Blanche Blackwell, Fleming companion, dies

Blanche Blackwell and Ian Fleming in Jamaica

Blanche Blackwell, who had a relationship with Ian Fleming, has died at 104, according to an obituary posted by The Telegraph.

Blackwell was part of two 007-related documentaries, 2000’s Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator ( an extra in the home video release of The Living Daylights) and 2012’s Everything or Nothing.

Her interviews for the documentaries provided perspective for fans about Fleming’s complicated life, touching on her affair with the married author. She lived in Jamaica, where Fleming wrote his James Bond novels.

“He was somebody who could be anybody he wanted to be,” Blackwell says of Fleming at the start of the 2000 documentary.

Ian Fleming: 007’s Creator included a section on Blackwell. “I decided how I wanted to live long ago,” she says. “And I’ve managed to succeed at doing it without getting into too much trouble.”

In 2012, The Express. published a feature story about her.

“A neighbour of both (Noel) Coward and Fleming, she was a society beauty who beguiled the guests who came to her home, Bolt House, in St Mary, Jamaica,” according to the story.

UPDATE (Aug. 12): The Washington Post has published a very detailed obituary of Blanche Blackwell that’s worth a read.

 

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TCM has a night of spy films on Jan. 25

TCM logo

Turner Classic Movies will show five spy films the evening of Jan. 25 and early-morning hours of Jan. 26.

Here’s the lineup. All times EST.

8 p.m.: Arabesque (1966), directed by Stanley Donen: Donen had a success with 1963’s Charade, a suspense film that included a bit of humor. That movie also included a score by Henry Mancini and titles by Maurice Binder.

Mancini and Binder reunited with Donen on Arabesque, with Gregory Peck as a university professor who gets involved with spies as well as a woman played by Sophia Loren.

Also present was Charade scripter Peter Stone. However, Stone took an alias (Pierre Marton) and shared the screenplay credit with Julian Mitchell and Stanley Price.

 10 p.m.: The Ipcress File (1965), directed by Sidney J. Furie: James Bond co-producer Harry Saltzman launched a second, less flamboyant, spy film series based on Len Deighton’s novels. This was a source of tension with Saltzman’s 007 partner, Albert R. Broccoli.

The name of Deighton’s spy wasn’t disclosed in the novel that’s the basis of this movie. The character, as played by Michael Caine, was christened Harry Palmer for the film.

For the first of three Palmer films, Saltzman hired a number of 007 film crew members, including composer John Barry, production designer Ken Adam and editor Peter Hunt.

12 a.m.: Our Man Flint (1966), directed by Delbert Mann: The first of two spy comedies with James Coburn as Derek Flint.

The movie takes nothing seriously, with an organization called ZOWIE (Zonal Organization for World Intelligence and Espionage). ZOWIE is headed by Kramden (Lee J. Cobb), who gets exasperated when he’s forced to recruit Flint (who wouldn’t follow orders when Kramden knew him during their military days). Kramden has no choice because ZOWIE computers have pinpointed Flint as the only man who can foil a plot by Galaxy.

The best things about the movie are Coburn’s winning performance as Flint and Jerry Goldsmith’s score. Goldsmith’s music elevates the proceedings. In terms of production values, it looks only slightly more expensive than the television series produced at the time by 20th Century Fox.

2 a.m.: Our Man in Havana (1959), directed by Carol Reed:  The director again collaborates with Graham Greene, who adapts one of his novels. Vacuum cleaaner salesman Alec Guiness is recruited by British spook Noel Coward to do some spying in Cuba before the revolution. The cast includes Maureen O’Hara, Burl Ives and Ernie Kovacks.

4 a.m.: The Prize (1963), directed by Mark Robson: A spy tale starring Paul Newman centered around the Nobel Prizes being awarded in Stockholm. The script is by Ernest Lehman, who wrote 1959’s North by Northwest. Here Lehman adapts an Irving Wallace novel. The cast includes Leo G. Carroll, who was also in North by Northwest and who would shortly take the role of Alexander Waverly in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Jerry Goldsmith provided the score.

Shoutout to Mark Henderson who brought this up on Facebook.

 

The Real Loelia Ponsonby

From the Tripped over Something Interesting department, filed under You Learn Something New Every Day:

The real Loelia Ponsonby

Loelia Ponsonby

A website most of us, I suspect, would have little reason to visit is David Patrick Columbia’s New York Social Diary. It’s exactly what it sounds like — Mr. Columbia reporting on what happened at parties he’s been to, and what people in his orbit (and, presumably, the reader’s,) are doing. I’m sure it’s interesting stuff for its intended target.

His latest column will be of interest to James Bond fans. Through a chain of associations, Mr. Columbia comes to reflect on a person considered to be one of the Bright Young Things in 1920s Edwardian society: Loelia, Lady Lindsay, a.k.a. Loelia Ponsonby, wife of the 2nd Duke of Westminster, a.k.a. James Bond’s secretary in the Ian Fleming novels Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever — yes, that Loelia Ponsonby!

In real life, she definitely did not need to work as a secretary. As Columbia writes,

Loelia Mary Ponsonby was born on Feb 6 1902, the only daughter of the courtier Sir Frederick Ponsonby, later 1st Lord Sysonby. ‘Fritz’ Ponsonby was assistant private secretary to Queen Victoria, King Edward VII and King George V, and wrote Recollections of Three Reigns.
Young Loelia once occupied the lap of Edward VII and amused His Majesty by seizing his beard and demanding: “But King, where’s your crown?”

Noel Coward and Ian Fleming were mutual friends of hers; Coward wrote the forward to her memoirs, while Fleming immortalized her in popular fiction as 007’s secretary. (Mr. Columbia mistakenly writes of her as the inspiration for M’s secretary, the famous “Miss Moneypenny.”) Sharp-eyed readers might also infer parallels between the story of her ruined marriage, and Fleming’s tale of a similarly toxic relationship, “Quantum of Solace.”

The whole story is included in his report Cooler but far from chilly for mid-November, and will add just a little bit more to your store of James Bond knowledge.