Bond: Sean Connery
Release Date: 1962
Original Story: Dr. No
Publication Date: 1958
Previous Story: From Russia With Love
Next Story: Goldfinger
Villain: Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman)
Heavy: “Three Blind Mice” (Eric Coverly, Charles Edghill, Henry Lopez, all uncredited)
Bond Girls: Honeychile Ryder (Ursula Andress), Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson)
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Quarrel (John Kitzmiller), Major Boothroyd/Armourer (Peter Burton), Strangways, Felix Leiter (Jack Lord), Pleydell-Smith (Louis Blaazer), Professor Dent (Anthony Dawson)
Gadgets: The Dragon, an armoured vehicle armed with a flamethrower
Opening Credits: “The James Bond Theme“, written by Monty Normal, arranged by John Barry, performed by John Barry & Orchestra
Closing Credits: “The James Bond Theme” reprised.
Plot of Original: Strangways, the MI-6 secrtion head for Jamaica, and his secretary disappear. The secretary had started the daily wireless connection to HQ when she is killed, which begins a process of alerting the chain of command up to M. M assigns Bond to what should be a simple investigation, as 007 is still recovering from being poisoned at the end of From Russia With Love. The briefing includes what details M has of Strangways investigation of Crab Key and the death of two Audubon Society members at Dr. Julius No’s private airstrip on the island. Dr. No runs a guano mine.
On arrival in Kingston, Jamaica, Bond begins his investigating. He notices that he is being followed. Things escalate when he receives a basket of poisoned fruit. The Chief Secretary at Governor’s House, Pleydell-Smith, thinks that Bond is overplaying the events. Not to be deterred, Bond finds his friend Quarrel to get more info on Crab Key. They make plans to go to the island and investigate, despite the rumours of a dragon living there.
The trip takes a couple of days, using wind power until near radar detection range, then paddling in, landing on Crab Key in the early evening. The next morning, they’re awaken by a woman singing. Bond see the young woman, nude. collecting shells, and joins in on the song. The woman, Honeychile Rider, is startled. Bond convinces her that he means no harm. She collects her clothes, which is when Bond sees her own boat, complete with sail.
Bond knows that he and Quarrel are expected. Honey normally escapes notice, and is treated as a nuisance by Dr. No’s people. But with Bond, she’s in danger. A patrol boat arrives. Despite the group hiding, they are called out. When nothing happens, a machine gun rakes the beach. The boat’s skipper promises to return with the dogs. It’s a half day before they make good with the threat. Bond has the group hide in the water and wait for the guards to pass.
Undiscovered, Bond presses on. Night falls. In the distance, lights appear. Both Honey and Quarrel call it the dragon. Bond hears the dragon’s engine, and orders Quarrel to try to shoot the driver while he takes out the wheels. The “dragon” is armoured and has a flamethrower for its breath, killing Quarrel with a burst. Bond surrenders and he and Honey are taken prisoner in the back of the “dragon”, an armoured swamp buggy..
Dr. No’s base is luxurious compared to the industrial exterior. Bond and Honey are given time to freshen up and change before being brought to dinner to meet No. As all good Bond villains do, Dr. No gives his life story, knowing that there is nothing either of his guests could do to stop him. After dinner, both are led to their respective death traps. Honey is to be staked out in front of a crab migration. Bond is sent through an obstacle course that Dr. No designed to test the limits of human endurance, ending with a giant squid.
Bond fights through the obstacle course, fighting off the squid at the end with the last of his energy. He gets out of the course and sneaks up to the guano processing/loading docks. With no one looking, he gets to the controls and dumps tons of guano on Dr. No. He then returns to the base to find out where Honey is only to be dropped by her in error. They escape in the “dragon” to return to the boat he hid and return to Kingston.
The novel ends with Bond following on his investigation, making his reports, and then meeting with Honey one last time.
Being the first, there is no cold open. The movie begins with the opening credits, something that changes with From Russia With Love. After the credits, the death of Strangways and his secretary are more-or-less as per the novel. The first change comes with the introduction of Bond. In the novel, Bond was recovering from being poisoned by Rosa Klebb. However, since Dr. No is the first film of what could (and did) become a franchise, the movie went with a different approach. Bond is called back to duty while he is gambling at a casino, making small talk with Sylvia Trench. The scene establishes Bond’s playboy reputation.
The briefing is modified to have Strangways working with the CIA on problems with the American missile program. In between the time of the novel’s publication and the release of movie, the space race reached a moment where NASA sent a man, John Glenn, into orbit in the Friendship 7 capsule. Prior, the missile tests were part of the nuclear escalation of the Cold War. Dr. No is still misdirecting missile launches, but now there are lives at stake at launch.
Dr. No wasn’t explicitly a member of SPECTRE in the novel. The organization’s first appearance in the novels was in Thunderball, published in 1961. However, the organization makes for a good fictional villainous organization, so the movie had Dr. No as a member. Professor Dent also becomes a member and one of Dr. No’s lackeys in the film; in the novel, he was just one of Strangways’ card buddies who ran an analysis for him.
Crab Key’s primary industry changed. Instead of being a guano operation, it became the site of a bauxite mine. The mine was a cover for Dr. No’s base, which was still luxurious. With the change, Dr. No’s death also changed. The movie death is more cinematic and less anticlimactic, with a fight against Bond before being tossed into boiling radioactive water.
The obstacle course was more or less the same, save for the end. Budget precluded a giant squid, which would not have looked great given the era and the low budget. Bond is still pushed to his limit. Honey was staked out, but in front of a water intake instead of crabs. She also needed Bond to recue her instead of freeing herself off-screen.
Felix Leiter makes his first film appearance on the EON continuity. However, Felix was first introduced in Casino Royale and was not in Dr. No. Felix was working with Quarrel in the movie to try to find where Dr. No had his transmitter. Which leads to another change, Quarrel. Bond worked with Quarrel in the novels first in Live and Let Die; the two men picked up the investigation together without needing a third party like Felix.
The attempt to assassinate Bond with the tarantula came from the novel, but the animal of choice there was a large centipede. The change is minor; Bond got to feel the creature crawling up him in both formats, and neither creature survived the scene. The tarantula’s death was hidden behind a bed, so the animal may have survived while its character died.
Dr. No was filmed with a low budget compared to the films that would follow. Bets were hedged; the producer wouldn’t be out much if the film flopped. Dr. No is a quieter book for Bond, a simple investigation that turns deadly. As such, the 007 gadgets the franchise would get known for just aren’t there. Bond uses real world approaches, such as a strand of hair over a closet door to see if his room was searched. The only oddity is Dr. No’s “dragon”, an armoured vehicle with a flamethrower.
The movie acts as an introduction for people not familiar with 007. As such, Bond is shown at full strength. He’s not starting to have the fatalism that his literary version was building since Moonraker. His relationships with the regular supporting and recurring characters had to be established – his flirting with Miss Moneypenny, his deference to M, his professional relationship with Felix. The only character missing is Q, though the Armourer fills in that role.
Even with all the changes above, the plot does follow the novel’s closely. It’s the details that have changed, unlike Moonraker where a new plot was used with the same characters. However, starting with the sixth novel means that when the series goes over prior novels, there’s going to be continuity issues. Quarrel can’t appear in Live and Let Die without somehow explaining how he didn’t die here. But that is for future movie writers to deal with.
For a film that the studio hoped would be successful, casting was key. Several actors had been considering, including Cary Grant, Patrick McGoohan, and Roger Moore, with the latter passed over because he was too young for the role. Casting Sean Connery set the tone for the first five 007 movies, to the point where he is still many people’s favourite Bond.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Bond: George Lazenby
Release Date: 1963
Original Story: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Publication Date: 1963
Previous Story: The Spy Who Loved Me
Next Story: You Only Live Twice
Villain: Ernst Stavro Blodeld (Telly Savalas)
Heavy: Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat)
Bond Girls: Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), Ruby (Angela Scoular), Nancy (Catherina von Schell). plus ten more unnamed including one played by Joanna Lumley
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Q (Desmond Llewellyn), Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti)
Opening Credits: “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service“, composed, arranged, and conducted by John Barry.
Closing Credits: “All the Time in the World“, written by John Barry and Hal David, performed by Louis Armstrong.
Plot of Original: Bond’s hunt for Blofeld since the end of Operation Thunderball, as per the novel Thunderball, is going nowhere. There is no sign of the head of SPECTRE. Bond is getting tired of his job and is thinking of resigning the service, having gone far enough to compose a letter of resignation. Said composition is while he’s driving his Bentley through France, and is interrupted by a young woman who goads him into chasing her through the twisting countryside roads.
Bond does catch up to the young woman at the baccarat tables, where he bails her out of financial problems after she cannot cover a massive bet. He trails her out of the hotel to the beach, where he prevents her from walking into the rough surf and killing herself. However, Bond wasn’t the only man watching her. Others from the Unione Corse, a European crime syndicate, are also on hand and take Bond and the young woman to the offices of Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the Unione and the father of Tracy, the young woman. Draco convinces Bond the only way to keep Tracy safe is for the spy to marry her.
An arrangement is worked out, and Draco uses his connections to assist Bond in his search for Blofeld, placing the villain in Switzerland. Bond returns to England and is informed that a Blofeld is claiming the title of Compte de Bleuville. He works with the College of Arms to learn the details of heraldry and assumes the role of Sir Hilary Bray, with the real one being given a vacation to go hiking in the countryside.
Bond arrives at Piz Gloria, where the would be Comte is waiting. The Comte’s assistant, Irma Bunt, handles the day-to-day business of the site as the Comte himself is busy with a project to help ten young women, all of British or Irish citizenship, overcome allergies. Bond investigates, hooks Blofeld on the possibility of being the heir to the title, and gathers intelligence. He discovers that the young women are being set up to be the vectors of biological warfare, later confirmed when an eleventh had to leave the project early and a large turkey cull was needed due to a virulent disease.
With this knowledge, and with Bunt becoming more suspicious of him, Bond leaves Piz Gloria, though not undetected. He survives the ensuing avalanche and runs into Tracy, who is feeling much better than before. They escape in her car, Bond proposes, and he returns to England.
On consulting M, the plan is to stop the young women as they return to England and raid Piz Gloria. However, going after Blofeld in Piz Gloria will need unofficial assistance; getting Swiss help may delay matters and lose Blofeld. Bond calls Draco to arrange a team from the Unione. They fly in, claiming to be on a medical mission to throw off Swiss air traffic control, then storm Piz Glora. Blofeld escapes down the bobsled run, Bond not far behind, but the villain gets away.
With the mission semi-successful – the lab at Piz Gloria is destroyed but Blofeld escaped – Bond and Tracy get married. As they head out on their honeymoon, they are shot at in a drive-by shooting by Bunt and Blofeld. Bond recovers but Tracy is fatally wounded.
The pre-credits sequence has Tracy’s attempted suicide, though not described as that. Bond meeting Tracy at the casino is after the credits; in the novel, the order is correct but Bond first meets Tracy at the casino, with their initial meeting done as a flashback. This change of order requires Bond to be kidnapped on his own, being taken to meet Draco. The meeting is condensed, but the beats are kept. The change in order makes sense in that 007 movies tend to open on an action sequence to get the audience’s blood going.
Bond does try to resign, though Moneypenny changes the resignation into a request for time off. Bond spends the time with Draco, where he learns of a potential lead instead of just being told outright by Draco. Again, this is to keep Bond as the active character instead of just being given the info. In the novel, Bond takes the info to M and formulate a plan to go undercover as Sir Hilary Bray of the College of Arms, which does happen in the movie, though, again, condensed.
Blofeld’s plot is more or less the same, except instead of targeting Great Britain and Ireland, he’s going after the world’s food supply. The twelve young women, not ten as per the novel, are from around the world, though Ruby remains British. Bond’s escape follows the novel’s version, though details are lost due to the change to a visual medium. Bond does run into Tracy, though the chase scene is more elaborate than in the book; the demolition derby was not in the novel.
Bond’s return to England is cut completely. Instead of reporting to M and getting various departments involved, Bond contacts Draco to get an assault team together to storm Piz Gloria, more or less as per the novel. Again, some details are condensed for time purposes, but once at Piz Gloria, the assault plays out as per the novel.
The movie also dropped a character. Bond’s secretary, Mary Goodnight, isn’t a significant character, but she does handle some of the paperwork needed. Moneypenny instead appears as M’s secretary, as usual, mainly thanks to having Lois Maxwell available. Goodnight will make her film debut in The Man With the Golden Gun.
OHMSS is George Lazenby’s only outing as 007. Sean Connery retired from being Bond after You Only Live Twice, but would return for Diamonds Are Forever in1971, thus having the same problem 007 had in leaving the service. The opening sequence calls out the new 007 with the line, “This never happened to the other fellow.“
Most of the differences between novel and film come from the change to a visual medium. A novel’s pace allows for more introspection by the main character, more details added to explain how the various moving parts work together. However, a movie audience isn’t going to sit still for a discussion on how the various parts of the British bureaucracy fit together. Likewise for an in depth explanation of European organized crime. It’s enough to state that Draco is a crime lord and has connections.
OHMSS is back to basics for Bond. No gadgets, in fact, going undercover as Sir Hilary Bray meant leaving the gadgets and gun behind. With a new Bond, it’s a chance to show another side of Bond. The 007s of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan all paid respect to Tracy in one way or another during their time. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a key film in the EON continuity, despite Lazenby only being a one-time Bond.
Bond: Roger Moore
Release Date: 1979
Original Story: Moonraker
Publication Date: 1955
Previous Story: Live and Let Die
Next Story: Diamonds Are Forever
Villain: Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale)
Heavy: Chang (Toshiro Suga), Jaws (Richard Kiel)
Bond Girls: Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Corinne Dufiur (Corinne Cléry), Manuela (Emily Bolton). Special note here on Dolly (Blanche Ravalec), who pairs up with Jaws.
Other Notable Characters: M (Bernard Lee), Q (Desmond Llewellyn), Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), General Gogol (Walter Gotell), Minister of Defense Frederick Gray (Geoffrey Keen)
Gadgets: Wrist dart gun (used by 007), X-ray safecracker (used by 007), Q-Branch modified gondola (used by 007), Q-Branch modified speedboat (used by 007), poison pen (used by Dr. Goodhead), flamethrower perfume atomizer (used by Dr. Goodhead), laser torch (used by the US Space Marines), explosive bolos (used by Q-Branch technician)
Opening Credits: “Moonraker” written by John Barry and Hal David, performed by Shirley Bassey
Closing Credits: “Moonraker (End Theme)“
Plot of Original: Sir Hugo Drax uses his companies and fortune to create a ballistic missile with the secret intention to launch it against London with a nuclear warhead supplied by SMERSH. Bond first gets involved because M suspected something was up with Drax’s luck at bridge.
Plot of Film: Industrialist Hugo Drax uses his company, Drax Industries, to choose a small group of men and women to house in a space station in order to repopulate the Earth after using a rare nerve gas to kill the existing human population.
Other than the name, Moonraker, and the name of the villain, there’s not much in common between the novel and the movie. When Moonraker was written in 1955, the Arms Race and the Space Race were just beginning. The Soviet satellite, Sputnik I, would be launched two years after the novel’s publication. The US and the USSR were building their nuclear arsenals, and other nations were trying to keep up to have their own deterrence, including the UK. The novel fits in with then-current events.
While the Arms Race continued in 1979, other matters overshadowed the world of entertainment. Star Wars, released in 1977, ignited a desire for more science fiction films set in space. The American Space Shuttle program introduced the concept of a reusable space craft. In 1976, only the prototype Enterprise had been built. It’s look, though, was distinctive. Instead of a silver rocket as all previous manned and unmanned launches had been, the new shuttle had wings to help glide after re-entry. Visually, it was a distinctive craft, ideal for being on film.
To get to 007 being in space, though, there had to be a reason for him to go up. Moving Drax’s base of operations from the English countryside to a space station was definitely a way to do that. Since the Space Shuttle plays a large role, an American agent, Dr. Holly Goodhead, is involved, taking the place of the novel’s Scotland Yard Special Branch agent Gala Brand, who is also embedded in Drax’s organization. However, since Dr. Goodhead is involved in the shuttle side of Drax Industries, Corinne Dufour becomes Drax’s aide.
Even the characterization of Drax changed. The novel’s version was boisterous, at least in public. He was a self-made millionaire, and has the apparent luck to find key metal deposits. Bond first meets Drax at M’s club. M had invited 007 there to figure out how Drax could win consistently at bridge. In the movie, Drax is more reserved, using a few layers to separate himself from the general public and even higher level officials. Ultimately, Drax is revealed to be a high-ranking Nazi officer. The movie version of Drax didn’t have the overt Nazi background, though he did have the idea of creating a master race with a base in Brazil.
The Drax of the novel does appear in a way in a later 007 film, Tomorrow Never Dies, in the persona of Eliot Carver. While Carver in the film is based on the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates, he also has the personality of the Drax of the novel. In a nod to the novel, the Minister of Defense mentions playing bridge with Drax.
One scene that did make it from the book is Drax’s attempt at killing Bond and Dr. Goodhead. In the novel, Drax leaves Bond and Gala to die in the exhaust of the launch vehicle. They escape through a ventilator shaft. In the movie, Bond and Dr. Goodhead escape the same way. The difference between the two is that Bond was ready to kill himself to destroy the Moonraker rocket in the novel, one life for millions. In the movie, he is actively looking for escape as the countdown hits ten seconds.
The movie was a way to have 007 tap into the audience that went out to see Star Wars. The Moore-era tended to be far more flamboyant, with Moonraker one of the films used to show how far the movies had gotten from the original concept. At the same time, the film managed to keep the scenes in space believable. The assault on Drax’s space station had no artificial gravity until a tech gets the station to spin again. Outside the station, the battle is in micro-gravity, allowing for three-dimensional movement.
While the desire to pull in the science fiction fan is there, the other problem that the film had was the change in times between 1955 and 1979. The Arms Race was well in gear in 1955, but in 1979, everyone involved was looking at the dangers of mutually assured destruction. The Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, or SALT, were an attempt to scale back arsenals without completely losing the ability for self-defense. SALT I occured in 1967, SALT II in 1972. Having Britain expand nuclear capability in the film would’ve been jarring to the audience at the time. Changed the Moonraker project from ballistic missile to one man’s desire to restart humanity moved the danger out of the Cold War and into supervillainy.
Bernard Lee made his last appearance as M in the movie. He passed away in 1981 before filming started for For Your Eyes Only. Richard Kiel’s Jaws is the first heavy to make a second appearance in a 007 film. He first appeared in the previous 007 movie, The Spy Who Loved Me and was an unstoppable force then. Jaws is also the only heavy to ever switch sides and help Bond, with the help of Dolly, who didn’t meet Drax’s standards for perfection. Shirley Bassey returns for the third time to sing the theme song.
Among the music in the film are shout-outs to a couple of key science fiction films. Also sprach Zarathrusta, Opus 30 by Richard Strauss was originally used in 2001: A Space Odyssey at the beginning, when the Monolith is shown. The other film reference is Close Encounters of the Third Kind, with the four notes used by the aliens to initiate first contact with Earth.
One thing that didn’t make it into the movies is Bond’s drug use. It’s not that Bond regularly shoots up heroin. Instead, he takes advantage of pharmaceutical aid provided by the Service. In Moonraker, he requested Benzedrine, an amphetamine, which he then washes down with champagne. His goal was to come across as inebriated and bold while playing bridge with M against Drax. The combination, not recommended, leads to Bond getting far too overconfident. In “The Living Daylights”, Bond uses stimulants to remain alert while on counter-sniper duty, then using sedatives in order to sleep. While he only uses the drugs while on assignment, the extremes he reaches is aiding his burnout and PTSD. Moonraker also has Bond reading about the dangers of a “murder drug” in use in Japan and the dangers of marijuana. Today, the dissonance would be intentional, but in 1955, Fleming may not have been aware of the mixed messages.
One detail from the novel that has gotten lost in the films is the nature of the 00 section. The novel mentions the three agents under M, with Bond having seniority. The other two, 008 and 0011, were both recovering from injuries in the line of duty. Fleming didn’t get into details, but the implication seems to be that there were six prior 00 agents that have since moved on, either through promotion or death.
The movie is filled with double entendres. While Holly Goodhead’s name isn’t quite on par with Goldfinger‘s Pussy Galore or Diamonds Are Forever‘s Plenty O’Toole, the movie more than makes up for it in other ways. Q may have had the best double entendre at the end, with “He’s attempting re-entry, sir.“
The nature of the passage of time is the main factor in the differences between the novel and the movie. Both Moonrakers are a product of their times, with the movie taking advantage of technology that wasn’t even dreamt of when the novel was first released. The further the franchise gets from the years immediately after World War II, the more James Bond becomes a relic of the time. Updating the character and the franchise is needed with each new movie, while still keeping close to the core of the character. It’s a difficult line to walk, and the film may have strayed a little too far.
Bond: Roger Moore
Release Date: 1983
Previous Film: For Your Eyes Only
Next Film: A View to a Kill
Original Story: “Octopussy”
Publication Date: Serialized in the Daily Express in 1965; released in Octopussy and The Living Daylights collection in 1966. Both dates are after Ian Fleming’s death.
Previous Story: The Man With the Golden Gun
Next Story: none; Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis under the penname Robert Markham in 1968.
Villain: Kamal Kham (Louis Jourdan); General Orlov (Steven Berkoff)
Heavy: Gobinda (Kevir Bedi), Mischka and Grishka (David & Anthony Meyer)
Bond Girls: Octopussy (Maud Adams), Magda (Kristina Wayborn), Bianca (Tina Hudson), Octopussy`s girls
Other Notable Characters: Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), M (Robert Brown), Minister of Defense (Geoffrey Keen), Gen. Gogol (Walter Gotell), Vijay (Vijay Amritraj), Penelope Smallbone (Michaela Clavell)
Gadgets: Q-Branch modified three-wheeled taxi with turbo; acid fountain pen with radio receiver (used by Bond); liquid crystal TV watch (used by Bond); alligator sub (used by Bond); yo-yo buzzsaw (used by unnamed hitman)
Opening Credits: “All Time High“, written by Tim Rice and John Barry, performed by Rita Coolidge.
Closing Credits: “All Time High”, reprised
Plot of Original: 007 tracks down a retired Royal Marine Major who had killed a German officer during the post-war investigations in order to get two bars of Nazi gold.
Plot of Film: After 009 dies at the British Embassy in West Germany after escaping a circus in East Berlin with a forged Fabergé egg, 007 is called in to trace the real Fabergé Egg from Sotheby’s where it is up for auction to the seller, a rogue Russian general who is using the smuggling of Russian artwork to fund his plot and to set up an atomic blast on a US Army base in Feldstat, West Germany, to frame the American government. To stop the plot, Bond infiltrates Octopussy’s Circus and finds not only the rogue general and his bankroller, but also 009’s murderers.
It may be easier to state what remained the same. Both the short story and the movie have an octopus. The short story focuses on Major Smythe, who was in the Miscellaneous Objectives Bureau during and after World War II. Bond is the catalyst for the story, but doesn’t play much of a role. Smythe confesses to killing a German officer after the war in order to steal Nazi gold, then while waiting for Scotland Yard to arrive, goes hunting the scorpion fish and gets poisoned by his prey in a Pyrrhic victory over it.
The original short story becomes Octopussy’s backstory, though updated because of the era. Major Smythe served in the Korean War, and is Octopussy’s father. She is well aware of who Bond is, thanks to the events in the short story.
Octopussy pulls from one other of Ian Fleming’s short stories, “The Property of a Lady”. The auction scene at Sotheby’s plays out in a similar manner, with Bond upping the bid to flush out the seller. However, neither “The Property of a Lady” nor “Octopussy” can fill a 131 minute film. Current events in 1983 had the Cold War easing back ever so slowly. The Iron Curtain started to look rusty, and the economic standing of the Soviet Union was starting to creak. The plot involving a rogue general was within the realm of possibility, as was the potential Soviet invasion of Europe. The production pulled in elements from both short stories as a base for the movie, which went in its own direction.
The problem the film has is that all the easier stories to adapt have been done. For Your Eyes Only ran into the same issue, having used other short stories in its collection for plot elements. With Octopussy and The Living Daylights, the short stories were more character pieces or investigative, with little action. At the time, 007 movies were blockbuster spectaculars, with set action pieces in exotic locales. A quieter pace would have fit the original story, but audiences have a different image in mind for the franchise.
Octopussy also had one problem that no other EON 007 production had, a competing Bond movie. Sean Connery was in Never Say Never Again, the Thunderball remake. Octopussy was competing with the original 007. Helping was the return of John Barry to score the movie, bringing the original musical themes woven into the soundtrack.
After For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore felt he was getting too old to play 007. The search for the new Bond was continuing when Octopussy was made. Moore’s contract to play the role was over, but he was convinced to be Bond on a film by film basis. He’d play 007 one more time in A View to a Kill, making him the actor the role the most EON films with seven.
Casting notes – Robert Brown makes his first appearance as M in the film. Vijay Amritraj, a successful former tennis player, makes his film debut. Maud Adams makes her third appearance in the franchise; her first was in The Man With the Golden Gun as a supporting character, her second was uncredited in For Your Eyes Only.
The Living Daylights
Bond: Timothy Dalton
Release Date: 1987
Previous Film: A View to a Kill
Next Film: License to Kill
Original Story: “The Living Daylights
Publication Date: February 4, 1962 as “Berlin Escape” in The Sunday Times; 1966 in Octopussy and The Living Daylights as a collection of short stories.
Previous Story: Thunderball by original publication date, The Man With the Golden Gun by collection publication date.
Next Story: The Spy Who Loved Me by original publication date; none by collection publication date; Colonel Sun by Kingsley Amis under the penname Robert Markham was published in 1968.
Villain: Gen. Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé), Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker)
Heavy: Necros (Andreas Wisniewski)
Bond Girls: Kara Milovy (Maryam D’Abo)
Other Notable Characters: Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Moneypenny (Caroline Bliss), M (Robert Brown), Minister of Defense (Geoffrey Keen), Gen. Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies), Gen. Gogol (Walter Gotell), Kamran Shah (Art Malik), Felix Leither (John Terry)
Gadgets: Aston-Martin V8 Vantage with bulletproof windows, laser tire slashers, mini-rocket launcher, head’s-up display, outriggers, and self-destruct (driven by Bond); key ring with whistle activated stun gas and explosive; ghetto blaster (used by Q branch tech in preparation for use by American intelligence)
Opening Credits: “The Living Daylights“, written by Pål Waaktaar and John Barry, performed by a-ha.
Closing Credits: “If There Was a Man“, written by Chrissie Hynde and John Barry, performed by The Pretenders.
Plot of Original: 007 is assigned to counter-sniper duty to protect a defector leaving East Berlin. When he goes to shoot the KGB sniper, he discovers that she is a cellist he had been admiring from afar in the three days prior to the defection. 007 shoots, hitting her in the hand instead of killing her.
Plot of Film: 007 is assigned to protect a defector who specifically asked for him, leading to the events in the short story relocated to Bratislava in then-Czechoslovakia. During the defector’s debriefing, he reveals the existence of Smiert Spionen – SMERSH – run by a rogue general. A KGB team grabs the defector, though. 007, however, knows the alleged rogue, Gen. Pushkin. He starts his investigation with the cellist to find out who arranged for her to be the sniper. Pushkin is on the same trail, though, and gets to her first. 007, though, has the cello case with her rifle and blank ammunition. With this knowledge, 007 works to track down the false defector to Afghanistan and disrupts an arms for opium deal.
The film doesn’t so much change the plot of the original as expand it. On its own, “The Living Daylights” takes up not even seven minutes of the movie’s runtime, necessitating an expansion of the plot. With 131 minutes to fill, the script had to add a new story that would last the entire movie, essentially turning the rest of the movie into a different work built off the short story. The needs of the new story moves the counter-sniper mission to Bratislava, but keeps the core of “The Living Daylights”. The movie is a good example of the differences between short story and film. The story isn’t has epic as the Roger Moore era, but the stakes will still be felt around the world.
Another major change is that the seven minutes taken from the short story are the last five to six pages. The rest of the story leading up to the defector making his escape is a look into how Bond prepares for the mission and how he sees his job. At this point in his literary career, Bond is tired of being Her Majesty’s blunt instrument. A more modern take may even diagnose him with stress and post-traumatic stress disorder. 007 disobeys orders – kill the Soviet sniper – and doesn’t care if word that he deliberately did not take the killing shot gets back to M. Bond’s disdain for his job does come through in the movie; he has broken the world between professionals – members of the intelligence community – and everyone else.
As mentioned, the setting has changed. The original short story is set in East and West Berlin. The defection begins in East Berlin, but Bond’s sniper position is in the West. The defector needs to run thirty yards through an open area to get to and over the Berlin Wall. In 1987, the Wall was still around, but much leakier than in 1962. The move to Bratislava works to emphasize the villain’s plan, with Bond expected to kill the sniper. From the storytelling side, the movie also means that Bond takes a more active role in the mission than just waiting for the sniper to appear. Instead of the defector running thirty yards to climb over the Berlin Wall, Bond now needs to get him out of Czechoslovakia under a much higher police presence.
The Living Daylights is the first of the two Timothy Dalton /007/ films. Dalton took the character back to his roots in Fleming’s novels, a move that wasn’t appreciated at the time. Audiences were more familiar with Roger Moore’s more flamboyant Bond, though even his version still had a dark side to him. In 1987, 007 was a franchise, with the quirks that come with that. After the world saving that Moore’s Bond did, Dalton’s worked on a more personal level. Dalton’s approach is similar to Daniel Craig’s in Casino Royale, a return to the origins.
The late Eighties saw the Cold War cool off. With Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost thawing relations between East and West, the Soviet Union was not seen as the threat it was in the Fifties, when Fleming created Bond, and the Sixties, when Dr. No started the film series. Any Soviet plot had to be done by a rogue element who was against the opening of borders. Bond is a throwback, as comes up in later films.
The movie got into a bit of trouble with the Red Cross. At one point, Koskov and Whitaker take advantage of the organization’s reputation and symbol to move arms and opium. While there was no lawsuit, the studio added a disclaimer at the beginning of the film, to make sure people knew that such use was not approved by the Red Cross.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan has been compared to the American involvement in the Vietnam War. The USSR spent a lot in time, money, and blood for little gain in the country, much for the same reason why NATO got mired in Afghanistan. To make things even more jarring for a modern audience, Bond is working with the same group that NATO fought. Afghanistan is where empires go to die.
Several key cast and crew changes occur. Walter Gotell makes his last appearance as Gen. Gogol, having played the role in The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View to a Kill. He also appeared in From Russia With Love as Morzeny, a trainer for SPECTRE. Caroline Bliss takes over from Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny in this movie and returns in the role in the next. Joe Don Baker returns during the Pierce Brosnan run as the CIA agent, Jack Wade, starting with GoldenEye. The score for The Living Daylights is the last one done by John Barry. John Terry, is the 6th actor in the main EON continuity to play the role of Felix Leiter and the 7th after Bernie Casey in Never Say Never Again, the Thunderball remake with Sean Connery.
From Russia With Love
Bond: Sean Connery
Release Date: 1963
Previous Film: Dr. No (1962)
Next Film: Goldfinger (1964)
Original Story: From Russia With Love
Publication Date: 1957
Previous Story: Diamonds Are Forever
Next Story: Dr. No
Villain: Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya)
Heavy: Donovan “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw)
Bond Girls: Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson)
Other Notable Characters: Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendáriz), Major Boothroyd/Q (Desmond Llewelyn), Kronsteen (Vladek Sheybal), M (Bernard Lee), Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell)
Gadgets: Watch garrotte, used by Grant. Briefcase with survival rifle, hidden knife, hidden currency, hidden ammunition, and tear gas cannister disguised as a tin of talcum powder, used by 007. Bug detector, used by 007.
Opening Credits: “From Russia With Love“, written by Lionel Bart and John Barry
Closing Credits: “From Russia With Love“, written by Lionel Bart, performed by Matt Munro.
Plot of Original: SMERSH tries to kill 007 with an eye on embarrassing the British Secret Service.
Plot of Film: SPECTRE tries to steal a Soviet decryption machine using 007 and a Soviet cypher clerk while still embarrassing 007 and British intelligence..
The biggest change is who the opposition is. The novel had SMERSH acting against 007. The studio changed that to SPECTRE, keeping SMERSH involved but as one of the agencies being played by Blofeld’s organization. All of the Soviet senior staff mentioned in the novel – General Grubozaboyaschikov, General Vozdvishensky, Colonel Kikitin, and General Slavin – are gone, replaced by Blofeld. Rosa Klebb is now a defector from SMERSH to SPECTRE, and Grant is an assassin under her command.
The movie also rearranges and collapses the first third of the novel. A briefing by the head of SMERSH works in a book but not in a film. Audiences know how meetings go and are watching the movie to escape them. Kronsteen still gets his chess championship, but it’s now at the international level, not just for supremacy in Moscow. The scene also changes the focus, by showing Kronsteen’s planning ability by defeating the Canadian MacAdams instead him having to worry about not leaving the chess match against the Russian Markhov because of his summons.
Bond’s first appearance also gets changed. In the novel, he is first seen in his apartment, reminising, the only woman around being his housekeeper, May. In the movie, Bond is enjoying an afternoon off with Sylvia Trench, who he met in Dr. No, something not possible in the film continuity since that was the first book adapted.
The movie follows the novel more or less as wrtitten with minor changes. Darko Kerem becomes Ali Kerem Bey, for example, but nothing major. Bond meets Tatiana, gets information out of her, and takes her on the Orient Express out of Turkey. On the train, Grant makes his move. That’s where the movie diverges from the book. In the book, Bond’s Q-branch briefcase has the hidden knife, but not the talcum powder tear gas. In the movie, Bond bluffs Grant into opening the briefcase. Not knowing the special way to get in, Grant gets a face full of tear gas, allowing Bond to act. The hidden knife does come out; Checkhov’s gun comes in many forms.
The fight between Bond and Grant in the book is followed by arrival in Paris, the delivery of Tatiana, and a final appearance by Klebb, who gets one kick in at Bond before being taken away by France’s Deuxième Bureau. The movie adds an escape from the train, a helicopter chase with Bond on foot and a boat chase before reaching Venice. Klebb gets her last appearance, but instead of poisoning Bond with her shoe despite her best efforts, Tatiana shoots her, ending her story.
There were minor changes because of the different format. What can be done in a book might not be allowed in a movie. In particular, the nudity in the novel, not explicit but there, gets covered up. Topless women get bras; the nude men get towels. One other change that does stand out is 007’s choice of pistol. In the book, Bond has his Beretta. His movie counterpart is using his signature Walther PPK. Movie Bond received the pistol in Dr. No because his Beretta had snagged on his holster in a previous mission. In the original Dr. No novel, Bond was forced to change pistols for the same reason, except that previous mission was in From Russia With Love. It’s a minor change, but thanks to the movies being in the wrong order, creates an interesting switch.
There are two actors making their first appearance here. First, Desmond Llewelyn appears as Major Boothroyd/Q. Major Boothroyd was a character in Dr. No, but was played by Peter Burton in that film. Llewelyn will appear in the most 007 films, his last time as Q in The World Is Not Enough, working alongside five different James Bonds in that time. Walter Gotell makes his first appearance, playing Morzeny, a SPECTRE trainer. Gotell reappears in the main line of 007 as General Gogol in The Spy Who Loved Me, and reprises the role in Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, and The Living Daylights.
With the change from SMERSH to SPECTRE, Ernst Blofeld makes his first appearance, albeit without revealing him. The white Persian cat becomes the villain’s signature. Blofeld takes over the role General Grubozaboyaschikov had, the head of the organization. This time, the organization is a private one, beholden to no government. SPECTRE is shown to be able to infiltrate even the highest ranks of Soviet intelligence, getting Klebb to defect.
From Russia With Love isn’t quite yet the classic 007 movie. The seeds are there, though. Suave Bond, beautiful women, fast car chases, gadgets, the only missing item is the set piece at the villain’s lair. The fight between the Gypsies and the Bulgars hint at what is to come in that respect. Audiences, though, turned out for the movie, sustaining the demand for more.
The world’s best known secret agent has had a long history. Created by Ian Fleming and first published in 1953, James Bond has appeared in 57 books, including 43 by other authors, at least 29 movies, including those made outside the Eon continuity, and in comics. Bond has been portrayed by six different actors in the main franchise alone. With the sheer number of works available, the 007 movies provide a range of adaptations, from the close but not quite approaches of the early films to the in-name-only later works. One film even manages to adapt the novella as smaller portion of its longer running time.
Approaching the project will take time. Several ways of tackling the franchise exist. First is to go movie by movie. With over twenty movies in the main franchise, that will take time. a similar method would be to group the films by the actor playing Bond. That gives the Sean Connery and Roger Moore eras a longer analysis, and doesn’t take into account the one George Lazenby outing. I could also group three movies together, based on the order being used.
The order, though, is another question. There’s the order of the books, starting with Casino Royale. Using this order means jumping around in the film continuity, such as it exists, and several of the movies have titles that come from other aspects of the character instead of story titles, such as The World Is Note Enough. Movie order may be easier – the films may be better known now by the general audience than the books.
Much like the History of Adaptations, the Bond project won’t be week by week. Instead, the goal will be to have an entry each month, with the intervening weeks being saved for other analyses. This will give me time to read the novels and watch the movies again without being rushed. Right now, though, I’m taking suggestions on the approach. Would the best approach be reviewing one movie at a time or grouping the movies together? What order would be best, the books or the films? And should I touch the non-franchise films? Please answer in the comments below.
This will be a big project, but I hope that it will show the range of adapting styles used in cinema.