Monday, April 20, 2015

Cabot, Powell, and Faulks….Day 110 of Bond 365

Bruce Cabot
Bruce Cabot
Born this day in 1904
Saxby in Diamonds Are Forever

He was born Etienne Pelissier Jacques de Bujac in Carlsbad, New Mexico. He went to school at the University of the South in Tennessee and eventually wound up in Hollywood to be cast in several bit parts. Looking very much a leading man, he is probably best remembered as John Driscoll, the man who rescued Fay Wray’s Ann Darrow from King Kong (1933).

Around the same time that Cabot was auditioning for roles, his path crossed Marion Morrison, who most people will know as John Wayne. They both tested for the leading role in John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), however The Ringo Kid role went to Wayne. There were no hard feelings and the two men would star in 11 movies together.

Unfortunately, Cabot just never quite became an A-Lister celebrity. He died in 1972 of cancer.

Penguin release
Sebastian Faulks
Born this day in 1953
Author of Devil May Care

One Bond selection process I am curious about is how the Ian Fleming Estate reaches a decision on what author they commission to write a James Bond novel. I can understand the selection of Kingsley Amis, but I’m not sure about William Boyd and Sebastian Faulks. I have not read Solo nor Devil May Care as yet, so I’m basing my query on the pedigree of each author’s prior work.

Faulks was asked to write a novel commemorating the centenary of Fleming’s birth. Up to that point, Fauks had just finished researching and writing Human Traces, a story tracing the evolution of psychiatry in the 20th century. In Geraldine Bedell’s article “The Many Selves of Sebastian” (The Observer dated 16 March 2008), Faulks provides some insight: “I’d just finished Human Traces and it seemed ridiculous. You’ve just spent five years in a Victorian lunatic asylum and then you go on to James Bond. But I think their hope is they’ll get two markets. The more I think about it, the more I think it was clever of them, because the mismatch is intriguing.”

Sebastian Faulks
Writing in the same style as Fleming, Faulks set his story in 1967, which follows on the Fleming last novel, The Man with the Golden Gun. He omitted from consideration the stories from other continuation writers as well as all the films; his focus was entirely on continuing the characterization established by Fleming.

His approach to Devil May Care was successful, landing on the bestseller list quickly. It became one of the fastest selling novels and was received well by the critics. Although Faulks had stated he enjoyed writing the book, he decided that one book was enough. In 2009, Faulks received the British Book Awards Popular Fiction Award for Devil May Care. 

Nosher Powell, with gun
Nosher Powell
Passed away this day in 2013
Stuntman for From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Casino Royale (1967), You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Secret Life of Ian Fleming (1990)

Nosher Powell joins the small group of Bond alums who, in addition to acting and stunt work, was also engaged in a sport at a professional level. Powel had been a heavyweight boxing champion, winning a majority of fights during his boxing career. He was also the sparring partner to several boxers including Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali.

Powell worked on 13 Eon Productions films as well as two non-Eon films, which is quite a few, especially given the dangers and physical toll of working on that many Bond films. It’s quite an impressive testament to his abilities!

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