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How Ian Fleming's book on gems was neglected


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#1 Qwerty

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 04:00 AM

Jeremy Duns offers readers a real treat in the Sunday Times...


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Jeremy Duns uncovers a lost screenplay based on Ian Fleming's The Diamond Smugglers


#2 Craig Arthur

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 04:13 AM

This is a really great find on Jeremy's part. I first read about "The Diamond Spy" in the mid 1980s but could not find out anything about it (the relevant issue of the Times was missing from my local library) and nobody I asked seemed to know about it. So finally Jeremy has solved the mystery. Well done.

#3 Mr. Blofeld

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 04:18 AM

I liked this article, as well; great job on this, Jeremy. B)

#4 coco1997

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 07:16 AM

I really wish we could read this script/treatment...

#5 Trident

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 11:51 AM

What a splendid find! Who'd have thought this, Fleming's non-fiction nearly becoming his first to be filmed? Amazing!


Very good job, Jeremy!!! B)

#6 Major Tallon

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 12:07 PM

What a wonderful job you've done, Jeremy! Not for the first time, we in the Bond fan community owe you our considerable thanks.

#7 spynovelfan

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 03:50 PM

Thanks, everyone. I've been working on this article, off and on, since late 2007, so am very pleased to finally see it in print.

#8 Jim

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 05:07 PM

A very fine article, many thanks for that! Excellent.

#9 Revelator

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 08:19 PM

A real coup, and a terrific piece of journalism! I never even knew this script existed, and you've made it sound like a must-read. (What a pity that there isn't an online database of unfilmed scripts!) You already have my great admiration, but I will worship you as a God if you ever come across the holy grail of all Bondian screenplays--Ian Fleming's script for Moonraker, which is presumably lost somewhere in the Rank archives, if it even still exists.

#10 spynovelfan

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 08:51 PM

Thanks very much, both of you. And yes, Revelator, I think Jon Cleary's script is a cracker. Very different from Bond in some ways, but it has great baroque villains, some nice wry humour, two brutal hand-to-hand fights, and a climactic car chase that takes place through the middle an elephant stampede. In all, it's a taut, gritty, well-structured spy thriller that is very evocative of Johannesburg and the Skeleton Coast – you can almost feel the dust and the dirt of this place that ‘breeds seals, jackals and madmen’, as one character describes it - while effectively incorporating many incidents and ideas from Fleming's book (no mean feat). I think it could have made a very good film.

The Sunday Times piece is a condensed version of a much longer article I've written, which goes into more detail about the precise timeline of the project, the contents of the script, and the background of the book. John Collard's family very kindly gave me access to a huge amount of material, including correspondence, IDSO agents' reports, and the complete manuscript of his book. It's fascinating to see Fleming's annotations on some of this, and to see what he kept, what he cut, and what he adapted. I hope I can publish that article shortly.

Right. I'm off to find Fleming's Moonraker script. B)

#11 Trident

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Posted 08 March 2010 - 09:06 PM

Right. I'm off to find Fleming's Moonraker script. B)



We all keep our fingers crossed for you! :tdown:

#12 Bill

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 12:02 AM

Great article!

Now if I read it correctly, it seems as if James Bond himself is a character in The Diamond Smugglers. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me!

This brings up two very interesting points (at least to me):

1. Although the film rights seem to have gone to others, and no mention is made of EON or UA or MGM or even Sony in the article, I seem to recall that when Cubby and Harry Saltzman bought the rights to the Bond books way back when, it meant ALL of the books (except CR and we can never forget that Thunderball was problematic) with first refusal options on non Fleming Bond books (but that might have come later) and the right to make Bond films not based on Fleming titles. I don't think there is any doubt that EON has the rights to make 007 in New York from Thrilling Cities into a film if they ever choose to do so. But, does that mean, that although it was non-fiction, do they also have the rights to make the entire Thrilling Cities into a film? (it would never happen, but just food for thought--who knows, they could always do a documentary style mini-series for a cable network based on it!) So, given that The Diamond Smugglers, although based on fact, appears to feature Bond somewhere in the book (I am not talking about the 007 reference in the article re: the screenplay, but rather the beginning of the article) does EON theoretically have the rights to make Bond 23 The Diamond Smugglers? Or, an even more compelling thought, do whoever own the film rights to The Diamond Smugglers, even IFP--presuming the rights reverted back to them at one point--now have the right to make an independent production--even a Bond film--based on whatever Bond references are in the book, or does EON/MGM/UA/Sony have the film rights, even if Bond may be a minor character, at best? (Given the current legal wranglings for MGM, I know this is a pure hypothetical!)

2. Has anyone actually read Fleming's The Diamond Smugglers novel? Does Bond feature at all, and for that matter, how about M, Tanner, Boothroyd, Moneypenny or any of the other characters from the Bond novels? And, whether they do or not, is it worth picking up? I followed the link from the article and it appears as if IFP have it for around $27 US plus shipping--not an exorbitant price.

Again, if I am wrong about any of my presumptions here, please feel free to correct me. This is an area of Fleming/Bond history of which I am not greatly aware!

Thanks.

Bill

#13 spynovelfan

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 12:18 AM

Great article!


Thanks, Bill - glad you enjoyed it.

Now if I read it correctly, it seems as if James Bond himself is a character in The Diamond Smugglers. If I am wrong, please feel free to correct me!


No, James Bond is not a character in The Diamond Smugglers. In the book, the character is called John Blaize. In Jon Cleary's screenplay, he is called Roy O'Brien. In both, he is a secret agent investigating diamond-smuggling in South Africa and what is now Namibia, and while he's not a milion miles from Bond, he's not Bond. In the summer of 1965, the producer, George Willoughby, considered changing the name back to John Blaize and then John Blaine (because of a risk of confusion with Modesty Blaise, which was then being filmed).

I have no idea of the current rights situation regarding The Diamond Smugglers, sorry.

Has anyone actually read Fleming's The Diamond Smugglers novel? Does Bond feature at all, and for that matter, how about M, Tanner, Boothroyd, Moneypenny or any of the other characters from the Bond novels?


No, none of these feature. Fleming's book is non-fiction, about the real-life investigations of the International Diamond Security Organisation in Africa. The screenplay is a thriller that uses several elements from the book. For example, Fleming wrote about the security measures in one of the diamond mines; in Jon Cleary's screenplay, there is a scene in which the protagonist had to go through those same measures. In the book, Fleming wrote about how the Chinese are encroaching into the diamond-smuggling world; in the screenplay, the Chinese are the big villains the agent has to stop, so they don't use diamonds to fund global Communism. In the book, Fleming wrote about a failed attempt to fly a parcel of stolen diamonds out from a beach on the Skeleton Coast; this was the inspiration for the pretitles scene. And so on. Cleary took locations, incidents, technical information, tone and a lot of other elements and ideas from the book and wove a thriller plot around them (very skilfully, to my mind).

And, whether they do or not, is it worth picking up?


I think so, yes - it's not Fleming's best book, by any means, but if you're a Fleming fan I think it's indispensable.

Glad you liked the article!

#14 David Schofield

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 02:52 PM

Brilliant work, Spy, and to get it inside the Sunday Times rather than sadly hidden away in a specıalıst Bond-fan publication. Almost made me spill my cuppa on Sunday morning, opening the Culture section...

I note as well - 'cos I though it would be interesting to monitor - than IFP have sold nearly 25% of their remaining stock of "The Diamond Smugglers" from their website since my cuppa spilling/magazine opening moment on Sunday...

Now, Jeremy, just let 'em publish your KKBB article on "Per Fine Ounce" in the national press and give IFP the nod that releasing THAT really would be a huge seller for their website. B)

#15 spynovelfan

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 03:36 PM

Brilliant work, Spy, and to get it inside the Sunday Times rather than sadly hidden away in a specıalıst Bond-fan publication. Almost made me spill my cuppa on Sunday morning, opening the Culture section...

I note as well - 'cos I though it would be interesting to monitor - than IFP have sold nearly 25% of their remaining stock of "The Diamond Smugglers" from their website since my cuppa spilling/magazine opening moment on Sunday...

Now, Jeremy, just let 'em publish your KKBB article on "Per Fine Ounce" in the national press and give IFP the nod that releasing THAT really would be a huge seller for their website. B)


Thanks very much, David - I'm delighted you appreciated it. I'm not sure anyone would be interested in running an article about the discovery of a few pages of a lost Bond novel in 2005 anymore - it's not exactly breaking news!

#16 David Schofield

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 03:41 PM

Brilliant work, Spy, and to get it inside the Sunday Times rather than sadly hidden away in a specıalıst Bond-fan publication. Almost made me spill my cuppa on Sunday morning, opening the Culture section...

I note as well - 'cos I though it would be interesting to monitor - than IFP have sold nearly 25% of their remaining stock of "The Diamond Smugglers" from their website since my cuppa spilling/magazine opening moment on Sunday...

Now, Jeremy, just let 'em publish your KKBB article on "Per Fine Ounce" in the national press and give IFP the nod that releasing THAT really would be a huge seller for their website. :tdown:


Thanks very much, David - I'm delighted you appreciated it. I'm not sure anyone would be interested in running an article about the discovery of a few pages of a lost Bond novel in 2005 anymore - it's not exactly breaking news!


Well, I've always hoped the background story in your article might shame IFP into publishing PFO (if it exists, of course!)if it got into the mainstream press.

Particularly if it was evidenced that your articles increased their on-line sales. B)

#17 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 05:45 PM

What a wonderful article, and the research that must have gone into it must have been staggering. And to get a copy of the script after all the hard work. That must have been very exciting. B)

#18 spynovelfan

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 07:11 PM

Thanks, DAN LIGHTER. Yes, it was very exciting to hold the script in my hands. Especially so because it had taken me a long time to get to that point, as I'd been driving several archivists insane trying to find Kingsley Amis' outline, to no avail, and had had several other wrong turns and dead ends. It was wonderful to read it, if somewhat surreal - I felt a bit like I was entering a time machine into 1964.

#19 DAN LIGHTER

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 07:56 PM

Did you manage to tell Jon Cleary you had been successful in getting a copy of the script? He must have been chuffed. What an important part of Fleming history you have unearthed there!

#20 stromberg

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 08:38 PM

Wow. Just Wow.

Here we are, every day babbling around on how much we all know on Bond and Fleming, and this guy manages to uncover a story of which the entire fan community didn't even have a clue.

Congrats on and many thanks for this wonderful article, Jeremy.

#21 spynovelfan

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Posted 09 March 2010 - 09:41 PM

Did you manage to tell Jon Cleary you had been successful in getting a copy of the script? He must have been chuffed. What an important part of Fleming history you have unearthed there!


Thanks. Yes, I had to get Jon Cleary's written permission to see his screenplay - he had simply forgotten that he had deposited it with the rest of his papers! He was a charming and witty man to talk to, and it was an honour to do so: he is now one of the world's most successful thriller-writers, having sold over eight million copies of his books. He won the Edgar in 1975 for Peter's Pence, and his latest, Morning's Gone, was published by Harper Collins in 2007 - that's his 51st novel. The very next thing he wrote after The Diamond Smugglers screenplay was the novel The High Commissioner, which introduced the character of Scobie Malone. It was made into a film in 1968, released under that title in the US and Nobody Runs Forever in the UK, with Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer. Some of it was shot at Pinewood; Rank co-produced and co-distributed.

Congrats on and many thanks for this wonderful article, Jeremy.


Thank you, Heiko - much appreciated.

#22 Bill

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Posted 10 March 2010 - 12:00 AM

Thanks again, spynovelfan!

Once again, forgive my mistake re: Bond as a character in the book.

I think I will order the book from IFP ASAP!

Bill

#23 spynovelfan

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Posted 13 March 2010 - 08:52 PM

Thanks, SILHOUETTE MAN. Yes, I was also fascinated that Kingsley Amis was involved, and that letter to Theo Richmond was the starting point for my research. I spent a lot of time looking for his outline, with help from his biographer Zachary Leader and several others, but it didn't seem to be anywhere in his papers (and there was a lot of unpublished material there). Anthony Dawson also apparently wrote a complete draft, which I didn't find, despite help from his son. Bill Canaway, one of the co-writers of The IPCRESS File, also worked on a script. There were others, too. Willoughby was certainly persistent, but in the end, it wasn't to be.

#24 George88

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Posted 14 March 2010 - 09:37 AM

Fascinating, and a real "news" find. Never heard of this before, although I have read the book!

Briliant, thanks.




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