RARA-AVIS: On James Bond and noir

From: Channing ( filmtroll@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 22 Aug 2007

I've been re-reading the Ian Fleming James Bond series and I was inspired by the discussion here of whether or not Bond was noir. Fleming is writing in the hard-boiled tradition, but the main difference is that Bond is a WINNER. Bond smokes 70 cigarettes a day, drinks like a sailor (although only the good stuff... no cheap rotgut for M'sieur Bond) and he always falls for a dangerous woman, all good noir traits. But in Casino Royale Bond wins the big baccurat game, and that's when I realized he was not noir, despite what else goes on in the books.

However, Bond is definitely Hard-Boiled. I know he's got his designer suits, his slick cars and his special martini he invented, but in most of the Bond books he takes a beating. Whether it's in the excruciating torture scene in Casino Royale, or the Endurance Test in Dr. No, Bond goes through hell in the novels and pays the price physically and psychologically.

Fleming's style is very readable and the books are enjoyable thrillers. I'm having a ball re- reading them 15 years later in the swank Penguin edition nostalgic covers with the hot chicks and guns on them.


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