“It’s Not So Easy, That Role. It’s A Role For a Professional.” – Sean Connery on James Bond

I just finished Oriana Fallaci’s hugely entertaining The Egotists, interviews with 16 prominent people in the 1960s, from Nguyen Cao Ky (Prime Minister of South Vietnam for 2 years) to Alfred Hitchcock. Weird book, obviously. You have to be able to go from Dean Martin to H. Rap Brown and not feel weird about the segue. But then Fallaci is weird. I love her and miss her voice. These are interviews with famous people but since her questions are listed out as well, the interviews read like scripts. It’s all “she said/he said”. There are no editorial comments interjected from Fallaci (although each interview has an introduction). So she emerges as a personality well as her subject. And what a personality. Federico Fellino calls her a “nasty bitch” at one point. The interviews are pretty raw. She can be relentless, obnoxious, she is not afraid to tell her subject what she thinks of him/her. But boy, does she get them to talk. Either defensively or openly. Whatever: They TALK.

Some of these interviews are so widely quoted in other venues (biographies of the subjects, or obituaries) that it is good to remember who the hell got them to speak that way in the first place. For instance, the Dean Martin interview. I’m a huge Dino fan, and have read a lot about him. The quotes from his interview with Oriana Fallaci are widely known. You may not even know where they were first said, but now you know.

The interviews in the book are as follows:
Norman Mailer, Sean Connery, H. Rap Brown, Ingrid Bergman, Nguyen Cao Ky, Geraldine Chaplin, Anna Magnani, Hugh Hefner, Jeanne Moreau, Mary Hemingway, Dean Martin, Duchess of Alba, Federico Fellini, El Cordobes, Sammy Davis, Jr., Alfred Hitchcock

You won’t find it in bookstores, unless it’s a second-hand one. My copy is a battered paperback that looks like it is directly from 1968 with tabloid letters on the front above the title:

The frankest, most intimate and revealing portraits of international celebrities ever published

Many times, the interview seems to be more “revealing” about Fallaci than about her subject, but that’s interesting too. She was friends with some of these people, enemies to others. Many said “No” to her request for an interview for months, sometimes years. Others said “Yes” right away with a promptness that made Fallaci suspicious.

She and Sean Connery were friends. The interview with him took place in Paris in 1965. He was a blinding star by that point. He was happy about Bond, but was sick of talking about Bond all the time. Here are some excerpts from their interview. It will become immediately apparent why I ate up every single word of this book, and read it so quickly that I already need to read it again. Italics are Fallaci’s questions, regular text is Connery.

Among the thousand pieces of advice that I was given was never to mention James Bond. You’d think he was your worst enemy instead of the character who’s brought you fame and fortune. But they say that at the very sound of the name James Bond you become angry and get up and go. Well then? Aren’t you angry?

Angry? Why should I be?

Because I’ve said James Bond. 007. Bond.

O.K. O.K.! Bond. 007. Bond. They must have told you wrong. I get angry when they ask me if I’d like to be James Bond, if I’m like James Bond, if they should call me Connery or Bond, when they plague me with idiocies of that kind, not when they make me talk about Bond. Why should I? I’m not in the least ashamed of the Bond movies. They’re amusing, intelligent, each one is more exacting than the last, each one is of better quality than the last. And quality isn’t to be found only in the Old Vic. Old Vic or Old Smith, the hell with it! What does it matter? Above all, I certainly don’t have the snobbishness or the bad taste to spit on something that gives me success and money, and anyway in my job there’s room for every kind of acting. For me, playing James Bond is like playing Macbeth in the theater. I’ll say more: if I hadn’t acted Shakespeare, Pirandello, Euripides, in short, what is classed as serious theater, I should never have managed to play James Bond. It’s not so easy, that role. It’s a role for a professional. It requires movement, for example. And to know how to move well you need to have been on the stage. I’d been on the stage for four years when I made my first appearance, in Anna Karenina, playing opposite Claire Bloom. I’d been another four years in movies when they offered me Bond and …

And you didn’t hesitate, you didn’t waver, before saying yes? Leaving aside Old Vic or Old Smith, it was a bit like taking up tap dancing after dancing Swan Lake. Eight movies about the same character are a lot. It was only to be expected that the character would eventually dog your footsteps. “Would you like to be Bond, are you like Bond …?”

It was luck, my dear, and luck only knocks once. And when it knocks, you have to grab it quick and then hang on tight. Would they identify me with Bond? Would that make me angry? Too bad. For an actor, for a writer, there’s always the danger of being identified with his character. Look how many people still write to Sherlock Holmes although they know quite well he doesn’t exist and never has existed. Look, I didn’t hesitate for an instant, particularly as the contract was so very amenable: it arranged that I would make a Bond every fourteen months, which left me time to devote to the theater, to other movies. And I’ve used it. In the break between From Russia with Love and Goldfinger I made Marnie with Hitchcock. In the break between Goldfinger and Thunderball I made The Hill with Sidney Lumet: a war film, in black and white, with an all-male cast. After Thunderball I’m going to make a movie in Australia with my wife. And then the character of Bond was amusing, certain to appeal. And lastly it suited me physically. You see, I’ve never had a handsome face, an acceptable face. I’ve always had this difficult face, adult, lined; it was like this even when I was sixteen. When I was sixteen I already looked thirty, and without a handsome face it’s far from easy to break in. So, honestly, I was careful not to make too much fuss. The only thing I said to the producers was that the character had one defect, there was no humor about him; to get him accepted, they’d have to let me play him tongue-in-cheek, so people could laugh. They agreed, and there you are: today Bond is accepted to such an extent that even philosophers take the trouble to analyze him, even intellectuals enjoy defending him or attacking him. And even while they’re laughing at him, people take him terribly seriously.

And how about you, Mr. Connery? Do you take him seriously or do you laugh at him?

Laugh at him? If I laughed at him, I’d be laughing at myself, at my work, and where would be the sense in that? And then being egotistical, as I said before, and ambitious, as I said before, I have to believe that what I am doing is important. Therefore, Bond is important: this invincible superman that every man would like to copy, that every woman would like to conquer, this dream we all have of survival. And then one can’t help liking him. Don’t you like him?

I don’t know, I wouldn’t like to say. As the symbol of our dreams I find him, when all’s said and done, a rather sad one: this man who always wins, without morals, or ideals, or friends, rather ignorant, too, except about explosives, cards and drinking. Forgive me, won’t you? Don’t be offended.

Immoral? I’ve never seen him steal anyone’s wife, anyone else’s woman, or betray his own; he doesn’t have one. He likes women all right, but he never rapes them; it’s they who worm their way into his bed. He kills people, he has to; if he doesn’t, they’ll kill him. He abides by no laws, but nor is he protected by the laws that protect others; society does nothing to defend him, he isn’t known to society. He’s rather ignorant, O.K., but he doesn’t exactly have the time for reading Joyce. His struggle for survival obliges him to be practical, functional, to reduce everything to the verbs sniff, look, listen, taste, think. His safety depends on this and not on Joyce. He doesn’t fight for old people and children, but who said he couldn’t? Have you any proof? Your accusations wouldn’t be valid in any court of law. Yes, sure, it would be interesting if I spoke badly of Bond. But I’ve got nothing at all against Mr. Bond, and I’m only too sorry he has to die.

Die? Is he ill?

I don’t know, I’m not sure yet, but I’m afraid so.

The entire interview ends with Connery saying to Fallaci, “And now let’s go have a beer.”

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33 Responses to “It’s Not So Easy, That Role. It’s A Role For a Professional.” – Sean Connery on James Bond

  1. Jimmy says:

    Fallaci was one of the greats. No doubt about it. An amazing woman who lived life with an absolute passion. How could anyone not love her? A beauty with balls to boot. She is missed.

    Thanks for the piece today Sheila. I wasn’t familiar with this book. Seems like she covered the bases on this one. Quite a selection of talent. Try to find it. Check it out.

    While on the subject of interviews, I was reminded of this article written by Christopher Hitchens shortly after she passed away. Thought you’d appreciate it:

    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2006/12/hitchens200612?printable=true

    Take care.

  2. sheila says:

    Johnny – It’s definitely worth it. It reads like a bat out of hell. can’t you just totally hear Sean Connery’s voice and tone here?

  3. sheila says:

    Jimmy – yes, I remember reading that piece and nodding to myself in agreement.

    Anyway, this book is a hoot. Her interview with Anna Magnani is fascinating – but I particularly loved the one with Dino. Ingrid Bergman is really good too.

    A rich rich book.

  4. sheila says:

    And then he goes on and on about being Scottish. He really doesn’t like James Bond. Not because Bond is immoral or ignorant. But because he’s British.

    So entertaining to read!

  5. Charles J. Sperling says:

    You might be interested in the authors James Bond has read:

    Patrick Leigh Fermor ( *The Traveller’s Tree* gets a reference in *Live and Let Die*)

    John Scarne (not sure of the title or titles, but one of Scarne’s books on cards proved invaluable against Sir Hugo Drax in *Moonraker*)

    Lewis Carroll (Tiffany Case quotes *Alice in Wonderland* in *Diamonds Are Forever* and Bond admits to having read it long ago: let’s give him *Through the Looking Glass,* too, but not *Bruno and Sylvie*)

    Euripides (he “bastardizes” him in *From Russia with Love* by musing that “whom gods destroy, they first make bored”)

    Raymond Chandler (he buys “Chandler’s latest” in *Goldfinger,* which, by my chronology, would be *Playback.* Interestingly enough, Connery’s assessment of Bond recalls Chandler’s observation that Bond is what every man wants to be and what every woman wants to have)

    Rex Stout (there’s a delightful conversation with M. in *On Her Majesty’s Secret Service* about Nero Wolfe. Bond admits to liking the books, while M. merely declares them “readable” — M. appears not to care for orchids)

    There’s a quotation from a poem which comes to Bond’s mind in *Dr. No* (I think it may be William Wordsworth). Kingsley Amis says that Bond’s read Chesterfield’s *Letters,* but Tiger Tanaka has to tell him who Basho was in *You Only Live Twice.*

    The one reference to the theater in Fleming’s series comes in “Quantum of Solace,” where Bond is at a dreary dinner party in Nassau with a Canadian millionaire Harvey Miller and his wife, and she asks him about the theater in London. Bond’s last experience with the stage, he muses, was five years before in Austria and it was part of an assignment, so he can’t satisfy her query very well.

    In *From Russia with Love,* Tatiana Romanova compares Bond to a film star which he doesn’t appreciate (“that’s the worst thing you can say to a man!”); she tries to make it up to him by saying that he reminds her of her favorite literary hero, Pechorin in Mikhail Lermontov’s *Hero of Our Time.*

    No Joyce, though!

  6. sheila says:

    Charles – That is seriously one of the best comments of all time. Was that taken from a trivia book or was that off the top of your head? Either way, VERY impressed. I love it!!

    Connery, in the interview, talks about Joyce quite a bit – he had just read Ulysses I believe. He had a very funny quote about Robert Louis Stevenson. Let me grab it.

  7. sheila says:

    No, I’m wrong. It was about Stephen Crane. Here’s the quote from Connery:

    It’s great to put across fantasy. It’s a constant surprise how reality is harder to put across than fantasy. I never forget that Stephen Crane wrote a very fine book about war, The Red Badge of Courage, although he’d never been in a war. And then he wrote a very bad book called Shipwreck, although he had been in a shipwreck. And this explains a lot of things.

  8. DBW says:

    “It’s great to put across fantasy. It’s a constant surprise how reality is harder to put across than fantasy. I never forget that Stephen Crane wrote a very fine book about war, The Red Badge of Courage, although he’d never been in a war. And then he wrote a very bad book called Shipwreck, although he had been in a shipwreck. And this explains a lot of things.”

    What a great quote.

  9. sheila says:

    DBW – Isn’t it??

  10. Phil P says:

    Fascinating interview. “… if I hadn’t acted Shakespeare, Pirandello, Euripides, in short, what is classed as serious theater, I should never have managed to play James Bond.”
    I like that.

    Interesting that he didn’t consider himself handsome. I wonder if Nicole Kidman considers herself homely.

    And happy anniversary!

  11. nightfly says:

    Ah, the irony of acting… Sean Connery becomes, in turns, a famous fictional Englishman*, an immortal Spanish swordfighter, and a Russian submarine commander. Meanwhile, Canadian James Doohan becomes one of the world’s most famous fictional Scots: Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott. Then Australian Mel Gibson portrays one of the world’s most famous actual Scots.

    *I believe that after the first movie, Ian Fleming eventually wrote some Scottish ancestry into Bond’s character, in gratitude to Connery – a grandparent, I believe.

    What Connery said about this role requiring “serious” acting, though, reminds me of the source material itself. Read any of the Bond books and it’s immediately evident that Fleming knew what the hell he was doing. Those books are wonderful reads. They may not be War and Peace but they’re entertaining, and an entertaining book is a big challenge – not the same challenge as something like Moby-Dick, but it’s a difficult and rare skill to write that way; especially over and over, because if the style gets too familiar OR too different, the whole series crashes to a halt.

  12. Charles J. Sperling says:

    “Don’t you call James Bond or Secret Agent Man…”

    (Patrick McGoohan played John Drake, who identified himself as an Irishman, so perhaps he’d read Joyce.)

    Thanks for the kind words, Sheila. Most of it is from memory, save for a computer check on the Fermor title (a footnote in *Live and Let Die* calls it “one of the great travel books” — high praise for something only four years old!) and which playwright Bond misquoted as he contemplated what “the blubbery arms of the soft life” were doing to him at the start of the “Execution” section of *From Russia with Love.*

    Bond means a lot to me as a period piece: Fleming died in 1964, just before “Goldfinger” came out and if you believe Leonard Cohen, the world changed for everyone in 1965 — which the literary 007 never saw, save in the posthumous *Man with the Golden Gun.* Check the books closely and you’ll see that the character belongs to the 1950s (Kingsley Amis and O.F. Snelling write as if Fleming’s books take place in the year they appeared: they generally take place two years before), with our hero not reaching the 1960s until, possibly, *The Spy Who Loved Me* (though he’s definitely there by *On Her Majesty’s Secret Servicce*).

    And I don’t think the 1960s in the books would have been kind to him: *Goldfinger* has him upset over using his license to kill; “The Living Daylights” finds him settling for scaring a victim instead of termnating them; *Thunderball* begins with an alarming medical report; and in *You Only Live Twice* and in *The Man with the Golden Gun,* his assignment is very much one which “stinks of death or glory” (to cite the eminent neurologist, Sir James Moloney, who’s never made it to the movies) or one which Bond’s best friend in the Service, Colonel Bill Tanner, deems “suicide” (the Chief of Staff only made it to the movies because Bernard Lee died and Judi Dench hadn’t been tapped). He wouldn’t have become a Deighton or le Carre character, but he would have understood them better.

    So, for that reason, I don’t see the post-Connery pictures very often: I prefer to leave him in 1964 (where Fleming left him in *Gun*: *The Daily Gleaner* barely notes de Gaulle’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China, which occurred that year, preferring to give major coverage to drug stories), which was also the year of “Marnie,” a divisive Hitchcock picture, but one which I like a lot, if only for the story of Tippi Hedren wondering how she was supposed to be frigid around Connery. (Hitchcock’s response: “It’s called acting, dear.”)

    Stepsister Susan gave me Oriana Fallaci’s *A Man* and it took me about a year to get to it. Alexandros Panagoulis was certainy a man; however, he wasn’t one I enjoyed encountering. I think I’d find more literary sustenance in the book you called to our attention!

  13. DBW says:

    OK– Charles wins for most interesting commenter of the…year, maybe. Of course, I am an unrepetentant James Bond/Connery fan, and not reknowned for my general assessment of greatness. Nevertheless….

  14. sheila says:

    Nightfly – Not everything can be Moby Dick, and for that we should thank God. One is MORE than enough. I have not read any Ian Fleming novels although I have never heard a bad word said about them, and these comments most certainly make me want to check them out.

    So Charles/Nightfly: where should I start? What’s the first one? Sorry that I don’t know the answer, but seeing as I have two experts here …

  15. sheila says:

    DBW – // OK– Charles wins for most interesting commenter of the…year, maybe. //

    hahahaha I agree.

    Charles, I love that: “It’s called acting, dear.”

  16. sheila says:

    His comment about his face – that he looked thirty when he was sixteen, and kind of grew into his handsomeness – (or, that’s my take on it) – reminds me of an actor I knew in college. This guy was brilliant. He was 20, 21, like the rest of us – a pudgy guy who was MADE to play pudgy sad middle-aged sacks – even as a young man. He played Howard, the salesman, in Picnic, and he was phenomenal. I was young at the time, I always thought he was one of the best actors I knew – and I still think that. But he is the type of man who wouldn’t “make it” until he was in his 40s, and he grew into the parts he was born to play. Nobody out in the “real world” would cast him as Howard in Picnic – he was too young – but he’s the kind of guy who would hit his stride later in life, growing into the parts he was born to play.

    Connery’s smokin’ hot sexiness is obviously something ingrained. He likes women. That comes across. It makes him very attractive. I could see him having a very successful career (albeit not famous) in repertory companies, playing the cynical doctor in Uncle Vanya or Dr. John Buchanan in Summer and Smoke – and he would be beloved by any community he blessed with his presence. But superstardom was in the cards for him. It suits him well.

    I love this comment. It shows his smarts. His genius actually:

    The only thing I said to the producers was that the character had one defect, there was no humor about him; to get him accepted, they’d have to let me play him tongue-in-cheek, so people could laugh. They agreed, and there you are.

    Imagine Bond without the tongue-in-cheek. Well, we all can. We’ve seen it. It’s not the same character.

  17. sheila says:

    Also, can’t you just hear him say to Fallaci: “Your accusations wouldn’t be valid in any court of law.” I hear him saying it with a devilish twinkle. I don’t hear him saying it in a hostile manner – but with humor and a challenge.

  18. sheila says:

    Phil P – I love his comments about theatre, too. Everything is training, everything is useful. He was able to use his ability to “move” in the role of James Bond, and I love that he credits that to the stage.

    I could go on and on about Nicole Kidman and her poor face. I will restrain myself. The woman is beautiful, but I feel that she does not believe it. She looks in the mirror and sees something totally DIFFERENT than what we all see. So she goes about trying to fix it.

    I have sympathy with that. I dislike my nose, my profile … sometimes my boobs, although I have had no complaints. ha. The temptations to “fix” these things could become irresistible if I was in a blinding spotlight the way she is.

    Anyway, I’m a bit fascinated by her and what she has done to her face at such a young age. I have a friend who is a casting director, and a TV commercial director called her after a shoot – with a lead actress cast by my friend – and he said, “Please don’t send me any more Botox-ed people. They can’t change the expression of their faces. It was like pulling teeth.”

    There is hope for humanity.

  19. bybee says:

    This sounds like a wonderful read! I must go wandering over to abebooks.com
    I read a book by Oriana Fallaci once. It was called “A Man”. Beautiful, ferocious writing.

  20. Phil P says:

    Wow. I didn’t expect that response. I didn’t actually know Kidman had cosmetic surgery (I don’t keep up with these things). I was just blown away by Connery not thinking he was handsome so I tried to think of a beautiful actress absurdly not thinking she was beautiful. It is rather sad. I used to rent movies she was in just to see her, because I was mesmerized by her beauty. Unfortunately I liked very few of her movies, except for To Die For. I never thought she was a truly great actress either, although I respect her adventurousness. It never seemed to me that she had the capacity of the truly great to elevate indifferent material.

  21. Sean Connery has been influential in my private life–my son is named Sean–and in my professional life as well. I would love to have worked with him. His answers in this interview show him to be intelligent, philosophical and informed beyond education–someone who you would want to have a dinner with lasting into the early hours where all topics are open to discussion. Having conducted 500 interviews over the years, I recognize a good interviewee when I see one.

    My two favorite films of his are From Russia With Love and The Hill.

  22. sheila says:

    Phil – I thought she was fantastic in The Others and brilliant in To Die For. Her forehead started looking very strange and flat around the time of The Stepford Wives and she also did something to her eyes – so that the top half of her face was almost immobile. Her eyes can’t smile anymore.

    I’m a fan of her gumption – and her choice of roles, post-Cruise divorce – I thought she was lovely and iconic in Moulin Rouge.

    But there is clearly some neurosis there about her beauty. maybe the spotlight was too much for her – if you have people looking at you all the time, it seems like you would think, “Ah, yes, I am special, I deserve all this attention” – but I think a lot of the times it has the opposite effect.

    I had a friend who was a producer of The Real World for many years, and at least one girl every season became anorexic DURING the filming of the season. I think that sort of attention is very artificial, obviously, and you have to really know how to handle it. Very few people do.

    Anyway, just my two cents.

  23. sheila says:

    Stephen – I agree. I want to hang out with him. He sounds so fun.

  24. Phil P says:

    Is it really neurosis or careerism? I hear about so many aging actresses employing cosmetic surgery. Kidman’s acting talents are highly respected in the industry, others holding a higher opinion than me (not that I don’t think she’s very good) but she’s also exploited her sex appeal to a great degree. Maybe she just thinks she has to do it. But it’s self defeating. I did notice something strange about her eyes in some of her later films – it actually spoiled her beauty.

  25. sheila says:

    Phil P – Yes, but she started the work on her face in her 30s. She’s not “aging” at all. She began futzing with herself when she was in her prime. Perhaps it was careerism, but I don’t think so. I am not anti-plastic surgery – I understand that it can lengthen a woman’s career as a leading lady. Although it eventually becomes rather grotesque.

    I think there was something more neurotic going on with Kidman, since she started so early.

    I just saw Secretariat and there is Diane Lane, in her 40s, LOOKING 40 and looking awesome. So much of the effectiveness of her work comes from how expressive her forehead can be – the way it wrinkles up when she cries, or gets angry or is being emphatic. She has not Botoxed her forehead. She lets it wrinkle up. She looks alive. She is clearly gorgeous, but she still looks like a person – not an overly-done actress.

    I think Kidman was one of the most beuatiful women in movies and I thought: Why are you doing this now???” 35, 36 – too young to iron out your forehead!!! Give it time, lady!

  26. sheila says:

    And I agree: not only did it spoil the ease of her beauty, but she actually looks older now than she really is.

  27. nightfly says:

    In re: Fleming books – the first of the Bond series is Casino Royale. I’m not positive of the order after that, but I believe it goes: Dr. No, Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, Diamonds are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, and Octopussy. (The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and Octopussy are collections of shorter Bond stories, such as “Quantum of Solace.”)

    One thing you notice if you’re familiar with the movies: as you get further in the series, they get farther and farther from the source material, until at last all that’s left of the poor books is the title and Bond himself.

    And Fleming also wrote Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang! I read a fully-illustrated abridged version when I was a boy, one of those “Step Up” books. I think I’m old enough to move to the big-kids’ edition…

  28. Charles J. Sperling says:

    Dear Sheila:

    Where the Nightfly starts, the Sparrow (which is what my last name is in German) will continue.

    The Signet Bond paperbacks list them alphabetically rather than chronologically — which would be fine if Fleming were Sue Grafton — so the precise order should be:

    *Casino Royale*; *Live and Let Die*; *Moonraker*; *Diamonds Are Forever*; *From Russia with Love (comma optional); *Dr. No*; *Goldfinger*; *For Your Eyes Only*; *Thunderball*; *The Spy Who Loved Me*; *On Her Majesty’s Secret Service*; *You Only Live Twice*; *The Man with the Golden Gun*; and *Octopussy.*

    The best of the series for me is*From Russia with Love,* perhaps because Fleming thought he was going to send Bond to the Reichenbach Falls and only later decided that he wouldn’t. (It took him less time than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.) We don’t hear of Bond until the end of Chapter 5; we don’t actually meet him until the start of the second part. Instead, we get SMERSH setting up a plan to eliminate him and humilate the U.K., and only when it’s in place do we meet him and see how it goes. If you believe Allen Dulles (who knew something about intelligence), Bond really did perish here, for he was never the same afterwards.

    What is different after *Russia* is that Bond’s assignments become more in line with those you’ll find in the movies (it’s probably no accident that *Dr. No,* the first post-*Russia* book, became the first movie): missiles will be toppled; nuclear weapons will be used for blackmail; SPECTRE (the stateless Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism , Revenge and Exortion) replaces the Soviet Union’s SMERSH (“Death to Spies”). There are more women for him to dally with (certainly in *Goldfinger* and *On Her Majesty’s Secret Service*) and, at its worst, you can see why Fleming could be so dismissive of his writing, musing on how if he took it seriously, he would wonder how he could write such piffle.

    Which isn’t to say that the later books aren’t entertaining, for they are, just that they become a little too fantastic for their own good: the secret agent who felt his oats with Le Chiffre (*Casino*), who knew he was “the man who is only a silhouette” (*Moonraker*) and finishes one mission all too aware of his (current) ladylove’s belief that “it reads better than it lives” (*Diamonds*) becomes a Superman. To be sure, he gets the super-criminals to go with it (Auric Goldfinger and Ernst Stavro Blofeld, most notably) and Fleming still allows him some Kryptonite (he’s not a gourmet, he just eats like one on missions we learn in *Service*; Felix Leiter can give him a lesson on drinks in *Thunderball*); however, by the end, the man whom Vesper Lynd called “one of our heroes” and compared to Hoagy Carmichael in *Casino* (he likes learning that about as much as Tatiana’s film star line) exists in a world where Ursula Andress is at Piz Gloria when he’s masquerading as Sir Hilary Bray (*Service) and an “Obituary” notes the existence of a series of books about someone with his name, which, if they’d been better written would have called down the wrath of the Official Secrets Act (*Twice*).

    So the highlights for me? *Casino Royale*; *From Russia with Love*; *Goldfinger*; and the Blofeld Trilogy (*Thunderball,* *Service* and *Twice*). Among the short stories, I have a perverse fondness for “Quantum of Solace,” because it’s not properly a Bond story: the Governor of the Colony recounts a story more appropriate for Maugham (a secret agent, too!) than for Fleming, and it sets our hero to pondering how much more complex real life is than the life he leads. (The best of the short stories are probably “From a View to a Kill” and “For Your Eyes Only.”)

    By the bye — since I discovered your wonderful site with the Patricia Neal tribute, I should conclude (who said finally?) with this anecdote of Roald Dahl. According to Jenet Conant’s *Irregulars,* he received the idea for one of his best short stories, “Lamb to the Slaughter,” from none other than…Ian Fleming, who suggested a story about a murder weapon overlooked because it was in plain sight. I don’t suppose Fleming had Mary Maloney in mind when he named Sir James Moloney, though, or referred back to Dahl’s “Taste” when he needed Bond to sound authoritative about wine. But you never know…

    • nightfly says:

      Keep your eye on the sparrow! I defer to the more-authoritative account above. I’m especially chagrined to see how my memories of the order of the movies messed with my remembrance of the novels’ timeline. But I will second the appreciation of Auric Goldfinger, as well as mention the casting of Robert Shaw as the dead-eyed SMERSH assassin sent to kill Bond in “From Russia With Love,” a true sociopath.

      Speaking of which – I’m surprised to not find Shaw on your long sidebar list of actors. Could have sworn you did something about him, working out from his monologue in Jaws, but I can’t find it when I search.

  29. sheila says:

    Nightfly – Hmm, I seem to remember that as well, but now that I think of it I think I was just linking to someone else. “Peel Slowly” (a blog on my blogroll under “Movies”) is a huge Jaws fanatic – I think I might have linked to one of his many pieces about Jaws. There is a great anecdote in the Jaws Log (by Carl Gottlieb, one of the screenwriters) about Shaw’s handling of that monologue.

  30. sheila says:

    Charles – I have not read Lamb to the Slaughter and now I must.

    Thanks for all the information – I was riveted by it. I will check out Fleming’s stuff.

  31. Kent says:

    Sheila, just recently re-watched Robin and Marian (1976) with Connery and Audrey Hepburn reuniting in Sherwood Forest in middle age after the Crusades. It is Connery’s show, bald, gray, in soiled sackcloth… commanding the screen. It was Audrey Hepburn’s return to the screen after a long break, lucky for her. To be cast against Connery credibly brought their long ago romance immediately to life. Magic all the way through. A fine actor and a true movie star.

    The Fallaci book sounds wonderful, and lacking a copy I can only say “MORE MORE”!!

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