Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Déjá vu, Mr. Bond: The surprising similarities between the continuation novels and the James Bond films


At the recent London press conference announcing the title of the new Bond film, Skyfall, we also learned that the new Bond Girl, played by Bérénice Marlohe, will be named Severin. Sound familiar? It should. Just this year we got a Bond villain named Severan in Jeffery Deaver's continuation Bond novel, Carte Blanche.

Just a coincidence? Could be. But this certainly isn't the first time an idea has mysteriously migrated from a continuation novel into one of the James Bond films. Here's my list of surprising similarities, first published on CBn in 2005, which I've now updated.

COLONEL SUN (1967)

  • Book: The main villain is a mad Chinese military officer named Colonel Sun.
  • Film: Die Another Day (2002) - The main villain is a mad Korean military officer named Colonel Moon.
  • Book: M is kidnapped by the villain and held prisoner in an old island fortress in Greece.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - M is kidnapped by the villain and held prisoner in an old island fortress in Turkey.

JAMES BOND THE AUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY OF 007 (1973)

  • Book: Bond tangles with an arms dealer named Demetrios who runs guns to the EOKA terrorists in Cyprus.
  • Film: Casino Royale (2006) - Bond tangles with an arms dealer named Dimitrios who helps arm SLA terrorists in Uganda.

LICENSE RENEWED (1981)

  • Book: James Bond gets his first glimpse of villain industrialist Anton Murik at England's famous Ascot racetrack.
  • Film: A View to a Kill (1985) - James Bond gets his fist glimpse of villain industrialist Max Zorin at England's famous Ascot racetrack.
  • Book: Bond poses as a weekend party guest at Murik's large country estate in Scotland.
  • Film: A View to a Kill (1985) - Bond poses as a weekend party guest at Zorin's large country estate in France.
  • Book: Bond's SAAB ejects tear gas from its vents when surrounded by henchmen.
  • Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Bond's BMW ejects tear gas from its vents when surrounded by henchmen.
  • Book: Bond fights henchman Caber in the cargo hold of C-130 over Spain in the book's climax.
  • Film: The Living Daylights (1987) - Bond fights henchman Necros in the cargo hold of C-130 over Afghanistan in the film's climax.
  • Book: Bond uses a dueling pistol belonging the villain as a weapon.
  • Film: Skyfall (2012) - Bond uses a dueling pistol belonging the villain as a weapon.
  • The film Licence To Kill (1989) was originally called License Revoked.

FOR SPECIAL SERVICES (1982)

  • Book: Bond and heroine Cedar Leiter get trapped in a precariously balanced elevator in a New York hotel.
  • Film: A View to a Kill (1985) - Bond and heroine Stacey Sutton get trapped in a precariously balanced elevator in San Francisco's City Hall.
  • Book: Villain Markus Bismaquer plots with crime syndicate SPECTER to gain control of a top secret star wars-like space-based satellite weapon known as Space Wolf.
  • Film: GoldenEye (1995) - Villain Alec Trevelyn plots with crime syndicate JANUS to gain control of a top secret star wars-like space-based satellite weapon known as GoldenEye.
  • Book: Bond seduces Nena Bismaquer, a powerful woman with one deformed breast. In the end, it is revealed Nena is to be the true villain of the book. Bond kills her in cold blood in her Everglades island castle lair.
  • Film: The World Is Not Enough (1999) - Bond seduces Electra King, a powerful woman with one deformed ear. In the end, it is revealed Electra is to be the true villain of the film. Bond kills her in cold blood in her Istanbul island castle lair.

ICEBREAKER (1983)

  • Book: Bond, on a mission in the Arctic Circle, rides a snow mobile while being chased by Russians.
  • Film: A View to a Kill (1985) - Bond, on a mission in the Arctic Circle, rides a snow mobile while being chased by Russians.
  • Book: Villain Count von Gloda's lair is an "Ice Palace" inside the Arctic Circle.
  • Film: Die Another Day (2002) - Villain Gustav Graves' lair is an "Ice Palace" inside the Arctic Circle.

ROLE OF HONOR (1984)

  • Book: Villain Jay Anton Holy is obsessed with computers and the criminal applications of computers.
  • Film: A View to a Kill (1985) - Villain Max Zorin is obsessed with computers and the criminal applications of computers.
  • Book: Bond resigns from the secret service and poses as a free agent in order to attract the attention of villain Jay Anton Holy.
  • Film: Licence To Kill (1989) - Bond resigns from the secret service and poses as a free agent in order to attract the attention of villain Franz Sanchez.
  • Book: Bond is instructed by secret service envoy Percy Proud while on leave in Monte Carlo.
  • Film: GoldenEye (1995) - Bond is evaluated by secret service envoy Caroline while on leave in Monte Carlo.
  • Book: Armed with only his ASP handgun, Bond battles a collection of heavily-armed masked terrorists room to room in a SPECTRE training simulator where 007 discovers several of his team dead.
  • Film: Die Another Day (2002) - Armed with only his P99 handgun, Bond battles a collection of heavily-armed masked terrorists room to room in a MI6 training simulator where Bond discovers several of his colleagues dead.
  • Book: The villain has an elaborate game room in his home where he role plays the Battle of Bunker Hill with toy soldiers.
  • Film: The Living Daylights (1987) - The villain has an elaborate game room in his home where he role plays the Battle of Gettysburg with toy soldiers.
  • Book: The climax takes place aboard an airship over Geneva.
  • Film: A View to a Kill (1985) - The climax takes place aboard an airship over San Francisco.

NOBODY LIVES FOREVER (1986)

  • Book: Key West is a featured location.
  • Film: Licence To Kill (1989) - Key West is a featured location.
  • Book: Tomboyish female bodyguard Nannie Norwich uses a small gun that she conceals in a leg garter holster.
  • Film: Licence To Kill (1989) - Tomboyish CIA pilot Pan Bouvier uses a small gun that she conceals a leg garter holster.

NO DEALS, MR. BOND (1987)


  • Book: M tells Bond the #1 rule is there will be "no deals" if he’s captured.
  • Film: Die Another Day (2002) - Bond tells M he understands the #1 rule is there will be "no deals" if he’s captured.
  • Book: Gardner's original title was Tomorrow Always Comes.
  • Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997).

SCORPIUS (1988)

  • Book: Villain Valentine Scorpius uses a religious cult as a front and money source for his his nefarious activities.
  • Film: Licence To Kill (1989) - Villain Franz Sanchez uses a religious cult as a front and money source for his nefarious activities.

WIN, LOSE OR DIE (1989)

  • Book: Bond dogfights in a Harrier fighter jet.
  • Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Bond dogfights in a MIG fighter jet.

BROKENCLAW (1990)

  • Book: Bond is tortured by heritage-obsessed villain Brokenclaw Lee in an antique Native American torture device.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - Bond is tortured by heritage-obsessed villainess Electra King in an antique Turkish torture device.

THE MAN FROM BARBAROSSA (1991)

  • Book: Baku, Azerbaijan is a major location.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - Baku, Azerbaijan is a major location.

DEATH IS FOREVER (1992)

  • Book: Bond tracks an elusive villain to an abandoned building on the Grand Canal in Venice. The action culminates in the tragic death of Easy St. John whom 007 has fallen in love.
  • Film: Casino Royale (2006) - Bond tracks an elusive villain to an abandoned building on the Grand Canal in Venice. The action culminates in the tragic death of Vesper Lynd whom 007 has fallen in love.

NEVER SEND FLOWERS (1993)

  • Book: David Dragonpol uses a walking stick gun.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - Valentin Zukovsky uses a walking stick gun. (To be fair, the walking stick gun first appeared in 1953's Casino Royale.)
  • Book: Bond has a cat and mouse chase on the London Underground.
  • Film: Skyfall (2013) - Bond has a cat and mouse chase on the London Underground.
  • Book: Bond uses the codename White Knight.
  • Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Bond uses the codename White Knight.
  • Book: Bond and his mission partner Flicka recuperate from their mission in a beautiful hotel villa on Lake Como that the Secret Service uses as a front.
  • Film: Casino Royale (2006) - Bond and his mission partner Vesper recuperate from their mission in a beautiful hotel villa on Lake Como that the Secret Service uses as a front.

SEAFIRE (1994)

  • Book: Bond rides a high-powered motorcycle along the ramps and roofs of Roman ruins.
  • Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - Bond rides a high-powered motorcycle along the ramps and roofs of a Vietnamese village.
  • Book: The villain uses para-hawks to attack Bond.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - The villain uses para-hawks to attack Bond.
  • Book: The climax takes place aboard a stolen Russian submarine in the Caribbean.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - The climax takes place aboard a stolen Russian submarine in the Black Sea.

COLD (1996)

  • Book: M is kidnapped when he makes a surprise appearance in the field.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - M is kidnapped when she makes a surprise appearance in the field.
  • Book: Bond restarts a helicopter in freefall.
  • Film: Die Another Day (2002) - Bond restarts a helicopter in freefall.
  • Book: Sukie Tempesta gets Stockholm Syndrome, falls in love with the villain, and turns on Bond.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - Elektra King gets Stockholm Syndrome, falls in love with the villain, and turns on Bond.
  • Book: U.S. title was Cold Fall.
  • Film: SkyFall.

ZERO MINUS TEN (1997)

  • Book: With Suni Pei by his side, Bond fight off bad-guys armed with machetes in an apartment building stairwell.
  • Film: Casino Royale (2006) - With Vesper Lynd by his side, Bond fights off a bad-guy armed with a machete in a hotel stairwell.
  • Book: The plot has the villain attempting to disrupt the 1997 Hong Kong handover.
  • Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) - The plot of the first draft screenplay had the villain attempting to disrupt the 1997 Hong Kong handover.

THE FACTS OF DEATH (1998)

  • Book: The villain's target is Istanbul.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - The villain's target is Istanbul.
  • Book: Hera, named after a Greek Goddess, sexually teases Bond as she tortures him in a chair.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - Electra, named after a Greek Goddess, sexually teases Bond as she tortures him in a chair.
  • Book: M’s seeks Bond help after her friend and lover Alfred Hutchinson is assassinated.
  • Film: The World is Not Enough (1999) - M’s seeks Bond help after her friend (and lover?) Sir Robert King is assassinated.
  • Benson's rejected working title for The Facts of Death was...The World is Not Enough!

SILVERFIN (2005)

  • Book: The climax is set in a Scottish castle.
  • Film: Skyfall (2012) - The climax is set in a Scottish castle.

DEVIL MAY CARE (2008)

  • Book: The villain uses a 1960s Russian water-plane known as the "Caspian Sea Monster."
  • Video Game: Blood Stone (2010) - The villain uses a 1960s Russian water-plane known as the "Caspian Sea Monster."

CARTE BLANCHE (2011)

  • Book: The Bond villain's first name is Severan.
  • Film: Skyfall (2012): The Bond girl's first name is Severin.
  • Book: The book opens with action involving a freight train in Serbia.
  • Film: Skyfall (2012): The movie opens with action involving a freight train in Turkey.
  • Book: Bond's parents and origins are explored in this book.
  • Film: Skyfall (2012): Bond's parents and origins are explored in this movie.


Now, to be fair, it's possible much of what I listed above is coincidence. Creative ideas float mysteriously in the air and are frequently plucked down by more than one person at the same time. I mean, someone was going to put James Bond in a blimp eventually (and this was actually first done in the 1970s comic strip The Golden Ghost). And there is at least one instance where a key idea flowed the other way -- Eon featured Bond on the Rock of Gibraltar in The Living Daylights (1987) before Gardner did so in Win, Lose or Die (1989) or Raymond Benson in Doubleshot (2000).

But, if nothing else, this list illustrates how the literary James Bond and the cinematic James Bond are as symbiotic as they were back in the days of Fleming. So why not join them in a more direct way? Why use Colonel Moon when you could use Colonel Sun? Is Tomorrow Never Dies a better title than, say, For Special Services? Why not go for a straight adaptation of some of the more cinematic continuation novels like Icebreaker, High Time To Kill, or even Carte Blanche?

Here's hoping someday they will.

10 comments:

  1. Here here. I'm all for adapting the continuation novels directly. Gardner and Benson both wrote some truly cinematic novels!

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  2. Or at least use them as a base. Like Casino Royale. The screenwriters did a brillant job of building on that novel's base. You can change them radically, but you have something solid to build on. Instead they fire off the original Quantum of Solace, and it's just painful how deficient it is in story, theme, and character. Yet there on the Eon shelves are some 25 volumes of nothing but story, theme, and character (and some great titles).

    But, you know, this is an old, old argument.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A very good thorough piece. Another example I can think of is the head-up display from the Saab in LICENCE RENEWED was used for the Aston Martin in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS.

    In a more general sense, some new character traits added by Gardner migrate into the movies. For instance he gave Bond a liking for jazz and Dalton's Bond listens to jazz in the car in THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS just like Gardner's Bond listening to Art Tatem's 'The Shout' on the Bentley's CD player while driving in ROLE OF HONOUR. Similarly it is hinted in QUANTUM OF SOLACE that Bond and Fields were listening to Charles Mingus after making love - the CD beside the bed - just as Gardner had Bond and Natalya Simonova listen to Miles Davis's 'Sketches of Spain' in his novelisation of GOLDENEYE.

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  4. Oh, those are great ones, Craig. Especially the TLD jazz connection. I recall Gardner saying in interviews at the time how he decided to make Bond a jazz fan.

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  5. Gardner was obviously a jazz fan himself (I must ask Simon some time), as was Guy Hamilton - remember Hamilton spotting Putter Smith for the role of Mr Kidd when Smith was playing in Thelonious Monk's group. But Bond was never a jazz fan in Hamilton's films. Felix Leiter was a jazz in fan in Fleming's novels. Then writing ICEBREAKER, Gardner emphasised Bond's liking for Eric Ambler, sailing and jazz and included several more examples of this passion for jazz in his Bond novels. Not long after the publication of ICEBREAKER Michel LeGrand was hired to provide a jazz score for NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN. That score is much maligned and so many Bond fans complained that it torpedoed the movie. Perhaps from a commercial stand-point, yes. But I've always liked LeGrand's score. It will never be as good as a Barry score but Barry's brilliant music emotes what Bond means for us, the audience, whereas NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN gave us the type of music that Connery-Bond might listen to - Bond wouldn't go around hearing something equivalent to Monty Norman's Bond theme in his head while he moves through the casino; only we fans would do that. I do miss the Monty Norman theme in NSNA and more recently in the Daniel Craig Bond films but each of these films represent an attempt to put us inside Bond's consciousness more - the way Fleming did - and Gardner's decision to make Bond a jazz fan was perhaps the catalyst.

    Note: the other CD on the floor beside the bed in QUANTUM OF SOLACE is, I think, Primal Scream's 1991 album 'Screamadelica' which is perhaps the last thing that Gardner's Bond would be caught listening to but it is an attempt to include a rock band of Daniel Craig's generation. Primal Scream and Charles Mingus were of course both on the Sony/Columbia label and QOS was produced by Sony/MGM, so it is a form of Sony product placement equivalent to the other Sony products included in CASINO ROYALE and QOS.

    ReplyDelete
  6. God no! Eon must never film Carte Blanche. That will be the end of the film franchise! I, for one, would never pay good money to watch a two and a half hour movie where the most heroic action is James Bond texting on his mobile phone like a brain-dead moron! The Ian Fleming Foundation must never let Deaver near Bond ever again. That book was pure unadulterated tripe!

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    Replies
    1. Disagree. CB is the best we've had. And I'm sorry, but Bond did more than text on his phone. And I don't see why you'd have a problem with that. It's the 21 century after all

      Delete
    2. Also disagree.
      CB is a Fantastic example of the way the modern Bond should go. The (dual) phone is a brilliant, and viable creation, for Q-Branch; and Bone did Far more than text.
      The story was totally feasible. I'm disappointed Deaver wasn't given a chance to write another.

      Delete
  7. Overall, I think EON should stick with original plots and keep cherry-picking some bits and pieces from the other novels. But there are three books I would like to see form the basis for films--and by three different authors: Colonel Sun, Doubleshot and most especially Nobody Lives Forever. I love the cross-Europe journey backbone of NLF, and I think it would fit in well with Craig's post-Bourne Bond. I'd like to see it in a Bentley, like the book, but an Aston Martin would suit me just fine too. Either one would put Bourne and the Mini Cooper he made his cross-Europe journey in in their place!

    ReplyDelete

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