Fifty Fascinating Facts about James Bond
Bond, James Bond
My father was a stoic man. He worked in the Police Department and always conveyed a sense of stern discipline and demanded abject compliance to his rules as much from his family as from his line of work. I was the eldest of three sons and there is no denying that I lived in fear of my Dad. Underneath all that fear and the anxiety of violence, my Dad and I shared some key moments that I will never forget. My Dad loved English action films ( I grew up in South India) and despite whatever trauma happened in the house ( or often because of it!) he used to take me to watch films.
For a boy growing up in a run down suburb of Madras, nothing was more exotic than the Hollywood gloss. And the films that left me most awestruck, fueled my fantasies and stoked the fire of adventure form one of the greatest action series of all time.
The James Bond Films.
What more, I admired the style and decorum, the glamour and etiquette and developed a passion to wear a tux one day. Believe me, where I grew up, dreaming of wearing a tux one day was as much a fantasy as going to Mars.
Their quality may vary, the world conquering supervillainy may now look a tad dated, the one liners may even come across as cheesy, their approach to sex and sexuality even misogynistic; but there is no denying the sheer exuberance and the global success ( they've made billions in box office and still continue to do so as the longest running movie series).
The first Bond film was released in 1962 so 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond in celluloid. In order to celebrate this anniversary I've compiled here my own Fifty fascinating facts about suave British spy for your delectation. You don't need to be a fan of Bond to read this, as I feel James Bond films make a fascinating study of cultural trends even more so than the books that inspired them.
As a completist, the temptation is to flood you with Bond Trivia, but I'll resist the urge and bring you nuggets of information that you may or may not know, but will always stay memorable whether you are a Bond fan or not and may come in handy in a pub or Christmas quiz!
1. The Author and his Creation
Ian Fleming modelled a lot of the traits of his famous creation on his own. Like the author, James Bond smoked handmade cigarettes at the rate of 70 a day. He drank liberally - at least one drink for every 7 pages in the novels- totaling to around 317 drinks in the course of the book series. However, only 17 of them were the famous ' shaken not stirred' Vodka Martinis!
Commander Bond is recruited to MI6 from the British Navy. Ian Fleming served in the British Naval Intelligence unit during the second world war.
Fleming was only 56 when he died of a second heart attack- the lifelong habit of heavy smoking and drinking taking its toll. However, his hero lives on despite a lifestyle that will make any medical professional go pale with concern ( or envy, as the case may be!)
2. You know my name, You know my number.
American Ornithologist and author James Bond would have never suspected that a copy of his book would land with Ian Fleming ( who was a keen birdwatcher himself).
Stuck for a name for his main character, Fleming was searching for a 'dull, Anglo-Saxon yet very masculine sounding name' and happened upon the book and the author's name on the cover and promptly took inspiration from it. He originally wanted his hero to be a 'dull man to whom exciting things happened' and felt James Bond was the dullest name he has come across! If I was the original Mr Bond, I wouldn't know whether to be flattered or annoyed!
The Michael Gillette CoversClick thumbnail to view full-size
3. The Ian Fleming Novels
There are 12 original James Bond novels and two short story collections written by Ian Fleming and published between 1953 and 1966 ( the last two The Man with the Golden Gun and the collection Octopussy & The Living Daylights published posthumously. Fleming always produced a book a year and this accounted for the growing popularity of his novels with best seller status.
4. US Sales
After President John F Kennedy stated in an interview that 'From Russia with Love' was one of his top ten reads, Fleming's sales in the US went ballistic.Overall the Bond Novels have sold over 100 million copies across the world!
5. Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang
When Fleming was recuperating from his first heart attack, his friends suggested that he relax by writing a children's story instead of plotting a Bond. He took on the challenge and produced the popular children's story 'Chitty, Chitty, Bang Bang' that also went on to become a film and a musical.
The Bond Books
Live and Let Die
Diamonds are Forever
From Russia with Love
For Your Eyes Only
Short Story collection
The Spy who Loved Me
On her Majesty's Secret Service
You Only Live Twice
The Man with the Golden Gun
Octopussy & The Living Daylights
Short Story collection
6. Dr No & Thunderball
Dr No was chosen as the first film by producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli as the original choice Thunderball was mired in controversy over its rights. Thunderball was actually written as a screenplay which Ian Fleming later novelised. The co-scripter Kevin McClory sued Fleming for the rights of the novel and settled out of court. Fleming retained the rights to the novel while McClory got the rights to the screenplay. This is how Thunderball got remade by McClory as ' Never Say Never Again' using another production company.
The classic introduction scene of James Bond
7. Sean Connery
Unknown Actor ( and former milk man, coffin polisher, truck driver, artist model and third prize winner in Mr Universe competition) Connery was cast after many actors were considered for the role and discarded. Cary Grant was approached but would only commit to one film. The producers wanted someone who would work in a franchise.
Ian Fleming called him an 'overgrown stuntman' and hated his casting and wanted a 'proper Englishman'. However, after the monstrous success of the films, Fleming grew fond of Sean Connery's portrayal and as a tribute made Bond's ancestry Scottish in the books. The first director 'Terence Young' took Connery to his hairdresser and Suit maker to introduce him to the world of suave London style miles away from from his Glaswegian roots.
8. Miss Moneypenny
Actress Lois Maxwell who played the perennial favorite Miss Moneypenny was originally offered the role of the first bond girl in the film Dr No, the character Sylvia Trench ( appearing in the above video) Maxwell didn't want a raunchy role and instead opted for the role of M's secretary. It was a wise choice, while Sylvia Trench only appeared in two films, Miss Money Penny appeared in 14 films from 1962 to her last appearance in A View to a Kill 1985!
The role of 'Q' is largely absent in the books and is only alluded to in a few novels. Although the 'Q' branch is mentioned a few times. Fleming used 'Q' as a short term for 'Quartermaster'. Immortalized on screen by actor Desmond Llewellyn, the role was largely created for the film franchise.
'Q's real name is Major Boothroyd in the novel Dr No.. This is a tribute to a Scottish arms firearms expert Geoffrey Boothroyd who wrote to Ian Fleming to say that the original gun Bond was equipped with in the first 5 novels - a Beretta M418- was a 'girl's gun'.
10. The Gun
Fleming took heed to this advice and changed James Bond's gun to the now famous Walther PPK and gave the armourer from 'Q' branch the name Boothroyd as a tribute.
Allegedly it is the same gun used by Hitler to commit suicide!
12. Honey Ryder
Honeychile Ryder in the novel (it was shortened to Honey Rider in the film) is not the first bond girl, although the more famous one by that stunning introductory scene. Bond's first conquest in films is Sylvia Trench played by actress Eunice Gayson.
Her appearance in the white bikini has been voted by many as one of the sexiest introductions in movie history and sent bikini sales soaring across the world. Ursula Andress also appears in the spoof Bond film Casino Royale starring David Niven and Woody Allen in 1967, playing the character Vesper Lynd.
13. Nikki Van Der Zyl
Ursula Andress had such a strong swiss accent that her voice was dubbed by voice artist Nikki van der Zyl. The German actress and voice over artist then went onto voice of several bond girls over the course of many years and is an unsung heroine of the Bond films. In Dr No she voiced Ursula Andress and Eunice Gayson and set a precedent for voicing many female characters in the same Bond film She also acted as voice coach for Gert Frobe who played Goldfinger.
14. Goldeneye, Jamaica
Ian Fleming wrote all his novels in his annual Jamaican holiday retreat. His beachfront home in Jamaica must have been an ideal venue to conjure up James Bond storylines. The producers of the films used the name of the house as the title for return of the Bond series after a hiatus, starring Pierce Brosnan.
It is said Fleming was involved in an World War II secret operation called Goldeneye, that inspired the name of his property.
15. Nassau, Bahamas
While filming Thunderball, Sean Connery fell in love with Nassau , Bahamas that he bought himself a house over there as a holiday retreat.
16. Orbis Non sufficit
The coat of arms of James Bond's family is introduced in the novel On her Majesty's Secret service. The Latin phrase 'Orbis Non sufficit' translates to ' The World is not enough' which later became the title of a bond film.
17. The Bond Family
In the novel You Only Live Twice, Fleming reveals Bond is the son of a Scottish father, Andrew Bond and a Swiss mother, Monique Delacroix. Bond's parents are killed in a mountain climbing accident in the near Chamonix, leaving a eleven-year-old James an orphan bond's Scottish ancestry was a tribute to Sean Connery by the now impressed Fleming.
18. The Gunbarrel sequence
In the first three bond films, the person who appears in the title Gun barrel sequence is stuntman Bob Simmons. Connery only started appearing from the film ThunderBall.
Many Actors have resurfaced as different characters in the Bond movies : The most significant re-appearance goes to Swedish actress Maud Adams. She appeared as Andrea Anders in The Man with the Golden Gun and returned as the title character Octopussy in the eponymous film. She was so well liked by the producers, she even had a passing cameo in A view to a Kill.
Bond Poster Art and others by McGinnis
- The Poster Art of Robert McGinnis: Bond and Beyond
You've seen those Posters. They often tell a story. They seem so full of sheer action the images threaten to pop out three dimensionally.
20. The Posters
Many of the iconic Bond poster art were created by artist Robert McGinnis who also created hundreds of paperback covers for the pulp novels of the era. His composition and design of the Bond posters make them an extremely desirable collectors item.
21. The United Kingdom of Bond
James Bond has been played by Scottish actor ( Connery) twice by Englishmen ( Roger Moore, Daniel Craig), A Welshman ( Timothy Dalton) , an Irish actor ( Pierce Brosnan) and an Aussie ( George Lazenby).
Contrary to popular opinion George Lazenby who only played Bond in On her Majesty's secret Service actually signed a multi picture deal and then left but was not fired. All other actors left of their own volition except Brosnan, who was 'let go' as the reboot of Casino Royale demanded a younger actor.
22. Return of Connery - Twice
Connery was lured with a hefty price tag and a share of the profits to play Bond again in Diamonds are Forever after OHMSS. The rich purse that he got for the film, Connery generously donated to a Scottish EducationTrust. ( He would later return to film Never Say Never again, for a rival production company.
The Web address of James Bond's IMDB character page is 0000007.
24. Roald Dahl
Children's Author Roald Dahl who wrote many popular novels such as Matilda Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach etc. ( that have been filmed subsequently) wrote the screenplay for the Bond film You Only Live Twice. He also wrote the screenplay adaptation of Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
25. The Main Titles
One of the highlights of the Bond movies are the truly modern title sequences that feature the iconic gun barrel as well as various scantily clad women doing all manner of gymnastics. The colorful designs were created by popular title designer Maurice Binder.
Maurice binder designed the original title sequences for Dr No and then returned to the Bond series from Thunderball onwards, designing the titles for all subsequent bond films up to License to Kill. His designs have inspired many.
Binder has also designed title sequences for many famous Hollywood films such as a Barbarella, Dracula, Charade, Arabesque, Wild Geese and the Last Emperor. He was a true pioneer who contributed to the bond iconology.
Continued in Part 2 of this series...
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