You might have come across the notion that 23. April is World Book Day. In fact, unless you happen to live beyond a stone, in a desert in some far-away country of which we know nothing about, you will probably have been reminded of this half a dozen times already today. And no doubt there will also have been numerous suggestions to add to your reading list. What better occasion to ask yourself: What would James Bond read? After all, you won’t want to occupy your precious grey cells with just any old trash; you want to read what real men would read. Thankfully, CommanderBond.net can help you out there:
Why that? Because it’s a nifty little pre-war thriller with mediterranean flair, uncommon characters in a whodunit setting and a sympathetic hero forced under severe duress to expose a spy. Just the stuff James Bond likes to read to relax from his job of exposing spies while under severe duress. And Bond likes Eric Ambler. At least since The Mask of Dimitrios stopped a bullet aimed at his heart. Admittedly, we never learn if Bond finished that one…
Why that? Because James Bond buys it at Idlewild Airport (several years before it grew into the John F. Kennedy International Airport) to read on the flight back to London. Admittedly, he then didn’t have much use for reading stuff. And it is somewhat unlikely that he left that particular plane with his book. But it’s safe to assume the book ended up on Bond’s note of expenses and was replaced by the Service. After all, it’s a valuable lesson in operational procedure should the need arise to send Bond spotting a kangaroo in a dinner jacket.
Why that? Because it was one of Ian Fleming’s favourite books. Its protagonist, orphaned at the age of seven and brought up by relatives, spends seven years of his life in a sanatorium high up in the Swiss Alps, learning about life and death, lust and love, virtue, hedonism and duty. A bizarre carnival is celebrated on the magic mountain, evocation of a sea change about to happen with the Big War. There is a lady whose name alludes to a hot cat with claws, and while the hero at the end heads for the slaughterhouse of WW I, he may have checked out of the sanatorium but never leaves the Berghof. Just the stuff James Bond likes to relax with while sipping on his double bourbon and pondering his own role in the greater scheme of things.
‘The bitch is dead now.’
Actually, that depends very much, Mr Bond. With Vesper Lynd you might be excused to think she has just left the building for good, in so doing putting an end to a rather testing affair, even by the standards of the Secret Service. If you mean, however, your own illustrious career in said service, which could have taken a turn for the finish line with these memorable words … well, that career is still very much alive.
On 13th April 2018 it’s exactly 65 years since readers could pick up the Jonathan Cape first edition of Ian Fleming’s ‘Casino Royale’. Between the pages they met: a gruff figure of authority, reassuringly in charge of the British Secret Service; a physically revolting villain with a benzedrine inhaler, three razor blades and expensive false teeth, but minus a proper name; a beautiful lady who gets parcelled up in her own skirt; a cheerful Frenchman always happy to help out with a radio set and convenient kitchen sink psychology when needed; a cheerful Texan delighted to help out with 32 million francs and keeping the lady absolutely safe while the hero is playing games with the villain.
The hero. Of course the hero. Meet James Bond, no middle name that we’re aware of. No relationship to any other firm. Solely, exclusively there for our entertainment. A secret agent decidedly from the deadly branch of intelligence; if it wasn’t called 00-section it would be the Saint-George-Society, in the business of slaying dragons. Travels with no less than three guns to a mission that should only call for his dinner-jacket and counting to nine – but, in line with his flimsy cover as rich businessman, doesn’t fire a single shot. Avoids lifts as danger signals and prefers to open his hotel room with his gun drawn, like the professional he is. Plays cards as if it was for money, thankfully not his own. Take a closer look at him here.
That fateful April of 1953 readers discovered a rich and extravagant life at the side of this man Bond; drinking, smoking, dining with him; racing after cruel and despicable gunmen; winning, losing and then again winning fortunes; almost blown to pieces; almost beaten to pulp; almost caught in the talons of marriage. Escaping time and again the facts of death by his own resilience and the ingenuity of his creator. Fleming’s readers wanted more, much more. Thankfully, Fleming indulged them as long as he could.
There is today a vast assortment of anecdotes – or legends, depending how you look at it – floating around regarding Ian Fleming. One of them goes like this: one day in July 1944 Fleming and a colleague were eating Spam rations, sitting in their jeep in northern France, pondering plans for after the war. When the other had finished telling about his, Fleming simply said ‘I’m going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.’ Well, that didn’t go quite as planned.
While it cannot be said that Casino Royale invented the spy story, it’s certainly true that the book invented its own species of spy, the armchair consumer’s agent, puffing and boozing away on the pages, we with him, while on the next page there could be anything, anything at all: a love affair; an enemy agent; a dive to a treasure island; a bullet through the chest – or through an Ambler novel. Or death.
The recipe was so intoxicating it kept Bond busy way beyond even the wildest expectations of his creator. If Fleming today looked down on the success of his invention he’d likely have trouble believing it: films, books, games, numerous after shaves and soaps, music, toys, a film studio that consists now largely of Bond, countless websites, clubs and fora.
No, Casino Royale definitely didn’t end all spy stories…
‘Do you eggshpect me to die?’
No, Mr Bond, we expect you to live.
According to news reported by From Sweden With Love, Anders Frejdh’s Swedish Bond fan page, Lewis Gilbert, director of Bond classics You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, has passed away.
Gilbert started out early as a child actor during the 1920s and 1930s, later switching to other production-related jobs. After assisting at Alfred Hitchcock’s Jamaica Inn, Gilbert began his direction career with documentaries during the Second World War. After the war, he branched out into scriptwriting and producing films and directed a number of productions based on true events from the war, 1960’s Sink the Bismarck just one of them.
In 1966 he adapted Bill Naughton’s play Alfie with Michael Caine more or less on a shoestring budget. The film won the Jury Special Prize at Cannes and got an Oscar nomination in the best picture category, as well as a Golden Globe nomination for Gilbert.
In 1967 he directed You Only Live Twice, the Bond film that started a trend to largely ignore Ian Fleming’s source material in favour of escapist spectacle, huge set pieces and extensive stunt work. While overshadowed by Sean Connery’s obvious reluctance to further suffer as the focus of a global super-spy craze (and cameraman John Jordan’s severe accident during shooting) the film was only slightly less successful at the box office than its predecessor Thunderball.
So solid was Gilbert’s work on 007 that Eon asked him back to direct not once but twice – and both times to shoot remakes of his original, this time with Roger Moore as Bond. The Spy Who Loved Me from 1977 and 1979’s Moonraker today have a somewhat mixed reputation with the fanbase; yet they are regarded as classics in their own right with wider interested film aficionados and critics. And of course they grossed spectacularly in the year of their original release.
Gilbert’s post-Bond career included a number of smaller productions, Shirley Valentine perhaps the most notable amongst these. In 1997 he was awarded the CBE and in 2001 he was made Fellow of the British Film Institute.
An earlier version of this article did not name the source. CBn thanks Anders Frejdh for breaking the news on this.
German actress Karin Dor, known to Bond fans as henchwoman Helga Brandt in You Only Live Twice (1967) was born in February 1938 in Wiesbaden (Germany) as Kätherose Derr. In 1954, she married Austrian director Harald Reinl, who was 30 years her senior and father of her only child, her son Andreas. This was only possible because she made herself two years older than she actually was. She subsequently played in many of his movies, especially his (in Germany) hugely popular Edgar Wallace and Karl May movies (the latter being a series of German “Western” movies in which one of the main characters went by the name of “Old Shatterhand” played by Lex Barker) and she became one of Germany’s most popular and busiest actresses of the 1960s.
Her success didn’t go unnoticed by the Bond producers and they were eager to cast her for You Only Live Twice. How eager? Dor told German movie journalst Billy Kocian: “Mr. Saltzman only wanted to pay 40.000 Marks (about $10.000 at the time), but upon this offer I just turned around on my heels and walked away. I had plenty of offers and my husband earned a lot of money at the time. Saltzman came running after me, and with a face as white as chalk, he grudingly signed the contract, hissing: ‘I never signed anything like that in my whole life.'”. In the end, she was paid 200.000 Marks (other sources even claim 250.000) for the role.
After the success of You Only Live Twice, Dor played in many international movies, most noteably in Hitchcock’s Topaz and had guest roles in TV series like Ironside or It Takes a Thief.
Her divorce from Harald Reinl in 1968 and a carcinosis affected her movie career but did not stop it, she was always busy through the years. In 1986 she married her third husband, stuntman George Robotham and moved to the United States with him. A marriage with a German businessman only lasted from 1972 to 1974.
She still had roles in Germany TV series and movies, but after her husband’s death in 2007, she focussed on playing theater, especially a play that was written for her, named “You Only Love Thrice”, at the Komödie im Bayerischen Hof in Munich.
In July 2016, she had an accident from which she suffered a massive concussion. She seemed to have recovered rather soon but her return to the stage turned out to be to early. She had to rest and wasn’t even allowed to read newspapers by early 2017. In July 2017, her manager told German tabloid “Bild” that Dor wouldn’t return and that the only thing fans could do for her was pray.
Karin Dor passed away on November 6th 2017.
The facts: our forum address henceforth is quarterdeck.commanderbond.net, or, as I like to call it, The Quarterdeck. The old place – and now it is the old place – debrief.commanderbond.net, has been converted to read-only archive as of 10th September 2017.
As they say, everyone has a past, every legend a beginning…
As your readers will have learned from earlier issues, a senior office of the Ministry, debrief.commanderbond.net., is missing, believed killed, while on an official mission to oblivion It grieves me to have to report that hopes of its survival must now be abandoned. It therefore falls to my lot, as the Grand High Wizard Lizard of the Department it served so well, to give some account of this forum and of its outstanding services to anonymized bitching about films ‘n’ books ‘n’ stuff.
debrief.commanderbond.net., was born of some electricity whatsit doing something to some typing doo-dad. Its server being a foreign representative of the temperamental sort, its early presentation, from which it inherited a first-class command of copyright infringement and speculative bollocks and rumour-tolerating, was entirely sporadic. When it was five years of age, James Bond was apparently killed in a casting accident, and the young website came under the onslaught of an assemblage of monstrous dickheads whining about hair colour, since (hopefully) deceased, and went to from being a place to discuss James Bond to one full of Kents. There, in a small cottage (fnarr) hard (double fnarr) by the attractive Mrs Jim, its moderators, who must have been a most erudite and accomplished team, completed its transition between servers, and, at the age of eight or thereabouts, it passed unsatisfactorily into potential obsolescence, for which it had been cursed by the reaction to the much misunderstood Quantum of Solace.
It must be admitted that its career as a moribund site overloaded with cretins abusing a popularity system was brief and undistinguished and, after only what felt like bloody years, as a result, it cheers me to record, of some alleged trouble with some right twats, its moderators were requested to remove that feature. They managed to reinvigorate the forums, in an old school way. Here the atmosphere was somewhat improved, and both academic and intolerance standards were rigorous. Nevertheless, though inclined to be solitary by reader, it established some firm friendships among the traditionally sensible and pleasant circles on the forum. By the time this transitional period ended, at the age of twelve, it had twice fought off other forums as light-weight and had, in addition, founded the first serious multiple banning class on a British public forum. By now it was 2012 and, by claiming a reading age of three and with the help of a child who knew what it all meant, it entered a branch of what was subsequently to become Facebook. To serve the confidential nature of its duties, it was accorded the rank of Sole Competent James Bond forum on the internet (by itself), and it is a measure of the satisfaction its services gave to its reader that it ended 2015 with the rank of “That Woman at the top of the page must be a grandmother by now”. It was about this time that the writer became associated with certain aspects of the Ministry’s work, and it was with much reluctance that I accepted its application to continue working for the Ministry despite it being a bit out of date, in which, at the time of its lamented disappearance, it had risen to the rank of being clunky and full of spambots.
The nature of debrief.commanderbond.net’s duties with the Ministry, which were, incidentally, recognized by the appointment of “Is it still going, then?” in 2012, must remain confidential, nay secret, but its colleagues at the Ministry will allow that it performed them with outstanding spelling and grammar, although occasionally, through an impetuous strain in its nature, with a streak of the foolhardy that brought it in conflict with Ian Fleming Publications. And Raymond Benson. And Eon Productions. But it possessed what almost amounted to “Amazingly Not Getting Sued” in moments of the highest emergency, and it somehow contrived to escape more or less unscathed from the many libellous paths down which its duties led it. The inevitable publicity, particularly nowhere at all, accorded some of these adventures, made it, much against its will, something of a public nuisance, with the inevitable result that a series of other popular forums came to be developed around it by simple folks who had got themselves banned many, many times by debrief.commanderbond.net. If the quality of these websites, or their degree of wit, had been any higher, the authors would certainly have been ignored even more than they already were. It is a measure of the disdain in which these sites are held at the Ministry, that action has not yet — I emphasize the qualification — been taken against the authors and publishers of these substantially less worthy and considerably more banal and boring knock-offs.
It only remains to conclude this brief in memoriam by assuring its friends that debrief.commanderbond.net’s last mission was one of supreme importance to itself. Although it now appears that, alas, it will not return from it, I have the authority of the highest quarters in the land to confirm that the mission proved to be one hundred per cent successful, much like the Viagra every other new member wants to talk about. It is no exaggeration to pronounce unequivocally that, through the recent valorous efforts of this one forum, the Safety of the Realm has received mighty reassurance. Yay us.
debrief.commanderbond.net was (very) briefly married in 2002, and 2006, and 2008…. and 2012… and 2015, to scumbags posting callsheets and script leaks. These marriages ended in gratifyingly tragic circumstances that were repeated every time. There was no issue of these marriages save for banning a bolus of cretins on a merry whim, even if they had nothing to do with it, and debrief.commanderbonmd.net leaves, so far as I am aware, one relative living. Welcome to Quarterdeck.
I was happy and proud to serve debrief.commanderbond.net in a close capacity during the past fifteen years at the Ministry. If our fears for it are justified, may I suggest these simple words for its epitaph? Many of the junior staff here feel they represent its philosophy, but that’s only because they are very scared of me:
“You only live twice. Once when you are born, and once when you need to upgrade.”
And the truth is: ‘Yes.’
Meaning he actually will be back playing James Bond in BOND 25.
This somehow contradicts Craig’s own earlier statements in a radio interview with Magic 106.7 from the same day, where he claimed that ‘No decision has been made at the moment.’
In CBS’ The Late Show Daniel Craig now sounded somewhat different, telling host Stephen Colbert he had known for months he would be back. And that it would be his last Bond film.
But anyway, this is the truth now:
Daniel Craig will be back for BOND 25. One last time.
One last time?
Rejoice – in just about 27 months James Bond fans can expect to meet 007 again at the cinema. And this time it’s not one of numerous more or less informed rumour outlets to claim such, but James Bond’s very own official and certified twitter account. According to yesterday’s lean tweet, BOND 25 will start in the US market on November 8th 2019, with a possible October release in the UK.
Further details include that Bond veterans Purvis and Wade are responsible for the script – no surprise – and that further details are to be announced at a later date. Now that sounds interesting…
A literary amusement by Jacques Stewart
They say one should never meet one’s heroes.
Curious. Meeting one’s villains must surely be avoided, unless you’re a fictional vigilante billionaire with repetitious escapades to feed to the jaded. A psychotic orphan assaulting a greasy clown isn’t entertainment. Usually. Equally, a STD-riddled orphan tackling a “Fos-Ter Bro-Ther” bodes ill. Those neither heroic nor villainous aren’t sufficiently interesting to bother with so, dragged to one logical conclusion, the proposition means one never meets anyone. Dragged to an illogical conclusion, it means no more ickle babbies. Dragged to a preposterous conclusion, it means that to engineer our extinction one needs not hijack spacecraft, cultivate toxic blooms and curate a galactic brothel; just invent the internet and wait for nature to take its course as humanity isolates itself. Still, the prospect of reading piffle like this could justify cracking out the orchid gas to accelerate the process. The more one coughs along life’s long belch, the more one wishes Moonraker comes to pass.
The idea is we risk being disappointed by those onto whom we transpose our delusions of a better self, whether they know / care we are so doing or would welcome it rather than injunct. Heroism – worship of any sort – must justify the pedestal. When one does unscab one’s hero’s flaws, whose fault’s that? Theirs. They’re to blame for being shorter / smellier / heterosexualier than one was manipulated into believing, and as insignificant, frail and as much of a git as anyone. When that Mr Craig said he would rather slit his wrists than do 007 actoring again (nurses claim they have it hard), even those who habitually forgive his patented truculence on the off-chance he would ever thank them for it, struggled to “defend” the grumpy line-reciter for this one. They needn’t have bothered. The wisest approach would have been to invite him to get on with it to see if that entertained us more than his latest film, as his life is ours and all he is for is to deliver us from ourselves. That he did not do so was presumably in fear that his bid for oblivion would have engaged more than “SPECTRE” (not unduly challenging) and thereby realisation, at the drip of the last drop, that all his ostensible achievements had wasted time, ours most importantly. We do hate to be wrong, and their being not what we imagined them to be is patently their responsibility. We’re better off not idolising anything at all, so we can’t be disappointed when bad things happen despite all devotion paid. How can God let bad things happen? If you don’t believe in God, you can’t anger about that: peace on Earth and goodwill to all men ensues. Maybe we don’t want that. Having deluded expectations of others dissatisfied gives us purpose because once we’d solved poverty, famine, global warming, racism, child labour and cured both cancer and the cruel torment that causes millionaires to self harm because they have to learn some dialogue and jump about a bit once every three years, we needed something to bitch over lest we became overwhelmed with our brilliance.
Idolising fictional characters is yet more preposterous: what life guidance can one draw from the likes of (random pick) James Bond? He’s not real, y’know; at best, a blithely rapey imaginary chum whose all-over-the-place attitudes are guided by A Word From Our Sponsors, a corporatised committee-designed avatar commoditising gullible, rationed wish-fulfilment, corrupting us into coveting souldevouring consumer items because if we do, we too will face down supervillains, pull always-initially-stroppy dolly birds and generally “win”, and this is a better use of our time than dragging drowned refugee children from the sea or ensuring an elderly neighbour has company and food on their plate. Ah, they say (“they” say a lot, and it’s habitually bollocks), but liking and – insofar as one’s budget and moral desolation stretch – emulating Bond is escapism from such real horrors and, further (they’re on a roll now), escaping from those things recognises they exist, not deny. Yeah, but… is running away something 007 would do? His inspiration has meant nothing. If there’s any metaphor to this tosh, surely it’s that one faces moments of crisis, not scarper and self-indulge in corrupted spinelessness. Consumption is cowardice. This might have been lost amongst all those cars and watches. Wear that Omega and people will think you’re like James Bond. True: James Bond’s a colossal tit, too.