Topic: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

I recently contributed an article [https://literary007.com/2016/12/31/it-r … fany-case/] to Artistic Licence Renewed arguing that Tiffany Case is Fleming's best female character. I won't reprint the whole thing here, but I will summarize my main reasons.

First, she's funny and tough. There's more humor in Tiffany's wisecracks than there is in the first three Bond books put together. She's happy to talk back to Bond and she brings out his latent humor too, as in their long discussion about love on the Queen Elizabeth. "So you're one of those old-fashioned men who like sleeping with women. Why haven't you ever married?" she asks. Bond says he hasn't found his ideal wife, "Somebody who can make Sauce Béarnaise as well as love," and Tiffany says "Holy mackerel! Just any old dumb hag who can cook and lie on her back?" Later on she sends to Bond's cabin a bowl of sauce and a note from the chef saying: "This Sauce Béarnaise has been created by Miss T. Case without my assistance."

Second, Tiffany has a complex character, shaped by inner conflict. She is a tough, independent operator but also has a suppressed vulnerability. In her first meeting with Bond, she's mostly cold and scornful ("Do you mind if I smoke?" Bond asks. "If that's the way you want to die" she responds), but after he leaves she wonders "about the man who had suddenly, out of the blue, found his way into her life. God, she thought to herself with sudden angry despair, another damn crook. Couldn't she ever get away from them?"
Because of a traumatic past, she is distrustful of men and afraid of being hurt. There is a poignance in seeing her inner struggle when she begins falling for Bond--we know Bond is not the type who would hurt her, but she can't be sure. This is demonstrated after their dinner in New York, when he takes her back to her hotel:

Then she turned in the entrance and faced him.
    "Listen, you Bond person..."
    It had started as the beginning of an angry speech, but then she paused and looked straight into his eyes, and Bond saw that her eyelashes were wet. And suddenly she had flung an arm round his neck and her face was against his and she was saying "Look after yourself, James. I don't want to lose you." And then she pulled his face against hers and kissed him once, hard and long on the lips, with a fierce tenderness that was almost without sex.
    But, as Bond's arms went round her and he started to return her kiss, she suddenly stiffened and fought her way free, and the moment was over.
    With her hand on the knob of the open door, she turned and looked at him, and the sultry glow was back in her eyes.
    "Now get away from me," she said fiercely, and slammed the door and locked it.

Bond has to prove himself to Tiffany, something he's never been called upon to do before. He realizes he must be more than a lover; his presence must also be be therapeutic. Occasionally he makes mistakes and upsets her by bringing up her relations with the mob, but he perseveres until they end the book on a note of happiness.

By contrast, Fleming's other female characters are less vivid:

* Vesper is one-dimensional, and only comes alive in the last quarter of the novel, when her desperation makes itself known.

* Solitaire is perhaps the most cardboard of Fleming's heroines. She begins as a damsel in distress and doesn't progress much beyond that.

* Gala Brand is more interesting--she's not impressed with Bond, being a true professional--but we don't see much of her character beyond her patriotism.

* Tatiana Romanova is a better character--we spend a couple of chapters looking at the world through her eyes and get a sense of her ordinariness and sense of vulnerability--but her personality isn't unique.

* Honeychile Ryder is a very good heroine, a child of nature whose innocence and determination come across vividly. She does however go through a "sex kitten" phase during her captivity in the mink-lined prison.

* Pussy Galore inherits Tiffany's gift for wisecracks, but doesn't appear long enough to become anything more than a lesbian caricature of Mae West. Tilly Masterton is better drawn, but Fleming's contempt for her limits her development.

* Domino is one of Fleming's very best heroines--fiery, wilful and vengeful (as we see in her destruction of Largo and "to hell with you" attitude) but also with a contemplative, wistful side (as we see in her long story about the Players cigarettes sailor).

* Vivienne Michel might possibly outrank Tiffany as Fleming's best heroine, but she has unfair advantage--she gets to narrate an entire book about herself! No wonder we get to know her character--fanciful, plucky, and a bit similar to Ian Fleming's to be honest, so well.

* Tracy di Vicenzo is basically a rewrite of Tiffany--a sensitive, depressive soul with a sad backstory and a hot-and-cold temperament--but she becomes less interesting after being cured by the psychiatrists.

* Kissy Suzuki is another of Fleming's best heroines: proud (witness her disgust with Hollywood racism), independent, and willing to take what she wants. Her keeping the amnesiac Bond might seem selfish, but can anyone deny that she gave him a good life?

* Mary Goodnight is sadly almost bereft of character--she's resourceful and a little bashful, and that's about all one can say about her.

But enough of my gabbing--who do you think Fleming's best female character is? Do my assessments do justice to your favorites? Do tell! And if you wish to comment on the article, please feel free.


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

Can't argue with any of that, Revelator, nice analysis. Yes, Viv is a more developed character but has basically a whole book about her so starts with a huge advantage as you say.
And I'd agree with your choice of Tiffany. One amusing quote I don't know if you've heard, from John Brosnan's James Bond In The Cinema:

"From Fleming's description of Tiffany Case she should have been played by someone similar to the young Lauren Bacall; instead [Jill St. John] comes across like Lucille Ball."


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

Thanks Barbel--I actually hadn't heard that quote before, but I agree, a young Lauren Bacall would have been terrific, or a contemporary actress like Tuesday Weld. Unfortunately the Mankiewicz/Hamilton Bonds suffered from a bimbo infestation. I'll have to read Brosnan's book someday.
The only movie Bond girls I'd consider superior to the originals are Vesper, Solitaire, Pussy Galore, and Tracy.


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

If the timelines had matched, I'd have gone for Kathleen Turner.

And once again, I agree re Vesper, Solitaire, Pussy and Tracy.

There are a few more characters you might like to consider, ie those from the short stories: Mary Ann Russell, Judy Havelock, Lisl Baum, Liz Krest....

Edit: should they ever consider incorporating Vivienne Michel and her situation when 007 meets her into a film, strangely enough I'd like to see Daniel Craig as Bond in this scenario. I'm not a fan of his Bond, as I've made clear on this site for many years, but I believe he'd be the right man for this particular scenario- unless, of course, someone finds a way to make Sean Connery 40 or 50 years younger!


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

Yes, I forgot about the short stories, which are full of strong women.
I know what you mean about TSWLM--Viv has to first assume Bond is a criminal, and Craig has after all played a mobster...


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

Revelator wrote:

But enough of my gabbing--who do you think Fleming's best female character is? Do my assessments do justice to your favorites? Do tell! And if you wish to comment on the article, please feel free.

An enjoyable read Revelator and something I've never thought about (best female character) but very pleased with your assessments as you gave my 3 favourites (Honeychile Ryder, Domino and Kissy Suzuki) a good rap.  ajb007/smile  ajb007/martini 

If I had to pick the best I would have to read the novels again as it's been many years since I've read many of them and as I haven't read 'The Spy Who Loved Me' I can't comment on Vivienne Michel.  In saying that the girl I remember the most is Kissy Suzuki - much better (certainly character wise) in the book than the film and the same with Honeychile and Domino.  It's possible I like them the best as YOLT, DN and TB are my favourite Fleming novels but I felt all three were strong and interesting characters.  So for me, Kissy Suzuki is my pick but not sure if she's the best.  However I liked the story and felt her and Bond had a nice connection.  I agree she was a bit selfish towards the end and I actually found the book (as much as I enjoyed it) quite sad to be perfectly honest. 

If I were Bond I would have pretended I had amnesia, married Kissy, gone diving and fishing every day, come home to a beautiful wife and some Sake (served at the correct temperature naturally) received a pension (for life) from the British Government and retired right there on Kuro - he even mentioned to Tiger it was a possibility.  But no, he'd prefer to be captured, tortured, beaten up, shot at, travel the world on boring flights waiting for hours in an airport and be paid a paltry wage.  Some people are never happy but each to their own. ajb007/rolleyes

I read your article you wrote to Artistic Licence Renewed right through.  Not only an excellent description of Tiffany Case but a brilliant comparison between the book and the film.  "It reads better than it lives" is about as apt as you could get so no need for me to elaborate any further and I'll keep my (derogatory) comments about the film for the relevant section.

Finally Lana Petanić is lovely.  Could only envision her playing a baddy though and not some bimbo.  ajb007/wink  ajb007/martini

"Everyone knows rock n' roll attained perfection in 1974; It's a scientific fact". -  Homer J Simpson

(previously aka OGG007)


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

Thank you for the very kind words OGG007. Kissy feels like a very underrated character--I don't think she's fully gotten her due from Fleming fans. Bond would undoubtedly have been happier leading a simple life with her, but perhaps he craved having danger in his life. But had it not been for that newspaper he might have lived and died in Japan.
Tiffany was badly let down by the movie, and almost no Bond girls stood a chance in that period. Between Tracy and Anya Amasova there were very few strong women in the Bond films (unless you want to count villains like Bambi and Thumper).


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

I agree. Its too bad they turned her into a dumb sh** bimbo in the movie.  ajb007/rolleyes


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

I'm a bit slow-witted. I finally thought to look up Les Feuilles Mortes, the song Tiffany is listening to when Bond enters her apartment. Turns out its the jazz standard Autumn Leaves!
the version she is listening to is a real record

Ian Fleming wrote:

Bond walked over to the gramophone and picked up the record. It was George Feyer with rhythm accompaniment. He looked at the number and memorized it. It was Vox 500. He examined the other side and, skipping La Vie en Rose because it had memories for him, put the needle down at the beginning of Avril au Portugal.
(PAN edition, pg 30-31)

of course we know the Fleming technique is to give us all these verifiable details, to persuade us he knows what he's talking about, before leaping into the outrageous stuff
here is the Discogs entry for the album, its actually called Echoes of Paris, 1953: https://www.discogs.com/George-Feyer-Ec … se/1680352
and somebody has uploaded the whole album on youtube
here is the side where Bond skips La Vie en Rose : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuQOacgb6vU
and here is the side with Les Feuilles Mortes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IBOERC6nyE

the scene in Tiffany's apartment is just about the only scene they even tried to adapt in the movie, even though they leave out the record. Maybe because Fleming's description of the scene is so vivid? It was also the scene illustrated on the cover of early PAN editions of the book


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

For more on this, see https://www.ajb007.co.uk/topic/45119/wh … listen-to/


Re: Is Tiffany Case Fleming's Best Female Character?

if they had scored that scene with a version of Autumn Leaves, even a new Barry arrangement, it would have taken on a whole different tone, perhaps more appropriate to Bond's grief following the death of Tracy
maybe they left it out deliberately because they were gong for a different sort of tone? imagine what they could have done with the movie instead of going all camp/decadent