Bond theme singers and their ages.

The sad announcement of Chris Cornell’s death this morning got me thinking.

His biggest solo hit in the UK was his theme to Casino Royale, ‘You Know My Name’.  The James Bond film series has been running since 1962, and all of them since From Russia With Love in 1963 has had a vocal theme tune.  That’s 54 years of performances.

And surprisingly, all of those singers except Louis Armstrong, Matt Monro and now Chris Cornell, are still alive.

I wondered if these singers had been particularly old to begin with.  Louis Armstrong certainly was (he was 69 when the film came out and died soon afterwards) but the others weren’t particularly.

Here’s the age of each Bond theme singer (two, Alicia Keys and Jack White, for Quantum of Solace) at the time the film was released.

Figure 1

The line in blue is a line of best fit (if you like an average throughout the years).  Noticeably, the average age is getting younger, but only a little, according to this.

I’ve labelled the three singers I’ve already talked about, as well as all those who were significantly older than average and those who were much younger.

As you can see, Louis Armstrong was very old at the time.  Matt Monro wasn’t, but his film (From Russia With Love) was the earliest to have a theme tune (Dr No had the Instrumental James Bond Theme by Monty Norman over it’s credits), so it’s perhaps not surprising that he has since died.

The next three Bond films after From Russia With Love – Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, all had significantly younger than average singers (Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Nancy Sinatra) and then that takes us up to the 1970s, so it’s not surprising that those singers are still alive.

Chris Cornell really is unusual and the only statistical conclusion that can be drawn from this is that he died tragically young.  R.I.P.

 

However there are some other interesting things going on here.

Firstly, Louis Armstrong was so old that he’s statistically an outlier. (Greater than 1.5 times the Inter Quartile Range added on to the Upper Quartile)  Removing him from the data set therefore, in order to better see what’s going on in the trends show this:

Figure 2

Interestingly, this shows that the average age is slightly increasing.  Still this belies what we can clearly see (which is that the theme singers are getting younger and younger).  Again, there is a spike here at 1995’s Goldeneye (Tina Turner) who was already 66 when she performed the theme (and retired soon afterwards).

I’ve now split this in two, looking at the best fit up to and including Tina Turner, and for all the films since.

Figure 3

 

The purple line shows the mean of that first group of films and the green line shows the films since.

Now really, you can make statistics say what you want to say, and I could have split this into more sections or moved that point.

Clearly though since 2005 the average age of a Bond title singer has been decreasing significantly.  Why is this?  Because Pop singers are getting younger.  Only Madonna and Chris Cornell since then have been over 40.  Only Jack White of the others was over 30.  A return to the heyday of the 1960s?  There is a certain symmetry about this.

Wonder what will happen next…

 

 

Skyfall – my review (containing spoilers)

I’m not sure I’ve written a formal review of a Bond film before, but then the last time one came out, I’m not sure I even had a Blog. This review assumes you’ve seen it.  If you haven’t then don’t read on.  There are a few surprises that I would hate to have had spoiled for me before I saw it, and would hate to spoil for you.  They won’t be on this screen so you’ve got time.. but please be warned.

It’s now been three weeks or so since I saw Skyfall.  I haven’t been back yet.  I will, but I’ve enjoyed the last three weeks or so.  I’ve been able to relax.  Because the time leading up to a Bond film is very exciting for me.  In the week before Skyfall came out I watched two previous Bond films (Licence to Kill and Thunderball), listened to every Bond soundtrack album I owned, watched a TV documentary I recorded some years ago and read John Burlingame’s excellent new book about the James Bond soundtracks.  By the time that Friday night arrived, I was at breaking point.

I’m always like this before a new Bond film is released.  Sadly, throughout the Brosnan years, it was usually with disappointment as I realised that the film was just as poor as the one before it, when it could have been so much more.  However, it’s a lot more enjoyable being a Bond fan in the Craig years.  Not so much let down!

If you don’t know me and want to know what sort of Bond fan I am so that you can contextualise this review, then you’re probably already on your way to identifying it based on my comments above.  So let me say that my favourite Bond is Ian Fleming’s Bond.  The actor that I think has come closest to that is Timothy Dalton (more about that later).  My favourite Bond films are On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, Casino Royale, Dr No…  my least favourite Die Another Day and Moonraker… Roger Moore fans might not find too much in common with what I’m about to say.

So, Skyfall… well I loved it.  I am looking forward to going again without the hype.  Was it the best Bond film ever?  If so many ordinary people (rather than obsessive Bond fans) think it was, then it probably was.  Here’s why I don’t agree.

Javier Bardem – Silva

There is no doubt that Bardem’s performance was amazing.  His entrance was one of the best entrances ever of a Bond villain (the long shot and the story about the rats – in one take).  But what I didn’t like was that there was never any real sense of threat from him.

Classic Bond villains put Bond into a situation where you think how on earth is he going to get out of this one.  And then he does!  (‘Do you expect me to talk?’ ‘No Mr Bond I expect you to die’).  Some of the most memorable scenes in Bond films have come from those moments… Bond’s escape through the ventilator shafts from Dr No’s hideout; Bond’s escape from the shark-infested swimming pool in Thunderball; Bond’s escape on Skis from Piz Gloria in OHMSS… But in Skyfall Silva spent most of his time running away from Bond (for that’s what he was doing in the underground scenes).  And then when he came for him, he didn’t put him in any staggeringly threatening situations.. He came in with his ego so large that it needed a whole team of guns-blazing mercenaries to represent it on screen for him..

Severine.
Severine is definitely a classic Bond girl.  Many echoes of Vesper Lynd and you can see why Bond would be so attracted to her.  But she disappears too early.  The Bond girl in this film is really….

Judi Dench – M

Dame Judi is a fine actor and has been a fine M.  I don’t mind her being a central plot device as she was in Skyfall.  But I have one slight reservation about M’s role in the last three or four Bond films.

Initially M was played by Bernard Lee – a renowned bit part actor.  That is exactly what the role required.  By casting Judi Dench the role had to change.  There’s a reason why there are people out there who make a career of being bit-part actors and by casting someone like Judi Dench in the role, the role is obviously going to become bigger.  Why, after all, would you have one of the best actor’s in the world in your film and then only have them on screen for five minutes?

When she took over as M in Goldeneye, Judi Dench was a renowned theatre actor and star of British TV.  Subsequent to that came Mrs Brown; Shakespeare in Love; Iris… Award nominations and the sort of global fame that she deserved.  Inevitably her character changed to accommodate that.  I am excited about Ralph Fiennes as M, I only hope that they don’t fall into the same trap.  

That said, M’s relationship with Bond has been a real narrative arc since Goldeneye (and being the only thing that survived the ‘re-boot’ in Casino Royale) and Dame Judi has been wonderful in that.  I don’t wish to take anything away from it, I would just like M to return to a back seat for the next few films.

Plot

Much to enjoy here.  I didn’t like the whole link to Bond’s past though.  I know that story of his parents (which is straight from Fleming).. most Bond fans do.  Its been alluded to in the past in other Bond films.  But spelled out?  I think that puts too much back-story in the centre of the film.  Fleming described Bond as a ‘blunt instrument’.  Do people really want to know about Bond’s past?  What motivates him?  Or do they just want to see him as a blunt instrument doing his job?  ‘Skyfall’ could have just been a hunting lodge that Bond knew well, Kincade it’s caretaker without all the back-story.  I would have preferred this, but is this one of the things that ‘ordinary’ people really like about Skyfall?

I would like to see the writers stop with their explanations of why Bond is tortured or what motivates him.  I think that’s irrelevant to the simplicity of a Bond film.  These are not character studies, they’re fantasy.

Q, London and the Mi6 Headquarters.

There is nothing bad to say about these.  The same reservations as would apply above to the casting of M could potentially apply to Q.  Certainly Ben Whishaw is already a bigger actor than Desmond Llewelyn was when he became Q.  But he and Rory Kinnear are a good team.  And so far have their careers are aligned with the early part of Dame Judi’s trajectory and not the later part.  They’re outstanding bit-part players.  I loved the new Q.  I loved the underground headquarters of Mi6 and I loved M’s ‘new’ office at the end.  I hope the pictures can find a way to deviate from that horrible building on the Chelsea Embankment.

Technical Bits.

I do think that without exception this is the best looking Bond film ever.  The locations are great, the sets are stunning and the cinematography (by the incredible Roger Deakins) is beautiful.  But I think Sam Mendes has had a real influence here.  I hated the Mi6 offices in QoS.  All amazing soft screen virtual computer technology.  We’re British.  Its the Civil Service!  These might be fantasy films, but that was pushing it too far.  

And yet somehow the Underground HQ in Skyfall and the accompanying technologies are believable.  Same production designer – Dennis Gassner.  Who is American.  And I blamed that on the unrealistic-ness of QoS.  Yet London and the UK looks fantastic in Skyfall.  Sam Mendes must take some of the credit for that (as well as for the ever-so-subtle political subtext of public enquiries and political leaders in trouble).

Sam Mendes can also be credited with some of his Department Head choices.  He claims (I can’t credit where, but I’m sure I’ve read it somewhere) that he was presented with the whole ‘Bond family’ – the team who’ve worked on so many Bonds and told he didn’t have to use any of them, but anyone he did was there to be asked and hired accordingly.

Marc Forster, in making QoS, used his own team and brought in quite a few key players.  Notably Dan Bradley from the Bourne series; a new costume designer; a new titles designer…

Mendes seems to have sifted out the best things in the Bond family and made some other key choices to freshen things up.  

A welcome return for Daniel Kleinman – who’s titles have been consistently brilliant and are again.  A welcome return for the 2nd Unit Director/Editing team of Alexander Witt/Stuard Baird (from Casino Royale)…  another new costume designer in Jany Temime, but it looks like she could be around for a while… a great blend of classic and modern (made all the sharper for Tom Ford’s suits.  Daniel Craig definitely wears the sharpest suits since Connery in the 1960s).

From his own team Mendes has brought Roger Deakins to the role of lighting the film.  The DOP’s chair has been a revolving door since 1995 and many directors have brought their own, but multi-Oscar winner Deakins is one of the best in the world (as well as being British) and his is an outstanding contribution.

Mendes has also brought his friend composer Thomas Newman on board.  I have to talk about this, with my own interest in film composition, but I don’t wish to be negative towards David Arnold.  I loved the Tomorrow Never Dies score (his first) and the Casino Royale score.  I liked the two songs he wrote for The World is Not Enough (one performed by Garbage and one by Scott Walker), but didn’t feel the score was a particular standout.  And I’m afraid that by QoS I felt that the series could use a new composer.

Not because it was bad, but because it seemed a bit by-the-numbers.  Daniel Craig’s Bond is quite serious and I love that – I think he’s come of age in Skyfall where he gets several witty lines to deliver deadpan.  But the portentous, standard action-movie score with lots of drums and the odd bit of electronic music and dance beats doesn’t, in my view, help.  I would like to see someone writing a Bond score that has a bit of a sense of humour.  It could really help to lighten up the films and thus create a better whole.

So I was happy to see someone else given a chance – someone even with a record of some fairly tongue-in-cheek stuff.  My first impression on seeing the film though, was a little bit of disappointment.  That Thomas Newman had come along and done the same generic action-movie score.

On repeatedly listening to the soundtrack album, I’ve changed my view a little.  Its a very impressively mastered and sequenced album – for a wholly instrumental film score recording – with some great cues.  I will re-evaluate when I go back.

But I long for John Barry’s sense of humour, lightness of touch and melody.  He had a standard way of scoring a film with a romantic theme, an action theme, the James Bond theme and sometimes one other.  The whole score was a variation on those themes.  I know that the composers aren’t trusted to write the theme song anymore, but its a shame their scores are so heavy-handed, and don’t seem to feature melody.

I do think that the score is one example of where Mendes, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson could have taken more of a risk and created a really classic 60s style score.  The film would only have benefitted overall from the lightness of touch.

Finally, I suppose, I should talk about Daniel Craig.  I love Daniel Craig’s Bond and he’s really growing into the role.  Yet I said earlier that I thought Timothy Dalton played a Bond closer to Fleming’s.

I think that The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill are both great films.  Surprisingly they’ve dated much better than Roger Moore’s films and much better than other films of a similar period.  But they are both flawed.  Both overlong and despite containing some undeniably exciting action sequences don’t pack the same punch as Daniel Craig’s films.  

Dalton’s Bond, in LTK in particular, is dark, broody and embittered.  He’s seen the murder of his best friend’s new bride, its re-kindled in him the wrath and the grieving he felt after the murder of his own wife (in OHMSS); he’s seen the torture and dismemberment of his best friend and governments seem happy to look away and not deal with it.  He’s in a fairly similar emotional place as Craig in QoS.  But the film is clearly not as tightly directed, not as beautifully lit or as beautifully dressed.

Dalton does bring one important characteristic that Craig doesn’t – self doubt.  Fleming’s Bond is almost insecure at times.  There’s a scene at the start of the novel, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, where Bond considers and rehearses different things he might say to the girl as he approaches her.  Craig’s Bond would never do that.  He might act first and regret it later, but you don’t ever get the sense of him wasting time thinking about what to do.

I think it’s at that level of vulnerability that Dalton as an actor would just edge out Craig for me.  Though I love everything else about Craig’s Bond and he is definitely far and above any of the other actors who have played Bond, for me.

Now the word on the street is that John Logan will be sole scriptwriter for Bond 24 (at least until someone is brought in to finesse the script closer to shooting – if so).  Logan’s an American, but he’s a brilliant writer.  There is no reason why he can’t deliver a great Bond script.  I just hope he brings it a bit back to basics.  I don’t want to know anything more about Bond’s character or his motivation.. we’ve got so many great elements in place, Q, Moneypenny, M, Bill Tanner, a great HQ (if they’re not back in the ghastly riverbank monstrosity – and really, they should use some artistic licence and decide its compromised and can’t be returned to).  But I want a classic score with big themes and some cheeky orchestration, I want a villain who is not just scary but genuinely terrifying.. I want Bond to be put in some situations he can’t smarm or gadget his way out of.  I want another great director (and I would very happily have Sam Mendes again) to supervise.

Skyfall… you’ve put all the ingredients in place, but you haven’t quite delivered.  I’m looking forward to Bond 24.  I’m already getting excited about it.  Don’t make me wait too long.  Don’t disappoint me.

10 Reasons why I love ‘The Living Daylights’

1)    John Barry’s score.  4 great themes, 1 great theme song and the last time ever we heard his trademark horn writing underscored by some beautiful orchestration.

2)    Timothy Dalton.  Not as tough and mean as he was to become as Bond, but still serious.  And along with Daniel Craig, probably the best actor to play Bond.

3)    The last Cold War Bond film.  By 1989 (the subsequent Bond film) the Berlin Wall had fallen and Perestroika was coming in.  But Bond was built for the Cold War.

4)    The Cello Ski Chase.

5)    That moment at the fairground in Vienna where Bond wins a prize for Kara by shooting three shots in a row.  Poor unsuspecting stall-holder.

6)    The first use of an Aston Martin since 1969.  Its a beautiful one too, understated compared to the slightly ‘bling’-y models of today.

7)    Aghanistan.  The Mujaheddin were exotic, the Russians the enemy.  How much has changed in 25 years.  But those scenes in Art Malik’s mountain home are truly beautiful and exotic.

8)    The final setpiece on the Hercules.  One of my favourite setpieces ever in any action film.  So good that Lee Tamahori ripped most of it off again for Die Another Day.  Genuinely edge of seat stuff.

9)    A-Ha’s theme song.  John Barry described the process of writing it as being like ‘playing ping-pong with three balls’.  But I love this tune.  It’s Bondian, but also a great tune (more than I could say for… )

10) “It’s all so boring here Margot, there’s nothing but Playboys and Tennis Pros.  If only I could find a real man.”

“I need to use your phone… she’ll call you back. Exercise control, 007.  I report in an hour.”

“Won’t you join me?”

“Better make that 2 hours.”

 

 

So they say that invariably the first Bond actor you saw is your favourite. I don’t know to what extent this is true.  I’m sure that if I had been around in the 60s and saw Sean Connery as James Bond in Doctor No or From Russia with Love, then that probably would have been the case for me (I saw Doctor No a couple of years ago at the BFI Gala screening and its easy to imagine how exciting and seductive that film must have been, in the early 60s).  I struggle to see how anyone, on seeing Bond for the first time in the mid to late 70s could have thought Roger Moore the most exciting, definitive Bond.

 

My first James Bond experience was Roger Moore.  It was 1985, I was 10.  My sister must have been at a friend’s on a Saturday night.  My parents decided to take me to the cinema to see the latest Bond film.  I knew nothing about Bond at all.  Before we went out, we were watching an exciting new show on television.  An action-man type called MacGyver was behind enemy lines, trying to escape, without using any guns (it was the first episode of that too).  I asked my parents what Bond would be like.  ‘A bit like this’, I remember them replying.

 

It was A View to a Kill.  I loved it.  Far more exciting than MacGyver.  This chap went to much more exciting places, had much bigger adventures, was far more attractive to women.  It inspired me enough to read a few James Bond novels (starting with Thunderball), watch a few TV specials.. get myself a bit more ready for the next one (because apparently the Bond fan got one new film every two years).. when it arrived, I was 12, a confirmed Bond fanatic, and about to watch my first Bond film as a fan.

 

So maybe that’s what they mean, when they say the first actor you saw is your favourite – actually, the first you see as a Bond fan.  Because my favourite is Timothy Dalton.  And it has been ever since I saw The Living Daylights early in 1988.  That was the film that made me buy every Bond-related book I saw (many of which I read out to my family until they were sick of it), the film that set me on my path of collecting, watching and reading every film, novel (even the Raymond Benson ones.  Thankfully there’re no more of them).  Dalton was the closest to Fleming’s Bond.  He wasn’t particularly suave, but had that animal magnetism and a physicality.  You’d be frightened if you bumped into him in a dark alley late at night.

 

I then had the joy of watching Licence to Kill, which I loved, and the desolation of waiting 6 whole long years, seeing Timothy Dalton playing Rhett Butler instead of James Bond, and then hearing he would do so no more.  I sat through the Brosnan years, always hoping the films would get better.. return to the Dalton-era realism.. it never quite did.  There were good bits, even in Die Another Day, but it wasn’t until Casino Royale a whole 16 years after Licence to Kill that I saw what I’d been craving all those years.  And Daniel Craig is great – possibly up there with Dalton for me.  I certainly think Casino Royale is a much better film, but I would have loved to seen Dalton in 5 films like that.  I guess the 90s just wasn’t ready for Tim Dalton as James Bond.

Carte Blanche, the new James Bond novel, by Jeffrey Deaver (my review)

In reviewing Carte Blanche, I’m going to be referencing all sorts of things Bond-related, from the films to Fleming’s Bond to some of the other literary versions.  I think its important to note, right from the start, that I’m a Bond fan (probably safe to assume, given my speedy reading of this).  But what sort of Bond fan?

My favourite book is Fleming’s OHMSS (along with Thunderball, From Russia with Love and Dr No);  My favourite films are Thunderball, From Russia With Love, Casino Royale; My favourite Bond actor… I always say Timothy Dalton, but its probably equal with Daniel Craig.  I’ve never read any Jeffrey Deaver before this, but every other Bond novel except for the last two Raymond Benson books, which I couldn’t bring myself to read – so horribly misjudged did I find the first few.  So that’s me.  That’s the context.

To get back to Carte Blanche, I enjoyed it enough.  It was a good read.  I expected Deaver to be a slightly more highbrow writer.  Highbrow?  Bond?  Well, yes.  Highbrow perhaps is the wrong word, but for all that Fleming’s stories were (and they were a product of their times), there was something very classy about his prose.  His attention to detail and use of language did put them a cut above similar (and more forgettable) stories of the day.  In the same way that John LeCarre writes such beautiful prose that its lovely to read, no matter what the subject.  Fleming could do that.  Kingsley Amis could do that too, and his Bond novel (as Robert Markham), ‘Colonel Sun’ remains my favourite of all the non-Fleming Bonds.  Faulks is a clever writer and he tried to do it.. but not hard enough.  And the fact that he wasn’t particularly a Bond fan showed.  John Gardner’s plotting and characterisation went a bit potty at times, but his prose was mostly elegant.  He is also a specialist genre-writer (The Secret Generations trilogy, being, I think, his best work and one that shows how well he understands the Spy Game).

The next thing I was looking for in Deaver was how English the story was?  Because there is no mistake that his English-ness is one of the things that has endured in Bond.  I don’t want to waste too much time on Raymond Benson, but this was where he came most terribly unstuck (Bond referring to people as ‘Cowboys’ and many more Americanisms, the Englishness being almost a parody).  This is where Deaver impressed me.  Careful, intelligent research – showing skills as a natural writer (which Benson wasn’t) and only occasionally succumbing to gingo-istic stereotype (Rugby, in particular lept out rather self-consciously).  In fact, this Bond feels very naturally English and very at home in London.

I should probably reflect on the plot [slight spoiler alert], which is very topical (read: will date easily), globe-trotting and almost features the complete distruction of the villain’s lair.  Just like… the films.  And this is where both Faulks and Deaver have disappointed me.  Given the opportunity to create a new literary Bond, they both appear to have followed the formula of the films.  This one has girls 1, 2, 3 (girl next door, victim, leading lady), evil henchman, villain’s lair… in fact more than that… this one is Licence to Kill.

Yes – my favourite Bond film between 1969 and 2005 – Hydte is Robert Davi’s Franz Sanchez, Dunne is Benicio Del Toro’s Dario, Jessica is Lupe Lamora (okay, he doesn’t sleep with Jessica), Isthmus becomes Cape Town, Cocaine becomes… recycling(?!).  Bond goes undercover, gets accepted as one of their own, someone who might become useful, eventually is revealed, henchman suspected all along… I almost expected the same dialogue (“You disappoint me Mr Bond”).  Only 1989’s LTK managed to be very Fleming-esque, even as a film set in the 80s (the decade style forgot) and yet Carte Blanche fails.

In fact most of the books that have tried to be like the films, even though they’re written by a carefully selected writer – don’t do it half as well as the films do (which are often written by committee in the end, with three writers having main responsibility).

So why do so many author’s fail in trying to write a literary Bond?  Fleming, of course, never had to stick to a formula and didn’t.  Although ‘The Spy who Loved Me’ is one of the most dreadfully mysoginistic books ever written, I love the structure (like the film ‘Under Siege’, Bond is an incidental character who appears about halfway in and makes life difficult for a bunch of hoodlum’s whilst coincidentally staying in an American motel one night).  He killed Bond off twice, had him married twice.. none of that can happen for someone writing a one-off novel.  They have to stick to the formula.

But they also try and write too much, in my opinion.  Fleming’s Bond never talked about sport, or about films, or about books, or about music (Deaver’s does all of these).  Perhaps that’s because Fleming himself wasn’t very interested in them, but it does help for Bond to be the ‘blunt instrument’ he was described as being.  Film’s can’t show us inside Bond’s mind.  Books can and so Faulks and Deaver have chosen to.  But that’s a mistake.  Fleming didn’t try most of the time.  His Bond was not romantic (as Connery could be).  Not particularly desperate to get women in to bed (as Moore seemed to be).  He just had a kind of raw animal magnetism.  Is it politically correct to write a character like that in the modern age?  Is the old Bond redundant in the modern age?  Is there even a need for new Bond novels?

I’ve frequently thought about all these questions and decided the answer to them all is no.  If Bond can’t be how he was then why continue him?  And when he isn’t, it loses something.  But then there was Licence to Kill.  And then there was Casino Royale.  Both great films, Fleming-esque and yet entirely a product of their times and ages.  If the films can manage to do this, then surely literature should?

A few quick responses to things you’ve already read about:

  1. Deaver is a car nut and a fan of Top Gear.  [Sighs]  Yes we get that.
  2. Bond drinks Bourbon instead of Vodka Martini.  Not strictly true as he does have one Vodka Martini, and when in America [in Fleming’s Diamonds are Forever] he quite got into Bourbon.  I don’t really have a problem with this.  This is where Deaver can, in my opinion, put his likes and expertise on to Bond.
  3. Yes there are gadgets [acceptable], and a version of Q [A British Asian Cricket-fan whom I quite liked].
  4. Its another re-boot.  Bond’s been re-tooled so many times now.  I’m not a big fan of re-boots.  I know you have to suspend disbelief quite a lot to picture someone who cut their teeth in WW2 and grew up through the Cold War still fighting in Afghanistan today, but readers (and watchers) are used to suspending disbelief.  The question is, is it more authentic to do that, or to have a Bond entirely bereft of those experiences.
  5. Current day setting:  See above.  If you can make it authentic then surely that’s better, but for me, Faulks’ was so wrong I’d rather have a modern re-boot that gets it right.  And they did that in Casino Royale.

Having said all that, I’d like to remind you of my earlier statements.  I quite liked Carte Blanche.  It was good fun.  There’s a lot worse thrillers out there [a lot].  And a lot better too.  In terms of Bond books it wasn’t a patch on Fleming (obviously), or Robert Markham.  It was better than Faulks, Benson and some of Gardner’s later ones.  When I’m reading a Bond novel its interesting to me which of the existing Bond actors I find myself picturing.  Is that a guide to which Bond the author had in his head?

I never pictured Roger Moore ever (although For Your Eyes Only is quite good, and quite Fleming-esque).  Occasionally flashes of Lazenby’s physicality might strike me in a fight scene.  I picture Dalton more in the better Gardner Books (Icebreaker, for example).. perhaps because I’m so used to seeing him in 80s garb.  Devil May Care was definitely Connery (but a late-era toupee-wearing Connery, like Never Say Never Again).  Carte Blanche was mostly Daniel Craig, with Connery appearing in all the cheesy moments.

That would draw the conclusion that he’s trying to do for the books what Casino Royale did for the films… but not quite succeeding.  And that is probably how I’d sum it up.