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The Naked Face – Robert Baum

NakedFace2Review: The Naked Face (1984)
     Roger Moore exchanges his services as an agent for her majesty for a psychiatric practice in the Windy City. As Dr. Judd Stevens, Moore is losing his patients in an adaptation of Sidney Sheldon’s The Naked Face, written for the screen and directed by Bryan Forbes (International Velvet, The Stepford Wives), is a decent mystery-thriller from Cannon Films.
     Following the murder of a patient who happened to be clad in Stevens’ windbreaker, the doctor is met by two policemen. It’s something of a reunion as one of them, Lt. McGreavy (Rod Steiger) was the victim of a killer who the doctor testified on behalf of. The killer was spared from a death sentence thanks to Stevens and McGreavy doesn’t let him forget it. Detective Angeli (Elliot Gould), McGreavy’s partner, is a bit more even tempered than him. Shaken by the news of the death, Stevens is stirred by McGreavy’s treating him as his mortal foe.
     Stevens later meets with his brother-in-law Dr. Hadley (David Hedison, who previously appeared with Moore in Live and Let Die and ffolkes) to talk about his meeting with the police. Stevens returns home to find the police snooping around which pains him. Stevens is even more horrified to find his office ransacked and his secretary murdered. The police are nowhere near to finding the killer and Stevens is later nearly retired permanently when he has a close call with a maniacal motorcyclist.
     Thanks to Hadley, Stevens has a new–albeit temporary–place to practice. The killer is still at large with the doctor having few options. The police are all but forcing Stevens to turn over his patients’ files to them though he has no interest in doing so.
     Moore offers a credible performance which all but makes one forget about 007, more so than his recent non-Bond roles. Steiger, too, is impressive as the embittered McGreavy proving that he is still something of a formidable presence in a role which like most of his recent efforts offers little more than a paycheck, sadly.
     As for the likes of the supporting players like Hedison and Anne Archer, their roles seem whittled down by the editing. Still, given that the producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus primarily offer up movies with martial artisans and breakdancers, The Naked Face is a welcome change of pace and is worth a look.

A View On Bond Reviews James Bond’s Cuisine

sdfdsfA research feat second to none, The Man with the Hawk-like Culinary Eye!

2014, CreateSpace, 128 pages. (Review posted 9 August 2015.)

Perhaps not second to none, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s not too far off! Credit where credit is due: this is a truly exhaustive overview of Bond’s cuisine, which spans the Fleming novels, the official spin-off novels, and the films. ANY type of culinary reference is captured by Matt Sherman’s sharp eye – and then is often embellished by his very dry wit – and this includes food or drink-oriented product placement and/or any sort of unintended devouring that has occurred in the series (e.g. Die Another Day at 46 minutes and 8 seconds: “Bond spits out water from a fire sprinkler that douses him”).

Thus, the level of research detail is hugely impressive – and the breadth of detail is also where a great deal of humour is mined: James Bond’s Cuisine manages to traverse that seemingly contradictory line of serious scholarship delivered with the enjoyably relaxed and accessible quality of a “coffee table” book.

Furthermore, you come away from the text with a firmer-than-firm sense of the place of cuisine in the highly sumptuous Bondian atmosphere – and the book manages to genuinely surprise one in its highlighting of the sheer extent of references to food and drink, and munching and consuming, found within the series. Mr Sherman also includes some practical indexes such as “signature meal cuisines” and “real world Bond eateries”.

Admittedly, I’m not really a “foodist”. The principal attraction in purchasing this book was based on my enjoyment of Mr Sherman’s knowledgeable and personable presence within James Bond fan communities. I can certainly see, however, that a by-product of a great interest in James Bond is that one is served a strong knowledge base in culinary pursuits. I feel well equipped to wing it through dinner party conversation.

Furthermore, I found that this book – in the process of pinpointing all the culinary references – kept reminding me of all the engrossing Bondian moments and scenarios I have enjoyed over the years. That constitutes a bonus in what is a tremendous reference work.

Last but not least, I particularly liked the capsule summaries for each and every Bond novel and film, where references to mastication have been employed to describe the central conspiracies and action. To wit, 1984’s Role of Honour (“Ending superpower supremacy will devour the economy unless James Bond crashes S.P.E.C.T.R.E.’s flight of fancy”), 1960’s The Spy who Loved Me (“James Bond sustains a woman after other men wolf down her vulnerability”), and 1974’s film version of The Man with the Golden Gun (“An assassin with a penchant for Cordon Bleu cooking creates crises for James Bond”).

To be enjoyed and admired!

Review: Octopussy (1983) – Robert Baum

asds(Remember When All This Was News? Connery’s Return? Moore’s Retirement?)

Roger Moore essays the role of Ian Fleming’s secret agent 007 for the sexth, that is sixth time, pardon the pun. James Bond’s newest cinematic mission, other than surviving some serious competition from the likes of Return of the Jedi and Superman III, finds the veteran spy taking on an exiled Afghan, a subversive Soviet soldier, and Octopussy.

John Glen, director of Moore’s last assignment, For Your Eyes Only (1981) returns. The twelfth installment of the series shows no signs of serving as a coda though Father Time is certainly catching up with Moore. At nearly 56 one can only wonder when he’ll be handing in his licence to kill.

Following a spectacular opening sequence, as they usually are in the Bond pictures, Bond is at the office. There he is chatting up Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) and her young, comely assistant (Michaela Clavell, daughter of Shogun author James Clavell). He gets a briefing from his superior M (Robert Brown, filling the shoes of the late Bernard Lee) and the Minister of Defence (Geoffrey Keen) following the death of a fellow MI6 operative.

Bond’s latest undertaking whisks him from an auction at Southeby’s for a jewel-laden egg to an encounter in India with a charismatic Afghan named Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan). Shortly thereafter he has a brief tryst with Kamal’s alluring mistress (Kristina Wayborn), becomes a prisoner, and later a quarry of Khan.

Of course there is the Bond woman. Maud Adams, who played the mistress of Moore’s foe in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), returns to Bondage in the role of Octopussy. She is a wealthy woman whose business interests include a circus, jewel smuggling, and soon after meeting him, James Bond too (of course). Khan isn’t Bond’s only problem. His adversaries include a warmongering Russian (British stage veteran Steven Berkoff)) who is far more menacing than his Afghan ally–talk about strange bedfellows; Kabir Bedi as Khan’s Sikh henchman; and the usual assortment of unnamed goons whom Bond disposes of sooner or later.

Adapted from a pair of Fleming short stories (“Octopussy” and “The Property of a Lady”), Octopussy offers up an entertaining bonanza of action and humor. Though the finale, as much fun as it is, does stretch credibility a bit as several spry she warriors team up with Bond and the curmudgeonly gadget guru Q (Desmond Llewelyn). It’s nice to see him in the thick of things. One might wonder if the writers have ever thought of bringing back Felix Leiter. It’s been a number of years since the CIA agent and 007 ally was last seen onscreen in Moore’s first Bond adventure, Live and Let Die (1973). In addition to Lucas’ space saga and the Superman sequel, Bond will be facing off this year against… James Bond. Sean Connery will soon be coming to theatres as 007, nearly a dozen years since he renewed his licence to kill and thrill in Diamonds are Forever.

Review: A View to a Kill (1985)

l_90264_279f42c1A look back during this 30th anniversary of AVTAK, with a winsome review by Robert Baum.
**
    Roger Moore renews his license to kill in his seventh and last–it is about time he did so–mission for British Intelligence. A View to a Kill is the latest cinematic adventure of Ian Fleming’s agent 007, better known as Bond, James Bond. Moore certainly has no need to consider a return to the role as he is simply too old to be believable engaging in antics so outrageous here they virtually dwarf the hyperbolic opus Moonraker (1979). However, Moore’s fourth outing was far more fun than this disappointment directed by John Glen.
      Bond goes up against a mysterious tycoon named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, the first time an Oscar winner has played a Bond adversary), an equine enthusiast who plans to monopolize the microchip market. Does anyone think this sounds a bit familiar? It is a virtual repackaging of Goldfinger if you ask just about any Bond aficionado. Zorin’s mistress is an Amazon named May Day (the very flamboyant pop music diva Grace Jones).
      Of course, Bond finds a lady in the form of a pretty bland–sorry, blonde–geologist named Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts, formerly the last member of “Charlie’s Angels”). Sutton has had a long feud with Zorin and has refused the megalomaniac’s multimillion-dollar offer to shut her mouth. However, she does fall for the charm of a certain British agent. It is not John Steed, though that might not be bad guess as Patrick Macnee of “The Avengers” plays one of Bond’s allies who meets a premature demise. Macnee is amusing for his brief time onscreen. He joins fellow “Avengers” alumni Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Honor Blackman (Goldfinger) who have appeared in Bond films.
      With regard to Bond’s female co-star, Roberts is nice to look at but she is not a great beauty nor does she make for a believable geologist. She is rather dull and all she seems to do is wait for Bond to come to her rescue, And this Bond looks like could do with some rescuing himself as it obviously takes a bit longer for Moore to escape peril this time. No doubt the producers were enchanted by the sight of Roberts clad in but an animal pelt in last summer’s Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, which apparently reused her costume from 1982s The Beastmaster.
      As Zorin’s mistress and assassin, Jones is too outrageous and seems to be doing little more than a reprise of her role as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s she-warrior ally in last summer’s Conan the Destroyer. While certainly not lacking in presence, Jones is a bit masculine–even more so than Moore frighteningly. Jones is so aggressive she makes Lucianna Paluzzi in Thunderball (1965) look like a schoolgirl.
      As for Bond’s adversary, Walken’s portrayal is underplayed at times and appears campy in others. Walken is a good actor but he is so often upstaged by Moore which isn’t exactly a chore for the Englishman. On the plus side, Walken does make for an adequate adversary.
The casting of Walken, Jones, and Roberts is a stunt that crashes and burns (though not like the villain’s airship) but not so impressive as the par for the course action sequences devised by stuntmeisters Remy Julienne, Martin Grace, and the death-defying daredevils.
      British synth pop quintet Duran Duran’s title tune is rather silly. No doubt producer Albert Broccoli and first-time producer, co-writer (and stepson) Michael Wilson, were hoping to have a song to reach out to the younger folk. As the likes of Shirley Bassey, Matt Munro, and Nancy Sinatra would be the sort of artists most adolescents would regard as too fuddy-duddy for them to take seriously. However, it is the cheesiest song since Lulu’s title tune for Moore’s second mission The Man with The Golden Gun (1974). The title sequence is a bit tired, like the film’s leading man, and Maurice Binder’s work here almost would be more fit to serve as a music video for elevator music
      While the long-running franchise–though Bond looks winded here–might possess some of the most amazing stunts, spectacular locales, and gorgeous women, one would probably never know it in seeing this film. A View to a Kill lacks the magic and fun found in just about any previous Bond film; even the disappointing The Man with the Golden Gun and the out-of-this-world excessive extravaganza Moonraker.

Eat Like Bond!

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With the steady build-up of buzz being generated by the fall release of the next James Bond film “Spectre,” a recently released restaurant guide can help fans dine like Agent 007.

In his book “James Bond’s Cuisine: 007’s Every Last Meal,” author Matt Sherman combed through 54 books and 23 films in the Bond franchise to come up with a list of 254 real-world dining destinations.

Travel site Goeuro recently distilled the listing into a handy infographic that breaks down the restaurants by country and region.

Not surprisingly, restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland get the most mentions, with 21 restaurants.

According to Sherman, the most popular dining destination in the entire repertoire is Scott’s of Mayfair in London, which is mentioned in four separate films and books.

While in the U.K., Bond’s typical meal choice may include a good old-fashioned steak with potatoes and a picnic hamper from Harrods.

To sample the glamorous spy life, Sherman suggests hitting up Ascot for smoked salmon sandwiches and washing them down with Dom Pérignon champagne.

Bond is also a fan of dining at the ritzy Casino de Monte Carlo in Monaco and Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, both of which get three mentions throughout the Bond franchise.

And in the 1985 film “A View to A Kill,” Bond (Roger Moore) tucks into foie gras topped with caviar on toasted brioche at the iconic Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower.

Fans can also find Bond-approved restaurants and addresses in countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Greece, Germany and Austria.

Moonraker – An Original Review

moonraker-posterWith thanks to Robert Baum, reprinted by permission

Review: Moonraker (1979)

       Having proven triumphant once again both in thwarting another fiend looking to finish off the world and regaining his footing at the box office, Roger Moore returns as James Bond yet again. Stopping the sinister stratagems of Karl Stromberg was child’s play for 007. This time, however, her majesty’s best known spy faces a far more formidable challenge.
      Not only is Bond now portrayed by an actor who is now just shy of over half a century (Sean Connery was just over forty when he made his final Bond adventure: 1971s Diamonds Are Forever) but there are a new crop of cinematic pickings prompting producer Albert Broccoli to look to the stars for 007’s latest endeavor. That mission has Bond seeking a stolen space bound shuttle: Moonraker. This effort reunites most of the key players from The Spy Who Loved Me: Broccoli, director Lewis Gilbert, screenwriter Christoper Wood, and of course Roger Moore.
      Having used his time between the last adventure to be of aid to fellow UK stars Richard Burton and Richard Harris as one of The Wild Geese, Moore returns to being a solo operative; but not before having a run-in with the metal-mouthed monster of a mountain from The Spy Who Loved Me, Jaws (Richard Kiel), in search of a new employer and wanting revenge. Following a briefing by his superiors (Bernard Lee and Geoffrey Keen) and receiving the latest state-of-the art hardware from MI6 weaponsmith Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Bond is off to California. There he meets Drax (Michael Lonsdale), a megalomaniac obsessed with venturing into the final frontier.
Bond also gets an encounter with a striking siren of a scientist with a good head on her shoulders named Holly (Lois Chiles) who gives Bond a taste of astronaut training which goes awry thanks to a jerry-rigged centrifuge, courtesy of Drax’s kendo-savvy manservant Chang (Toshiro Suga). Of course wherever Bond is, there’s a woman waiting to be swept off her feet even if in doing so, the results prove fatal; as they do for one of Drax’s employees (Corinne Clery) who goes to the dogs.
      With Gilbert at the helm for another mission, there are similar elements to the last cinematic mission for 007 which was a refashioning of another Bond adventure: 1967s You Only Live Twice which Gilbert also directed. This time the showdown is not at sea but takes advantage of the science fiction frenzy ushered in by the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. One certainly doesn’t need to guess much where the film winds up.
      Virtually no expense has been spared for Moonraker, despite it being a lightweight romp bordering on camp that is light years away from past Bond adventures; particularly From Russia With Love (1963). The effects courtesy of recent Oscar-winner Derek Meddings (Superman) and his colleagues are out of this world; and the stunts, as always are impressive. Still it is a joy to watch, though aficionados more fond of the earlier efforts might think otherwise. John Barry, missing since The Man with the Golden Gun, returns with a score that brings back the magic he has given to many a motion picture. The title tune performed by chanteuse Shirley Bassey offers aural aesthetics. Nothing against Carly Simon, or Paul McCartney, but when it comes to singing 007 theme songs, nobody does them better.

The Living Daylights – A Look Back

tld bondBy Robert Baum

Timothy Dalton makes his debut as superspy James Bond in the newest cinematic mission marking 007’s cinematic silver anniversary. The Living Daylights begins a new era with a new Bond (number four) rugged enough to take on those who seek to conquer the world. Unlike Roger Moore, Dalton is not one for humor but for getting the job done. Handsome but deadly, Dalton’s 007 is something of a throwback to Sean Connery.
Bond’s mission: aborting a plot that might start WWIII–of course. Being a Bond film, there is a lovely lady (Maryam d’Abo) who succumbs to the charm of the British agent–who happens to be played by Welsh-born Dalton–incredible stunts, exotic locales, and an adversary (a rather blustery and not very menacing Joe Don Baker), with an army of goons.
Of course there are an incredible array of spectacular stunts, especially in the opening sequence when Bond and a few fellow agents drop in to commence a training exercise on Gibraltar. The opening offers the greatest action in the film. To his credit, Dalton does many of Bond’s stunts himself. We get to see an updated Aston Martin, the wheels Connery utilized in Goldfinger (and Thunderball). It too offers a few surprises which are employed as Bond and Kara (d’Abo) are chased by the Czech army. He explains–with deadpan delivery a la Connery–to Kara, “I’ve had a few optional extras installed,” options like a laser blowtorch that Bond uses to disable a pursuing car, missiles to blow up a road blockade, and a rocket engine to escape pursuit.
Bond’s nemesis, an arms merchant named Brad Whitaker (Baker), is something of a joke. He has a chameleonic Red Grant knockoff named Necros (Andreas Wisniewski) do his dirty work, which is often done while the brute’s Walkman plays the Pretenders’ “Where Has Everybody Gone” and notes from the song are threaded through the compositions by John Barry whenever the thug is onscreen. Whitaker is always at his villa in Tangier (supplied by tycoon Malcolm Forbes) playing with his toy soldiers. He also has a collection of mannequins that include Hitler, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon (an obvious allusion to Christopher Lee’s funhouse in The Man with the Golden Gun) which almost resemble the wily Whitaker. When first seen, Whitaker is standing with them as he no doubt fancies himself a great warrior in his own right. Or maybe just a dummy.
While making a brief appearance, Bond’s CIA chum Felix Leiter (John Terry)–the part was last played by David Hedison in Moore’s first 007 adventure Live and Let Die and recently by Bernie Casey in Connery’s return to MI6 in Never Say Never Again–turns up to help him, though the part seems little more than a cameo. The wonderful John Rhys-Davies is General Leonid Pushkin, head of the KGB, whom the British are led to believe by one of Pushkin’s subordinates (Jeroen Krabbe) is responsible for wanting to destroy the world.
While Dalton is not the charmer his predecessor Roger Moore was, he is a presence which is believable when it comes to getting the mission accomplished–with or without his PPK. Some might not be keen on Dalton’s deadpan delivery as he adopts a no-nonsense approach which might make Jack Webb’s followers thinking the former Joe Friday is eloquent. Thus making Dalton the second Jack Webb impersonator of the summer. Dan Aykroyd was first in the big screen adaptation of Dragnet. His deadpan is a virtual flatline and needs defibrilation to give it a spike. Dalton’s 007 has been described as the most deadly Bond on the teaser posters which have been displayed in theatres. Dalton clearly has what it takes to play the role: a commanding presence, looks that kill, and now a license (or licence in his case) to do so. He injects a suaveness that has been absent from the Bond films for a long while. Definitely a far cry from Moore’s swan song A View to a Kill.

25th Anniversary Look At Licence To Kill

Timothy Dalton actor as Bond  July 1988 dbase MSI

By Robert Baum

Timothy Dalton makes his second time around as Ian Fleming’s James Bond in the sixteenth 007 screen adventure, Licence to Kill. This film is more influenced by the sort of mega-action blockbusters produced by Joel Silver and not prior Bond efforts by producer Albert Broccoli. Dalton’s 007 is tough-as-nails and takes on a very real adversary: a cocaine kingpin (Robert Davi, who appeared in Silver’s Action Jackson and Die Hard).

The previous Bond picture The Living Daylights–which marked Dalton’s 007 debut–seemed typical 007: nifty gadgets, lovely ladies, a slew of exotic locales, and an incredible assortment of stunts. This time we see a Bond unlike prior Bonds (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, or Roger Moore). In the course of the film’s 133 minute running time we get to glimpse but a few locales. While the primary female (Carey Lowell), formerly in the army and CIA, is attractive she doesn’t seem credible as a veteran operative accustomed to working in hostile territories.

Helmed by John Glen, who has directed the Bond films since 1981s For Your Eyes Only, this installment has no moments of laughter or levity in any way whatsoever. For the first time in his career 007 is on his own. No mission this time. This time the matter is a personal one.

En route to the wedding of longtime friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison, who makes a return to the role he first portrayed in 1973s Live and Let Die), he and Bond stop to capture drug lord Franz Sanchez (Davi) as the film opens. The opening sequence offers a chance for us to witness an amazing display of jaw-slackening stunts.

Unlike prior Bond tales, Felix Leiter plays a pivotal role in the story. Actually what happens to him is taken from the Fleming novel Live and Let Die. Though Hedison is about two decades older than Dalton, they seem to have some rapport. This hasn’t really been apparent with Leiter’s other appearances, or any other Leiter–save Jack Lord and Hedison–for that matter. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much here. Hedison seems little more than an extended cameo, a pity.

Bond’s love interest Pam Bouvier could have been more interesting but she isn’t. While she makes for a far more better 007 ally than Tanya Roberts in A View to a Kill, Lowell is not a great beauty like Dr. No’‘s Ursula Andress or Live and Let Die‘s Jane Seymour. Lowell makes Britt Ekland, who played Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun) look like Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Lowell looks as if she’d be more at home as a comely coed in an Animal House type of film. Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), Sanchez’s mistress, exudes a stronger presence than Pam Bouvier. Despite being only 22, Soto exudes an exotic sensuality that makes her seem more mature. Even if she is merely little more than an ornament.

As Sanchez, Davi is quite a convincing foe. His presence makes for perhaps one of the few times in the series that Bond has faced an opponent who possesses a very real threat to him. Davi brings a suave and menacing charm to the role and is likable in a perverted way. His Sanchez is a villain to be feared. We know it. Davi knows it.

While the film is far from perfect, it is far from the typical Bond films, particularly those of recent years. But in an era of Indiana Jones and high body count, testosterone-laden, jingoistic protagonists often essayed by Sylvester and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dalton shows that when it comes to action, no one does it quite like 007.

Sebastien Foucan On Bond

foucan

Sebastien Foucan is a trail blazer in his chosen field.

Now 40, the Frenchman has been at the forefront of the Parkour movement for nearly 30 years and helped developed its offshoot, freerunning.

But despite edging towards middle age, Foucan – best known for introducing the world to Daniel Craig as James Bond as Mollaka in Casino Royale – says he will not stop leaping between buildings, climbing up lamp posts and darting through the urban landscape.

Parkour, based on military obstacle courses, sees practitioners moving between to points in the most efficient way, whether that be leaping between platforms, crashing down stairs or jumping over things.

Developed in the late 1980s, it grew in popularity throughout the 1990s and 2000s and remains so to this day – walk through most cities in Europe and you can find people leaping between obstacles.

Freerunning, is an offshoot of the discilping.

Foucan says: “Freerunning is my own evolution of Parkou, which I started in the late 1980’s when I first met my friend, David Belle. Together, and later with others, we used the environment around us to express ourselves. It became our playground to jump, climb and run. It became a lifestyle.

“[Will you ever stop?] No! Once you start, it becomes part of you and your everyday life, there is no time when you are not doing it.”

Some see freerunning as a philosophy as well as a sport, a notion that Foucan thinks is changing.

“I believe it is becoming more of a sport and less of a philosophy but it really depends on the practitioner,” he adds.

“With the development of coaching qualifications and practice in schools and clubs there has been room for it to grow as a traditional sport for the mainstream.

“It is fantastic that it can be appreciated, and is accessible,  for many people in safe environments. For me it the core of the practice will always be the philosophy.”

The Parisian also believes the sport will one day grace the biggest stage.

“I believe this will go big like the Olympics, and there will be more schools and clubs where you can learn it.”

And what does he remember of Daniel Craig and 007?

“Being in a James Bond film was amazing and unforgettable, I was lucky to be part of this and really happy with the way I performed there. It is a legacy who will stay now with me and this is absolutely fantastic.”

Solo/Boyd – Bond’s Land Rover?

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When Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, hit bookstore shelves in 1953, it featured a top spy who couldn’t be swayed by anything (except maybe a pretty face and a perfectly shaken martini). These days, however, it seems that cold hard cash has an undeniable allure for Bond’s brand brokers.

At least it does for William Boyd, the British novelist who is currently responsible for writing the James Bond character’s adventures. After signing a deal with Land Rover, Boyd put the brand front and center in his latest work, The Vanishing Game. Though Bond himself does not appear in the new book, fans of the franchise will surely be studying Boyd’s next 007 feature more closely for potential product placements after this.

As The Times of London hears, Boyd was paid a six-figure sum to write Land Rover into his latest novella: The Vanishing Game, an eight-part multimedia story featuring video, photography, animation, and sound. Readers can discover the full experience on the book’s interactive Tumblr page or download it as free e-book through both Amazon and Apple.

As Land Rover notes in its press release on The Vanishing Game, which it describes as a digital adventure story and interactive literary experience, not only does the hero, Alec Dunbar, drive a “weather-battered Land Rover Defender,” but “also embedded into the interactive experience are snippets of driving journeys from actual Land Rover owners, curated by the brand through the designated hashtag #WellStoried. When readers scroll over certain words and passages, the story will pause as these owners’ personal driving adventures are displayed on-screen.”

Boyd, meanwhile, sees no issue in writing a Land Rover-sponsored book, and borrowing an idea that has made the James Bond film producers plenty of cash.

“A Land Rover is part of the mental geography of almost every British person, I believe,” stated Boyd in Land Rover’s press release. “Consequently, to be asked to write a story in which a Land Rover features was immensely appealing, almost an act of homage. What I tried to achieve was to make the Land Rover an inherent presence in the story.”

Boyd also cited other writers, including Charles Dickens, who have been similarly commissioned to write stories, Boyd told The Telegraph.

Readers can engage with the story on Tumblr through desktop, mobile and tablet devices, and will be encouraged to share its content across multiple social platforms. A standalone e-book edition of The Vanishing Game is available for free from Apple’s iBooks Store on iPad and Mac. Additionally, it’s available for free from Amazon for Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and the free Kindle app for Android, iOS, PC, Mac, and web browsers.

Boyd’s long and successful writing career received a lot of attention last year when he published the first of his James Bond novels, Solo. Land Rover is clearly leveraging that attention by shrewdly sponsoring this new title.

As expected, publishing industry diehards aren’t taking lightly to the notion of product placement in fiction, even if one of the best-selling book franchises—Fifty Shades of Greyfeatures Audi in the original books and also on-screen. Publishing house Galley Beggar Press tweeted, “God no” when the news came out:

Still, as Digital Book World points out, this cash is a boon for the e-book world, and could signify the beginnings of a brand-book partnership trend.

Another e-book was recently underwritten by Sweet’N Low in exchange for product placement, and features “interactive multimedia content and is meant to be shared by readers on social media.”

Given the excellent production quality and the intriguing new format of Boyd’s book, Land Rover shouldn’t worry; it’s already getting plenty of press for the campaign.

Cleese On Bond and Q

SNN2503CLEE-532_1413157aThe man who was Q, John Cleese, reckons that money has ruined the James Bond series…

John Cleese has form in the James Bond movies. He ascended to the role of Q in Die Another Day, and was originally expected to return to the part. However, Pierce Brosnan departed the world of Bond, the reboot came in, Daniel Craig got the role, and things went back to the start for Bond. Only now has Ben Whishaw been introduced as the new Q.

In a new interview to promote his autobiography, Cleese was asked what he thought of Whishaw’s take on Q. But as it turns out, he’s not seen it. Cleese said that he didn’t watch Skyfall “because I have criticisms of the new Bond movies.”

He continued, telling Shortlist that “two things went wrong: the plots became so impossibly obscure that even professional writers couldn’t figure out what they were about; and the action scenes, which are supposed to make the adrenaline run, go on far too long.”

Cleese argues that “they discovered these movies were popular in places such as the Philippines and South Korea, and so they dropped the humour because no one there is going to understand jokes about the English class system…One of the great things I’ve learnt in the last few years is just how much money spoils everything”, he noted.

The last James Bond movie, Skyfall, remains the most successful 007 adventure of all time, and the same team who made it – led by star Daniel Craig and director Sam Mendes – are soon to start shooting James Bond 24, for release in October next year.

Rotterdam Bond Exhibition

CaptureROTTERDAM, Netherlands – The Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam inaugurated on Monday an exhibition titled “The 007 design, 50 years of Bond Style,” which sheds light on how the British secret agent influenced art, music, technology and design.

The exhibit, which features more than 500 objects and environmental recreations, shows the Bond effect on contemporary culture since the character was created more than 50 years ago by Ian Fleming.

“Not only does the exhibition show James Bond’s history, but also allows living an experience,” Kunsthal curator Jannet de Goede told Efe.

Documents, models, prototypes, scripts, music and film clips, large selections of costumes and accessories, as well as original photographs, many unrevealed to date, provide an insight on how the Bond series were done.

With 23 Bond films in five decades, the museum shows the glamour of the renowned Bond style, which is not only a landmark in the history of cinema, but also for the world of art, music, fashion, technology, car design and lifestyle.

Eight halls of the museum are dedicated to Bond themes and to recreate the atmosphere of the series, since the debut film “Dr. No,” which was produced in 1962 and starred Sean Connery, until the latest, the 2012 production “Skyfall” which starred Daniel Craig.

In the “Gold Room,” a circular bed covered in white linen and a woman’s body painted in gold are a reminiscence of the classic 1964 production “Goldfinger.”

There are also sections dedicated to the author who created Agent 007, British writer Ian Fleming, and a reproduction of the office of M, where the secret agent received his orders.

The exhibition and the multisensory experience of this extensive retrospective of the world’s most famous spy also includes the “Q” branch, the fictional research and division of the British Secret Service, the casino of Casino Royale, foreign countries, villains, enigmas and the Ice Palace of Die Another Day.

“What impresses me most is the way the exhibition has been set up, in an unconventional manner. It is different because the public really strolls through the James Bond movies,” De Goede added.

In the tour through the Bond world, more than 500 objects can be seen, like the white bikini worn by Ursula Andress in Dr. No, Q’s briefcase in From Russia with Love, Scaramanga’s golden gun from The Man with the Golden Gun, and the shark teeth that first appeared in The Spy who loved me.

The spy’s elegance is reflected in the tuxedo Roger Moore wore in 1983’s Octopussy, or one of the suits of Italian firm Brioni which Pierce Brosnan wore in 1995’s “Goldeneye.”

Another section features 007’s famous cars, such as the silver Aston Martin DB5 that first appeared in Goldeneye and made a return to the screens in Skyfall.

The exhibition, which was first seen in London in 2012, will remain at the Kunsthal until February 2015.

Dynamite To Release James Bond Origin Comic

 

Ian Fleming.

 

The world’s most famous super-spy looks to be making a return to comic books, as Dynamite Entertainment has announced the acquisition of “worldwide rights” to publish James Bond comic books, graphic novels and digital comics starting in 2015.

No creative team or specific release plans have yet been revealed, but Dynamite’s press release announcing the license states that the company plans on publishing both “visual adaptations” of Bond creator Ian Fleming’s stories, plus all-new tales — headlined by the character’s pre-“Casino Royale” origins, something largely unexplored in previous films and novels. Along with 007, Dynamite promises “other familiar faces,” both villains and allies, will appear in the new material.

“Ian Fleming’s James Bond is one the best-known characters in the world, yet we know very little of his background and beginnings,” Dynamite editor Mike Lake said in the statement. “The Bond villains are some of the most memorable figures in popular culture… where did they come from? And in some cases, where did they go?”

Dynamite’s deal is with Ian Fleming Publications Ltd., an entity that controls the rights to Fleming’s series of Bond novels as well as the “literary James Bond brand,” including recent books by authors such as Samantha Weinberg and William Boyd.

“We’re thrilled that 007 will be revisiting the world of comics, as Fleming’s novels have a long and successful history in this medium, ever since they began to be published as newspaper comic strips in the late ’50s,” Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications, is quoted in the press release. “Dynamite are the perfect partners to take on the challenge of continuing this legacy, and we are very much looking forward to working with them.”

“We are excited to build upon Fleming’s source material with new canonical stories, and are honored at Dynamite to be a small part of his legacy, to be able to bring new stories to fans around the world,” added Dynamite CEO and publisher Nick Barrucci.

James Bond first appeared in Fleming’s 1953 novel “Casino Royale.” The first film starring the character, 1962’s “Dr. No” starring Sean Connery, kicked off the storied, still-lucrative film franchise; with the most recent entry, “Skyfall,” released in 2012.

Despite the character’s prominence in film and in print, the history of James Bond in comics, while long, is inconsistent. Bond appeared in newspaper comic strips in Great Britain dating back to 1958 — four years before the first Bond film — but after short stints at a variety of publishers, the secret agent has been largely absent from the English-language comic book market since an incomplete adaptation of “GoldenEye” from Topps Comics in 1996.

Book Synopses and Reviews – ALLIGATOR!

5174PMHZRWLALLIGATOR

By I*n Fl*m*ng (Michael K Frirth and Christopher Cerf)
First published: November 1962, Vanitas Books (US only)
Reprinted: January 1963 (US only)

Bibliographic notes and trivia bonus: Frirth and Cerf co-created the tv show “Sesame Street”. Frirth later co-created the children`s show “Fraggle Rock”. Cerf was also one of the judges on the much-maligned Random-House list of this century`s 100 best novels.

Hero: J*mes B*nd 007 (trade cover: World-Wide Import & Export Ltd)
Heroine: Anagram Le Galion
Villain: Lacertus Alligator (steel toothed; face purple from heart condition)
Villain`s Employer: TOOTH (ex-Nazis) and SMERSH
Villain`s Project: Steal British Parliament buildings, kidnap Queen for ransom
Minor villain(s):

-Mr Kynstondi, Mr Pazardzhik (both deaf mutes)
-unnamed gigantic mute Korean
-Heinrich (an alligator)
-Kapitan Hammerstein

Bond`s Friends:

-M (head of the British Secret Service)
-Llewylla (Bond`s housekeeper)
-Bill (Chief of Staff)
-Lilly Postlethwaite (Bond`s secretary)
-Miss Pennyfarthing
-Lord Dingletump (Glades Chairman)
-Felix Ronson (CIA Agent who lost an arm and a leg to a shark in Florida on a previous mission with Bond)
-Squabble (black native, i.e. Quarrel)

Highlights:

-Card game
-Anagram`s backstory (Chapter 13)
-Bond hears the chimes and sees Parliament
-Alligator`s backstory
-Bond disguised as PM, chase up Big Ben

Locations:

-London, England
-Glades (Club)
-Bermuda
-British Parliament Buildings

Summary: (Note: even though the villain`s name is Alligator, several alligators (reptiles) appear in the story. For example, Bond shoots a reptile in Chapter 13, not the villain. Also, there`s no point writing “B*nd” for “Bond” and “*” for “M”, though the chapter titles are kept intact, although hilarity ensues when Bond wonders what * is thinking and doing.)

1: Table 14
Bond bored, contemplates his lethargy in a bar. Alligator and his entourage, including a blonde (Anagram Le Galion) and two deaf mute henchmen, enter. Bond also notices Alligator`s steel teeth [see quote]. One of the henchmen, on Alligator`s behalf, invites Bond to their table.

2: A Spray Of Violets
Alligator spray-paints Bond`s face purple; Alligator loves the colour. Bond and Alligator discuss drinks and Bond explains how his own drink is made, then christens it the “Anagram”. Alligator goes to the washroom. Anagram begs Bond to take her away, but once in her car, she has second thoughts and asks Bond to leave.

3: “Give Oop This Life O` Yourn”
Bond`s Welsh housekeeper Llewylla wakes a cursing Bond up. Bill, the Chief Of Staff, phones. Bond drives to work. Ms Pennyfarthing tells him every London bridge has collapsed.

4: Interview With *
M asks Bond about Alligator. Bond says he`s already met the man. M explains Alligator`s background, how Alligator became one of the world`s richest men, and that he cheats at cards.

5: The Man He Loved And Obeyed
M continues. Alligator cheats at the card game “Go Fish”. The Glades chairman didn`t want a scandal, so he asked M if any of his men could catch Alligator out. Bond prepares two decks of cards at home, picks M up and drives to Glades. Bond and M work out a signal: Bond will propose a toast when he`s cracked Alligator`s system. Once inside Glades, Bond becomes excited at the prospect of doing battle with Alligator.

6: “What`s Your Limit, Alligator?”
Glade chairman Lord Dingletump, whose face has been spray-painted purple, introduces Bond and M to Alligator. Alligator promptly spray-paints their faces purple too. Bond and Alligator agree on terms and sit down to play cards.

7: “J*mes, Go Fish”
Bond regrets the terms he`s just made with Alligator; if he loses 8 sets, it`ll cost him more than triple his annual income. Bond plays badly, Alligator keeps winning. Bond notices the two deaf mutes who stand behind him and realizes they`re using sign language to tell Alligator what cards he has. Bond throws his chair back, knocking one of the deaf mutes over.

8: “Gentlemen, The Queen”
Alligator is ready to collect his winnings, but Bond challenges Alligator to a rematch for double the stakes. M reluctantly says that he`s good for Bond`s losses when Alligator asks. Before the rematch begins, Bond toasts the Queen, throwing his glass into the fireplace. Alligator tosses his and knocks Dingletump on the head. Bond switches cards with his doctored pack when Alligator spray-paints Dingletump again. The remaining deaf-mute signals Bond`s cards to Alligator. However, before Alligator does anything, Bond toasts the Queen again, and while nobody looks, slips both doctored “7s” from his sleeve into his hand, replacing them with his “kings”. Alligator asks for Bond`s kings and is surprised when Bond doesn`t have any. Bond proceeds to demolish Alligator and win almost half a million pounds. Alligator writes out a cheque and says that if I were you I`d cash this quickly.

9: The Still Vexed Bermoothes
In M`s office the next day. Apparently a purple crocodile killed the head of Station B; M wants Bond to investigate. (M also thanks Bond for donating the “Go Fish” winnings to the White Cross which benefits families of service agents killed in duty.) Bond, rather annoyed that M has sent him on a routine investigation, flies to Bermuda, where he happens across Alligator and Anagram at the Coral Beach Club. (Bond is annoyed to find American currency in as much use as British.)

10: A View From The Terrace
Bond lunches with Alligator (who spray-paints Bond`s face) and Anagram (who decides that Bond reminds her of Hoagy Carmichael). Alligator leaves to use the washroom; Anagram begs Bond to come to her room tomorrow evening where she will explain everything.

11: T.O.O.T.H.
Bond gets M`s cable next morning: the criminal organization T.O.O.T.H. has stolen the Parliament buildings, floating them down the River Thames, with the Queen, the PM, and other notables on board. T.O.O.T.H. demands one hundred million pounds ransom. Bond`s friend and former CIA agent Felix Ronson sneaks up on him; thinking it might be an enemy, Bond overpowers him and Ronson lands in scrambled egg. In between good-natured banter a la Fleming`s originals, Felix explains that he`s down here investigating an alligator smuggling ring.

12: An American Chap
Bond meets Bermuda`s Governor, who explains that Alligator bought one of the Bermuda Islands, and built a replica of Parliament painted purple on it. That evening, Bond dines with Anagram.

13: Things That Go Bump In The Night
Bond and Anagram go for a late night swim, where he discovers that Alligator hypnotized her, then painted her torso and nether regions purple. Back in his room, they slide into bed, and an alligator hidden beneath the bedspread lunges at them. Bond throws Anagram to the floor and shoots the alligator five times in the mouth. Soon afterwards, a bellboy knocks on the door and says that Felix Ronson is dead, chewed up by an alligator. Anagram tells Bond her backstory. SMERSH kidnapped her lover, Roger Entwhistle (004) and told her that they would kill him if she didn`t spy for them. They subsequently gave her to Alligator who made the same conditions. Alligator expected her to entice men whom he could feed to his alligators. Alligator would say, “I have to go to the bathroom”, his signal that he wanted her to entice the man, thereby explaining her previous inconsistent behaviour with Bond. Anagram had told Alligator that Bond had changed his mind that day in the restaurant. Alligator retaliated by supposedly having Roger killed. He also blackmailed her about her part in the deaths in case she tried leaving him or telling anybody. She also explains that Alligator`s favourite Alligator, Heinrich, killed the Head of Station B and Felix Ronson, both of whom had been nosing around. Bond decides to visit Alligator`s island base.

14: Alligator`s Lair
Squabble brings the diving gear, and the three of them head for the coast. Alligator, in his car, passes them on the way, and pulls a lever releasing ambergris (whale vomit). Squabble, Bond and Amber`s motor-bicycles skid. Squabble`s goes over the cliff, killing him. Bond and Anagram continue on to Alligator`s lair.

15: Death Of A Frogman
They swim to Alligator`s island; a frogman attacks and a CO2 spear barely misses Bond. The two men struggle and Bond kills him. A whirlpool vortex sucks a struggling Bond and Anagram into Alligator`s lair. Alligator knocks Bond unconcious.

16: The Pleasure Of His Company
Bond comes to, shackled to a chair, and notices an invite to dinner and a menu list. Bond lists how he wants his food prepared. The building vibrates and lists from side to side; Bond realizes that the building has become water-borne like a boat.

17: The House Of Usher
Bond hears two sets of chimes, each apparently four hours apart, and realizes that Alligator stole the Parliament buildings. Stormtroopers march him out at gun point onto a boat which takes him to the real Westminster Hall several hundred yards away; the replica is then sunk.

18 Pandora`s Box
Bond realizes that Alligator intended to float the real buildings out to where the replicas stood so that nobody would be the wiser. Alligator greets him, spray-paints his face purple, then takes him to see the Queen and the PM, the House of Lords, Lord Snowdon (Princess Margaret`s photographer ex-husband), whose faces have also all been spray-painted purple, inside the House of Commons chambers. Two debates are under way, both concerning Britain`s entry into the Common Market. At dinner, Mr Pazardzhik`s fake right arm shoots two darts out of his index finger into a Winston Churchill portrait; each of the darts was dipped in philopon, a Japanese murder drug. When Bond calls Alligator a maniac, Alligator counters that he considers himself an artist and compares himself to Hitler, Alexander The Great and Napoleon. Alligator also implies that Anagram is still a loyal operative, making Bond wonder if Anagram led him into this trap. Alligator tells his life story over dinner: from humble origins, through alligator smuggling, to his current plan and beyond. Several distractions let Bond swipe utensils and Alligator`s spray-paint can off the dinner table when no one is looking. Alligator further explains that he`ll turn on Russia and that the world will be his. An unnamed mute gigantic Korean comes in and karate chops Bond unconscious.

19: Do Not Puncture Or Incinerate
Bond comes to in the Parliament building`s fourth sub-basement. Alligator and a naked Anagram, painted purple from neck to knee, stand there. Bond curses himself for trusting her. Alligator threatens torture and a painful death if Bond doesn`t say who he`s working for. When Bond doesn`t respond, Alligator bites Bond`s calf with his steel teeth. Bond knocks his chair forward, overpowering Alligator. Alligator presses a button and Bond drops through the floor into an alligator pool. The alligator bites, inadvertantly cutting the ropes that bind Bond to the chair. Bond uses the weapons he stole from the dinner table to injure the alligator, ultimately killing it: Bond jams the spray-paint can into the alligator`s mouth. The alligator chomps down on it, the canister explodes, a shard lodges in the reptile`s windpipe. The trap door reopens, Bond vaults out and sees Anagram tied to an overturned chair; she had been on his side all along. Since Alligator`s men don`t suspect her loyalties, Bond wants her to get the MPs out of the ballot room.

20 Noon G.M.T. – Saturday
The MPs debate each other. Anagram cons Kapitan Hammerstein into believing that Alligator wants to see him and his men, and that he`s to give her the gun to keep watch over the British politicans. Bond joins her, and asks for the PM. Mr Pazardzhik shoves a note under the door asking the PM to see Alligator. Bond puts on the PM`s wig and robe, and carries the mace (the ceremonial metal object, not the spray), and goes to see Alligator. Steps away from Alligator, Kynstondi recognizes Bond and Mr Pazardzhik lifts his dart hand to fire. Bond knocks the arm off with the mace, then crushes Mr Kynstondi`s head. Alligator makes a run for it; Bond shoots him and chases him up the stairs to Big Ben. Alligator crumples and falls into the clockwork.

21 “When`s Supper?”
An injured Bond in M`s office. The PM had offered Bond a VC, but M had to explain that the service doesn`t go in for that sort of thing. The PM has told newspaper editors that what happened was a test run for moving the Parliament buildings in case of enemy attack. M offers Bond two weeks leave. Bond finds Anagram waiting for him in his home. They kiss.

Remarks: The famous Harvard Lampoon parody of Fleming`s James Bond novels is actually less a parody than a slavish imitation of Fleming`s originals.

Scenes and details are obviously copied (read: plagarized) from Fleming`s originals. I`m surprised that a plagiarism suit didn`t follow – the authors would never get away with it today – and it probably explains why the book only went through two printings and hasn`t been reprinted since.

It`s also at times a respectable Bond novel in its own right and this works in favour of including it in the series: it comes closer to Fleming`s style and tics (good and bad) than any post-Fleming Bond novelist.

The novel also has one major advantage over Fleming`s originals: it`s only 77 pages long and stapled like TV Guide Magazine, and perhaps no more than 32,000 words. Fleming sometimes went on a bit, and parts of Doctor No and most of Thunderball would have benefitted from being chopped in half.

Kingsley Amis complained that it was too close to the original and I assume that the authors marked down particular scenes from Fleming`s novels, changed them slightly and put them in a new order to create the novel. Compare two sets of examples:

1A) Every country in the world has its favourite bird, a creature which is pointed out with pride to foreigners and whose habits are followed lovingly by the natives. In Bermuda this bird is the long-tail, so called because nine-tenths of its twelve inches consist of two, long, graceful, black-tipped, white features. High above the beautiful stretch of pink sand six of them whirled, their white bodies flashes of light in the now setting sun, their tails meteor trails behind them. Their soft mewing punctuated the sound of the waves as they dipped and soared over the ebbing tide, their tiny bright eyes alert to the slightest movement indicating some hapless sea-creature left behind by the waves. Below them all but a few stragglers had left the beach.

1B) The most beautiful bird in Jamaica, and some say the most beautiful bird in the world, is the streamer-tail or doctor humming-bird. The cock bird is abut nine inches long, but seven inches of it are tail – two long black feathers that curve and cross each other and whose inner edges are in a form of scalloped design. The head and crest are black, the wings dark green, the long bill is scarlet, and the eyes, bright and confiding, are black. The body is emerald green, so dazzling that when the sun is on the breast you see the brightest green thing in nature. In Jamaica, birds that are loved are given nicknames. Trochilus polytmus is called “doctor bird” because his two black streamers remind people of the black tail-coat of the old-time physician.

2A) He had not wished to embarrass the Governor, who seemed to him an easily embarrassable man, and it could in fact have been unwise to give him knowledge of a felony which might easily be the subject of a question in the Legislature Council. […] He had known the purpose of Bond`s visit to the Colony, and that evening, when Bond had shaken him by the hand, the dislike of a peaceable man for violent action had been communicated to Bond by something constrained and defensive in the Governor`s manner. […] Not that Bond had anything against the Governor. He belonged to a routine type that Bond had often encountered round the world – solid, loyal, competent, sober and just: the best type of Colonial civil Servant. Solidly, competently, loyally he would have filled the minor posts for thirty years while the Empire crumbled around him; and now, just in time, by sticking to the ladders and avoiding the snakes, he had got to the top. In a year or two it would be the GCB and out – out to Godalming, or Cheltenham or Tunbridge Wells with a pension and a small packet of memories of places like the Trucial Oman, the Leeward Islands, British Guiana, that no one at the local golf club would have heard of or would care about.

2B) Bond and the governor had disliked each other immediately. It was the instinctive reaction of a man of peace to a man of action, each realizing the necessity of the other`s job, but disagreeing with the principle behind it. To Bond the governor was a typical civil servant, holding on until he could retire on a nice pension to a little farm in the south of England and grow roses. To the governor Bond was the sort of person who caused embarrassing incidents, and his job was to avoid embarrassment. The meeting had been brief. Bond was assured of the full support and cooperation of government forces should he need them, and he in turn had assured the governor that there would be little likelihood of that.

I`ll leave it to the reader to decide which from each set Fleming wrote.

The authors also copy other details. Bond`s hand was scarred by SMERSH. Felix has a hook instead of an arm and the book refers to the Florida incident where Felix was injured. In Chapter 2, Bond notes that Anagram drives like a man and uses blinkers to indicate turns. After she leaves him, he calls her a “bitch”; compare what Bond says at the end of Chapter 11 in Thunderball after he`s met Domino. The novel also relies heavily on Moonraker: the card game; the last chapter when M tells an injured Bond that the service doesn`t go in for awards, gives him a leave of absence, and explains how the government and the press will cover up the mishap. Mind you, future Bond films and novels also copy from it (i.e. the villain has steel teeth like Jaws; the henchman`s hand shoots a dart into a picture; an exploding compressed air canister kills a villain).

There`s not that much humour. What little there is, is more of the “throwaway” kind (and some of the more over-the-top humour is rather strained): A large sign proclaimed “World-Wide Import & Export Ltd,” and few knew this was the headquarters for HM Secret Service. Bond thought of the few innocents who occasionally wandered in trying to import or export something. They were taken to the dummy offices on the fifth floor where they were politely, but firmly, shot.” Actually, one of the funniest things in the book is the publisher`s blurb about the other Vanitas Books by I*N FL*M*NG being sold out. Or in Chapter 11, Bond says about M: He had always called Allen Dulles whenever there was a difficult situation and it was difficult to convince him that Allen Dulles was no longer in charge of the CIA.

The novel is at it`s best when it tries to be an exciting thriller in its own right. The 14% through 36% section of the novel features an exciting card game which has what others call the “Fleming sweep”. It`s terrific, exciting, with ingenious bits: Bond cottons onto the deaf-mutes` gambit, he realizes that Alligator asked for tens because the deaf-mute must have splayed his fingers out when Bond knocked him over. This is great, though Bond`s toast reeks of parody and seems straight out of the 1967 Casino Royale parody. Notwithstanding this, it`s these clever exciting parts that make me argue that the book should be counted as a legitimate series entity.

There are also wonderful details about Alligator`s background in Chapter 4: people threw baby alligators into the sewers, the alligators grew in size, and Alligator befriended them – which is a strikingly Fleming touch, one that doesn`t rely on the originals, and this is how the authors should have written the novel. M says, “Then when they got too big or their owners became bored with them, they flushed them down the toilet. In the sewers they just went right on growing. Thrived there. Apparently he grew very attached to them and they to him. Found he could do a very good business selling them to zoos, and of course he could sell the baby ones for conversation pieces.” In fact, if I didn`t know any better I would have thought that Fleming had written this passage.

Chapter 6 has a nice bit about stupid Bulgarians which sounds like Fleming but works on its own. Besides there were the two deaf-mute Bulgarian bodyguards. Bulgarians, B*nd had always known, are inherently stupid and muscular. Lacking the intelligence to be criminal masterminds in their own right, they usually ended up as hired thugs. He remembered that while he had been working on the Casino case in France, the Deuxieme Bureau had uncovered a whole pool of Bulgars expert in sabotage and murder jobs. Alligator had probably hired his bodyguards from just such a pool.

In Chapter 12, the Governor explains that Alligator bought a Bermuda Island, and built a purple replica of the British Parliament on it (reminiscent of Doctor No). There`s also a nice, believable (until you think about it) explanation about water shortage, which is probably a parody of Fleming`s poor research. (Mind you, even if it isn`t, it`s detailed and fascinating the way Fleming can be.)

Chapter 13 is one of the book`s best chapters, and has some good writing: “Does Smersh mean anything to you?” “I`ve heard of it,” he replied shortly. Or when Anagram explains Alligator`s “washroom” cue; though parody, it`s nicely done. In fact, up to that point I thought Alligator`s penchant for going to the washroom was amateurish. I read her explanation and thought, okay, that`s good writing. The authors convinced me.

Anagram`s background and predicament is a high point and though it copies Vesper`s situation in Casino Royale, it`s good, strong writing and dramatically effective, perhaps more than Fleming`s original. In the same chapter Anagram mentions that her mother wrestled with her conscience for 9 months (after becoming pregnant); this is Fleming-like and also good writing.

In Chapter 16, Bond, captured, is invited to dinner and given a menu list. Bond specifices exactly how he wants his meal prepared and it`s parody, but it works (and is funny); Bond notes that the shrimp should be de-veined before being cooked. It`s also good, effective writing; it would work well in a regular Bond novel. I suppose a crucial element of a successful parody is for the scenes and details to work as parody and non-parody.

In Chapter 17, Bond hears two sets of chimes and realizes that Alligator stole the Parliament buildings; it`s a nice bit and exciting and has the same charge you get from the high points in the other novels.

Chapter 18 is another fine chapter, with funny details: (it`s presumably a parody of the dining scene in Doctor No) Bond swipes almost everything off the dinner table to use as weapons and nobody notices. There`s one deft, funny bit: he blows the candle out and tucks it in robe.

The same chapter is clever: the kidnapped politicians debate England`s entry into the Common Market. It`s funny and yet entirely logical and it works. Think about it, what else are they going to do? They`ll have to debate it at some point so why not now? It`s brilliant because it`s so believable. It`s off the wall, yet expected.

Also in Chapter 18, Alligator explains that, “With the help of the Detroit Purple Gang, to whom my aesthetic intuition led me directly, I entered the field of international alligator smuggling: my already substantial income increased fourfold, and I was able to expand my Nazi youth group into a sort of special executive for counterintelligence, terrorism, revenge, and extortion [Note the initials: s.p.e.c.t.r.e] – in short, The Organization Organized to Hate, or, simply, T.O.O.T.H.” There are other clever details: Alligator explains his Russian connections (or “connexions”, Fleming`s way of spelling the word): three of their agents stole an atom bomb (Thunderball), and a fourth, Gary Powers (though he`s not actually mentioned), allowed his plane to be forced down over Russia. One of several ingenious Fleming-style details. (It makes it even less understandable why John Gardner never had the knack when Frirth/Cerf got it downpat.)

The finale is exciting and clever (and at these times it forfeits the label parody): Bond disguises himself as the PM and approaches Alligator. It builds in intensity and is probably more exciting than Fleming because the book is so compact.

However, I never thought I`d say this in regards to Fleming`s writing, but Fleming is more stylish than Frith and Cerf. It copies Fleming`s style, but it doesn`t have the same sturdiness or exuberance. Alligator keeps saying “chum” and botching Bond`s name; these tics are actually more annoying as the book goes along and he isn`t a great villain. The novel is also structurally flawed; the story takes an awkward turn at the 40% mark when it shifts from the card game to the Bermuda plot. It also slows down immediately after the card game and takes several chapters to work itself back up. Chapter 11 awkwardly shoehorns news about the disappearing Parliament buildings, and at other times the novel is too rushed (i.e. Felix Ronson is a walk-on/get-killed part) and needed fleshing out.

Chapter 19 probably features the book`s worst scene. Bond fights an alligator which keeps biting chunks out of him. It`s presumably meant to parody the obstacle-course sequence from Doctor No, but it`s sloppy and doesn`t work. It didn`t bother me as much re-reading the novel, but it would have worked better had it been less stupid. However, there`s one inspired bit of writing: B*nd was not a religious man, but at that moment he gazed toward the black ceiling and uttered a silent word of thanks. As if in answer, a flash of blinding yellow light appeared from the ceiling. The trap door had reopened.

Should Alligator be considered a “real” Bond novel? Yes, even though Glidrose doesn`t own the copyright. John Gardner tended towards parody at his worst and the most ludicrous moments in his novels aren`t that far removed from the parody here. It also fits in more easily with the books than the 1967 Casino Royale does with the Bond films. There are moments straight out of that film (during the toast, Alligator throws his glass back and dings Dingletump on the head, Chapter 8), but it`s actually very Fleming-like. It also has the crucial ingredient that, for example, John Gardner never grasped: the situations can be ridiculous but the author must be absolutely straight-faced and treat almost everything with the utmost tongue-in-cheek seriousness. The authors take themselves very seriously. It`s part of the book`s charm and explains its popularity.

Characters: Goldfinger

Subject: Auric Goldfinger
Organization: Goldfinger Industries
Height: 5`11″
Weight:235lbs.
Hair: Red
Eyes: Brown
Age: 52
Skills: Fire Combat
Weaknesses: Greed
Fields of Expertise: Chemistry; Economics/Business; Fine Arts; Local
Customs; Rare Collectibles; Golf

Background: Millionaire industrialist; was one of the richest men in England. He escaped across the Berlin Wall one Christmas and soon opened a small jewelry store in London (he was a jewler in Riga like his father and grandfather). Goldfinger expanded his empire to include factories, biological institutes, horse breeding farms and research facilities. He had the largest private gold reserve in the world, though rumors of smuggling have somewhat tarnished that record.

Goldfinger`s greed led him to conceive the ill fated Operation: Grand Slam, in which he attempted to irradiate the gold supply of Fort Knox, thus increasing the price of his own gold for the next 57 years. 007 thwarted the operation and later, inside of a private jet, dueled Goldfinger to the death, whereupon Goldfinger was sucked out of the cabin and plummetted to the Earth. Or did he? Rumors have run rampant that Goldfinger survived the impact of his fall, though he had to live in an iron lung to survive. Some intelligence reports have suggested that Auric Goldfinger, or his mysterious twin brother, may have been behind an attempt to fool the world`s leading scientists into believing that base metals could now be turned into gold.

Subject: Oddjob
Organization: Auric Goldfinger`s private bodyguard
Height: 5`11″
Weight:225lbs.
Age: Unknown
Skills: Torture; Hand To Hand Combat; Fire Combat; Explosives; Breaking and Entering; Stealth; Driving
Weaknesses: Low Intelligence
Strengths: Loyalty
Method of Killing: Deadly bowler hat; when aimed right, it can break a man`s neck

Background: Oddjob was the consummate henchman: loyal, unswerving, skillful and deadly as sin. Mute by birth, he let his actions do all the talking. Auric Goldfinger told the story that he found Oddjob during a trip to Korea uprooting tree stumps and immediately hired him as his professional bodyguard. Oddjob was never seen without his derby, which contained a reinforced alloy sharpened to a razor`s edge. Aimed right, the force of impact when thrown could kill a man or woman instantly. Ironically, Oddjob`s trusty possession also became his doom; while fighting with 007 inside of Fort Knox, his hat became wedged in between two steel bars. When he went to retrieve it, Bond grabbed a live wire, applied it to the steel bars and electrocuted Oddjob.

Pussy-Galore-in-GoldfingerSubject: Pussy Galore
Organization: Pussy Galore`s Flying Circus
Age: 30
Height: 5`6″
Weight: 127 lbs
Hair: Blonde
Eyes: Brown
Skills: Seduction; Piloting; Judo; Hand to Hand Combat; Firearms; Stealth; Evasion; Charisma
Weaknesses: Greed
Fields of Expertise: None

Background: Hails from America, the only daughter in a family of five sons. She ran away at an early age and found work as a mechanic`s apprentice at a small airfield. She soon learned to fly and got a license. Galore found flying much preferable to physical labor. Disgusted with bias against female fliers, she organized a group of other female fliers and started Pussy Galore`s Flying Circus. The troupe gave her the means to start her own air freight company. The company was bought out by Auric Goldfinger and Galore became his private pilot soon after. There was no hint of intimacy between her and Goldfinger, or anyone in her past. She has displayed a marked disdain for men in general and maintains a very aloof and frigid attitude. It took all of Bond`s cunning, strength and charisma to win Pussy over to the side of right and turn against Goldfinger. Her betrayal of Goldfinger, by switching the canisters of deadly gas with non-toxic gas, doomed Operation: Grandslam and set in motion a chain of events that sent Goldfinger playing his golden harp.

Subject: Bonita
Organization: None
Height: 5`8″
Weight: 110lbs
Hair: Black
Eyes: Hazel
Skills: Seduction; Dancing
Weaknesses: None
Location of Contact: Havana

Background: Sketchy. Another brief dalliance Bond had, this time in Havana. Bonita was an exotic club dancer whom Bond had been seeing while undercover in Cuba. After successfully completing his mission in Cuba, he dropped by her club one last time to say goodbye. Bonita was ready. After her dance, she retreated to her dressing room to take a quick bath. 007 entered the room, handed her a towel, and the two embraced. Bonita was being used to keep 007 busy so he could be knocked out and later interrogated. But Bond, using his quick wits, saw the reflection of his attacker, sneaking up from behind him, in the reflective eyes of Bonita. As his attacker came down with full force, Bond spun Bonita around to catch the brunt of the attack.

Subject: Jill Masterson
Organization: Goldfinger Industries
Height: 5`8″
Weight: 124lbs
Hair Color: Blonde
Eyes: Green
Age:29
Skills: Seduction; Gambling
Weaknesses: None

Background: Jill Masterson was one of 007`s more memorable conquests. He caught her in Miami, assisting her boss Auric Goldfinger in cheating at a card game. Bond made Goldfinger lose big and then took his prized possession, Jill, to his room. Jill was no prostitute. She was paid only to be seen with Goldfinger, but Goldfinger left an impression on Jill Bond would never forget. After having Bond knocked unconscious by Oddjob, Goldfinger had Jill suffocated by having her entire body lathered in gold paint, from head to toe. Jill died a horrible, slow death from skin suffocation and was left in Bond`s bed.

Born: 1/12/1937
London, England

Subject: Tilly Masterson
Organization: None
Height: 5`8″
Weight: 119lbs
Hair Color: Blonde
Eyes: Hazel
Age:31
Skills: Firearms; Stealth; Evasion; Local Customs
Weaknesses: Driving

Background: Tilly Masterson was the sister of Jill Masterson, paid companion to Auric Goldfinger. For years Tilly had tried to convince her younger sister to leave Auric and his criminal world. She`d long since believed that Jill could get herself mixed up in something deadly. Sadly, Tilly`s suspicions proved true, and when she learned of Jill`s untimely demise, she headed straight for Switzerland to kill Auric and avenger her sister`s death. She almost pulled it off. By teaming with 007, albeit reluctantly, she improved her chances for success. However, Oddjob`s deadly derby proved to be too much to contend with and Tilly died instantly when the bowler made contact with her neck.