Communications from Station C

Posted Sat 20 Sep
2 comments so far

I have reached a juncture, in that I have now read all the Fleming James Bond novels and short stories. I still haven’t watched any of the movies, so this post will rely on my patchy memory of what I have seen (umm….not much) and the cultural memory of the man.

We all know Bond. The suave, sophisticated playboy. The cool, calm calculating killer. The driver of many cars, the holder of numerous gadgets. sound of needle being pulled off a long-playing record Hold on a minute, there, Ted. Those last two. Cars and gadets. A staple of Bond. I raise an eyebrow in exquisite query.

Where did that come from? He has one car throughout (disowned by Rolls for what he did to the engine), and when he is on a mission, he tends to borrow a beat-up wagon of some sort. Notable exception to Teresa’s MG. Why, in popular celluloid representation, did he have to have a new model in every film? The Lotus, the Aston, the, um, other ones. So much so that it is part of the lore, much like a ‘Bond girl’. (Which actually is intregal to the novels, albeit in a different form. He sure like the lay-deez, the old misogynist that he is. Then we have the casual rascism, the colonial attitudes, the drink, the drugs, the cigarettes. All part of who he is, in his time and place.) So is this the start of product placement, taken to its extreme where it is no longer placement, but expected? New Bond film, new car. Because that is what he did, wasn’t it?

Though the gadgets are more bizzare. He didn’t, as far as I recall, have a reliance on trickery to get out of trouble. In fact, more often than not, it was luck that saw him through. Sure, he endured, scrapped and shot his way, but, by God, he was also lucky. And unlucky. And he failed. He was most certainly not infallible. Not by a long stretch. Not from the off, to the end. He gets irritated, rattled, annoyed. No stiff upper lip throughout.

Sure, I am aware that films rarely stick to the plot of the book, but Moonraker anyone? Man with the Golden Gun? Hello? Why the film-makers took it upon themselves to imagine Bond as the ultimate guy, getting all the girls, killing all the baddies, driving all the fast cars, is beyond me. Lifestyle fantasy wish-fufillment, I guess. It would have been so much better to stick to the character in the books, flawed, arrogant, funny and cruel. No one (sane) would want his life. His life isn’t like the movies.

But I really, really enjoyed the Fleming Bond novels. Now on to the Markham/Amis, Gardner, Benson and then thon new one by Faulks. I recommend everyone read them. More so in that you can pick all of them up for fifteen pounds. I did, as it was cheaper for me to do that than buy the last few ones I didn’t have. Do it. Be suprised. I certainly was.

  1. In the case of Moonraker, they just lifted the character, the title and then shoehorned a sci-fi plot onto it. Any sci-fi plot. If Star Wars can be a blockbuster, by God, then so can Bond.

    Meself, I’ve only read about half a dozen of the books, and that was about a decade ago. But I enjoyed them, and I enjoy the films. I just don’t think that there’s much in the way of connection between the two.

    Sun 21 Sep, 8:54AM

  2. casual racism? interesting

    Sun 21 Sep, 8:41PM

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