Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fleming @ 100

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of author Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, Agent 007 of Her Majesty's Secret Service, licensed to kill.

A mere dozen novels and two short story collections beget a series of 21 "official" Bond films (plus two rogue productions), various radio adaptations, a long-running newspaper comic strip, a handful of comic books, scores of non-fiction tomes, an astounding range or merchandise, spin-offs (i.e. James Bond Jr.) and a highly-successful series of pastiche novels by authors like Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson. The latest of these, Devil May Care, by Sebastian Faulks, goes on sale today.

It's no secret that I'm a Bond fan, but I'm a Fleming fan, too. That's not always the case, as I know many people who love the movies, but have never cracked the cover of one of the source novels. And that's a shame. Fleming's prose style is definitely of an earlier era, but it flows so smoothly and moves so quickly, that it's not difficult to read. On the contrary, I can't imagine anyone not getting caught up and swept along by an Ian Fleming adventure novel.

Recently, I transferred my VHS tapes of two Ian Fleming TV biopics – The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (alias Spymaker) with Jason Connery and Goldeneye, starring Charles Dance (in an amazing performance) – to DVD. Both films took great liberties with the details of Fleming's life, striving to enhance the similarities between Fleming and his famous creation. And now there's talk of another one – this time intended as a big-budget theatrical feature – to be produced by (and possibly starring) Leonardo Dicaprio.

I find that astounding, and a great tribute to the man and an indication of the significance of his impact on global popular culture. Seriously, how many writers' lives are made into movies, never mind three?

Happy Birthday, sir. And thanks.

5 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

I still have a few Fleming novels to read but the ones I've read I've enjoyed. Especially "Thunderball," and "From Russia with Love"

vidsaw said...

Thanks for posting that. Ian Fleming was a great writer.

He had a fantastic ability to pace a story (The Fleming Sweep is what Raymond Benson called it, I think.)

He was wonderful with details, particular in describing other countries and cultures, although some of it comes through the British colonial frame of reference, which can read a bit uncomfortably for a modern person.

I think I went through most of the Fleming books when I was in my mid to late teens. A perfect time to read them, really. Bonds cynicism can really speak to an 18 year old. :)

But even though that was a loooong time ago, I can still remember scenes and plots and characters and the sweep of those wonderful books

Thank You sir, indeed.

Jackanaples said...

Fleming's creation has had an indelible effect on my life; so, I ate scrambled eggs for breakfast this morning (his favorite breakfast dish) and drank three vodka martinis during lunch today in the man's honor. Someone else can smoke the 80 cigarettes for him as that's not my vice.

Aren't there twelve novels and two short story collections though?

Christopher Mills said...

There are indeed. I don't know where I got the "7" from... I'll fix it in the post.

laughingwolf said...

i began reading fleming as a teen, and most enjoyed sean connery's playing bond, at that time

while the honors are great, i have my doubts about dicaprio... in anything