Books

James Bond: He’s back (in books) – though he really never left

This poster promoting “Thunderball” is included in the coffee-table book “James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters.”
This poster promoting “Thunderball” is included in the coffee-table book “James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters.” Courtesy of DK Publishing

Brace yourselves: It’s been 53 years since Sean Connery debuted as Her Majesty’s secret agent James Bond, in “Dr. No,” written by Ian Fleming in 1958. Now comes “Spectre,” released Nov. 6, the fourth Bond flick to star icy-eyed Daniel Craig and the 25th in the franchise (if you include the 1967 spoof “Casino Royale” with Woody Allen).

For the literary record, let’s note that Fleming’s first Bond novel was not “Dr. No,” but “Casino Royale” (1953). After Fleming’s death in 1964, a much more politically correct Bond came to life in several series by a half-dozen authors, including Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and William Boyd.

Now veteran British novelist Anthony Horowitz has written a Bond tale that’s unique in the 007 pastiche, in that it moves Bond not into the uncomfortable (for him) present day but takes him back to the past.

The poorly titled “Trigger Mortis” is set shortly after the agent has concluded his near-death experience with Auric Goldfinger (written in 1959, released as the movie “Goldfinger” 1964; Harper, $28, 310 pages). The story involves Grand Prix racing and the U.S. vs. Soviet Union space race during the Cold War. The Bond Girl turns out to be American gangster Pussy Galore, reprising her role from “Goldfinger.” The tense car-racing scenes are spot-on (Bond drives a Maserati), but the most harrowing scene involves Bond being buried alive and his near-panicked struggle to literally escape the grave.

The Fleming estate allowed Horowitz access to some of the writer’s unpublished works, and parts of Fleming’s “Murder On Wheels” made their way into “Trigger Mortis.”

Ian Fleming wrote a number of excellent short stories featuring Commander Bond, among them “Octopussy,” “From a View to a Kill,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “Quantum of Solace.” None of them has anything to do with their film incarnations.

Also timed to the release of “Spectre” are two coffee-table books from DK publishing, “James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters,” with text by Hollywood production designer Dennis Gassner ($50, 328 pages); and “Bond By Design: The Art of James Bond Films,” text by Meg Simmonds ($50, 320 pages).

“Posters” is a fascinating trip through Bond history, with hundreds of movie posters (many of them in international editions) ranging from the camp (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” with George Lazenby”) to the cool (“Diamonds Are Forever” with Sean Connery). Dozens of them reflect the sophistication of the artists (“You Only Live Twice” with Sean Connery), or not (“Moonraker” with Roger Moore). One Japanese edition of “For Your Eyes Only” is a photograph of Moore sitting on the edge of a kiddie pool, surrounded by 11 women in what passed for bikinis in the day.

“Design” is a collection of original sketches and storyboards for sets, scenes, costumes, props and concepts that were much of the basis for the Bond movies. Yes, there’s the Aston Martin DB-5 from “Goldfinger,” drawn by Ken Adam, a former fighter pilot. The Day of the Dead parade that opens “Spectre” was based on models and technical drawings rendered months before the filming, which involved 1,500 extras.

P.S.: What’s not widely known is that Fleming wrote a number of excellent short stories featuring Commander Bond, among them “Octopussy,” “From a View to a Kill,” (renamed “A View To a Kill” for the movie), “For Your Eyes Only” and “Quantum of Solace.” None of them has anything to do with their film incarnations.

P.P.S: As for Bond’s famous martini – “shaken, not stirred” – the recipe appears in “Casino Royale.”

“A dry martini,” Bond said. “One. In a deep champagne goblet.”

“Oui, monsieur.”

“Just a minute. Three measures of Gordon’s (gin), one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet (an aperitif). Shake it very well until it’s ice cold, then add a large, thin slice of lemon peel. ... I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything.”

That from the writer – Fleming – who gave us Truly Scrumptious, heroine of the 1968 film made from his 1964 children’s book, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

  Comments