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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Ian Fleming and the Creation of James Bond

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Ian Fleming and the Creation of James Bond



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1995 James Bond commemorative postage stamps

James Bond remains one of the most famous fictional characters in the world, but the man – and the story – behind his creation is no less remarkable or outrageous.

A suave secret agent and fictional character turned household name and multi-billion dollar franchise: we all know James Bond. But what about the man behind him? In this episode, hear about the people and places that inspired Ian Fleming as he wrote the stories of 007. Professor Klaus Dodds researches geopolitics and security, ice studies and the international governance of the Antarctic and the Arctic at Royal Holloway, but he is also an expert on Fleming and Bond. Listen as he discusses the influence of Fleming’s childhood, of his experiences during the Second World War and of his family's exploits.

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1. Ian Fleming grew up in the shadow of his brother

Ian was the second of four sons: his older brother Peter was an overachiever, having moved seamlessly from Eton to Oxford (where he graduated with a first class degree in English) before moving on to exploration in Brazil and Asia and serving with distinction in the Second World War – he received an OBE in the 1945 King’s Birthday Honours.

Ian, on the other hand, attended Eton but struggled academically, instead excelling at athletics, and subsequently enrolled at Sandhurst. He did not make it through a year there, leaving after he contracted gonorrhoea.

2. Working as a journalist proved a formative experience

After failing Foreign Office entry examinations – but becoming fluent in French and German in the process – Fleming joined Reuters, where he worked as a journalist for four years. Not only did this help his writing skills, but he spent time covering stories of Soviet spies and intelligence, which would come in handy later.

3. He managed to land a job in Naval Intelligence

Despite having no background in either the military or intelligence, Fleming was given a job in Naval Intelligence by Admiral John Godfrey – a character who later would inspire Bond’s boss, M.

Vice Admiral John Godfrey – taken during the Second World War. Godfrey was said to be the inspiration for M.

Fleming’s ability to speak multiple languages and his creative flair made him the perfect candidate for an unusual job: coming up with outlandish schemes in the hope of pulling one off and reaping huge rewards. Unsurprisingly, he thrived, dreaming up complicated schemes full of intrigue and drama, including faking a plane crash to lure a German submarine above water so that the British could capture an Enigma machine.

4. Fleming had long wanted to write a spy novel

It was no secret amongst Fleming’s friends that he wanted to write a spy novel, and his experiences in the Second World War provided plenty of inspiration. In 1952, he began to work on his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, completing the first draft in just over a month.

The name James Bond was taken from a famous Caribbean ornithologist of the same name: Fleming described it as the ‘the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find’ – perfect for the anonymous spy who found himself embroiled in exotic adventures and outrageous plots.

Odette Sansom, was the most highly decorated woman, and the most decorated spy of any gender during World War II. She was awarded both the George Cross and was appointed a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. Her wartime exploits and later imprisonment by the Nazis made her one of the most celebrated members of the Special Operations Executive, the British sabotage and espionage organisation.

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5. The infamous 007 moniker came later

Bond’s codename, 007, is believed to have had a variety of sources. John Dee – Queen Elizabeth I’s astronomer, and possible spy – signed his letters and reports to the queen with the numbers 007, which marked them as personal correspondence rather than state business, meaning they wouldn’t be read by officials or advisors.

The Zimmermann Telegraph – a major breakthrough for British intelligence during the First World War which helped bring America into the fight – was coded 0075. ’00’ was the grade for highly classified material.

6. James Bond and Ian Fleming aren’t as different as you might think

Many of the more personal elements of Bond’s character were firmly based in Fleming’s own preferences and tastes, including his love of golfing, gambling, smoking and penchant for scrambled eggs. Fleming himself had a string of lovers and relationships, many of whom found themselves immortalised in his novels as Bond’s lovers.

7. Although several other men heavily influenced the development of Bond’s character

Bond and Fleming were definitely not the same person. Fleming used elements of many of the interesting individuals in the world of espionage and intelligence that he had met over the years, including aspects of his golden older brother, Peter.

More recently, others have also pointed to Wing Commander Forest “Tommy” Yeo-Thomas as a key inspiration. Yeo-Thomas, nicknamed ‘White Rabbit’, was a secret agent who parachuted into France multiple times, was tortured by the Gestapo and escaped from Buchenwald concentration camp.

Fleming had written briefs about Yeo-Thomas’ exploits, and his daring missions are believed to have helped shape those completed by James Bond in fiction.

American troops at Buchenwald following its liberation, April/May 1945.

8. Bond’s own wartime career was relatively obscure

Despite Fleming’s wartime experiences and influences, he kept James Bond’s fictional wartime backstory relatively obscure – perhaps afraid of any repercussions if his writing bore too much resemblance to his own classified work on operations. However, like Fleming, Bond worked for the Royal Navy, and later the Admiralty.

9. Fleming used real world events to shape Bond’s adventures

Whilst James Bond may have been a fictional character, he inhabited a very real world. The decline of the British Empire – and thus her prestige – featured as a recurring theme, as did subtle racial biases, and aspects of Cold War paranoia.

Whilst events were not always specifically referenced or overtly named, they were clearly present and lightly veiled.

10. Bond has long outlived Fleming

Ian Fleming died prematurely, aged 56. Having spent his life drinking and smoking heavily, he suffered multiple heart attacks in a small space of time, eventually dying in August 1964.

The final two James Bond novels, The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and the Living Daylights were published posthumously, in 1965 and 1966 respectively. For many, they were something of an anti climax, a sad footnote in Bond’s history. Neither book had been thoroughly edited by Fleming yet, and readers felt they did not live up to the normal high standard – they were given ‘polite but sad reviews’.

Since the 1960s, James Bond – and Ian Fleming – have gone on to become hugely famous in their own right, regularly topping lists for the most famous Britons. Bond in particular continues to be an enduring cultural icon around the world.

Dan Snow pays a visit to the Churchill War Rooms, walking in the footsteps of the great man and his many colleagues during the Second World War.

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James Bond and Palácio Estoril Hotel

The sixth film of the James Bond saga, was largely shot in Portugal.

The cast stayed at the Hotel Palácio Estoril, in the course of 1968, and the Hotel was an exceptional scenario of that movie that had, as protagonists, the Australian actor, George Lazenby &ndash the second agent of James Bond saga, after Sean Connery &ndash and the English actress, Diana Rigg.

The exterior of the Hotel, the lobby, the pool and the rooms&rsquo view, are an integral part of many of the scenes of the film that was released in 1969. At the time, the pool had been recently built.

Other locations in Portugal, as the Guincho Beach, Lisbon and the Arrábida Mountain, were selected for some of the scenarios of that feature film.

In the movie, one can see the entrance of the Hotel &ndash both the exterior facade and the lobby &ndash which remains without any major changes, and the pool, framed in the garden and very recently upgraded, although with the same design.

José Diogo, still today one of the Heads of the Concierge Desk, did participate in the film when he was 18 years old. You can see him in a few scenes of the movie, handing the room key to James Bond agent.

The English writer, Ian Fleming, also a journalist and a British Naval Intelligence Officer, is the author of the James Bond character, created in his first book, &ldquoCasino Royale&rdquo(1953), inspired by the spies, also Estoril Palácio Hotel guests, where Fleming was staying at the time of the World War II. The James Bond film series debuted in 1962, with &ldquoDr. No&rdquo.

Watch an online documentary by The BBC on how James Bond was born in Estoril.


Ian Fleming and Playboy

James Bond and Playboy magazine have had a long history together. It started in 1960 when the magazine negotiated rights to first publish Ian Fleming's new 007 short story 'The Hildebrand Rarity' in its March 1960 issue. Illustrated by Allan Phillips, for many Americans it was their first introduction to James Bond. The story would be published a month later in the short story collection 'For Your Eyes Only' in April 1960. Coincidentally, the issue also featured a pictorial of Jill St. John, who would go on to become play Tiffany Case in 1971's 'Diamonds Are Forever'.

It was not for another three years in April 1963, when the first James Bond film 'Dr. No' was about to open in America, did Playboy return to Ian Fleming's creation. In the meantime, Bond on the page had become popularized by President John F. Kennedy. When the hardback first edition of 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' went on sale in the UK, Playboy serialized the novel for American audiences over the April, May and June 1963 issues. The novel was later published by New American Library in August that year.


Playboy illustration for The Property of a Lady

As Bond fever was ramping up, 1964 saw five issues contain Ian Fleming content. The January issue published the short story 'The Property of a Lady,' which Fleming had written in 1963 as a commission by Sotheby's (it was later released in the collection 'Octopussy and The Living Daylights' in 1966). Fleming's penultimate full-length novel, 'You Only Live Twice', was syndicated over three issues in April, May, and June 1964, and the author was paid $35,000 for the rights. Fleming died in August. Playboy ended the year with an in-depth interview with Fleming published posthumously in their December issue.


Playboy illustration for You Only Live Twice

1965 saw the syndication of Fleming's final novel 'The Man With The Golden Gun' over its April, May, June, and July issues. It was published in the US in hardback a month later. With the literary adventures seemingly at an end and the cinematic fan base for 007 reaching epic proportions, Playboy switched their focus to Bond on the silver screen for its November 1965 issue.


Playboy illustration for The Man With The Golden Gun

Playboy's publication of Ian Fleming writing came to a close in 1966 with the syndication of his final short story 'Octopussy' in the March and April issues. Fleming had written the short story in 1962 and had been previously serialized by the Daily Express in the UK in October 1965.

All Playboy Issues With Ian Fleming Content

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James Bond Retrospective: On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Following the excesses of You Only Live Twice, the decision was made to take Bond back to his roots and make a faithful adaptation of Fleming’s original story with less reliance on gadgets and an emphasis on the love story at the heart of the novel.

To mark the 50th Anniversary of one of the most successful movie franchises of all time and as James Bond prepares for his 23rd official outing in Skyfall later this year, I have been tasked with taking a retrospective look at the films that turned author Ian Fleming€™s creation into one of the most recognised and iconic characters in film history. The sixth film in the series was to be inspired by Fleming€™s 11th novel, On Her Majesty€™s Secret Service (OHMSS). Following the excesses of You Only Live Twice, the decision was made to take Bond back to his roots and make a faithful adaptation of Fleming€™s original story with less reliance on gadgets and an emphasis on the love story at the heart of the novel. Peter Hunt, who had already made his mark on the series by serving as editor for the previous films, was invited to take the reins and step up to the director€™s chair bringing with him many of the long serving Bond alumni and a number of crew members from another EON production, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. After Sean Connery had announced his retirement from the lead role during the making of You Only Live Twice, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were left looking for a new Bond. With the Bond phenomenon in full swing they were reluctant to make any radical changes to the role so the search began to find someone who could pass as an acceptable replacement for Connery. The producers€™ first choice was 24 year old Welsh actor Timothy Dalton, however he felt he was too young to take on the role and declined. A number of actors were considered including John Richardson who had starred in One Million Years B.C. and Anthony Rogers who had appeared in a number of early episodes of Dr. Who but it was after seeing a commercial for Fry€™s Chocolate Cream that their attention was drawn to Australian male model, George Lazenby. James Bond To prepare for the audition, Lazenby visited Sean Connery€™s Saville Row tailor where he procured an unworn suit belonging to Connery before going to the previous Bond€™s barber at the Dorchester Hotel to give him the right look for the role. Despite the fact that Lazenby had no acting experience the producers felt that he possessed the right combination of style and brawn for the role with the added benefit that as an unknown, the audience would have no preconceptions. Lazenby certainly looks the part during a stylish opening that slowly reveals the actor through a series of close-ups ending with the immortal lines €œMy name€™s Bond, James Bond€, but much like Connery€™s debut he is very much finding his feet in the role. He has the twinkle in his eye that was missing from Connery€™s last outing and the one-liners and quips generally hit the mark even if they are on the cheesy side. The one thing he does lack however is the charisma and likeability required for the role but I€™m sure given more opportunity to grow into the role I think he would have developed in to the part and made it his own after three or four films. One area where he does excel is in convincing that Bond could actually fall in love and get married. This marks a complete change in character but it really works thanks to Lazenby€™s underplaying of the situation. Where Connery was all about the quantity when it came to the women, Lazenby, the odd indiscretion aside while working undercover, proves that Bond could become a one woman man. Pre-Credits & Theme Song The pre-credits scene is a great introduction to the two main characters. Bond, driving along a coastal road in his new Aston Martin DBS is overtaken by a redheaded woman driving a Mercury Cougar towards the nearby beach. The woman heads into the surf in an apparent suicide attempt only to be pulled from the waters by Bond. A few moments later Bond is attacked by a number of men trying to kill him. After taking out the hit men the mysterious woman makes a swift exit speeding off in her car leaving Bond on the beach. The scene is beautifully shot with a series of close-ups before revealing the key players. The fight scene at the waters edge suffers from the same under-cranked speeded up footage that marred some of the action sequences in Thunderball however the effect works better here. The introduction to Tracy€™s character reveals a deeply troubled, vulnerable woman setting up the love story that is to follow. Lazenby proves his worth in the lead role immediately with a cocky confidence that quickly defines his approach to the part.

Classic Line

James Bond: This never happened to the other fella.

The opening titles, once again designed by Maurice Binder feature scenes from the previous films projected into the silhouetted women of the credit sequence. By recalling Bond€™s previous adventures it invokes a familiar feel to the film making the statement that the Bond might have changed but it is still business as usual. Composer John Barry€™s score for OHMSS is without a doubt one of his best and the opening title music features a really strong theme that is recalled throughout the film particularly in the action scenes. Unusually the theme music is an instrumental piece of music recalling Connery€™s debut in Dr. No however the use of Louis Armstrong€™s We Have All The Time In The World as a the film€™s love theme is also extremely effective and used throughout Barry€™s score. The Movie After rescuing Tracy di Vicenzo, daughter of Marc-Ange Draco head of a crime syndicate, British secret service agent James Bond reaches an agreement with Draco to take care of Tracy in return for information on the whereabouts of the head of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. As Bond romances Tracy he discovers Blofeld has established a clinical research institute in the mountaintop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. Posing as genealogist Sir Hillary Bray, Bond visits the institute and uncovers Blofeld€™s plot to brainwash the Angels of Death, twelve women from different countries in a bid to distribute bacterial warfare agents around the globe. For the first hour, this film is unlike any other Bond film bringing a whole new dimension to the character. It is quite unexpected that Bond would ever appear in a romantic montage featuring horse riding and shopping to the strains of Louis Armstrong€™s We Have All The Time In The World, however it all somehow works. While not quite reinventing the character we do see a number of aspects of his personal life that have until now remained secret. There is a nice scene in Bond€™s office as he goes through some of his personal belongings including gadgets from previous films highlighted by a few brief bars of the score from each film and the whole idea that Bond could fall in love and settle down was hinted at in the first two films with his relationship with Sylvia Trench. While the first half of the film is mostly devoted to the love story it does still find time for some espionage along the way. A great scene which sees Bond slip into a Swiss law office to obtain information from a locked safe is an exercise in pure tension expertly edited to wring every ounce of drama from the situation. Taking place during the middle of the day Bond has to rely on a huge safe cracking gadget that has to be delivered by crane to the office. The clock is literally ticking as the machine slowly deciphers the code for the safe with the constant threat of discovery as people come and go from the offices however instead fretting Bond chooses to coolly read a copy of Playboy as he waits for the safe to open. The second half of the film cannot be accused of lacking in the action stakes, it is pretty much all action from the moment Bond escapes Piz Gloria on skis as the film becomes one long pursuit. The skiing sequences in the film are brilliantly shot by expert skier and action cameraman Willy Bogner Jr. The former Olympic skier was able to ski to such a high standard that he could ski backwards down the mountains while holding a bulky film camera capturing the action up close and conveying a real sense of speed. The scenes were further enhanced by aerial photographer Johnny Jordan, who had shot the Little Nellie scenes in You Only Live Twice. Filming the action while suspended in a parachute harness below a helicopter, Jordan was able to shoot smooth sweeping footage of the mountains providing superb wide shots of the action.

Classic Line

(One of Blofeld€™s men chasing Bond skis into a snow blower turning the snow red.)

James Bond: He had a lot of guts.

OHMSS also features a particularly memorable car chase sequence where Tracy and Bond in a red Mercury Cougar are pursued by Blofeld€™s henchmen in a Mercedes Benz. Beginning in the narrow, snow covered streets of a small Swiss town, as the chase escalates they become involved in a frantically paced stock car race on ice which sees both cars being assaulted from all sides not just by each other but by the other cars in the race. The whole scene is really well shot placing the camera right in the heart of the action and much of the driving was done by the actors themselves. Making his debut Bond film, second unit director John Glen more than proves his ability to construct standout set pieces and it is no surprise he would go on to become a major contributor to the series as it developed going on to direct a number of future Bond films. The climax of the film features an assault on Piz Gloria, with agents dropping onto the building from helicopters for a large scale gun battle with the film clearly providing inspiration for the climactic segment of Christopher Nolan€™s Inception. The battle leads into another spectacular skiing sequence culminating in a thrilling chase scene between Bond and Blofeld travelling at high speed in a couple of bobsleds. This set piece features some of the best stunt work of the series so far and is a fitting close to the film€™s action. The final fifteen minutes of the film are what set OHMSS apart from all other Bond films. After defeating Blofeld, Bond and Tracy return to Portugal to marry in a lavish ceremony attended by M, Q and Miss Moneypenny. As the newlyweds leave the wedding party to begin their honeymoon Bond stops the car on a coastal road to remove the flowers from the roof. At that same moment a familiar black Mercedes Benz pulls alongside to reveal Blofeld as the driver and Irma Bunt in the rear seat with a machine gun. As she peppers Bond€™s car with bullets the car speeds off into the distance. When Bond returns to the car interior it is revealed that Tracy has been killed. The power of this scene is down to a combination of Hunt€™s directorial style and Lazenby€™s handling of the role. Hunt made Lazenby repeatedly rehearse the scene from 8 o€™clock in the morning to 5 o€™clock in the afternoon when the scene was eventually shot with Lazenby drained and exhausted. It is a rare thing to see Bond broken but Lazenby makes the scene all the more convincing in probably his strongest scene of the whole movie. The veneer of cool is stripped away and we see Bond as a mortal man with an ordinary heart and soul. Originally the scene was supposed to be split into two with the film ending at the close of the wedding as Bond and Tracy drive away then the next film would begin withTracy€™s death as the opening pre-credit scene. It is an extremely brave ending to the film and I imagine closing the film on such a downer must have left audiences speechless at the time of release.

Classic Line

(Tracy has just been shot and killed)

James Bond: It€™s all right. It€™s quite all right, really. She€™s having a rest. We€™ll be going soon. There€™s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.

OHMSS is a Bond film like no other. It greatly develops the story of the world€™s most famous spy and shows sides of the character that had never been seen before or since. While Lazenby makes for a decent Bond, he never quite matches Connery at his peak and one can only wonder how much greater the film would have been had Connery not become disillusioned with the role. The Bond Villain Initially it had been expected that Donald Pleasance would return as Blofeld after he escaped the destruction of his volcano lair at the end of You Only Live Twice but for OHMSS, Blofeld was to be a much more physical role than before so the decision was made to recast. Broccoli€™s first choice for the part was the famously bald actor Telly Savalas who had made a lasting impression as the detestable Archer Maggott in The Dirty Dozen. Savalas brings a much needed gravitas to the role that was sadly lacking in Pleasance€™s portrayal. He is a much more suitable opponent for Bond matching him not just in size but in intellect as well. Savalas seems to be relishing the bad guy role giving the impression he poses a much larger threat than before even if his world domination plan is on a smaller scale to one posed in You Only Live Twice. Blofeld€™s main henchman in OHMSS is clearly influenced by From Russia With Love€™s knife footed Rosa Klebb. Irma Bunt, played by German actress Ilse Steppat, follows the standard set by the more well known henchmen in the series. While Tracy€™s death is often attributed to Blofeld it is in fact Bunt who fires the fatal bullet. The role proved to be Steppat€™s first and last English speaking part, she sadly died four days after the premiere of the film. The Bond Girl Following the successful casting of Honor Blackman in Goldfinger, the producers once again looked to the popular cult TV series The Avengers for their leading lady. Diana Rigg, who had played Emma Peel opposite Patrick McNee from 1965 to 1968, was chosen for the role after initial plans to hire Brigitte Bardot fell through when she signed to play opposite Sean Connery in Shalako. During filming, a number of press reported that the relationship between Rigg and Lazenby was far removed from their onscreen pairing going so far as to suggest that Rigg would eat garlic before having to kiss Lazenby. Whether these reports were true is unclear but the relationship in the film shows no signs of any obvious animosity towards each other. The idea that this is the woman Bond would want to spend the rest of his life with is perfectly believable and as a result makes the conclusion all the more shattering.

Classic Line

(On Bond€™s wedding day)

Q: Look, James, I know that we haven€™t always seen€ well, anyway, don€™t forget, if there€™s anything you ever need€

James Bond: Thank you, Q, but this time I€™ve got the gadgets and I know how to use them.

During Bond€™s stay ay Piz Gloria he is briefly involved with one of Blofeld€™s Angels of Death, Ruby Bartlett played by Angela Scoular. Scoular had previously appeared in the unofficial spoof Bond film Casino Royale in 1967 opposite David Niven. In OHMSS, despite her role being a purely expositional part her bubbly personality shines through giving the character a fun edge outshining the other Angels including a pre-fame Joanna Lumley in an early role. James Bond Will Return€.. OHMSS was the first film since Goldfinger not to take over $100 million at the worldwide box-office however over $87 million from a budget of $7 million was still a pretty respectable haul. The producers were suitably impressed with Lazenby€™s performance that he was offered a seven picture deal which he initially accepted but even before the film was released he went on record saying that he Bond€™s days were numbered in an age when films such as Easy Rider and The Graduate were beginning to emerge. Despite having been paid an advance for the next film Diamonds Are Forever, Lazenby made the decision that he would not be returning to the role leaving the producers once again looking for a replacement but was the sparkle beginning to fade and were the public unwilling to accept anyone but Connery in the lead role. € To catch up on previous installments of the James Bond Retrospective click below: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice

James Bond on Her Majesty's Secret Service

Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story" and the novel "All Summer Long." He appears on "CNN Newsroom" Sundays during the 5 p.m. ET hour.

(CNN) -- During the Olympic Games in London, which will end with Sunday's closing ceremony, there have been many memorable moments:

The triumph of Michael Phelps.

The dazzling talent of Gabby Douglas.

The countless displays of lustrous skills honed by the world's finest young athletes over years of arduous practice.

But one of the most lasting memories may be the one provided by an 86-year-old woman who was not exactly an obscure footnote to history when the Games began.

Queen Elizabeth II, in her now-famous James Bond scene, was a highlight, if not the highlight, of the opening ceremony. Her deadpan grace was something that many an accomplished actor would envy.

With four words, delivered to an enormous global audience, she, with an implied smiling wink, humanized herself and embodied winning warmth. The filmed scene will always be a hallmark of the 2012 Olympics (the stunt double jumping out of the helicopter -- who would have imagined that she would have approved it?).

These vastly entertaining television Olympics really began with those four words from her:

As the queen turned from her writing desk to greet James Bond, played by the current Bond actor Daniel Craig, her calm tone of voice reminded me of the lovely scene in the movie "The Queen," in which Helen Mirren, playing Queen Elizabeth, says to Michael Sheen, the actor playing Tony Blair:

Queen Elizabeth opens London Games Michael Phelps wins his 21st medal Douglas wins women's all-around gold The push for tug-of-war at the Games

"Yes, well, you are my 10th prime minister, Mr. Blair. My first, of course, was Winston Churchill."

In greeting Daniel Craig in the Olympics scene, the real queen, in that utterly polite but manifestly unimpressed voice, could just as well have been saying:

"Yes, well, you are my seventh James Bond, Mr. Craig. My first, of course, was Sean Connery."

(For those of you who are already thinking that there have been only six feature-film Bonds -- Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig -- you are leaving out David Niven, who played Bond in a less-than-officially-authorized "Casino Royale" in 1967. And there have been other Bonds in various radio and television productions.)

Queen Elizabeth has been around for them all. In fact, she was already wearing the crown when, in 1953, Ian Fleming published his first Bond novel, "Casino Royale." The films that were inspired by Fleming's books have been a strong, hugely popular and endlessly lucrative franchise, but there is a case to be made that the novels are even better. Just reading the opening words of "Casino Royale" is a lesson in beautiful scene-setting, the flawless introduction of a brand-new character:

"The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling -- a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension -- becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it.

"James Bond suddenly knew that he was tired. He always knew when his body or his mind had had enough and he always acted on that knowledge. This helped him to avoid staleness and the sensual bluntness that breeds mistakes. . "

The novels still read thrillingly today (here's a tip: the best of them is "On Her Majesty's Secret Service"), but there is no question that when the movies came along, they overshadowed Fleming's ink-on-paper volumes. This Diamond Jubilee year commemorating Queen Elizabeth's 60-year reign is also the 50th anniversary of the Bond films, starting with "Dr. No," and the series is receiving renewed attention.

In the 1980s I spent a day with Connery -- he was filming "The Untouchables" with Robert De Niro and Kevin Costner -- as he left the set to go to several appointments with doctors. It turned out that for all his daring exploits in the Bond movies, he was deathly afraid of needles (as a child he had seen from eye-level and inches away a girl from his class in Scotland getting inoculated during a diphtheria outbreak, and "the fear of needles has been with me ever since.")

Of Fleming's Bond novels, Connery said: "To tell you the truth, I never read them all." Of the ones he did read, he said, "I was never all that crazy about the books." But the author himself? "I liked Fleming," Connery said. "He was erudite -- and a real snob. Being a genuine snob can be quite healthy. At least you know who you're dealing with.

"We got along rather well, surprisingly. We had both been in the Royal Navy -- although he was a commander and I was an able-bodied seaman."

By the time Daniel Craig was born in 1968, Connery had already starred in five Bond films. Connery told me that he approved of the idea of new generations of actors playing Bond as the years went by -- "The guy should be young. Or at least under 50" -- and so it was Craig, as the contemporary Bond, who co-starred with the queen in the Olympics film.

To look at Craig's face after the queen turns and sees him -- "Good evening, Mr. Bond" -- is to see Craig the man, not just Craig the actor. He knows just how indelible a moment this is in his own life.

He's doing a scene with Queen Elizabeth -- and she is the reveal, not him.

In the Bond movies, it's the Bond character who, sometimes literally, always symbolically, makes the turn, and reveals to the audience who he is: "Bond. James Bond." But in the Olympics film, the queen, as Craig clearly and delightedly understands, is the actor the audience's eyes are fastened upon.

Not bad, at 86. And, as enduring Olympic moments go, gold. Pure gold.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bob Greene.


Summary

The eleventh novel in Ian Fleming’s James Bond series.

In the aftermath of Operation Thunderball, Ernst Stavro Blofeld’s trail has gone cold-and so has 007’s love for his job. The only thing that can rekindle his passion is Contessa Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo, a troubled young woman who shares his taste for fast cars and danger.

She’s the daughter of a powerful crime boss, and he thinks Bond’s hand in marriage may be the solution to all her problems. Bond’s not ready to settle down-yet-but if Tracy’s father can lead him to Blofeld, he’ll consider it.

After tracking the SPECTRE chief to a stronghold in the Swiss Alps, Bond uncovers the details of Blofeld’s latest plot: a biological warfare scheme more audacious than anything the fiend has tried before. Now Bond must save the world once again-and survive Blofeld’s last, very personal, act of vengeance.

And if there was one thing that set James Bond really moving, it was being passed at speed by a pretty girl.


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Contents

For more than a year, James Bond, British Secret Service operative 007, has been involved in "Operation Bedlam": trailing the private criminal organisation SPECTRE and its leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The organisation had hijacked two nuclear devices in an attempt to blackmail the western world, as described in Thunderball. Convinced SPECTRE no longer exists, Bond is frustrated by MI6's insistence that he continue the search and his inability to find Blofeld. He composes a letter of resignation for his superior, M.

While composing his letter, Bond encounters a beautiful, suicidal young woman named Contessa Teresa "Tracy" di Vicenzo first on the road and subsequently at the gambling table, where he saves her from a coup de deshonneur by paying the gambling debt she is unable to cover. The following day Bond follows her and interrupts her attempted suicide, but they are captured by professional henchmen. They are taken to the offices of Marc-Ange Draco, head of the Unione Corse, the biggest European crime syndicate. Tracy is the daughter and only child of Draco who believes the only way to save his daughter from further suicide attempts is for Bond to marry her. To facilitate this, he offers Bond a dowry of £1 million (£22 million in 2021 pounds [1] ) Bond refuses the offer, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy while her mental health improves.

Afterwards Draco uses his contacts to inform Bond that Blofeld is somewhere in Switzerland. Bond returns to England to be given another lead: the College of Arms in London has discovered that Blofeld has assumed the title and name Comte Balthazar de Bleuville and wants formal confirmation of the title and has asked the College to declare him the reigning count.

On a visit to the College of Arms, Bond finds that the family motto of Sir Thomas Bond is "The World Is Not Enough", and that he might be (though unlikely) Bond's ancestor. On the pretext that a genetically-inherited minor physical abnormality (a lack of earlobes) needs a personal confirmation, Bond impersonates a College of Arms representative, Sir Hilary Bray to visit Blofeld's lair atop Piz Gloria, where he finally meets Blofeld. Blofeld has undergone plastic surgery partly to remove his earlobes, but also to disguise himself from the police and security services who are tracking him down.

Bond learns Blofeld has been curing a group of young British and Irish women of their livestock and food allergies. In truth, Blofeld and his aide, Irma Bunt, have been brainwashing them into carrying biological warfare agents back to Britain and Ireland in order to destroy the agricultural economy, upon which post-World War II Britain depends. Believing himself discovered, Bond escapes by ski from Piz Gloria, chased by SPECTRE operatives, a number of whom he kills in the process. Afterward, in a state of total exhaustion, he encounters Tracy. She is in the town at the base of the mountain after being told by her father that Bond may be in the vicinity. Bond is too weak to take on Blofeld's henchmen alone and she helps him escape to the airport. Smitten by the resourceful, headstrong woman, he proposes marriage and she accepts. Bond then returns to England and works on the plan to capture Blofeld.

Helped by Draco's Union Corse, Bond mounts an air assault against the clinic and Blofeld. Whilst the clinic is destroyed, Blofeld escapes down a bobsled run and although Bond gives chase Blofeld escapes. Bond flies to Germany where he marries Tracy. The two of them drive off on honeymoon and, a few hours later, Blofeld and Bunt drive past, machine gunning them: Tracy is killed in the attack.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service contains what the author of "continuation" Bond novels Raymond Benson calls "major revelations" about Bond and his character. [2] These start with Bond's showing an emotional side, visiting the grave of Casino Royale's Vesper Lynd, which he did every year. [2] The emotional side continues with Bond asking Tracy to marry him. [3] The character of Tracy is not as well defined as some other female leads in the Bond canon, but Benson points out that it may be the enigmatic quality that Bond falls in love with. [4] Benson also notes that Fleming gives relatively little information about the character, only how Bond reacts to her. [4]

Academic Christoph Lindner identifies the character of Marc-Ange Draco as an example of those characters who have morals closer to those of the traditional villains, but who act on the side of good in support of Bond others of this type include Darko Kerim (From Russia, with Love), Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice) and Enrico Colombo ("Risico"). [5] Fellow academic Jeremy Black noted the connection between Draco and World War II Draco wears the King's medal for resistance fighters. The war reference is a method used by Fleming to differentiate good from evil and raises a question about "the distinction between criminality and legality", according to Black. [6]

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was written in Jamaica at Fleming's Goldeneye estate in January and February 1962, [7] whilst the first Bond film, Dr. No, was being filmed nearby. [8] The first draft of the novel was 196 pages long and called The Belles of Hell. [9] Fleming later changed the title after being told of a nineteenth-century sailing novel called On Her Majesty's Secret Service, seen by Fleming's friend Nicholas Henderson in Portobello Road Market. [10]

As with all his Bond books, Fleming used events or names from his life in his writing. In the 1930s, Fleming often visited Kitzbühel in Austria to ski he once deliberately set off down a slope that had been closed because of the danger of an avalanche. The snow cracked behind him and an avalanche came down, catching him at its end: Fleming remembered the incident and it was used for Bond's escape from Piz Gloria. [11] Fleming would occasionally stay at the sports club of Schloss Mittersill in the Austrian Alps in 1940 the Nazis closed down the club and turned it into a research establishment examining the Asiatic races. It was this pseudo-scientific research centre that inspired Blofeld's own centre of Piz Gloria. [12]

The connection between M and the inspiration for his character, Rear Admiral John Godfrey, was made apparent with Bond visiting Quarterdeck, M's home. He rings the ship's-bell for HMS Repulse, M's last command: it was Godfrey's ship too. [13] Godfrey was Fleming's superior officer in Naval Intelligence Division during the war [14] and was known for his bellicose and irascible temperament. [15] During their Christmas lunch, M tells Bond of an old naval acquaintance, a Chief Gunnery Officer named McLachlan. This was actually an old colleague of both Godfrey and Fleming's in the NID, Donald McLachlan. [8]

The name Hilary Bray was that of an old-Etonian with whom Fleming worked at the stock broking firm Rowe & Pitman, [16] whilst Sable Basilisk was based on "Rouge Dragon" in the College of Arms. Rouge Dragon was the title of heraldic researcher Robin de la Lanne-Mirrlees who asked Fleming not to use the title in the book in a play on words, Fleming used Mirrlees's address, a flat in Basil Street, and combined it with a dragon-like creature, a basilisk, to come up with the name. [17] Mirrlees had Spanish antecedents, generally born without earlobes and Fleming used this physical attribute for Blofeld. [16] Mirrlees also discovered that the line of the Bonds of Peckham bears the family motto "The World is Not Enough", which Fleming appropriated for Bond's own family. [12]

Fleming also used historical references for some of his names and Marc-Ange Draco's name is based upon that of El Draco, the Spanish nickname for Sir Francis Drake, [16] a fact also used by J. K. Rowling for the naming of her character Draco Malfoy. [18] For Tracy's background, Fleming used that of Muriel Wright, a married wartime lover of Fleming's, who died in an air-raid, [19] and Bond's grief for the loss of his wife is an echo of Fleming's at the loss of Wright. [20] Fleming did make mistakes in the novel, however, such as Bond ordering a half-bottle of Pol Roger Champagne: Fleming's friend Patrick Leigh Fermor pointed out that Pol Roger was the only champagne at the time not to be produced in half-bottles. [21]

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the second book in what is called "the Blofeld trilogy", sitting between Thunderball, where SPECTRE is introduced and You Only Live Twice, where Blofeld is finally killed by Bond. [22] Although Blofeld is present in Thunderball, he directs operations from a distance and as such he and Bond never meet and On Her Majesty's Secret Service constitutes his and Bond's first meeting. [2]

On Her Majesty's Secret Service was published on 1 April 1963 in the UK as a hardcover edition by publishers Jonathan Cape [23] it was 288 pages long and cost 16 shillings. [24] A limited edition of 250 copies was also printed that was numbered and signed by Fleming. [23] Artist Richard Chopping once again undertook the cover art for the first edition. [23] There were 42,000 advance orders for the hardback first edition [25] and Cape did an immediate second impression of 15,000 copies, selling over 60,000 by the end of April 1963. [26] By the end of 1963 it had sold in excess of 75,000 copies. [27]

The novel was published in America in August by the New American Library, [23] after Fleming changed publishers from Viking Press after The Spy Who Loved Me. [28] The book was 299 pages long and cost $4.50 [29] and it topped The New York Times Best Seller list for over six months. [23]

Reviews Edit

Writing in The Guardian, critic Anthony Berkeley Cox, writing under the name Francis Iles, noted that the two minor grammatical errors he spotted were "likely to spoil no one's enjoyment" [30] of the novel as he considered that On Her Majesty's Secret Service was "not only up to Mr. Fleming's usual level, but perhaps even a bit above it." [30] Writing in The Guardian ' s sister paper, The Observer, Maurice Richardson pondered if there had been "a deliberate moral reformation" [31] of Bond. However, he notes Bond still has his harder side when needed. Richardson also thought that "in reforming Bond Mr. Fleming has reformed his own story-telling which had been getting very loose". [31] Overall he thought that "O.H.M.S.S. is certainly the best Bond for several books. It is better plotted and retains its insane grip until the end". [31]

Raymond Mortimer, writing for The Sunday Times, said that "James Bond is what every man would like to be, and what every woman would like between her sheets" [12] meanwhile the critic for The Times considered that after The Spy Who Loved Me, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service constitutes a substantial, if not quite a complete, recovery." [24] In the view of the reviewer, it was enough of a recovery for them to point out that "it is time, perhaps, to forget the much exaggerated things which have been said about sex, sadism and snobbery, and return to the simple, indisputable fact that Mr. Fleming is a most compelling story-teller." [24] Marghanita Laski, writing in The Times Literary Supplement, thought that "the new James Bond we've been meeting of late [is] somehow gentler, more sentimental, less dirty." [32] However, she considered that "it really is time to stop treating Ian Fleming as a Significant Portent, and to accept him as a good, if rather vulgar thriller-writer, well suited to his times and to us his readers." [32]

The New York Herald Tribune thought On Her Majesty's Secret Service to be "solid Fleming", [12] while the Houston Chronicle considered the novel to be "Fleming at his urbanely murderous best, a notable chapter in the saga of James Bond". [12] Gene Brackley, writing in the Boston Globe, wrote that Bond "needs all the quality he can muster to escape alive" [33] from Blofeld's clutches in the book and this gives rise to "two of the wildest chase scenes in the good guys-bad guys literature". [33] Regarding the fantastic nature of the plots, Brackley considered that "Fleming's accounts of the half-world of the Secret Service have the ring of authenticity" [33] because of his previous role with the NID.

Writing for The Washington Post, Jerry Doolittle thought that Bond is "still irresistible to women, still handsome in a menacing way, still charming. He has nerves of steel and thews of whipcord", [29] even if "he's starting to look a little older." [29] Doolittle was fulsome in his praise for the novel, saying "Fleming's new book will not disappoint his millions of fans". [29] Writing in The New York Times, Anthony Boucher—described by a Fleming biographer, John Pearson, as "throughout an avid anti-Bond and an anti-Fleming man" [34] —was again damning, although even he admitted that "you can't argue with success". [35] However, he went on to say that "simply pro forma, I must set down my opinion that this is a silly and tedious novel." [35] Boucher went on to bemoan that although On Her Majesty's Secret Service was better than The Spy Who Loved Me, "it is still a lazy and inadequate story", [35] going on to say that "my complaint is not that the adventures of James Bond are bad literature . but that they aren't good bad literature". [35] Boucher finished his review lamenting that "they just aren't writing bad books like they used to." [35]

The opposite point of view was taken by Robert Kirsch, writing in the Los Angeles Times, who considered Fleming's work to be a significant point in fiction, saying that the Bond novels "are harbingers of a change in emphasis in fiction which is important." [36] The importance, Kirsch claimed, sprung from "a revolution in taste, a return to qualities in fiction which all but submerged in the 20th-century vogue of realism and naturalism" [36] and the importance was such that they were "comparable . only to the phenomenon of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories". [36] Kirsch also believed that "with Fleming, . we do not merely accept the willing suspension of disbelief, we yearn for it, we hunger for it." [36] The critic for Time magazine referred to previous criticism of Fleming and thought that "in Fleming's latest Bond bombshell, there are disquieting signs that he took the critics to heart" [37] when they complained about "the consumer snobbery of his caddish hero". [37] The critic mourned that even worse was to follow, however, when "Bond is threatened with what, for an international cad, would clearly be a fate worse than death: matrimony". [37] However, eventually a "deus ex machina (the machine, reassuringly, is a lethal red Maserati) . saves James Bond from his better self." [37]

Serialisation (1963)
On Her Majesty's Secret Service was serialised in the April, May and June 1963 issues of Playboy. [38]

Comic strip (1964–65)
Ian Fleming's 1963 novel was adapted as a daily comic strip published in the Daily Express newspaper, and syndicated worldwide the strip ran for nearly a year, from 29 June 1964 to 17 May 1965. The adaptation was written by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky. [39] The strip was reprinted by Titan Books in The James Bond Omnibus Vol. 2, published in 2011. [40]

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
In 1969 the novel was adapted into the sixth film in the Eon Productions series. It starred George Lazenby in his only appearance in the Bond role. [41] With the films being produced in a different order to the books, the continuity of storylines was broken and the films altered accordingly. [42] Even so, the character of Blofeld was present in the previous film, You Only Live Twice, and he and Bond had met: this previous meeting was ignored for the plot of On Her Majesty's Secret Service. [42] The film is often considered, by fans and critics, one of the series most faithful film adaptations and only made minor changes to plot. [43]

Radio (2014)
In 2014 the novel was adapted for BBC Radio 4's Saturday Drama strand. Toby Stephens, who played Gustav Graves in Die Another Day, portrayed Bond. Joanna Lumley appeared in both the film and radio adaptations of the novel. [44]


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Ian Fleming and the Creation of James Bond - History

The Ian Fleming® Foundation (IFF) was formed as a public benefit nonprofit U.S. 501(c)(3) California corporation in July of 1992. The founding members were Dr. Michael L. VanBlaricum, John Cork, and Douglas Redenius. The IFF is dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of Ian Fleming's literary works, the James Bond phenomenon, and their impact on popular culture. One of the IFF's goals is procuring, restoring, preserving, archiving, and displaying the original works of Ian Fleming and all of the subsequent products of that original body of work. These include the films, as well as the merchandise and memorabilia spawned by the films.

Another goal of the Ian Fleming® Foundation is to establish scholarships or fellowships in studies related to the dedicated areas. We have established an endowed undergraduate research scholarship in the College of Media at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Issues of Goldeneye magazine, published between 1992 and 1997, have become collectible.

Over the nearly thirty years of the IFF's existence, we have procured over thirty-five vehicles and models that have been used in the making of the James Bond films by EON Productions. These unique vehicles have become iconic with that seminal film franchise. The Bond films changed the history of movie making in the last half of the Twentieth Century and continue to do so to this day.

The Foundation's board of directors is currently made up of Dr. Michael L. VanBlaricum of the USA, David Reinhardt of Canada, Dave Worrall of the UK, Brad Frank of of the USA, Colin Clark of the USA, George Martin of the USA, and Matthew Field of the UK. Doug Redenius of the USA serves as the Foundation's archivist.

The Ian Fleming® Foundation provides assistance with research and consults on a variety of issues relating to the history of Ian Fleming and his literary and film creation, James Bond. In 2001, the Foundation sponsored a special golf tournament with the proceeds benefitting UNICEF.

The Foundation has status with the United States Internal Revenue Service as a charitable nonprofit organization as provided by tax code 501(c)(3). As such, we derive much of our income from donations and contributions. All donations and contributions to The Ian Fleming® Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donations can be made securely online through PayPal by clicking on the DONATE link in the top menu.

Ian Fleming is a registered trademark of The Ian Fleming Trust, and is used by permission.


Interestingly, Fleming turns to figurative language to describe the most shocking instance of violence in any Bond novel. The power of this simile lies in its understatement and ambiguity. The windscreen (British term for automobile windshield) disappearing is the full description—in its entirety—of the act of violence with which the life of the one and only Mrs. James Bond comes to an end. The only other details given about this shocking moment in the life of 007 are what happens after the specific homicidal action: Bond’s recognition of the identity of the killer, the car spiraling out of control and 007 losing consciousness. It is surely the most chilling single line Ian Fleming ever wrote as well as a brutal demonstration of the axiom that sometimes less is more.

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