Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 28 - Birthday of Ian Fleming

Bond... James Bond. (As first played
by [Sir Thomas] Sean Connery.)
This day was born Ian Fleming in London in 1908. His father, Valentine, was a Member of Parliament, whose obituary when he died in World War I was written by Winston Churchill. Ian worked as a foreign journalist, banker, stockbroker, and assistant to the director of British naval intelligence, then as foreign manager of London's Sunday Times.

In 1953 he published his first book, Casino Royale, about a character who would make him famous, James Bond. The playboy spy — code name "007" — was accompanied by "M" at headquarters, Miss Moneypenny as his awed secretary, and a host of fast cars and gadgets prepared by "Q" at "Q branch" of MI6. Not to mention a series of sexy women, many of whom pay for their dalliance by being slaughtered in gruesome ways (e.g., pursued by two Dobermans trained to kill).

The first of many successful movies featuring several incarnations of James Bond as Dr. No in 1962. Fleming went along with the idea (from the casting of Bond by Sean Connery in the first movies) that Bond was Scottish, since in his last books he talked about Bond's Scottish ancestry.

The Wikipedia entry on James Bond and his knockoffs and parodies is astonishingly thorough, showing how and why the character now ranks among the top ten or even five of the best-known heroes of all time. The introductory line, when Bond introduces himself - "Bond... James Bond" - has been called the most famous line in movie history, apparently now out-ranking the many oft-repeated-by-me sayings of Rick and friends in Casablanca.

Fleming's fictional character was a composite of spies and "commando types" he came across in the Naval Intelligence Division in World War II. Among them were, says Wikipedia:
...his brother, Peter, who had been involved in behind-the-lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war, ... Conrad O'Brien-ffrench, Patrick Dalzel-Job and Bill "Biffy" Dunderdale.
Cover of new book on Roger
Moore at BookExpo America.
Not mentioned in Wikipedia is Sir William Stephenson, the wartime intelligence liaison between Winston Churchill and FDR. His code name was "Intrepid".  A plaque in honor of "Intrepid" has been posted on the 36th Floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York City where Sir William had his office. I am advised by a reliable source that Stephenson "informed" the character of James Bond.

Update, May 29, 2014: A new book is coming out in 2014 on the man who succeeded [Sir] Sean Connery as James Bond - [Sir] Roger Moore, starting in 1973, for a string of seven movies. The cover shown at the BookExpo America has the title One Lucky Bastard.

A TV miniseries called "Fleming" is also out in 2014.

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