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Topic: The Man with the Golden Touch

I recently came across a book called The Man with the Golden Touch: How the Bond Films Conquered the World, written by Sinclair McKay, in a local bookstore. It's about the Bond films, and it looks quite good. I wasn't able to buy it, as I was only browsing, but I was wondering if anybody else has read it and whether they would recommend it.

Last edited by Dan Same (23rd Feb 2009 14:47)

"He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. and then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory." Death of a Salesman

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

I've browsed it, it's very readable especially for a 30something (so not you DS!) but for ajbers maybe a bit of a busman's holiday, ie you could read me or Hardyboy or WG or jetsetwilly waffling on in much the same way, you don't need to buy a book for that, you can get it here! Seemed quite opinion based if I recall.

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

Thanks. Yeh, you're probably right. I don't go to that bookstore that often, so if I were to get it, it would have been greatly out of my way; which means you have saved me a trip. ajb007/biggrin

"He’s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that’s an earthquake. and then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you’re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory." Death of a Salesman

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

Yes. Well, one of the things about making it as a celebrity is that in later life you happen upon photographs of yourself alongside people you simply never remember meeting. Or so I'm told.

Likewise, you can happen upon an post almost exactly a decade ago that you simply never recall writing. I picked up The Man With The Golden Touch at a knockdown price, and it really is very good, one of the best books about Bond ever written imo.

Now, I can sort of see why I dismissed it, as it's sold as a sociological study of the films, or rather exploring the fashions and trends that influenced them along the years, and we'd had some of that in the fairly recent coffee table book The Legacy, that came out at the same time as DAD. But really, this book is just an excuse by McKay to write his brilliantly witty reviews of the films. I know we can all do that, but this is highly readable.

In many ways it's a follow-on from John Brosnan's excellent book James Bond In The Cinema, which came out in 1971 and had a follow up a decade later I think, taking us up to Moonraker. Of course, Sinclair McKay has a name that sounds like a Bond villain, or even Moore's character in The Persuaders.

I like his book because he's clearly a fan of Roger Moore and is roughly of the same generation as me, having grown up with him. This makes a pleasant change, and I'd certainly recommend this book for Moore fans such as Higgins. However, it may be possible I don't need to.  ajb007/amazed  For among this book we have two references to Dalton's moist eyes, or misty eyes, to which Higgins often alludes... Could it be that our German friend is in fact the Scottish Sinclair McKay himself, and is simply pretending to be German in order to send us dispiriting, Lord Haw-Haw messages about Brexit??   ajb007/biggrin

One great description is of Louis Jordan in Octopussy 'less a wicked Afghan prince, more a petulant French hairdresser trying to persuade Madam into having a perm.'   ajb007/lol

Photographs in the book are unofficial but all the better for it as there are some rarities here, such as the FRWL cast at a premiere, with Lotte Lenya gazing up at Connery with an expression of delight that we never see in the film, of course. Some info I'd never known before, such as Len Deighton being in on very early drafts of FRWL, albeit briefly.

Though I agree with McKay a lot on stuff, he really hates Thunderball more than any other Bond I think, but his reasons are interesting. He points out that it may be because it wasn't really Fleming based, so lacks that sense of the bizarre. And he may be right, because much of the quirky Bondian stuff in it - the gadgety Aston Martin, the Jet Pack, Fiona in her catsuit on a black motorbike, even the Spectre meeting room and setting, inc the manner of the traitor's demise - are from EON and not from the novel which, if adapted from straight, would most likely be just another a humdrum action film.

McKay also chooses Brosnan's TWINE as the one he really likes, as I do, but does hold back from totally trashing DAD, which appears somewhat suspect; writers tend to do this with more recent films to avoid looking too miserable or negative in a way that might deter fans.

Anyway, it's well worth a read and it takes us up to Craig's Casino Royale. Apols to Mister McKay for having doubted him (or indeed Higgins if it turns out to be really you all along!   ajb007/lol  )

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

I have the book and really like it. It is not the most in depth history of the Bond franchise but it is a nice read nonetheless.

1. Ohmss   2. Frwl   3. Op   4. Tswlm   5. Tld   6. Ge  7. Yolt 8. Lald   9. Cr   10. Ltk   11. Dn   12. Gf   13. Qos   14. Mr   15. Tmwtgg   16. Fyeo   17. Twine   18. Sf   19. Tb   20 Tnd   21. Spectre   22 Daf   23. Avtak   24. Dad

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

Napoleon Plural wrote:

Though I agree with McKay a lot on stuff, he really hates Thunderball more than any other Bond I think, but his reasons are interesting. He points out that it may be because it wasn't really Fleming based, so lacks that sense of the bizarre. And he may be right, because much of the quirky Bondian stuff in it - the gadgety Aston Martin, the Jet Pack, Fiona in her catsuit on a black motorbike, even the Spectre meeting room and setting, inc the manner of the traitor's demise - are from EON and not from the novel which, if adapted from straight, would most likely be just another a humdrum action film.

No, Thunderball is definitely Fleming-based. It's a far closer adaptation of Fleming's novel than of the Whittingham/McClory screenplay. And the Spectre meeting and execution are in fact from the novel. Were the novel adapted straight it would have much greater characterization than the film, but its plot would still be the same. McKay is merely trying to rationalize his dislikes.

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

Revelator wrote:
Napoleon Plural wrote:

Though I agree with McKay a lot on stuff, he really hates Thunderball more than any other Bond I think, but his reasons are interesting. He points out that it may be because it wasn't really Fleming based, so lacks that sense of the bizarre. And he may be right, because much of the quirky Bondian stuff in it - the gadgety Aston Martin, the Jet Pack, Fiona in her catsuit on a black motorbike, even the Spectre meeting room and setting, inc the manner of the traitor's demise - are from EON and not from the novel which, if adapted from straight, would most likely be just another a humdrum action film.

No, Thunderball is definitely Fleming-based. It's a far closer adaptation of Fleming's novel than of the Whittingham/McClory screenplay. And the Spectre meeting and execution are in fact from the novel. Were the novel adapted straight it would have much greater characterization than the film, but its plot would still be the same. McKay is merely trying to rationalize his dislikes.

But wasn’t the novel based on the screenplay and earlier screen treatments worked on by Fleming, Whittingham, McClory and even Ivar Bryce?  Several of the key plot elements did not originate from Fleming, particularly the techno-terrorism.   

For his stories, Fleming usually drew from personal knowledge of WWII, the Cold War, (smuggling, International and American crime organizations via paid research), Jamaica and of course his own travel experiences. 

TB stood out for being comparatively modern and of course the centrality of the Bahamas was McClory-centric.  Arguably, OHMSS followed suit in the TB vein with the SPECTRE cadre, though everything else that followed TB reverted back to the said stock Fleming elements.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

superado wrote:

But wasn’t the novel based on the screenplay and earlier screen treatments worked on by Fleming, Whittingham, McClory and even Ivar Bryce?  Several of the key plot elements did not originate from Fleming, particularly the techno-terrorism.

The novel borrows several basic plot elements from the screenplay/treatments (such as hijacking the bombs in air), but still has a different plot line--summaries of the Whittingham/McClory material are included in the appendix of The Battle For Bond book, and reading them should dispel anyone's idea that Fleming just novelized the script.

For his stories, Fleming usually drew from personal knowledge of WWII, the Cold War, smuggling, International and American crime organizations (these via paid research), Jamaica and of course his own travel experiences.

Yes, and Thunderball is no exception. The Shrublands sequence (entirely Fleming's) was inspired by his own experiences. The Disco Volante's underwater hatch derives from Fleming's WWII knowledge, and Spectre (whose first mention in writing is by Fleming) derives from his knowledge of international and American crime organizations. Even the Bahamas scenes are based on Fleming's knowledge of the island, gained from visiting Ivar Bryce and his own mother there. And Domino herself is a classic Fleming heroine, miles away from the obnoxious Gaby of the screenplays.

Last edited by Revelator (30th Mar 2019 03:15)

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

I can't praise this book enough. It's certainly my favourite of all the non-fiction books out there. Some Kind of Hero was beset by annoying typos and came across rather dry with a making-of for each film. McKay's book, on the other hand, is always amusing and interesting. I recently made my dad read it - he likes the films, but not a massive fan - and he thoroughly enjoyed it. I must have read it three times, excluding all the times I dip into it to read about a film I've just seen.

My Top 10 Bonds: Octopussy, Goldeneye, From Russia With Love, Tomorrow Never Dies, Licence to Kill, For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights, Moonraker, Goldfinger and The Spy Who Loved Me.

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

Revelator wrote:
superado wrote:

But wasn’t the novel based on the screenplay and earlier screen treatments worked on by Fleming, Whittingham, McClory and even Ivar Bryce?  Several of the key plot elements did not originate from Fleming, particularly the techno-terrorism.

The novel borrows several basic plot elements from the screenplay/treatments (such as hijacking the bombs in air), but still has a different plot line--summaries of the Whittingham/McClory material are included in the appendix of The Battle For Bond book, and reading them should dispel anyone's idea that Fleming just novelized the script.

For his stories, Fleming usually drew from personal knowledge of WWII, the Cold War, smuggling, International and American crime organizations (these via paid research), Jamaica and of course his own travel experiences.

Yes, and Thunderball is no exception. The Shrublands sequence (entirely Fleming's) was inspired by his own experiences. The Disco Volante's underwater hatch derives from Fleming's WWII knowledge, and Spectre (whose first mention in writing is by Fleming) derives from his knowledge of international and American crime organizations. Even the Bahamas scenes are based on Fleming's knowledge of the island, gained from visiting Ivar Bryce and his own mother there. And Domino herself is a classic Fleming heroine, miles away from the obnoxious Gaby of the screenplays.

There’s no doubt about the Fleming elements in the various iterations of TB, obviously, but neither can his collaborators’ input be negated, resulting in a story with an observable departure from Fleming’s usual fare particularly if the documentation (and not necessarily the conclusions) of The Battle For Bond book is to be believed.  Of course, the material differences in contributions were the subject of their contentious court case that allowed McClory to assert his legal ownership literally for the rest of his life.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: The Man with the Golden Touch

superado wrote:

There’s no doubt about the Fleming elements in the various iterations of TB, obviously, but neither can his collaborators’ input be negated, resulting in a story with an observable departure from Fleming’s usual fare

They can't be negated, but the truth remains that Fleming selected what ideas and concepts he liked from the material and left behind or transformed what didn't suit him. So I don't think the idea that TB is somehow un-Fleming has much merit, and I don't think the book has many departures from Fleming's usual fare--it's not as if Fleming hadn't handled storylines with nukes before (MR and GF) or techno-terrorism (Dr.No's missile fiddling). In any case, McKay's contention is problematic, like several of his other opinions.