James Bond History

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Topics: James Bond
The “Reel” British Invasion:
An Examination of the Legacy of the James Bond Films

By
Joe Roman
LST 712
Spring 2010

On the eighth day of May, in the year 1963, the sanctity of American cinema was infiltrated by a British secret agent. The infiltration was unexpected and its effects were immediate. Even today, almost fifty years later, the impact of this secret agent’s presence on America’s silver screen is still being felt and continues to influence American popular culture.

So, who is this secret agent and how is it that his films have come to dominate American cinema? His name is Bond, James Bond, and in order to understand his history, it is important to understand that of his creator, Ian Fleming, as well.

Ian Fleming created James Bond while on vacation in Jamaica in January of 1952. He stayed on an estate owned by the Bond family. On a nightstand in the room in which he slept was a field guide to birds of the Caribbean written by the proprieters’ son, an ornithologist named James Bond. In an interview with Reader’s Digest, Fleming is credited as explaining his character’s name: "I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, 'James Bond ' was much better than something more interesting, like 'Peregrine Carruthers. ' Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure — an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department." (Lycett, 1995).

An examination of Ian Fleming’s life prior to Bond’s creation sheds further light on the character’s creation. Fleming served as the personal assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey, director of Naval Intelligence of the Royal Navy during World War II. He was first commissioned as a lieutenant, then as a lieutenant commander and finally a commander. His expertise led to him being given control of 30 Assault Unit and later T-Force, two British special commando units. His experiences within these units provided the background for his spy



Bibliography: All Time U.S.A. Top Box Office Leaders by Decade and Year (2010). Retrieved April 11, 2010, from http://www.filmsite.org/boxoffice2.html. Amis, Kingsley (1966). The James Bond Dossier. London, Jonathan Cape. Bennett, T. and Woollacott, J. (1987). Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero. London. Benson, Raymond (1984). The James Bond Bedside Companion. New York, Dodd, Mead and Company. Biederman, Danny (2004). The Incredible World of Spy-Fi. Chronicle Books, Llc. Chancellor, Henry (2005). James Bond: The Man and His World. London, John Murray. Chapman, James (2000). Licence to Thrill: A Cultural History of the James Bond Films. New York, Columbia University Press. “Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a Damn” Tops AFI’s List of 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time (2010). Retrieved April 11, 2010 from http://www.afi.com/tvevents/100years/quotes.aspx. Harry Potter Becomes Highest Grossing Film Franchise (2007). Retrieved April 11, 2010, fromhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2007/sep/11/jkjoannekathleenrowling. Lycett, Andrew (1995). Ian Fleming: The Man Behind James Bond. London: Turner Pub. "Q&A with Mel Brooks". Los Angeles Times. May 19, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2010 from http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/movies/la-et-brooks20- 2008may20,0,4126646.story. Sandbrook, Dominic (2005). Never Had It So Good. London, Little Brown. Winder, Simon (2006). The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey Into the Disturbing World of James Bond. New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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