I laid my hands on the compendium of James Bond novels penned by Ian Fleming and started reading them one by one. Side by side I also decided to watch the movies on OTT based on the books that I read. It’s been a rather enjoyable experience and it’s very evident that James Bond movies, a few filmed as early as mid 60s and 70s, were well ahead of times as far as technology was concerned. And much before we had super heroes in Hollywood and he-men in Bollywood, we had James Bond, an evergreen action hero, a one man army who was virtually invincible.
Most amazingly, it seems that except the title and the very basic premise, the films are vastly different from the books these are based on. As I read somewhere, due to the time lag between the book and the movie, the plot of the movies was given twists and turns to make them more contemporary.
Four movies seen by me based on four books had 3 different artists playing Bond – Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Daniel Craig. Apart from these three, Timothy Dalton, George Lazenby, David Niven and Pierce Brosnan also played Bond at various points of time, though as per the popular verdict, Sean Connery, the first Bond remains the ultimate soul and heart of this famous fictional character.
Another fascinating feature of James Bond franchise is the theme song that would run along with the opening credits. Popular welsh singing Diva, Shirley Bassey sang three of the famous title songs for Goldfinger, Diamonds are forever and Moonraker. Now at the ripe age old of 86, Shirley Bassey performed live at BAFTA award night commemorating 60 years of James Bond franchise, the first movie Dr No having hit the screens in 1962. It’s amazing that how this super dame maintains the same high pitch in her voice and chutzpah in her performance, at an age when most of the people would find even walking and standing challenging.
There’s lot of other trivia around James Bond. How few of the recent films are actually not based on books authored by Ian Fleming but other ghost writers, how M, Bond’s boss got transformed from a gentleman to lady ( redoubtable Judi Dench making this character unforgettable) and how instances of a particular book have been used in different movies not based on that book etc.
But it’s been a remarkable franchise that has sustained viewers and readers interest even after 7 decades ( first book was written in 1954 while the movie came in 1962). Ian Fleming, the actors reprising the role of James Bond, Albert Broccoli, who bought the rights from Ian Fleming and of course the fictional character of James Bond are all etched in the golden annals of Hollywood.