New James Bond & Friends podcast out

James Bond & Friends logo

The blog participated in episode 005 of the James Bond & Friends podcast, which was posted this week by the MI6 James Bond website.

Here’s a description of the episode:

We discuss the kind of Bond film we are hoping for from (Daniel) Craig and (Cary) Fukunaga, and expectations of a kick-off press conference any day now. Along the way we spoil the plot to several classics, uncover ‘stealth writers’ in our midst, curse local papers’ photo editors, highlight the dangers of impersonating the PM, run into a drag-queen doorman, muse on the leaky nature of past productions, banish Tarantino from the Bondverse, and stumble on a machine learning Bond film.

The other participants on the podcast were James Page and Paul Atkinson of the MI6 website; David Leigh of The James Bond dossier; and author Mark O’Connell.

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 bloggers, website editors weigh in on SPECTRE

SPECTRE LOGO

The James Bond Dossier SURVEYED MORE THAN A DOZEN bloggers or editors of James Bond-related websites about SPECTRE.

Those participating (and this blog was among them) provide a variety of opinions on different subjects. Among the ground covered: what you liked best about SPECTRE, what you liked least and what surprised you in the film? David Leigh, editor of The James Bond Dossier, did the survey by e-mail.

To read the complete story, CLICK HERE.

SPECTRE reviews: 2nd weekend edition

SPECTRE teaser image

SPECTRE teaser image

Some additional SPECTRE reviews were published toward the end of last week. So here are some more review excerpts.

U.S. reviews will start appearing in the next few days, ahead of the official Nov. 6 opening. For the moment, the 24th James Bond film has a 77 percent rating at the ROTTEN TOMATOES WEBSITE.

The newest excerpts follow. We’ve tried to keep plot details out but the spoiler adverse may want to avoid anyway.

GREGORY WAKEMAN, CINEMA BLEND: “At the top of Spectre’s crowning achievements is Daniel Craig, who with his fourth outing as 007 gives the most complete, beguiling yet still complex portrayal of the spy yet. Those of you looking for proof that the average-sized, blonde-haired and blue-eyed Daniel Craig is genuinely the definitive Bond will now forever be able to present Spectre as the definitive piece of evidence. Those of you who are still doubtful probably need to question all of your previous life decisions.”

RYAN GILBEY, NEW STATESMAN: “Should Craig play Bond again, he could scarcely push his minimalism any further. He is pared down to samurai essentials: striding and scowling, he is frugal even in violence, never throwing two punches where one will do. …But then the emphasis in Craig’s four outings has been on the psychological. Sam Mendes is not the only director to have been called back for multiple assignments in the (Craig era of the) series but he may be the first to have nurtured a theme over consecutive films. Skyfall was essentially a dysfunctional family drama where M betrayed one of her former spies (or sons). In Spectre there is more domestic scar tissue…. It’s a support group waiting to happen.”

DAVID LEIGH, THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER: “To cut a long story short, I enjoyed it a lot…Visually it is a joy to behold.

“However, while SPECTRE works well on a number of levels, it also fails on others. Although it contains some classic Bond elements, it is not a classic Bond movie. The screenplay appears to have been written around the action scenes and there is a sense of frantic racing from one set piece action scene to another.

“I did truly enjoy SPECTRE and can’t wait to see it again…However, it isn’t the kind of Bond film I want from EON Productions.

“And I still feel they have never made a classic James Bond film that wasn’t based closely on an Ian Fleming novel.”

ROB CARNEVALE, INDIE LONDON: “Daniel Craig’s fourth outing as 007 may just be the most complete Bond movie yet. Spectacular, stylish, dark but still amusing, Spectre is a thrilling entry that combines the best of Bond movies old and new.

“Returning director Sam Mendes has taken the best elements of the flawed but entertaining Skyfall and created a follow-up that delivers almost two and a half hours of show-stopping action and genuinely satisfying intrigue.”

DEBORAH ROSS, THE SPECTATOR: Spectre is the 24th film in the Bond franchise, the fourth starring Daniel Craig, the second directed by Sam Mendes, and the first at not much of anything. Nothing new to report, in other words. It probably delivers what the die-hard fans want, but it is not like Casino Royale or Skyfall (no one talks about Quantum of Solace, by the way, because it’s assumed everyone involved was drunk) as it doesn’t deliver to those of us who never liked Bond, but then discovered that we did. Where has Bond’s interior landscape gone? Where is his woundedness? Where is the emotional heft? Who might we actually care about here?”

LIAM DUNN, POPOPTIQ: “Enjoyment of Spectre really is a matter of perspective. A love of classic Bond and of Craig’s portrayal of the character will service audiences well here, but any hopes of a more fulfilling thematic experience will be dashed. Bond has come through the crucible of the 21st Century and has emerged as a more streamlined version of his older self. It’s great to see Craig finally having a bit of fun and the series playing to its strengths (gone are the woeful double entendres). Of course, like all Bond films it is overlong and perhaps suffers from one set piece too many, but if this is Craig’s swan song he should be happy to go out on this one. Mendes too has set the bar for whoever follows him, crafting what could possibly be the modern Bond film’s Goldfinger by installing the template that will be followed going forward. Not to say that Spectre is on par with that film, but it does finally put a lot of the elements in place that are quintessentially Bond; it’s brash, bombastic, silly and thoroughly entertaining.”

James Bond Dossier surveys 007 sites about Bond 24

Bond 24 logo

The James Bond Dossier surveyed a number of 007-related fan sites and Bond enthusiasts about Bond 24 ahead of production.

The OPINIONS EXPRESSED vary quite a bit so there’s variety. Disclosure: this blog was among those approached. But don’t let that stop you from checking it out. The list of those surveyed includes Mark McConnell, author of Catching Bullets — Memoir of a Bond fan; Marketto of James Bond Brasil; Edward Biddulph, author of the blog, James Bond memes; and Matt Sherman of BondFanEvents.com, among others.

One of highlights was from Edward Biddulph who posted one answer before recent media reports that a certain character may resurface in Bond 24. (Skip below the quote below if you’ve managed to avoid reading about it.) He responds to a question about what he’s looking forward to in Bond 24.

I’m looking forward to the Austrian scenes and the promise of some top skiing action, perhaps of the like we haven’t seen since For Your Eyes Only. Bond belongs on the slopes, and it was only a matter of time until Daniel Craig’s Bond got the opportunity.

I hope that the Austrian elements of Fleming’s Octopussy short story will be in the script. While the story itself isn’t snow-bound, there’s potential in the story, which I think is among Fleming’s finest writing, for snow-set action.

Other topics (and this isn’t a complete list) include what the respondents aren’t looking forward to so much; should the gunbarrel logo return to the start of the movie; was it a positive move expanding the characters of M, Moneypenny and Q in Skyfall and do you expect to see more of it in Bond 24; and how long the respondents expect Daniel Craig will stay around as Bond.

To read the survey and all the responses, you can CLICK HERE. Thanks to David Leigh of The James Bond Dossier for organizing it.

James Bond and breakfast

"Are the scrambled eggs ready yet, Q?"

“Are the scrambled eggs ready yet, Q?”

Ian Fleming Publications this week disclosed A PROMOTION FOR THE UPCOMING 007 NOVEL SOLO. It involves the DORCHESTER HOTEL IN LONDON.

To quote the press release:

Breakfast is, of course, Bond’s ‘favourite meal of the day.’

To celebrate, from Thursday 26 September until Saturday 30 November 2013, (Dorchester) guests quoting ‘SOLO’ whilst making a breakfast reservation will receive a free copy of the book or can choose to listen to the audio version read by British actor Dominic West on an iPod over breakfast.

Indeed, in Ian Fleming’s original novels, we’re told a fair amount of Bond’s eating habits at breakfast. In novels and short stories, meals are a way for an author to work in a character’s internal thoughts and feelings. He or she can mull over events or other characters while eating.

Movies, of course, are a different medium. Internal thoughts have to be conveyed with an expression or a look. Eating also doesn’t always provide the best visuals. The 23 James Bond films produced by Eon Productions since 1962 don’t spend much time dealing with breakfast, even if it was 007’s favorite meal.

In Dr. No, Bond and Honey Rider are served breakfast by the villain’s staff but they pass into unconsciousness from drugged coffee before they can partake of the meal. In From Russia With Love, Bond puts in an advance breakfast order of green figs, yogurt and “coffee, very black,” for the next morning. In Goldfinger, 007 gets out of a planned dinner with Felix Leiter and sets up a breakfast meeting instead. In Live And Let Die, Bond only has time for some juice before investigating a key clue. Overall, the movies don’t deal much with James Bond and his breakfasts.

According to the Ian Fleming Publications press release, Solo author William Boyd wants to bring back the 007 breakfast tradition. “Set in 1969, the story opens to 007 treating himself to a typical Bond breakfast of `four eggs, scrambled with pepper sprinkled on top, half a dozen rashers of unsmoked bacon, well done, on the side and a long draught of strong black coffee’.”

Meanwhile, a number of 007 Web sites are providing tips about you, too, can enjoy a 007 breakfast. Check out posts by THE MI6 JAMES BOND FAN SITE and the THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER.

UPDATE: Got a reminder about Licence to Cook, which has receipes based on James Bond. For more information, CLICK HERE.

UPDATE II: The James Bond Memes blog provides the Dorchester TIPS HOW TO PROPERLY PREPARE A 007 BREAKFAST.

MAY 2011 POST:
OUR (NOT SO SERIOUS) BOND 23 PRODUCT PLACEMENT SUGGESTIONS

(A breakfast scene would offer some product placement opportunities.)

RE-POST: Happy 60th anniversary, Mr. Bond

Casino Royale's original cover

Casino Royale’s original cover


Originally posted April 1. Reposted for the actual anniversary.

Sixty years ago, readers sampled the start of a novel by a new author. “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning,” it began. The world hasn’t been quite the same since.

The novel, of course, was Casino Royale by Ian Fleming, published April 13, 1953. About 5,000 copies of its first edition were printed and it sold out quickly. Fleming combined the skills and experiences of two lives: his work as an intelligence officer during World War II and his experience as a journalist in spotting the right, and telling detail.

Casino Royale was a short novel. But it had an impact on readers. The story’s hero, British secret agent James Bond, first loses and then wins a high-stake game of cards with Le Chiffre, the story’s villain. Later, Bond is helpless, the victim of torture by Le Chiffre. But before Le Chiffre can finish the torture, he is dispatched by an operative of Smersh for being “a fool and a thief a traitor.” The Smersh operative has no orders to kill Bond, so he doesn’t. But he carves up the back of Bond’s right hand. “It would be well that should be known as a spy,” the killer says.

What seems to be novel’s climax happens less than three-quarters of the way through the story. But the new author had some other ideas to keep readers turning the pages until the real resolution. Bond is betrayed Vesper, a woman he had fallen deeply in love with. She commits suicide by taking a bottle of sleeping pills.

Bond, after all this, doesn’t collapse. He emerges more resolute, determined to “attack the arm that held the whip and the gun…He would go after the threat behind the spies, the threat that made them spy.”

Writer Jeremy Duns in an essay PUBLISHED IN 2005 argued “there’s a strong case to be made for it being the first great spy thriller of the Cold War.” Toward the end of his article, Duns writes, “Before Casino Royale, the hero always saved the damsel in distress moments before she was brutally ravaged and tortured by the villain; Fleming gave us a story in which nobody is saved, and it is the hero who is abused, drawn there by the damsel.”

For Fleming, Casino Royle was just the start. More novels and short stories followed. He lived to see two of his novels, Dr. No and From Russia With Love, turned into movies in 1962 and 1963 (following a CBS adaptation of Casino Royale in 1954). The author visited the set of the third film, Goldfinger, but died in August 1964, just before 007 became a phenomenon, spurring a spy craze.

Six decades later, the 23 movies of the Eon Production series (plus a couple of non-Eon films) are what most people think of when the name James Bond is mentioned. 2012’s Skyfall had worldwide ticket sales of $1.1 billion.

Oh, the Fleming books remain in print. Ian Fleming Publication hires a continuation novel author now and then (William Boyd, the latest continuation author, is scheduled to disclose his novel’s title on April 15). Periodically, there’s a new book about some aspect about the film series.

Fans can fuss and debate about Bond (and do all the time). But there is one certainty: without Casino Royale’s publication six decades ago, none of that would be possible.

UPDATE: Other 007 blogs and bloggers are noting the anniversary today, including THE JAMES BOND DOSSIER, BOND BLOG, MARK O’CONNELL, JAMES BOND BRASIL, FROM SWEDEN WITH LOVE and THE BOOK BOND You can also read an article in the Express newspaper by CLICKING HERE.

Finally, Spy Vibe, part of the COBRAS group of blogs, has a post including a graphic of various Casino Royale covers. You can check it out by CLICKING HERE.