The title story of the collection lent its name to the 12th official James Bond film in the EON Productions series, For Your Eyes Only. Released in 1981, it was the fifth film to star Roger Moore as the British Secret Service agent, Commander James Bond. The film used elements and characters from the short stories "For Your Eyes Only" and "Risico" from this collection. "From a View To a Kill" lent its title to the 14th Bond film, A View to a Kill (1985). Plot elements from "The Hildebrand Rarity" were incorporated in the 16th Bond film, Licence to Kill (1989). The twenty-second Bond film, scheduled for release in 2008, is entitled Quantum of Solace.
The title of the collection is derived from a piece of jargon often used in government circles with regards to classified information. An "Eyes Only" notification indicates either a) the information contained is for the knowledge of authorised readers only; b) information contained is not to be discussed with anyone; or both of these.
In 1959 Fleming gathered his outlines and novelised them for a collection he originally titled "The Rough with the Smooth". The title was changed for publication to For Your Eyes Only and was also published with the subtitle "Five Secret Occasions in the Life of James Bond". In America the subtitle was changed to "Five Secret Exploits of James Bond". In later editions, the subtitle was dropped. The story "For Your Eyes Only" was originally written as the third episode in the James Bond TV series, first titled "Man's Work", later "Rough Justice" and "Death Leaves an Echo" before finally settling on "For Your Eyes Only". "Risico" (originally spelled "Risiko") and "From a View to a Kill" were two other stories from the aborted CBS television series.
Out of the five short stories included in the book, two were added in addition to the outlines Fleming had previously written for the proposed television series. The first, "The Hildebrand Rarity", was first published in Playboy in March 1960. It provided the character of Milton Krest for the 1989 Bond film Licence to Kill. In the story Krest uses a stingray's tail to whip his wife, an idea that reappears in the film Licence to Kill, though in that film the weapon is brandished by the main villain, Franz Sanchez, against his unfaithful girlfriend. The second story, "Quantum of Solace" was an experimental piece Fleming had previously written for the May 1959 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. The short story has no secret agent elements. In January 2008 it was announced that Quantum of Solace would be the title of the 22nd Bond film.
The title is taken from a version of the words to a traditional hunting song, "D'ye ken John Peel?": "From a find to a check, from a check to a view,/ From a view to a kill in the morning". The title "From a View to a Kill" was later used for the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill, starring Roger Moore. Originally, the film was to be titled the same as the short story, and was named as the title of the next Bond film at the end of the closing credits of Octopussy, but was changed just prior to release. The title, plus the fact part of the film takes place in France, is where any similarity between the short story and the film end.
"From a View to a Kill" was initially intended to be the backstory for Hugo Drax, the villain of Moonraker. The similar story would have taken place during World War II and featured Drax as the motorcycle assassin who crashes his bike and is taken to an American field hospital. Later the hospital is bombed leaving Drax with amnesia and a disfigured face.
Many of the details of this story are used in the film For Your Eyes Only, including the fact that a couple named Havelock are murdered by a hitman named Gonzalez. In the film, though, the daughter's name is Melina and the murder takes place in Spain. Melina Havelock does take her revenge in the film very much as Judy Havelock does in the story, but the subject of Melina's crossbow assassination is Gonzalez and he is killed while jumping into his swimming pool – a rather startling sequence on screen, just as it is on the page.
Bond makes a remark after dinner when the other guests have left in order to stimulate conversation, about always having thought it would be nice to marry an air hostess. This solicits a careful reply from the elderly Governor of The Bahamas who tells 007 a sad tale about a relationship between a former civil servant he calls Philip Masters, stationed in Bermuda, and air hostess Rhoda Llewellyn. After meeting aboard a flight to London the two eventually married but after a time Rhoda became unhappy with her life as a housewife. She then began a long open affair with the eldest son of a rich Bermudan family. As a result Masters' work deteriorated and he suffered a nervous breakdown. After recovering he was given a break from Bermuda by the governor and sent on an assignment to Washington to negotiate fishing rights with the US. At the same time the governor's wife had a talk with Rhoda just as her affair ended. Masters returned a few months later and decided to end his marriage, although he and Rhoda continued to appear as a happy couple in public. Masters returned alone to the UK, leaving a penniless Rhoda stranded in Bermuda, an act which he'd been incapable of carrying out merely months earlier. But Masters never recovered emotionally, nor recaptured any spark of vitality. The governor goes on to tell Bond how after a time Rhoda married a rich Canadian and seems to be happy. When Bond remarks that she hardly deserved her good fortune, the governor says that Masters had always been rather weak, and that perhaps Fate chose Rhoda as its instrument to teach him a lesson. The governor then reveals that the dinner companions whom Bond found so boring were in fact Rhoda and her rich Canadian husband. Bond then tells the governor Rhoda was much more interesting than he had thought.
While the story does not include action elements, as other Fleming tales do, it attempts to posit that Bond's adventures pale in comparison with real life drama. Bond reflects that the lives of the people he passes somewhat superficial judgements upon can in fact hide poignant episodes.
Quantum of Solace has been announced as the name of the 22nd Bond movie, although it only shares the story's title, and nothing else.
The characters of Colombo and Kristatos, and the initial confusion as to which one was really the target of Bond's investigation are central to the plot of the film For Your Eyes Only. The morning raid on Kristatos' warehouse serves as a central action sequence in the film, as well.
During the same night Bond hears Mr. Krest choking, after which Bond discovers Krest has been murdered and the rare fish was stuffed into his mouth. So as not to be entangled in an investigation for the murder of Krest, Bond throws him overboard and cleans up the scene of the crime. The following day, after the Wavekrest has reached port, no one knows what had happened to Mr. Krest and all presume he fell overboard. Bond investigates both Barbey and Mrs. Krest and finally comes to the conclusion that Mrs. Krest had murdered Milton in an act of revenge for the way in which he had treated her, although she never admits to committing the crime and Bond never asks.
Milton Krest, the Wavekrest, "The Corrector", and his "foundation" were used in the 1989 Bond film Licence to Kill.
The first three stories were adapted by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky and are largely considered a departure from what readers of the comic strips were used to, focusing more on character details and the plot of the story. More so than any other adaptation, "Risico", "From a View to a Kill", and "For Your Eyes Only" are considered to be the most faithful adaptations of Ian Fleming's original work. All three comics were reprinted in 2004 by Titan Books and are included in the Goldfinger collection.
The fourth adaptation, "The Hildebrand Rarity", did not appear until six years after the comic strip versions of the other stories. It was adapted by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Yaroslav Horak. This adaptation was reprinted by Titan Books in the early 1990s and again in 2004 as part of the Octopussy collection.
The remaining story in the collection, "Quantum of Solace", is one of only three Ian Fleming James Bond stories that has never been adapted as a comic strip. (The other two are "The Property of a Lady" and "007 in New York.")
In addition, Penguin Books has announced a compilation, Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, which will also include the contents of Octopussy and the Living Daylights, is scheduled to be released as a tie-in with the film Quantum of Solace on 26 August, 2008.