With the world of James Bond currently celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the cinematic James Bond little attention is being paid to the 50th Anniversary of the James Bond series as a whole. However, Martini’s, Girls and Guns: 50 Years of 007, by Martin Sterling and Gary Morecambe, is a recently released book handling such a task.
The books title is apt as it covers fifty years of James Bond, almost to the day. The first chapter deals with Ian Fleming sitting down to write Casino Royale in 1952 and the last chapter highlights the start of production on the 20th James Bond film, Die Another Day, with details from the press event at Pinewood Studio’s on January 11, 2002. These two events are spaced 50 years apart, bar one day.
In approaching the book in such a fashion the authors have presented a history of the world of James Bond, both literary and cinematic. With Fleming’s works overshadowed by James Bond’s cinematic incarnation, it is refreshing to find a book that still deals so heavily with Fleming.
The books chronological format highlights how those involved in the world of James Bond were influenced by events and other people. For instance, Fleming appears several times throughout the book, and not just in the first chapter, with his film set visits, his first meeting with Sean Connery, his legal turmoil with Kevin McClory and subsequently Jack Whittingham and finally his death.
This style is applied to all aspects of the James Bond world and gives Martini’s, Girls and Guns a unique feel. While James Bond: The Legacy had a similar approach the two books are vastly different and actually compliment each other. The Legacy‘s approach tended to highlight social influences of the Bond films and present some unique pictures. Martini’s, Girls and Guns presents the history of James Bond without presenting many pictures. Sadly, the lack of unique pictures is a downfall for the book as Bond fans worldwide always appreciate ‘fresh’ pictures.
At times the book is argumentative and there are some unique moments when it is obvious that the authors, and sometimes their sources, disagree. However, these disagreements only add to the books quality. For instance, the authors present the notion that Fleming’s legal case with McClory was the one of the major contributing factors to his death, whereas Sir John Morgan, Fleming’s stepson, believes this to be untrue. The unique material supplied by Sir John is definitely one of the books strong points.
Sometimes, however, the book does lean too heavily on other people’s opinion. This mostly occurs when the authors quote other ‘Bond book’ authors. While a random quoting isn’t ever a problem it did, at times, feel that there were just too many references to past publications. The authors could have easily posed the same arguments and points in their own words.
Overall, Martini’s, Girls and Guns is a gem of a book for the history of the world of James Bond, both cinematic and literary.