The Ideas Behind the Man: Ian Fleming

Ian Fleming was the important and famous creator of the James Bond series but most of his early life focused on his work developing the American Central Intelligence Agency. In 1941 Fleming worked with William Stephenson who was the director of British intelligence operations in the United States. The idea of setting up an American secret intelligence agency was an idea that Fleming had contemplated and he was more than wiling to help General Donovan in discussing his own idea. The COI eventually developed into the OSS and later involved into the intelligence agency known today as the CIA.

Fleming’s role in the American intelligence agency played a huge role in inspiring him to create the M16 British intelligence agency and secret agents such as James Bond. In 1953 Fleming wrote his first novel, Casino Royal. It is his first novel where Fleming develops the character of secret agent James Bond as he is introduced to the reader.

Fleming was inspired to create From Russia With Love (which you can watch online on through the time period in which he lived. The Russian intelligence agency used in his novel known as SMERSH was an actual anti-Soviet spy elimination and assassination program used by Russia during World War Two and the Cold War. SMERSH stands for the acronym “Smiert Spionam” that in English means “death to spies.” This group contained parts of the Gestapo and mob parts of Europe.

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In the later Bonds films by Fleming, an intelligence agency known as SPECTRE is introduced which stands for the “Special Executive for Counter Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.” The organization was an international crime group which also linked to the crime group SMERSH that contained parts of Gestapo and mob groups from Europe.

The same intelligence agency SPECTRE was used in the movie production instead of SMERSH. Fleming also got the idea of calling James Bond “007” from Fleming’s time with the British navy. The navy used a Double 0 prefix in all of its top-secret coded signals that it sent out. Fleming created the slogan “licensed to kill” for James Bond’s job title as a device to interest the audience and gauge the character of Bond.

When Fleming’s second Bond novel was released, it received high praise from President John F. Kennedy as it appeared on his top ten favorite books, prompting it to appear on the list of famous British books and a must read. Kennedy convinced Fleming to sell the production rights to the novel so that he could make a great movie.

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Another sign that Fleming’s Bond film was a reflection of the times in which he lived was the post World War Two with the characters in his novel and portrayed in the film. Fleming was captivated by the Cold War Period which was marked by secret intelligence and spy networks on both sides of the Cold War. “From Russia with Love” depicts the spy intelligence and assassins of an independent intelligence agency. However, the scenes in the movie and in his novel depicting the training base came from live first hand knowledge of the subject with his work as a journalist. As Fleming once said, “I can trace most of the central incidents to real happenings.”