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Topic: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

I was reading Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service when I spotted an interesting detail.
Consider the following lines on p. 155:


“Irma Bunt…waved a hand towards the crowded tables around them. ‘A most interesting crowd, do you not find, Sair Hilary? Everybody who is anybody…that is Ursula Andress, the film star…”


On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was published in April 1963. Eon’s film adaptation of Dr. No had been released the previous year in October 1962, while From Russia With Love was already in production to hit cinemas later in 1963.  Ursula Andress’ cameo appearance, therefore, must be intended as a tongue-in-cheek joke on Fleming’s part. Is this the only recorded example of a Fleming novel directly referring to the existence of the film series?  In the same book Fleming develops Bond’s Scottish family history, which some have argued is a reference to Sean Connery’s casting as 007, but this backstory might well also have been inspired by Fleming’s own Perthshire family roots. Ursula Andress’ appearance, on the other hand, has to be an unequivocal nod towards Eon’s Dr. No.


Ursula Andress’ cameo, while little more than a sly joke, does lead one to consider a wider point. A number of critical appreciations of the novels take pains to attempt to differentiate Fleming’s literary output from the Eon film franchise. Consider, for example, Ian Rankin’s introduction to the 2014 Vintage edition of For Your Eyes Only:


“The Bond you’ll find in these stories is…quite unlike any screen incarnation, at once more human and more complex…”


The implication is that Fleming’s original body of work and the Eon films are two distinct and separate creative visions of James Bond, and ought to be considered as such. However, Fleming’s OHMSS- written in 1962, published in 1963- undoubtedly must have been written with knowledge of the fledgling film series in mind. The end credits of Goldfinger, released in 1964, originally promised: “James Bond will return in Ian Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”  Therefore, it can plausibly be argued that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service stands as the only Bond novel written by Fleming with the implicit goal of adapting it into an Eon Productions James Bond film, as part and parcel of the ongoing Broccoli and Saltzman series.



What do others think of this assessment? Was Fleming’s writing in OHMSS heavily influenced by the development of the Eon series? Would more allusions/references to the Eon films, like Ursula Andress, have appeared in book form if Fleming had been able to carry on the series after 1964?

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

From memory Fleming was quite taken with Ursula and so gave her a name check in his
1963 Novel.

"I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

Along the right lines but not exactly what you're after-

This character

https://i.postimg.cc/w1H0qryR/Bernard-Horsfall-in-OHMSS.jpg

in OHMSS is named as Shaun Campbell, arguably a disguised nod to Sean Connery. Not named as such in the film version for obvious reasons.

In YOLT, both Noel Coward (alleged to have refused the part of Dr No) and David Niven (self-explanatory) get name checks.

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

SpectreOfDefeat wrote:

The implication is that Fleming’s original body of work and the Eon films are two distinct and separate creative visions of James Bond, and ought to be considered as such. However, Fleming’s OHMSS- written in 1962, published in 1963- undoubtedly must have been written with knowledge of the fledgling film series in mind. The end credits of Goldfinger, released in 1964, originally promised: “James Bond will return in Ian Fleming’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”  Therefore, it can plausibly be argued that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service stands as the only Bond novel written by Fleming with the implicit goal of adapting it into an Eon Productions James Bond film, as part and parcel of the ongoing Broccoli and Saltzman series.

Very interesting thought. I guess he wouldn't have been altering his approach to suit the films or anything, but it would be impossible that it wasn't in the back of his mind that it would become a movie, most probably starring Connery.
He was always pretty keen to get them adapted in some shape or form of course.

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

Fleming wrote On Her Majesty's Secret Service while they were filming Dr No in Jamaica.
He helped find locations and got friends of his jobs on the film, including Chris Blackwell.
He and three of his friends were walking along the beach when they interrupted the filming of Ursula Andress's big scene emerging from the water. There must be photos of that incident?
He commented on what was left out of the film (giant squid and migrating landcrabs).

He also visited the set while filming From Russia With love and argued about what was left out of that film (naked gypsy catfight), and I believe even visited the set of Goldfinger but did not live to see its release.

I think he had enough involvement in the first two films, they have to count as Fleming approved, therefor as canonical as the books.

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

Wasn't Noel Coward with him on the beach? Or is that apocryphal?

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

A little too much speculation while remarking on one sentence. Fleming was known for inserting sly references to people he knew  (ie. Ernie Cureo in DAF, Major Boothroyd in DN) and I think it is just another case of flattery.

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

Batman prod Dozier also had references to real people : Gothams mayor Linseed = then NYC mayor John Lindsay

I was watching the False Face show recemtly , radio man Leo Gore could be a reference to singer Lesley Gore - prolly not though

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

SpectreOfDefeat wrote:

...Therefore, it can plausibly be argued that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service stands as the only Bond novel written by Fleming with the implicit goal of adapting it into an Eon Productions James Bond film, as part and parcel of the ongoing Broccoli and Saltzman series.

What do others think of this assessment? Was Fleming’s writing in OHMSS heavily influenced by the development of the Eon series? Would more allusions/references to the Eon films, like Ursula Andress, have appeared in book form if Fleming had been able to carry on the series after 1964?

When Fleming made his deal with EON, did it include all future volumes not yet written or published, or just the books up til that point?

Moonraker, Dr No, most of For Your Eyes Only and Thunderball all began as proposed film or teevee scripts, before being repurposed as Bond novels once the deals fell apart. So they were all written with the goal of being filmed, just not as part of the eventual EON series.


I have no idea if Fleming envisioned a film as he was writing OHMSS (do his letters say anything?), but as there was an actual movie being filmed right outside his window he must have been influenced by that, every day as he sat down to write.
Matthew Parker's book Goldeneye – Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming's Jamaica describes this period in detail. Fleming was definitely in a good mood at the moment, having finally realised his longterm goal.

The skichases and Piz Gloria are all quite cinematic as written. And Fleming includes Bond's first meeting with Blofeld, culminating the SPECTRE plotthread just being introduced in the Dr No film.
On the other hand, the long romance with Tracy is not the sort of thing that should fit with an episodic thriller series, especially one celebrating casual sex (in the Dr No film Bond's very first onscreen action is to pick up a chick).

Were remaining books written with filming in mind? I dont see how Fleming could have ignored the inevitable adaptation. He travelled to Japan to research You Only Live Twice, and must have understood the appeal of the films at the time was travelogue (and he published Thrilling Cities round this time too). But the travelogue content was virtually the only content that made it into the film, the actual thriller plot proved unfilmable and much of the dialog was Bond and Tanaka debating philosophy and writing haikus. That content seems even more anti-cinematic than the romance with Tracy.

The Man with the Golden Gun I don't think he was even trying, he was so sick by this point. He must have known EON wouldnt be returning to Jamaica so soon after Dr No.

aside from OHMSS, the first thing Fleming wrote after the filming of Dr No was the Octopussy story, again unfilmable as written (nested flashbacks experienced by a man scubadiving to his death)


conclusion: based on his career up til that point, I think Fleming would have to be thinking of how the films would adapt any remaining novels he wrote: a film deal was always his plan, and we can see he nitpicked over relatively minor deviations in the two films released in his lifetime. But, those last couple of things he wrote almost seem written to defy filmability!


...also, this was already written of course, but the newest novel available once Dr No was released was the Spy Who Loved Me, which Fleming specifically refused EON permission to adapt!

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

emtiem wrote:

Wasn't Noel Coward with him on the beach? Or is that apocryphal?

from Raymond Benson's James Bond Bedside Companion, Part One: the James Bond Phenomenon

The first time Fleming visited the set of Dr. No, Terence Young was in the middle of shooting the scene in which Honeychile Rider (Ursula Andress) was coming out of the water onto the beach where Bond was hiding. Young's shot was ruined by four people walking down the beach towards the area. Young screamed and waved for them to lie down. The four men hit the sand and the remainder of the scene was shot. Half an hour later, Young remembered the men on the beach and sent someone to look for them. The men turned out to be Fleming, Noel Coward, Stephen Spender, the poet, and Peter Quennell, the author and critic.

published in 1984, Benson's research may be out of date. Lycetts's biography, Parkers Goldeneye book, and Flemings letters have all been published since then.


The chronology right round this period is interesting:
Saltzman and Broccoli commit to making a six film series with United Artists June 21 1961. At this point they think Thunderball will be their first film.
(Thunderball is most recent book to be published, and always intended to be a film.
The Spy Who Loved Me has already been written but not yet published)

Connery is hired October 1961. Fleming is is not immediately impressed with the casting.
(so when does Fleming decide to make Bond Scottish? as soon as Connery is cast, or later after he changes his mind about his suitability?)

The Living Daylights is written Oct 1961 (see this thread, post 17). Fleming knew the film series was going ahead. So could it too be written with adaptation in mind, or is it too introspective? (there's only one real set: a darkened apartment)

Fleming writes OHMSS in Jamaica Jan-Feb 1962 as Dr No is being filmed almost right outside his window.

The Living Daylights is published Feb 1962.

The Spy Who Loved Me published April 1962, to bad reviews and Fleming's subsequently insisting no paperback reprints and no film adaptation.
Yet when the film deal was established, this was the next book being currently worked on, so if EON  did have rights to any future novels, they must have assumed this would be one they would be adapting?
(two of those initial six films were novels not yet written when EON UA and Fleming made their deal, and tMwtGG was considered for adaptation during that period)

Fleming writes Octopussy summer 1962, then hides it in a desk drawer to be discovered after his death. So some doubts about his own writing while the long awaited film is still in production.

Also summer 1962 Fleming travels to Japan to research his next book, which again he ought to be assuming would be adapted by EON. Not sure if this is before or after he writes Octopussy.

Dr No film released Oct 1962.
Fleming writes YOLT Jan/Feb 1963.
OHMSS published April 1963.
Round this time Fleming visited Instanbul to witness the filming of From Russia With Love

Last edited by caractacus potts (3rd Jan 2021 22:24)

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Re: Ursula Andress in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963)

Good stuff, cp, enjoyed reading those.