Monday, June 26, 2006

For Your Eyes Only, by Ian Fleming

(pb; 1959, 1960: story anthology -- eighth book in the original 007/James Bond series)

Overall review:

Good, quirky-for-the-author anthology, with some revealing side-stories (about Bond and M, Bond's boss).

Review, story by story:

From A View To A Kill”: When a British military dispatch driver is murdered and his documents stolen, Bond investigates the murder/theft. Bond gets tangled up in intradepartmental rivalries and Luger-carrying killers. Okay story, with a lackluster female protagonist, Mary Ann Russell.

For Your Eyes Only”: In Jamaica, Cuban gunmen in the employ of an ex-Gestapo (von Hammerstein) kill an older couple, friends of M's. Bond volunteers to mete out “rough justice” (Bond's term); along the way, he encounters Judy Havelock, the murdered couple's daughter, who's also bent on revenge.

While the female-seeking-revenge plot set-up is familiar – Fleming used it in the preceding Bond book, Goldfinger – the author's capable writing keeps it thrilling.

Quantum of Solace”: At a boring Nassau party, surrounded by the filthy rich, the island Governor tells Bond about a government employee (Phillip Masters), his wife (Rhoda), and their spectacularly destructive marriage. All the violence in this chatty tale is second-hand and emotional. Philosophical, honest and different (for a Bond tale), with a dovetail ending.

Risico”: Less than a year after the events of Goldfinger, Bond goes to Rome to smash up a drug ring. Exciting blast-read, with some cool twists.

The Hildebrand Rarity”: Bond, stuck on a five-day boat trip with an insufferable, wife-beating American (Milton Crest) who hunts nearly-extinct animals, struggles to keep his cool. Unsettling – on multiple levels – story, with a chilling finish: a welcome variation on the usual Bond adventure, and one not easily forgotten.

Followed by the novel, Thunderball.


Three films resulted from this anthology; the only thing they share with the stories are the titles, and some characters.

For Your Eyes Only came out in 1981. It used characters (who appear in altered form) from another anthology story, “Risico,” but the movie is way different than its title- and character-sourced stories.

Roger Moore reprised his role of James Bond. Carole Bouquet played Melina Havelock (story name: Judy Havelock). Topol played Milos Columbo (a variation on Enrico Colombo, from the story “Risico”). Julian Glover played Aristotle Kristatos (another “Risico” character). Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson co-scripted. John Glen directed. (Glen has directed five of the James Bond films, the most times any director has done so.)


A View To A Kill came out in 1985. Roger Moore reprised his role of James Bond. Christopher Walken played Max Zorin – a cinematic add-on character. Tanya Roberts played Stacy Sutton, another cinematic add-on character. Grace Jones played May Day, another cinematic add-on character. Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson returned as co-scripters. John Glen returned as director.


Quantum of Solace, whose only link to its source story seems to be the title, is set for a November 7, 2008 theatrical release. Daniel Craig reprises his role of James Bond. Mattieu Amalric plays Dominic Greene (I can't remember if that character is actually in the story: will have to re-read it sometime). Jeffrey Wright reprises his role of Felix Leiter. Olga Kurylenko plays Camille, a cinematic add-on character. Giancarlo Giannini reprises his role of René Mathis. Gemma Arterton plays Strawberry Fields, another cinematic add-on character. Judi Dench reprises her role of M. Marc Forster is set to direct, from a script by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and Paul Haggis.

An interesting note on Quantum of Solace. . . this, from "The producers and writers of Quantum of Solace have stated that the action of the film picks up 'almost an hour after the close of Casino Royale'. They have also said it will be a continuation of the story established in Casino Royale. In this way it can be regarded as a true sequel to Royale and, like that film, is separate in continuity to any of the previous Bond films to come before. While sharing the same continuity of the character, the previous Bond films were more 'stand-alone' adventures of the super spy than sequels that told one ongoing story. It is not clear how long the producers intend to continue this ret-con of Bond films in this manner, but they have already openly stated that they do not intend to re-visit or remake any of the material from the previously released series of Bond films."

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