About that whole ‘true’ Bond fan thing

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Recently, I’ve seen some posts on social media bringing up the issue of who is a “true” James Bond fan.

I suspect the recent posts were spurred by the poll of Americans last month performed by Morning Consult on behalf of The Hollywood Reporter. It dealt with opinions about 007 films.

Some Bond fans complained, saying only people who are knowledgeable about 007 should be polled.

The Morning Consult poll appeared to be trying to come up with a statistically representative sampling of Americans. In that regard, it was similar to a political poll. Such polls talk to everyone from hard-core political junkies, to those who couldn’t spell “president” and everything in between.

Anyway, if you were to do a poll of “true” James Bond fans, how do you define that?

Should only those who’ve seen every Eon Productions 007 movies be considered? If so, how many times? Five? 10? 15? More?

How about only those who’ve seen the Eon series plus the two non-Eon 007 films? All of the above plus the 1954 CBS adaptation of Casino Royale?

How about all of the above plus those who’ve read the Ian Fleming original novels and short stories? Or should the continuation novels and short stories also be part of the definition?

I brought this up on Twitter this week and got a lot of feedback. Some of it, I suspect was tongue in cheek. Some of it, maybe not.

Regardless, this isn’t the first time the subject will come up. It’s unlikely to be the last.

However, the more germane issue is how James Bond — despite many interpretations over the decades — still is popular with the general population, not just hard-core fans.

In that regard, he’s similar to Batman, a character who has been around even longer. (Batman debuted in 1939 compared with Bond’s arrival in 1953.) You’ve had the Dark Knight. You’ve the Bright Knight. And everything in between.

That kind of longevity should be something that 007 fans — “true” fans or casual fans — ought to be able to celebrate in unison.

1980: Mike Royko ‘chats’ with James Bond

Mike Royko (1932-1997), legendary Chicago newspaper man

Mike Royko, a columnist for three different Chicago newspapers, was a legend in the city. He was known for hard-hitting stories about Chicago politics and the like.

However, when you’re a columnist, you’ve got deadlines to meet regardless of the flow of the news. As a result, sometimes Royko turned to whimsy. Sometimes, it came in the form of making fun of neighboring states such as Indiana and Iowa.

Or, in the case of a 1980 column for the Chicago Sun-Times, it would come in the form of a “conversation” with the literary James Bond.

The Sun-Times, Royko’s professional home from 1978 to 1984, this week dusted that story off and posted it anew. The inspiration was the announcement that a new series of James Bond continuation novels by John Gardner had been commissioned.

Royko clearly had read Ian Fleming’s original novels. He knew, for example, Fleming’s original martini recipe in detail. And he was aware of Bond’s dietary habits.

However, the gist of the column was 007 must be getting along in years.

After offering Bond a martini or a double bourbon, Bond begs off. He first asks for white wine or just Perrier.

“I’ll be truthful: Do you remember all those people I killed? Do you know why I killed them?”

“Of course I do. You were Agent 007. The 00 designation gave you license to kill.”

“Actually, that’s not entirely true. The reason I killed them was that I was loaded to the gills most of the time. Bourbon before lunch, crazy martinis before dinner. Champagne. Then cognac after dinner. By the time I got around to my job, everybody I met looked like a Russian spy to me. I think the last five people I shot were all innocent bystanders.”

To read the column, CLICK HERE. h/t to .@bondmemes on Twitter.

007 Magazine Issue 57 available for pre-order

The Spy Who Loved Me poster

Issue 57 of 007 Magazine is available for pre-order. Publisher Graham Rye said it will be available with three different covers. Each features an image from Maurice Binder’s main titles for The Spy Who Loved Me.

Inside features include a look at female James Bond villains; Ian Fleming meeting author Raymond Chandler; and James Bond’s 50 greatest stunts.

Chandler, creator of Philip Marlowe, was a friend of Fleming’s. The two corresponded with Chandler commenting about Fleming’s books. Fleming conducted a radio interview with Chandler in 1958.

The publication has a pre-order price of 9.99 British pounds. Once published, it will go up to 12.99 British pounds. Other prices are $15.99 in the U.S. and 11.99 euros in Europe.

For more details about the issue and ordering, CLICK HERE.

Jack Whittingham’s daughter publishes a Thunderball book

Cover to The Thunderball Story

Sylvan Whittingham Mason, daughter of screenwriter Jack Whittingham, has published a book about her father’s work on what would become Thunderball, the fourth James Bond film.

The book, which is available on Amazon, is titled The Thunderball Story: The Untold History of the First James Bond Screenplay. Here’s the description on Amazon:

“The story is the most fascinating and controversial in the entire history of James Bond. It began way back in 1958 when maverick Irish producer, Kevin McClory collaborated with 007 creator Ian Fleming and screenwriter, Jack Whittingham on a screenplay that was eventually entitled ‘THUNDERBALL’.” (Robert Sellers – “The Battle for Bond”) Jack Whittingham’s daughter, Sylvan – one of the few people left alive still alive from that time – provides an unique and personal insight into the untold history of the very first James Bond screenplay.

Jack Whittingham (1910-1972) doesn’t get as much attention as the other players in the Thunderball saga. Kevin McClory took on Ian Fleming in court and eventually received the film rights to the novel. An attribution would be added to the book that it was based on a story by McClory, Whittingham and Fleming.

McClory cut a deal with Eon Productions and Thunderball became the fourth film in the Eon series. McClory in the 1970s battled Eon in court as well amid attempts to make a new film based on the novel. Eventually, Never Say Never Again, a Thunderball remake, was released in 1983.

Some collectors have a copy of an early 1960 draft by Whittingham for McClory. At that point the title was Longitude 78 West. In that script, the villains, led by Largo, belong to the Mafia. Other scripts would be written before the McClory project ran aground. Fleming would use the work as the basis for his Thunderball novel and the legal fights began after it was published. Writer Robert Sellers’s book The Battle for Bond covered that history. (You can CLICK HERE to view a 2015 interview the blog did with Sellers.)

The Thunderball Story is priced at 16.99 British pounds. For more information, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE OCT. 27: The original Amazon description was changed from saying Sylvan Whittingham Mason was “the only person still alive from that time” to saying she was “one of the few people left alive still alive from that time.” So the post has been edited today, Oct. 27, to reflect that. See a comment from another Whittingham below.

Bond 25 work continues amid director search, MI6 site says

Bond 25 keeping its head above water, MI6 James Bond website says.

Work is continuing on Bond 25 with the intent of meeting its original schedule amid the search for a new director, the MI6 James Bond website said.

Sets are still under construction at Pinewood Studios in accordance with “the original timetable and plans,” the MI6 site said.

Danny Boyle and his writer, John Hodge, departed the project last month.

MI6 also said Hodge’s Bond 25 script “was a re-working of a draft completed by long-term series stalwarts Neal Purvis and Robert Wade.” The script “is being touched up again” to reflect concerns of star Daniel Craig and producers, according to MI6.

Deadline: Hollywood said in a Feb. 21 story that Boyle and Hodge had pitched an idea that Hodge was writing at that point. Deadline said that effort was separate from a Purvis and Wade script written last year.

A May 25 announcement that included that Boyle would direct said the project had “an original screenplay” by Hodge. There was no mention of Purvis and Wade.

MI6 did not mention who is revising the Bond 25 script currently.

Bond 25 has an announced release date of fall 2019. The May 25 announcement said filming would start on Dec. 3. Craig is scheduled to film a mystery movies, Knives Out, during November.

The MI6 website has a relationship with Eon Productions. Disclosure: The blog proprietor has done two articles for MI6 Confidential, a magazine published by the website.

UPDATE (7:05 p.m. New York time): On Twitter, the MI6 website said this about Hodge and the “original screenplay” of the May 25 announcement:

 

About that whole James Bond-Aston Martin thing

Iconic publicity still for Goldfinger with Sean Connery leaning against the Aston Martin DB5.

One wonders what Ian Fleming would have thought about the love affair between the James Bond films and Aston Martin.

In the Goldfinger novel, Bond had a choice between the Aston Martin DB3 or a Jaguar for use as a cover as “a well-to-do, rather adventurous young man with a taste for the good, the fast things of life.” He chose the Aston.

By the time Goldfinger was adapted by Eon Productions in 1964, Bond drove a government-issued DB5, complete with an elector seat, machine guns, oil slick and other extras. Bond films were never the same again. The cinematic Bond, despite some breaks here and there, has been driving Aston Martins frequently since.

Indeed, the DB5 has shown up in a number of films since 1995’s Goldfinger, including 2015’s SPECTRE where he drove it at the end of the movie.

In the novels, Bond was a civil servant who lived relatively modestly (although he could afford a housekeeper). But Aston Martin isn’t concerned about the middle class.

Latest example: The announcement that Aston Martin will build 25 replica DB5s at a price of 2.75 million British pounds each. The cars, though, won’t be street legal, according to a separate Aston Martin statement.

The replicas are supposed to come with Bond gadgets. The literary Bond might burn through a year’s salary (inflation adjusted) just paying for the insurance and maintenance bills. Then again, the 007 movies have glossed over, or simply ignored, other aspects of Fleming’s novels.

At the same time, Aston Martin has its issues as well. It’s a bit of an orphan in the automotive world. For 30 years, it was part of Ford Motor Co. But Ford had to sell it off in 2007 amid financial troubles.

As a result, Aston swims in an ocean of automotive sharks. The auto industry is a bit unsettled these days. Even the giants aren’t exactly sure what’s going to happen next in an era of self-driving cars and ride-sharing services.

In 2014, Adweek wrote about how Aston’s connection to the 007 films didn’t really help sales because the company sold so few cars. For a time, Aston was talking about the need to diversify from James Bond. In stories such as a 2016 article in Marketing Week, company executives said they relied too much on the 007 image.

That was then, this is now. Besides making DB5 replicas, the carmaker last month was part of a pact to sell pricey (129.99 British pounds) Lego versions of the 007 DB5. If Aston Martin is diversifying from Bond, it doesn’t much look like it.

The Bond marriage with Aston Martin continues, even if the literary 007 couldn’t afford the products that marriage produces.

Without whom, etc.

Our annual post.