Saturday, 18 August 2012

The James Bond reference in The Man Who Haunted Himself (1970) (starring Roger Moore)

After finishing The Saint (1962-1968) television series, Roger Moore starred in the espionage film Crossplot in 1968. In 1970 he starred in the serious psychological melodrama The Man Who Haunted Himself, which was directed by Basil Dearden, who would go on to film an episode of The Persuaders in 1972. The Man Who Haunted Himself gave Roger Moore the chance to show the considerable acting talents he could bring to bear on a more serious production than the flippantly characterised Simon Templar of The Saint. As Roger Moore is quoted as saying in the collector’s booklet of the Warner-Pathe publicity campaign that accompanies the Cinema Club Studio Canal DVD of the film:

“For the first time in my career, I’ve been allowed to express emotion on the screen and really discover what acting is.”

In the film, Moore plays successful businessman Harold Pelham, of ‘Freeman, Pelham and Dawson Marine Engineers.’ In the opening scene of the film, we see Pelham drive from his office onto the motorway, and then suddenly something happens to him and he is unbuckling his seat belt and accelerating greatly and swerving in between cars erratically until the inevitable horrific crash comes. Pelham survives what was a near-fatal car accident, however, but there are strange undertones. A double of him seems to exist as he meets people in his office and at his club who claim to have seen him while he was actually nowhere near the area at the time. After the changes wrought within him by the car crash, throughout the rest of the film Pelham is literally a man divided within himself, hence the title. It is probably one of Moore’s best film performances and he really displays a range of emotions convincingly throughout the film. It was made on a low budget of under £300,000 and sadly did not perform well at the box office, due to a lacklustre publicity campaign, and leaks to the press that the uncredited writer/producer Brian Forbes was making lots of films from a small budget of a few million pounds.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is the fact that Moore makes a reference to a fictional character he was to be best known for playing just a few years later. When discussing how industrial secrets seem to have leaked and found their way to their competitors, the chairman of the board, Sir Charles Freeman says:

“Well, I don’t know. I’m getting too old for this jungle. How could it happen, Pel?”

[Pelham]: “Come on, Charles. Espionage isn’t all James Bond and Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Industry goes in for it too, you know.”

This reference to James Bond (and to the very different world of industrial espionage) came about two years before Roger Moore would sign to play 007 with Eon Productions in August 1972, and three years before Moore’s debut Bond film, Live and Let Die would be released in 1973. The scriptwriters have also interestingly made reference to the previous year’s Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring new Bond George Lazenby, which was released in December 1969 and still showing in early 1970. Roger Moore had of course also appeared in an episode of a television comedy show called ‘Mainly Millicent’ starring Millicent Martin and guest stars in the summer of 1964 where he played James Bond in a sketch. This sketch is available as an extra entitled Roger Moore as James Bond, circa 1964 on the Ultimate Edition DVD of Live and Let Die first released in 2006.

TBB Article No. 14

© The Bondologist Blog, 2007.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Oblique Reference to Felix Leiter in Moonraker (1979)

The James Bond films of the Roger Moore era (1973-1985) are not renowned for their numerous appearances of Bond’s old CIA friend Felix Leiter. In fact, the only Moore era Bond film to feature Leiter was Live and Let Die (1973), where David Hedison played him in the first of two appearances in the role. Hedison was an old friend of Roger Moore’s, and had appeared in The Saint and later appeared in the films North Sea Hijack (aka ffoulkes) (1979) and The Naked Face (1985) opposite Moore. Hedison and Moore shared genuine screen chemistry in Live and Let Die, perhaps due to the fact that the actors were also friends in real life. Perhaps one of the reasons for the lack of appearances for the Leiter character in the six Moore Bond films that followed was that Leiter only appeared in one of the novels that was filmed, The Man with the Golden Gun, although he did not appear in the film version of this novel either. Another possible explanation is that the Leiter character also did not appear in any of the Ian Fleming Bond short stories, and as Moonraker was the last Fleming Bond novel (omitting the then unavailable Casino Royale) to be filmed by Eon Productions in 1979, thereafter the producers and writers relied on the short stories instead. It could of course be submitted that the films Dr. No (1962), The Living Daylights (1987) and Quantum of Solace (2008), which all featured Leiter, were adapted from titles by Fleming where Leiter did not feature as a character. The lack of appearances for Leiter during the lengthy Moore era, after his initial appearance in 1973, therefore remains something of a mystery, especially as Leiter’s unfortunate mauling by a shark, which featured in Fleming’s Live and Let Die (1954), was not actually filmed until the Timothy Dalton era in Licence to Kill (1989), meaning there was again a lengthy absence for Leiter onscreen until Casino Royale (2006).

However, the character of Felix Leiter is also obliquely referred to in Roger Moore’s fourth James Bond film, Moonraker (1979). This film represents the only time even an oblique reference is made to Leiter in the Moore era after the character’s initial appearance in Live and Let Die. The reference occurs in the scene where James Bond surprises Dr Holly Goodhead in her Venice hotel suite after his fight to the death with Hugo Drax’s henchman Chang. In the scene, which also features in the novelisation of the film, James Bond and Moonraker (1979), by screenwriter Christopher Wood, Bond searches Holly’s hotel suite and variously reveals: a slim gold retractable ball-point pen with a hypodermic poison needle, a dart-firing pocket diary, a flame-throwing small Christian Dior scent atomizer, and a handbag concealing a telescopic aerial and radio. In the novelisation, Wood has Bond further reveal dart-firing spectacles, a powder compact concealing a blade, a lipstick holder containing a miniature detonator and explosive charge and a Zippo lighter equipped to squirt the irritant chemical Mace in the face of an attacker. In the film, when Bond is confronted with all of this conclusive evidence pointing to Holly’s background in American intelligence, the dialogue in the scene is as follows:

BOND: “Standard CIA equipment and the CIA placed you with Drax, correct?”
HOLLY: “Very astute of you, James”
BOND: “Oh, not really. I have friends in low places.”
HOLLY: “Could this possibly be the moment for us to pool our resources?”
BOND: “It could have its compensations.”1

There then follows the first kiss between Bond and Holly. From this moment on in the film, the two reluctantly work together as partners to investigate the affairs of Hugo Drax, the billionaire industrialist behind the Moonraker space shuttles. To the astute James Bond fan watching Moonraker, Bond’s line about having “friends in low places” would appear to be a reference to Bond’s old CIA friend Felix Leiter. A look at the scene as rendered in Wood’s novelisation of the film bears out such a contention:

“Bond tossed the handbag on to the bed beside its contents. ‘I’ve seen this equipment before, Holly, and it wasn’t in Macy’s.’ He paused for a moment before he crossed to a drinks trolley. ‘It was being developed by the C.I.A. An old friend of mine, Felix Leiter, gave me a sneak preview.’ Bond turned his back to throw some ice cubes into a glass and top it up with Chives Regal. ‘I think you probably know him.’ There was no reply from Holly. ‘Because it occurs to me that the C.I.A. placed you with Drax. Correct?’
He waved a hand towards the trolley in invitation. Holly shook her head. ‘Correct.’ Her face softened into a conciliatory smile. ‘Could it be that this is the moment for us to pool our resources?’
Bond studied Holly over the top of his glass. It was the first time he could remember her smiling like that. So warm. So guileless. So insincere. He put down his glass. ‘That might have its compensations.’
Holly took a step towards him so that she was close enough to be touched. Her long silk gown could have been tied tightly across her low-cut nightdress but it was not. Bond drew her to him and kissed the corner of her mouth gently. His eyes were still suspicious.”2

Bond’s reference to Felix Leiter in both the film (in an oblique manner) and novelisation of Moonraker is an attempt to show his bona fides to Holly; that they are actually working on the same assignment, albeit from different sides of the coin. It is interesting to note that the mention of Felix Leiter acts somewhat as a springboard for Holly to accept Bond as an ally, and from there on in the story they work together as a team. The Bond continuation author John Gardner used a similar technique in his third Bond novel, Icebreaker (1983), when the CIA agent Brad Tirpitz also tries to persuade Bond of his bona fides by making reference to Felix Leiter and his daughter Cedar Leiter:

“‘Look, Bond.’ Tirpitz moved his chair closer. ‘I’m glad Kolya’s not here. Wanted a word with you alone.’
‘Got a message for you. Felix Leiter sends his best. And Cedar sends her love.’
Bond felt a strange twinge of surprise, but he showed no reaction. His best friend in the U.S.A., Felix Leiter, had once been a top C.I.A. man; while Felix’s daughter, Cedar, was also Company-trained. In fact, Cedar had worked gallantly with him on a recent assignment.
‘I know you don’t trust me,’ Tirpitz continued, ‘but you’d better think again, brother. Think again, because maybe I’m the only friend you have around here.’
Bond nodded. ‘Maybe.’”3

The literary device of name-checking Felix Leiter to a potential ally therefore occurs twice in the “continuation” Bond literary canon, but Bond’s line about his having “friends in low places” is all that remains in the film version of Moonraker as a rather veiled reference to the old CIA ally and friend with whom he shared so many adventures in print and on screen. The same scene as enlarged in Wood’s novelisation provides the confirmation that Bond is referring to Leiter at this point, and it would have been pleasing to have had this more overt reference to Leiter and the CIA remain in the finished screenplay.  After Leiter’s initial appearance in the Moore era in Live and Let Die the character was sadly not to reappear until Timothy Dalton took over the role in The Living Daylights. Instead, the Moore era had a succession of other Bond allies from the sublime Milos Columbo in For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Vijay in Octopussy (1983) to the ridiculous Sheriff J.W. Pepper who featured in Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974). The character of Felix Leiter (especially as played by David Hedison) would have been a very welcome addition to some of the later Moore era Bond films, but sadly this was not to be. It is therefore perhaps fitting that the space-age Moonraker, a film that many critics and fans regard as one of the most outlandish entries in the entire James Bond series, should contain at least a veiled reference back to one of Bond’s best friends and so hint to the audience that although the Bond films (and sometimes even the Bond novels) can at times verge into the realm of pure fantasy, Bond’s enduring and believable friendship with his American CIA friend Felix Leiter shows that they can also often be grounded in reality.

This article originally appeared on the Main Page of the now defunct website of my friend Chris Wright (Righty007) as a Guest Article there on Friday 29 January 2010.

TBB Article No. 13

© The Bondologist Blog, 2010.

1 Moonraker (Eon Productions, 1979).
2 Christopher Wood, James Bond and Moonraker, (Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1979), chapter 10.
3 John Gardner, Icebreaker, (Jonathan Cape Ltd, 1983), chapter 8

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Changing Spelling of SMERSH throughout Ian Fleming's James Bond Novels and in the Films

In Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels the Russian phrase Smyert Shpionam (‘Death to Spies’) provides a conjunction to form the name for the Soviet organ of death, SMERSH. A close reading of the Bond novels bears out the fact that the spelling of this Russian phrase varies throughout Fleming’s work. In Fleming’s first novel, CASINO ROYALE (1953) the reader is first introduced to SMERSH through ‘Appendix B, a note on SMERSH,’ which is attached to the file from Head of S for ‘the destruction of Monsieur Le Chiffre.’ This appendix reveals that:

“SMERSH is a conjunction of two Russian words:

‘Smyert Shpionam’, meaning roughly: ‘Death to Spies’.

Ranks above MWD (formerly NKVD) and is believed to come under the personal direction of Beria.”

(‘Casino Royale,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, p. 21)

After Bond was saved from a savage torture and death at the hands of Le Chiffre by a SMERSH executioner, he recalls to his French ally, René Mathis in hospital how the assassin had carved a ‘calling card’ onto the back of his hand:

“‘What’s that?’ asked Mathis. ‘The doctor said the cuts looked like a square M with a tail on the top. He said they didn’t mean anything.’

‘Well, I only got a glimpse before I passed out, but I’ve seen the cuts several times while they were being dressed and I’m pretty certain they are the Russian letter for SH. It’s rather like an inverted M with a tail. That would make sense; SMERSH is short for SMYERT SHPIONAM – Death to Spies – and he thinks he’s labelled me a SHPION. It’s a nuisance because M will probably say I’ve got to go to hospital again when I get back to London and have new skin grafted over the whole of the back of my hand.’” (‘Casino Royale,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, p. 141)

Here Fleming uses the spelling ‘Smyert Shpionam’ which looks more accurately Russian than some of the spellings of the phrase that he later uses.

After successfully completing the ‘Casino job’ Bond, at the wheel of his 1933 4 ½- litre grey Bentley convertible at the start of LIVE AND LET DIE (1954), bitterly recalls that SMERSH assassin who branded him as a spy with a stroke of his stiletto knife in CASINO ROYALE:

“The hand had been fixed, painlessly but slowly. The thin scars, the single Russian letter which stands for SCH, the first letter of Spion, a spy, had been removed and as Bond thought of the man with the stiletto who had cut them he clenched his hands on the wheel.

What was happening to the brilliant organization of which the man with the knife had been an agent, the Soviet organ of vengeance, SMERSH, short for Smyert Spionam – Death to Spies? Was it still as powerful, still as efficient?” (‘Live and Let Die,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1963, p. 12)

Fleming has made a mistake in this passage by claiming that the scar on Bond’s hand had read ‘SCH’ for ‘shpion,’ when in fact in CASINO ROYALE Fleming tells us that the Cyrillic letters were ‘SH,’ which appears more accurate as these are indeed the first two letters of ‘shpion.’ The next noticeable change to the spelling of the Russian words which form the name SMERSH is that the second word ‘Shpionam’ in CASINO ROYALE has changed its spelling to ‘Spionam’ in Fleming’s second novel, LIVE AND LET DIE. The passage from LIVE AND LET DIE also contains the word ‘Spion,’ meaning spy, but as this is how Fleming has also now spelled ‘Spionam,’ is the reader to conclude that this is an anglicised version of a Russian word which may be more difficult to pronounce with the ‘h’ added to it?

At the beginning of the fourth chapter of Fleming’s fifth Bond novel, FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE (1957), entitled ‘The Moguls of Death’ there is another introduction to SMERSH:

“SMERSH is the official murder organization of the Soviet government. It operates both at home and abroad and, in 1955, it employed a total of 40,000 men and women. SMERSH is a contraction of ‘Smiert Spionam’, which means ‘Death to Spies’. It is a name used only among its staff and among Soviet officials. No sane member of the public would dream of allowing the word to pass his lips.” (‘From Russia, With Love,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1964, p. 27)

The spelling of the Russian words which when contracted form the title SMERSH have changed here again. In CASINO ROYALE the words were spelt ‘Smyert Shpionam,’ then in LIVE AND LET DIE the spelling changed slightly to ‘Smyert Spionam’, and finally in FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE it has changed to ‘Smiert Spionam.’ The ‘y’ in ‘Smyert’ and the ‘h’ in ‘Sphionam’ have both been lost gradually through the course of these two subsequent novels. In his ‘Author’s Note’ to FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE Fleming writes the following:

“Not that it matters, but a great deal of the background to this story is accurate.

SMERSH, a contraction of Smiert Spionam – Death to Spies – exists and remains today the most secret department of the Soviet government.” (‘From Russia, With Love,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1964)

Perhaps these changes in spelling can be explained by Fleming either having got the spelling of the name incorrect or by anglicising the name to make it easier to pronounce. Of course, mistakes like this had slipped into the Bond novels before. In DR. NO (1958), for instance, Major Boothroyd replaces Bond’s Beretta .25 with a Walther PPK 7.65 mm pistol, to be worn in a Berns Martin Triple-draw holster. However, in the later novels the holster has become Burns-Martin, a clear spelling error either on the part of Fleming or the publishers.

In Fleming’s seventh Bond novel, GOLDFINGER (1959) there is further confirmation that Fleming has now adopted a new spelling of the Russian words:

“SMERSH, Smiert Spionam, Death to Spies – the murder Apparat of the High Praesidium!” (‘Goldfinger,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, p. 66)

When John Gardner took over the Bond mantle as continuation author, his first Bond novel LICENCE RENEWED (1981) made mention of Bond’s experience with the SMERSH assassin of Le Chiffre in CASINO ROYALE:

“In the back of his mind, he remembered, quite clearly, all the circumstances which had led to the plastic surgery, that showed now only as a white blemish, after the Cyrillic letter Щ – standing for SH – had been carved into the back of his hand in an attempt by SMERSH to brand him as a spy.” (‘Licence Renewed,’ John Gardner, Coronet Books, London, 1982, p. 52)

This clearly implies that Gardner believed that ‘Smyert Shpionam’ was the correct spelling of SMERSH’s full name. It could be said that he was just taking the spelling of the Russian phrase ‘Death to Spies’ from the original spelling given in CASINO ROYALE, however.

In THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER (1965) Kingsley Amis reveals the history of the changing names of the real-life SMERSH in Soviet Russia:

“Between 1953 and 1959 Bond’s opponents tended to belong to, or to work on behalf of, a Russian counter-espionage organization called SMERSH (‘a conjunction of two Russian words “Smyert Shpionam”, meaning roughly: “Death to Spies”’). An organization did exist under this name during the Second World War, but was redesignated O.K.R. (Otdely Kontrrazvedki, Counter-intelligence Sections) in 1946. In fact, thanks to the Soviet passion for renaming bodies while leaving their functions much as they were, both SMERSH and O.K.R. were simply two of the various labels successively attached to what had originally (1921) been founded as Special Sections (Osobye Otdely) of the main U.S.S.R. Internal Affairs apparatus, the Cheka […] The Special Sections are presumably still continuing their work, but this has never been concerned with Western agents outside Russia and the territories she has conquered or occupied. Perhaps Mr Fleming was thrown off by the vague and misleading use of the word shpion.” (‘The James Bond Dossier,’ Kingsley Amis, Pan Books, Ltd., London, 1966, pp. 121-2)

Amis clearly believes that ‘Smyert Shpionam’ is indeed the correct spelling, and perhaps the implication that can be taken from this passage is that if Fleming gave a defunct name and an inaccurately defined function to the dark core at the centre of Soviet counter-intelligence, he may also have become confused about the translation of the Russian words. However, Amis seems to get the feeling that Fleming believed SMERSH was still functioning after the war under that title. SMERSH of course did exist under that particular title during World War II and Fleming accurately described its real-life function in the file on the organisation in CASINO ROYALE:

“SMERSH was next heard of when Hitler attacked Russia. It was then rapidly expanded to cope with treachery and double agents during the retreat of the Soviet forces in 1941. At that time it worked as an execution squad for the NKVD and its present selective mission was not so clearly defined.

The organisation itself was thoroughly purged after the war and is now believed to consist of only a few hundred operatives of very high quality divided into five sections” (‘Casino Royale,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, p. 21)

Of course, Fleming was not writing a serious study of espionage services throughout the world when he wrote the Bond novels. As well as SMERSH the functioning role of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), with its attendant ‘OO Section’ is of course also inaccurate and fantastical. It could be said that the OO Section bears some resemblance to Fleming’s ‘Red Indians’ in the wartime Special Operations Executive (SOE), which sent British trained agents behind enemy lines to commit acts of sabotage in Hitler’s ‘Fortress Europe.’ Similarly, the Deuxième Bureau (or ‘The Second Office of the State Major General’), of which René Mathis becomes the head in FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE, was at a time the old French army’s military intelligence organisation, but not at the time of Fleming’s writing. The Deuxième Bureau was created in 1871, at the time of the Franco-Prussian War in which France was defeated and the German states unified into the new country of Germany. The Deuxième Bureau was charged with the task of informing the French army about the situation of the enemy troops. The Second Directorate of the National Defence Staff, which combined the formerly separate army, navy and air force specialists, would have been the true successor to the Deuxième Bureau. The Second Directorate was certainly influenced by the traditions and doctrines of the Deuxième Bureau, which was France’s Military Intelligence. General Charles de Gaulle, as the leader of the Free French was partly responsible for the post-war shake-up in French intelligence and counter-intelligence. Collaborative Vichy France had dissolved the Deuxième Bureau during the Second World War. The Deuxième Bureau features in Fleming’s CASINO ROYALE, at the end of FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE and is mentioned in passing in THUNDERBALL. THUNDERBALL also mentions that there was a Polish Deuxième Bureau before that country’s defeat at the beginning of the Second World War in September 1939. If Fleming had wanted to be strictly accurate and up-to-date with French intelligence, he would have placed Mathis in the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (“External Documentation and Counterespionage Service”) (SDECE) which existed from 1947 until 1981, well within the boundaries of the timeline of Fleming’s Bond novels. Colloquially known as “The Pool,” the SDECE was replaced with the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE).  Such inaccuracy and sometimes-deliberate concealment of the real facts is the very nature of fiction. Such considerations aside, ‘the Deuxième Bureau’ has certainly got a much more romantic sound to it. 

In the Bond novels of the 1950s Fleming’s villains tended to be working for SMERSH or on behalf of the Soviets in either a sponsored [i.e. Sir Hugo Drax] or freelance capacity [i.e. Dr. Julius No]. The only notable exception to this general rule in the early novels would be DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1956) which featured an American crime syndicate (‘the Spangled Mob’), led by the brothers Spang, involved in a diamond smuggling pipeline, which was Fleming’s foray into the territory of American gangsterism. In the Bond novels of the 1960s, however, Fleming averted his focus from the Soviets, as he rightly sensed that there would be changes in the relationship between the Soviets and the Western powers, and he no longer wished to go down that political route. Instead he created the international terrorist organisation SPECTRE (The Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld and introduced it in THUNDERBALL (1961). ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1963) and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1964) completed the ‘SPECTRE/Blofeld Trilogy,’ with THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1962) in between, being loosely a part of what could be called the ‘SPECTRE/Blofeld Quartet’ as in the chapter entitled ‘Bedtime Story’ Bond relates his last mission in Canada on the trail of SPECTRE to Vivienne Michel, the first-person narrator of the novel.

The subsequent films of the novels, beginning with DR. NO, which was released in October 1962, took their lead from Fleming’s change in the composition of his villains and replaced all of the SMERSH and Russian backed villains of the novels of the 1950s with either SPECTRE membership or independent status. As the Cold War thawed slightly in the post-Cuban missile crisis détente after the events of the ‘13 days’ in October 1962 Russia was no longer seen as being in the ‘doghouse’ so much. The Bond films therefore reflected the new political mood, and made international terrorism in the form of SPECTRE the new villainous threat to the world. 

Despite this, SMERSH and the attendant ‘Smiert Spionam’ made three appearances in the Bond films. Firstly, Tatiana Romanova believes that she is working for the good of Mother Russia when she reports to Colonel Rosa Klebb of SMERSH in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963), but what she doesn’t know is that Klebb has defected to make her services available to SPECTRE instead. Thus, the producers have avoided making SMERSH the villains, as they were in the original novel and have instead carried on from DR. NO where SPECTRE were the villains of the piece. SMERSH next makes an appearance in Charles K. Feldman’s elaborate spoof of Fleming’s first novel and Bond in general, CASINO ROYALE (1967). However, as SMERSH in the film are responsible for the killing of sixteen KGB agents, and Fleming’s SMERSH was of course a Soviet organisation, SMERSH is here presented as a SPECTRE-type organisation under another name. The silhouetted presentation of SMERSH’s leader, Dr. Noah (a.k.a. Jimmy Bond) adds to the attempt to ape Blofeld as he had appeared in silhouette in the film THUNDERBALL (1965) under a half-closed shutter.

The most important mention of SMERSH, however, is made in a film where they have been disbanded for years. In Timothy Dalton’s first outing as Bond, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987), ‘Smiert Spionam’ makes its only appearance in the Bond films as a phrase. However, the keen observer will note that the spelling of this phrase has again changed, this time surely due to inaccuracy. The KGB ‘defector’ General Georgi Koskov tells M, Frederick Gray (the Minister of Defence) and Bond at the safe house in Blayden that the new head of the KGB, General Leonid Pushkin was the reason behind his ‘defection.’ Koskov maintains that Pushkin has a new ‘secret directive,’ namely ‘Smiert Spionom,’ which Bond explains to the Minister of Defence means ‘Death to Spies.’ Koskov says that this directive will mean the assassination of British and American agents and that murder will follow murder. At his following briefing from M for the assassination of Pushkin, Bond is shown the brown paper tag that was found near 004’s body. An assassin in the employ of American arms dealer Brad Whitaker had killed 004, and slid a tag with the words ‘Smiert Spionom’ written in black marker pen onto the OO agent’s climbing rope before abruptly severing it. Later in the film, in the scene where Saunders is assassinated by being crushed in the path of an automatic door, Bond finds a blue balloon with the words ‘Smiert Spionom’ again written in black marker pen on it, floating towards him. The scriptwriters (Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson in this case) have obviously used the amended spelling ‘Smiert Spionam’ featured in the novels FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER but have mistakenly transcribed it as ‘Smiert Spionom,’ replacing the ‘a’ which was in all three versions of Fleming’s spelling of the Russian word with an ‘o.’

When Bond holds Pushkin at gunpoint in his hotel room, Pushkin says, “‘Smiert Spionom’ was a Beria operation in Stalin’s time. It was deactivated twenty years ago.” It is unclear whether Pushkin is here referring to the ‘real-world’ SMERSH or the SMERSH of the ‘Bond universe.’ If he were referring to the ‘real-world’ SMERSH, then as it was deactivated in 1946 and Pushkin is speaking in 1987, it would have been more historically accurate for him to say that it was deactivated forty years ago rather than twenty. However, if he is referring to the ‘Bond universe’ SMERSH of the Fleming Bond novels it is still actually thirty years before 1987. In THUNDERBALL we are told that SMERSH disbanded in 1958 in the list detailing the SPECTRE membership, therefore SMERSH was not disbanded in the time of Stalin’s leadership [he died in March 1953] but during the leadership of his immediate successor, Nikita Khrushchev:

“three former members of SMERSH, the Soviet organization for the execution of traitors and enemies of the State that had been disbanded on the orders of Khrushchev in 1958, and replaced by the Special Executive Department of the MWD…” (‘Thunderball,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1963, p. 52)

General Pushkin’s comments in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS about Beria heading the SMERSH operation are true to the ‘Bond universe’ as in CASINO ROYALE Fleming had wriiten in the dossier on SMERSH:

“Ranks above MWD (formerly NKVD) and is believed to come under the personal direction of Beria.”

Lavrenty Pavlovich Beria, whom General Pushkin claims originated the ‘Smiert Spionom’ operation, was indeed the director of the Soviet secret police, a forerunner of SMERSH called the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), from 1938 to 1953, and he played a large role in the purges of Stalin’s opponents. Soon after Stalin’s death in March 1953 Beria, as one of the four deputy prime ministers and as Minister of Internal Affairs, attempted to use his position as chief of the secret police to succeed Stalin as the sole dictator of the Soviet Union. By July 1953 he had been defeated in this aim by an anti-Beria coalition. He was then arrested, deprived of all his government and party posts and convicted of being an “imperialist agent” and of conducting “criminal antiparty and anti-state activities.” He was executed after his trial in December 1953. In Fleming’s FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE there is a telling reference made to Beria. Fleming describes the scene inside SMERSH headquarters at No. 13 Stretenka Ulista:

“On the walls are four large pictures in gold frames. In 1955, these were a portrait of Stalin over the door, one of Lenin between the two windows and, facing each other on the other two walls, portraits of Bulganin and, where until January 13th, 1954, a portrait of Beria had hung, a portrait of army General Ivan Aleksandrovitch Serov, Chief of the Committee of State Security.” (‘From Russia, With Love,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1964, pp. 27-8)

In the following chapter there is more information given on Beria:

 “Serov, A Hero of the Soviet Union and a veteran of the famous predecessors of the MGB – the Cheka, the Ogpu, the NKVD and the MVD – was in every respect a bigger man than Beria. He had been directly behind the mass executions of the 1930s when a million died, he had been meteur en scene of most of the great Moscow show trials, he had originated the bloody genocide in the Central Caucasus in February 1944, and it was he who had inspired the mass deportations from the Baltic States and the kidnapping of the German atom scientists who had given Russia her great technical leap forward after the war.

And Beria and all his court had gone to the gallows, while General G. had been given SMERSH as his reward. As for Army General Ivan Serov, he, with Bulganin and Khrushchev, now ruled Russia. One day, he might even stand on the peak, alone. But, guessed General Vozdvishensky, glancing up the table at the gleaming billiard-ball skull, probably with General G. not far behind him.” (‘From Russia, With Love,’ Ian Fleming, Pan Books Ltd., London, 1964, p. 34)

By providing accurate background information on the various Soviet secret intelligence and military organizations, Fleming can introduce and expand the role of SMERSH as a useful fictional device, and carry his readers along on the fantasy. This fits in with Fleming’s belief in deploying real place names and brand names throughout his novels to make the sometimes more fantastical elements of the plot seem more real. It is a clear sign of Fleming’s skill as a writer that he can use this literary device to invoke such a great amount of verisimilitude. Nikolay Aleksandrovitch Bulganin, mentioned in the quoted passages above, was, for example, the premier of the Soviet Union from 1955 until 1958. The real SMERSH would have fitted into the Russian KGB’s Third Chief Directorate. It had as its chief assignment the maintenance of security within the armed forces and watching for any potential traitors within the military and intelligence services. This was the actual function that SMERSH had carried out during the Second World War, as Fleming rightly noted in the file on SMERSH in CASINO ROYALE. This also fits in with the mention of the ‘secret directive,’ Smiert Spionom of General Pushkin, the head of the KGB, referred to by the ‘defecting’ General Koskov. The KGB, or Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (“Committee of State Security”) was the last of the major Soviet intelligence services created. Its role resembled the American CIA and the FBI combined with the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The KGB was ordered into three directorates. The First Chief Directorate was charged with carrying out counter-intelligence missions to maintain internal security. Fleming’s description of SMERSH would have probably fitted more aptly into the Second Chief Directorate, as it was responsible for foreign intelligence and had a wide variety of subsections dealing with different geographical areas and specific functions, such as that of psychological warfare. By making Colonel General Grubozaboyschikov (‘General G.’) the Head of SMERSH and Army General Ivan Aleksandrovitch Serov the Chief of the Committee of State Security (i.e. Beria’s old job), Fleming is acknowledging that there was not one centralized Soviet organ of counter-espionage and terror like SMERSH, but actually a competing network of military and secret counter-intelligence organizations under many different titles. Fleming was clearly aware of the labyrinthine nature of Soviet intelligence and the ever-changing series of names for organizations with much the same role as their predecessors. Fleming explained away some of these complexities in Soviet counter-intelligence in his Bond novels by saying that SMERSH ranked “above MWD (formerly NKVD)” in CASINO ROYALE.


As an interesting endnote the new spelling of Smiert Spionom for SMERSH used in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS is itself actually incorrectly spelt in the section on the film in Virgin Film’s BOND FILMS (2002). In the entry for THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS under the heading ‘In The Real World’ the history of SMERSH as a real-life organisation is briefly outlined:

“Koskov terms his operations against British agents Smiert Spionem, the Russian for ‘Death to Spies’. When questioned General Pushkin claims that Smiert Spionem is an abandoned operation dating ‘from Stalin’s time’.

He is correct, as in 1943 this phrase, contracted to SMERSH, became the new name given to a new Soviet military counter-intelligence service. The organisation was disbanded in 1946, although there are countless examples – including the use of the name on official paperwork – of Soviet personnel referring to themselves as working for SMERSH into the mid-1950s.

SMERSH’s responsibilities included the internal security of the Russian state, and its official duties were roughly equivalent to those of MI5 in Britain, although its unsavoury working methods invite comparisons with the Gestapo. SMERSH became infamous in the West for its actions in the satellite communist countries of Eastern Europe, especially Germany, immediately after World War Two. Ian Fleming used a fictionalised version of the organisation as the main adversary of the literary Bond. SMERSH agents appear in the novels Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, From Russia with Love, Doctor No and Goldfinger.” (‘Virgin Film: Bond Films,’ Jim Smith and Stephen Lavington, Virgin Books Ltd., London, 2002, p. 220)

In the same book in the section on the 1967 spoof version of CASINO ROYALE under the heading of ‘The Opposition’ there is another description given of SMERSH:

SMERSH: SMERSH were the villains of Fleming’s earliest Bond novels, including this one. In those it was – as in reality – a branch of the Russian Secret Service whose name was a contraction of the Russian for ‘Death to Spies’ – Smiert Spionem (see The Living Daylights). Here SMERSH is presented as an international criminal organisation more like SPECTRE than anything else. Presumably SPECTRE was avoided in order to prevent Kevin McClory becoming involved in the murky legal quagmire surrounding this project.” (‘Virgin Film: Bond Films,’ Jim Smith and Stephen Lavington, Virgin Books Ltd., London, 2002, p. 71)

By incorrectly labelling SMERSH as derived from the Russian phrase ‘Smiert Spionem’ instead of the spelling Smyert Shpionam used in the novel of CASINO ROYALE on which the spoof is ‘suggested,’ the writers of BOND FILMS have clearly become confused with the incorrect spelling used in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS film, namely that of Smiert Spionom, which is evidently derived from Fleming’s later adapted spelling of the phrase, Smiert Spionam, used in the later novels which feature SMERSH, namely FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER. The writers incorrect spelling of the Russian phrase is therefore not just a one-off confined to the incorrect copying of the spelling used in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS film, but also to refer to the spelling of the phrase in Fleming’s novels. This confusion over the spelling of the Russian for ‘Death to Spies’ aptly illustrates the complexities surrounding the phrase’s use throughout the whole literary and cinematic Bond canon, and even in Bond commentaries and criticism.

According to a source on the Internet, the phrase from which SMERSH actually derives its name is, in Russian, “C myert shpionam!” and this was the motto of the NKVD, a forerunner of the KGB, officially known as “Voyenna Kontra Razvedka” (Military Counter-Intelligence). As the poster “Jevez” explains on the file on SMERSH on the Bond website ‘Universal Exports’:

“The word, “shpionam” is both the plural (“shpion” is the singular), and has the case-ending which denotes its use as the object of a preposition. Since no preposition occurs immediately prior to the word “shpionam”, it is understood that the preposition “to” is intended. Hence, the motto has a translation of “with death to spies”. When it is spoken in Russian, it is said so quickly that, to non-Russian trained ears, it appears to sound like “smyert shpionam”, and that is how Fleming wrote it. He wasn’t alone in that, as both our CIA, and the British Ministry of Intelligence listed the radical branch of the VKR by that name. It was a very real organization, until the fellows from SMERSH got a little out of hand and began killing foreign spies in wholesale lots – very much against the typical method of operation of intelligence units on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Both the CIA and the MI began massive retaliations, until Khrushchev kicked up a fuss about it. When told by our ambassadors what was actually going on, he ordered the VKR entirely disbanded, immediately.”

This seems to fit with the theory expounded above that Fleming might have anglicised the spelling of the Cyrillic phrase meaning ‘Death to Spies’. It could also be that he misheard it or read a report in which it was spelt “Smyert Shpionam.”  A Greek monk, now called St. Cyril (who features as a p[lot point in the 1981 film FOR YOUR EYES ONLY) who went over the Caucasus Mountains to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the peoples there, created the Russian, or Cyrillic alphabet. The monks that went there found that although the people had a well-developed spoken language they had no comparable form of writing. They therefore took the Greek and Roman letters and revised them to represent the different phonetic sounds of the spoken Russian language. This explains why some of the letters in the Russian alphabet look almost identical to the Greek letters. For example, the letter carved by the SMERSH executioner onto the back of Bond’s hand in CASINO ROYALE was the Cyrillic letter for SH – denoting ‘shpion,’ a spy. This letter resembles an inverted M with a tail. As the Russian letter ‘C’ is always pronounced softly and is also a preposition meaning either “to” or “with,” it is easy to see why Fleming mistakenly thought that the three-word phrase “C myert Shpionam!” meaning “With Death to Spies!” was spelt in only two words, “Smyert Shpionam” and meant “Death to Spies.”

Interestingly, Khrushchev’s disbandment of the VKR, which contained the radical branch, called SMERSH at its core, after the reports of the killings of foreign spies, neatly matches Fleming’s passage in THUNDERBALL on the complexion of SPECTRE quoted above where he reveals that SMERSH “had been disbanded on the orders of Khrushchev in 1958, and replaced by the Special Executive Department of the MWD…” It appears that there was a contemporary precedent for Fleming’s decision to disband SMERSH and replace it with the international terrorist organisation SPECTRE, quite beside the fact that Russia was by then (1961) starting to come out of the ‘doghouse’ a little.

Overall then, throughout Fleming’s novels, the continuation novels and the films, there have been four separate spellings of the Russian for the phrase ‘Death to Spies,’ with no real indication as to why changes in the spelling of the phrase were made or which spelling is taken to be the most accurate, although the spelling ‘Smiert Spionam’ turns up most throughout the novels, despite being spelt incorrectly in the film of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. All of the confusion over the accurate spelling of the phrase that gives its name to SMERSH may have in fact been down to Ian Fleming’s initial mishearing and misspelling of the words. The history of the spelling of the Russian phrase in the Bond novels, films and film guidebooks certainly reveals some interesting and unexplained inconsistencies. 

TBB Article No. 12

© The Bondologist Blog, 2007.

The Ubiquity of James Bond

Ian Fleming 1908-2008 Centenary Celebration Article - 28 May 2008

Today, 28 May 2008, Ian Fleming is having his centenary celebrated by his many fans and admirers around the world, and he has rightly been placed firmly at the top of the James Bond tree once again, due to the efforts of the Fleming family through Ian Fleming Publications. There have been commemorative stamps featuring various James Bond novel covers issued by the Royal Mail in January 2008; an exhibition at the Imperial War Museum entitled ‘For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming + James Bond,’ detailing the similarities and differences between the creator and his creation, the most famous fictional secret agent in the world, and today there has been the hotly-anticipated ‘literary event of the year,’ the publication of the new “period” James Bond novel, DEVIL MAY CARE, with best-selling author Sebastian Faulks “writing as Ian Fleming.” In October 2008 Daniel Craig is set to return in his second appearance as James Bond in QUANTUM OF SOLACE, appropriately an off-beat previously little-known short story (outside of the realms of Bond fandom) by Ian Fleming, in this his centenary year. This refocusing on Ian Fleming on the occasion of what would have been his 100th birthday also serves to remind us of the ubiquitous nature of Fleming’s enduring creation, James Bond. James Bond, as both a literary and cinematic character really does turn up everywhere, and this sometimes results in him also turning up in the strangest of places. 

Focusing on the character of James Bond in the printed medium, it will be observed that Bond has cropped up in many weird and wonderful, as well as unexpected, places. It illustrates the fascination James Bond has engendered throughout the decades since his creation that he has turned up in so many interesting places. It is also a joy for the Bond fan to uncover these often hidden gems between the pages of the most un-Bondian looking of magazines, journals and books. Such finds often uncover some interesting facts as the writers are looking at Bond from perhaps an off-beat angle or in a new way that a Bond fan might never consider.

Kingsley Amis, later the first official continuation James Bond author, in his excellent study of the literary Bond, THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER (1965) wrote of one such interesting encounter he had with Bond in a rather bizarre place:

“A much more thorough arms-inspection than Mr Boothroyd’s was carried out more recently by Bob Glass, evidently an American handgun specialist, in an article called ‘The Gunnery of James Bond’. I read this in a magazine called Snakes Alive (Trinity, 1963) which, since it’s the journal of the Belfast Medical School, is probably not generally circulated among Bond fans. For all I know, Mr Glass’s piece appeared elsewhere earlier, but I can find no trace of this. In any event, it’ll do no harm to recall here some of his observations...”

(Kingsley Amis, ‘The James Bond Dossier,’ Pan Books Ltd., London, 1966,

pp. 118-9.)

Another example of James Bond turning up in an unexpected place occurs between the pages of an issue of Practical Television magazine, again I suspect, to use Amis’s words, a publication “probably not generally circulated among Bond fans.” In the May 1967 edition of Practical Television, in the section entitled ‘Underneath The Dipole’ there is a photograph of Mr Osata, Helga Brandt and a Japanese technician sitting around the control panel in Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s hollowed-out volcano, with a guard standing in the background. The caption below the black and white photograph reads:

“The latest James Bond film “You only live twice”, [sic] to be released in the autumn, is also to include electronic gadgetry. This time a television control centre, bristling with all the latest gear, in the side of a volcano. The photograph – wait for it, it’s classified information – was taken at Pinewood Studios.”

(Iconos, Practical Television, Volume 17, No.8, Issue 200, May 1967, p. 351.)

There had been no mention made of James Bond earlier in the two-page round-up of what was going on “underneath the dipole.” A “dipole” in the television context is an aerial consisting of a horizontal metal rod with a connecting wire at its centre. So “underneath the dipole” here means the television set itself. The photograph was seemingly just included to highlight the fact that the “white heat” of British and other television technologies would soon be turning up in a significant new British film, and that everyone clearly knew who James Bond was. It could be seen as a small way of adding a little visual sparkle, through a Bond reference, to an otherwise “routine” Practical Television section. Although there is no specific mention of James Bond in the articles which accompany the photograph from YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, there is interestingly a mention made of the television series THE AVENGERS, which was featuring future Bond stars Patrick Macnee (as John Steed) and Diana Rigg (as Miss Emma Peel) at the time. Iconos, the bespectacled author of the section, under a heading of “Credit – where credit’s due” writes:

“I would be a strong advocate for credits, both for actors and technicians – providing the viewer was given time to read them easily, without disturbing background flashes and “jump cuts” or loud brash musical discords. For example, everyone knows who the stars are of The Avengers; but without keen eyes it is difficult to see who the excellent supporting actors are – unless you know them by sight, anyway!”

(Iconos, Practical Television, Volume 17, No.8, Issue 200, May 1967, p. 350.)


One more recent example (though there are certainly countless more out there waiting to be discovered by Bond fans) occurs in Criminal Law Textbook by Russell Heaton LL.B. At the end of each section in the textbook, Heaton places a typical Criminal Law problem question for students to practice what they have learnt so far. In Question 4.2 Heaton falls back on the novel, or perhaps film of, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE for inspiration on writing a problem scenario that will surely not unfairly reference too many of the students, or other academic readers, surnames:

“Bond hails a taxi, but when it stops Kleb rushes into the taxi ahead of him and slams the door in his face jeering, ‘Ladies before gentlemen, Mr Bond.’ Bond shouts obscenities at her and Kleb yells, ‘You’re going to pay for that Mr Bond. I’m going to shoot you.’ Bond, fearing he is about to be shot, panics and leaps over a wall into the river running alongside the road. He is swept away by the current and, although he is pulled from the river, his breathing has stopped. His breathing is restarted by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but it is discovered that he has suffered permanent brain damage, even though he does not die.

Discuss the criminal liability, if any, of Kleb.”

(Russell Heaton, ‘Criminal Law Textbook,’ Second edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, pp. 521-2.)

Heaton has here taken the characters of James Bond and Colonel Rosa Klebb from both the novel and film version of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and played out a neat little scenario with them, only slightly amending ‘Klebb’ to ‘Kleb,’ and having Bond panic and jump into a river due to Kleb’s possible ‘technical assault,’ as opposed to being kicked by Klebb’s poisoned-tipped blade shoes which leads to the harrowing final sentence in Fleming’s fifth novel,

“Bond pivoted slowly on his heel and crashed headlong to the wine-red floor.”

(Ian Fleming, ‘From Russia, with Love,’ Pan Books Ltd., London, 1964, p. 207).

The reference in the scenario by the villainous Kleb to ‘Mr Bond’ is also another unmistakably knowing Bond element Heaton mentions. Heaton’s suggested answer to the problem question is given at the back of the textbook and it covers sections 18, 20 and 47 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, each covering grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent, inflicting GBH and assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) respectively. On Kleb’s criminal liability Heaton concludes:

“Therefore there is a probability that she would be convicted under s. 47 but acquitted of offences under ss. 18 and 20.”

(Russell Heaton, ‘Criminal Law Textbook,’ Second edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2006, p. 523.)

Heaton’s Criminal Law Textbook is again another unexpected place to find a Bond reference, especially as it is one that appears so knowing of the Fleming canon.

From these three disparate examples of James Bond turning up in the strangest of places it can be concluded that Ian Fleming’s enduring creation is a truly ubiquitous phenomenon, and in his centenary year of 2008, we can be assured that Ian Fleming’s memory and work will live on for many years to come. James Bond’s ubiquity after fifty-six years since his creation in 1952, nearly forty-four years after Fleming’s death in August 1964, and one hundred years after Fleming’s birth, is certainly a fitting tribute to the remarkable talents of his too often forgotten creator. In the spirit of Ian Fleming’s own research, it would be interesting to hear of any of the other strange, bizarre and unexpected places other James Bond fans have encountered the world’s most famous fictional secret agent. Such encounters can cover James Bond articles, photographs or general references in initially unexpected or strange places.

With all of this in mind, the next time you see a copy of the likes of National Geographic, The Economist, Reader’s Digest or the Financial Times don’t just pass on by the newsstand uninterested but take the chance to delve into their pages. With the evidence of the strange examples quoted above, in passing by you conceivably might just miss an unexpected nugget of James Bond “gold”!

This article is written in memory of Ian Lancaster Fleming (1908-1964) thanking him for the great pleasure he has given readers of many different hues the world over, and wishing him all of the recognition he richly deserves on the 100th anniversary of his birth, 28 May 2008. 

TBB Article No. 11

© The Bondologist Blog, 2008.

The Inspiration of the ‘Tara'-type house featured in John Gardner's For Special Services (1982)

John Gardner (1926-2007) drew on the inspiration of his own home in the United States when he gave the villainous Markus Bismaquer a recreation of the house ‘Tara’ from the film Gone With the Wind in his second continuation Bond novel For Special Services (1982). Gardner lived in Charlottesville, Virginia for a number of years, in a 'Tara'-type house.

When Bond and Cedar Leiter first visit Rancho Bismaquer in Texas, the home of Markus and and his wife Nena Bismaquer it is described thus:

“Bond heard Cedar give a startled intake of breath. Facing them, set amid lush lawns, was a huge white house. Wide steps led up to a portico where square columns rose to a flat roof. The main roof was pitched back over the rest of the house, its red tiles a splash of colour against the overall whiteness. There were dogwood trees in front of the house, flanking the drive, and Bond thought, vaguely, that he had seen it before.

‘Tara,’ whispered Cedar. ‘It’s Tara.’

‘Tara?’ Bond was lost.

Gone With the Wind. The movie – Margaret Mitchell’s book. It’s the house from the movie. You know, James, Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable…’

‘Ah,’ said Bond.

‘How very clever of you.’ The squeak rose excitedly from Walter Luxor. ‘It usually takes people longer. They think they’ve seen pictures of it. Markus fell in love with it when he saw the movie, so he bought the designs from MGM and built it here. Ah, here’s Markus now.’” (For Special Services, John Gardner, Coronet Edition, Kent, 1983, p. 92)

In an interview in The Financial Times published on 30 June 2001, John Gardner told reporter Arnie Wilson about his eight-year sojourn in the United States:

‘Only a decade ago Gardner, author of more than 40 thrillers, was riding high and enjoying the good life with his wife Margaret in a palatial colonial-style home in Charlottesville, Virginia.

“Remember Tara, the house in Gone With the Wind, with those pillars?” he says. “It was too big, of course. I always bought large houses because the books took up a lot of space.” (Arnie Wilson, ‘Off Centre: Bond man shaken but not stirred: Ian Fleming’s successor is still chipper, despite the loss of his health – and the Bentley', The Financial Times, 30 June 2001)

It is very interesting to note that Bismaquer’s house is actually modelled on the house from the film Gone With the Wind, a type of palatial colonial house which John Gardner himself actually owned at the time. It can be looked at as Gardner’s equivalent of Fleming’s self-built Jamaica home Goldeneye, his retreat where he wrote the Bond novels. The film buff in Gardner meant that he must have been a big fan of the 1939 film Gone with the Wind as well as Markus Bismaquer. The ‘Tara-type’ house was where Gardner lived during his eight-year stay in the United States between 1989 and 1997, when he returned to Basingstoke in England. Gardner also lived in the Republic of Ireland for income tax purposes as it was a tax haven between 1979 and 1984, then he lived in Oxfordshire in England between 1984 and 1989, meaning that he wrote his James Bond continuation novels (1981-1996) in three different locations.

TBB Article No. 10

© The Bondologist Blog, 2007.

Ian Fleming's Second Uncompleted James Bond Short Story Collection

In the Jonathan Cape first edition of OCTOPUSSY AND THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1966) by Ian Fleming there is a very interesting piece of information contained on the dust jacket inner leaf:

‘These two stories, written in 1961 and 1962, were among those composed by Ian Fleming while he was writing the incomparable series of James Bond thrillers. The first collection of stories appeared in 1959 as For Your Eyes Only; a further collection which he had planned to publish was never completed.’

Does this mean that Ian Fleming intended another short story collection outside of the OCTOPUSSY AND THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS collection or simply that he had intended it to be a larger collection containing a few more stories to make it a match for the ‘Five Secret Occasions in the life of James Bond’ that made up FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1960)?

When Fleming’s second short story collection and his last completed Bond work was published in paperback form in 1967 under the title of simply OCTOPUSSY the short story THE PROPERTY OF A LADY which Fleming had specially written in 1963 for Sotheby’s ‘The Ivory Hammer’ was added to bulk out the collection. If Fleming had lived would 007 IN NEW YORK, which was first published in the American edition of THRILLING CITIES have also been included? Of course Fleming left behind at least two other uncompleted Bond short stories when he died in August 1964.

In THE LIFE OF IAN FLEMING by John Pearson extracts from these two unfinished Bond short stories are given along with some interesting details that place them in their proper context:

‘During the winter, when the real wealth of the world was still to be found on the Riviera, the Greek Syndicate operated at Monte Carlo; and in the summer, as money migrated north, they came shuffling their cards after it. And wherever the Greek Syndicate operated in those days its best and most famous ‘dealer’ at baccarat was an ex-shipping clerk with a gentle manner and an infallible memory for cards and faces. His name was Zographos. He was one of Fleming’s earliest heroes. Through him Fleming felt that he had finally begun to understand the real mystique of the casino.

Not long before he died, Fleming actually began a short story in which James Bond met Zographos. It never got beyond the first page and a half, but it managed to convey something of the excitement its author felt for the really great ice-cold gambler.

…'It was like this, Mr Bond,’ Zographos had a precise way of speaking with the thin tips of his lips while his half-hard, half-soft Greek eyes measured the reactions of his words on the listener…‘The Russians are chess players. They are mathematicians. Cold machines. But they are also mad. The mad ones forsake the chess and the mathematics and become gamblers. Now, Mr Bond.’ Zographos laid a hand on Bond’s sleeve and quickly withdrew it because he knew Englishmen, just as he knew the characteristics of every race, every race with money, in the world. ‘There are two gamblers…the man who lays the odds and the man who accepts them. The bookmaker and the punter. The casino and, if you like’ – Mr Zographos’s smile was sly with the ‘shared secret and proud with the right word – ‘the suckers.’

What seems to have excited Fleming most of all was the thought that the Greek Syndicate and Zographos were the bankers and in the long run had the odds in their favour. It made him think that somehow, whether through skill or crime or self-control or knowledge of human nature, a really determined man could beat the system, establish his final ascendancy, his uniqueness as a human being, over Zographos’s ‘suckers’ and all the other dull worthy people who gambled without appreciating what they were up to.

This was what Fleming always wanted to do. But since he was a careful man with a profound appreciation of money and a gambler in the imagination, he never did. It was left to James Bond to risk everything on that single throw and clean out the bank.’ (‘The Life of Ian Fleming,’ John Pearson, The Companion Book Club, London, 1966, pp. 207-8)

An extract from Fleming’s second uncompleted Bond short story and Pearson’s reading of it is also given:

“‘In the early morning, at about 7.30, the stringy whimperings of the piped radio brought visions of a million homes waking up all over Britain…of him, or perhaps her, getting up to make the early morning tea, to put the dog out, to stoke the boiler. And then will this shirt do for another day? The socks, the pants? The Ever-ready, the Gillette shave, the Brylcreem on the hair, the bowler hat or the homburg, the umbrella and the briefcase or the sample case? Then ‘Dodo’, the family saloon out on the concrete arterial, probably with her driving. The red-brick station, the other husbands, the other wives, the clickety-click of the 8.15 round the curve by the golf course. Hullo Sidney! Hullo Arthur! After you Mr Shacker…and the drab life picking up speed and flicking on up the rails between the conifers and the damp evergreens.

Bond switched on his electric blanket and waited for his hot water with a slice of lemon and contemplated the world with horror and disgust.’

Into this opening of a short story he never finished Fleming managed to cram his horror of the idea of marrying and settling down. It was a typical piece of Flemingesque black fantasy – he must be one of the few men it is totally impossible to imagine stoking an early morning boiler before driving off in a family saloon with a bowler hat and a caseful of samples. It gives some idea of the passion with which he clung to his independence during the long years of the romance before ‘Annee Rothermere’ became ‘Madame F’.

For when the marriage did take place not even its bitterest opponents could say that the couple needed more time to get to know each other or that they failed to realize what they were in for; rarely can two people in love have had quite such a gruelling prelude to a wedding.” (‘The Life of Ian Fleming,’ John Pearson, The Companion Book Club, London, 1966, pp. 192-3)

It would be interesting to know if the rest of these two unfinished Fleming Bond short stories are still in the archives as Pearson did write that the Zographos story was a page and a half in length, implying that that was just an excerpt and the other excerpt only contains the opening of the story. It would be great if the rest of these fragments of Bond short stories could be published also. A delve around in the Fleming archives would hopefully uncover them in their entirety.

Perhaps one of the reasons that the full short story collection was never delivered by Fleming, quite apart from the fact that he died at the relatively young age of 56 was that Fleming was not in a great state for writing during 1964. In his autobiography, WITHIN WHICKER’S WORLD, Alan Whicker mentions how he was approached one day in 1964 by Ian Fleming’s agent Robert Fenn, who was also a friend of his about the possibility of doing a ‘Whicker’s World’ TV programme on the creator of James Bond, who was then writing at Goldeneye, his house in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Whicker recalls:

'After some discussion the BBC agreed, and I wrote to tell Fleming I was looking forward to our meeting, mentioned a few mutual friends, gave him a rough schedule of our movements and a few thoughts on how we might approach the programme. By return I had the rudest letter I have ever received.

I should have kept it. It was after all from a Bestseller, and must still be burning a hole in some Documentary department file. He had not the slightest intention of giving his valuable time to the BBC, or to me, for little or no payment. In that short sharp vein he dismissed us as parasites upon the creative body. It was strong stuff. Since I had understood the whole project was his and we were merely being agreeable and falling in with his wishes, I was stunned.

I had an active sense of injustice and a tendency not to turn the other cheek, so was about to leap to my typewriter and shoot off an indignant rejoinder. However for some reason I stayed my hand. I have never been quite sure why. Instead I sent an unusually gentle reply, regretting our lines had got crossed in that way, and saying only that his decision was certainly my loss – as it was. 

Weeks later while filming in Jamaica we visited Ocho Rios, and I went to stay with Jeremy Vaughan on his father’s plantation, just above Goldeneye. They saw Fleming most days and were concerned about him, for he was drinking heavily and usually legless by lunchtime. His writing was not going well, if at all. I recalled what had happened. ‘Don’t take it to heart,’ said Charles Vaughan. ‘That’s not like him – but obviously he’s a sick man.’

Within a few weeks, Ian Fleming was dead. I was profoundly thankful I had not risen to the passing irritation of an unhappy author in his last days.’ (‘Within Whicker’s World,’ Alan Whicker, Coronet Edition, 1983, pp. 284-5)

This description of Fleming’s last few weeks and the effect it had on his creativity and his enthusiasm for Bond is also borne out in Andrew Lycett’s biography of Fleming:

‘Once again he claimed that he would write no more Bond books. Although he had said this before, there was a certain finality in his statement to Plomer, who was editing The Man With the Golden Gun: “This is, alas, the last Bond and, again alas, I mean it, for I really have run out of both puff and zest.”

‘Ian seized on the imminent publication of Amis’s work as an excuse to delay putting out The Man With the Golden Gun, which increasingly dissatisfied him. He hoped he might be able to rework it in the when he was in Jamaica the following spring. But Plomer disabused him of that idea, telling him that the novel was well up to standard.’ (‘Ian Fleming,’ Andrew Lycett, Phoenix, London, 2002, p. 434)

In an article entitled ‘My Enemy’s Enemy Is My Friend’ over on the 007 Forever website, Nick Kincaid wrote in February 2001 of Fleming’s plans for future Bond stories which were taken from notes outlined in his 128 page notebook. Kincaid reveals some of the contents of Fleming’s notebook,

“In February 1964, shortly before Fleming died, he allowed a reporter from the Daily Express to have a look [at his notebook]. The reporter copied several entries:

‘There was a notation of the name “Mr. Szasz,” which Fleming thought would be ideal for a villain. He had somehow come across the Bulgar proverb “My Enemy’s Enemy (is my friend),” and if he had lived, it would probably have turned up on the lips of some inscrutable villain” (Quoting from Henry Ziegler’s ‘The Spy Who Came In With The Gold’)

The reporter’s notes from Fleming’s notebook also revealed how Fleming had outlined prospective Bond works. Here are the plot outlines:

“Bond, as a double agent, has to shoot his own assistant in order to keep his cover…”

“A battle under Niagara Falls”

“A masquerade ball in which the benign clown is the Russian killer and the crowd thinks that a real fight is part of the buffoonery.” (As Nick Kincaid notes in the article there are shades of the 1983 film OCTOPUSSY here, where Bond, dressed as a clown has to persuade the American General that there is a nuclear bomb in the cannon waiting to go off any second.)

It is a wonderful piece of blackish tragicomedy with clear Fleming roots. Consider, for instance, the scene in Fleming’s CASINO ROYALE where one of Le Chiffre’s Bulgar henchmen places his cane-gun against Bond’s spine and asks him to pull out of the high stakes game of baccarat:

‘Immediately he felt something hard press into the base of his spine, right into the cleft between his two buttocks on the padded chair.

At the same time a thick voice speaking southern French said softly, urgently, just behind his right ear:

‘This is a gun, monsieur. It is absolutely silent. It can blow the base of your spine off without a sound. You will appear to have fainted. I shall be gone. Withdraw your bet before I count ten. If you call for help I shall fire.’

The voice was confident. Bond believed it. These people had shown they would unhesitantly go to the limit. The thick walking-stick was explained. Bond knew the type of gun. The barrel a series of soft rubber baffles which absorbed the detonation, but which allowed the passage of the bullet. They had been invented and used in the war for assassinations. Bond had used them himself.



Bond looked over at Vesper and Felix Leiter. They were smiling and talking to each other. The fools. Where was Mathis? Where were those famous men of his?


And the other spectators. This crowd of jabbering idiots. Couldn’t someone see what was happening? The chef de partie, the croupier, the huissier? (‘Casino Royale,’ Pan Books Ltd., London, 1965, pp. 87-8)

Another plot outline with a connected circus/fairground theme is:

“Fight in a fun fair with a man on the rollercoaster being shot at by another on the Big Wheel.” 

The notebook also contained descriptions that may have turned up in a future Bond short story collection or even novels:

“She had a blunt, short-lipped mouth, proud like a half-healed wound.”

“You won’t have a lover if you don’t love,” (This is very like Elektra King’s and Viktor ‘Renard’ Zokas’s shared philosophy in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999): “There’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive.”)

“Most people are unconscious up to 17, dreaming until 25, awake to 39, mad after 40, dead after 60.”

“Pain is a private address. Only those who have been that way before know the unlisted number.”

As has been suspected, the notebook also revealed that Fleming might have considered branching into non-Bond stories, such as the story of revenge he had outlined in a synopsis. Fleming may have also contemplated a book of non-fiction or a biography had he lived:

“Millionaire wants baby. Kidnaps girl. Rapes her. Keeps her prisoner until baby is born. Makes huge settlement on baby. She signs. He throws her out. She gets her revenge by proving the baby started a week before he kidnapped her.”

A trawl through the various excerpts from the uncompleted Bond short stories and from the outline notes from Fleming’s notebook makes one wonder what might have been had Ian Fleming lived beyond 1964. Would Ian Fleming have continued with more Bond short stories and novels or would these unfinished stories have been his last foray into the world of the literary James Bond? There is no real way of knowing, but there is also no denying that a look through Fleming’s unfinished work does raise some interesting questions about where he would have taken James Bond had he lived.

TBB Article No. 9

© The Bondologist Blog, 2007.