Which Bond film best captures Ian Fleming’s literary Bond?

in Bond Movies Posts: 516
The basic idea here is what James Bond film best captures the true spirit of Ian Fleming’s literary James Bond 007. I going to say Daniel Craig’s performance and the story from Casino Royale (although modernized) is closest to Fleming’s true incarnation of Bond in the books. Cold, calculating, loved the ladies (albeit the married woman’s), the gambling, heavy alcohol usage, and the cool that only DC could exude as Bond. Thoughts? Shout out @Birdleson for encouraging this thread.
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Comments

  • edited November 9 Posts: 2,513
    CR is a good one. Its the first time we've ever seen Bond recover in hospital on screen, which pretty much happened in most of the novels.

    But I'd have to go with Dalton and LTK. The way he plays the character in this film totally embodies the Fleming character, helped on by a brilliant script which is the closest we have got to an original script feeling like it was based on a Fleming book.

    Had this film given us John Barry, and some of the upper class refinement and style of Terence Young too, like the early Connery films did, instead of feeling more like a Lethal Weapon 80's movie, I think the film would be a lot more appreciated with the fanbase.

    Me personally, LTK sits in my top 5, and it has done so ever since 1989.
  • Posts: 516
    Good post @jetsetwilly. Dalton read all the books and believed in Fleming’s interpretation. He was cold, relentless, and merciless in LTK. Always has been one of my favorites. Top 5 for me.
  • edited November 9 Posts: 2,361
    Kingsley Amis noted that Fleming's Bond shares the romantic melancholy of Byronic hero. In TLD and LTK Dalton not only expressed that melancholy but even looked like a Byronic hero (he'd played Heathcliff and Rochester before Bond). He vividly conveyed both the ruthless James Bond of Fleming's first books and the burnt-out Bond found of the last. And with all due respect to Craig, his Bond really owes more to the contemporary trend for characters to be "broken inside," traumatized, angsty, etc. Fleming and Dalton touched on but never overdid that quality.

    Dalton's largest drawback was that he couldn't fully express Bond's bon vivant side, his relish of the finer things in the face of death, and his occasional moments of lightness. This is what Connery did so well. When he moves through a casino or seduces a women he purrs with satisfaction, like a cat eyeing a mouse. And though Fleming's Bond is not a quip machine like film Bond, he does have a sense of humor. I can imagine Connery saying "I didn't notice you about. Do you live up a tree?" to Honey, but not Dalton.

    Combine Connery--as seen in DN, FRWL, GF, and TB--with Dalton and you have Fleming's Bond.
  • Posts: 516
    Interesting @revelator. I do wish Bond wouldn’t do the quips app much in the films. As you said, that wasn’t so pronounced in the books. They seem forced at times. I think Craig combines the ingredients you pointed out (Fleming’s Bond) perfectly in Casino Royale. Do you agree?
  • slide_99slide_99 USA
    edited November 9 Posts: 179
    Connery in FRWL.

    Accuracy to Fleming is not just about Bond himself but his surrounding world as well. As much as I like Dalton in LTK, Brosnan in TWINE, and Craig in CR, the world of today is vastly different from what it was in the 50s in terms of the way people speak, dress, and carry themselves overall. You can't have a totally Fleming-faithful Bond outside of the post-WW2 context in which Fleming was writing anymore than you can have a faithfully-rendered Achilles outside of Ancient Greece.
  • Posts: 2,361
    I think Craig combines the ingredients you pointed out (Fleming’s Bond) perfectly in Casino Royale. Do you agree?

    Yes and no. I think CR is a very good film and Craig is very good in it, but I have various issues with its adaptation choices. Some of them, as played by Craig, don't chime with Fleming's version of the character. Playing Bond as someone with a chip on his shoulder for example. And "does it look like I give a damn?" isn't in character--if Bond was stressed and didn't care what his drink would be like he'd have ordered a simpler one in the first place. And whereas Fleming's Bond couldn't bring himself to believe the worst about Vesper until it was too late, Craig's threatens to kill her. I know Fleming described Bond as a "blunt instrument," but the Craig films sometimes went overboard on this.
  • Posts: 516
    I see what you mean.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 5,014
    Revelator wrote: »
    I think Craig combines the ingredients you pointed out (Fleming’s Bond) perfectly in Casino Royale. Do you agree?

    Yes and no. I think CR is a very good film and Craig is very good in it, but I have various issues with its adaptation choices. Some of them, as played by Craig, don't chime with Fleming's version of the character. Playing Bond as someone with a chip on his shoulder for example. And "does it look like I give a damn?" isn't in character--if Bond was stressed and didn't care what his drink would be like he'd have ordered a simpler one in the first place. And whereas Fleming's Bond couldn't bring himself to believe the worst about Vesper until it was too late, Craig's threatens to kill her. I know Fleming described Bond as a "blunt instrument," but the Craig films sometimes went overboard on this.

    Nice observations. Especially with Bond's reaction to Vesper's betrayal, Craig vs. Fleming.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 8,784
    slide_99 wrote: »
    Connery in FRWL.

    You might have a point there, yes. He probably does fit the at-ease Fleming Bond most in that film. Dalton’s a bit too highly strung to be Fleming’s Bond to me, and Craig is playing a much less verbose and possibly fairly different (although probably more interesting) character.
    I think Lazenby actually feels the most like book Bond to me: it helps that we see him at leisure, but also he doesn’t bring much extra personality to the part, which means he’s just really playing the part in the script rather than adding any different flavours.
  • edited November 9 Posts: 144
    EDIT: I actually am going to rethink my answer. Some good discussion in here so far.
  • Posts: 1,225
    I think Craig is the best at playing Craig bond if you see what I mean. I don’t see much of Fleming in his later adaptations. Campbell nailed it though.

    Really you don’t have to look further than Connery 1963. Though Dalton came close at times.
  • Posts: 566
    Never had the feeling that 2006 Casino Royale really captured Fleming’s Bond essence. Craig's Bond, except maybe in SF, in my opinion, is vastly different from the literary Bond and, as unoriginal it is to say it, Dalton is still the closest thing to it. Lazenby comes second in my mind.

    Regarding Connery, I always had the feeling he was Fleming's character in apparence only: FRWL is narrative-wise a perfect adaptation of the novel, but Bond as a character seems non-existent and it's all the more true in DN where he is devoid of his literary doubts and anger (all the beginning of the story with Bond hating, for the first time of his life, M). He's nothing more than a shadow, a blank figure called to be filled by the audience as opposed to Fleming's Bond.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 8,784
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.
  • 4EverBonded4EverBonded Riding a white swan to Matera
    edited November 9 Posts: 12,363
    Bond movie capturing Fleming's literary Bond? Not easy, actually, as the films are quite different. NOT including NTTD? However, I think NTTD does capture Fleming's Bond. For the others, I will say FRWL and SF. With CR maybe 3rd one. OK, LTK sometimes.
  • NickTwentyTwoNickTwentyTwo Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts: 5,014
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    There was a discussion at some point about how Bond is seemingly a lot more tense and angry than those around him, illustrated most clearly probably in the restaurant with "freelance".
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited November 9 Posts: 8,784
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    There was a discussion at some point about how Bond is seemingly a lot more tense and angry than those around him, illustrated most clearly probably in the restaurant with "freelance".

    Yeah good point, he's especially mad in that bit.
  • If I can only name one film I'd have to say OHMSS. @mtm's point that Lazenby doesn't bring anything of himself to the part is spot-on in this topic. Film-wise I'd like to give a tip of the '50s/'60s hat to FRWL -- despite the liberties taken to shoe-horn Spectre into the storyline, this film feels closer to Fleming than any of the others. Dalton's portrayal gives him the "best actor" nod in my opinion, with TLD having a permanent place my own personal Top 10 list. And Craig's Bond is definitely his own, not so much Fleming's -- although I can't see any of the other actors allowing the torture sequence in CR to even happen to "their" Bond.
  • Posts: 1,225
    Just as an aside I absolutely adore Fleming’s writing. Just brilliant.

    Dalton bond and Saunders is great - captures the book Bond’s dislike for capt Sender well.

    I think CR captures a good mix of danger, brutality but also class and sophistication.
  • mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    He’s such a bastard in that film. Remember when he tells Quarrel to “fetch his shoes”?
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,958
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    He’s such a bastard in that film. Remember when he tells Quarrel to “fetch his shoes”?

    Fleming never intended Bond to be likeable and the Connery of those early films got that unsympathetic aspect of the character and ran with it.
  • Dragonpol wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    He’s such a bastard in that film. Remember when he tells Quarrel to “fetch his shoes”?

    Fleming never intended Bond to be likeable and the Connery of those early films got that unsympathetic aspect of the character and ran with it.

    Agreed there, Connery in those first two films perfectly nails Fleming’s description of “a blunt instrument”, and I love that aspect of his original take in Dr. No, in a way, it’s like how some noir films have protagonists whose moral values are quite ambiguous, and could seem generally unlikeable at times.
  • edited November 10 Posts: 516
    I’m going to revisit the Connery Bonds again soon. Agree with the poster that said Bond wasn’t supposed to be liked. If you examine his personal vices, he’s a dark individual. Lot of demons in there. I think the alcohol is meant to drown out his own reality.
  • Posts: 2,513
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    He’s such a bastard in that film. Remember when he tells Quarrel to “fetch his shoes”?

    Fleming never intended Bond to be likeable and the Connery of those early films got that unsympathetic aspect of the character and ran with it.

    Agreed there, Connery in those first two films perfectly nails Fleming’s description of “a blunt instrument”, and I love that aspect of his original take in Dr. No, in a way, it’s like how some noir films have protagonists whose moral values are quite ambiguous, and could seem generally unlikeable at times.

    Yes, Dr. No and FRWL are Connery's most Fleming performances. Lazenby gives one too, but this was more down to the script than Lazenby's strengths as an actor. Without disrespecting Lazenby too much, he was the luckiest man on earth to land that film.

    Pretty much any actor that looked the part could have appeared in OHMSS, and it would still have stood the test of time. Lazenby doesn't make that film great. The script and production does. The film works despite Lazenby, not because of him. If ever there was a case for a walking clothes peg succeeding on film, OHMSS is it.

    After that you have to wait until Dalton's reign, and I would say out of all the actors, he nailed the literary character more than anyone else. That's because he loved the Fleming books, and read them for inspiration (something Connery was not bothered about doing).

    I get the impression Craig is not a big fan of the Fleming books either. I recall reading somewhere that he read CR the day before his audition, and tossed it aside afterwards, not thinking much to the book itself.

    The influence Craig has had on the character was to make the character more human and grounded, but this was done by bringing in family backstories and connections, which was not part of Fleming. There were parts in NTTD when I felt we were seeing Craig the actor, and not Fleming Bond.

  • edited November 10 Posts: 2,513
    Bond movie capturing Fleming's literary Bond? Not easy, actually, as the films are quite different. NOT including NTTD? However, I think NTTD does capture Fleming's Bond.

    In certain moments Craig captures Fleming Bond in NTTD, but there are also other moments when I felt we were seeing Craig the actor playing Craig, and not Fleming Bond. It didn't feel a consistent performance for me, which is odd, because Craig gives consistency throughout all his other films.

    The standout scenes when I felt we were taken out of the Fleming character were the confrontation with Blofeld, which felt totally out of character, Bond's pleading with Safin, and also Bond's final moments. This was Craig wanting to exercise his thespian muscles as an actor, but had nothing to do with the literary character.
  • Posts: 206
    Those are the very same scenes that stuck out to me (maybe not so much his final scene, which I have larger issues with). Very awkward.
  • Posts: 206
    Reminder, this is a spoiler free thread.
  • Posts: 1,225
    Yes the pleading is a little odd. Not just because it’s out of character for Bond but because it’s out of character for anyone. It’s not a natural reaction to anything. Would have been better if Safin had asked him to grovel first.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited November 10 Posts: 8,784
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    He’s such a bastard in that film. Remember when he tells Quarrel to “fetch his shoes”?

    Fleming never intended Bond to be likeable and the Connery of those early films got that unsympathetic aspect of the character and ran with it.

    Well he’s an antihero at times but I think you’re supposed to find him sympathetic at least. We’re inside his head in the books, whereas in DN Connery is very distant and we don’t really know what he’s doing or why, or why he’s so grumpy the whole time. And then at one point in the water on the island he seems to murder one of the guards for the hell of it, which isn’t very bookBond.
    I’m not sure he’s intended to be unlikeable in the books, I don’t think I ever got that impression.
  • Posts: 2,513
    mtm wrote: »
    Dragonpol wrote: »
    mtm wrote: »
    Last time I watched it I was surprised how distant and somewhat unlikeable Bond is in Dr No.

    He’s such a bastard in that film. Remember when he tells Quarrel to “fetch his shoes”?

    Fleming never intended Bond to be likeable and the Connery of those early films got that unsympathetic aspect of the character and ran with it.

    Well he’s an antihero at times but I think you’re supposed to find him sympathetic at least. We’re inside his head in the books, whereas in DN Connery is very distant and we don’t really know what he’s doing or why, or why he’s so grumpy the whole time. And then at one point in the water on the island he seems to murder one of the guards for the hell of it, which isn’t very bookBond.
    I’m not sure he’s intended to be unlikeable in the books, I don’t think I ever got that impression.

    Like you said, we get inside Bond's head in the books, read his thoughts, his justifications, etc. which prevents him being unlikeable.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    edited November 10 Posts: 8,784
    Yeah, even when he (quite rarely) expresses an opinion that we might find questionable it's usually Fleming presenting that as being a reasonable thing for a person to think rather than intending for the reader to find Bond objectionable. I would say that the films in general presenting Bond as a character to be celebrated is an accurate adaptation of the books, even if they sometimes go about it in a different way.
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