2003: Academics dissect (and then some) James Bond

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

We were reminded of an event that took on a life of its own: a 2003 academic conference about Ian Fleming and James Bond.

It was held at the main Indiana University campus in Bloomington, where many Fleming manuscripts and letters are kept. On May 29-June 1 of that year, various academics descended on Bloomington to examine 007 from every conceivable angle.

Some of the essays were collected in a 2005 book, Ian Fleming and James Bond: The Cultural Politics of 007. It’s a bit pricey even today, with a paperback costing $26.

However, the book’s introduction can be viewed on a Google preview of the book. It gives you a flavor of some of the subjects discussed.

For example, “Fleming’s Company Man: James Bond and the Management of Modernism” argued that 007 was “less a champion of consumer culture than a hero of the corporation,” according to introduction.

“‘Alimentary, Dr. Leiter’: Anal Anxiety in Diamonds Are Forever” is an essay that “explores Bond’s sexuality, but as it is represented in the films of the seventies.”

Another entry is “Lesbian Bondage,” which “traces Bond’s transformation from excessively masculine hero to stylishly accessorized dandy.” The latter version “is less appealing to feminists and lesbians,” according to the introduction’s summary of the essay.

Other essays presented at the conference sought to put Bond in a historical context, including how the novels were first published as the British Empire was dissipating. “The Bond novels represent a response to the dilemmas and give voice to the hopes and fears of Cold War England,” the introduction says.

What’s more, the introduction says there were disagreements arose during conference planning. It says there were “disparate goals” between Ian Fleming Publications and the Ian Fleming Foundation.

The latter preserves Bond-related artifacts, including vehicles and miniatures that appeared in the films. Ian Fleming Publications hires authors to write 007 continuation novels. IFP, according to the introduction, urged conference organizers “to use only Fleming’s name — not Bond’s — on our promotional material and to avoid any kitschy display of fan-based adoration.”

Writers to debate whether Fleming, Le Carre is better

Intelligence Squared's poster for its Fleming-LeCarre debate.

Intelligence Squared’s poster for its Fleming-LeCarre debate.

Intelligence Squared, which stages debates and presentations on various topics, will hold a debate this month whether Ian Fleming or John Le Carre is the better spy novelist.

Representing Fleming (1908-64) will be Anthony Horowitz, author of the James Bond continuation novel Trigger Mortis, according to the group’s website.

Advocating for LeCarre (real name David Cornwell, b. 1931) will be David Farr, who adapted LeCarre’s The Night Manager for the BBC. The debate is scheduled for Nov. 29 at Emmanuel Centre in London.

Here’s an excerpt from the website:

To illustrate their arguments, Horowitz and Farr will be calling on a cast of actors to bring the novels to life. So far we are delighted to have confirmed Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis and Peaky Blinders star Alex Macqueen.

The tone of the debate may be interesting. Le Carre and some of his fans over the years have been critical of Bond.

Le Carre, in a 2012 interview with CBS, said, “We had the image of James Bond. He had this extraordinary life: the license to kill, all the girls he could eat and so on, and wonderful cars. He was the Superman with some kind of mysterious patriotic purpose.

“But people knew while they were watching that stuff, people knew then about this gray army of spooks that was around.”

Thanks to 007 Magazine publisher Graham Rye for the heads up via posts on Facebook.

 

More Fleming ties to the Fleming Timeless episode

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming

The Timeless episode with a story featuring a fictionalized Ian Fleming has some additional Fleming connections.

–The cast includes Goran Visnjic, a Croatian actor who was screen tested for the James Bond role in 2005, when Daniel Craig ended up being cast for Casino Royale.

–One of the executive producers of the series is John Davis, who was also one of the producers of the 2015 movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. That movie featured a hero named Napoleon Solo, who was given that name by Ian Fleming.

Meanwhile, as depicted in the episode, titled Party at Castle Varlar, Fleming (Sean Maguire) is depicted as a field agent for MI6. Fleming was more of an office man during the war, according to his biography at the website of Ian Fleming publications.

Amusingly, the episode makes a reference to 2012’s Skyfall and 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

UPDATE (10:55 p.m. ET): History, however, has been altered from what it’s supposed to be, concerning a certain 1964 007 movie with Sean Connery.

Here’s a tweet that Maguire posted on Oct. 18.

Fleming-related Timeless episode scheduled for Monday

Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming (the real one)

The Timeless episode with a plot that includes James Bond creator Ian Fleming is scheduled to air Monday on NBC.

The series concerns a trio of time-traveling heroes trying to prevent a villain from changing history. The Fleming episode, titled Party at Castle Varlar, is set during World War II.

In a brief description ON THE SHOW’S WEBSITE, we’re told the trio “teams up with Ian Fleming.”

An online NBC schedule has a slightly more detailed summary: “The trio land in Nazi Germany and track evildoer Flynn as World War II rages around them. They also meet the man behind a popular figure of literature and they must endure a very uncomfortable party.”

Shawn Ryan, a creator of the show, posted on Twitter that, “You’re going to want to get caught up on” the first three episodes of the series “before next Monday when 007 author Ian Fleming joins the fun!”

The episode is scheduled for 10 p.m. Eastern time on Monday.

Horowitz teases (or does he?) new 007 novel

Social media makes greater interaction between those who produce popular entertainment and those who consume it.

On Thursday, Trigger Mortis author Anthony Horowitz fielded a fan question about his upcoming 2018 007 novel. Horowitz either was playing coy (for understandable reasons) or did a tease for the new book.

Judge for yourself:

Horowitz is active on Twitter (more than 11,000 Tweets since joining in 2009), so there may be similar exchanges to view between now and spring 2018.

IFP adjusts strategy with 2nd Horowitz 007 novel

The Ian Fleming Publications 007 logo

The Ian Fleming Publications 007 logo

Ian Fleming Publications has tweaked its strategy for James Bond continuation novels after it was announced today a second Anthony Horowitz 007 story will be published in 2018.

Horowitz penned Trigger Mortis, published last year. With the new, as yet untitled story, Horowitz becomes the first Bond continuation novel to have more than one Bond tale published since Raymond Benson wound up his 1997-2002 run.

Benson wrote six novels and three 007 movie novelizations. The author exited after new Ian Fleming family management took command of IFP. Following Benson’s final original novel, The Man With the Red Tatoo, and his final novelization, Die Another Day, the “adult” literary 007 took a hiatus. IFP developed a series of Young Bond novels and other projects, such as The Moneypenny Diaries series.

Since 2008, the 100th anniversary of Fleming’s birth, IFP has published Bond novels as “events,” penned by a name author. Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd all took turns, each doing a one-off and each taking place in different time periods.

Horowitz’s Trigger Mortis initially appeared to follow that pattern. Trigger Mortis had something the others didn’t — some Ian Fleming material developed for a never-made 007 television series. It also tied into Fleming’s Goldfinger novel.

However, Horowitz was asked back. His new effort “will again feature previously unpublished material by Fleming,” according to the announcement.

“I was thrilled when the Ian Fleming estate asked me to come back,” Horowitz said in a statement that was part of the announcement. “How could I refuse? I can’t wait to return to the world of James Bond.”

The most prolific 007 continuation novel author was John Gardner, who wrote 14 original novels and two movie novelizations published from 1981 to 1995. The first non-Fleming Bond novel was 1968’s Colonel Sun, written by Kingsley Amis under the pen name Robert Markham.

After more than 6 decades, Felix Leiter gets a solo adventure

"I'm finally getting my own series, James."

“I’m finally getting my own series, James.”

After more than 60 years as a sidekick, Felix Leiter is getting his own series — well, a comic book mini-series — from Dynamite Entertainment, according to COMIC BOOK.COM.

Leiter appeared in the first James Bond novel, 1953’s Casino Royale. In the novel, he was a CIA agent who helps Bond out of a tight spot. Leiter’s first live-action appearance, under the name of MI6 agent Clarence Leiter as played by Michael Pate, occurred in the 1954 CBS adaptation of Casino Royale.

When 007 hit the big screen, Leiter appeared in the person of Jack Lord in Dr. No. Leiter wasn’t in the 1958 novel but was inserted into the story when it was adapted as first Bond movie produced by Eon Productions. Various actors, from Cec Linder to Rik Van Nutter to David Hedison to Jeffrey Wright, would follow in Lord’s footsteps.

Here’s an excerpt from the Comic Book.com story.

In the new series, “Felix Leiter — now operating as an independent investigator — finds himself in Japan, tracking down a beautiful Russian spy from his past. But when the mission takes a turn for the worse, he will discover that there are more deadly schemes taking shape in Tokyo… and beyond!”

At various times, screenwriters tried to give Felix more to do in early drafts. But given how these were James Bond movies, Leiter’s screen time would end up being cut back.

The comic book mini-series is written by James Robinson and drawn by Aaron Campbell.