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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Just finished re-reading TMWTGG novel and enjoyed it quite a bit.  Short and sweet. This one has aged quite well, whereas other more highly acclaimed Fleming works are a bit rough in sections. In a way I could say the same about the film, not particularly well received upon release but quietly held its ground over the years and is better than ever in 2019.


The Fleming purist might say, "The film is totally different from the book!" but I have to side with the filmmakers that they took some choice bits of the novel and elaborated on them:

The Golden Gun -  Not much more than gold plating on a regular gun, but in the film one of the coolest and iconic enemy gadgets.

The third nipple-  Not a factor in the book, but used to great effect in the film with Bond's bold move to pose as Scaramanga.

Other modifications like changing the location from Jamaica to Thailand were a big improvement, considering we have already been to Jamaica in Dr. No.

The film also manages to retain a fair amount of Fleming almost verbatim from the novel. Scaramanga's backstory with the circus and his elephant and his routine of making love to improve his aim before a kill.

Overall, I love the film version, but find the novel well worth reading and a good introduction to the literary Bond. Cold showers, loves breakfast and smokes 25 cigarettes a day.

"Please don't try to follow me"

1. GE 2. MR 3. TSWLM 4. GF 5. DN 6. TND 7. TMWTGG 8. OP 9. TWINE 10. AVTAK

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Also Goodnight's line about Q Branch and the buttons down the back of her dress (somewhat modified). Felix is in the book, and it's a shame he wasn't included in the film, too.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Barbel wrote:

Also Goodnight's line about Q Branch and the buttons down the back of her dress (somewhat modified). Felix is in the book, and it's a shame he wasn't included in the film, too.

Good call. I highlighted those bits but forgot to mention them.

“Something’s that tight in all the right places. Not too many buttons”

“The buttons are down the back. This is standard uniform for a tropical station.”
“I can just see Q branch dreaming it up. I suppose one of the pearls had a death pill in it.”

"Please don't try to follow me"

1. GE 2. MR 3. TSWLM 4. GF 5. DN 6. TND 7. TMWTGG 8. OP 9. TWINE 10. AVTAK

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Firemass wrote:

Just finished re-reading TMWTGG novel and enjoyed it quite a bit.  Short and sweet. This one has aged quite well, whereas other more highly acclaimed Fleming works are a bit rough in sections. In a way I could say the same about the film, not particularly well received upon release but quietly held its ground over the years and is better than ever in 2019.

but how does the book compare to the second half of License to Kill?
Michael Wilson denies License to Kill has anything to do with Man with the Golden Gun, and he's as official as it gets.
Yet plot point by plot point, once Bond arrives in Isthmus City, License to Kill parallels Bond's pursuit of Scaramanga through Jamaica much more closely than the Roger Moore movie.

Firemass wrote:

Other modifications like changing the location from Jamaica to Thailand were a big improvement, considering we have already been to Jamaica in Dr. No.

Jamaica was also used for the locations in Live and Let Die even though the dialog calls it something else, theyd never use the same exotic foreign location for two films in a row (unless it was Italy).

They were planning on adapting the book as early as the mid60s, did they have all these changes in mind then?

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Not all, but locating in Asia rather than Jamaica was always the plan. Cambodia was an early thought, though that was changed.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

caractacus potts wrote:

but how does the book compare to the second half of License to Kill? Michael Wilson denies License to Kill has anything to do with Man with the Golden Gun, and he's as official as it gets. Yet plot point by plot point, once Bond arrives in Isthmus City, License to Kill parallels Bond's pursuit of Scaramanga through Jamaica much more closely than the Roger Moore movie.

Wilson also said that Licence to Kill was partly inspired by Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, which involves a samurai playing two gangs against each other. In the same way, Bond pursues and manipulates Sanchez by turning him against his allies. Kurosawa was later copied by Sergio Leone, and Kurosawa himself admitted to copying the concept from one of Dashiell Hammett's books (either Red Harvest or The Glass Key).

A second consideration: though Wilson denied TMWTGG's influence on LTK, Richard Maibaum might have thought differently. Though Maibaum was prevented by the writers' strike from working on the final draft, the film was entirely plotted by him and Wilson.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

It's Red Harvest, Revelator. While The Glass Key does have some similarities, and Kurosawa himself mentioned it as an influence, the thrust of that later book is much more on friendship and relationships with the characterisations being stronger and the writing subjectively better. Red Harvest by comparison is thinner on characterisation and more plot driven, as is the case with its film adaptations- in none of them is there a relationship comparable to that of Ned Beaumont and Paul Madvig, which is central to The Glass Key. (I had to look up how to spell the names  ajb007/biggrin )

You make a good point about Maibaum. It can't be a coincidence that the names of the main villains of TMWTGG (Francisco Scaramanga) and LTK (Franz Sanchez) are so similar. Bond and Scaramanga's relationship in the novel of TMWTGG bears more resemblance to Bond's relationship with Sanchez than in the TMWTGG film.

A later film called Last Man Standing with Bruce Willis credits Yojimbo but is much closer to Red Harvest in setting.

Nerd feature: John Barry wrote the music to a 1982 film called Hammett (a fictionalised version of the author's life, starring the very convincing Frederic Forrest) and it's very film noir- https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=jo … ORM=VRDGAR
Well worth checking out.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

thanks fellers

yeh Red Harvest is quite literally the story of the Continental Op arriving in the thoroughly corrupt town of Poisonville and systematically pitting the rival gangs against each other until the town was safe again.

I've seen it claimed (by latter day commentators) as an inspiration to Yojimbo a few times, but did Kurosawa ever acknowledge it? it would make sense, Kurosawa did some modern film noir type films before settling into his long samurai groove.

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

caractacus potts wrote:

They were planning on adapting Man with the Golden Gun as early as the mid60s, did they have all these changes in mind then?

Barbel wrote:

Not all, but locating in Asia rather than Jamaica was always the plan. Cambodia was an early thought, though that was changed.

you know if they had filmed it in Asia in the mid50s, and were already intending to change Fleming's plot, they coulda just given Scaramanga the hollowed out volcano headquarters, and left You Only Live Twice alone

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

caractacus potts wrote:

you know if they had filmed it in Asia in the mid50s, and were already intending to change Fleming's plot, they coulda just given Scaramanga the hollowed out volcano headquarters, and left You Only Live Twice alone

They'd have had enormous difficulty filming TMWTGG at that point...  ajb007/biggrin





(Sorry, I can never resist  ajb007/embarrassed )

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

caractacus potts wrote:

I've seen it claimed (by latter day commentators) as an inspiration to Yojimbo a few times, but did Kurosawa ever acknowledge it?

According to Wikipedia, "Kurosawa stated that a major source for the plot was the 1942 film noir classic The Glass Key, an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's 1931 novel The Glass Key. It has been noted that the overall plot of Yojimbo is closer to that of another Hammett novel, Red Harvest (1929). Kurosawa scholar David Desser, and film critic Manny Farber claim that Red Harvest was the inspiration for the film; however, Donald Richie and other scholars believe the similarities are coincidental."

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

Just finished reading Goldfinger (for the second time) and have to say the film took the source material and ran with it.

I have to give Fleming credit for creating an excellent story and cast of characters. It's all here: Goldfinger cheating at cards, The Aston Martin, Oddjob, Pussy Galore, Fort Knox, the girl being painted gold. 

Here is my list of major changes that were an improvement:

1.  The golf game goes from a boring play-by-play account to something that's actually fun to watch. Also they make film-Bond the clever one, instead of him simply "playing golf" while the caddy comes up with a way to guarantee victory. 

2. In the novel Tilly Masterton is a very dull, cold, unlikable character and has little impact on the plot. In the film, she is still annoying but at least they had the sense to kill her off quickly.

3. Oddjob's demonstration of smashing furniture in Goldfinger's house is more comical than menacing. The hat demo in the film is much better. In general the film gives more for Oddjob to do and more people to kill.

4. Film actually gives Bond and Oddjob a chance to fight. In the novel this was a big letdown that they never squared off despite Bond taunting him the entire time. (He keeps calling him an "Ape")

5. Film thankfully removes Goldfinger's ties to Russia/SMERSH.  Nice to have at least ONE Connery film where he isn't up against Spectre or a bigger organization.

6. Film actually takes the action inside Fort Knox.  (Or at least an brilliant artist rendition of what it might look like)

7. The novel gives Pussy Galore very little dialog or scenes. She has an annoying gangster accent and has no reason to side with Bond. Then inexplicably drops the gangster talk and stops being a lesbian at the last minute. In the film they at least gave her more to do being a pilot and spending some quality time with Bond.


Tie:  Goldfinger's briefing drags on way too long in the novel and the gangsters are given too much dialog, while Bond simply does nothing except take notes. I find it highly unlikly Goldfinger would have kept Bond around especially after he lunged at him earlier.
The film still struggles to find SOMETHING for Bond to do in the second half and fails to explain why Goldfinger gasses the gangsters. (In the novel he actually did need them) So I'd say this is roughly a tie. At least in the novel, Bond's note for help is received whereas in the film it comes back to him via Mr. Solo (which makes Bond even more useless)


Overall I'd say the novel is a must-read for any Bond fan to see the frame work of what many consider the quintessential Bond film.

"Please don't try to follow me"

1. GE 2. MR 3. TSWLM 4. GF 5. DN 6. TND 7. TMWTGG 8. OP 9. TWINE 10. AVTAK

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Re: Films that are better than the Novels they were adapting?

The biggest improvement in the film of Goldfinger is the decision to irradiate Fort Knox to increase the value of Goldfinger's personal holding. The plan to rob it in the novel would be highly impractical - as 007 himself points out in the film. Plus the threat of an atomic explosion and the countdown gives the climactic scenes of the film a wonderful sense of urgency.

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."