James Bond Expert John Cork on the History of James Bond in Novels and Film overview image

James Bond Expert John Cork on the History of James Bond in Novels and Film

  • Post Date5/3/2013
  • AuthorBeth Watkins
  • Reading Time2 minute read

One of the highlights of our spring exhibit Unconventional Bond: The Strange Life of Casino Royale and Thunderball on Film has been collaborating with experts and aficionados across the country. The exhibit marks the first time that the Museum has coordinated exhibits thematically with two other campus institutions. The Museum has joined the Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music in celebrating the publication of Ian Fleming's first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, with a series of exhibits and events called "The Birth of Bond: Ian Fleming's Casino Royale at 60."

Through the connections of University alum and Ian Fleming collector Mike VanBlaricum, we have also expanded the geographical reach of the celebration all the way to, appropriately enough, Hollywood. As part of the Bond film festival we hosted in April, we were thrilled to welcome James Bond historian John Cork. Cork is a member of the Ian Fleming Foundation and has worked on many of the documentary features on DVD releases of the Bond films. Cork’s entry on the Internet Movie Database (external link) is a staggering list of credits of writer, director, and/or producer on projects about Bond films, with titles like Inside Q’s Lab, James Bond in the Bahamas, and Designing Bond: Peter Lamont.

In addition to introducing the five films shown in the festival— Thunderball, Never Say Never Again, and all three versions of Casino Royale—Cork gave two public lectures on the incredibly complicated stories behind the making of these films. The first lecture told the history of Casino Royale, which twists and turns from the first Bond novel in 1953. It makes a quick stop in television in 1954 (yielding the first-ever filmed version of Bond, which was made for CBS and depicts a very American-sounding spy called "Jimmy Bond"), then bounces, for legal reasons, to the wildly psychedelic 1967 feature film, before being reborn in the canonical version released in 2006 by EON Productions. EON has made all but two of the Bond films, beginning with Sean Connery in Dr. No.

The second lecture, from which these video segments are taken, focused on the versions of the plot of Thunderball. The history of the making of Thunderball and the similar Never Say Never Again is almost as unbelievable as some of Bond’s more elaborate missions, involving many different movie-world personalities, multiple countries, mindboggling sums of money, the return of Sean Connery to his most famous role, and more lawsuits than anyone can count. Watch the clips to enjoy Cork’s wonderful storytelling style, explaining and enlivening the complicated backstory of these famous films. And keep an eye out for how often he checks his notes: a mastermind indeed!

  • Ian Fleming's purpose in writing the James Bond novels
  • Technology in the Bond novels and films