Fiction: “Casino Royale” by Ian Fleming

Casino RoyaleBefore Spectre was released, there were A LOT of articles on the interwebs about James Bond: whether Daniel Craig was over being Bond (yes, he so is); whether Idris Elba should be the next Bond (YES HE SHOULD), what type of man Bond actually is (which is hard to discuss, as Bond is, above all, A FICTIONAL CHARACTER), and the endless lists that attempted to correctly rank the Bond movie theme songs from best to worst, all of which were horribly incorrect.

So in the month of October, I had a lot of feels about James Bond, and for the most part, I felt I was shouting into the void. Especially with this article, which started the shouting: “Idris Elba too street to play James Bond

Reading that article led to … well … a bit of a rant.

Basically, when it comes to James Bond, I will fight you on three things:

  1. Daniel Craig is the best portrayal of James Bond I have yet to witness;
  2. Skyfall was the richest James Bond story put to celluloid, bringing in all aspects of Bond’s personality, history, and capacity for violence;
  3. “You Know My Name” is the best James Bond theme song after “Goldfinger,” because “Goldfinger” is the universally-acknowledged standard of excellence for Bond theme songs.

And if you disagree? I’m not kidding – I will fight you.

So all of these feelings led me to a realization and a resolution. The realization was that there really hasn’t been a whole lot of actual, critical discussion on James Bond the character and/or the canon of Ian Fleming novels. Well, wait – I say that there hasn’t been that level of critical discussion only because I haven’t found it yet. It’s entirely possible that some professor has written loads of treatises on the struggle Bond has to remain human while also being a brilliant mechanical assassin, or the portrayal of women in Bond novels and how that is a) indicative of attitudes towards women during the time of the novels’ writing and b) how that influenced portrayal of women during the films and c) how that attitude has become ingrained in society to this day, and they’re all just hidden away in some musty corner of a college library, and the only thing they’re accomplishing is giving their writer his tenure.

My resolution: I’m going to write that book.

There should be a book that actually tackles James Bond and some issues he brings up, that can also celebrate the fantasy Bond promotes while actually recognizing the humanity within the machine. Something that can also compare the books with their film adaptations, and call out the pieces that remain in the film while others are completely eradicated. Track the development from suave yet incredibly intelligent agent of MI-6 into a sex-crazed buffoon (why yes, Roger Moore, I am emphatically looking at you).

In order to write that book, I have to re-immerse myself into the canon. So I began at the beginning with Casino Royale and will continue to move forward throughout the thirteen novels and issues of short stories written by Ian Fleming. I will then watch the corresponding films (and probably branch out into the films that do not have their plotline or title taken from a Fleming novel or story) and analyze those, as well as compare them to their source material. There will be a definitive ranking of the Bond theme songs, wherein I will absolutely prove that “You Know My Name” is the second best Bond theme song, no really, you’re wrong, “Live and Let Die” is horrible and you should know better.

Obviously, this is going to be a massive project. I am not giving myself a due date because I don’t want to rush myself or make myself a promise that I won’t be able to keep. But I am serious about it. I’ve replaced my old, 50-cent Signet paperbacks from the 1960s with these gorgeous paperbacks I found on Amazon (I mean, I obviously still have those paperbacks; they’re just in my Classics bookcase with the other old books I have), and I bought a shit-ton of index cards. When I reorganize my office this winter, I want to put up a bulletin board so I can tack the cards up Kinsey Millhone style and help to organize my thoughts into chapters and such.

I’ll also be rereading Casino Royale, You Only Live Twice, Moonraker, and Diamonds Are Forever. So expect to see mini-reviews pop up as I go through them. I may also be doing companion pieces over on Movies Alaina’s Never Seen – but as I said I was going to complete Project X in a reasonable timeframe, again: no promises.

There really isn’t anything else I want to add to my previous review of Casino Royale here; my new paperback has all sorts of pencil marks in it, and the index cards are already broken out into categories (guys, I have four different index cards for four different types of attitudes towards women. The one where Bond is derogatory or uses violent language about women is the most filled, so – yeah, this is going to be deep).

So – stay tuned for that. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shovel. Again.


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