007 Magazine Issue 57 available for pre-order

The Spy Who Loved Me poster

Issue 57 of 007 Magazine is available for pre-order. Publisher Graham Rye said it will be available with three different covers. Each features an image from Maurice Binder’s main titles for The Spy Who Loved Me.

Inside features include a look at female James Bond villains; Ian Fleming meeting author Raymond Chandler; and James Bond’s 50 greatest stunts.

Chandler, creator of Philip Marlowe, was a friend of Fleming’s. The two corresponded with Chandler commenting about Fleming’s books. Fleming conducted a radio interview with Chandler in 1958.

The publication has a pre-order price of 9.99 British pounds. Once published, it will go up to 12.99 British pounds. Other prices are $15.99 in the U.S. and 11.99 euros in Europe.

For more details about the issue and ordering, CLICK HERE.

From Russia With Love’s 50th Part I: the difficult sequel

From Russia With Love's poster

From Russia With Love’s poster

Nothing about From Russia With Love was easy. From scripting all the way through filming, the second James Bond film was difficult and at times an ordeal.

At last three writers (Richard Maibaum, Johnna Harwood and an uncredited Len Deighton) took turns trying to adapt the Ian Fleming novel, with major rewrites during shooting. One cast member (Pedro Armendariz) committed suicide shortly after completing his work on the movie because he was dying of cancer. Director Terence Young was nearly killed in a helicopter accident (CLICK HERE for an MI6 007 fan page account of that and other incidents).

For many 007 fans, the movie, which premiered Oct. 10, 1963, is the best film in the Eon Productions series. It’s one of the closest adaptations of a Fleming novel, despite the major change of adding Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE into the proceedings. It also proved the success of Dr. No the previous year was no accident.

Fleming’s novel was one of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s 10 favorite books, a list published in 1961 in Life magazine. From Russia, With Love (with the comma and published in 1957) was one of the author’s most important books.

Fleming’s friend, author Raymond Chandler, had chided 007’s creator for letting the quality of his Bond novels slip after 1953’s Casino Royale. “I think you will have to make up your mind what kind of writer you are going to be,” Chandler wrote to Fleming in an April 1956 letter. Fleming decided to step up his game with his fifth 007 novel.

Years later, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, with an endorsement of the source material from Kennedy, proceeded with adapting the book. Dr. No veterans Young, editor Peter Hunt, director of photography Ted Moore and scribes Maibaum and Harwood all reported for duty on the new 007 project.

The major Dr. No contributor absent was production designer Ken Adam, designing the war room set and other interiors for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. John Stears, meanwhile, took over on special effects.

Armendariz, as Kerim Bey, the head of MI6’s station in Turkey and Bond’s primary ally, had a big impact. He lit up every scene he was in and had great on-screen chemistry with star Sean Connery. When Kerim Bey is killed, as part of the complicated SPECTRE plot, it resonates with the audience. The “sacrificial lamb” is part of the Bond formula, but Armendariz was one of the best, if not the best, sacrificial lamb in the 007 film series.

The gravely ill actor needed assistance to complete his scenes. In long shots in the gypsy camp sequence, you needn’t look closely to tell somebody else is playing Kerim Bey walking with Connery’s 007. (It was director Young, according to Armendariz’s WIKIPEDIA ENTRY.)

Young & Co. retained the novel’s memorable set pieces (the fight between two gypsy women, the subsequent battle between Bulgarians and gypsies and the Orient Express train fight between Bond and Red Grant). The production also added a few twists, including two outdoor sequences after getting Bond off the train earlier than in the novel. The question was how would audiences respond.

The answer was approvingly. “I see that ‘From Russia With Love’ is now a movie and although I rarely see them I plan to take this one in,” former CIA Director Allen Dulles wrote to Fleming in 1964.

He wasn’t alone. The film, with a budget of $2 million, generated $78.9 million in worldwide box office, almost one-third more than its predecessor.

NEXT: John Barry establishes the 007 music template

1997 HMSS article: A VISIT WITH IAN FLEMING

November 2012 post: LEN DEIGHTON ON FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE

BBC makes its 007 archive available

The BBC has put up a James Bond archive on its Web site, featuring more than a dozen programs it has aired over the decades about the gentleman secret agent.

You can go to the James Bond Collection home page BY CLICKING HERE. Among the things you’ll find:

— A 1974 interview with Guy Hamilton, who directed four Bond films, including Goldfinger.

–Ian Fleming’s 1958 interview with Raymond Chandler, where the Philip Marlowe creator notes his character has gotten married while Fleming remarks that’ll never happen to 007.

–A 1995 program with Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenney, discussing the theme songs of James Bond.

There’s a lot more but be warned: the film presentations don’t seem to be available in the U.S. (and may not be available outside the U.K. at all), including a 1967 documentary about You Only Live Twice and a 1979 report on Moonraker.

The Ian Fleming-Raymond Chandler chat

Today, Aug. 12, is the 46th anniversary of the death of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. So, to take note, here’s an interview Fleming did with his friend Raymond Chandler, the creator of Philip Marlowe on the BBC in 1958. We wrote about the interview several months ago. Now, listen for yourself:

Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler in conversation

In conversations with fellow Bond fans, especially those of the literary 007, we have observed that most of us have an appreciation for the “Philip Marlowe” stories of American mystery writer Raymond Chandler. As did Chandler and Ian Fleming for each other — Chandler was one of the first Americans to praise Fleming’s Casino Royale; Fleming mentioned in his novels that Bond (and his boss, ‘M’), were regular readers of the hard-boiled novelist.

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler


The Five Dials website (organ of the Hamish Hamilton publishing company,) has provided us a true boon: a transcription of a taped conversation between the creators of these two immortal characters. Working from old, crackling audio tapes, the transcriber frequently became so lost in the conversation that she had to repeatedly play bits over to get all the details correct. She also mentioned that Chandler’s state of inebriation during the chat made things more difficult, as well.

It’s an interesting conversation, as you’ll soon read. Fleming is quite deferential to the American master, and talks at some length at how difficult it is to come up with a good villain. He also has less-than-kind things to say about his own creation:

I never intended my leading character, James Bond, to be a hero. I intended him to be a sort of blunt instrument wielded by a government department who would get into bizarre and fantastic situations and more or less shoot his way out of them, or get out of them one way or another. But of course he’s always referred to as my hero. I don’t see him as a hero myself. On the whole I think he’s a rather unattractive man . . .

The entire interview, IN CONVERSATION: Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler is in a PDF format, so you’ll need Adobe Reader to read it. It’s on page 30 of the Five Dials webzine.