Tag Archive: Ian Fleming


Review by C.J. Bunce

A British-led counter-intelligence operation calculated to deceive Nazi Germany during World War II that involved Allied coordination among the likes of Winston Churchill, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and British intelligence officer Ian Spelling sounds like the stuff of a suspense-thriller, right?  That’s not quite what you get in this weekend’s direct-to Netflix war movie Operation Mincemeat.  As genre movies go, count this spy movie as purely historical fiction, primarily a mix of the mundane steps of pulling off even the most unlikely–but true–adventures in international trickery with some romance thrown in for the legion of Colin Firth swooners.  Detailing the plot to throw the Axis off the scent of Britain’s invasion and liberation of Sicily using a dead body with faked documents dropped off the coast of Spain, the movie lands in the same league as all the other 21st efforts to re-conjure World War II–its bland, sentimental account doesn’t match the drama of contemporary Hollywood of the 1940s.  But if you like watching your favorite British genre actors chewing up the screen, it’s worth the time.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Thunderball–the word itself conjures James Bond–the meaning of the word as an atomic bomb mushroom cloud has taken a backseat to Ian Fleming’s ninth spy novel from 1961, and the fourth Bond movie that filled theaters for Christmas 1965.  The novel is primarily Fleming’s own detailed, descriptive Bond character study, but with a twist: The story ideas are a combination of scenes created and introduced in screenplay drafts by two other writers.  Thunderball was eyed initially among the first nine novels as the one worthy of becoming the first movie adaptation.  But conflicts among who created what in a writers room before Fleming wrote the novel would be the source of a lawsuit that sidelined the movie and ultimately resulted in five writers (including Richard Maibaum, John Hopkins, Jack Whittingham, and Kevin McClory) named in the movie credits.  It also resulted in the quirky, additional film adaptation, Never Say Never Again, in 1983.  The novel, with its external inputs, is still among Fleming’s best–it’s a combination of all the best elements of Fleming’s adventure and action man writing, a one-stop shop of sorts for anyone looking for a single Bond story that has it all.

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A British-led counter-intelligence operation calculated to deceive Nazi Germany during World War II that involved Allied coordination among the likes of Winston Churchill, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, and British intelligence officer Ian Spelling is getting a new adaptation.  Coming in May, Netflix will premiere the new war movie Operation Mincemeat, detailing a plot to throw the Axis off the scent of Britain’s invasion and liberation of Sicily using a dead body with faked documents dropped off the coast of Spain.  If its sounds familiar it’s because you may have seen the popular 1956 drama The Man Who Never Was starring three-time Oscar nominee Clifton Webb as the key character in the story, Ewen Montagu, who planned and carried out the ruse, and wrote the novel the original film was based upon.

Oscar-winner Colin Firth steps into the lead role this time, joined by an impressive genre star cast including Jason Isaacs (Harry Potter series, Star Trek Discovery), Kelly Macdonald (Brave, Harry Potter series), Mark Gattis (Sherlock, Doctor Who), Mark Bonnar (Shetland, Doctor Who), Penelope Wilton (Shaun of the Dead, Doctor Who), Rufus Wright (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Shetland, The Watcher in the Woods, Quantum of Solace), and Johnny Flynn (Emma.) as Ian Fleming.

Here’s the trailer for Netflix’s Operation Mincemeat:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Oddly enough, no single James Bond movie has yet been given its own contemporaneous behind the scenes book that is worthy of the franchise.  That is, until now.  Mark Salisbury′s No Time to Die: The Making of the Film is one of those deluxe, full-color, high quality, coffee table-style books like we’ve seen several times at borg.  The difference is this one provides a look into the longest running continuous movie franchise.  Full of images of the production in action, it also features interviews with the key cast and crew on Daniel Craig’s final turn as James Bond in the franchise’s 25th official production.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s crazy.  Only a year ago audiences were getting ready for the arrival of the next James Bond film No Time to Die.  Flash forward a year and here we are again, awaiting the same movie.  Also a year ago I reviewed an intriguing new book by Mark Edlitz called The Many Lives of James Bond (reviewed here at borg).  I instantly loved that Edlitz wasn’t the typical non-fiction franchise tie-in writer–he was a diehard fan and loved Bond as much as I did (actually more).  And it came through in his interviews with some of the key people in front of and behind the lens, as well as those who dabbled in the James Bond creative space over the years.  As luck would have it, Edlitz is back with more from his research.  In his new book The Lost Adventures of James Bond, Edlitz recounts story treatments, screenplays, and more, adventures that didn’t make it to the screen or your bookshelf.  More Roger Moore as Bond.  More Timothy Dalton as Bond.  More Pierce Brosnan as Bond.  Who’s in?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Fans of James Bond have six reasons to check out a new graphic novel arriving tomorrow at comic book stores everywhere.  Ian Fleming’s James Bond 007: Reflections of Death combines the writing talents of comics creators Benjamin Percy, Greg Pak, Andy Diggle, Gail Simone, Mark Russell, Vita Ayala, and Danny Lore, with the artwork of Dean Kotz, Luca Casalanguida, Kewber Baal, Eoin Marron, Robert Carey, Jordi Perez, and Fay Dalton.  The result is a single graphic novel finding Moneypenny kidnapped and drugged, forced to recount some telling exploits of our favorite 00 spy.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

For me the challenge and threshold for success for HBO’s series His Dark Materials was huge.  The first adaptation of Philip Pullman’s wildly successful series of novels was the 2007 big-screen film The Golden Compass, which rated #1 on my all-time favorite fantasy movie list here at borg back in 2012.  Late last year HBO took on its own adaptation, and the first season arrived, but fell in the shadow of more popular, and more marketed series last year like The Mandalorian.  So on the one hand we have a big-budget movie with an all-star cast–so how does the TV series fare by comparison?  At last His Dark Materials just arrived on Blu-Ray and DVD and the studio sent us a copy for review (you can order it here at Amazon), so check out my review below, along with a preview of Season 2.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Goldfinger.  It’s surprising that a novel, a word, a song, and a character James Bond is so well known for didn’t arrive until Ian Fleming’s seventh novel in the series.  Goldfinger is a novel to revisit, one of the better of Fleming’s efforts, defining so much about what we know as James Bond today.  That prolonged car chase.  The requisite run-through of the spy agency’s cutting-edge techno-gadgets.  The over-the-top situations.  Already locked in 60 years ago when Goldfinger arrived on paperback racks in 1959 were the franchise’s womanizing, the liquor and dinner delicacies, Fleming’s ability to offend select groups with each subsequent novel (this time his target is Koreans and lesbians), and that same, cold-hearted, hardened spy.  Its film adaptation five years later would become one of the most popular, the third film to feature the British spy, the one that would cement a theme for Bond thanks to a song by John Barry (with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, memorably performed by Shirley Bassey), and a story most faithfully adapted in the popular comic strip of the 1960s (see our review of that version of the story here).

Although all the Bond novels can be read in any order, Goldfinger is a direct sequel to his first, Casino Royale, spinning a character out of the key baccarat game and a chance encounter at an American airport.  The first half of this novel parallels Casino Royale so much readers may think Fleming literally superimposed sections of this over his first.  In Goldfinger we view Bond in a lengthy, and fascinatingly compelling golf game, matching the import and stakes of his famous baccarat game in Casino Royale.  Who knew the anger and strategy that could go through the mind of Bond over a game of golf? And both novels begin with a similar cold, detached kill by Bond.  Chance and coincidence are focal themes.  One of Fleming’s clever strengths here, being aware of including so many coincidences that the story hinges on, is highlighting that fact unapologetically, even acknowledging it through the dialogue of Bond and his foe.

 

For those who viewed the movie version first, they should be pleasantly surprised as the stories track better than most Bond titles.  We meet this incredible villain, Auric Goldfinger, fascinated with and addicted to gold, bent on being the richest man in the world, a master architect of destruction and planning, yet also dumb enough to leave a brand on his own gold bars, and idly wasting his time duping a hotel guest on a game of canasta, which proves to be his downfall.  We also meet his henchman, Oddjob, the short, rotund Korean man with a rather sharp-brimmed bowler hat.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s always fun to be a fan and find a new edition of a previously published work you overlooked.  In light of this year’s new James Bond film, No Time to Die, and Daniel Craig’s indication this will be his last Bond film, keep an eye out for a new round of speculation on his replacement.  While you’re waiting for the official Bond #25, check out Bond On Bond: Reflections On 50 Years Of James Bond Movies.  Not just another look at the franchise, this was written by Bond himself, or at least the actor who played Bond the longest, Roger Moore, five years before he passed away in 2017.  Bond fans will love that the book doesn’t seem at all to have a ghost writer–this is candid Roger Moore in all his great humor, wry wit, and suave, British sincerity, just as we’ve seen him in interviews over the years and heard him in DVD commentaries.

The book is not just about Moore, but his relationship with the producers, studio, and other actors who have played Bond and their contributions to the franchise.  Moore knows more than you’d think about the significance of Ian Fleming’s stories, and their impact on the world.  He also has an incredible memory, and even if some of the subjects discussed might have been memory joggers posed by others, his anecdotes show insight into the character, and components of 50 years of films, including Daniel Craig’s, that get Fleming’s character just right.  Also, if you played Bond, you get to refer to the character as Jimmy.

How does it feel to walk around knowing the world thinks of you as Bond?  Why did Moore refrain from ever uttering the lines “shaken, not stirred”?  Why did the studio and Moore agree to make many differences in his style of playing Bond compared to his predecessor, Sean Connery?  What’s a press junket like when you’re Bond?  What’s it like to attend the movie premieres with royalty?

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Sixty-six years since readers first met Ian Fleming’s James Bond, there is no sign of the franchise waning.  The next film, No Time to Die, brings back Daniel Craig as the world’s most famous spy, arriving in theaters next April.  But if you want to get caught up on four decades of James Bond movies, there has been no better time to do it than right now.  You could buy digital copies of the 24 films so far, available on streaming platform VUDU for a bundle price of $149.99.  Or if you’re willing to watch commercials, you can view nearly all of them now and for a limited time, free.

That’s everything from Dr. No to Quantum of Solace, all the Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan installments, including both versions of Casino Royale and the off-brand film Never Say Never Again.  The two exclusions from the free-with-commercials offer are the two most recent films, Skyfall and SPECTRE, which are available at the regular VUDU pricing.

While you’re at it, you may want to check out the new Lyons Press release, Mark Edlitz’s 312-page hardcover look at the films, The Many Lives of James Bond, available now here at Amazon.

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