Tuesday, 4 February 2014

"Fleming; The Man Who Would Be Bond" BBC America, 4 part miniseries, review

Well, the title says it all. This is enjoyable codswallop. Much like the films. The fun is to try and spot the links with the movies/novels e.g. martinis, exotic locales, playing chemin de fer with abandon, starains of Monty Norman's original James Bond theme in the score, the red leather door on the boss's office, Miss Moneypenny/Monday character in naval intelligence ("Why Monday, I don't know what I'd do without you!" exclaims Fleming). But it really is incredibly cheesy and surprisingly dull and predictable in parts. The first scene lost me with the too modern-cut red bikini worn by Ann Fleming (1952?).
This fluffy mini-series looks great, is mercifully short (each of the 4 episodes only 42 minutes) and Dominic Cooper (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) is suave but far too good looking for the hawk-nosed author/bon vivant.
Episode 3 features the phrase "licence to kill" as well as a heavy dose of sado-masochism.
Clunky dialogue: "this bloody war" "You're playing with fire"... and exclamations like, "Surely the Germans won't take Paris!" I can imagine "The Guardian" reviews now....
I rather enjoyed the final episode, though. Fleming anticipating the Cold War, his shenanigans in the Tambach fortress (blurring the lines between fact and fantasy), the exploding pens/micro cameras and Ken Adam inspired set in the opening scene. Later I spotted the fabulous glass ceiling in the German lab, last used in NBC's "Dracula".

If you want a more accurate tale full of booze and bitchery, seek out the docu-drama "Ian Fleming: Bondmaker" (2005). In this version the Flemings fought constantly. Ann Fleming had an affair with the then Labour Party leader.
The 1956 film of  "The Man Who Never Was" is also recommended (see Episode 3).

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