Wednesday 9 March 2011

Codename: Bond

It's not my idea, but it's one it was interesting last year to follow through on and for a bit of fun that I've copied in here (also I get to show some Robert McGinnis artwork, and he's the poster artist of my childhood).

If we assume that 'James Bond' is like 'M' and 'Q' a code name only? We start with Sean Connery, possibly the first, possibly actually James Bond. The name becomes powerful, fearful. He rarely after all hides it.

Bond however goes out of contact whilst in Japan, at the end of You Only Live Twice he is still on Blofeld's trail and refuses to come in.

But SIS need 007, and they certainly need 'James Bond', and of course by now their famous agent cannot be tarnished. They get a lead on Blofeld and even in the film it starts with M and Moneypenny discussing where 007 is. So they have to come up with a plan, and they come up with a stand-in James Bond. They don't choose a proper sociopath but one already involved with one of villains, Draco's daughter (actually, Emma Peel). All in all it does not work for the best. Tracey dies and their stand in Bond goes to pieces. It is clear that 007 really does need to be a thug, they do need the real James Bond after all.

Which is why all is forgiven and in Diamonds Are Forever when contact is made M will put the name Blofeld to any villain to keep Bond in line, and Bond will make much the same assumption. By the beginning of the film they are in uneasy alliance - even though Bond is borderline insane (murderous bastard quite aside).

At the end of the mission Bond vanishes with Tiffany Case - and a fortune in diamonds. Maybe it was M that tried to have Bond removed through the independent Wint and Kidd? Either way, Bond is firmly gone and Bourne like not to be bothered again - and M is a lot wilier than the CIA.

All would rest until three British agents are killed - and links are made to Kananga. SIS fight fire with fire - they need their own 'Loa', their own legendary agent of death, James Bond. The Roger Moore character is made the new Bond and the new 007. And despite all is brutally efficient, and for many years and missions thereafter. To the extent however that in the end he is actually awarded the Order of Lenin (View to a Kill) and aging now leaves the service honourably to marry Stacey Sutton, the oil heiress. No hard feelings here. 'Bond' served his country and there is a new wind of detente. During this period M passes away and his brief replacement (importantly) rubber stamps the Bond programme - making it official.


A defector is set to do that and SIS set a counter sniper in place - one who shows resolve but a streak of judgement when he does not actually kill the woman assassin. The newly promoted M (Judy Dench) sees something in that man and when that man (Dalton) is trained up to be a 00 then on his final training mission others are killed and he survives on Gibraltar M makes the judgement that this will be no normal 00, but 007 James Bond. Never comfortable with the idea of SIS having an assassin she had been quietly keeping 'James Bond' vacant, but her hand is forced. For the first mission this works admirably, old elements of Smersh are suitably distracted by the their 'old adversary'.

The new Bond though is not perhaps all he should be. On his next mission he resigns - indeed his Licence to kill is revoked by M (who had been looking for just such an excuse). The film is not so much about James Bond as what happens when one in that position walks away.

About this time two 00s are in Arkangelsk, Brosnan and Bean. They blow stuff up. They are 00s but neither is Bond.

Six years later and Brosnan is made up to 'James Bond'. M has hardened. if she must have a Bond, it will be one of her choosing. For the first few missions it seems they finally have a Bond back. One that gets the job done, is ruthless, efficient and everyone is pleased. But he is flawed, he is not the sociopath that the original was and he is forced to retire to lengthy treatment when he starts to think that John Cleese is Q and that his car can turn invisible - the poor soul goes barking. M's demands for a more balanced figure, a trained assassinis shown to be flawed after all.

And then and now a new Bond. Hell, Casino Royale actually shows the early process. M is visibly nervous at the latest result of the 'Bond' programme established by her own predecessor but 007 is now like a tiger on which she rides. It's dangerous, but more so perhaps to get off.  


  1. Outstanding. Except for the fate of the Roger Moore character - who surely retires to keep cats in a castle.
    Britain needs him but one more time (North Sea Hijack) and bearded he answers the call. His reward ? Why, kittens galore.

  2. Top man, he doubtless did too before then recruiting a load of laughably old fools as Wild Geese. When I posted this elsewhere we spiralled off a little further (copied across):

    The original and actual James Bond produces his Peter Wright style (Spycatcher) memoirs - and Never Say Never Again is the film version of Operation Thunderball. Sean Connery though getting on a bit looks quite like Bond (who always liked him as an actor). Indeed since there is of course still a 'James Bond' on the books (although in India for Operation Octopussy). Things come to light, questions are asked and as a result of which when two years later the current 'Bond' retires it now comes to light that this was partly due to his being under investigation. He does indeed marry Stacey Sutton and settles in America. This adds fuel to the flames however that the then current Bond was actually a double agent for CIA, recruited in Operation Live And let Die and run by his handler 'Felix Leiter', who similarly changed.

    All this nearly brought down SIS. The person in charge of the investigation (Judy Dench) in the end replaces the former M with a brief to clean house. This explains her long held reluctance to maintain the James Bond Programme. Actually it explain a lot about Judy Dench's portrayal...

  3. Also.

    Whilst the 'Dalton' Bond seeks to bring down Brad Whittaker (Operation Living Daylights) this reinforces M (Dench) cleaning house - since Whittaker is later shown to actually be Jack Wade (CIA) in Operations Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies. Since the 'Moore' Bond was a CIA double agent, this might all be part of Dench's then brief. An SIS/CIA subplot. Now, I'm sure there's more evidence of that to be found...

    ((Joe Don Baker - Jedburgh from Edge Of Darkness - plays both the above parts, Whittaker and Wade))

  4. It also makes sense why 'Brosnan' Bond went mad - at the beginning of the suspiciously named Operation Die Another Day he is captured and held for more than a year by the North Koreans, tortured and treated generally pretty badly! Someone betrayed him and when he is exchanged his 007 status is revoked - Dench in effect working to remove the whole Programme once again, setting him up and only agreeing to the exchange due to American pressure and fears over what 'Bond' might say. She cannot afford to be part of another 'Never Say Never Again' fiasco (which is what pout her in power in the first place after all, and she is cleaner than clean - not like that old fascist M who first started all the Bond trouble).

    Borsnan Bond is to be 'sent to the Falklands' (in house code for killed') but escapes and threafter we can never be sure in the film if what we are seeing is real, or in his head - invisible cars being the most obvious.

    Indeed next time I watch the film I will make sure I am thinking 'Fight Club' all the way through it.

    But. If we take it then as said that Dench is stuck with the 007s and wants rid of them there's quite a lot that could be viewed differently. And Bond would be more like Spooks. Which would suit me. Even when she retorts 'doing his job' when Bond is criticized it is not he she is defending, but her own decisions. Dench is a dangerous figure, prickly and for whom is head of SIS really as high as she wishes to go? Does she actually have a long term plan for which a James Bond is needed? Who is it that once suitably conditioned her Daniel Craig 'Bond' will actually be set against?

    I'll stop now, it's too easy - I could end up doing this all day. The whole franchise can make more sense, be a lot cooler, darker and more deeply layered - and all without refilming so much as a single frame.

    But behind it all, Dench is the real villain...

  5. Of course being a rationalization of the film franchise it is important that where the same person played different parts then those parts must be the same person themselves.

    'Miss Anders' (real name Smythe) is first seen in the films as the mistress of Scaramanga (more of him below) and apparently killed when she is used as a foil to lure Bond either to his death, or Scaramangas. Her death is clearly a matter of exaggeration since we later encounter her under the even more extravagant sobriquet of 'Octopussy', a renowned smuggler. Or is it so extravagant? The problem here is of not taking very much from the books - as it is the films that this concerns (there are no different actors in the books, per se).

    Fortunately on checking it seems that in the film (fortunately) it does say that her father was Major Smythe and that Bond made him commit suicide (though in the film over Chinese, not Nazi gold).

    Step to one side however and let us look at Scaramanga. In the books he is Paco, an enforcer for the Spangled Mob (the ubiquitous Mafia family seen in Diamonds Are Forever, Goldfinger and, um, GASS). In the films though - importantly - he was British, a hit man for hire. Possibly even and however briefly - he was 'James Bond' too. It was he that visited Major Smythe, seen doing so by Smythe's daughter, Andrea. The gold of course is never recovered.

    Andrea using the gold, a superb mind and possible contacts we can only allude to becomes a renowned smuggler. As such she is able to manipulate situations such that she becomes Scaramanga's lover. Then she makes her move, set to use SIS and ironically James Bond to hunt down and kill Scaramanga. Her deeper motives are unknown. M ever the gruff, efficient and nasty old fascist is well aware that questions are being asked already and whilst he does not know of the Spycatcher style 'Never Say Never Again' tell-all biography coming out in the next couple of years the chance to remove a former Bond is too good a chance to miss.

    In Operation Octopussy still clearly enamored of the Moore Bond she orders Khan not to kill him. She harbours strong emotions for Bond still, though even she did not imagine a crocodile submarine. It is whilst Bond is involved in all this that the Never Say Never Again revelations hit an unsuspecting SIS.

    Whilst as is typical their relationship does not last, it is worth noting that whilst Bond is later engaged on his last mission(Operation A View To A Kill) Smythe/Anders/Octopussy is seen in the fisherman's wharf crowd. Whether there is unfinished business or some deeper meaning is unclear. Shortly thereafter Bond retires apparently in good grace and marries the heiress Stacey Sutton. 'Retires' there is some speculation before he is gotten ride of, his links to CIA rather too close for Dench who shortly thereafter takes over as M.

  6. I'm suitably humbled.
    It is only a matter of time before you are contacted by the Scions of Broccoli - maybe to recruit you or silence you for getting dangerously close to the truth.
    The absence of Bob Holness and David Niven does nothing to undermine this (actually Holness is a bit of a Man Who Never Was - a radio transmission intercepted from South Africa in 1956 - from someone claiming to be James Bond, is in fact believed to be Holness. No one knows if Holness was part of an earlier Bond programme, but he was linked to Auric Goldfinger and a fledgling gold smuggling operation - that would later become known as The Gold Run.)