Romantic heroes: Ian Fleming and James Bond

James Murphy examines his romantic heroes, Ian Fleming and James Bond

 

I was privileged to attend the recent Masterpiece art and antiques fair in Chelsea. For me, the undoubted highlight was coming face to face with the letters of Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, on Peter Harrington’s stand.

 

Ian Fleming
Ian Fleming

I have always admired Fleming primarily because he understood the human condition, notably the dynamics of romance. James Bond as a romantic hero? Ian Fleming as a romantic idealist? It is a tough proposition but let me defend my case with reference to Fleming’s biography and the legacy of James Bond.

 

A distinguished Etonian sportsman, Fleming worked at Reuters via stints in the city and was a leading contributor to the refined society gossip column ‘Atticus’ in The Sunday Times. His finest hour pre-Bond, however, was an innovative tenure at Naval Intelligence.

 

Here, Fleming crafted new methods for gathering information, fusing the very best of field-men at SIS to the expertise of foreign correspondents. It was a winning formula, outlasting the Nazi menace and aiding British triumphs during the Cold War.

 

James Bond is in many senses an extension of Fleming, coupled with the DNA of fellow pulp heroes from Bulldog Drummond to John Hannay and Simon Templar; peppered with nods to the literary styles of Graham Greene, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Somerset Maugham.

 

Bond is competent in all areas required by missions for HMG’s intelligence service. He invariably becomes embroiled in plots beyond his initial forecasts, thereby lending him an underdog or everyman quality. It’s “one man against the secret police”.

 

By no means perfect, Bond is a selfish creature of habit; tending to lecture others on his own narrow world view, punctuated by the kind of extreme violence one might associate with today’s gangster underworld. But he is redeemed by a genuine sense of justice and doggedly determined loyalty to the beliefs he champions. Critically, Bond has charm and a distinctive style.

 

Fleming arguably uses Bond to relive and perhaps redeem his own romantic experiences and philosophy. Bond is neither soppy sentimentalist nor proponent of monotonous monogamy. He nevertheless makes women feel desired, whilst relaying Fleming’s thesis that romance is by its very nature a choreographed drama. It begins with a childlike blast of optimism and excitable energy, develops through a dynamic sequence of face-offs over dinner dates and discovery and ends inevitably in death.

 

There might be a literal death (Tracey, Bond’s wife is killed on their wedding day) or it’s a brutal loss of innocence and image (Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale, is unmasked as a traitor; Gala Brand in Moonraker bathetically cuts ties with Bond when the case is closed).

 

Death through the inevitable march of time and drably dull domesticity is another tool used by Fleming. Note Bond’s fear of marital warfare in the short story Quantum of Solace and the final hint of despair at a pipe and slippers ending to The Man with the Golden Gun, (aptly the final Bond novel, edited by Kingsley Amis after Fleming’s death).

 

The point is clear: Fleming understood romance: the sexuality, emotional yearning and difficult developments in character associated with the experience. It is perhaps that quality that sustained the film franchise, too. When Francis Coppola was consulted on the ‘rogue’ Bond film Never Say Never Again he said: “It’s a romance”.

 

Each Bond actor is defined by which aspect of male appeal they personify for women. Sir Sean Connery was cast on a nod from the late, great Albert R. Broccoli’s wife, Dana (“he has ‘it’”). George Lazenby brought raw physicality and Sir Roger Moore gifted the role with impeccable gentlemanly manners. Pierce Brosnan offered chiselled confidence and corporate calm. Timothy Dalton brought deadly strength fused to intelligent sensitivity: an approach that has also worked for the current Bond, Daniel Craig.

 

Bond 24 is due in cinemas in December 2015. There are murmurings of a delay in script drafts. No doubt things will pan out for the best at the hands of producer Barbara Broccoli and visionary director Sam Mendes.

 

“We always go back to Fleming”, Barbara Broccoli once remarked, when addressing problems in writing the films. If they follow that formula again, one can therefore expect the film to have a truly romantic quality and win another day at the box office.

 

 

James Murphy is a graduate of New College, Oxford and the University of Law. He is currently working on a screenplay named the Anthony Claret Adventures.

 

 

Subscribe to our free once daily email newsletter here:[wysija_form id=”1″]

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. It was Ian Fleming’s character James Bond that made me take up smoking. Sean Connery gave it a flavour of elegance and sophistication and it made me feel so macho. We are still in the European Union, so Broccoli and Connery can expect a lawsuit, why should I take responsibilty for my own health in the nanny state.

  2. The exploits of Bond – as portrayed on the silver screen – give a largely erroneous, if highly enjoyable, picture of an intelligence officer of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service (MI6).

    During the Cold War, the KGB would send copies of the 007 films back to Moscow in the diplomatic bag. Screened in detail and analysed, in case they revealed some hitherto unknown element of tradecraft or piece of kit used by British intelligence!

    There was also a spin-off benefit from the Bond films. In many countries Britain was regarded as the most effective practitioner of espionage. And Sir Colin McColl, a former Chief of SIS, said: “007 was pure hokum. However the films proved to be the greatest recruiting-sergeant for MI6!”

  3. Peter Sellers and David Niven’s portrayal of 007 in Casino Royale (1967) was a more realistic version in depicting a real life modern day M16 spy, restricted by European Union red tape and regulations. Think health and safety at all times.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

A Security Lobotomy at The Botanist

‘The Steeple Times’ reports on anything but a ‘Super Saturday’ at The Botanist on Sloane Square; we share here imagery and a video of a thieving woman whom must be caught.

What’s Dershowitz Got To Hide?

Matthew Steeples questions why Alan Dershowitz is getting so enthusiastic in his defence of the vile paedo procurer Ghislaine Maxwell.

Runners & Riders – The Coral-Eclipse 2020

‘The Steeple Times’ takes a look at the seven horse Group 1 Coral-Eclipse 2020 at Sandown and opts for a tasty outsider for an each way bet.

Will Ghislaine Maxwell Motor On?

As a poll reveals the public believe Ghislaine Maxwell will ‘suicide herself’ in a similar manner to her former master Jeffrey Epstein, the Cash & Rocket ‘charity’ unbelievably announce they are going ahead with another rally in 2021.

Runners & Riders – The Oaks and The Derby 2020

‘The Steeple Times’ analyses the selections for a somewhat damp double at Epsom on ‘Super Saturday’; we suggest enjoying The Oaks and The Derby 2020 at home.

Hooping A Half Price Mansion

Vast Edwardian mansion with basketball court in the roof in Watseka, Illinois for sale at half price it listed for in 2016; it’s on for just £20 per square foot.

Wally of the Week – Disgraceful Dimwit Darren Grimes

As manipulated millennial Darren Grimes gets himself into yet another racism storm with the help of his beloved bigot Dr David Starkey, one has to ask: “Who is this cretin’s puppet master?”

Bow Wine Vaults Back

Acclaimed restaurateur Philip Lawless to reopen Square Mile institution and haunt of city financiers the Bow Wine Vaults on Monday.

Remembering Jeffrey Epstein Albuquerque Style

Statue of late billionaire sex beast Jeffrey Epstein mysteriously appears outside City Hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico (and is promptly removed by officials).

E-Scooter-ing a Shameless Minister For Rent

E-Scooter-ing Out a Minister For Rent – As the government disgracefully announces they’ll be allowing rentable e-scooters on Britain’s roads, Matthew Steeples asks: “Who gave ‘a Robert Jenrick’?” to get this multi-million market going.

The Pargetter Triptych

Matthew Steeples urges fans of ‘The Archers’ to forget the BBC’s revised coronavirus version; until normality returns, give ‘The Pargetter Triptych’ a...

A Demon Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce owned by “maverick” Demon Internet dot-com millionaire Cliff Stanford to be auctioned; his au pair was tragically murdered in Spain; he was convicted of “email spying” in a scandal featuring gerrymanderer Dame Shirley Porter.

Hero of the Hour – Lenin Gutierrez

After standing up to a woman named Amber Lynn Gilles who berated him whilst doing his job, Starbucks barista Lenin Gutierrez is going to use the unexpected donation ‘tips’ he received to help others.

Elton John Needs an Olive Branch

As Sir Elton John is slammed for his treatment of his ex-wife, we suggest he ought to offer an olive branch as appeasement to get her off her ‘Crocodile Rock.’

Buckle Up! Barking Baker Harber Has Bitten Back

Victoria Baker Harber has sent Kenny Schachter a “cease and desist” letter in the wake of her on-off conman lover Inigo Philbrick being snared by the FBI.

BLM Doesn’t Matter to Bernie Ecclestone

As “cranky gargoyle” Bernie Ecclestone disgracefully tells CNN that “black people are often more racist than white people,” we join those demanding he apologise for such reprehensible and utterly senseless remarks.

Weather Now

London
clear sky
12.5 ° C
13.3 °
11.7 °
71 %
5.7kmh
0 %
Mon
20 °
Tue
20 °
Wed
21 °
Thu
24 °
Fri
19 °