"Was James Bond Really A Spy?"

sirsosirso Posts: 146MI6 Agent

"You Know My Name: Was James Bond Really A Spy?"

"In truth, Fleming was unambiguous about Bond’s role from the outset in Casino Royale. ‘The business of espionage could be left to the white-collar boys. They could spy and catch the spies. He would go after the threat behind the spies, the threat that made them spy.’"

https://literary007.com/2020/06/04/was-james-bond-really-a-spy/#:~:text=This%20is%20not%20to%20say,functionally%20with%20other%20intelligence%20agencies.

Comments

  • OrnithologistOrnithologist BerlinPosts: 555MI6 Agent
    "I'm afraid I'm a complicated woman. "
    "- That is something to be afraid of."
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,456Chief of Staff

    Kingsley Amis, who knew and wrote more about Bond than most, was clear that 007 was not a spy but a secret agent.

    On the British side, of course.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    but how to pronounce it? See Kurt Ay Junt?!!?

    and I think he repeats it in the next film "hey yoor thet See Kurt Ay Junt feller arnchoo bwah?"


    anyway the first chapter of Casino Royale is literally called "the Secret Agent"

    congregation please get out your hymn books and let your voices rise...

    Fleming wrote:

    Chapter 1

    THE SECRET AGENT 

    The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning. Then the soul-erosion produced by high gambling--a compost of greed and fear and nervous tension--becomes unbearable and the senses awake and revolt from it. 

    then towards the end of the chapter, as he checks the hairs he left on his briefcase and the level of water in his toilet tank...

    Doing all this, inspecting these minute burglar-alarms, did not make him feel foolish or self-conscious. He was a secret agent, and still alive thanks to his exact attention to the detail of his profession. Routine precautions were to him no more unreasonable than they would be to a deep-sea diver or a test pilot, or to any man earning danger-money. 

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,456Chief of Staff

    Good to know that I'm not the only one who has that opening practically memorised! 👍

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    sshh don't tell but I have them all on my hard-drive, I cant even memorise my own phone number!


    thats a good article linked to in the first post, nobody's really commented on it yet. Good quotes from a variety of competing authors and real life intelligence types. I think the gist is real spy work would be much too dull for the types of adventure novels Fleming wanted to write.

    But even once we define what bond's job is, we always talk about spy-fiction, spy-films, spy-mania, as a genre; that may be where the confusion comes in, nobody talks about Secret Agent Mania.


    question: from the article, where did this photo of Tatiana's faked passport come from? thats pretty cool. An actual film prop or some fan-project?

  • sirsosirso Posts: 146MI6 Agent


    I always thought "secret agent" was a term that was only used in novels. I thought MI6 just referred to "spies" and "assets". Spies being the people who recruit the assets, the latter being people who are initially untrained civilians who work in a country's government, or other high office, that the spies want to get information about.

    I thought for any "action missions" MI6 used a branch of the SAS called The Increment".

    Bond if he was real would probably be a member of The Increment".

    Inside the Increment - the unit of real-life James Bonds so secret Government won't admit they exist (thesun.co.uk)

  • emtiememtiem SurreyPosts: 4,775MI6 Agent
    edited March 4

    I always thought "secret agent" was a term that was only used in novels. I thought MI6 just referred to "spies" and "assets". Spies being the people who recruit the assets, the latter being people who are initially untrained civilians who work in a country's government, or other high office, that the spies want to get information about.

    I believe, and I'm far from an expert (or am I? That's exactly what a spy would say! 😁 ) they use the term 'officers' for anyone who runs 'agents'; agents being intelligence sources who aren't actually employed by the government but instead relay information. In the real world I think Bond would be more likely referred to as an SIS officer, rather than an MI6 secret agent as we know him.

    'Agents' in US parlance refers to the actual employees of their services, so it's different in different countries.


    I like the definition of Bond as a secret agent though: that definitely works. He's not a spy because he rarely goes undercover in order to obtain information, usually he's sent in to investigate and to take action to actually solve the situation. The term 'spy' suggests someone who just snoops about in order to get intelligence, and Bond doesn't really do that, and clearly does more than that.

  • 00730073 COPPosts: 912MI6 Agent

    A Spy:

    noun, plural spies.

    a person employed by a government to obtain secret information or intelligence about another, usually hostile, country, especially with reference to military or naval affairs.

    a person who keeps close and secret watch on the actions and words of another or others.

    a person who seeks to obtain confidential information about the activities, plans, methods, etc., of an organization or person, especially one who is employed for this purpose by a competitor:

    an industrial spy.

    the act of spying.

    I'd say he is not a spy. He is not even a case officer or a recruiter/runner. "As a secret agent, who held the rare double-0 prefix" (-IF Goldfinger, Reflections in a double bourbon), his work is quite similar to what is known about the DGSE Division Action, the chaps that sank the Rainbow Warrior, the similarities to Bond sinking 2 cabin cruisers supplying Castro with weapons in the Quantum of Solace is quite something.

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • sirsosirso Posts: 146MI6 Agent

    Correct. See also:

    "THE REAL 007S Inside the Increment – the unit of real-life James Bonds so secret Government won’t admit they exist"

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/15157602/the-increment-secret-unit-government/

  • Asp9mmAsp9mm Over the Hills and Far Away.Posts: 7,291MI6 Agent
    edited March 7

    The Increment is a fictional made up name for it. Section E does exist though, to a lesser extent.

    ..................Asp9mmSIG-1-2.jpg...............
  • danjaq_0ffdanjaq_0ff The SwampsPosts: 7,229MI6 Agent

    This is from a very limited run by ACACIA_AVENUE from quite a few years ago now.


  • 00730073 COPPosts: 912MI6 Agent
    edited March 8

    Correct me if I'm wrong: The members of the E sqn are not paid employees of the SIS per se, but are seconded to SIS when needed. Sort of like high quality "temp pool".

    Therefore calling E sqn members "real life James Bonds" is erroneous. The key here is, that in bureaucratic sense, James Bond is in full time payroll of an intelligence agency and ministry of defense, not of the army/navy. I'd wager that the byzantine nature of the British security apparatus has plenty of nooks and grannies to hide the so called real life 007s.

    One more thing: I will not go out on the limb and call The Sun "a rag", but if you read that article, and then the part that is portrayed as a quote from "Andy McNabb", you'll notice that it is almost word for word the same. The main body of the article has more fluff, but the "gen" is equal. Just saying...... 🙄

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Asp9mmAsp9mm Over the Hills and Far Away.Posts: 7,291MI6 Agent

    @0073. You’re correct, E Sqdn is just a secondment. The actual name of the RWW available to MI is made up of SRR, SBS and SAS, not just SAS. SRR is the only wing of the SF that have female operatives.

    ..................Asp9mmSIG-1-2.jpg...............
  • sirsosirso Posts: 146MI6 Agent

    So is the consensus that if Bond were real, he would not be a case officer, but more like someone in  E Sqdn? Albeit that  E Sqdn  is not part of MI6.

    MI6 case officers are trained in how to shoot a gun, but I suspect that is a skill very seldom needed in actuality.

  • Asp9mmAsp9mm Over the Hills and Far Away.Posts: 7,291MI6 Agent
    edited March 8

    I’d say the 00 Section is a similar setup to SOE, but a department or section within MI6 rather than an independent organisation. The best term for an operative within that department would be secret agent.

    In a more realistic setup today, Deaver probably got it right by creating a separate Govt agency based upon SOE. Although he called it the Overseas Development Group, ODG.

    ..................Asp9mmSIG-1-2.jpg...............
  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent
    edited March 8

    Whilst 'secret agent' is indeed the better fit, Vivienne Michel, in the title of her memoir, defines differently the occupation of the man who loved her. And killing that man falls within the remit of a certain enemy organisation whose self-proclaimed raison d'etre is 'Death To Spies'. I guess that, when embedded in a title, lyric or translated moniker, the monosyllabic word simply sounds snazzier than 'secret agent' would.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,551MI6 Agent

    That's a good point, Shady. "The Secret Agent Who Loved Me" doesn't have the same ring to it, does it?

  • Asp9mmAsp9mm Over the Hills and Far Away.Posts: 7,291MI6 Agent

    How about “The Operative That I Rather Fancied”.

    ..................Asp9mmSIG-1-2.jpg...............
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,551MI6 Agent

    Now that has a ring to it!

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    good points but...

    1. Vivienne Michel is hardly an expert, and Bond shouldnt have been telling her what he did for a living at all! He probably fudged some details. I think he said he's "a sort of police man".
    2. theres a language barrier with SMERSH and those Soviets may not distinguish these fine details. I dont see them telling Bond "oh youre a secret agent, not a spy? our mistake, in that case we'll let you live"
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,551MI6 Agent

    "Do you expect me to talk?"

    "No, Mr. Bond. We expect you to spy...err, we expect you to secret agent."

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent

    But you bet your life

    Every night

    While you're chasing the morning light

    You're not the only Overseas Development Group Operative out there

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,551MI6 Agent

    This could rival the Shakespeare thread!

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent

    Of course, Bond movies are often about the aesthetics and tensions of 'looking': witness what is possibly the 'telescopic sight' of the so-called 'gunbarrel' sequence or, say, the whole Miami sequence in GF, in which Bond spies on Goldfinger and gazes at Jill. So if the concept of 'spying' is broadened out from its espionage meaning to a more general sense of spectacle and spectatorship, Bond in the cinema starts to look like pure film.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • 00730073 COPPosts: 912MI6 Agent
    edited March 10

    ... so a "peeping tom" essentially? "You carry a double-0 number, it means you're licensed to peep, not to get peeped!... unless of course if you'd prefer to get back to standard intelligence duties?"

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent

    Honey: Are you looking for shells, too?

    Bond: No, I'm just looking.

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • 00730073 COPPosts: 912MI6 Agent
    edited March 11


    The best Jack Lemmon Tony Curtis collab ever, right there with the rest of the best movies!

    EDIT: Just realized, I mixed up beach scenes. For a brief moment I was sure that was a line from "Some Like It Hot"

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent

    Actually, I can imagine Tony Curtis delivering that line of Bond's (especially as Danny Wilde, while Brett Sinclair smirks and raises an ironic eyebrow...)

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • 00730073 COPPosts: 912MI6 Agent

    Sugar: Are you looking for shells, too?

    Joe: No, I'm just looking.

    "I mean, she almost kills bond...with her ass."
    -Mr Arlington Beech
  • superadosuperado Regent's Park West (CaliforniaPosts: 2,622MI6 Agent

    If it hasn’t been answered, I think this was from a publicity photo with Sean Connery.

    I recognized this photo from Steven Jay Rubin’s The James Bond Films.

    "...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....
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