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Never Die Saying Tomorrow

23rd April 2019

The inexact art of naming a James Bond film - by Greg Bechtloff

MI6 logo By MI6 Staff
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As James Bond fans we are all aware that a new Bond film title can help or hinder the general public’s perception of said film. Yes, at the end of the day, it’s the “New 007 Film” and people will see it regardless of what it is called. Case in point; “Quantum of Solace”. That title came straight out of the Ian Fleming oeuvre. It was, however, widely mocked by the press. Not to mention that most people had no clue as to what it actually meant, or cared for that matter.

In these global economy days, a one-word title is highly desirable. Something pithy that does not have to be translated into Mandarin Chinese or Tamil. Hence “Skyfall” and “Spectre”. That does not have to always be the case though. A title that is evocative of the Bond mythos can also work. “Goldeneye” came from Ian Fleming’s Jamaican retreat. “Licence To Kill” and “The World Is Not Enough” can also be sourced to Fleming even though they were embedded in other works.

 “Shatterhand” is a one-word title, sourced to Fleming and seemingly quite Bondian. We have been told though that it is not going to be the one this time around. It’s a wonder that “Shaken, Not Stirred” has not already been utilized. This term seems to tick many of the James Bond boxes. It might, however, fail the “naffness” test.

Naming a James Bond film is a very dangerous high-wire act. It has to be “cool” and “Bondian” but not cheesy and/or trite. Plus it is going to join a legendary chain of past Bond films. No pressure, what, what! As we imminently await the title of Bond 25 to drop, it is revealing to take a look through the Ian Fleming books to see that there actually are quite a few choices that could conceivably make the grade.

Below is a list of chapter titles from all of the Ian Fleming novels that have that certain “James Bond flavour”. This is based on decades’ worth of conditioning that has sharpened our receptors as to what sounds like a “James Bond Movie Title”.

Not all of them are awesome. Some though are way better than “Risico”. There are a few that can even give titles like “Die Another Day” a run for their money. (Not to diss “Die Another Day” too much though. That was a nobly named film coming from a poem by A.E. Houseman which somehow seemed to fit into the Fleming/Bond universe)

John Logan told Ajay Chowdhury and Matthew Field in the updated “Some Kind of Hero” that “The Death Collector” was a working title for Bond 24 before it became “Spectre”. This proves the point that Fleming chapter titles are fair game.

Casino Royale

  • Moment of Truth
  • A Whisper of Love, A Whisper of Hate
  • The Crawling Of The Skin
  • The Nature of Evil
  • The Bleeding Heart

Live And Let Die

  • The Undertaker’s Wind
  • Valley Of Shadows

Moonraker

  • The Quickness Of The Hand
  • Dead Reckoning
  • Rough Justice

Diamonds Are Forever

  • The Job Comes Second
  • Death Is So Permanent

From Russia, With Love

  • The Fuse Burns
  • The Killing Bottle

Dr. No

  • The Finger On The Trigger
  • The Long Scream
  • A Shower of Death

Goldfinger

  • All To Play For
  • The Last And The Biggest (Does this describe a Daniel Craig swansong or what?)

Thunderball

  • Tea And Animosity
  • Cardboard Hero
  • When The Kissing Stopped

The Spy Who Loved Me

  • A Bird With a Wing Down
  • To Sleep – Perchance to Die!
  • The Writing on My Heart

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

  • The Gambit of Shame
  • Death For Breakfast
  • Downhill Only
  • Happiness Without A Shadow?

You Only Live Twice

  • The Death Collector
  • Slay It With Flowers
  • Appointment in Samara
  • Something Evil Comes This Way
  • Blood And Thunder

The Man With The Golden Gun

  • The Stars Foretell
  • In A Glass, Very Darkly

Alternate Titles That Have Some Mojo

  • You Asked For It (Casino Royale American paperback)
  • Too Hot To Handle (Moonraker American paperback)
  • The Rough With The Smooth (A proposed title for one of the For Your Eyes Only stories)
  • The Belles of Hell (OHMSS proposed title)

Honourable Mention
The Nelson Touch – M writes that James Bond has this quality in the Times obituary in “You Only Live Twice”. It is a term traced to the legendary British naval hero Horatio Nelson. It evokes a “soldierly leadership style”. It is very British but probably way too obscure these days to actually be considered as worthy of naming a movie. 


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