Chapter 12.
[36] Ian Fleming, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1963), Chapter 6.
[37] Ibid, Chapter 6.
[38] Ibid, Chapter 19.
[39] Ibid, Chapter 6. This passage from the novel is quoted above.
[40] A footnote in O.F. Snelling, Double O Seven James Bond: A Report (1964) (Panther, London, 1965 edn), p. 22.
[41] Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1964), Chapter 1.
[42] Ibid, Chapter 14.
[43] Ibid.
[44] Blofeld quoted in You Only Live Twice (Jonathan Cape, London, 1964) by Ian Fleming, Chapter 19.
[45] Ibid.
[46] John Cork and Bruce Scivally, James Bond, The Legacy, (Boxtree, London, 2002), p. 41.
[47] Ian Fleming, You Only Live Twice, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1964), Chapter 21.
[48] Ibid, Chapter 21.
[49] The Spy Who Loved Me, (Eon Productions, Ltd., 1977).
[50] GoldenEye, (Eon Productions Ltd., 1995).
[51] Casino Royale, (Eon Productions Ltd., 2006).
[52] Ian Fleming, The Man with the Golden Gun, (Jonathan Cape, London, 1965), Chapter 17.
[53] Ibid.
[54] Steven Jay Rubin, The James Bond Films, (Talisman Books, London, 1981) p. 9.
[55] Autobiography, p. 197.
[56] Ibid, p. 327.
[57] Tomorrow Never Dies, Pierce Brosnan’s second Bond film, was dedicated in the end titles “In loving memory of Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli”. It was first Bond film to be released after the death of the producer.
[58] Desmond Llewelyn interview in Shaken and Stirred (Broadcast: ITV, 11 December 1997).
[59] This interesting statistic was mentioned in “Now Pay Attention 007” A tribute to actor Desmond Llewelyn, (Broadcast: Channel 4, 22 January 2000).
[60] Ibid.