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  1. The 007th Chapter: Moonraker – The Quickness of the Hand

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    In an act of stool-loosening snobbery, in 1957 Ian Fleming wrote a financial-suicide note to CBS.

     

    “In hard covers my books are written for and appeal principally to an “A” readership, but they have all been reprinted in paperbacks, both in England and in America and it appears that the “B” and “C” classes find them equally readable, although one might have thought that the sophistication of the background and detail would be outside their experience and in part incomprehensible.”

    A modest missive, amusingly provocative in using the letters ABC when writing to a competitor, and a curious proposition when “the background and detail” of Live and Let Die I would suggest is beyond anyone’s experience, unless they’ve eaten too much cheese before beddy-bye. Slightly thick – a.k.a. “C” – letter to write to a maker of television, that most plebian of media, even if hindsight rewards him with Eon Productions hoving into view. It’s unclear why he considered Bs and Cs incapable of tackling hardback books, unless he feared their using them as trays from which to eat their gristleslop whilst… watching television.

     

    Perhaps I’m being literal rather than literary. Insofar as the 007th chapters so far have slipped us this Class A drug, it’s been roulette, fancy drinks, very wild gambling, very mild spycraft, intensity of sensual experience, nice blond American lads, telepathic lovelies and exaggeration heaped on exaggeration, so even using those as a rough shapshot of what he asserts, his claim has potential.

     

    The 007th chapter of Moonraker renders it unarguably true.

     

    I’ve never played Bridge. Nor have I looked up how to. No, tell a lie; in shoving this rot together I browsed Wikipedia’s explanation but couldn’t grasp the rules, much like Rugby Union or An Argument with Mrs Jim. Like those, it is “in part, incomprehensible”. Must be getting C-nile.  This absence of experience isn’t “not wanting” to know; it’s not needing to. Trepidation, though, when it dawned on me that the game of Bridge against Sir Hugo Drax would feature in this experiment in modelling an exemplar Bond novel. Not in the nature of what occurs:  Bond bests the villain at his own crooked game, and as this happens in several others – Goldfinger, Zero Minus Ten, Devil May Care to name a few – it establishes itself as an ingredient as habitual as those suggested by the previous two 007th chapters.  It’s just that I haven’t the foggiest idea what’s going on. Accordingly, this piece could bear witness to the stultifyingly under-informed (hello) commenting upon a matter about which they’re shamelessly inarticulate. Perhaps no change there, then (ooh, you bitch), but with particular reference to my relationship with Bridge, think Fox News and European politics, Piers Morgan and American politics, or internet message boards and both. It appears to involve carrrddds. Well, turbo-Yay with double cream, I s’pose.

     

    Without suggesting it of everyone, I suspect I’m not alone, either at the time or now, in feeling shut out by the Bridge game. It’s something of a dilemma: do I want Ian Fleming to explain every detail to me, to indulge my All C-ing Eye, in the same way as – say – Mr Benson’s High Time to Kill explains the very, very (very)basics of golf? Or am I happy enough to accept that Fleming is writing for those in the know and, for the rest of us grubby saps, he renders whatever-the-Hell-it-is terribly exciting, pounding along to an ending  one may or may not understand.  You there, you Bs and Cs, stand straight when I’m addressing you; just do try to keep up, yes? You run along at Fleming’s pace, understood?

     

    Contemplating the quote at the head of this nonsense once more, perhaps there is more humility than first appears. The reason the Bs and Cs buy your stuff, Ian old freckle, is because you convey it with such impact. He’ll write it with efficient momentum so you don’t drop off, a terribly underrated skill of his given that one reaches the end of the chapter excited but without knowing why, but he’s not going to pander to your baser lives by stopping to explain it as if you were a child, or a woman. The pains taken to explain Baccarat in Casino Royale is through the narrative device of Vesper Lynd not knowing the game; all the players in the Moonraker situation are familiar with how to play, so it would be artificial to pause and narrate the rule-book. You just get sadistic teases of comprehension now and again but suddenly, it’s gone, once more out of your brain’s yearning grasp, leaving you chasing the words, chasing the game until, your senses captured, you reach the climax, exhausted, a bit sweaty and cross-eyed and gleeful. [Dubious sexual metaphor – here]. Aspiration by alienation, colossal snobbery against his reader.

     

    Alternatively, what Bond does might be technically impossible so Fleming hasn’t given the full detail because there isn’t any and he was too bored to make it work. I prefer the first theory, largely because it feeds the next one.

     

    Which is: the chapter is not about Bridge. It’s is a gaudy display of humungous snobbery in “club”land, the sort of ferocious clubbing requiring a blunt instrument (guess who). The whisky and soda drops when the ugly, buck-toothed truth dawns: there is no credible evidence whatsoever of Drax’s cheating. I know he admits it later when ranting himself into ridicule as the world’s first openly Communist Nazi, but blinded by hindsight, or absence of foresight not to read that bit lest it undermine my point, the evidence present at the time of the game itself is lissomely thin. Bond swallows it because M instructs him Drax is a cheat; his blessed club is “suspicious” – woo-hoo – and, since Bond isn’t the freest of thinkers, he’s primed as a weapon by these scions of society to simply look for the worst in Drax. Bond, telling M precisely what M wants to hear, is rarely more manipulated by his masters, than here. The silver cigarette-case is suspicious, but it’s circumstantial not conclusive: there’s still no direct evidence, and the key prosecution witness is a corrupted man primed to believe the worst, a loaded gun with a history of substance abuse who then proceeds to get off his noddle on Benzedrine and non-vintage champagne. It doesn’t promise watertight reliability or safety of the conviction. Particularly the non-vintage champagne bit.

     

    The protracted preparation for tearing Drax apart satisfies two of the frequent criticisms of Fleming’s work: snobbery and sadism. The third, sex, is absent, unless the “Hugger” stuff is leading somewhere. The ruthless old bastards of Blades have decided they don’t like Drax – he may have amused at first, but now they’re tired of the noisy oaf who is not one of their own but happens to be better than them, the rampage of New Money right through their ostensible standards; he had the temerity to approach The Queen, damn the man – and they are going to unleash their pet yobbo to destroy him. Excusing the carrrddds pun, these are trumped-up charges. Devil May Care comes in for criticism for having M inflict Bond on Dr Gorner on flimsy grounds; this is not markedly different. Mr Faulks may have been writing more “as” Ian Fleming than one immediately thought.

     

    Bond is simply (blunt) instrumental in the takedown.  They don’t sully their own hands; unleash the prole. You there, Shouty Ginge, we’re going to get you. You and your little Jewish chum, Meyer. All of this, this is our game sunshine, our world, and we’re not going to allow you in. We’re going to Grand Slam the door behind Drax, sending him straight back to “the Liverpool docks, or wherever he came from”. If I were treated like this, I’d be tempted to plunge a nuke right down their wobbly gullets, too. It’s a shame that Drax does turn out to be just another loony Russian/Nazi/wha’evah. He’s much more interesting as a victim of class snobbery and the school and social bullying meted out by the “good guys”. Is Fleming deftly slipping us this card, whilst on the surface giving us all a jolly good laugh at the demento-Kraut? I do wonder how much of Drax’s revelatory tirade against the English isn’t echt Fleming-Think (the sentiments have to come from somewhere), forcing his hand into making the villain completely mad by the end lest the author’s mockery of his milieu be too easily spotted, resulting in his lovely clubbing chums never letting him back in, either. Vivid though the eventual wartime backstory is, would Drax have been any less colourful a villain if there wasn’t any of the madness about his personality change, he was indeed an Englishman after all and it had been purely the lifetime of snooty bullying that had driven him to it, class war rather than a cold one? If not persuaded, can’t I tempt you into evaluating this argument by dangling that we’d have been spared Die Another Day, that way?

     

    The irony of Drax’s observations about requiring the “façade” of a gentleman is punched home in this 007th chapter: for all of them, it’s façade. There’s no such thing as a gentleman. Avoiding public exposure of suspected cheating is not to protect Drax, about whom they care not one damn, but to protect their own reputations. They cover up the abhorrent villainy at the end, too, for the same reason. Bond is the dispensable hired help for both. These are not nice persons. The gentility of the surroundings masks utter cruelty, a quiet brutality. It’s time to scrape the pooh from the shoe, and we’ve got just the right pliant stooge to do it for us. No, he’s not a member.  Lord, no. Should it go wrong we can deny him, just as we would were he caught by a foreign government.

     

    “Useless, idle, decadent fools, hiding beneath your bloody white cliffs while other people fight your battles”. Ian Fleming Sir Hugo Drax.

     

    No-one appears to complain that the people and the rituals of the society on show here look as inherently savage or as open to ridicule as anything written of the” Negro” world in Live and Let Die. This may be because Fleming’s motives are different, I’ve read far too much into it and he isn’t seeking to expose in the manner suggested above. However, so blunt and punchy does the writing get towards the end of this 007th chapter, plain evidence of an intention to depict this ostensibly genteel game as having the violent impact of a gunfought duel, the quickness of the hand in drawing the weapons – it’s only a short hop from that to contemplating the merciless conspiracy against Drax, however many chandeliers and lamb cutlets one flings about. The later business with the rocket etc., this lot just bring upon themselves. They really are their own worst enemy. Well, apart from the whacked-out loon with the moustache fetish, “obv”.

     

    And if you think I’m doing a “Bond made this rubber (fnarr) too hot to handle (ho-ho!)” joke, you’re better off ignoring this sentence.

     

     

    The 007th Chapter – Moonraker: The Quickness of the Hand

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2014-03-24
  2. BOND 24 will feature a new Aston Martin

    During the opening of the exciting new exhibition of 007 automobiles,  ”BOND IN MOTION”,  at the London Film Museum in Covent Garden, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, of course, were asked questions about the upcoming successor to “Skyfall”, the as yet untitled “BOND 24″, directed by Sam Mendes and written by John Logan.

    Apart from repeating the official line of “we´re still working on the script with Sam, John and Daniel”, Wilson at least offered something definitive: There will be a new Aston Martin for Bond in the next film.  Well, the original Aston was blown up, of course, and the one Bond won during “Casino Royale” is probably still not out of the shop, due to the damage that was caused by flip-flopping away from Vesper.

    Thanks to our valued “Shrublands” for the heads up to this!

    See: http://www.itn.co.uk/UK/98125/largest-collection-of-james-bond-vehicles-goes-on-display

     

    Stefan Rogall @ 2014-03-19
  3. The 007th Chapter: Mister Big

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    Sense of adventure. (My emphasis).

    I’m fibbing – can’t take the credit. Not my emphasis at all. The very first sentence of the Bond “thing” directly appeals to sense or, more precisely, the scents. Wiser minds than mine write of a Fleming Sweep; I prefer a Feel, and that’s not an invitation. Oh, put it away.

     

    Even just over one book in, one can unimaginatively deduce that Ian Fleming is a sensual writer, and not so much in the commonly adopted sexualised understanding of “sensual”, despite this 007th chapter of Live and Let Die concluding with a 20-stone Negro, having leatherstrapped a man to a chair (an act described at excitable length), proceeding to whip a witch with an ivory riding-crop whilst a voodoo scarecrow leers on. Might have been yer average Tuesday round Goldeneye way but is an unusual domestic encounter for most, I’d wager, and would doubtless justify police intervention. I mean - ivory. Tsk!

     

    A swift hand of bridge it is not. That’s in the next one.

     

    Usually at its strongest when he’s neglecting the tedium of “plot”, look at where the detail frequently – if not, admittedly, universally – lies, in engaging the base senses. How often Fleming lets his descriptions fly towards (say) food and drink – the enjoyment of both the descriptions of the menus and the experiences of the tastes – and elsewhere, be it places or people or flowers, birds and weapons: the smell, the touch, the sound. The sickly zoo smell of Oddjob. Recognising countless perfumes and soaps. The sight of Honeychile Ryder emerging naked from the sea. Cars are not a means of getting to destinations but a sensual destination in themselves, an immersion in a highly tactile experience; there are very few passages of Bond driving when he’s not totally engaged in the sweat, the smoke, the blast of wind in the face, the supercharged sound of it. The “touch” of a carpet beater.  Guns and engines don’t fire; they roar. That the sex never goes – never needs to go – beyond the first erotic touches. All five senses engaged in a midnight wander through Blofeld’s Garden of Death. As atmosphere, it’s thermosphere, so heightened is the delivery.

     

    Sensational.

     

    Literally.

     

    Then, the trick emerges, and the trap is set for those unwise enough to follow. The easy perception is that Fleming does “detail”; ooh, lots of “detail” in Fleming, there is. The failing is not acknowledging that he knew when to let it go, only wanting to describe those things that interested him. Once he has you by the senses, once you are immersed by his drowning you in the sights and the scent and smoke and sweat of wherever he’s placed you – Northern France, Japan, Istanbul, Jamaica, matters not – he can step back and leave you to wallow, enblissed floating. There’s a key example of this in the 007th chapter of Live and Let Die. He’s led us, whirling, through a turbo-fictionalised Harlem for a couple of chapters, soaking in its juices, and here, so drenched are we, we’ll just imbibe without question that Mr Big has a pistol masked by a drawer keyhole. We have been prepared for the ludicrous.

     

    “Again, there was nothing absurd about this gun. Rather painstaking, perhaps, but, he had to admit, technically sound.”

     

    Come off it, no it’s NOT. And yet, we gulp it down. It’s only later do we question what we’ve been spiked with. That is trust. Perhaps a trust abused, but you take it at the time, giggling slightly. There is no explanation of how this gun works. There doesn’t need to be. Your Clancys, your Lee Childs, closer to home your Gardners and Bensons, would tell us that the protagonist takes only an atosecond to work out – if not an atosecond to describe, unfortunately – how it was a Sillitoe-Bumpluck point 660 with a Horace flange and dingadong buttress and forty leveret hosiery and some such boring, boring unnecessariness. The skill is that one needs to know when not to describe, when to stop fact getting in the way of a good story. So convinced are these others that you would doubt what they say, they clobber you over the head with neanderthal factual detail to nail misguided veracity onto a patently farcical enterprise, thereby ironically undermining its allure, its success, rather than promoting it. Desensitising is counterproductive as a seduction technique: ask any lorry driver. It’s possible that Fleming was too idle to describe it “properly”; equally so that he rightly considered anyone actually interested in guns as a wee bit mental. Still, the evidence suggests that Bond is not about relentless description of every frickin’ thing. It’s about knowing when the trigger doesn’t need to be pulled. Probably because it patently wouldn’t work.

     

    Damn damn damn damn.

     

    Once you’ve been seduced, once he’s touched you, you can only give in and just snort it all up. Otherwise you’d realise that this is a tale in which one man threatens to shoot another with his desk.

     

     

    The 007th Chapter – Live and Let Die: Mister Big

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2014-03-15
  4. Breaking News: John Logan can´t say anything about BOND 24

    Hey, what did you expect?  He would endanger the whole enterprise and his job security if he were to give away anything at this stage.

    Still, John Logan was interviewed by Empire Magazine and reportedly said that the first draft of the script is almost finished.  He probably meant to say: the first draft that goes out to actors and gets used to plan the production – since the film is about to start shooting in October.

    But any news about Bond are good news, right?

    See the interview here: http://www.empireonline.com/news/story.asp?NID=40356

    Stefan Rogall @ 2014-03-05
  5. BOND 24 scheduled to shoot in October

    During a recent interview Ralph Fiennes stated that the new Bond film will start principal photography this October.  He allegedly has not read the script yet (and, of course, would not have been allowed to say anything if he had) – but his statement seems to be the first genuine news about the film really moving forward in the fall of 2014.

    So, let the speculations begin:  The director (Sam Mendes) is in place and the script seems to be in good enough shape to hire the actors now for a particular time frame.  The recent news of cinematographer Roger Deakins not returning mean that EON is looking for a replacement right now (if they haven´t found him/her already).

    Will there be a kick-off press conference like they did for SKYFALL on the eve of its first shooting day?  Or will they announce something much earlier – during the Cannes film festival maybe?  In any event, news will be forthcoming during the next couple of months – even if they are only rumors.  Which, in the case of SKYFALL, mostly turned out to be true (the title, the demise of M, the casting of Moneypenny).

    Source: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1723135/bond-24-filming-start.jhtml

    Stefan Rogall @ 2014-02-28
  6. The 007th Chapter: Rouge et Noir


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    Jacques Stewart was born in 1973 and educated at Eton. After a brief period at Top Man at Guildford he went abroad to waste his education. In 1994, having failed to be crowned Emperor of the Cress, he joined a Fiat Punto to a tree and amputated his left foot. During both Gulf Wars, he watched them on the telly. His wartime experiences provided him with first-hand knowledge of his expanding waistline.After the wars he continued as a self-employed menace with a private income. He bought his house, House, in Oxfordshire and there at the age of forty he wrote The 007th Minute, a meretricious e-book slagging of the films featuring Commander James Bond. By the time of his death in 2744, seven people had downloaded it and one had even finished it, disappointed. Dr No, the first film featuring James Bond and starring Sean Connery, was released in 1962 and is one he actually quite likes and the Bond films continue to be huge international successes despite what he or any other anonymous human dust on the internet types about them. He is also the author of the magical children’s book You Were A Mistake.The opinions of Jacques Stewart were immediately recognised as total pus by his contemporaries 007izkewl, iluvpiersbrosmam and downloadtransformersfourherehotbabes. With the invention of James Bond, Ian Fleming created the greatest British fictional icon of the late twentieth century.
    That, you already knew.

    This is not a serious experiment.

    It resolves nothing, and proves less. In seeking to establish what the 007th chapters of the Bond books tell us of the core ingredients of such enterprises, do not come expecting truth or revelation. The only fact that can be asserted of these brainbursts is that they are my opinions, but I might be lying about that, to tell the truth (or not). Nor are these pieces intended as a guide for aspiring writers of Bond – be they “official” or fan fiction. The latter category may glean nothing from this exercise; the Bond novels tend to have right good spelling and grammar. Plots. Characters. Big words. As far as those charged with filling remainder shops with licensed literary Bond go, they might just get depressed.

    However, if you’re familiar with the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 (it’s a page-turner: the car chase is fab), you’ll be aware that copyright in literary works persists until 31 December of the seventieth year after the author’s death. Accordingly, in principle anyway, on 1 January 2035, it’s open season on Ian Fleming’s works. In principle. It may be quite tricky – you’re welcome to try, if you’re still around and fancy litigation as a retirement plan. There’s the small matter of the continuation novels and short stories, evidently created to better the cultural life of the planet and not just preserve rights (God forbid you’d think that: tchoh!) and the equally splendid situation that the books now come with the deathly warning that James Bond and 007 are registered trademarks of Danjaq LLC, used under licence by IFP (kind of them). Trademark protection only lasts ten years, but critically it’s renewable (whereas, in so many ways, Ian Fleming is not, however many grave-based revolutions folks assert he performs on hearing (despite being heavily death) of a blond Bond or an invisible car). Given the happy-go-lucky good-natured attitude to their intellectual property that Danjaq have often demonstrated to this website, one suspects they’re unlikely to forget to send the form in on time.

    I suppose that doesn’t technically stop someone from using the text of (say) Thunderball and changing the name and number – seemed to be the heart of the McClory argument, that – but one would doubt both the sanity and the point. I’m in no position to judge either, though, as will rapidly emerge.

    Insfoar as there’s any structure to the venture, let’s play Goldfinger:

    Volume 1: Happenstance will concentrate on the Flemings;

    Volume 2: Coincidence on the Gardners and Bensons; and

    Volume 3: Enemy Action, Although It’s Actually Extremely Damaging Friendly Fire, What the Bloody Hell Are IFP Thinking? on the likes of Higson, Faulks, Deaver and Boyd.

    Knowing full well that I have been amiss on Amis and ungood on Wood and [something para-rhyming with Pearson (nothing para- rhymes with Pearson)] on Pearson, my views on their efforts will have to wait until this emerges as an e-book although if you’re that desperate to know, you can make a pretty accurate guess.As a clue, the overall structure may follow the classic dramatic arc of a first bit where everything’s sunshiney and delicious; middle part, all dark and horrible and nasty and stuff goes very wrong; third act, heroically back to form. Not too confident about that last one, frankly, but let’s get going.

    For the 007th chapter, I’m concentrating on the actual chapter itself as a snapshot of the written Bond. Whilst, as with the films, I could digress into laboured reviews of the remainder of the (de)merits of the product, that would necessitate having to read them all, and I have neither the time nor the patience nor (when it comes to more than a handful of the non-Fleming output) the absence of dignity.

    All “quotes” from texts are, unless otherwise stated, copyright Ian Fleming Publications Limited.

     

    The 007th Chapter – Casino Royale: Rouge et Noir

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2014-02-24
  7. Thomas Newman wins Grammy for “Skyfall”

    And, finally, Thomas Newman wins the top prize for his spectacular score of the latest James Bond film.  No, not for the upcoming BOND 24 but for “SKYFALL”. (The beginning of the eligible time period for a Grammy was starting in late 2012.)

    This might also conclude “Skyfall”´s run in the awards race.  Although… there might be that odd online festival looking back at the current decade.

    In other news, Adele´s title song also got a Grammy.  Good thing, since Adele was in desperate need of another one.  Just kidding, of course.

    Stefan Rogall @ 2014-01-27
  8. New German Bond Fan Club in the making

    roger_berlinAlmost five years after the old German Bond fan club Bondklub Deutschland (BKD) ceased to exist, there’s an upcoming interest in founding an all new club for the German fans. There are plans for a website and a magazine, as well as events and location trips. No name has been chosen, yet, as currently, everything is still  in state of “discussion”. So, if you are German, or speak German (both is not mandatory, but does help) and want to contribute or just be part of it, all this is currently being discussed on Facebook in this group, but also on the German Bondforum in this thread.

    Heiko Baumann @ 2014-01-25
  9. Merry Xmas 2013

    CBn XmasCard 2013

    Heiko Baumann @ 2013-12-24
  10. The 007th Minute Ebook by Jacques I.M. Stewart

    007th Minute Ebook

     

    You wanted it. Well, some of you.

     

    007th Minute iPad TWINE

     

     

    Some of you even have been waiting for it.

     

    007th minute OP007th minute FRWL

     

    Should have been careful what you wish for, it’s finally here: The 007th Minute ebook. Together with an assortment of 24 illustrations to help you figure out what’s going on in the thing. And with the 007th Minute of ‘Next To You Bling Looks Fab’.

    007th Minute Pages NSNA

     

    No, wait a minute… the 007th Minute of ‘Never Say Never Again’, that was it. Previously unpublished, never before seen – outside CBn-House – material!

    007th minute CR

     

    007th Minute Book smallIf you download this ebook and want to have it printed and bound as a “real” book, click here to download a complete cover to go with it.

     

     

     

     

    To download the pdf click here: The 007th Minute Ebook Edition

    This download is not for sale and only available as a free service brought to you by CommanderBond.net. If you want to give something back in return please do consider to donate to UNICEF (link to their general donation site here, choose your location and continue) or any other cause of your personal choice.

    Only thing left for me to do now is wish you all a Merry Christmas and happy reading.

    Helmut Schierer @ 2013-12-22
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