Ian Fleming’s Bond

In anticipation of the next James Bond film No Time to Die, which is supposed to be released in November 2020 (but with the COVID crisis, a delay might be inevitable) what better way to acknowledge the franchise then to know a little bit about the story’s creator.

Ian Fleming was born in the wealthy Mayfair district in London, England on the 28th of May 1908. An English author, journalist and naval officer, Fleming was educated at Eton College in 1921 but considered “not a high achiever academically”.  He also studied at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and, for a short time, at the universities in Munich and Geneva.

Before he started writing, Fleming held various jobs including being a naval intelligence officer. Here he worked in “Operation Goldeneye” which was an Allied plan during WWII to monitor Spain. He was part of “30 Assault Unit” which was a British Commando unit formed to gather information.  In addition to this he was also part of “T-Force” an operational segment of a joint American and British Army mission to secure technology and science from Germany before they could be destroyed by forces or looters in the latter part of WWII.

These experiences provided Fleming with the insight to create the fictional character of James Bond who featured in 12 of the 17 novels that he wrote. What’s interesting is that two of Fleming’s works were not spy novels. These titles included the travelogue Thrilling Cities and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car a children’s book which he wrote for his son.

Fleming’s Bond character made his first film debut in the 1962 film Dr. No featuring Sean Connery as the suave Bond. Three more films followed between 1963 to 1965 From Russia with Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball.

Fleming’s book Casino Royale, which was published in 1953, was adapted in 1967 into a film as a spoof rather than a spy thriller as it was thought that the studio could make more money that way. This version featured David Niven as Bond with the supporting actors Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Orson Welles and Woody Allen. The British Film Institute described it as “an incoherent all-star comedy”.

This satirical version in 1967 was followed by the more successful action-packed films that we are familiar with today. They were You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with the latter unsuccessfully using actor George Lazenby as Bond.  As a result, they brought back Connery for the 1971 film Diamonds are Forever. Roger Moore took on the role in all Bond films made between 1972-1989 (Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill) with the exception of 1983’s Never Say Never Again which once again starred Connery.

Following the long running success of Moore, Timothy Dalton took over as Bond from 1986 to 1994 in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. Pierce Brosnan took over from 1994 to 2004 in Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day. Hot on the heels of Brosnan came Daniel Craig who has played Bond from 2005 to present in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Spectre and the yet to be released No Time to Die.

After decades of action-packed success, Bond films have showcased the themes of Britain’s position in the world, the effects of war, comradeship, the “traitor within”, good versus evil and Anglo-American relations. It should be interesting to see how Bond evolves after Daniel Craig hangs up his Walther PPK and who will step into the 007 role to make it his or her own.

— Teresa N-P