James Bond 007 is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. The character has also been used in the second longest running and second most successful film franchise to date, starting in 1962 with Dr. No. There have been 21 films in the EON Productions series to date, with the 22nd, Quantum of Solace, due for release in November 2008 (although the UK release date has been moved forward to 31st October ). In addition there have been two independent feature productions (a 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale starring David Niven in the title role, and 1983's Never Say Never Again) and one Fleming-licenced American television adaptation of the first novel, aired in 1954. In 1956, Moonraker was also adapted into a South African radio play starring Bob Holness as Bond. In 1990, You Only Live Twice was adapted into a 90 minute radio play for BBC Radio 4 with Michael Jayston playing James Bond.
After Fleming's death in 1964, subsequent James Bond novels were written by Kingsley Amis (as Robert Markham), John Pearson, John Gardner and Raymond Benson. In addition Charlie Higson has begun to write a series of books detailing the "Young James Bond". Moreover, Christopher Wood novelised two screenplays, while other writers have authored unofficial versions of the character.
In July 2007, it was announced that Sebastian Faulks has been commissioned to write a new Bond novel to commemorate Fleming's 100th Birthday. The book - titled Devil May Care - was published on 27 May 2008 with an imposing launch involving the Royal Navy's HMS Exeter and a military speedboat racing up the Thames.
In 2008, BBC Radio 4 was granted the rights for a one-shot broadcast of a radio adaptation of another 007 novel: Dr. No, with Toby Stephens (who portrayed the villain in Die Another Day) as James Bond. The EON Productions films are generally termed as "official" films originating with the purchase of the James Bond film rights by producer Harry Saltzman in the late 1950s.
Apart from movies, TV and radio, Bond has also been adapted for many other media, including comic strips and video games.
Commander James Bond, KCMG, RNVR is an agent of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) (more commonly, MI6). He was created in January 1952 by British journalist Ian Fleming while on holiday at his Jamaican estate, Goldeneye. The hero, James Bond, was named after an American ornithologist, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide book Birds of the West Indies. Fleming, a keen birdwatcher, had a copy of Bond's field guide at Goldeneye. Of the name, Fleming once said in a Reader's Digest interview, "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'James Bond' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers.' Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure — an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.
Nevertheless, news sources speculated about real spies or other covert agents after whom James Bond might have been modeled or named, such as Sidney Reilly or William Stephenson, best-known by his wartime intelligence codename of Intrepid. Although they are similar to Bond, Fleming confirmed none as the source figure, nor did Ian Fleming Publications nor any of Fleming's biographers, such as John Pearson or Andrew Lycett. But Fleming did make the following quote:
"James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is...William Stephenson." --Ian Fleming, The Times, October 21, 1962.
James Bond's parents are Andrew Bond, a Scotsman, and Monique Delacroix, from Canton de Vaud, Switzerland. Their nationalities were established in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Fleming emphasised Bond's Scottish heritage in admiration of Sean Connery's cinematic portrayal, whereas Bond's mother is named after a Swiss fiancée of Fleming's. A planned, but unwritten, novel would have portrayed Bond's mother as a Scot. Ian Fleming was a member of a prominent Scottish banking family. In his fictional biography of secret agent 007, John Pearson gave Bond's birth date as 11 November (Armistice Day) 1920 (The beginning of the film "For Your Eyes Only" gives his wife's birthdate as 1943. This seemingly assumes Bond to be younger than Pearson claimed). There is a reference to Bond's age in Fleming's You Only Live Twice, when Tanaka tells him he was born in the Year of the Rat (1924/25 or even 1912/13). In the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond's family motto is found to be "Orbis non sufficit" ("The world is not enough"). The novel also states that the family that used this motto may not necessarily be the same Bond family from which James Bond came.
After completing the manuscript for Casino Royale, Fleming allowed his friend, later his editor, poet William Plomer to read it. Plomer liked it and submitted it to Jonathan Cape, who did not like it as much. Cape finally published it in 1953 on the recommendation of Fleming's older brother Peter, an established travel writer.
Most researchers agree that James Bond is a romanticised version of Ian Fleming, himself a jet-setting womanizer. Both Fleming and Bond attended the same schools, preferred the same foods (scrambled eggs, and coffee), maintained the same habits (drinking, smoking, wearing short-sleeve shirts), shared the same notions of the perfect woman in looks and style, and had similar naval career paths (both rising to the rank of naval Commander). They also shared similar height, hairstyle, and eye colour. Some suggest that Bond's suave and sophisticated persona is based on that of a young Hoagy Carmichael. In Casino Royale, the anti-heroine Vesper Lynd remarks, "Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless." Likewise, in Moonraker, Special Branch Officer Gala Brand thinks that Bond is "certainly good-looking . . . Rather like Hoagy Carmichael in a way. That black hair falling down over the right eyebrow. Much the same bones. But there was something a bit cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold.
Fleming did admit to being partly inspired by his service in the Naval Intelligence Division of the Admiralty, most notably an incident depicted in Casino Royale, when Fleming and Naval Intelligence Director Admiral Godfrey went on a mission to Lisbon en route to the United States during World War II. At the Estoril Casino, which harboured spies of warring regimes due to Portugal's neutrality, Fleming was 'cleaned out' by a "chief German agent" in a game of Chemin de Fer. Admiral Godfrey's account differs in that Fleming played Portuguese businessmen, whom Fleming fantasised as German agents he defeated at cards. Moreover, references to "Red Indians" in Casino Royale (four times; twice in the final page) are to his own 30 Assault Unit.
In February 1952, Ian Fleming began writing his first James Bond novel. At the time, Fleming was the foreign manager for Kemsley Newspapers, owners of The Daily Express in London. Upon accepting the job, Fleming asked for two months' yearly vacation in his contract—time spent writing in Jamaica. Between 1953 and his death in 1964, Fleming published twelve novels and one short-story collection (a second collection was published posthumously). Later, continuation novels were written by Kingsley Amis (as Robert Markham), John Gardner, Charlie Higson, Raymond Benson, who was the first American author of James Bond, and Sebastian Faulks. The Young Bond series of novels was begun in 2005, by Charlie Higson.
The James Bond films have grossed over $4 billion (£2 Billion) (nearly $11 billion when adjusted for inflation) worldwide, making it the second highest grossing film series ever after Harry Potter when not adjusting for inflation.
The newest movie in the series, Quantum of Solace, is to be released in the UK on October 31, 2008 and in the US on November 14, 2008.
|Franchise Count||Title||Year||Actor||Director||Total Box Office||Budget||Inflation Adjusted |
Total Box Office**
|1||Dr. No||1962||Sean Connery||Terence Young||$59,600,000||$1,000,000||$425,488,741|
|2||From Russia with Love||1963||$78,900,000||$2,500,000||$555,909,803|
|5||You Only Live Twice||1967||Lewis Gilbert||$111,600,000||$9,500,000||$720,388,023|
|6||On Her Majesty's Secret Service||1969||George Lazenby||Peter R. Hunt||$87,400,000||$7,000,000||$513,445,231|
|7||Diamonds Are Forever||1971||Sean Connery||Guy Hamilton||$116,000,000||$7,200,000||$617,520,987|
|8||Live and Let Die||1973||Roger Moore||$161,800,000||$7,000,000||$785,677,477|
|9||The Man with the Golden Gun||1974||$97,600,000||$7,000,000||$426,826,774|
|10||The Spy Who Loved Me||1977||Lewis Gilbert||$185,400,000||$14,000,000||$659,607,920|
|12||For Your Eyes Only||1981||John Glen||$195,300,000||$28,000,000||$463,219,801|
|14||A View to a Kill||1985||$152,400,000||$30,000,000||$305,366,542|
|15||The Living Daylights||1987||Timothy Dalton||$191,200,000||$40,000,000||$362,876,056|
|16||Licence to Kill||1989||$156,200,000||$42,000,000||$271,586,451|
|17||GoldenEye||1995||Pierce Brosnan||Martin Campbell||$353,400,000||$60,000,000||$499,954,330|
|18||Tomorrow Never Dies||1997||Roger Spottiswoode||$346,600,000||$110,000,000||$465,588,535|
|19||The World Is Not Enough||1999||Michael Apted||$390,000,000||$135,000,000||$504,705,882|
|20||Die Another Day||2002||Lee Tamahori||$456,000,000||$142,000,000||$546,490,272|
|21||Casino Royale||2006||Daniel Craig||Martin Campbell||$594,293,106||$150,000,000||$635,563,460|
|22||Quantum of Solace||2008||Marc Forster||$230,000,000|
* Figure as of 6 May, 2007 (source - commanderbond.net).
** Figures are inflated to 2008 dollars as of 24 March 2008 figures based on the Consumer Price Index.
*** All figures are in US Dollars
In 1967, Casino Royale was made as a Bond film starring David Niven as Sir James Bond 007 and Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd. David Niven, had, in fact, been Ian Fleming's preference for the part of James Bond. EON Productions, however, chose Sean Connery. David Niven is the only James Bond actor who is mentioned by name in the text of two of Fleming's James Bond novels. In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond visits an exclusive ski resort and is told that David Niven is a frequent visitor and in You Only Live Twice Kissy Suzuki mentions him as the only man who had been kind to her in her brief foray to Hollywood. Ursula Andress is also mentioned in the text of On Her Majesty's Secret Service as being present at the ski resort.
The 1973 BBC documentary Omnibus: The British Hero featured Christopher Cazenove playing a number of such title characters (e.g. Richard Hannay and Bulldog Drummond), including James Bond in dramatised scenes from Goldfinger - notably featuring the hero being threatened with the novel's circular saw, rather than the film's laser beam - and Diamonds Are Forever.
A legal loophole allowed Kevin McClory to release a remake of Thunderball titled Never Say Never Again in 1983. The film, featuring Sean Connery as Bond, is not considered an "official" James Bond film because it is not part of the Bond film franchise from EON Productions and United Artists, although it is currently owned by United Artists parent MGM. Its original theatrical release in October 1983 actually created a situation in which two Bond movies were playing in theaters at the same time, as the "official" EON Bond film, Octopussy was still playing in theaters. Since then, MGM has bought the name "James Bond", preventing a repeat of this episode.
|Year||Title||Type||Actor||Total Box Office||Budget||Inflation Adjusted |
Total Box Office**
|1954||Casino Royale||TV Episode||Barry Nelson||n/a||$25,000||n/a|
|1967||Casino Royale||Film||David Niven||$44,400,000||$12,000,000||$274,243,113|
|1983||Never Say Never Again||Film||Sean Connery||$160,000,000||$36,000,000||$331,405,622|
|1990||You Only Live Twice||Radio||Michael Jayston||n/a||n/a|
|1991||James Bond Jr.||TV cartoon series||Corey Burton||n/a||n/a|
|2008||Dr. No||Radio||Toby Stephens||n/a||n/a|
James Bond has long been a household name and remains a huge influence within the spy genre. The Austin Powers series by writer, producer and comedian Mike Myers, and other parodies such as Johnny English (2003), Bons baisers de Hong Kong, OK Connery, the "Flint" series starring James Coburn as Derek Flint, the "Matt Helm" movies starring Dean Martin, and Casino Royale (1967) are testaments to Bond's prominence in popular culture.
The Bond series also received many homages and parodies in popular media. The 1960s TV imitations of James Bond such as I Spy, Get Smart, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. went on to become popular successes in their own right, the last having enjoyed contributions by Fleming towards its creation: the show's lead character, "Napoleon Solo," was named after a character in Fleming's novel Goldfinger; Fleming also suggested the character name April Dancer, which was later used in the spin-off series The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.. A reunion television movie, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1983), is notable for featuring a cameo by George Lazenby as James Bond in tribute to Fleming (for legal reasons, the character was credited as "JB").
George Lucas has said on various occasions that Sean Connery's portrayal of Bond was one of the primary inspirations for the Indiana Jones character, a reason Connery was chosen for the role of Indiana's father in the third film of that series.
The "James Bond Theme" was written by Monty Norman and was first orchestrated by the John Barry Orchestra for 1962s Dr. No, although the actual authorship of the music has been a matter of controversy for many years. In 2001, Norman won £30,000 in libel damages from the British paper The Sunday Times, which suggested that Barry was entirely responsible for the composition.
Barry did go on to compose the scores for eleven Bond films in addition to his uncredited contribution to Dr. No, and is credited with the creation of "007," used as an alternate Bond theme in several films, as well as the popular orchestrated theme "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." Both the "James Bond Theme" and "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" have been remixed a number of times by popular artists, including Art of Noise, Moby, Paul Oakenfold, and the Propellerheads. The Beatles used a portion of the "Bond theme" in the introduction of their song "Help" as released on the American version of the "Help" LP. The British/Australian string quartet also named bond (purposely in lower case) recorded their own version of the theme, entitled "Bond on Bond.
Barry's legacy was followed by David Arnold, in addition to other well-known composers and record producers such as George Martin, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, Marvin Hamlisch and Éric Serra. Arnold is the series' current composer of choice and is currently composing the score for the 22nd Bond film, Quantum of Solace.
A Bond film staple are the theme songs heard during their title sequences sung by well-known popular singers (which have included Tina Turner, Paul McCartney and Wings, Sheryl Crow and Tom Jones, among many others). Shirley Bassey performed three themes in total. After Doctor No, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the only Bond film with a solely instrumental theme, though Louis Armstrong's ballad "We Have All the Time in the World," which serves as Bond and his wife Tracy's love song and whose title is Bond's last line in the film, is considered the unofficial theme. Likewise, although the credit sequence to From Russia with Love features an instrumental version of the film's theme, another version, with lyrics sung by Matt Monro, can be partially heard within the film itself, and is featured on the film's soundtrack album.
Perhaps one of the best-known of these compositions is the theme song to The Spy Who Loved Me , which is entitled "Nobody Does It Better". Written by Marvin Hamlisch with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and sung by Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better" was the first Bond theme not to share its title with that of the movie, although the words "the spy who loved me" do appear in the lyrics. The song is featured in both credit sequences of the film, and in orchestral form throughout. "Nobody Does It Better" was nominated for an Academy Award for "Best Original Song" of 1977, but lost to the theme song to You Light Up My Life. Hamlisch's score for the film was also nominated for an "Oscar", but lost to John Williams' score for Star Wars.
The only other Bond themes to be nominated for an Academy Award for best song are "Live and Let Die", written by Paul and Linda McCartney and performed by their group Wings, and "For Your Eyes Only", written by Bill Conti and Michael Leeson and performed by Sheena Easton, though a few of John Barry's scores have been nominated.
The only singer, to date, to appear within a title sequence is Sheena Easton during For Your Eyes Only. The only singer of a title song to appear as a character within the film itself, to date, is Madonna, who appeared (uncredited) as fencing instructor Verity, as well as contributing the theme for Die Another Day. The title sequence in Die Another Day is notable, however, for being the only one in which the visuals actually serve to further the plot of the film itself, as opposed to being merely a montage or collage of abstract images related to the film or to the larger James Bond mythos.
In 1998, Barry's music from You Only Live Twice was adapted into the hit song Millennium by producer and composer Guy Chambers for British recording artist Robbie Williams. The music video features Williams parodying James Bond, and references other Bond films such as Thunderball and From Russia With Love. It should also be noted that the video was filmed at Pinewood Studios, where most of the Bond films have been made.
In 2004 the Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps won the Drum Corps International World Championship with "007," using the music of James Bond as composed by David Arnold. The Cavaliers performed selections from GoldenEye, Die Another Day ("Hovercraft Theme" and "Welcome to Cuba"), and Tomorrow Never Dies.
Burt Bacharach's score for 1967's Casino Royale included "The Look Of Love", nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, has become a standard for its era, with the biggest-selling version recorded by Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 (#4 on the Billboard pop charts in 1968). It was heard again in the first Austin Powers film, which was to a degree inspired by Casino Royale.
In 1983, the first Bond video game, developed and published by Parker Brothers, was released for the Atari 2600, the Atari 5200, the Atari 800, the Commodore 64, and the ColecoVision. Since then, there have been numerous video games either based on either the films or using original storylines.
Bond video games, however, did not reach their popular stride until 1997s revolutionary GoldenEye 007 by Rare for the Nintendo 64. Subsequently, virtually every Bond video game has attempted to copy the accomplishments and features of GoldenEye 007 to varying degrees of success; even going so far as to have a game entitled GoldenEye: Rogue Agent that had little to do with either the video game GoldenEye 007 or the film of the same name. Bond himself plays only a minor role in which he is "killed" in the beginning during a 'virtual reality' mission, which served as the first level of the game.
Since acquiring the licence in 1999, Electronic Arts has released eight games, five of which have original stories, including the popular Everything or Nothing, which broke away from the first-person shooter trend that started with GoldenEye 007 (including the games "Agent Under Fire" and "Nightfire") and instead featured a third-person perspective. It also featured well known actors including Willem Dafoe, Heidi Klum, Judi Dench, John Cleese and Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, although several previous games have used Brosnan's likeness as Bond. In 2005, Electronic Arts released a video game adaptation of From Russia with Love, another game in the same vein as Everything or Nothing. This was the second game based on a Connery Bond film (the first was a 1980s text adventure adaptation of Goldfinger) and the first to allow the player to play as Bond with the likeness of Sean Connery. Connery himself recorded new voice-overs for the game, the first time the actor had played Bond in twenty-two years.
In 2006, Activision secured the licence to make Bond-related games, briefly sharing but effectively taking over the licence from EA. The deal became exclusive to Activision in September 2007. Activision studio Treyarch is developing "Quantum of Solace: The Video Game" which will cover both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined. It is due to be released in November 2008 in line with the cinema release of Quantum of Solace.
In 1957 the Daily Express, a newspaper owned by Lord Beaverbrook, approached Ian Fleming to adapt his stories into comic strips. After initial reluctance by Fleming who felt the strips would lack the quality of his writing, agreed and the first strip Casino Royale was published in 1958. Since then many illustrated adventures of James Bond have been published, including every Ian Fleming novel as well as Kingsley Amis's Colonel Sun, and most of Fleming's short stories. Later, the comic strip produced original stories, continuing until 1983.
Titan Books is presently reprinting these comic strips in an ongoing series of graphic novel-style collections; by the end of 2005 it had completed reprinting all Fleming-based adaptations as well as Colonel Sun and had moved on to reprinting original stories.
Several comic book adaptations of the James Bond films have been published through the years, as well as numerous original stories.
Most recently, a thinly-veiled version of Bond (called only "Jimmy" to avoid copyright issues) appeared in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier. In this story, Bond is the villain; he chases the heroic duo of Mina Murray and Allan Quatermain across London, aided by disguised versions of Bulldog Drummond ("Hugo Drummond") and Emma Peel ("Miss Night").
The James Bond series of novels and films have a plethora of allies and villains. Bond's superiors and other officers of the British Secret Service are known by letters, such as M and Q. In the novels, Bond has employed two secretaries, Loelia Ponsonby and Mary Goodnight, who in the films typically have their roles and lines transferred to M's secretary, Miss Moneypenny. Occasionally Bond is assigned to work a case with his good friend, Felix Leiter of the CIA. In the films, Leiter appeared regularly during the Connery era, only once during Moore's tenure, and in Dalton's Licence To Kill; however, he was only played by the same actor twice. Absent from the Brosnan era of films (though replaced by Jack Wade), Felix returned in Craig's first James Bond film Casino Royale in 2006, as it was a reboot.
Throughout both the novels and the films there have only been a handful of recurring characters. Some of the more memorable ones include Bill Tanner, Rene Mathis, Felix Leiter, Jack Wade, Jaws and recently Charles Robinson. J.W. Pepper is also a recurring character.
Exotic espionage equipment and vehicles are very popular elements of James Bond's literary and cinematic missions. These items often prove critically important to Bond in successfully completing his missions.
Fleming's novels and early screen adaptations presented minimal equipment such as From Russia with Love's booby-trapped attaché case. In Dr. No, Bond's sole gadgets were a Geiger counter and a wristwatch with a luminous (and radioactive) face. The gadgets, however, assumed a higher profile in the 1964 film Goldfinger. The film's success encouraged further espionage equipment from Q Branch to be supplied to Bond. In the opinion of critics, some Bond films have included too many gadgets and vehicles, such as 1979's science fiction-oriented Moonraker and 2002's Die Another Day.
James Bond's cars have included the Aston Martin DB5, V8 Vantage (80s), V12 Vanquish and DBS (00s); the Lotus Esprit; the BMW Z3, BMW 750iL and the BMW Z8. Bond's most famous car is the silver grey Aston Martin DB5, first seen in Goldfinger it later features in Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Casino Royale. The films have used a number of different Aston Martin DB5s for filming and publicity, one of which was sold in January 2006 at an auction in Arizona for $2,090,000 to an unnamed European collector. That specific car was originally sold for £5,000 in 1970.
In the James Bond film adaptations, Bond has been associated with several well-known watches, usually outfitted with high-tech features not found on production models. The Rolex Submariner, one of the few recurring models, was worn by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton's versions of James Bond. Roger Moore also sported a number of digital watches by Pulsar and Seiko. Pierce Brosnan's and Daniel Craig's James Bonds were both devotees of the Omega Seamaster. The selection of James Bond's watch has been a matter of both style and finance, as product placement agreements with the watch manufacturers have frequently been arranged.
Bond's weapon of choice in the beginning of Dr. No is an Italian-made Beretta 418 .25 calibre, later replaced by the German-made Walther PPK (a peculiar choice, as Valentin Zukovsky remarks in GoldenEye: the PPK as found in the U.S. and Western Europe is most commonly chambered in .380ACP). The PPK was used in every subsequent film and became his signature weapon until the ending of Tomorrow Never Dies, when Bond upgraded to the Walther P99. He has subsequently used the P99 pistol in Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, Die Another Day, and Casino Royale.