Le Carré trash-talks James Bond

Don’t know if you saw this in The Telegraph last week, but they resurrected a 1966 interview Malcolm Muggeridge did with David Cornwell (workname John le Carré), in which he called 007 a “neo-fascist gangster” and elaborated:

“I dislike Bond. I’m not sure that Bond is a spy. I think that it’s a great mistake if one’s talking about espionage literature to include Bond in this category at all,” Le Carré said.

“It seems to me he’s more some kind of international gangster with, as it is said, a licence to kill… he’s a man entirely out of the political context. It’s of no interest to Bond who, for instance, is president of the United States or of the Union of Soviet Republics.”

Asked now about the interview for a programme to appear on BBC Four next week, he eased up a bit, but still had to say:

“But at the root of Bond there was something neo-fascistic and totally materialist. You felt he would have gone through the same antics for any country really, if the girls had been so pretty and the Martinis so dry.”

Oh, lighten up, Francis! We get it! We know Bond is a silly Hugh Hefneresque fantasy, and we know you are the gold standard for real spy fiction (although Len Deighton has occasionally given you a run for your money, such as in The Ipcress File). And we get that it was probably pretty galling in ’66 that everybody was talking about Bond when you were putting out such gritty stuff as your masterpiece, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

Anyone ever notice how, if you watch an early Bond movie after seeing Austin Powers, you realize Mike Myers was hardly exaggerating at all? It was all really that goofy.

But here’s the thing that concerned me the most about the Telegraph piece:

Bond has become a Hollywood hero, but Smiley may have the last laugh. While financial woes at film studio MGM have put the 23rd Bond movie on indefinite hold, a new film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is planned for 2012 with Gary Oldman and Benedict Cumberbatch in starring roles.

Remake “Tinker, Tailor”?!?!? Possibly the best thing ever made for the telly (closest competition being “Band of Brothers”)? Sacrilege! I mean, it’s like Anna Chapman trying to cash in on her celebrity after being blown. In either case, Smiley would be appalled. Gary Oldman is awesome and all (I sort of see him as Karla, though, who does not appear in Tinker). But let’s have a little respect. Maybe instead you could do The Honourable Schoolboy, which got skipped in the original BBC productions.

2 thoughts on “Le Carré trash-talks James Bond

  1. Brad

    Speaking of Anna Chapman — she’s the very first confirmed spy I can remember seeing in my lifetime who seemed to fit with the Bond image of female spies. Which, of course, is what she’s cashing in on. (Unless you count Marina Oswald as a spy. She was kind of a babe. Lee Harvey should have assumed she was on assignment, because she was sure out of his league.)

    Anyway, Anna sort of reminds me of what Len Deighton’s protagonist thinks after meeting his new assistant in The Ipcress File: “It was fine; she was fine, my very first beautiful spy, always presuming, of course, that this was Jean Tonneson’s card, and presuming that this was Jean Tonneson. Even if she wasn’t, she was still my very first beautiful spy.”

    And maybe Anna isn’t exactly beautiful, per se. But she’s eye-catching, largely because of that perpetual come-hither look she wears.

  2. Kathryn Fenner

    True dat about Mike Myers–a Second City alum and improv expert–Truth in Comedy–the more accurate you are, the funnier, in fact. Very little heightening is required to really send people into tearing-up laughter, if you start from a truthful base.

    It’s why Monty Python and the Holy Grail has ruined all subsequent Arthurian tales, and This Is Spinal Tap has made rock and roll posturing all the more ridiculous.

    (TIST is the funniest move of all time!)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *