On James Bond

Can the Cinematic Bond Ever Be the Literary Bond?

By Raymond Benson

James Bond is not a nice guy. He’s often irritable and broods a great deal about his life and profession. Bond drinks too much, smokes too much, gambles too much, and treats women cold-heartedly and ruthlessly. He keeps to himself most of the time but overly indulges in the sensory pleasures that food, drink, tobacco, and sex give him because he knows that on any given day he may no longer be alive. Bond is good looking, but in a cold, cruel way, and he has a scar down his right cheek. He has no taste in art, music, theater, or film. Other than newspapers, whatever he reads is usually for his work– manuals on self-defense and the like–although he’s been known to pick up an old Eric Ambler thriller for plane trips. He’s painfully set in his ways, looks at the world with cynicism, has relatively no sense of humor, and can claim very few friends. Not the image of James Bond you usually imagine? Unless you’ve read the original Ian Fleming novels then that’s most likely the case, for this is a fairly accurate description of the character as depicted in the books.

It’s no wonder that Ian Fleming found it very difficult for his literary creation to make the transition from the page to the silver screen. For nearly ten years, the author was concerned that James Bond might not become a film commodity at all.

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