Dreadful…Simply Dreadful. – The Story Behind 007

The name is Chhatwani…Sagar Chhatwani…Nahhhh.. I guess, there is only one person,  inarguably, in this entire universe that has a cosmic effect when he introduces himself…The name’s Bond…James Bond. I bet every man, after putting on his bespoke suit, stood in front of the mirror and voiced the famous line countless times wishing he looked like Bond. Every woman has secretly fantasized about the secret agent while satisfying her better half and uttered the illustrious line “Ohh James”. No matter which part of the world one belongs to, James Bond is the quintessential man every single living man wants to be. Men want to dress up like him..Women want to dress down for him.

Dreadfull...Simply Dreadful Picture
It is said that ‘Behind every successful man there is a woman’ but behind the success of 007 is a man. Agent 007 James Bond was created in January 1952 by British journalist Ian Fleming while on holiday at his Jamaican estate, Goldeneye. The hero was named after the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of a field guide book Birds of the West Indies. Fleming, a keen birdwatcher, had a copy of Bond’s field guideat Goldeneye. According to Fleming he wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name he could find. ‘James Bond’ was much better than something more interesting, like ‘Peregrine Carruthers.’ He thought the name was brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon, and yet very masculine — just what he needed. In the film Die Another Day, agent 007 (Pierce Brosnan) picks up a copy of Birds of the West Indies in Cuba, then poses as an ornithologist.

The 00 Section of MI6 is considered the secret service’s elite. A 00 agent holds a license to kill in the field, at his discretion, to complete the mission. In the British and Commonwealth armed forces, soldiers and officers are assigned identity numbers. During Ian Fleming’s work in Vichy France, an agent’s anonymity was imperative, and, when the agent was military, it was convenient to use the last three digits of the agent’s number as identification. In World War II, Britain’s Special Operations Executive agents did not have identifiers assigned to them such as the 00 or related ‘systems’ of nomenclature. Specific agents would be known to high command by their own names, or their service numbers in long form, or else by invented codenames when deniability was at stake. For the sake of romance and memorability, Fleming used the 00 and mystical number 7 for James Bond.

Ian Fleming got the inspiration of the character from himself. James Bond is actually a romanticized version of Ian Fleming, himself, as a jet-setting womanizer. Both Fleming and Bond attended the same schools, preferred the same foods (scrambled eggs and coffee), maintained the same habits (drinking, smoking, wearing short-sleeve shirts), shared the same notions of the perfect woman in looks and style, and had similar naval career paths (both rising to the rank of naval Commander). They also shared similar height, hairstyle, and eye color.  (The picture shown above is an original 007 impression of Ian Fleming)

Casino Royale was the first James Bond novel Ian had scripted. After completing the manuscript, he allowed his friend William Plomer, who later became the editor, to read it. Plomer liked it and submitted it to Jonathan Cape, who did not like it as much. Cape finally published it in 1953 on the recommendation of Fleming’s older brother Peter, an established travel writer.

The first attempt to adapt the James Bond novels resulted in a 1954 television episode of Climax! It was based on the first novel, Casino Royale, starring American actor Barry Nelson as “Jimmy Bond”. Ian Fleming desired to go one step further and approached producer Sir Alexander Korda to make a film adaptation of either Live and Let Die or Moonraker. Although Korda was initially interested, he later withdrew. In October 1959, Fleming announced the he would write an original film script featuring Bond for producer Kevin McClory entitled James Bond, Secret Agent. However, Alfred Hitchcock and Richard Burton turned down roles as director and star, respectively. McClory was unable to secure the financing for the film, and the deal fell through.

In 1959, producer Albert R. Broccoli expressed interest in adapting the Bond novels, but his colleague Irving Allen was unenthusiastic. In 1961, Broccoli partnered with Harry Saltzman and purchased the film rights to all the Bond novels from Fleming, except Casino Royale. However, numerous Hollywood film studios did not want to fund the films, finding it “too British” or “too blatantly sexual”. The producers wanted US$1 million to either adapt Thunderball or Dr. No, and reached a deal with United Artists in July 1961. The two producers set up EON Productionsand began production of Dr. No.

A contest was set up to find James Bond. Six finalists were chosen and screen-tested by Broccoli, Saltzman, and Fleming. The winner of the contest was a 28-year-old model named Peter Anthony, who, according to Broccoli, had a Gregory Peck quality, but proved unable to cope with the role. The producers turned to Sean Connery. Broccoli and Fleming were cool on Connery, but accepted him after being rejected by Patrick McGoohan and rejecting Richard JohnsonJames MasonRex Harrison,David NivenTrevor Howard, and Broccoli’s friend Cary Grant. Broccoli wanted a ballsy guy. Already balding, Connery wore a toupee in all his Bond films. Ian Fleming, after seeing the preview screening of the first film, Dr. No, turned to his research assistant and commented “Dreadful…Simply Dreadful.”


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