Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bond, Wrong Bond

James Bond might be a great spy, but there are a few things that need to be corrected.  Simply put, James Bond is wrong about quite a few things.  I’m not talking about such trivial things as his age.  (According to the original novels by Ian Fleming, Bond would be the oldest patient in the world slowly dying of multiple social diseases.  Hell, the man ended WWII as a Commander in the Royal Navy.  He has to be crowding 100.)

Let's start with what he drinks.  "A vodka martini, shakennot stirred."   Say this to any movie fan, and they will instantly know you are talking about James Bondthis is his signature drink.  But if you say this to any competent bartender, he will know that you just ruined your drink.

There are two ways to mix a drink and get it cold enough to enjoy:  either use a cocktail shaker with ice or add the ingredients to a pitcher of ice and stir.  It is NOT two ways of doing the same thing.  A shaker is the perfect tool for blending fruit juices with alcohol while a pitcher is perfect for blending two or more kinds of alcohol together.  For a vodka martini, stir 30 times and pour.  Want to be a British effete spy/snob?  Demand a silver cocktail stirrer.   Better yet, ask for a Baccarat martini glass.  Then toss the drink back and throw the glass into a fireplace.  This should cost you no more than $145—that’s about $5 for the drink made correctly and $140 for the glass.  Somewhere in the bar, a Russian spy will wet himself.

In total, Bond has 35 martinis during the 12 novels and two collections of short stories.  Of these drinks, 19 are made with vodka and 16 use gin.  Ignore these and just read the first two books in which Bond reveals his real favorite drink—the Vesper Martini.  It is a strange little drink made with both gin and vodka.  The drink never makes it to the large screen, as it turns out that Bond is a little mercenary.  In the first movie, Smirnoff paid the producers to drop the ginfrom that point on, his martinis were either all gin or all vodka.

With the drinks taken care of, let's talk about his car.  In 1963, the Aston-Martin DB5 was one hell of a car.  The style, the break-through engine, the roar of the exhaust...  God, every teenaged boy in America tried in vain to get his mother's Oldsmobile to drive like that silver bullet.  But that was 50 years ago, and while James Bond may never get any older, he needs to ditch the old jalopy.

Cars have changed: that ancient DB5, even if it were in perfect condition, couldn't keep up with a Dodge Minivan driven by a soccer Mom.  My aging Toyota pickup could beat it off the line, accelerate faster, has a better top end and--most importantlycan do something that the Aston Martin could never, ever do even when it was new: make a turn.  Unless 007 were driving down a completely straight, long road (any highway in New Mexico would qualify) then he could never catch my mother's Oldsmobile.

Ian Fleming may have got that whole double-0 business wrong, too.  The original 007 was Dr. John Dee, a seventeenth century secret agent for Queen Elizabeth I.  Dee was a mathematician, a philosopher, a tactician and quite probably the first master spy for England.  He signed his correspondence to the queen with the double zeros to indicate that he was the queen's eyes and the 7 was a cryptic cabalistic symbol.  It doesn't mean a license to killit's a postmark.

Next, James is packing the wrong heat.  His rod.  His gat.  His heater.  Let's face it, the man carries a sissy gun.  In the original books, 007 started out carrying a .25 caliber Beretta 418 automatic.  Christ on a Popsicle stick--what the hell was Ian Fleming thinking?  Did Bond have a license to kill house cats?  Shitmy 92 year old Aunt Gertie packed more serious heat.  A .25 automatic is... not even a good girl's gun.  It's just barely a gun.  The puny slug from this Italian popgun has been stopped by shirt buttons!

Eventually, an astute reader told Ian Fleming that his super-spy was armed with the ballistic equivalent of limp spaghetti.  In Dr. No, M demanded that Bond trade in his dinky little .25 for a more lethal weapona Walther PPK chambered in 7.65mm.  Now that is a real and proper ladies gun.  While I admit that the gun is a huge improvement over the smaller is still a gun that is the firearms equivalent of riding a motor scooter--while you might have a lot of fun, you sure hope none of your friends see you doing it.

Lastly, (and my apologies to Sean Connery) but James Bond is not who or what you think he is.  Who played the very first James Bond on the screen?  No, it wasn’t George Lazenby, David Niven, Bob Holness, or even Bob
Simmons.  All of these actors have played Bond, but they weren't the first.  Nor was the first portrayal of James Bond even on the big screen.  He was a television star first, then he was on the radio, and only then did he made it to the theaters.

In the early fifties, CBS had a weekly show called Climax! Mystery Theatre.  On October 21, 1954, Barry Nelson starred as James Bond in an episode called Casino Royale.  Le Chiffre, the villain was played by Peter Lorre.  While the small screen black and white version is—at best—laughable, there is absolutely no doubt that it is the very first James Bond production.  James Bond is an American!


  1. Chuck, my friend and bartender, concocted two Vesper Martinis last night. Wow! This was a cocktail that tasted better as you drank it--understandable since after consuming more than one it might be possible to enjoy drinking turpentine. If Bond enjoyed these on a regular basis, it is impressive that he didn't wrap that DB5 around a lamp post.

    The drink reminds be of that old ditty:

    Girls, Beware the noble martini.
    Drink two at the very most.
    Drink three and you're under the table.
    Drink four and you're under the host.

  2. Hey, don't sell that DB5 short. You mom's Olds (and my dad's Rambler) didn't have hydraulic rams built into the bumpers to get out of tight parking spots, or an oil slick generator in the trunk. And what teenage boy wouldn't like the machine guns sticking through the grill? I'd still like to have a set of those babies.

    Really, half the fun in the Bond movies was waiting to see him use all the toys Q would outfit him with.

    1. Come to think on it, by the time Dad got rid of that 1959 Rambler the motor itself was an oil slick generator.

  3. Come to think of it, I had a '61 Galaxy that could put up an impenetrable smoke screen.