Friday, June 10, 2011

For your eyes only...

James Bond and Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming, Sean Connery, 
Timothy Dalton, Daniel Craig

The life that led to 007

From The Times   

 August 18, 2007  Ben Macintyre   
In March 1952 a middle-aged journalist began tapping out a story on a battered typewriter, partly to take his mind off his imminent marriage. One month later Casino Royale was completed and James Bond was born.
Ian Fleming had tried his hand as a stockbroker, a reporter on The Times and, during the Second World War, a spymaster in the Naval Intelligence Division. But shortly before the end of the war he told a friend: “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” By the time of his death, in 1964, Fleming had written 14 Bond books, sold more than 40 million copies, creating a character with a lasting grip on popular culture.
Like Bond, Fleming was attractive to women: hard-living and handsome, with exquisite taste and considerable charm, but with something cold and hard in his personality. But Bond dined on caviar and champagne; Fleming preferred scrambled eggs (“they never let you down”), Bond smoked 70 cigarettes a day and drank nuclear cocktails with little apparent effect; Fleming’s drinking and smoking contributed to his death at the age of 56.
Fleming understood the importance of “things” in an postwar world that was slowly waking up to the possibilities of consumerism. The key to the modern thriller, Fleming once remarked, was to “write about what people are really interested in: cards, money, gold and things like that”.
Working for The Times and then The Sunday Times, Fleming travelled to distant and glamorous locations. Like all the best journalists he was a magpie, gathering anything that caught his eye: gizmos, plots and personalities. Fleming often based his characters, including Bond, on people he had met, and he gathered names from his wide acquaintance. The villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, for example, was named after the father of the cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, who had been at Eton with Fleming.

                              The man behind James Bond 
BBC News Friday, November 19, 1999

     Although he always denied basing James Bond on himself, much of the inspiration for 007 came from the lifestyle of his creator - Ian Fleming. He was born in 1908, the son of Conservative MP Valentine Fleming and the grandson of Scottish banker Robert Fleming.  When Valentine Fleming died in action in World War One - just short of Ian's ninth birthday - Winston Churchill wrote his obituary in The Times.
     Fleming was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. But after a flirtation with the diplomatic service, he went into journalism in 1929 by joining Reuters news agency.
    He went to work in its Moscow bureau, and in 1933 covered the trial of six British engineers from the Metropolitan-Vickers Company charged with spying and plotting against the Soviets - widely believed to have been a sham.
[ image: Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova]
Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova
     His crisp style of writing impressed his colleagues, while a city filled with spies and secret police made an impression on him. A Russian secretary charged in the Vickers trial was the inspiration for Tatiana in From Russia With Love.
     Reuters wanted to transfer him to the Far East, but instead he went into banking for a spell. With war looming in 1939, he was recruited by the Royal Navy's intelligence unit - his knowledge of finance and languages made him an ideal man to do what he called "some hush-hush work at the Admiralty."
    Much of his work as personal assistant to the director of naval intelligence, Admiral John Godfrey, was classified information.
Ian Fleming in 1963 talks about 007 and his move into films
He travelled widely with Admiral Godfrey around the world, and helped assault groups in obtaining enemy codes and secret equipment - and became only too aware of the horrific torture techniques employed by the enemy upon captured fellow agents.
[ image: Celebrated author Noel Coward was Fleming's Caribbean neighbour]
Celebrated author Noel Coward was Fleming's Caribbean neighbour
     His debonair manner helped him both in work and away from work - he became friends with Lord Kemsley, who made him foreign manager of his newspapers, The Times and Sunday Times, when the war ended.
     He negotiated a deal with Kemsley which enabled him to take eight weeks off each year to spend at the house in Jamaica he had bought - Goldeneye.
     A neighbour of Noel Coward, he was also able to indulge in one of his passions - golf - on Friday afternoons.
     Fleming's eye for the opposite sex was also one of his traits. But he was to settle down when he fell for Ann Rothermere, wife of Kemsley's rival newspaper proprietor, Lord Rothermere.
     They married in 1952, the same year he wrote the first draft of a thriller - Casino Royale - in just seven weeks at Goldeneye.
     To those who knew Fleming well, the tale of intrigue of intrigue, espionage and womanising seemed strangely familiar.
     Casino Royale was a hit, even being televised in the US in 1954. In the following years he dedicated himself to its successors.

[ image: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was also made into a successful film]
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was also made into a successful film

     Now based full-time in Jamaica, Fleming's fame grew. Among his other works was Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - the story of a mad professor who invents an amazing flying car. One of Bond's biggest fans was film-maker Cubby Broccoli, who became convinced 007 had potential to be a hit on the cinema screen. In 1957, he consulted one of his scriptwriters about a project - but had no time to follow it up.
    When he returned to the idea, Canadian Harry Saltzman had beaten him to it and taken out an option on a Bond Movie.
Broccoli teamed up with Saltzman to form Eon Pictures - and Dr No was the result, making a star of Sean Connery and turning James Bond from literary hero to film idol.
But his health had been failing since the late 1950s, as his lifestyle caught up with him.     Fleming was impressed with the results - and with Connery's portrayal of Bond - and also saw From Russia With Love and the rushes for Goldfinger.

     He had a heart attack in 1961, and in 1964 he suffered a severe chest cold, combined with pleurisy. His recovery was slow, but he was determined to live his life as he had always done.
In the early hours of 12 August 1964, Fleming died of heart failure. He is buried in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire.

Goldeneye (1989)
Spymaker (1990)

Films about the life of James Bond creator Ian Fleming

[Goldeneye video]
During the 1988-1994 production gap of James Bond films, between Timothy Dalton's License to Kill and Pierce Brosnan's GoldenEye, there was still some "new" James Bond material to be screened in two made-for-TV movies:

Goldeneye: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming - the Real James Bond (1989)

Taking its title from Ian Fleming's home in Jamaica [also used for the 1995 Brosnan film], the film stars Charles Dance (who also appeared in For Your Eyes Only) as Fleming, and begins with him giving an interview recounting some of his real-life exploits. The film manages to include the origins of the name James Bond, "007" and "shaken, not stirred" among other cliches. Dance, who can be both oddly reptilian looking and handsome at times, is very effective as Fleming. One can see why there was some talk after Roger Moore stepped down of his taking over the role of James Bond. The script is said to be based on John Pearson's book The Life of Ian Fleming.
This is from the VHS release:
"Charles Dance stars as Commander Ian Fleming, the enigmatic playboy and adventurer who created 007 James Bond, the world's deadliest secret agent. But Fleming's super spy was not just the invention of a fertile imagination. His inspiration was his own life. A love of adventure led him into wartime espionage. His love of women led him into trouble. Seductive and charming, he broke many hearts but had one love. Phyllis Logan stars as Ann Rothermere, the beautiful wife of an English press baron who captured his heart. Filmed on location at Fleming's Jamaican retreat and in London, Goldeneye is the story of a remarkable man: his life, his loves and his legacy."

[Spymaker video jacket]

Spymaker: The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (1990)

This movie initially relies on the stunt casting of the first cinematic James Bond's son, Jason Connery, as young Ian Fleming. But the younger Connery is quite good, and looks great in a tux. This film also stars former A View to a Kill Bond girl Fiona Fullerton and Kristin Scott Thomas (whose sister Serena was Bond's doctor in the beginning of The World is Not Enough).
Here is the summary on the VHS container:
"Torrid love affairs. Elegant and erotic women. Spine-tingling espionage. Exotic locales. Diabolical villains. The man who created James Bond, Ian Fleming, actually lived the most exciting spy thriller of all. His adventures span the world -- from Russia (with love and betrayal) to a top-secret Nazi fortress, where he defeats the enemy on His Majesty's secret service. Born into an aristocratic English family, his sexual exploits and talent for danger and intrigue destine him for the life of a hero and a spy. He single-handedly outwits Soviet intelligence, foils an SS monster at a glamourous casino, steals the secrets of the German high command and storms an enemy stronghold against impossible odds. Evil adversaries are no match for his strength and cunning. The fastest cars. The most desirable women. The most hazardous missions. A sizzling, action-packed adventure of the life of the man who created James Bond -- Fleming. Ian Fleming."
Re-blogged from 
Jason Connery
To add your comments click on Links to this post below which will take you to a stand-alone copy of this page. At the bottom, there is a comments box, so feel free to let 'er rip. This is the best I can do until I figure out how to do it the right way. – Nealbo


No comments:

Post a Comment