Fifty Fascinating Facts about James Bond Part 2
The Daniel Craig EraClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Bond 50: Fifty Fascinating Facts about James Bond #1
Bond, James Bond. The iconic agent made his debut in 1962 with the arrival of Dr No. 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 Brit
Bond, James Bond
When I was little, Bond films worked a treat because of their predictability. They offered variations of the same formula and while film snobs may view this as repetitious, there are benefits to such familiarity.
As I grew up, there is the added nostalgia of remembering the films I watched with my dad, my friends and eventually my wife ( who is not a great Bond fan). There will be a momentous rite of passage next week, when Skyfall opens and I take my eldest son to watch Bond on a giant IMAX screen.
The clever conceit of the modern Bond is to recreate the old formula but adding more up to date, gripping storylines, world class action sequences, great cast and some good screenwriters and directors to the mix.
I throughly enjoyed Casino Royale with Daniel Craig, because it rebooted the franchise for the new era. As a stand alone thriller, it has all the right touches. As a Bond film it really stood apart. Though I missed somewhat the sense of fun, I'd rather have a gripping thriller than cheesy oneliners. Skyfall promises to redress the balance and bring back some more of the old magic. It was understandable that Bond needed a sense of grittiness and global intrigue in the new world of Jason Bournes and Jack Ryans , but we fans still like our Bond to be, well, Bond.
As I recently watched the re-runs of those golden oldies, I was still struck by how well they withstand scrutiny ( in most cases) due to their iconic formula : A pre-credit stunt, the stunning title sequence with the theme song, The meeting with M, a flirt with Miss Moneypenny, a funny interlude with Q ( who always seem to equip Bond with the right tools for the forthcoming job with psychic precision!) the introduction of a global Supervillain, his silent henchman, The villains lair, seduction of the major and minor Bond girls, a sporting event which could be just a card game or something more exotic, a chase, international travel, the showdown, the final cheeky scene with the Bond girl. You can't go wrong with that formula, although some have tried to mess it up.
Thanks for reading the first 25 Bond facts, dear reader, here are 25 more.
26. Other Authors
The 14 Bond books ( listed in part I) written by Ian Fleming were followed by various authors attempting to recreate the James Bond magic. The first such attempt was by English author Kingsley Amis who wrote the book ' Colonel Sun' in 1968 under the pseudonym Robert Markham.
After a long gap, thriller writer John Gardner picked up the Bond franchise and wrote 16 books including a couple of film novelisations, between 1981 and 1996. After this author Raymond Benson, a Bond aficionado, scribed 6 new novels and three novelisations until 2002.
After a 6 year hiatus reknowned British author Sebastian Faulks was commissioned to write a new original bond Novel for Ian Fleming's 100th anniversary in 2008. This book was called 'Devil May Care' - a marvellous Bond title.
Mystery writer Jeffery Deaver was invited by the Fleming Estate to pick up the Bond mantle with his 'Carte Blanche' which was released in 2011. It is rumoured that author William Boyd will pen the next Bond for release in 2013.
27. Vintage Bond
The Youthful Roger Moore who took over from Sean Connery to play Bond in Live and Let Die is actually 3 years older than Connery. Moore was 45 when he started playing Bond and 58 when he retired from playing the iconic role. In comparison Connery started playing Bond at 32 and stepped down after Diamonds are Forever at only 41. He did however return to play the role one more time in 1983 for Never say Never again , and was still only 53 at that time.
There have so far only been two actresses who played Bond Girls when they were actually older than the actor playing Bond. Honor Blackman playing Pussy Galore in Goldfinger ( was 37 to Connery's 34) and Diana Rigg who played Countess Teresa di Vincenzo in On Her Majesty's Secret Service ( was 31 to Lazenby's 30).
Original Casino Royale for TV
A fan made trailer using edited sequences from the TV spisode of 'Climax!' - Casino Royale
28. The Very First Bond on Screen
Here is quiz gold for you: The very first actor ever to play James Bond on screen was US actor Barry Nelson. He played the role as an American Agent 'Jimmy Bond' in an adaptation of Casino Royale for the US TV series 'Climax!' in 1954.
This was originally intended to be a ongoing series but no one had heard of James Bond at that stage as the books were yet to be popular.
The role of the villain Le Chiffre was memorably played by veteran Peter Lorre in this episode.
29. Later, Leiter
CIA agent Felix Leiter is the only character in the Bond films to have been played by eight different actors in the nine films he appears so far.
Jack Lord in Dr No, Cec Linder in Goldfinger, Rik Van Nutter in Thunderball, Norman Burton in Diamonds are Forever, David Hedison in Live and Let Die and License to Kill, Bernie Casey in Never Say Never Again, John Terry in The Living Daylights and recently Jeffrey Wright in Casino Royale.
Build me a LairClick thumbnail to view full-size
30. Sir Ken Adam
The spectacular set designs for James Bond movies were created by production designer Sir Ken Adam. He gave the unique look for James Bond films starting from Dr No (1962) through Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967) and Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) . His last Bond film was Moonraker (1979).
Sir Adam is a BAFTA and Academy award winning production designer who has wowed audience worldwide with his designs. The spectacular villain's lair inside the volcano in You Only Live Twice and the supertanker set in The Spy who loved me are highlights in his landmark career. When planning the action sequences for The Spy Who Loved Me , Ken Adam pointed out to producer Cubby Broccoli that there just wasn’t a stage in the world big enough for the set pieces. Apparently Cubby replied, “Then Build it.” The 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios was the result of this.
When he created the set of the interior of Fort Knox for Goldfinger he was completely relying on his imagination as there was no access to the interior for security reasons. Many people believed it was the real Fort Knox and wondered how the crew were allowed access. Adams later said he was glad they weren't allowed access as he felt liberated to use his imagination.
James Bond's official date of birth from the books has been guestimated at 11th of November 1920 by 'Bond Scholars'. His starsign is therefore Scorpio.
32. Short Stories
All the original James Bond Novels have now been filmed. Fleming wrote a few James Bond short stories of which 'Octopussy', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'From a View to a Kill', 'Living Daylights' and ' Quantum of Solace' have been used as film titles.
The remaining short stories, the titles of which haven't been used yet are ' Risico', 'The Hildebrand Rarity' , 'The Property of a Lady' and '007 in New York'.
'The Property of a Lady' does however, features the theme of the Faberge egg that was used in the film Octopussy. The Auction house pamphlet featured in the film actually lists the item under 'The Property of a Lady'.
33. Morlands of Grosvesnor Street
Bonds chosen cigarettes ( for his 70 a day habit! ) are custom made cigarettes from Morlands of Grosvesnor street. They are made from a blend of Balkan and Turkish tobacco for a higher nicotine content and had three gold bands on the filter. Author Ian Fleming based this on his own smoking habit and preferred cigarettes. It is one of the many product endorsements Fleming makes in his books for his favoured brands. ( Fleming died of a second Heart attack at 54..so a fair health warning folks!)
34. Home, Sweet Home
In all the 22 film outings thus far, we've only seen Bond's flat in two of the films. In the first Connery outing, Dr No and subsequently when Roger Moore is introduced in Live and Let die.
In the books, Ian Fleming describes Bonds residence as 'small but comfortable'. It is a two bed room flat on the first floor of a converted Regency House. It is located in a tree lined square, just off King's Road in Chelsea.
Fleming even goes on to describe the rooms: Living room is booklined (may explain the knowledge Bond seems to have on a variety of subjects) with a small ornate desk under a large window overlooking the square; Bedroom with wallpaper as white with gold stripes from Cole & Sons, deep red curtains and dark blue bed spread ( perhaps Bond's interior design expertise needs work); A white tiled bathroom with a bath and a simple glass shower cabinet.
The memorable clown (009) chase from Octopussy
35. License to Die?
In the films, the Double-O agents don't have a very good life expectancy ( as Bond reminds us in Casino Royale). In the various films 002, 003, 004 and 009 have been killed by various villains. 006 ( spoiler alert) who is believed dead later returns as the two faced Janus in Goldeneye. 001 is never mentioned and 005 briefly appears in Thunderball.
008 however, is mentioned many times as a possible replacement for Bond should he die on a mission or get suspended for insubordination. He (or she?) is the only one who comes across as worthy of Bond's shoes and is a survivor like bond.
36. Oh -Oh - Seven
Although pronounced Double - O they actually are two zeroes.
It it rumoured that when Fleming was in naval intelligence one of their stellar achievements in breaking the German diplomatic code. The document that was cracked first, The Zimmerman telegram, was code named 0075.
There is also speculation that the 16th century philosopher, mathematician, occultist and spy John Dee used to sign his glyph with two circles and an elongated seven when sending documents to Her Majesty Elizabeth I, indicating they were 'for her eyes only'.
37. SPECTRE , SMERSH & QUANTUM
SPECTRE ( SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is a global terrorist organisation led by the megalomaniacal Ernt Stavro Blofeld. The organisation debuted in in the novel Thunderball and drew it's membership from some of the world's greatest villainous organisations: The Gestapo, Mafia, Union Corse, Heroin smugglers of Turkey and Marshall Tito's secret Police. Fleming wanted to create an enemy to Bond that was politically not allied to any country for fear of upsetting other nations.
The more dated SMERSH from the cold war years is a Soviet organisation. It is made up of a portmanteau of two Russian words ' SMERt SHpionam' meaning ' Death to the Spies'.
QUANTUM is the shadowy global organisation that appeared in the film Casino Royale and is functioning as a SPECTRE replacement for the modern era. It reappeared in Quantum of Solace. It is a apolitical, powerful cabal of international terrorists, plutocrats, techo billionaires and members of the Intelligence agencies.
Bond originally started appearing as a daily comic strip in the Daily Express from 1958. The strips were originally illustrated by John McClusky until 1966 and then were taken over by Yaroslav Horak continued the series until 1984. Although initially based on the Fleming Novels the strips then spun off into original stories created by various writers ( primarily Jim Lawrence) and in total there were 46 storylines.
All the Daily Express strips are now collected into four handsome Omnibus volumes available at amazon.
There are many other international comic strips featuring James Bond.
James Bond's Golf handicap is 9, the same as his author's.
40. Wedding Blues
Bond has only been ever smitten by two women. The First is Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale but it doesn't quite work out as she betrays him ( she does protect his life) .
The second is Bonds only (official) marriage to Tracy ( countess Teresa De Vincenzo) in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It lasts mere hours as Tracy gets killed by Irma blunt and Blofeld in a drive by shooting on their Wedding Day leaving Bond heartbroken.
Bond in the novels is a broken man after this, drinking heavily and failing in his work. M gives Bond one last chance by sending him to Japan on a mission in You Only Live Twice. Thankfully Bond is able to track down Blofeld and kill him in a duel at the end of this mission, thus getting his revenge.
41. The Long and Short of it
The seven foot tall Jaws who appeared as Stromberg's silent henchman was so popular with the audience he was written into the script for Moonraker. Richard Kiel, the actor who played Jaws suffered from a condition called Acromegaly brought about by excessive growth hormone.
He could only wear those metal gnashers for a minute or two at a time due to the extreme discomfort.
At the other end of the scale Scaramanga's assistant Nick Nack was played by French actor Hervé Villechaize in The Man with the golden gun. He was just an inch under four feet. The actro aslo appeared in the long running TV series Fantasy Island as a character called Tattoo.
42. Trespassers will be eaten
When scouting for location for Live and Let Die, the team came across an alligator farm with the sign 'Trespassers will be eaten'. They were so taken with the place, they shot the famous 'hopping on the alligator ' scene.
The owner of the farm 'Ross Kananga' was immortalised by the use of his name for the villain of the film and he also performed the 'jumping on the alligator' scene as Moore's double.
Dionne Warwick's Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
No good about Goodbye - Shirley Bassey
43. Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
The original title song for Thunderball was recorded by Shirley Bassey and re-recorded by Dionne Warwick. This song was called 'Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' ( Bond's nickname with Japanese audiences at that time). However as the producer insisted that the title song should feature the name of the film, at the last minute 'Thunderball' was recorded by Tom Jones.
Of the tunes, "All time High" for Octopussy , "You know my Name" for Casino Royale and "Another Way to Die" for Quantum of Solace do not feature the name of the film at the beginning or anywhere in the lyrics. "Nobody does it better" for The Spy Who loved me does feature the title in the lyrics of the song.
Shirley Bassey, who has given us the most Bond Songs ( Goldfinger, Diamonds are forever, Moonraker ) also recorded the theme song for Quantum of Solace called 'No Good About Goodbye' which was unused.
44. The Bond Girl Inspiration
It is claimed that the inspiration to the quintessential Bond girl template comes from a girl friend of Ian Fleming called Muriel Wright. She was 26 when she met Fleming a wealthy model who was also a talented skier, polo player and a rider. She was extremely devoted to Fleming despite his apparent unfaithfulness tragically died in an air raid in 1944.
Flemings Bond girls ( in the novels) all have model like figures, wear assertive clothes, use minimum jewellery, wear little or no make up and no nail varnish ( Bond doesn't like nail colours!) are usually wealthy and are sexually adventurous. Many have a traumatic past and open up to Bond in moire ways than one.
James Bond's boss M is the head of the secret intelligence. In the novels he is initially referred to as 'M' and in Moonraker his initials are revealed to be M__ M_. In the final novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, Fleming reveals his name as Vice Admiral Sir Miles Messervy.
Bernard Lee played M in eleven films up to Moonraker.
Robert Brown played M after Lee's death from 1983 to 89 ( he had initially played Admiral Hargreaves in The Spy Who Loved Me and the producers felt it was natural he would be promoted to M).
Dame Judi Dench was cast to bring Bond into the new era for Goldeneye and continues to play the role since 1995. Skyfall will be her 7th film
46. The Vesper Martini
James Bond personally creates his own Martini in the book Casino Royale . The Kina Lillet is a brand of dry vermouth that may be labelled White Lillet.
- 3 measures of Gordon's Gin
- 1 measure of vodka
- 1/2 measure Kina Lillet
- lemon peel for garnish
The Vesper according to Ian Fleming and James Bond :
"Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
-Casino Royale, Chapter 7
47. Bob Simmons
Bond will not be Bond without the incredible stunt sequences that often set a world record. The template for the action sequences was set by Stunt co-ordinator Bob Simmons who joined the crew for Dr No and worked on all Bond films from Dr No until and including A View to a Kill.
He pulled off some spectacular action sequences, many of which where risking life and limb. Simmons is famous for featuring in the opening gun barrel sequence for the first four films. He also played stunt double for Connery and Moore. He had his own starring moment when he played the grieving widow who turns out to be the nefarious Jacques Bouvoir in the opening action sequence for Thunderball with a brutal fight sequence in the living room.
The Spy who Loved Me ski jump
Casino Royale Madagascar chase
Goldeneye opening Dam jump
Moonraker parachute Jump
Some of the memorable sequences that have been voted as top Bond stunts include:
- The incredible parkour chase and crane jump in Casino Royale
- The ski jump in The Spy Who Loved Me ( a world record)
- The bungee jump from the Dam in Goldeneye ( a world record)
- The car jump across a bridge in The Man with the Golden Gun
- The Speedboat chase in Live and Let Die
- Motorbike Jumping over a helicopter in Tomorrow Never Dies
- Speedboat leap in Live and Let Die
- Ski chase in OHMSS
- Little Nellie gyrocopter in You Only Live Twice
- Aston Martin crash and roll in Casino Royale
- MicroJet flown through hangar in Octopussy
- Parachuteless jump in Moonraker
49. Oscar overflow
Skyfall the forthcoming 23rd adventure for James Bond features the most Oscar nominated cast and crew boasting over 35 nominations and five Oscar wins between them! Director Sam Mendes, Villain Javier Bardem, Dame Judi Dench are among those who have got the little bald statuette at home.
50. From Fleming
When the Manchester Guardian did a piece on James Bond books back in the fifties and cast aspersions on the sex, glamour and product placement ( quote :what is more sinister is the cult of luxury for it's own sake- held up for the readers emulation unquote) , Ian Fleming wrote back in the letters to editor- a charming, cultured reply about what Bond is all about:
' Perhaps Bond's blatant sexuality is a subconscious protest against the current fashion of sexual confusion. Perhaps the violence springs from a psychosomatic rejection of welfare wigs, teeth and spectacles and Bond's luxury meals and drinks are simply saying no to 'toad-in-the- hole and tele-bickies. Who can say?'
Perhaps the Bond fantasy for men is not unlike the current trend of Fifty shades of Grey.. a taste of the forbidden and the frowned upon.