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But what you also miss is the Fleming Bond tastes, with upper class values and traits. He enjoys extreme luxury, whether it's food, drink, custom made cigarettes, cars, travel or clothes.
How many men do you know that drive around in Bentleys and Aston Martins, wear sea island cotton pants (have you seen how much they cost?) and sea island cotton shirts.
His MI6 expense account saw that he held a lavish lifestyle that most can only dream about, so I wouldn't define him as an ordinary man.
I wouldn’t say that’s wholly accurate to the literary Bond. He knows what he likes and has specific tastes in food, drink and clothes. He also knows that he might not come back from one of his missions so has a tendency to indulge (and certainly exploit the MI6 account when abroad). But compare these ins and outs to the film Bonds - the man seems to only have two dark blue suits cut in a more frugal fashion for the time. He wears a battered old jacket for golf. It’s a far cry from the various Saville Row or Tom Ford suits film Bond wears. When not on assignment he has a pretty simple diet. In GF he at one point becomes outright disgusted by the garish luxury of DuPont’s restaurant. I don’t think it’s accurate to say that he simply enjoys extreme luxury, again it’s just that he has very particular preferences and interests. A lot of the time it’s actually the villains who live that life of luxury and wealth.
He has what would have been called patriotic values of the time (so relatively nostalgic about the Empire, although he has his cynical moments) and a sense of duty, but not necessarily simply upper class values. Some (and yes, his background is at the very least upper middle class) but remember he’s by his own description a ‘Scottish peasant’ - someone who fights for England and yet is still paradoxically a stranger within it. Even in Blades Fleming makes clear he’s a man who stands out compared to the back slapping rich types.
I think what I was trying to get at is that Fleming’s Bond is a distinctly human character - again just a man at the end of the day - who just has an extraordinary job and is heroic because of a limited number of virtues. He’s not an ‘everyman’ character by any means but he’s still multifaceted.
Acting while running ! That's a lot going on at once. I'd like to see a brief demonstration of th
I think he didn't have to do much other than offer them health and dental insurance. Of course, he's evil, so he didn't follow through. Mwah-ha-ha !
Yes I agree with this.
Fair. They’re great novels - very escapist and even pulpy at times - and indeed they certainly have their dated qualities - but the same can be said for the works of Dickens and Shakespeare. I personally don’t think any of the films have ever been able to 100% nail the character of Bond in a way that’s truly evocative of those fundamental Fleming qualities I wrote about.
That said I do think SF got the character close in many ways (can’t necessarily say the same about the rest of Craig’s films) so I have hope they’ll return to the novels and try to adapt the character again for the 21st century.
Agreed. If the films have to be connected, I’d be fine if they went the way the Connery films did where they were more loosely connected than interconnected. Craig’s films were somewhere in between that was kind of muddled, not a happy median.
That Craig films should have been more like Connery’s in terms of loose continuity (Bond making his way through SPECTRE operatives before finally meeting the head of it). Have QOS be about Bond’s next encounter with the organization from CR, but drop the Vesper element. If anything, let that be more subtextual which would have made it feel more rich than on the nose. SF could then be as it is, and I’d actually keep most of SP as it is but drop the foster brother element entirely. That can still work as Bond making his way to the top of SPECTRE, the culmination of his previous adventures without being too referential.
I think Craig came closer in CR, but for me the closest we have seen to Fleming Bond on screen is Dalton.
To be honest, for me, none of them are the closest.
And is it me or the way Bond acted and talked in the novels was more like he's a bit naive and childish?
Like he's a bit stubborn, he's always in a self doubt.
And think of this passage in Moonraker novel while he's talking with Gala Brand:
Then of course the way he interacted with Tiger Tanaka in You Only Live Twice about learning the Japanese culture.
Here's another one passage in Goldfinger, Chapter 15: The Pressure Room
I don't see any of the actors saying these lines, to be honest. 😅
Regardless of who they cast as Bond #7, I hope they don't lose that depth they rediscovered during the Craig era
Might just be me, but I’ve always had a hard time seeing the literary Bond breaking into any incarnation of M’s flat. I do think Craig’s Bond was less of a blunt instrument too and more of a ‘for the greater good’ guy (which isn’t necessarily bad, just different). For me it’s SF that gets the closest to novel Bond in many areas - his dissatisfaction with his job, his cynicism, the idea that if Bond didn’t have that sense of duty to his country and bravery he could just as easily have ended up another version of Silva etc.
Dalton certainly tried to consciously evoke the literary Bond in his performance, which was cool. I’m a fan of his Bond. For me he doesn’t quite have the humour of the literary Bond (despite what some say I do think Fleming’s Bond has a sense of humour, it was just less quippy and more gallows humour than the cinematic versions) but he nailed the darker, more cynical side.
@MI6HQ Haha, yes I get what you mean. That said I do genuinely love that exchange about the flowers in MR and think says a lot about the character. It’d be nice to see it adapted.
But, but, but what about Gen X, Y, Z, 1, 2, 3? How to attract younger viewers? How to appeal to everyone and every agenda?
The Craig era began well. In a universe where time had no meaning, one could almost imagine CR having taken place before DN. But that opportunity was squandered with Craig's Bond a parallel universe or some such nonsense.
I quite agree. Go full on Dallas and pretend DC's era didn't happen. If he has to be younger, fine. Pick up and go with it. Make a damn fine film and it will take care of itself.
Great post. I'm very interested in what you thought of Bond's portrayal in SF. To me (as an American) the character felt like it was more Mendes than Bond, more upper class than I expected Bond to be, somehow. Did I expect the literary Bond to have inherited an estate from his family? Not really.
But I could be wrong. I didn't grow up in that class system.
I liked what they did with Bond’s past. Craig’s version of Bond always struck me as rather tragic, a man who was fundamentally good, but essentially got dealt awful hands in life. The Skyfall manor is, lets be honest, this rather Gothic and even hideous looking house in a very isolated part of Scotland. I can imagine him having a rather lonely childhood even before his parents died.
It’s not completely evocative of the literary Bond (from what I gather Fleming’s Bond grew up in various European countries until his parents death, and seemed more what we’d call ‘upper middle class’ than necessarily from an aristocratic family, although his Father did attend Fettes and this seems to be the reason he got into that school) but symbolically it works. It made sense for the film.
But what exactly does a damn fine Bond film look like is the question.
I’d like to lean a bit more into the more communicative and opinionated side of the character with Bond #7. I believe Bond can speak his mind and be a little more expressive without completely demystifying the character or taking away his edge. It’ll take the right actor and writer to pull it off, but we can keep Bond dark, complex, human, etc. without repeating DC’s characterization. When I look at it from that perspective, someone like ATJ makes a lot of sense as opposed to someone like Sope Dirisu (who is my personal favourite) but is very much of a similar mould to Craig.
You don’t want continuity, yet you think they should pick up where DAD left off? That makes no sense.
An odd thing to say indeed.
Also, "piggy-backing off of other franchises"? First of all, I just don't get it why people love to use that word "franchise" so much, especially when they're not talking about franchises but about film series. Ah well.
Secondly, I'm a little tired of the whole "Bond Begins", "The Bond Identity" and "Bond is just doing Marvel now" sentiment. Let EON produce a Bond film that defies every hot trend of the day. Let them produce a film that takes it slow (or else it's like Bourne), unpersonal (or else it's like "everything else"), without a team (or else it's like Mission : Impossible), without a character evolution (or else it's like Batman Begins), and without a clean slate (or else it's a reboot, out of continuity, ...). Let them. You may end up with a film that sets our traditional, Flemingian fan hearts on fire, makes a little money and puts James Bond in the freezer for years.
To be completely fair much of it comes down to book and film simply being different mediums. So the James Bond of a film will always be more quiet than the literary Bond for the reasons you pointed out.
That said I agree, they could go a slightly different route with Bond 7 and incorporate some of his opinions/interests from the novels. We could be introduced to the next Bond as that more quiet, ruthless agent we've seen in other incarnations, but perhaps when he gets to know the main Bond girl we could get some glimpses into this side of his character just through them speaking in a more quiet scene. Could be anything - him enthusiastically giving details or opinions on a specific topic of his interest that is relevant (food, cars, countries he's visited etc.). Could even be that section in MR about the flowers. I certainly can't imagine Craig's Bond ever saying those lines. It could really humanise the next Bond in a more subtle way, simply knowing that this hardened professional is also a man who has these thoughts/deep interests and knowledge, even indulging in them because he knows he might not return from one of his missions.
Wouldn't it then basically just be a new continuity anyway? Like, they'll have a completely new cast compared to the DAD era, the feel of the films will be different (insofar as each film could be very different from the previous one anyway), and even the set design might be different etc. Like every other actor's first Bond film they'll have to reintroduce the character in some form anyway, differentiate them from the previous Bond and set the tone for the film/story. The only thing that could potentially connect stand alone films (and keep in mind even in the old series you had recurring characters and ideas) to the '62 to '02 one would be references to previous gadgets from the early films, vague references to perhaps Tracy etc. Apart from that it's always going to be a new Bond era anyway.
Oh well. Suppose we'll just have to see what they do with it then.
In looking at the series as a whole, I see returning to standalone films, i.e. DAD, as a continuation of that practice, not continuity of casting and story.
For me the question always come down to is this supposed to be the same James Bond we first saw introduced in Dr. No?
I did as well.
For me, as soon as one Bond movie ends, the next one is a fresh start, regardless of actor or unless it's meant to be a direct sequel like QOS and NTTD. I clear my head of any continuity because it clearly doesn't matter to the filmmakers. Returning to the "DAD" timeline doesn't make sense to me. DAD exists on its own, it happens to be the fourth movie with the same actor playing the same role.
I do the same with Fleming's and the continuation novels. I simply don't expect them to carry on what came before. I expect another thrilling story with certain themes and elements, sure, but imo the best Bond stories are made to exist in isolation.
I've never understood the public and fandom's obsession with making up a continuity that even the filmmakers never acknowledge outside of their direct sequels. The Tracy stuff is to give the character moments of depth, but you can't say they took it that seriously in the Moore era. They pick and choose continuity where they please, and don't bother having it makes sense. Moore's and Dalton's Tracy references are winks to the fans, don't take it too seriously.
Logically it can’t be as it takes place in completely time frames.
But the old Bond series has a funny relationship with continuity anyway (as does the new ones with the inclusion of Dench/callbacks from the classic films). It’s not necessarily a stretch to say one views, say, Dalton’s Bond as being a different version to Moore’s Bond.
If they do want to continue going in that direction, then I really would prefer they get a good outline of where they want it all to start and end this time around: don't introduce the big bad in the penultimate film, don't make Bond "past his prime" when he's still going to be in two more installments over an almost 10 year extra stretch, etc.
It will be interesting to see if the next Bond series features any callbacks and to whom.