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Ian Fleming and James Bond Movies: A Retrospective: Section 1
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Ian Fleming and James Bond Movies: A Retrospective: Section 1

IAN FLEMING
...with most of my sex behind me now

Part 1:

"I remember an old girlfriend of Ian Fleming's saying: ‘Ian was like one of the characters in the plays of that major 19th-century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen; that character was always waiting for something wunderbar to happen to him.’ Ian has, or rather had, lots of company in this regard. Millions now wait and hope for little and large stimulus packages to come their way as they go through their lifespan. The Facebook-Twitter generations are especially prone to this 'wunderbar' orientation to life.

Readers will find the remark I have quoted above in John Pearson's 500 page biography The Life of Ian Fleming. "I think The Bond Books function as the dream autobiography of this man," writes Pearson. We who read and watch what Ian Fleming has produced search, too, for our dream autobiography, some with success and some not-so.

There have already been several stabs at dramatising this famous writer’s life, including two television films from 1989 and 1990, the first starring Charles Dance, the second Jason Connery. But Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, a co-production between Sky-Atlantic and BBC America, is the most opulent yet.1 Sky Atlantic is a television channel owned by British Sky Broadcasting. This channel was launched on 1 February 2011 on Sky in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is this docudrama that I have just enjoyed involving, as it does, a look at the life of Ian Fleming from when he was in the UK's naval intelligence as a commander until his death in 1964. It gives an insight into what Fleming was really like, and how he came to write his Bond novels. I watched the two episodes in the first 10 days of November 2014.2

Part 2:

Ian Fleming: Bondmaker was a 60 min docudrama which I watched on its release in Australia eight years ago on 10/12/'06. I had just completed my retirement from all FT, PT and casual employment and was beginning to watch at least two hours of TV everyday for the first time in my life. I still was involved in Baha'i community life as the secretary of the local Baha'i community. This Baha'i activity has been part of my life now for over 60 years.

This film is now available on the history channel in the UK. This latest docudrama, The Man Who Would Be Bond, tells what seems in some ways, and at least to me, like a fantasy story. It portrays the extraordinary true life story of this creator of James Bond, one of the great icons of 20th century culture. The film takes a bold and innovative approach to dramatizing the story of the author’s life, by using his own words. Shot on location in the UK and Jamaica, the film explores the relationship between Fleming’s life and the legend that is James Bond. Dominic Cooper starred as Fleming and he appeared, certainly in episode #1, very strongly as a womanizer living off of his family fortune just before World War II begins.

Part 3:

In 1964, just as I was about to begin the second year of my five years of post-secondary education, in an honours history and philosophy course at the university in Hamilton Ontario, the lunch-pail city so-called due to its working-man's culture, this British author and journalist Ian Fleming, creator of the world’s most famous fictional spy, died of a heart attack at age 56 in Kent, England.

I was 20 back then, and knew nothing of Ian Fleming and his James Bond character. I was dealing with an episode of bipolar 2 disorder, little did I know, and had just begun a part-time job in the evenings working with the T. Eaton Co. Ltd, Canada's largest department store retailer at the time.
Fleming’s series of novels about the debonair Agent 007, based in part on their dashing author’s real-life experiences, spawned one of the most lucrative film franchises in history. The first of the 23 films was Dr No which was released in early October 1962, in the first 40 days of my many decades of travelling-and-pioneering in and for the Canadian Baha'i community. I moved with my parents from Burlington to Dundas in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe, and they served on the first LSA of the Baha'is of Dundas.

Part 4:

By October 1962 I was fully occupied with four hours of homework on a nightly basis dealing with 9 subjects in Ontario's demanding and controversial grade 13, the entrance requirement for university. I spent the previous summer, before that infamous academic year of grade 13, working for the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company in three different capacities: cleaner, store man and packer, and then data processing clerk. I also worked overtime in my psycho-emotional life keeping my libido under control, no easy task in this later adolescent period of my life. The part I was playing in the Baha'i Faith, which I had joined three years before, was also a work in progress, as they say these days.

Ian Fleming: Bondmaker was a 2005 BBC TV series with the award-winning actor Ben Daniels from Cutting It and Conspiracy. He brought the author to life. The film also starred Emily Woof who had been in The League of Gentleman’s Apocalypse, School for Seduction, The Full Monty. She starred as Ian’s wife, Ann, and Pip Torrens (The Government Inspector, The Rotters Club) were Ian’s close friend and Jamaican neighbor, Noel Coward. After 8 years I don't remember much about that bio-pic of this famous writer who chronicled his adventures in 12 novels and nine short stories.

Part 5:

Fleming's famous alter ego represents a modern hero who is at home in the modern world which emphasizes technological expertise over spiritual values. Set in the context of the Cold War, of good vs. evil, Bond nonetheless operates in the shadows, in the amoral mass of combat between "shadowy figures." However, that realism is overlaid with exotic locales, exotic women and the glamour of the "jet set," as Bond proves his mastery over every situation. Bond represents the desire for mastery in an increasingly complex world that has reduced the human sense of size and value.

For over half a century the Bond novels have entertained millions around the world. But no book has used the Fleming archive to explore the three-dimensional world of this quintessential secret agent, revealing what inspired it, and who inspired him. Complete, authoritative and entertaining, it will take you on a journey through myth and reality, from Moscow to Mayfair, the bedroom to the war-room, the casino to the villain’s lair.

In 1959, the year I joined the Baha'i Faith, this creator of James Bond was commissioned by the Sunday Times to explore fourteen of the world’s most exotic cities. Fleming saw it all with a thriller writer’s eye. From Hong Kong to Honolulu, New York to Naples, he left the bright main streets for the back alleys, abandoning tourist sites in favour of underground haunts, and mingling with celebrities, gangsters and geishas. The result is a series of vivid snapshots of a mysterious, vanished world.

Ian Fleming Publications Ltd owns and administers the literary copyright in Ian Fleming’s fiction and non-fiction books. The company’s aim is to promote and make available all of Ian Fleming’s books worldwide. Ian Fleming Publications looks after the literary James Bond brand, keeping it alive through the publication of new stories based on the characters Ian created by authors such as William Boyd, Jeffery Deaver, Sebastian Faulks, Charlie Higson and Samantha Weinberg.

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Ian Fleming and James Bond Movies: A Retrospective: Section 2

Part 6:

Working alongside Ian Fleming Publications Ltd, The Ian Fleming Estate owns the copyright in Ian Fleming’s personal letters and other non-Bond writing and in some journalism. It manages the use of the Ian Fleming name and of his likeness. The Bond stories now rank among the best-selling series of fictional books of all time, having sold over 100 million copies worldwide. In 2008, The Times ranked Fleming 14th on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".

On 13 April 1953 Casino Royale was released in the UK in hardcover, with a cover designed by Fleming. It was a success and three print runs were needed to cope with the demand. My mother joined the Baha'i Faith that year. The year 1953 was a centenary year of celebration, a Baha'i holy year. That year was the 100th anniversary of the first intimations of Baha'u'llah's revelation in the infamous Siyah-Chal of Tehran. That celebratory year ran from October 1952 to October 1953.3

In a 1962 interview in The New Yorker, Fleming further explained: "When I wrote that first book in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument. When I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought: "by god the name James Bond is the dullest name I've ever heard."

Fleming's mood of weariness and self-doubt began to affect his writing by the late 1950s and early 1960s. This can be seen in his thoughts and his writings. On 17 March 1961, four years after the publication of his fifth nocel, From Russia With Love, and three years after the heavy criticism of Dr. No, an important article appeared in Life Magazine. It was important to Fleming because it referred to From Russia, with Love as one of the US President John F. Kennedy's ten favorite books.

Part 7:

Kennedy and Fleming had previously met in Washington. This accolade and the associated publicity led to a surge in sales that made Fleming the biggest-selling crime writer in the US. Fleming considered From Russia, with Love to be his best novel, although he admitted, "the great thing is that each one of the books seems to have been a favorite with one or other section of the public and none has yet been completely damned." Benson argues that Fleming had become "a master storyteller" by the time he wrote Thunderball in 1961.

During his lifetime Fleming sold thirty million books; double that number were sold in the two years following his death. In 2008 The Times ranked Fleming fourteenth on its list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945."
The 23 films from Eon Productions with the most recent, Skyfall, released in October 2012, have grossed more than 6 billion worldwide, and many more billion when adjusted for inflation. This makes the Bond film franchise the second highest grossing film series, behind Harry Potter.-Ron Price with thanks to 1Mark Monahan, "Ian Fleming: the man who would be Bond", The Telegraph, 11/2/'14; 2Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond, a four-part mini-series which debuted in the USA on 29 January 2014, and in a two-part mini-series in Australia 2/11/'14 and 9/11/'14 at 8:30 on ABC TV, and 3 from a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi in Directives from the Guardian.

Part 8:

I've never really enjoyed films
from the James Bond franchise.
And I've never read any of his
books; I'm not a reader of this
who-dun-it genre, to say little
of fiction books across a wide
expanse of literature. But, still,
Bond, and his creator, Fleming
have come into my life recently
in these years of my retirement
from FT, PT & volunteer-work.

Biography has come to interest
me more & more as I have gone
into my 50s, then 60s, and now
70s. Ian Fleming, a lonely man,
who seemed to like his share of
SM sex, in addition to his large
appetite for sex very generally,
is most interesting and it is, for
this reason that I have written
the above prose-poem in these
evening hours of my life which
have all my sex behind me now.

Ron Price
4/11/'14 to 7/11/'14.

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