It's 60 years since Ian Fleming published his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. Mike VanBlaricum examines how six decades of cover artists have fulfilled their mission to identify 007 on book shelves around the world.
Sixty years of James Bond's Casino Royale - in pictures
Posted 12 April 2013 - 03:57 PM
Happy birthday, Casino Royale.
I wished it came out on April 11th (like FYEO), like my birthday! Heh!
Posted 14 April 2013 - 04:17 AM
thisisgloucestershire apr 13 2013
Echo reporter shaken and stirred as James Bond for the day
On the 60th anniversary of Ian Fleming's first James Bond book Casino Royale being released, Echo reporter Steven Impey tried to bring some 007 style to his life for a day. Things did not go to plan.
AS I sat in the passenger seat of a jet-black Aston Martin Vanquish, I couldn't help thinking: James Bond would not put up with this?
My day as 007 was not off to the best start.
He would certainly not tolerate being in the passenger seat, but that was the position I found myself in when I went to Aston Martin's Broughtons dealership off Tewkesbury Road, Cheltenham, in the hope of taking one of the iconic cars for a spin. "You're not insured because you're under 26," I was told at the dealership, so I had to settle for a guided tour of Gloucestershire instead.
The only solace I could draw from the experience was that there wasn't an ejector button hidden in the futuristic dashboard to spring me through the roof along Tewkesbury Road.
My driver, Aston Martin's sales manager, who I called H, told me: "It's not as in your face as the other sports cars can be. It's got the stealth and class that makes James Bond who he is."
The motor is so new, it wasn't even launched in time to feature in Daniel Craig's Skyfall. The film featured, instead, the classic Aston Martin DB5 – originally seen in Goldfinger – complete with machine guns under its headlights.
Ian Fleming, the brains behind Bond, avoided including such outlandish gadgets from Q-branch in his books.
As I was preparing myself to become Bond for the day, I researched the many Gloucestershire links to the 007 franchise to put myself in the mood – and there are many.
Former Bond girl Fiona Fullerton lives in Sapperton and, in 2002, Stroud-based special-effects company Snow Business transformed RAF Little Rissington airstrip into the icy landscape of Iceland for Pierce Brosnan's Die Another Day.
After my less than Bond-like tour of the county in the passenger seat, I headed to The Daffodil's mezzanine-level Circle Bar in Suffolk Parade to see if I could be more like 007 by having his iconic drink.
Fleming insisted that Bond drank three measures of Gordon's, one of Russian Vodka and half a measure of Kina Lillet. But one taste of the restaurant's shaken Vesper Martini – introduced in Craig's Casino Royale – and I won't be drinking anything else.
At the restaurant I met my contact from Cheltenham's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) to receive mission orders. She told me to head to a Casino Royale-style high-stake poker game at St Stephen's Sports and Social Club in Tivoli to face the club's star player Rich Cox.
Winnings reach £5,000 in the club's Texas Hold'em tournament and I needed the money to have any chance of continuing a Bond style life.
However, to look the part I first took the bus – that's right, Bond on public transport – in Regent Street to meet my tailor, G, at Horace Barton & Son.
He told me: "It's important that Bond looks his best. Over the years, the black tie has become Bond's iconic outfit."
He sized me up for the iconic dinner jacket – braces and cufflinks included – and I was all set. However, when I stepped outside I realised that, as I had no Aston Martin or, indeed, any car at all, there was no way of getting to the poker game on time. How very non-007. This pretty much summed up my dismal effort to be Bond for a day.
Voice of Russia apr 12 2013
60 years of James Bond
It is one of Hollywood's most successful franchises, but it all started sixty years today with a book.
That was when Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel Casino Royale first hit the shelves.
And, like many of Fleming’s 11 subsequent Bond books, it features Russia – but doesn’t give it much love.
James Chapman is a professor of film studies at the University of Leicester and author of the book ‘Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films’.
“Enemy number one in the books in the Soviet Union and it’s either through the deadly Soviet agency of death and destruction SMERSH – smert spionem – death to spies, which was a reference to a real wartime operation, although the way Fleming developed it in the books was a lot more fantastical,” he said.
“Or often it’s an overseas foreign agent who is working on behalf of this organisation. We see that in the early books in Casino Royale, Live and Let Die and Moonraker.”
But Professor Chapman says the Bond books can also be interpreted as a response to Soviet spying successes against Britain.
“The books are a kind of unofficial propaganda on the British cause to assert the strength and integrity of the British secret service at a time when it had suffered a number of spy scandals and the like,” he said.
However, by the end of the 1950s, Fleming felt that the tension of the Cold War was fading.
In the eighth Bond book, 1961’s Thunderball, he invented a new adversary for Bond in the form of the Special executive for counter-intelligence, terrorism, revenge and extortion – or SPECTRE, an international terror group.
“Even some of the novels that were Cold War novels – including Dr No and From Russia with Love – are rewritten as SPECTRE stories when they make them into films. One of the most memorable villains in the whole Bond corpus is Rosa Klebb in From Russia with Love,” said Professor Chapman.
“In the book she is head of operations for SMERSH but in the film it’s made clear early on that she has defected and is working for SPECTRE and this was seen as a conscious attempt to depoliticise the films to make them more globally acceptable. That’s one of the things that made Bond in the films a much more international phenomenon.”
Fleming died in 1964, but 23 ‘continuation’ novels have since been written by authors including Kingsley Amis.
The films also continued to be made and, as Cold War tensions rose in the 1980s, Soviet villains returned.
“In films like For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy Bond is once again fighting the old Soviet Threat,” he said.
“With the end of the Cold War we see the films respond to that. So when Bond came back in the 1990s with Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye the villain is Russian but he’s a nationalist in league with a renegade British agent. So the geopolitics start to get very complicated.”
Sam Klebanov is director general of the Russian company Cinema without borders.
He says the early Bond books and films had an allure in Russia because they were banned by the Soviet Union.
“It always had an aura of taboo pleasure or something interesting but totally banned and unavailable because, before pirate videos came through, no one even saw any Bond films. People only heard about them, terrible things like they were propaganda, anti-Soviet, they were demonising the Soviet Union,” he said.
Nowadays, the Bond films are shown on Russian TV, and the Soviet-era villains don’t cause offence.
“Of course it also helps that all the Bond films were made with a certain degree of humour so people don’t take it seriously. Ok, KGB guys are the villains – fine, cool, what’s the problem?” said Klebanov.
In fact, one Bond film – the Man with the Golden Gun – was actually screened in the Kremlin.
Professor Chapman again.
“Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were invited to the Kremlin and had a screening of The Man with the Golden Gun. There’s a reference in that film to Scaramanga the villain having been trained by the KGB and apparently someone in the Presidium turns to Broccoli and said: ‘Well we didn’t make a very good job of that, did we?’” he said.
Last month film studio MGM said it expects to release the next Bond film within three years.
Will it feature a Russian in a prominent role? That’s probably something to which the producers would never say never again.
Posted 14 April 2013 - 02:14 PM
Happy anniversary! Sixty years since the world got introduced to 007.
Posted 23 April 2013 - 10:03 AM
A brilliant life-span for the original and best spy thriller!