A Novel Idea

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Daniel Craig as James Bond (what girl isn't?). However, I had never been particularly interested in the older 007 movies. After seeing Quantum of Solace, I had a conversation with a friend who hadn't seen it. She mentioned that she had heard the plot was weak because it was "the only Bond movie not based on a book." I was intrigued by this statement. I had seen and heard enough about the Bond movies to know how ridiculous and campy some of them are and figured there was no way the books could be that lame, so I decided it was time to read some Ian Fleming.

I checked out For Your Eyes Only on a whim when I was at the library, as it was the only Fleming novel on the shelf. I was embarrassed by the scantily clad woman on the cover, so I made sure to put it face down on the checkout pad. What I didn't realize until I starting reading was that this particular book is actually a collection of short stories. Several of the titles have movies named after them, such as "For Your Eyes Only," "From A View to a Kill," and "Quantum of Solace." I was surprised to see that Fleming attempted to make Bond sympathetic in several ways. Bond really isn't a heartless killing machine, but in few of the stories, he goes out of his way to not kill someone, which really turns out bad for him. He is still a ladies man, and I was a bit amused by his treatment of women. I believe at one point in "For Your Eyes Only," Bond tells a woman that she's trying to do "man's work."

My friend was right about one thing, the movie Quantum of Solace is not based on the "Quantum of Solace" short story at all. But she was wrong about it being the only Bond movie not based on a book—Dave tells me the Bond producers have long since run out of Fleming books to base the movies on, with the notable exception of Casino Royale, which I checked out next.

Since I have seen the movie Casino Royale (many, many times), I figured the novel should make an interesting comparison. Surprisingly, the movie does follow the novel relatively closely. Of course, Fleming wrote about evil Russians and SPECTRE, so the screenwriters changed the enemy to a more generic terrorist threat to apply to today's world. But I was surprised to find Bond playing cards against Le Chiffre as Mathis and Vesper watched, and that the torture scene was almost identical. The complex relationship between Bond and Vesper also played a critical role. There was even a man with an eye patch named Gettler (a detail in the movie that Dave didn't even notice until I pointed it out).

Since reading these and a few more, I have developed a new appreciation for the films. Spike TV had a Christmas Bondathon where they showed three Bond movies a day leading up to Christmas, so I decided to tune in. Also, Dave has been checking out several of the movies from the library in light of my newfound tolerance. I have now seen all or parts of Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, and Octopussy. Dave's only response to all this has been, "Thank you, Daniel Craig."

But Roger Moore is so disgusting that I could still change my mind.

1 comment:

Dave said...

One more time, thanks Daniel Craig, really. And how could I forget about you, Christian Bale.