Some Kind of Hero - Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury

PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
in Literary 007 Posts: 3,572
Has anyone heard of this book? What exactly is it about? I will definitely pick up a copy though...

https://www.mi6-hq.com/sections/articles/literature-some-kind-of-hero?t=&s=&id=03910

Comments

  • Posts: 12,241
    Yeah it is on MI6 article section. Gives you a few details. Certainly going to get it myself too!
  • ggl007ggl007 www.archivo007.com Spain, España
    Posts: 2,476
    An unboxing (sort of):

  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,725
    Very much recommended - this a real in-depth history of the production of the Bond films. It's something of a tome. A must-buy for the serious Bond fan! :)
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Got my copy just before Christmas
    looking forward to reading it, but it is
    one big book.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    Posts: 12,175
    What do you think of it, @royale65? :)
  • Posts: 1,114
    It's very cheap now for Kindle. Just downloaded it before Christmas for €4. An absolute bargain seeing as how it was over €25 to buy hardback.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,372
    Well, @4EverBonded, I've just read a couple of chapters. I'm reading James Bond The Legacy atm. Don't really want to read another Bond book, until I've finished that almighty tome. Informative and concise is Some Kind of Hero. Would recommend it to anyone that has Bond in their hearts. It's not their opinions on the Bond films, more of an collections of pain staking interviews, from the 50's to the modern day. Delving into to the creative process that defined the Bond movies.
  • Posts: 12,241
    Got my copy just before Christmas
    looking forward to reading it, but it is
    one big book.

    Same here, just not got round to reading either.
  • Posts: 2,300
    I finished the book a couple of weeks ago and definitely recommend it. Some Kind of a Hero is a great labor of love and expertise--Field and Chowdhury seem to have tracked down every useful Bond film book ever published, absorbed the facts within and combined them with an impressively wide-ranging set of interviews.

    I didn't find any shocking discoveries regarding the classic era of Bond films (1962-1989), perhaps because I own some of the rarer quoted sources, such as the Cinema Retro issue on Dr. No and Helfenstein's book on The Making of OHMSS. I'm less well-read when it comes to the Brosnan/Craig era, and I found those chapters very educational. It helps that the authors were able to interview most of the major players from those years, whereas most of the classic era luminaries are now dead. Purvis and Wade certainly come across as writers who know Fleming inside and out, and whose work has rarely made to the screen as they wrote it. Readers will also have a better appreciation of how the modern Bond films have been at the mercy of corporate interference and demands for rushed product (which blighted the Brosnan era).

    I have to report that the authors have been badly let down by their editor and proofreaders. I gave up counting every instance of misplaced punctuation and garbled syntax. There are also too many direct quotations of anecdotes that would have been more effective if paraphrased.

    Excellent as it is, Some Kind of Hero shows the limitations of oral history, which has been called the easiest kind to write. Not that I'm suggesting this book was easy to write--it was obviously a Herculean undertaking of several years' effort. But it would have been even more difficult if it relied on more than interviews and other Bond books and articles, and had also made use of archival research. That's easier said than done of course, since the archives of United Artists and EON are probably difficult to access.

    But a definitive history of the Bond films will have to make use of archival research, because documents--such as interoffice memos between UA and EON, or producers' letters to the director--are often more reliable than memories of incidents that happened decades ago. For example, The chapter on OHMSS relies heavily on recent interviews with Lazenby and reproduces his claim that Hunt didn't speak to him during the shoot--a claim that has been challenged elsewhere on basic grounds of logic. That's the other problem with oral histories--they give priority to those who were available to be interviewed; Peter Hunt isn't around to give his side of the story. Another minor example--Guy Hamilton, in an interview decades after Goldfinger was made, dismisses Paul Dehn's contributions by saying he was lucky to get script credit. But Adrian Turner's examination (in his book on GF) of the screenplay's genesis convincingly suggests that Dehn played a major role in adapting the book.

    A definitive history of the Bond films (at least of the classic era Bond films) will have to sort through all the drafts prepared for each production, in the way Helfenstein did for his OHMSS book. I'm rather surprised no one has conducted a study of the hoard of Bond scripts included in Richard Maibaum's papers at the University of Iowa (the list of the contents is here: http://collguides.lib.uiowa.edu/?MSC0149#series5). We know that in many cases the final film either deviated from Maibaum's script (DAF) or Maibaum initially had a very different vision of the material (DN, LTK, TLD, OP, TSWLM). It would be fascinating to learn even more of the roads untaken and whether the producers were wise to not take them.

    Putting talk of definitive histories aside, Some Kind of Hero is required reading. No previous Bond book has compiled information from so many sources, and, as far as oral histories go, it will remain definitive for the classic Bond era (unless someone succeeds in scoring a detailed interview with Connery--Field and Chowdhury made an honorable attempt), especially since there's almost no one left to interview. Future Bond films will probably prompt future editions of Some Kind of Hero but why wait a few years when you can start with the current one?
  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,572
    Wow. That's a long and very detailed review. Good work.
  • JohnHammond73JohnHammond73 Lancashire, UK
    Posts: 4,151
    This is a book that is definitely on my "to buy" list. As soon as I can spare it I'll be having it. From what I've read on here, the MI6 site and, especially, the very detailed review above, it certainly seems to be a must have book. If I'm nice enough to the wife I'm hoping she will sort me a copy out :D
  • Posts: 5,767
    Thanks everyone for bringing this book to my attention. I´m not too keen on most Bond books, but this certainly peaks my interest.
  • DragonpolDragonpol The Crazy World of David Dragonpol
    Posts: 14,725
    Thanks for that excellent review of the book, @Revelator. I have this book but have yet to read it and I look forward to doing that all the more now after reading your review!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Agreed a brilliant review @Revelator. =D>
    I'm working my way through " Some kind of hero" at the moment, and I'm
    Really enjoying it.
  • edited January 2016 Posts: 552
    Revelator wrote: »
    A definitive history of the Bond films (at least of the classic era Bond films) will have to sort through all the drafts prepared for each production, in the way Helfenstein did for his OHMSS book. I'm rather surprised no one has conducted a study of the hoard of Bond scripts included in Richard Maibaum's papers at the University of Iowa (the list of the contents is here: http://collguides.lib.uiowa.edu/?MSC0149#series5). We know that in many cases the final film either deviated from Maibaum's script (DAF) or Maibaum initially had a very different vision of the material (DN, LTK, TLD, OP, TSWLM). It would be fascinating to learn even more of the roads untaken and whether the producers were wise to not take them.

    It is disappointing that there wasn't more of an analysis of the various scripts. In terms of Maibaum's papers, I think only Adrian Turner has used material from the University of Iowa for his book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger (1998). It does seem to be a mostly untapped resource.

    The HMSS Weblog does have some great stuff on Maibaum's writing, and most recently an article in MI6 Confidential focused on the Donald E. Westlake treatments for TND (using manuscripts from Boston University).

  • Posts: 2,300
    Escalus5 wrote: »
    It is disappointing that there wasn't more of an analysis of the various scripts. In terms of Maibaum's papers, I think only Adrian Turner has used material from the University of Iowa for his book Adrian Turner on Goldfinger (1998). It does seem to be a mostly untapped resource.
    The HMSS Weblog does have some great stuff on Maibaum's writing, and most recently an article in MI6 Confidential focused on the Donald E. Westlake treatments for TND (using manuscripts from Boston University)

    I'll definitely have to seek those out! Helfenstein is the only other person to have gone through the Maibaum papers--the script chapter in his OHMSS book is completely fascinating and shows several "alternate reality" versions of that film and DAF. I haven't read Helfenstein's The Making of the Living Daylights, but I'm sure his discussion of the initial "young Bond" treatment is just as riveting. Bond scripts are such an unexplored, rich territory, especially when they contain material that wasn't filmed. Jeremy Duns wrote a terrific ebook about Ben Hecht's unused script of Casino Royale, which if filmed would have given the 2006 film a run for its money. Returning to Maibaum's papers, I agree that they are a mostly untapped source and deserve prolonged study.
  • Posts: 12,241
    Got to read this still!
  • re: documents and how they vary from recollections. (I haven't had a chance yet to get Some Kind of Hero, so if this is covered my apologies.)

    Here's a three-part series in The Spy Command (formerly The HMSS weblog). A company called Film Finances published a book in 2011 about its involvement with Dr. No. The book reproduces a lot of letters, memos, call sheets, etc.

    Because of cost overruns, Film Finances assumed control of the movie as it went into post production. That meant it controlled the spending in post production.

    Part I (pre-production):
    https://hmssweblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/financial-behind-the-scenes-of-dr-no-part-i/

    Part II (principal photography):
    https://hmssweblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/24/financial-behind-the-scenes-of-dr-no-part-ii/

    Part III (post production):
    https://hmssweblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/25/financial-behind-the-scenes-of-dr-no-part-iii/
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