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Martinis, Girls and Guns: 50 Years of 007 Paperback – 28 Nov 2003
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About the Author
Through their relationship with Eon Productions, Gary and Martin have an open invitation to visit the set of each new Bond movie. Gary's father knew 'Cubby' Broccoli and Sean Connery, and Roger Moore is a family friend. Martin conducted a major interview with Pierce Brosnan on the set of The World is not Enough. Martin and Gary have co-authored Cary Grant: In Name Only and Morecambe and Wise: Behind the Sunshine.
Top customer reviews
The books title is apt as it covers fifty years of James Bond, almost to the day. The first chapter deals with Ian Fleming sitting down to write Casino Royale in 1952 and the last chapter highlights the start of production on the 20th James Bond film, Die Another Day, with details from the press event at Pinewood Studio’s on January 11, 2002. These two events are spaced 50 years apart, bar one day.
In approaching the book in such a fashion the authors have presented a history of the world of James Bond, both literary and cinematic. With Fleming’s works overshadowed by James Bond’s cinematic incarnation, it is refreshing to find a book that still deals so heavily with Fleming.
The books chronological format highlights how those involved in the world of James Bond were influenced by events and other people. For instance, Fleming appears several times throughout the book, and not just in the first chapter, with his film set visits, his first meeting with Sean Connery, his legal turmoil with Kevin McClory and subsequently Jack Whittingham and finally his death.
This style is applied to all aspects of the James Bond world and gives Martini’s, Girls and Guns: Fifty Years of 007 a unique feel. While James Bond: The Legacy had a similar approach the two books are vastly different and actually compliment each other. ‘Legacy’s approach tended to highlight social influences of the Bond films and present some unique pictures ‘Martinis’ presents the history of James Bond without presenting many pictures. Sadly, the lack of unique pictures is a downfall for the book as Bond fans worldwide always appreciate ‘fresh’ pictures.
At times the book is argumentative and there are some unique moments when it is obvious that the authors, and sometimes their sources, disagree. However, these disagreements only add to the books quality. For instance, the authors present the notion that Fleming’s legal case with McClory was the one of the major contributing factors to his death, whereas Sir John Morgan, Fleming’s stepson, believes this to be untrue. The unique material supplied by Sir John is definitely one of the books strong points.
Sometimes, however, the book does lean too heavily on other people’s opinion. This mostly occurs when the authors quote other ‘Bond book’ authors. While a random quoting isn’t ever a problem it did, at times, feel that there were just too many references to past publications. The authors could have easily posed the same arguments and points in their own words.
Overall, Martini’s, Girls and Guns: Fifty Years of 007 is a gem of a book for the history of the world of James Bond, both cinematic and literary.
From the introduction, it is made very clear that the authors have strong opinions, which makes for entertaining reading even for those who disagree with the views presented. For my part, I felt that the authors are too euphoric about two things: the Dalton Bond films and the current state of the Bond novels. I thought that the recently updated BOND FILES was more on the mark regarding the latter.
As for the research underlying the book, my main complaint is that the authors are too liberal in their use of quotation marks. They provide a bibliography (albeit one that concentrates on books rather than magazine articles), but, in keeping with other factual Bond books, they rarely supply specific sources for quotes, numbers, etc. Nevertheless, there are several cases where I can compare quotations in the book attributed to Bond cast and authors with those in the original source books and articles, and in many cases the quotes are not exact. The authors make heavy use of interpolation, editing, and paraphrasing of quotations, which does not change the meaning of the quotes, but does make the use of direct quotation marks inappropriate. For example, the authors present quotations from books by John Brosnan and Roger Ebert, and leave out words without indicating that they have edited the excerpts. Another example is on pages 221 and 334, where two quite different versions of the same statement by Roger Moore are presented.
While, on the whole, I was impressed with the factual content of the book, there are some errors. Dates are a particular problem. For example, on page 49, the authors say that the tape for the 1954 CASINO ROYALE teleplay was discovered in the “late 1980s” (it was in fact 1981). One of the contributors to the THUNDERBALL storyline, Jack Whittingham, died in 1972, not “the late 1970s” as claimed on page 81. In addition, the authors fall into the trap of not adjusting box office grosses from different Bond pictures for inflation. This leads them to suggest, for example, that DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER beat YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE in box office performance, which is not correct once account is taken of the over four years of inflation that took place between the releases of the two films. And the authors appear to provide an incorrect number for the gross of LIVE AND LET DIE. There are also some misspellings of names and landmarks. But, frankly, I was surprised at how few clear mistakes there were in the book’s 352 pages, and do recommend it.
The main problem that I have with this book, and the reason why I have only given this book 3 stars, is that the writers let their own personal opinions influence their writing style too much. For example, certain movies such as Octopussy, the 2 Timothy Dalton efforts and Pierce Brosnan's contributions are barely faulted at all. Even Madonna's theme tune to Die Another Day is praised.
Meanwhile Never Say Never Again is dismissed as having fewer entertaining moments than just the title sequence of Octopussy. The unofficial Bond film is not considered to be half as bad as the writers here make out and the man behind it, Kevin McClory, is portrayed as being a mad man.
This book is still well worth a read but take the writers' opinions with a pinch of salt.