John le Carre dies at 89

David Cornell, aka John Le Carre, circa 1964

John le Carre, a prolific author of spy novels with characters coping with ambiguously moral situations, has died at 89, The Guardian reported, citing a family statement.

Le Carre, real name David Cornwell, reached fame in 1963 with the novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. Other popular novels followed, including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, Smiley’s People, The Russia House and The Night Manager.

Cornwell had worked in intelligence, which is why he adopted the le Carre pen name. In a 1989 interview with PBS, he said espionage involved doing “dishonorable things for honorable purposes.”

The author discussed the many types of spies.

“The field man is the figure who interests me because I feel he’s a metaphor for other walks of life,” Cornwell told PBS. “He’s a person I can explore, some kind of alienated character perhaps who rather like a writer is dependent on the society he’s deceiving, or penetrating, and who rather like a writer makes his perceptions secretly and reports them in due course to the consumer.”

Le Carre works were made into films and television miniseries. By 2016, a group called Intelligence Squared, held a debate which spy author — le Carre or Ian Fleming — was better.

David Farr, who adapted The Night Manager for the BBC, advocated for le Carre. Anthony Horwitz, a popular novelist whose works include two James Bond continuation novels, spoke on Fleming’s behalf.

 Below is a video from 1964 as le Carre’s career was taking off. He appeared on the U.S. television show To Tell The Truth. By this point, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold was going to be made into a movie and le Carre was a hot property. The le Carre segment begins at the 8:22 mark.

Writers to debate whether Fleming, Le Carre is better

Intelligence Squared's poster for its Fleming-LeCarre debate.

Intelligence Squared’s poster for its Fleming-LeCarre debate.

Intelligence Squared, which stages debates and presentations on various topics, will hold a debate this month whether Ian Fleming or John Le Carre is the better spy novelist.

Representing Fleming (1908-64) will be Anthony Horowitz, author of the James Bond continuation novel Trigger Mortis, according to the group’s website.

Advocating for LeCarre (real name David Cornwell, b. 1931) will be David Farr, who adapted LeCarre’s The Night Manager for the BBC. The debate is scheduled for Nov. 29 at Emmanuel Centre in London.

Here’s an excerpt from the website:

To illustrate their arguments, Horowitz and Farr will be calling on a cast of actors to bring the novels to life. So far we are delighted to have confirmed Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis and Peaky Blinders star Alex Macqueen.

The tone of the debate may be interesting. Le Carre and some of his fans over the years have been critical of Bond.

Le Carre, in a 2012 interview with CBS, said, “We had the image of James Bond. He had this extraordinary life: the license to kill, all the girls he could eat and so on, and wonderful cars. He was the Superman with some kind of mysterious patriotic purpose.

“But people knew while they were watching that stuff, people knew then about this gray army of spooks that was around.”

Thanks to 007 Magazine publisher Graham Rye for the heads up via posts on Facebook.

 

Susanne Bier on Bond 25 director ‘shortlist,’ website says

Susanne Bier

Susanne Bier

Susanne Bier, who helmed the television miniseries The Night Manager, is among a “handful” of directors “making up producer Barbara Broccoli’s shortlist” for Bond 25, the RadioTimes website said.

The story cited “sources close to Bond producers Eon,” without being more specific.

Until now, Bond 25 speculation has centered on whether incumbent 007 actor Daniel Craig would return and, if not, who might succeed him. One of those actors is Tom Hiddleston, the star of The Night Manager.

The RadioTimes story is the first report concerning who might direct Bond 25. Sam Mendes, director of Skyfall and SPECTRE, said again over the weekend that he’s not coming back to the world of 007.

RadioTimes also spends much of its story evaluating whether Bier, 56, being considered would increase Hiddleston’s chances of getting the Bond role.

Here’s an excerpt:

If Bier gets the job it would make her the first woman ever to helm a James Bond movie – and would also vastly increase the chances of the already hotly-tipped Hiddleston getting the role of Bond thanks to the pair’s previous working relationship.

Bier directed Hiddleston in acclaimed espionage drama series The Night Manager, which aired earlier this year on BBC1, and has spoken of her huge admiration for the star.

At this stage, fans may want to exercise caution. RadioTimes doesn’t say just how many directors are being considered by Eon Productions co-boss Broccoli.

Also, for the moment, Bond 25 can’t get a release date until Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer selects a studio partner to co-finance and distribute the movie. MGM’s contract with Sony Pictures expired with SPECTRE and MGM doesn’t have the resources to release a film itself.