In the summer of 1981, two very different interpretations
of James Bond went head to head...
Resetting Bond For The '80s
15th May 2011
The summer of 1981 saw the battle of James Bond's
- Roger Moore and John
Gardner's interpretations of Ian Fleming's
superspy as "For Your Eyes Only"
and "License Renewed" were
released head-to-head at cinemas and book shops worldwide. Who
came out on top in their attempt to reset Bond for the 1980's?
James Bond Outlives His Creator - Daily
Times (USA) - August 25th, 1981
Supposedly, he looked rather like the American composer
Hoagy Carmichael, only with a crueler mouth. He belonged to the
elite double-O section of Her Majesty's Secret Service - was designated
agent 007 - and had a license to kill. For that purpose he carried,
early in his career, a .25 Beretta automatic in a chamois leather
holster. Later, when the Beretta misfired, he switched to the Walther
PPL in a Burns Martin holster.
He drove a battleship-gray 4.5-liter fuel-injected
1933 Bentley coupe that every mechanic in Great Britain drooled
over. He daily smoked 70 cigarettes of a Balkan and Turkish
mixture made expressly for him by Morelands of Grovesnor Street
and marked with the distinctive triple gold band. He insisted
his martini be shaken, not stirred, and served with a twist of
lemon peel. He was a ruthless high-stakes baccarat player and
he was a gourmet. Women swoon over him. His name: James Bond.
Amazingly, it has been nearly 30 years since Ian
spy made his debut - in the novel "Casino
the public's appetite for Bond adventures just won't die down.
This summer is certainly no exception.
One of this season's most successful film releases if "For Your Eyes Only," the
12th in a string of Bond films that dates back to 1962
and "Dr No." Meanwhile, a scan of the bestseller
list for hard-cover books finds "License Renewed," the
latest Bond adventure, solidly entrenched.
What makes "For Your Eyes Only" a
rarity among Bond films is that is it the first one that
on an Ian Fleming novel - the vault of Fleming Bond novels
has been emptied. The "Eyes" title comes from
a volume of short stories.
What makes "License Renewed" a
rarity among BOnd novels is that is isn't written by Fleming
at all. Ian Fleming
died in 1964. The new book was written by spy novelist John
Gardner, who was selected by the Fleming estate to replenish
the stock of book titles so that more movies could be made
from more Bond books. And so on.
[Note: According to
several reports, by this point in time EON Productions had
to not use any non-Fleming Bond material]
Not that the recent Bond movies really reflect
the tightly plotted action novels they are based on. Fleming
had his gadgets and
exotic locales, but he could never have anticipated the tongue-in-cheek
stunt extravaganza his hero has become party to. "For Your
Eyes Only," for example, doesn't even concern itself with
a coherent plot. It amounts to little more than a pastiche of
quips, cleavage and chase scenes. Mostly chase scenes - by helicopter,
by skis, by snow bikes, by cars, by dune buggies, by two-man
submarines. Every five minutes there is a chase, most of them
played for laughs. The film resembles TV's "Sheriff Lobo" more
than is does the gritty early Bond adaptations, like the exception "From
Russia With Love," which starred Sean
Roger Moore, the current James Bond steps in
only occasionally for his stuntman. Moore has taken good care
of himself but he's
not a kid anymore. He's 53 and totally unconvincing in hand-to-hand
combat. By the time the film ends he has been chased so many
times that clearly he ought to be putting his feet up, not romancing
the film's heroine, who looks young enough to be his grand-daughter.
"For You Eyes Only" ranks as only
a mediocre Bond movie - in part because the film producers refuse
to let the
poor guy age. Gardner's novel is another matter. Gardner has
updated Fleming's suave global gunslinger in delightful fashion.
He has Fleming's writing style and attention to his hero's lifestyle
down perfectly. A fun read.
Bond doesn't drunk much anymore, smokes a special low-tar
blend made for hum by Morelands - still with the triple
gold band - and has to do exercises every morning to stay
He drives a fuel-efficient Saab instead
of his beloved Bentley and has taken a quiet country cottage.
The service isn't the same either. The double-O section
has been abolished. Bond is mostly a paper pusher now,
though he occasionally takes care of a bit of dirty business
for his boss, M.
In terms of plotting, the new Bond story
blends right in with Fleming. Our arch-villain is Anton
Murek, a mad
nuclear scientist who plots to seize six of the West's
largest nuclear power plants and hold them hostage. It's
Bond to the rescue.
He also woos Murek's delectable ward,
Lavendar Peacock, who, like all women Bond is attracted
to, is independent, strong-willed and endowed with "firm
and impertinent breasts."
The Bond spirit has sputtered this summer on
the big screen, though the grosses probably won't reflect it.
But John Gardner
is on the right track with "License Renewed," offering
hope that Fleming's hero will be with us for another 30 years.
[Note: And of course he is, with Jeffery
Deaver's new James Bond continuation novel Carte Blanche
released 30 years after John
Gardner brought 007 back in book
Bond adventures are being
reprinted to celebrate the 30th anniversary of "License