Just before his hero made the leap to the silver screen, Soviet press outlets went on a propaganda offensive against Ian Fleming's adventures...

Time Tunnel: 007 v. SMERSH
7th March 2008

During the Cold War, and when James Bond was about to leap from the printed page to the silver screen, Ian Fleming's creation was generating interest behind the Iron Curtain. Seen by Communist intelligence agencies as unrealistic and fanciful, 007's adventures were panned by the state-controlled press and his screen outings censored from the population. As this Time report from June 1962 illustrates, the ideological battle between East and West would often blur the lines between fact and fiction:

Among Soviet spies and saboteurs, the most feared and hated adversary is British Secret Agent 007, alias James Bond. Even by British standards, hardboiled, hard-drinking Bond is a pukka cad who divides his time between bedding beautiful women, downing four-star meals and killing counter-bounders, all with the same cool, clinical skill. SMERSH, the official Soviet murder agency, has been trying to bury 007 for years, but the canny Briton keeps on surviving bullets, knives, bombs, sharks and poisons, notably a paralyzing fluid extracted from the sexual organs of the Japanese globefish.

Above: Ian Fleming become a target of Communist propaganda and critique, panning his 'mediocre writing'

One Soviet agent sent to lure Bond to his doom was a voluptuous siren named Tatiana Romanova; though her "body belonged to the state," Boudoirsman Bond swiftly restored it to private enterprise. In one adventure, he did away with "the first of the great Negro criminals" who used voodoo the better to serve Marxism. On another occasion, he liquidated a sadistic Russian agent who had secretly taken over a Caribbean isle and was all ready to divert U.S. missiles launched from nearby Cape Canaveral. In one of his most brilliant coups, Bond thwarted a SMERSH fiend named Auric Goldfinger, who tried to explode an A-bomb in Fort Knox in order to seize, naturally, all the U.S. gold; Goldfinger was so deeply committed to the gold standard that he could only make love to women coated in 14-carat gold paint.

Bond's Boswell is British Mystery Writer Ian Fleming, who has chronicled his career in best-selling spy thrillers. Author Fleming, a wartime Royal Navy intelligence officer and now a member of the editorial board of the London Sunday Times, swears that SMERSH really existed and was "the most secret department of the Soviet government." In any event, the task of liquidating Secret Agent Bond has now passed to the all too real operatives at Russia's Communist Party organ Izvestia (newspaper).

After whetting Muscovite appetites with some spicy excerpts from Dr. No, which is now being filmed in Jamaica, Izvestia devoted a black-bordered, two-column box to a character assassination of Fleming, who is President Kennedy's favorite mystery writer. Reported the paper breathlessly: "Fleming prides himself on his knowledge of espionage and villainy. His best friend is Allen Dulles, former head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who even attempted (but unsuccessfully) to try methods recommended by Fleming in his books. Obviously American propagandists must be in a bad way if they have recourse to the help of an English retired spy turned mediocre writer.


Soviet officialdom has good reason to fear Fleming's "propaganda." In no time, underprivileged Russian spymasters who read Bond's adventures will be demanding their own share of oversexed fillies and undercooked filets. Their expense accounts could wreck SMERSH more effectively than 007 himself.

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