Early reviews for Forever and a Day start to come in

U.K. cover image for Forever and a Day, Anthony Horwitz’s second James Bond continuation novel.

Early reviews of the newest James Bond continuation novel, Forever and a Day, are coming in. The novel, by Anthony Horowitz, will be published in the U.K. on May 31. It won’t be published in the United States until November.

This is Horowitz’s second Bond novel. The first, Trigger Mortis, was set in 1957 after the events of Goldfinger. The new novel is a prequel to Casino Royale.

What follows is a mostly no-spoiler sampling of reviews. However, those who want to know absolutely nothing about the book should stop reading.

DAVID MILLS, THE SUNDAY TIMES (LONDON): “Sadly it’s very formulaic. Anyone who has read more than a couple of the post-Fleming Bond novels knows that we are going to get references to his knitted tie, love of scrambled eggs and heather honey, Scottish housekeeper, scarred cheek, moccasin shoes… There’s (much, much) more but that’s enough. Then there’s the customary sequence of scenes — meeting with M, travel to foreign location, hang out in casino, drink martini, have sex, sneak up on installation that turns out not to be an innocent industrial concern after all but the heart of the villain’s dastardly enterprise heavily guarded by goons in logoed uniforms, where, of course, Bond is spotted and causes havoc while escaping.”

STEVEN POOLE, THE GUARDIAN: “Inevitably, the prose throughout is more verbose and cliched than the brutal efficiencies of Fleming, but Forever and a Day is still an enjoyably compact thriller, with an absolutely killer last line. Scattered throughout the book, too, are some pleasingly echt Bond moments, as when he tells one of his captors: “It would be nice to know your name when I kill you.’”

BRIAN SMITH, FROM SWEDEN WITH LOVE (FAN WEBSITE): “When I wrote the review for TRIGGER MORTIS, I declared it to be the best James Bond continuation novel ever. Its position has just been usurped. FOREVER AND A DAY is a stylish and clever thriller. 16 out of 16!”

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Fired MGM CEO explores making a bid for the studio

Gary Barber, former MGM chief

Gary Barber, ousted earlier this year as CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is looking into a bid to acquire MGM, Reuters reported, citing five people “familiar with the matter.”

Here’s a key excerpt from the Reuters story:

MGM could be worth more than $5 billion including debt, and it is far from certain that Barber can raise the funds for a bid, the sources said. His potential bid, however, is aimed at convincing the hedge funds that own and control MGM to explore a sale, the sources added.

Barber owns about 9 percent of MGM through stock options after serving as its CEO between 2010 and 2018, according to the sources. He was let go abruptly in March from MGM after signing a five-year extension to his contract, according to the sources. MGM at the time did not give a reason for his departure.

Why 007 fans should care: MGM is the home studio of 007 films and it controls the franchise along with Eon Productions and its parent company, Danjaq.

In 2016, MGM explored a possible sale to Chinese buyers, The Wall Street Journal reported in February 2017. More recently, The Hollywood Reporter said in April that MGM was again looking into a sale, with its 007 rights a major selling point.

Potential Bond 25 impact: A change in MGM ownership may well affect the announced November 2019 release date for Bond 25. There is no announced distributor for the project.

Background: Barber became co-CEO of MGM in 2010 as it exited from bankruptcy. He eventually was the sole CEO.

MGM exited bankruptcy without a distribution operation. As a result it negotiated distribution deals with other studios. Sony Pictures distributed the last four 007 films (a relationship that began before the MGM bankruptcy).

MGM last year, while Barber was CEO, announced a joint venture with Annapurna Pictures that would release each other’s movies in the United States. But Bond 25 was not part of the deal.

What does this mean? Bond 25 remains a pawn of a chessboard controlled by various business interests.

Amusing trivia: Ian Fleming worked for Reuters in the 1930s.

How marketing of 007 novels evolved over a decade

007 continuation novel authors William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks and friend, 2013.

It seems that Ian Fleming Publications has altered how it markets James Bond continuation novels over the past decade.

In 2008, in time for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ian Fleming, IFP brought out Devil May Care with Sebastian Faulks “writing as Ian Fleming.”

You got the feeling that this was a bit of a lark for Faulks.

A decade ago, the author gave an interview to The Financial Times.

“Fleming’s guiding principle was to write without pausing to reflect or edit,” wrote Rosie Blau of the FT. “By contrast, Human Traces took Faulks five years. But for Devil May Care he followed Fleming’s lead and gave himself six weeks: ‘You don’t have those long moments where you ponder for about an hour: ‘What is he thinking now?’”

The thing is, Fleming did a lot of revisions once his draft was done and he headed home after his annual winter trips to Jamaica. If you’ve ever visited Indiana University’s Lilly Library where many Fleming manuscripts are stored, you can view how 007 creator’s marked them up extensively.

In other words, Fleming didn’t spend six weeks and shove out a novel. But you wouldn’t have gotten that impression from the 2008 FT interview.

After Faulks, IFP had a series of Bond one-offs by other “name” writers, including Jeffery Deaver and William Boyd.

Anthony Horowitz, author of Trigger Mortis and the upcoming Forever and a Day

Trigger Mortis, published in 2015, appeared to follow that pattern. Another “name” author, Anthony Horowitz, came up with a story that took place immediately after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger novel.

For the 110th anniversary of Fleming’s birth, Horowitz has returned. His story again relates to the timeline of Fleming’s originals. This time, Forever and a Day is billed as a prequel to Casino Royale, Fleming’s first 007 novel.

The “writing as Ian Fleming” gimmick is long gone. Faulks was the only one of the recent continuation novel authors who tried it.

At the same time, Forever and a Day, isn’t getting the big launch that Devil May Care received a decade ago.

In 2008, the literary Bond could be found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean pretty quickly. This time out, Forever and a Day will be published in the U.S. more than five months after it debuts in the U.K.

Intense U.S. fans of the literary fans, of course, can arrange to buy a U.K. copy and have it shipped over. But it’s still not the event Devil May Care was in 2008.

IFP announces new novel’s audio book narrator

U.K. cover image for Forever and a Day, Anthony Horwitz’s second James Bond continuation novel.

Ian Fleming Publications said in a statement today that actor Matthew Goode will narrate the audio book version of the new 007 continuation novel Forever and a Day.

The new book, written by Anthony Horowitz, is a prequel to Casino Royale, Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel.

The novel will be published at the end of this month in the U.K. It won’t be published in the U.S. until November. It’s the second Bond novel from Horowitz, who penned 2015’s Trigger Mortis.

The IFP statement also has a short audio clip of Goode reading a passage from Forever and a Day.

Horowitz’s reaction on Twitter was brief:

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Literary 007 reference in CNN anchor’s new novel

Jake Tapper’s avatar on Twitter

A new novel by CNN anchor Jake Tapper makes a reference to Ian Fleming and Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel.

Tapper’s novel, The Hellfire Club, is set in 1954.

On Monday night, there was an exchange between Tapper and a reader on Twitter.

“Really enjoying The Hellfire Club by @jaketapper,” reader Harry Frishberg posted on Twitter. “A political thriller that feels cleverly plotted and meticulously researched. There’s even a reference to Casino Royale at the beginning of chapter 8! Highly recommended.”

Tapper answered: “You’re smart to have picked up on the Fleming reference!!”

Here’s a description of The Hellfire Club via Amazon:

Charlie Marder is an unlikely Congressman. Thrust into office by his family ties after his predecessor died mysteriously, Charlie is struggling to navigate the dangerous waters of 1950s Washington, DC, alongside his young wife Margaret, a zoologist with ambitions of her own. Amid the swirl of glamorous and powerful political leaders and deal makers, a mysterious fatal car accident thrusts Charlie and Margaret into an underworld of backroom deals, secret societies, and a plot that could change the course of history. When Charlie discovers a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of governance, he has to fight not only for his principles and his newfound political political career…but for his life.

Tapper hosts The Lead on CNN, 4 p.m. Monday-Friday New York time and State of the Union, CNN’s Sunday morning political news show.

The most recent 007 continuation novels by Anthony Horowitz have also been period pieces. 2015’s Trigger Mortis was set in 1957, after the events of Fleming’s Goldfinger novel. Horowitz’s next Bond continuation novel, Forever and a Day, tells the story of what happened before the Casino Royale novel.

If the literary James Bond were on Twitter

Part of the Twitter home page for @JB_UnivEX

Ever wonder what it would be like if the literary James Bond had been on Twitter? Well, @JB_UnivEx on Twitter has one interpretation.

The Twitter account debuted March 13, as Mr. Bond makes his first post.

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Of course, Bond knows that Twitter is not a secured form of communication. That’s part of the fun of the @JB_UnivEX feed as Bond uses code names and euphemisms in his tweets.

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Bond’s image on the Twitter handle is Hoagy Carmichael, keeping with Ian Fleming’s description. The blog doesn’t want to give too much away. But the events in France have concluded and he’s on his way home, expressing himself in a Twitter sort of way.

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We’ll have to see how the literary Bond in the Twitterverse unfolds. The blog suspects this would qualify as fair use for being a parody (an obviously affectionate one).

OHMSS script: Train of the dead, other surprises

OHMSS poster

The blog got around to reading the shooting script for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. While very close to the finished film, there were still a few surprises, including a rail coach full of corpses.

The title page says the script was “issued 5th September, 1968” with some pages saying they had been revised “8.10.68.” There are no names on the title page. Richard Maibaum got the sole screenplay credit while Simon Raven got a credit for “additional dialogue.”

By this time, Maibaum had spent years developing a screen adaptation of one of Ian Fleming’s best 007 novels.

Charles Helfenstein’s The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service summarizes 10 different treatments or scripts, including this one. The blog obtained its copy from collector Gary J. Firuta.

The script begins in a slightly different way than the film. After the gunbarrel, the script begins at the lobby of Universal Exports. A “Uniformed SECURITY MAN” is “at desk near door checking credentials of EMPLOYEES.”

The security man greets dome of the employees. Then there’s an “elderly MAINTENANCE MAN, mottled face, scraggly moustache, carrying wrench and plunger, plodding toward desk.”

The security man says (“cheerfully” as the maintenance man passes), “Morning, Double O-Seven.” We then go to the scene where M, Q and Moneypenny talk about how Bond can’t be found. Something not in the film: Moneypenny says, “Station R, Reykjavik seems to think Double O-Seven’s in Iceland — !”

After that, the scene where Bond meets Tracy unfolds much as it does in the film. One difference is that Tracy is driving a Bugati, rather than the Mercury Cougar we’d see in the movie.

‘This Never Happened Before’

The end of the pre-credits sequence ends with a slightly different line compared with the film. “This never happened before, Double O-Seven.”

On Her Majesty Secret Service’s gunbarrel.

Immediately after the titles, however, Bond returns to MI6. In the final film, this wouldn’t occur until later.

The sequence as depicted in the script is very similar to the final movie, except with some minor differences in dialogue. For example, Bond refers to M as “the Director.” (“Does this mean The Director has lost confidence in me?”)

As in the film, Bond dictates a letter of resignation to Moneypenny after the agent has been taken off Operation Bedlam (“Take a memo to the Director, Moneypenny.”) When Bond gets back to his office and starts clearing out his desk. The only specified object from a previous film is the “WRIST-WATCH GAROTTE used in FROM RUSSIA.”

The script has Moneypenny changing the resignation to a request for leave.

Before he departs MI6, there’s another scene in a garage area with the “latest model” Aston Martin. “You can break it in during your holiday,” Q says.

The pre-titles sequence had Bond driving an Aston. This script says is a new model. Bond gets in the car and checks it out.

“No reclining-seat lever?” Bond asks.

“No, Double O-Seven,” Q responds. “We don’t consider convenient love-making essential.”

“Your department always underestimates the personal requirements of my work, Q.”

Q “prissily” replies, “We still haven’t developed a substitute for that, Double O-Seven.”

“BOND grins, starts motor, drives ASTON-MARTIN out of garage.”

Pardon My French

The agent makes it to Portugal and, eventually, meets up with Tracy again. As in the movie, Bond uses his relationship with her to get some help from her father, Marc Ange Draco, in locating Blofeld.

In the scene where Bond meets Draco there’s this exchange:

BOND
She fascinates me, Mr. Draco — but I’m not a psychiatrist —

DRACO
(contemptuously)
Psychiatry! Merde! What she needs is a man, to beat her, to make love to her enough to make love him! A man like you, Mr. Bond

For the uninitiated, “merde” is the French version of a familiar swear word (if you don’t know it, just click here and look on GoogleTranslate). Evidently, in 1968-69, James Bond movies apparently weren’t ready to go that far in terms of language.

Train of the Dead

Eventually, Bond gets back on Blofeld’s trail. He’s off to the College-of-Arms to meet with Sir Hilary Bray and Phidian, an artist. The latter leaves and Bond talks to Sir Hilary. What follows in the script is a major sequence that wouldn’t be in the film.

“Put on any new personnel lately?” Bond asks.

“Only Phidian — last week — poor chap was out of work so long he presented me with a token of his appreciation.” The token is a paperweight lion on Sir Hilary’s desk. “Carved it himself,”

Bond is immediately suspicious and picks up the paperweight.

“Talented, isn’t he?” Sir Hillary asks.

“BOND screws off lion’s head, revealing tiny MICROPHONE. His fingers remove it,” the stage directions read. “SIR HILARY dumbfounded as BOND shows him microphone.”

A chase ensues, including some on rooftops. Bond and Phidian end up in a train tunnel. Phidian ends up “STRIKING ELECTRIFIED RAIL. Blinding flash and PHIDIAN’s scream. An instant later TROLLEY hits him, hurling his body off track and smashing it against wall.”

Phidian at one point in the sequence had written a telegram and put it in his pocket. “BOND stares down at PHIDIAN, mericifully below CAMERA LINE, reaches down into his jacket pocket, takes TELEGRAM OUT OF IT.”

It had been a warning from Phidian to Blofeld. “CONSIGNMENT NOT AS SPECIFIED. PHIDIAN.” Bond blocks out the word “NOT” and sends the telegram.

Now, of course, Bond has to make sure Phidian’s death doesn’t appear suspicious. So Bond, assisted by Q (!), stages a train accident.

The dead Phidian and other corpses are put in a train coach. Here’s the description.

“CAMERA SHOOTING FROM COORDOR THROUGH GLASS OF COMPARTMENT DOOR. PHIDIAN is very dead, swaying slightly in motion of train. CAMERA PULLS BACK SLIGHTLY. He is seated between TWO OTHER CORPSES. THEN CAMERA DOLLIES BACK ALONG CORRIDOR SHOOTING INTO OTHER COMPARTMENTS. SIX PEOPLE IN EACH, ALL DEAD. CAMERA HOLDS ON LAST COMPARTMENT. BOND IS SEATED BETWEEN TWO STIFFS.”

The engine cab and coach full of bodies is switched off onto a siding. Bond and a motor man put on “crash-helmets and protective jackets.” They jump from the engine cab.

The engine then plows into some freight cars. “As ENGINE crashes into them. FREIGHT CARS telescope,” the script says. “(If on elevated stretch they plunge over side with Engine and Coach.”)

BOND

(turning to MOTORMAN)

Ghastly wreck —
(wryly)
At least they felt no pain —

The finished film may refer to all of this. Campbell, Bond’s MI6 contact in Switzerland, is reading a newspaper. It has a front-page headline referring to a fatal train crash.

Bond and Tracy Get Chatty

After that, we’re back into familiar territory. After all this buildup, the stage directions don’t make a big deal about Blofeld. He’s described as “an impressively and strongly-built man in his early fifties.”

Some scenes have more dialogue than in the final film.

After Tracy rescues Bond, she is driving her Bugati and they talk a bit more.

TRACY
(slowing slightly)
Shall I stop so can spank me?

BOND
Step on the gas, Countess. Business before pleasure.

Later, after the pair find a “typical Swiss farm two-level stone and wood building” to stay for the night they talk a lot more. In fact, they’re downright chatty.

TRACY
Did you miss me at all? Up there on the mountain?

BOND
I had…a lot to occupy me. Body and mind.

TRACY
I understand.

BOND
Not quite, you don’t. I was…using people, Tracy. Using women, for my job. And I enjoyed it.

TRACY
(level)
If you didn’t, you wouldn’t do it well.

BOND
You don’t mind?

TRACY
You forget, James. I’ve used people too. And without even the excuse of a job. Do you mind?

In this script, it’s Tracy who ends up proposing. Director Peter Hunt, in the documentary Inside On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, said he had it changed to Bond making the proposal. Hunt said in the documentary that Bond was the stronger character and therefore should be the one who proposes.

‘Your Double-O Man’

Much later, at the wedding there are some bits that wouldn’t make the final film.

M specifically tells Bond that all of the “angels of death” (the women Blofeld had programmed to distribute Virus Omega, which could wipe out grains and livestock) have been accounted for. Bond then begins to ask M if he’ll be godfather to his and Tracy’s first child.

Before he can complete the sentence, the “CAMERA ANGLE WIDENS TO INCLUDE MONEYPENNY, with Q.”

“You’ll find your Double-O man some day, dear girl,” Bond tells Moneypenny.

“Bless you, James,” she replies.

The scripts ends with Tracy’s death. One slight difference is in the stage directions.

“His head remains against TRACY’s, his face smeared with her blood.”