December 5, 2017
There have been many action films made in the past sixty years or so, but a specific film comes to the mind of viewers when they hear of the famous Secret Service Intelligence Office named James Bond. The movie begins with the widely-known theme song that accompanies the opening title; then the film commences with a mixture of expensive explosions, killings, spies and secrets, fast cars, top-notch weapons, tuxedos, and high-intensity action scenes. James Bond has been the face of British action movies for the past fifty-three years. Before all of the successfully made, action-packed Bond movies were made and released, there were the classic Bond novels by author Ian Fleming. In those 1950s novels, we first meet the central figure of his stories, the man with the license to kill—Bond, James Bond.
James Bond, the prominent character of Fleming’s creation, was the central figure of his fictional writings. Bond, often referred to by his code number, 007, held the position of an intelligence officer in the British Secret Service and Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve, being the protagonist of all the novels, films, comics, and video games that followed. Bond was the ultimate secret spy who was classy, loyal to his boss “M” (who was said to be a character mimicked after Fleming’s real-life boss, Admiral Godfrey), and always did his best work with the best intentions and attempts. During World War II, Fleming had frequently mentioned to his friends that he was eager to write spy novels, and finally, after marrying his girlfriend in 1952, he began his journey as a novelist while at his island vacation home.1
Bond was the main character of twelve novels, nine short stories, a plethora of video games and comic books, and twenty-six films, in which the character Bond was portrayed by seven different actors throughout the years of the franchise. Despite the content within these books and movies, there was quite a number of real-life elements taken from Fleming’s experiences and his own continuing imagination being represented in his literary work, as well as executed on-screen. Although Bond is seen as a hero in many ways, upon the creation of the character, Fleming admitted once that Bond was meant to be the opposite, saying, “I never intended my leading character, James Bond, to be a hero. I intended him to be a sort of blunt instrument wielded by a government department…But of course, he’s always referred to as my hero. I don’t see him as a hero myself.”2
Despite these intentions for his character, Fleming took a lot of inspiration from real-life situations in his military career as well as with the people he met along the way. Fleming gained most of the inspiration for the James Bond character from individuals he knew during his time in the Naval Intelligence Division. He once admitted that the character was, “a compound of all the secret agents and commando types I met during the war,” allowing his readers and viewers to understand just how bulletproof, smart, and insanely brave the Bond character was intended to be seen as. Even the name of James Bond was taken from the name of an American ornithologist of the same name, who was a Caribbean bird expert. Fleming was himself an active bird-watcher, and owned a copy of James Bond’s books on bird-watching, and later went on to explain to his wife how he felt the name James Bond had an impact on him. The use of the name would also serve as some symbol of simplicity, as Fleming felt that a complicated or unique name would take away from the adventures Bond would endure in his novels.3
The individual characteristics that make up who James Bond is, was a reflection of who Fleming was himself. As Fleming once described him, “James Bond is what every man would like to be, and what every woman would like between her sheets,” from the kind of tastes he obtained and the traits he acquired, to the many experiences that Bond has gone through, all were illustrations of Fleming as a high-ranking, handsome, charismatic secret agent who enjoyed the rush of fulfilling his duties in the most adventurous ways.4
Firstly, I like your title. It seems kinda ironic that Bond would be a “world renowned secret agent.” If that was your plan from the beginning, well done. On to your article. Flemings’ success was the tried and true way of writing; putting your experience to paper and honestly, I think that’s how Bond has lasted all these years (along with the fact that the world is and always has been engrossed with action movies). It’s fascinating to think that Fleming had and viewed such an action packed life for his creation James Bond.
The icon James Bond is truly about a simple plot that was executed beautifully. It was all about defeating the bad guy and getting the girl. Bond is the perfect mixture of mystery and just sheer manliness. Bond films hold a special in cinema history. I enjoy James bond the idea of any other name sounds as crazy as how the same showed up for Fleming.
The James Bond series and brand have always interested me, and to find out so much about how he came to be, and how he even got his name is pretty awesome. Ian Fleming found inspiration in all the right places, and it specifically intrigued me about how he developed the actual character through his military friends. James Bond has evolved through the times, but the class and persona of the secret spy will always remain. Very well put together article.
Growing up I always loved watching the original/older James Bond movies because of my father and my grandpa. I never knew the origin of this fictional character and how he was created. Its crazy to think that seven actors played him and that James bond was named after the authors admiration for his favorite bird experts original name. Its also amazing to know that Fleming created the character around people and experiences he had during his life and had high hopes before anything to right a story about a spy. This article did a great job giving background about one of the biggest things during the 1950’s.
I always like the James Bond theme. It made the spy world so much more intriguing. And so it was that it has been going on for generations now. There are different versions, different actors, different missions but the one thing they all had in common is that every one of them has been successful. It is also exciting to see how the creator can feel identified with a character that has nothing to do with him but still share similarities.