Literary Bond Vs. Movie Bond

September 27, 2017

As Danial Craig confirms he will reprise his role as James Bond, we take a look at the real James Bond; one crafted only in words and see how the style, tastes, vices and personalities compare between Ian Fleming's creation and the newest film. 

The dully-named James Bond, was a thinly veiled fantasy of the man Fleming wanted himself to be. With the success of the movies, it soon became recognised he was a man every man wanted to be. Bond was originally supposed to be, in Fleming’s words, “an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened.” Thus, Fleming chose the most boring name that he could find – James Bond, the American ornithologist who wrote the Birds of the West Indies field guide.

 

What Does Bond Look Like? 

Daniel Craig is an instantly recognisable celebrity, his "rough, ex-boxer" features lend themselves to this new era of a tough, hard, brutal Bond. In the novels he is far from this image. In Fleming’s adventures, he stands six feet tall, weighing 168 pounds. He parts his black hair on the left, unable to maintain a thick comma that falls over his eyebrow. He has blue-grey eyes, and a vertical scar across his right cheek. After his mission at Casino Royale, he has a permanent scar on his right wrist, inflicted by a Russian SMERSH assassin to mark him as a spy. The assassin’s mark was removed in a later novel, but a scar from the plastic surgery operation remains. Appearance-wise, Fleming often likens Bond to American songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. 

 

Hoagy Carmichael was Ian Fleming's vision of what James Bond looked like. 

 

 

What Does Bond Where?  - Saville Row Vs. Tom Ford

Ian Fleming took an almost perverse pleasure in detailing his heroes likes and dislikes, leaving no doubt on his pages regarding what James Bond was drinking, eating, shooting and most of all wearing. The most commonly described outfit in the novels is a dark blue tropical worsted suit, white shirt, black knit tie, and black casual shoes. All his suits are made by an unnamed Saville Row tailor. Differing greatly from Fleming's personal choice of Benson, Perry & Whitley, which was located at 9 Cork Street in Mayfair.

 

 

Dinner suits make a few appearances in Casino Royale and Diamonds are Forever to name a few but aren't nearly as common as the movies have us believe. 

 

"As he tied his thin, double-ended black satin tie, he paused for a moment and examined himself levelly in the mirror… He looked carefully round the room to see if anything had been forgotten and slipped his single-breasted dinner-jacket coat over his heavy silk evening shirt. He felt cool and comfortable. He verified in the mirror that there was absolutely no sign of the flat gun under his left arm, gave a final pull at his narrow tie and walked out of the door and locked it. "

 

Ever since Quantum of Solace, Daniel Craig has almost solely sported Tom Ford custom made suits. These suits are a hybrid of cuts and ideologies. They are British Cuts, slim and fitted with 1960's fitting trousers. Materials however are Italian weights, for a light feel. To add to this multicultural mix, the patterns are again often British. With Prince of Wales checks and London pinstripes making an appearance. 

 

 

In The Country - Wind-cheater Vs. Barbour 

 

Bond, both literary and film versions, are men at home in the outdoors. In the Fleming novels, Bond carries out assassinations requiring several days hike in the North American wilderness dressed as a hunter. His go-to sports/outdoor garb seems to compromise of his “aged” black golf windcheater from Goldfinger, worn over a white Sea Island cotton collared shirt, long-sleeve sweater, and “old fashioned” smooth cloth ski trousers with a pocket. He protects his face and neck with a dark red silk bandana handkerchief, and he wears ski goggles and large leather gauntlet ski gloves with a cord worn through the sleeves of his sweater. Naturally, he wears a pair of ski boots, fastened into place with ankle straps. He keeps warm with the long but ugly woollen underwear he donned for his disguise as Sir Hilary Bray.

 

Craig's Bond too has a nod to outdoor heritage when he sported a Barbour Tokito jacket in Skyfall. A heavy, canvas waxed jacket made by legendary British brand Barbour. Twinning it with an N.Peal teal cashmere sweater and brown scarf. Squeezing himself into a medium sized coat to give that, custom tailored look. This coat was a limited edition and as soon as it was identified as a "Bond Item" prices soared. Barbour however have reissued initially as "Dept.B" and later "The commander". A stylish coat that will last a lifetime and more. 

 

Vices - Smoking Vs. Drinking 

One of the trademarks of James Bond is that he has his vices and admits to them. Literary Bond mirrored Ian Fleming in being a strong smoker of custom made cigarettes. Up until the films of the mid-90s and Craig era, Bond was portrayed as a smoker. 

 

Fleming issued Bond with a wide, flat gunmetal cigarette case, typically kept in a hip pocket, with fifty cigarettes of a custom Balkan-Turkish tobacco blend. The cigarettes were made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor Street in London, and they are casually referred to as “Morland Specials”. Each cigarette has three gold bands near the tip, signifying Bond’s RNVR rank of Commander. He carries a black oxidised Ronson lighter that takes a fair bit of abuse on missions and becomes increasingly described by Fleming as “battered” but consistently works supporting Bond’s sixty-a-day habit. Bond often tests his lighter a few times before placing it in his pocket, this appears to be something of a personal habit for Bond. 

 

   Literary Bond's brand of choice were Custom made Morland cigarettes                            Craig's Bond has one staple tipple and it ain't cheap

 

Daniel Craig’s more athletically-orientated Bond has avoided tobacco in every form, with Craig himself giving up a lifelong smoking habit to stay in shape for the role ever since Casino Royale pre-production. His Bond has another more prominent vice...alcohol. His Bond is always trying to drown out the pain he has been through and uses alcohol as a crutch to do so. He readily admits to it in SPECTRE in interview at the Hoffler Klinik. 


Craig's Bond has ditched the Vesper cocktail ever since Quantum of Solace where he "enjoys" six of them on the flight to South America. Ever since then Macallan Whisky has become his premium spirit of choice, over long established "cliches" like Bollinger and Smirnoff vodka of the Brosnan era. Macallan 18 -Sherry Oak is the Bond whisky of choice, prior to Skyfall only whisky aficionados had heard of it, now it is hard to find at a good price. I bought 3 bottles in 2012 for £110 each, now they are selling for £345 a bottle. This whisky is extremely smooth, fruity and easy to drink and well suited to Craig's Bonds persona of "get drunk and forget fast". 

 

Food - Scrambled Eggs Vs. Caviar 

If there was ever a signature dish in the James Bond literary world it is scrambled eggs and bacon on toast. Bond enjoys this on several occasions in various novels. Fleming even went to the extent of putting a recipe in the novel Live And Let Die, Bond instructs the hotel room service in the intricacies of his preferred method of preparing his eggs:  

 

For four individualists:

12 fresh eggs
Salt and pepper
5-6 oz. of fresh butter
Chives or fines herbes

 

Break the eggs into a bowl. Beat thoroughly with a fork and season well with salt and pepper. In a small copper (or heavy bottomed saucepan) melt 4 oz. of the butter. When melted, pour in the eggs and cook over a very low heat, whisking continuously with a small egg whisk.

 

While the eggs are slightly more moist than you would wish for eating, remove the pan from heat, add the rest of the butter and continue whisking for half a minute, adding at the same time finely chopped chives or fines herbs. Serve on hot buttered toast in individual copper dishes (for appearance only) with pink champagne (Taittinger) and low music.

 

Craig's Bond is far less of a food fanatic, often plumping for a drink or pills rather than food. In the films post Casino Royale, we don't even see him eat. In the few scenes in Casino Royale we do see him eat, he is obviously trying to cement himself as Bond by carrying out the Bond cliche of caviar on toast points.

 

The lack of foodie scenes for Craig is actually in his favour, fitting in well with his athletic persona of Bond and that food is nothing more than fuel. Literary Bond is far more of a gourmet, having three square meals a day and sometimes a fourth late meal. All dishes are overtly fancy, with what would at the time, have been exotic ingredients to the war-torn readers of 1950s Britain. 

 

Bond's Cocktail -  Americano  Vs. Vesper

We all know the line..."Vodka Martini...Shaken, not stirred". A movie line that has no basis in the novels. Still it sells a lot of vodka at the promo events. Despite the films immortalising Bond’s preference for the “shaken, not stirred” vodka martini, the literary Bond shows one solid preference and that is for straight whiskey.

 

While he absolutely drank martinis, made with either gin or vodka, he also imbibed in a variety of classic cocktails including; Old Fashioned's, Vodka Tonics, Gin & Tonics, and Negronis. However there can only be one true Bond cocktail... The first drink Bond consumes in the first novel, Casino Royale, was an Americano. 

 

Americano Recipe

1 1/2 ounces Campari

1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth

3 ounces soda water (or club soda, as needed to fill glass)  

Garnish: ​lemon twist or orange slice

 

Craig's Bond can take credit for making famous one of Ian Flemings personal creations. In a single scene of Casino Royale we were introduced to the Vesper Martini. A drink that is strong, dry and somewhat timeless. As a result sales of Gordon's Gin and Kina Lillet soared. The recipe literally said word for word from the novel put it in the minds of all cinema goers and became the big drink at parties all that year. 

 

Vesper Recipe As Written in 1952

3 Measures Gordon's Gin 

1 Measure Stolichnaya Vodka

1/2 Measure Lillet 

 

Now, here's the tricky bit...

 

Lillet, a herby aperitif, has been out of production for quite sometime. When it has been reintroduced it has changed recipe to suit various drinking habits. The bottle you see on the shelves or in videos of "How to make a vesper" are Kina Lillet, which is not the same flavour as when Fleming penned the recipe. There are various tricks to make it taste similar, as best we can guess, but the best and easiest way is to switch it out totally. Instead use Cocchi Americano in the same ratio. This has been unchanged since the late 1890s and was an Italian clone of Lillet. 

 

 

Sport  -  Golf Vs General Fitness

 

          Literary Bond Was a keen golfer                                                           Craig's Bond - Swimming and Running (Skyfall Movie & Teaser Trailer 2012)

 

In the books Bond was a keen golfer, knew several courses and he was quite a sportsman in general , engaging in golfing, skiing, and swimming over the course of the novels. Fleming played as a 9-handicap, and not surprisingly that is also the handicap to which Bond played. 

 

This was a hard one, for we could find nowhere in the Craig era movies that promotes Bond as a sportsman. The parkour opening is discounted as it's not parkour but just a foot chase that happens to use parkour. We defined "sport" as an activity that had rules. Other than poker he doesn't partake in any sports. We therefore listed it under general fitness, all of which are solitary, cardio pursuits. 

 

Know Bond Better

Read the books. They don’t need to be read in order, but you should certainly start with Casino Royale, considered to be one of the best of the series and a classic work in its own right.  At the very least delve into Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which are considered the top three Bond works in the series.

 

 

" I Don't Intend  For Bond To Be Likeable. He's A Blunt Instrument In The Hands Of A Government.

He's Got Vices And Few Perceptible Virtues. "

 

- Ian Fleming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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