James Bond creator Ian Fleming and the first James Bond, Sean Connery, meet on a beach in Jamaica

 


How Ian Fleming's James Bond Was Born in Jamaica

 James Bond creator Ian Fleming, right, and the first James Bond, Sean Connery, meet on a beach in Jamaica during filming of “Dr. No” in 1962.

Sean Connery was 32 years old when Dr. No, his first film as James Bond, transformed him from an … (cigaraficionado.com)

It's a minor miracle that Fleming lived as long as he did. He spent two months every year from 1946 until his death 18 years later, swanning about Jamaica, “in a Bond-like life of tropical oblivion fueled by vodka and cigarettes.” In his “prime,” our man smoked 70 cigarettes a day.

When he died, his friend Noel Coward wrote, “It is a horrid but expected sadness … he went on smoking and drinking in spite of all warnings … I loved him and he loved me.” We've seen the films if not read the books that demonstrate Fleming's proclivities. Remember “Casino Royale,” “Live and Let Die,” “Moonraker,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and “From Russia, with Love?” I never numbered Ian Fleming among the literati. Most of Fleming's novels about 007 and James Bond are adolescent larks prolonged into middle age. They're about menace and the macabre. Sex is in overdrive.

Fleming has had his share of critics. By the time “Dr. No” was published, Paul Johnson of the New Statesman called the novel “without doubt, the nastiest book I have ever

read.” Not to put too fine a point on it, Johnson indicated that the novel involved “three basic ingredients in “Dr. No,” all unhealthy, all thoroughly English: the sadism of a schoolboy bully, the mechanical, two-dimensional sex-longings of a frustrated adolescent, and the crude, snob-cravings of a suburban adult.” So what can “Goldeneye,” Matthew Parker's account of Ian Fleming in Jamaica, bring to the mix of remaining mysteries about 007's author?

First, a note about the author: Parker was born into an expatriate family in El Salvador in 1970. His education was English. This is his fifth book, his first being “The Battle of Britain.” I think Parker has written a sophisticated history of how Fleming's character developed or didn't. The author tells us the back stories, as well as giving us some interesting information about the books and films.

For example, • Parker tells us that Fleming's mother Eve was a “striking bohemian beauty, she was vain, self-centered and extravagant … frightening, beautiful and immaculate, she pierced you with beady eyes … she had a tendency publicly to humiliate her sensitive second son.” • Fleming's father, Valentine Fleming, came from a banking family. He was a member of Parliament, entered the war in 1914 and served as a major in the Oxfordshire Hussars. He was killed in May 1917, holding the outpost of Guillemont Farm in Picardy.

• In 1921, Ian entered Eton and acquired a reputation for being aloof, with a self-destructive streak.” Fleming's good friend Robert Harling contends that the sadism and violence of the Bond books go back to the “imprisonment of emotions” of English boys sent to boarding school. Fleming was no success there. He was intelligent and did well in sports, but otherwise, not much.

• Later he attended Britain's West Point, Sandhurst, and briefly the universities of Munich and Geneva. He wasn't a high achiever in school, but he was clever, in that English sense. He might have made a good soldier, but, as Parker tells us, discipline wasn't for him. He “bunked off” as much as he could, and missed a term in school because of contracting gonorrhea from a London prostitute, resigning in 1927.

Fleming's older brother, Peter, “went from triumph to triumph, publishing in 1933 one of the most brilliant traveling books of the century, “Brazilian Adventure” “…while Ian languished, gaining a reputation for arrogant charm and a sophisticated manner but little accomplishment outside the bedroom.” But Fleming's smoothness, bravura and usefulness to military higher-ups greased his way up the pole of preference during World War II. Fleming was recruited by naval intelligence to work for Admiral Sir John Godfrey, as his personal assistant with the rank of commander. He was never tested by combat. “It was the perfect job for his character and attributes – his fantastical imagination, his love of travel and gadgets, his curiosity and attention to detail.” This is the beginning of the story of how Fleming and Jamaica, that desultory duo that generated Bond novels, first made contact.

It started in July 1943, with a high-level Anglo-American war conference to take place in Kingston, Jamaica. The rumor was that German U-boats were causing havoc in the Caribbean, sinking vital shipping, according to Parker.

To the rescue came Ian Fleming, “Assistant to the Director of Naval Intelligence, to help deal with the pressing problem.” Parker tells us “that there were wild rumors that Axel Wenner-Gren, the millionaire Swede supposedly linked to Hermann Goering, had built a secret submarine base on Hog Island, his private paradise isle near Nassau.

Off went Fleming and his lifelong friend, Ivar Bryce, also in British intelligence, to attend the conference. They stayed at Bryce's current wife's place, a famous plantation “Great House,” Bellevue, perched 1,500 feet above Kingston. (Later Fleming built his own house.) Parker relates that “Blanche Blackwell (née Lindo), who would become Fleming's lover and closest companion in Jamaica, visited Bellevue as a teenager in the late 1920s.” She was one of many lovers. Add Muriel Wright, killed in an air raid in 1944. Include Ann O'Neill, whom he met in the French resort of Le Touquet, and many more.

After the conference, as Fleming and Bryce's plane climbed over Jamaica, “Fleming suddenly snapped his briefcase closed and turned to Bryce, announcing, ‘Ivar, I have made a great decision. When we have won this blasted war, I am going to live in Jamaica. Just live in Jamaica and lap it up, and swim in the sea and write books.' ” By the time Fleming settled on Jamaica, “He was a man then of multiple, sometimes conflicting characteristics, the product of his age and background but somehow distanced, never fully at ease with either, someone in need of a place away from it all where he could at last be himself and whole,” Parker relates.

How successful Fleming's writing became – a world almost in bondage to Bond – was evident at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Matthew Parker relates that at the Games there was no mention of empire or slavery. Instead, he explains, Britishness – quirky, creative, tolerant – was demonstrated at the climax of the show by having the “two great British anachronisms,” Bond having an audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, and then together seeming to parachute into the Olympic stadium, to the accompaniment of the most recognizable theme music in movie history.

As they say, “the crowd went wild.” No explanation as to how Royal insiders got the Queen to appear with this fictional character who poked fun at her age, and whom a double of her over the stadium parachuted down with Bond, clutching a handbag into the Olympic venue.

Compare this incredible ending to what Fleming had originally considered. Fleming wanted OO7 to look like the

buttoned-down Hoagy Carmichael, the American composer, pianist and actor who wrote “Stardust.” Good thing Fleming changed his mind.

That's not the sort of character the movie industry could build a successful film series around. So, beginning with the first film, ''Dr. No'' in 1962 starring Sean Connery , Bond was remodeled into a more traditional-and accessible-hero battling clear-cut bad guys. (chicagotribune.com)

As the years went by, especially after Roger Moore took over from Connery in 1973, the films began to spoil themselves: the super-high-tech gadgetry, the sexy-named heroines like Pussy Galore and Holly Goodhead. Bond himself became a lounge lizard who cracked jokes as he dispatched the bad guys in antiseptic, virtually bloodless ways. (chicagotribune.com)

007: 10 Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Dr. No | ScreenRant - Screen Rant (screenrant.com)

Summary:

  • 10 Cary Grant Was The First Choice To Play Bond

  • 9 Ian Fleming Initially Hated The Casting Of Sean Connery As 007

  • 8 Christopher Lee Was His Cousin Ian Fleming's Top Choice To Play Dr. No

  • 7 Eunice Gayson And Lois Maxwell Switched Roles During Pre-Production

  • 6 The Line “Bond, James Bond” Was Improvised By Sean Connery

  • 5 Contrary To Popular Belief, John Barry Didn't Actually Write The James Bond Theme

  • 4 The Movie Was Supposed To Have A Lot More Nudity

  • 3 In 2001, Ursula Andress' Bikini From The Movie Sold At Auction For £35,000

  • 2 Stanley Kubrick Was So Impressed With The Sets That He Hired The Production Designer To Work On Dr. Strangelove

  • 1 Sean Connery And Ursula Andress Had An Affair During Production
    Sean Connery co-wrote a Bond film that was never made - BBC News (bbc.com)

  • Fleming smoked 70 cigarettes a day and drank like a fish According to a doctor's report, Fleming admitted to “smoking seventy cigarettes a day and drinking at least a quarter of a bottle of gin.” He would carry on like this despite doctor's orders otherwise.

  • Fleming shared his historical preferences with Noël Coward, who built two houses nearby, and with whom he had an unlikely but close friendship. (spectator.co.uk)

  • Noël Coward turned down the role of Dr No in the film with a telegram reading ‘No...No...No...No!'

  • Handgun used by the late Sir Sean Connery in the first James Bond film will go under the hammer at a Hollywood auction house next month The semi-automatic Walther PP pistol, which alongside the smaller PPK helped define the 007 image, is estimated to sell for between £114,158 and £152,237 One of two used during production, the gun has been identified by the original film armourer, Bapty, which held it in an archive until an auction in 2006. (dailymail.co.uk)

  • The semi-automatic Walther PP pistol, which alongside the smaller PPK helped define the 007 image, is estimated to sell for between £114,158 and £152,237. (dailymail.co.uk)

  • James Bond's secret: he's Jamaican Hutchinson, pp. 388, £ Ian Fleming's first visit to Jamaica was pure James Bond. (spectator.co.uk)


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