Wouldn’t it be great to be famous? To have your name up in lights, to have people ask for your autograph, to have lies about you printed in trashy magazines? Yep, those celebrities have it pretty sweet if you ask me. Infact, I deem it a-okay for the average Joe to be jealous of those who make it big. Let’s be honest, we all dream of being famous, we all practice award acceptance speeches in front of the bathroom mirror, we all crave the admiration and respect of people whom we’ve never met and never will, we all want a stalker to call our very own. Despite what some may tell you, fame really is everything that it’s cracked up to be.
James Bond is rather famous when you think about. I don’t mean the James Bond films, the novels or the brand name. Of course they are all very famous, anyone who hasn’t spent the last forty years living under a rock (or in some far remote place, like New Zealand) will be well aware of the Bond Phenomenon. What I mean by Bond being famous is that the character is famous in his own world. What I mean, in my on incoherent, babbling way, is the notion of characters in the 007 universe knowing who Bond is, knowing of his reputation, etc.
Have you ever noticed that throughout the years Bond has become a ‘famous’ Secret Agent, somewhat of a celebrity? Though this isn’t something that evolved. He has been famous ever since he foiled the plans of Doctor No, and SPECTRE, who we are allowed to assume have had contact with many agents from many countries seem never to forget Bond. In From Russia With Love Kronsteen tells Blofeld that the British Secret Service will “almost certainly” send after the decoder is Bond, then when Bond introduces himself to Largo in Thunderball, Largo knows very well who he is, recognizing him as a ‘rival’. But SPECTRE know a lot more than that about Bond, In You Only Live Twice Blofeld informs Osaka that the only man SPECTRE knows who uses a Walther PPK is Bond. The head honcho himself knows details such as this about one British Agent? Can an Organization like SPECTRE, who we can assume are very large due to the money they have to build bases in volcanoes possibly see one man as such a threat? Did Goliath quake in his boots when his manager told him that his next fight was against David? I doubt it. Then again, look at how fatal dust up one turned out, I guess either way the big guy just can’t win.
Ofcourse, it’s perfectly acceptable that a large spy network would familiar with the name Bond and his talents, but SPECTRE aren’t the only ones that know about Bond. Auric Goldfinger, Frans Sanchez, Ronald McDonald and others have no problem finding out the Bond is “Agent 007 Licenced to Kill”. Scaramanga even kept a mannequin of him for target practice, and considering he also keeps one of Al Capone, Bond must be regarded highly. Zorin’s long since out-of-date computer recognizes Bond as “extremely dangerous”, and Elliot Carver deems Bond obituary to be worthy of front page status.
The topic of James Bond being famous immediately brings back memories of a scene in Diamonds are Forever, where Tiffany Case is astonished to find that “You’ve just killed James Bond” and believes that “You don’t kill James Bond and wait around for the cops”. Tiffany Case is merely part of a pipeline, a Diamond smuggler, and not really a very good one at that. For starters she gave the diamonds to the wrong person, a pretty big blunder when you consider her job, her very bread and butter, is the simple task of giving the diamonds to the right person. Keeping a photo of Peter Franks fingerprint but not one of his face, getting herself kidnapped by a guy in drag carrying a white cat, she doesn’t strike me as the sharpest tool in the shed, or even the second bluntest. As an American wig collector cum diamond smuggler living in an Amsterdam apartment block that has a very small lift, is she the sort of person you’d expect would be familiar with names of top secret agents either? How would she have any idea who Bond was?
The same can be said for Hugo Drax (the “familiar with Bond” bit, not “the diamonds smuggler” bit), who informs Bond that “your reputation precedes you”. Drax is not part of the criminal underworld or any spy network; he’s just a wealthy man who enjoys eating cucumber sandwiches, playing the piano, buying famous monuments and wiping out nearly the entire Earth population. Sure, he has his own evil scheme and access to the very best of henchmen on offer, but should he really know about Bond and his exploits?
A View to a Kill treats us to even more possible examples of Bond’s fame. When Bond visits the City Hall in San Francisco of all places, he feels obligated to use an alias to a mere Civil Servant. CIA Agent Chuck Lee considers it “a privilege to work with 007”. Sure, this fame displays to us that Bond is so amazing, that he has generated respect from those who he has never met, but does this mean that he is a ‘poor’ secret agent? Okay perhaps you’re already of the opinion that Bond is a ‘poor’ secret agent, because of his questionable battle plan of going straight up to the villain and letting him know that he’s on to him, but that’s a method that has proven surprising successful over the years. The question is, should MI6 risk sending him of a mission when his profession, to many, is not a mystery? Bond has generated this fame due to outstanding work, and it would be a shame for his dazzling career to come to an end simply because everyone on the street knows who he his. “Hey, you’re James Bond !” a man walking his dog might say when he spots 007 down the street one day “on one of your top secret missions hey?”.
“As a matter a fact I am, but do try and keep it hush, hey old boy”.
Until next time,