1982: Kingsley Amis rags on Gardner, 007 films

Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis

Kingsley Amis, a novelist who enjoyed more prestige than Ian Fleming, was a fan of the latter’s James Bond novels.

Amis (1922-1995) wrote  The James Bond Dossier , a 1965 book that seriously analyzed Fleming’s 007 works. Of course, Amis wrote the first James Bond continuation novel, 1968’s Colonel Sun, under the pen name Robert Markham.

The Times Literary Supplement unearthed  and posted Amis’s 1982 review of John Gardner‘s For Special Services. It was Gardner’s second 007 continuation novel in which Gardner brings SPECTRE back into the picture.

In taking a look at that review, Amis comes across as crabby not only with his Bond continuation novel successor but with the world of 007 in general.

First, an except about For Special Services:

(T)he present offering is an unrelieved disaster all the way from its aptly forgettable title to the photograph of the author – surely an unflattering likeness – on the back of the jacket.

Meow! Still, Amis is just getting warmed up.

Here, Amis unloads on the James Bond films:

Over the last dozen years the Bond of the books must have been largely overlaid in the popular mind by the Bond of the films, a comic character with a lot of gadgets and witty remarks at his disposal.

Still, Amis mostly writes about For Special Services. Here, Amis is a golfer and For Special Services is the golf ball. Here he describes Gardner’s women characters:

The first is there just for local colour, around at the start, to be dropped as soon as the wheels start turning. She is called Q’ute because she comes from Q Branch. (Q himself is never mentioned, lives only in the films, belongs body and soul to Cubby Broccoli, the producer.)

Nor is Amis impressed with the novel’s main female character.

Bond scores all right with the third of the present trio, Nena Bismaquer, née Blofeld and the revengeful daughter of his old enemy, a detail meant to be a stunning revelation near the end but you guess it instantly.

In this regard, Amis was rather prescient. In 2015’s SPECTRE, it was supposed to be a “big reveal” that the head of SPECTRE would be revealed to be Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a “reveal” that surprised nobody. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and all that.

Before he ends the review, Amis really, really makes it clear he’s not a fan of the films.

Amis writes the 007 movies “cover up any old implausibility or inconsistency by piling one outrage on another. You start to say to yourself ‘But he wouldn’t –’ or’“But they couldn’t –’ and before you can finish Bond is crossing the sunward side of the planet Mercury in a tropical suit or sinking a Soviet aircraft-carrier with his teeth.”

Amusingly, years after his death, a portion of Amis’s Colonel Sun novel was used in 2015’s SPECTRE — specifically the torture scene. Amis got a backhanded credit, deep in the end titles, where “The Estate of Kingsley Amis” got a “special thanks” credit.

It was the first time Eon Productions utilized the continuation novels in any way, shape for form. Previously, Michael G. Wilson, Eon’s co-boss, has criticized certain continuation novels (Gardner’s in particular).

As for Amis’s 1982 article, you can judge for yourself by CLICKING HERE and reading it for yourself..

007 Magazine features Robert Sellers on ‘Search for Bond’

Sean Connery in a 007 publicity still

Sean Connery in a 007 publicity still

The website for Graham Rye’s 007 Magazine has a new article by Robert Sellers titled “The Search for Bond.”

The website bills the article as the “exclusive never-before-told story behind the actors who won, and the many who lost, the most coveted role in cinema history!”

Sellers previous wrote the book The Battle for Bond, a book about the history of Thunderball.

A free preview on the website includes information on how Ian Fleming met in 1959 with screenwriter Paul Dehn (who’d eventually craft the later drafts of Goldfinger) to discuss translating Fleming’s novels to the screen.

The duo discussed how a “pre-Cleopatra/pre-Elizabeth Richard Burton would be an ideal James Bond, according to the preview. Of course, the role of Bond at this point was far from a coveted role.

Parts one and two of three parts are on a pay-to-view portion of the website. CLICK HERE for more information. The yearly subscription is 9.99 British pounds ($12.90) and a monthly subscription 4.99 British pounds ($6.44).

Without whom, etc.

Ian Fleming died on Aug. 12, 1964 at age 56. So here’s a quick reminder of an extraordinary life. Ian Fleming crammed 90 years of living into a little more than 56.

Fleming-obit

Trigger Mortis U.S. paperback cover unveiled

Ian Fleming Publications took to Twitter to show off the U.S. paperback cover art for Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz.

The paperback edition is due out Sept. 6, according to the post on Twitter. The James Bond Dossier described it as “pulp-inspired.” Others have called it retro. You could make the case it’s in the style of the 1960s 007 comic strips. Anyway, here’s what it looks like:

The acronym (which really isn’t) that won’t go away

Image from Batman '66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Image from Batman ’66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

On The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Thrush was never an acronym. But the notion that is is survives almost a half-century after the show ended its original run.

The comic book miniseries Batman ’66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is wrapping up its six-issue run, spells it as “T.H.R.U.S.H.”

Separately, the book Some Kind of Hero: The Remarkable Story of the James Bond Films, published in late 2015, has a chapter about “Bondmania” of the 1960s which references U.N.C.L.E. Authors Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury write that agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin “were usually pitted against agents of T.H.R.U.S.H. (Technological Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humankind).”

We’ve referenced this before, but the idea of Thrush as an acronym was created by writer David McDaniel, author of a 1960s licensed U.N.C.L.E. paperback, The Dagger Affair.

McDaniel envisioned Thrush as having been created by Sherlock Holmes villain Professor Moriarty. McDaniel’s acronym had “Humanity” instead of “Humankind.” Regardless, it was very clever and McDaniel is credited by many U.N.C.L.E. fans as the best writer of the paperback tie-in novels.

David McDaniel's The Dagger Affair

David McDaniel’s The Dagger Affair

However, the 1964-68 series presented its own origin for Thrush in the second-season episode The Adriatic Express Affair. In that installment, written by Robert Hill, Madame Nemirovitch (Jessie Royce Landis) reveals herself to be the founder of Thrush.

In real life, the production team had a devil of a time coming up with a name for the villainous organization. It was Thrush when the pilot was filmed in late 1963. But NBC, the network that ordered up the show, had its doubts.

At one point, the name was going to be “Wasp.” In fact, in the movie version of the pilot, To Trap a Spy, “Wasp” was dubbed when actors said “Thrush.” However, Wasp was dropped, apparently in part, because the upcoming Gerry Anderson series Stringray was going to have W.A.S.P. being the organization of the heroes.

Another U.N.C.L.E. possibility was MAGGOT. In fact, the first draft script of The Double Affair (which would be turned into the U.N.C.L.E. movie The Spy With My Face), dated May 1964, uses MAGGOT as the name.

Eventually, everybody went back to Thrush. And so it stayed for the 105 episodes of the series, as well as the 29 episodes of the spinoff show The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

Still, over the years, the McDaniel version has won out even though it wasn’t official canon. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend, as the saying goes.

007 collector, author John Griswold dies

Cover to Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories

Cover to Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories by John Griswold

John Griswold, who amassed a large collection of James Bond items and wrote a book about the literary 007, died on Sunday.

Griswold, 65, wrote Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories , published in 2006, which analyzed Fleming’s 007 works.

Griswold also put together a Bond collection that included, among other things, a Mort Drucker illustration of Fleming; Drucker artwork for a Mad magazine parody of the first eight 007 films; Robert McGinnis artwork for Bond movie posters; and a first-edition copy of the Casino Royale novel.

The collector suffered from Alzheimer’s and his collection was put up for auction in 2010.  The blog was informed about Griswold’s passing by collector Gary J. Firuta, who assisted with the 2010 Griswold auction.

Griswold’s 2006 book can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Different ways to celebrate Ian Fleming’s birthday

"Sounds like a jolly good time."

“Sounds like a jolly good time.”

Around the world, James Bond fans are noting the 108th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming. There are plenty of ways to celebrate from morning until evening.

Eat a James Bond breakfast: That’s what blogger Edward Biddulph of James Bond Memes did. He even sent a photo of his scrambled eggs on Twitter.

It’s past time for breakfast as we type this, but if you want scrambled eggs the way Bond had them, David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier supplied the recipe in a post some time back.

Warning: Your doctor may not approve of using as much butter as in the Bond scrambled recipe, which is from the short story 007 in New York.

Re-read a Fleming James Bond novel or short story: It’s never a waste of a Bond fan’s time to go back to where it all began. Even in the 1962 novel The Spy Who Loved Me, written from the perspective of a woman, you can see Fleming’s gift for detail.

Watch a James Bond movie: Admittedly, this falls under the “duh!” category and is a bit obvious. But for May 28, you may want to concentrate on 007 films with higher “Fleming content,” as detailed in our handy dandy guide.

Watch an episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or the 2015 U.N.C.L.E. movie: Fleming’s involvement in the 1964-68 television series is widely known, but rarely discussed. Many Bond fans look down on the show, and many U.N.C.L.E. fans say he hardly contributed anything.

We take a middle ground. Fleming’s involvement helped attract NBC’s interest. By the time he bailed out in mid-1963, there was enough momentum to get to the pilot stage and indeed the pilot was made in late 1963. And, let’s face it, Napoleon Solo is a lot cooler name than Edgar Solo. So U.N.C.L.E. fans still owe Fleming thanks for that.

Also, in the 2015 film version, one of Fleming’s ideas for Napoleon Solo (that he’s a very good cook) finally saw the light of day.

Play some baccarat: You, too, can go banco. In this day and age, you don’t even have to go to a casino. You can play baccarat online. Just remember to gamble responsibly.

 

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