The Gold(finger) Standard

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Longtime REHupan and TC contributor J.D. Charles and I could not be farther apart on various political, literary, and cultural issues if one of us resided in the Andromeda Galaxy. That having been said, apparently we’re both Ian Fleming fans as well as REH aficionados, and today Big Jim posted about how the two writers have fared cinematically at rehinnercircle:

Anybody who gripes about the Millius [sic] Conan flick really needs to sit down and read one of the classic Fleming Bond yarns then watch the movie “adaptation” featuring Connery or Moore. You will get down on your knees and thank CROM that Conan never had to undergo such drastic alteration.

In a word, no. Nein. Nyet. De gustibus non disputandem est — except in those emergencies where the “disputandem” part becomes unavoidable in the face of rampant absurdity. The Roger Moore Bond films are what they are (with the commendable exception of 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, into which screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson worked some relict Fleming-derived scenes), but Big Jim also mentions the Sean Connery era. From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball are, like diamonds, forever — launchpads for the modern action film, bravura exercises that imprinted themselves on Sixties popular culture almost as much as did the Beatles. More pertinently, the original creative team of Maibaum, Terence Young (or Guy Hamilton), Peter Hunt, Ken Adam, John Barry, and Connery himself succeeded brilliantly in adapting Fleming’s novels, whereas Milius couldn’t even be bothered to try with Howard’s Conan stories. Goldfinger and Thunderball are recognizable versions of the source material (note that Auric’s masterplan for the raid on Fort Knox is more ingenious and less logistically challenged in the movie than in the novel); Conan the Barbarian is an adaptation of nothing save a bit of “The Thing in the Crypt,” out-of-context signature moments from “A Witch Shall Be Born” and “Queen of the Black Coast,” and Milius’ Zen-surfing superiority complex. Kurosawa for retards. Karl Edward Wagner, an author Big Jim is on record as respecting, put it best: Li’l Abner versus the Moonies.


Were we ever to be the beneficiaries of an REH adaptation half as good as From Russia With Love or (the non-Connery) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, then I would gladly get down on my knees and thank Crom, while also asking him why he didn’t take out de Camp and Bjorn Nyberg with a couple of surgical strike thunderbolts for passing off an interventionist skydaddy bozo as the Cimmerian deity at the “climax” of The Return of Conan. Adaptations beat Austrian-accented travesties every time.

Some might ask, what about Connery’s accent? Fleming had his reservations (“that bleeping lorry driver”) when the actor was cast as Bond in Dr. No, but he was quickly won over to the point where he made his hero a half-Scot (James’ mother was Swiss) in You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun.