By Mark Coomer
Daniel Craig is Bond, but not the real Bond
The prefilm flap over Daniel Craig's portrayal of a blond
James Bond in "Casino Royale" has dissolved into
critical hurrahs. He is the best Bond since Sean Connery,
Although I'm in favor of giving Craig his shot at the
iconic character, the actor's looks would probably have
concerned not only novelist Ian Fleming, but his
fictional British spy as well.
That's because Fleming's Bond had a "habit of," in
Bond's own words, "taking a lot of trouble over details,"
describing his own penchant for this as "very
persnickety and old-maidish, really." He was referring
to his taste in food and drink, but he may as well have
enlarged the observation to include his fictional life.
That being the case, then, Ian Fleming was James Bond.
His people, even secondary ones, are defined with
painstaking care - their appearances, their quirks, their
characters and their clothes.
In "Casino Royale," femme fatale Vesper Lynd observes
of Bond: "He is very good-looking. He reminds me
rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold
and ruthless ..." When Bond examines himself in a
mirror, "His grey-blue eyes looked calmly back with a
hint of ironical inquiry and the short lock of black hair
which would never stay in place slowly subsided to
form a thick comma above his right eyebrow. With the
thin vertical scar down his right cheek the general effect
was faintly piratical. Not much of Hoagy Carmichael
there, thought Bond ..."
Therefore, Bond does not look like Carmichael, yet he
and Carmichael represent a type of male appearance. To
hone that category further, Fleming hoped actor David
Niven (presumably sans mustache) would play Bond in
the first Bond movie, a 1962 adaptation of his sixth
book, "Dr. No."
I have read in reviews of "Casino Royale" that Daniel
Craig, when asked by a bartender if he wants his martini
shaken or stirred, replies, "Do I look like I care?" or
words to that effect. The movie takes Bond back to the
beginning of his career, to a time when the man is still
"discovering himself" as one reviewer remarked with
That is a mistake. The character patterns of people like
Bond are ingrained at a much earlier stage in life.
In "Casino Royale," Fleming's first novel, a fledgling
Bond with only two kills to recommend his Double 0
status, is already as "old-maidish" in terms of his
personal tastes, if not in his affectations, as any
bachelor since Felix Unger.
"A dry martini," orders Bond, "One. In a deep
champagne goblet." Then, "Just a moment. Three
measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of
Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add
a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?"
He sips the product, then says to the barman,
"Excellent. But if you can get a vodka made with grain
instead of potatoes, you will find it still better."
Bond smokes too much, 3½ packs a day. But even here
he demands customized cigarettes, a "Balkan and
Turkish mixture made for him by Morlands of Grosvenor
Street," with "a triple gold band," that he carries fifty at
a time in a "flat, light gun-metal box." These he lights
with a "black oxidized Ronson."
When you enter the pages of Fleming's novels, you
enter a world layered with detail.
To Craig I say: Good luck, Mr. Bond. You will need as
much of it as your predecessors. Capturing England's
legendary secret agent is a tough assignment.