Bond 25 questions: The SPOILER edition

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

If you haven’t guessed by the headline (where “SPOILER” is in all capital letters), this post has spoilers. If you’re spoiler adverse, scram. I don’t care how much shows up in the preview image on Twitter, Facebook, etc.

So, it seems pretty certain that Christoph Waltz will be in Bond 25 again playing the BROfeld version of Ernst Stavro Blofeld (i.e. Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother).

Naturally, the blog has a few questions.

Is this trip really necessary? Not really. But it seems as if Eon Productions and its army of screenwriters is going to double down on one of the worst aspects of 2015’s SPECTRE — namely that Waltz’s Blofeld was Bond’s foster brother and has a personal reason to torment Bond.

What would you have done? Ignore SPECTRE and move on with a new story. Instead, it would appear we will get a version of SPECTRE Part II. It won’t be called that, of course.

Are you serious? All we need now is a “reveal” that Dave Bautista’s Hinx will be back as Hinx, the lead henchman in SPECTRE. At this point, he might as well be. Remember, he appeared to be lobbying for that to happen.

It’d be natural for him to join Jeffrey Wright (last seen in a 007 film in Quantum of Solace) and Lea Seydoux (as Bond’s supposedly everlasting love). Hey, let’s have Eva Green (Vesper in Casino Royale) appear in a flashback sequence while we’re at it.

Any other thoughts? Yes. It’s perhaps time to finally dispense with the trope that the Daniel Craig Bond films are the “closest” to Ian Fleming.

Craig started out with Casino Royale, based on Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel. Since then, we’ve seen the death of Mathis (not in a Fleming book).

Mathis may have been a double agent (at least that’s the implication of his Quantum of Solace death scene), which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

And, of course, we have Blofeld/BRO-feld as Bond’s foster brother in SPECTRE, which wasn’t in any Fleming book.

Even if you love all these films, they’re not what Fleming had in mind. Bond 25 may end up an entertaining film. (That’s my inner optimist speaking out). Just don’t bring Fleming into the discussion.

Any suggestions for Bond 25? Perhaps some new character could “reveal” that himself (or herself) was the real Blofeld all along and the “foster brother” nonsense was a way to mess with Bond’s mind. But I wouldn’t go banco on that.

Casino Royale: The manuscript

Top portion of the first page of the manuscript to Casino Royale.

BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Years ago, I paid a visit to the Lilly Library at Indiana University. I looked at a few Ian Fleming manuscripts of his James Bond novels as well as some correspondence.

This week, I finally returned. This time, I opted to concentrate on one manuscript. Where best to start than with Casino Royale, viewing the very pages where Fleming created agent 007 in the first place?

What follows are basic observations about the manuscript.

Condition: Fleming typed on very thin pages. His handwritten revisions in ink bled through to the other side of pages. The manuscript is contained within a hardback cover. You can view in the library’s reading room. However, you are not permitted to bring in pens. You can have a notebook and take notes in pencil. Or you can type notes into a computer. A patron can take photos, but a librarian instructs you not to take a photo of all the pages.

Format: When writing the manuscript, Fleming had not yet decided to have chapter titles. Each chapter is simply numbered. The numbering is supposed to be with Roman numerals. However, Fleming typed the numeral “1” instead of capital “I.” As a result, it’s Chapter 1, Chapter 11, Chapter 111, Chapter 1V and so on.

When a chapter ends, Fleming simply typed a series of periods. The end of the first chapter has 30 periods. The count varies by chapter. The technique also is used when changing scenes within a chapter.

Fleming’s revisions: Fleming worked over his prose a lot on Casino Royale. Many pages have a lot of handwritten changes.

Some of it is fairly routine, such as tightening sentences. Other changes are more substantial.

On page 25 in Chapter III (or Chapter 111 as typed), there’s a conversation between the Chief of Staff and M’s secretary.

“What do you think Petty?” the secretary is asked. The reader is told, “Miss Pettavel would have been desirable but for her eyes which were cool and direct and quizzical.”

“Petty” is marked out and replaced with “Penny.” “Pettavel” is marked out and replaced with “Moneypenny.”

An even more significant revision was written on page 112. A written insert reads, “nine of harts, the card, known in gipsy magic as ‘a whisper of love, a whisper of hate’ the card that meant almost certain victory for Bond.”

The phrase “a whisper of love, a whisper of hate” would be the title of Chapter 13. It would also appear in the cover of the British first edition of the novel.

It appears in some sections that Fleming made so many changes he retyped pages. The manuscript has normal numbering until page 40. That’s followed by pages 40A, 40B and 40C. On the back of page 40B, there’s a handwritten insert for page 40C.

Meanwhile, pages 97 and 97A have darker type compared with most of the manuscript as if they had been typed later.

Finally, at the end of Chapter 17 (or XV11 as written), where villain LeChiffre tortures Bond, Fleming had a line he felt he could do without.

In the published version, the chapter ends with LeChiffre speaking. “Say good-bye to it, Bond.”

The manuscript had an additional line. “He bent down.” But the line

Ian Fleming inscription in the copy of Casino Royale at the Lilly Library at Indiana University.

is marked out.

Fleming inscription: The library also has an author’s copy of the novel. It’s a third edition (or “third impression” as stated in the book).

Fleming has an inscription on the first page. “This was written in January + February 1952, accepted by Capes in the Spring and published a year later,” it begins. “It was written to take my mind off other matters* at Goldeneye, Jamaica.”

On the inside cover,  there’s an asterisk followed by several handwritten lines that are crossed out.

Thanks to David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier for help in making out the crossed out line at the end of Chapter 17.

UPDATE: Michael VanBlaricum says the following on Facebook: “The Casino Royale typescript at the Lilly Library is not the first draft manuscript. That typescript is in private hands and was displayed at the Ian Fleming Centernary Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in 2008.”

Collection of $3M in Ian Fleming books up for Sale

Ian Fleming

A collection of 81 books and related materials that had been owned by Ian Fleming, valued at more than $3 million, is up for sale.

The books are being offered by Peter Harrington, a U.K. rare book seller, according to the Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine website.

Most of the books are James Bond novels, many signed by Fleming and presented to various famous people.

Among them: A first-edition Live And Let Die signed for Winston Churchill; a Moonraker first edition signed for Philip Marlowe creator Raymond Chandler; a first edition From Russia With Love, signed for his wife Anne; a first edition Goldfinger signed for Chandler; and a first edition The Spy Who Loved Me signed for Robert F. Kennedy.

Also part of the collection is an American edition of Casino Royale that once belonged to CBS when the U.S. television network bought the TV rights to adapt for its Climax series in 1954. There is also a copy of the script for the 1967 comedy made by Columbia Pictures.

However, there are non-Bond books as well.

They include: A first edition Thrilling Cities signed to Australian journalist Richard “Dikko” Hughes; a first edition copy of Playback, Chandler’s final Marlowe novel, signed for Ian Fleming; and a first edition copy of Birds of the West Indies, signed by author James Bond and signed for Fleming.

You can view the complete list by CLICKING HERE.

James Bond and ‘timeshifting’

Image for the official James Bond feed on Twitter

Last week, 007 film fans studied the words of Bond 25 screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge very carefully after she had given an interview to Deadline: Hollywood.

The Bond films, she said, have “got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”

Fans debated whether Waller-Bridge’s remarks were “politically correct” or not. On social media there were pretty intense comments on both sides of the argument.

In a way, though, Waller-Bridge’s interview points up something else — issues with “timeshifting” a character.

James Bond was created in early 1952 when Ian Fleming wrote the first draft of Casino Royale at his winter home in Jamaica. Winston Churchill was prime minister of the U.K. Harry S. Truman was president of the United States. By the time Fleming wrote his last Bond novel in early 1964, Alec Douglas-Home was the PM and Lyndon B. Johnson was president.

In short, Bond’s original era was a long time ago. So for decades now, 007 has been timeshifted in the movies. A number of Bond continuation novels (including John Gardner’s and Raymond Benson’s) also used the timeshifting technique, although more recent books (including two by Anthony Horowitz) have been done as period pieces.

Threading the Needle

Part of this may be commercial. Making Bond films as period stories set in the 1950s or ’60s might hold down the box office. Presumably, it would be harder to make product placement deals for period piece 007 films.

At the same time, taking a character created more than 60 years ago and placing him in a modern setting has its own issues. Those associated with the Eon series like to say they’re set “five minutes in the future.” That means Bond films have to acknowledge, at least on some level, how the world has changed in the 21st century.

As a result, making a Bond movie today involves threading the needle — keeping Bond true to his roots while adjusting to current realities.

In doing so, the Eon camp sometimes comes down pretty hard on its meal ticket.

“But let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist,” Daniel Craig said of Bond during a 2015 interview with something called The Red Bulletin. (The original link is gone, but the blog did a 2015 post about it as did entertainment outlets such as The Hollywood Reporter.) “(W)e’ve surrounded him with very strong women who have no problem putting him in his place.”

Jamaican government confirms Bond 25 talks

The government of Jamaica on March 29 confirmed it’s in “advanced” talks about having Bond 25 shooting on the island nation.

The Jamaica Information Service published a story saying that government officials are scheduled to meet with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson of Eon Productions.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Government will be meeting with the producers of the 25th James Bond movie in England next week, with a view to having some parts filmed in Jamaica.

Speaking to JIS News, Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, confirmed that he and Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, will be travelling to Pinewood Studios to meet with Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson.

The studios have been the base for a number of productions over the years and are well-known as the home of the James Bond franchise.

Minister Bartlett explained that the discussions with the producers are very advanced.

Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail had a two-paragraph Bond 25 item on March 7 saying the movie will be photographed in Jamaica. It didn’t offer many details.

Both Dr. No (1962) and Live And Let Die (1973) were filmed in Jamaica (it doubled for the fictional San Monique in the latter movie). Ian Fleming also wrote the first drafts for his 007 stories while in Jamaica during the winter.

Norway shoot to be part of B25’s pre-title sequence

Cary Joji Fukunaga, director of Bond 25

The Bond 25 sequence to be filmed in Norway will be part of the film’s pre-titles sequence, Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail, wrote in a short item Thursday night that was part of his weekly column.

Director Cary Fukunaga “and a small crew” will be part of the shoot at a frozen lake, according to item. The crew wants to complete the sequence before the lake thaws, the scribe said.

Bamigboye has a record of Bond scoops ultimately being proven as correct.

Bamigboye also wrote that Danny Boyle, Bond 25’s original director, “had wanted to film an iced-over lake in Canada.” Boyle departed the project in August over “creative differences.” That led to the hiring of Fukunaga.

The short item also says Bond 25 will also be filmed in Jamaica.

Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote the first drafts of his 007 novels in Jamaica in the winter before returning to London to rewrite and revise. The first 007 film, 1962’s Dr. No, was filmed in Jamaica, where the novel was set.

(UPDATE, March 8): Variety has a story about Bond 25’s planned Italian shoot and says that sequence will be the film’s pre-titles sequence. Well, we shall see what we shall see.

Irony of the day: Daniel Craig’s training regimen for Bond 25

Daniel Craig’s 007 enjoys a few (hic) Vespers.

In Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories, James Bond was known to smoke as many as 70 cigarettes a day and gulp down double bourbons (followed by martinis and pink champagne) not to mention having 11 whiskeys and soda while paying a friendly game a bridge.

Meanwhile, the Mirror, weighs in with a story that begins thusly:

Daniel Craig may well be gasping for a vodka martini after a strict regime to ensure he is fighting fit for his next outing as 007.

With seven weeks till he begins shooting Bond 25, I hear he has been shunning booze and calorie-rich food at this week’s ­Hollywood bashes to stay trim.

The star, 50, even skipped the BAFTA Tea Party at the Four Seasons – babysitting his four-month-old daughter in a suite upstairs while wife Rachel Weisz had some fun.

The cinematic Bond hasn’t had a cigarette since Timothy Dalton retired from the role after 1989’s Licence to Kill. But he’s had plenty of booze, even if it was far less than the literary Bond.

All of this, of course, has been part of the 007 film fantasy. The literary Bond’s drinking and smoking habits mirrored his creator, who died at the age of 56 on Aug. 12, 1964 — just before the Bond phenomenon took off.

In 2012’s Skyfall, Craig’s chiseled 007 supposedly is on his last legs. There’s a scene where he can’t finish doing chin ups.

Granted, Craig’s appearance likely was the result of a training program. But viewers of the film don’t see that. They have to draw their own conclusions. That’s similar to the stars of recent super hero movies (Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and others) who underwent similar training before the cameras rolled.

The Mirror story passes for 007 news these days. When production starts on Bond 25, the situation will change.