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.