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Member Since 19 Sep 2003
Offline Last Active Jul 15 2016 07:02 PM

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In Topic: Why it’s time to kill off James Bond

12 July 2016 - 08:44 PM

My opinion is as good as yours Glidrose (in my opinion anyway).


Um... did anybody say otherwise? The author's point is that Fleming is unique in how many considerably more accomplished novelists have followed in his footsteps.


The author's point is to imply that Fleming was a hack who had proper novelists following in his wake.

Yes, well, peacocks tend to fare poorly in poultry shows. No matter, the much better writers/novelists were handicapped from the outset in that they were trying to write a Fleming pastiche. I can only image the results if Fleming were still alive and tried writing Birdsong based on Faulk's outline, or "Any Human Heart" based on Boyd's.


Which only proves that a thriller writer would be no more proficient at writing middlebrow realistic novels (which are really just another genre) than a middlebrow realistic novelist would be at writing thrillers. Should a sushi chef be downgraded because he can't make a good pizza?

If Dustin Hoffman is such a fantastic actor then why could he never be as good a James Bond as George Lazenby?


For the same reason that he would be miscast in other adventure/action leading man roles. It's also worth pointing out the actors widely regarded as the best Bonds--Connery and  Craig--happen to be pretty in other roles too.

Fleming did not write for the "A audience". He wrote for "warm-blooded, heterosexuals to read on trains." Yes, some very literary people read and enjoyed Fleming's novels. But not because it was "A level" fiction but because it was pulp with some literary flair.


The A-audience quote comes from Fleming's letter debating whether he should allow the Express to run comic strips. Undoubtedly some members of that audience had warm-blood and read thrillers on trains...

In Topic: Ian Fleming and "The Case of the Painfully Pulled Leg"

12 July 2016 - 06:58 PM

Thanks Dustin--you're right regarding Saville Row and the sadism charge, which is now quaint and laughable. Good point on Tanner as well. Interestingly, Caen's last column on Bond was a pan of Licence To Kill, and he was a more critical of Fleming as well. An excerpt:


Fleming, who died in 1964, was a prolific writer, but he couldn't turn out the Bond books fast enough to satisfy a growing crowd of enthusiasts who also could identify with everything bad about "double-0 seven," and there was plenty wrong with him. James--one of those Jameses you'd never even think of calling "Jim," or, heaven forbid, "Jimmy"--was sadistic, ultra-Tory, a male chauvinist of the worst
stripe, a just plain chauvinist (that comes with the territory, I guess) and a loose cannon. On the plus side, he was drawn by Fleming as debonair, dashing and devil-may-care, with an only fair sense of humor.
...Fleming, who once served in the British secret service, was no Graham Greene or Eric Ambler, but he delivered the bloody goods bloody well. The celebrated baccarat game between Bond and Le Chiffre in "Casino Royale" is a small masterpiece of sustained tension. "Dr. No" is a fanciful creation in an exotic setting, and "From Russia With Love" is as well-plotted as the title is original.


On a slightly related note, I am now in possession of most of Fleming's journalism and would like to share some of his book reviews with the board. If I started a thread titled something like "Ian Fleming on Crime and Spy Fiction," would you be able to make it a sticky?

In Topic: Who do you want for Bond 7?

03 June 2016 - 05:06 AM


Surely there's an actor out there who's theatrically trained, has acting chops and charisma, and who's only appeared in a few TV shows or films. Connery originally fit that profile, and it's still ideal.




Apart from the classically trained bit.


It's not too late to play a few classical roles! Connery was an impressive Hotspur (as seen in the DVD of "An Age of KIngs") and Dalton was Antony in "Antony and Cleopatra" (also on DVD). British actors tend to receive more versatile and effective training than their American counterparts, which is another reason why they're preferred as Bonds. Lazenby was an exception, being an Australian amateur, but he would have certainly benefited from training. 

In Topic: Who do you want for Bond 7?

02 June 2016 - 09:19 PM

I have to go with those who want an unknown, lesser-known, or off-the-radar actor for the role, someone who hasn't been associated with other franchises or defined in the eye of the public. None of the well-known actors mentioned in this thread strike me as right for the role. Surely there's an actor out there who's theatrically trained, has acting chops and charisma, and who's only appeared in a few TV shows or films. Connery originally fit that profile, and it's still ideal.

In Topic: Why it’s time to kill off James Bond

31 May 2016 - 07:52 PM

"It’s quite droll that, whereas great writers have often been imitated by lesser writers, Fleming is a rare if not unique case of a tawdry popular novelist who has been mimicked by much better writers."


A controversial statement, and one I agree with.


And yet the "much better writers" failed to produce Bond novels as good as Fleming's, perhaps because a middlebrow writer of "literary fiction" isn't necessarily "much better" at writing outlandish thrillers than a talented thriller writer. Different genres require different skills, and when it comes to thrillers, Fleming is a "much better" writer than Faulks or Boyd. The rest of Wheatcroft's article is pitched at a similar level of mindless disdain (far from being "tawdry", Fleming wrote for and initially was read by the "A audience"--not until Paul Johnson did he begin incurring serious critical snobbery).