Written by Paul Rowlands
‘Goldeneye’ is of course not only the title of Pierce Brosnan’s 1995 debut as 007. It was also the moniker of Ian Fleming’s Jamaican summer retreat where he would pen the Bond adventures annually. The name had been inspired by either one or both of the following—a World War II contingency plan devised by Fleming in case Germany ever invaded Spain (dubbed ‘Operation Goldeneye’) and a book by Carson McCullers (Reflections in a Golden Eye) that Fleming was reading whilst the house was being built.
But was ‘Goldeneye’ limited to these uses and inspirations?
Nope. It’s also the title of a 1989 TV film biography (it was subtitled The Secret Life of Ian Fleming for US video, and is known as Spymaster – The Man with the Golden Pen in Australia) that premièred on UK television in summer 1989, around the time Licence to Kill was in cinemas. The film is based on John Pearson’s 1966 biography, The Life of Ian Fleming, and features Charles Dance (For Your Eyes Only, 1981) as Fleming, Julian Fellowes (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997) as Noel Coward, and Roger Moore’s daughter, Deborah (Die Another Day, 2002), in a small role as a secretary. Anthony Waye (long-time 007 crew member and current executive producer) was the associate producer.
Charles Dance as Commander Fleming
The film is an entertaining blend of fact and fiction (note the references to iconography that Eon Productions created and not Fleming!), which benefits greatly from being filmed at the actual Goldeneye location, and from an excellent performance from Charles Dance as Fleming. He looks like him, and somehow manages to get a handle on the man’s unshakeable spirit. It’s been rumoured that Dance could have been a contender for Bond in 1986 had he not criticised director John Glen’s directing skills on TV and so unimpressed ‘Cubby’ Broccoli. (Read John Glen’s biography For My Eyes Only for further details.) The film focusses on his World War II exploits, his love life and the inspirations that led to him creating Bond, James Bond.
What perhaps many Bond fans do not know is that when the film premièred on US television, after a brief spoken word trailer for the film, there was a two-minute introduction to the film from none other than… George Lazenby.
Looking very Bondian in a black dinner jacket, Lazenby slowly walks into what looks like an empty casino room, reading the opening passage from Casino Royale. Just as he finishes up, he is sitting down and puts the book down. The following is a transcript of his introduction:
“Hello. I’m George Lazenby, and for the next two hours we’re going to take you behind the myth of the man responsible for giving the world a secret agent who forever changed the way we think about spies.
In fact, the words I just read came from Casino Royale, the first Bond thriller, written back in the early days of the Cold War. Published in 1953, it introduced a sexy, sophiticated, ruthless, world-class superspy totally unlike the unglamorous, hardboiled private investigators popular until that time.
Since then, authors like Robert Ludlum, Frederick Forsyth and Tom Clancy chose to follow in Fleming’s footsteps, writing fast-paced, hi-tech, international thrillers, all clearly inspired by the larger-than-life adventures Fleming himself had created for Bond.
But Ian Fleming was the first and perhaps the best. His incredible, vivid stories spanned the globe, introducing an array of marvellous gadgets, and a cast of unforgettable characters such as Pussy Galore, Goldfinger, Dr. No, Tiffany Case—memorable villains and even more memorable women. Each an important part of the Bond mystique.
Yet it was not until 1960, when John Kennedy ran for President and he mentioned he liked James Bond that Fleming’s creation caught on in America. Then came the movies and the international Bondmania that has lasted until this day.
By the way, I portrayed 007 in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and saw first hand the incredible impact of the Bond phenomenon.
How did it all begin? What kind of man was Fleming? In Goldeneye we find out just what led this individual to create the world’s most beloved secret agent.
Bond, James Bond.” (smile.)
So, technically, Lazenby uttered those famous words in more than his single Bond film.