Characters who need more screen time

Bill Tanner and Felix Leiter share a curse: there’s not much you can do with them. Or at least the way the writers who write the stories haven’t which is a shame. They always feel like a waste of great cinematic characters. It’s always focused on 007, M, Q and Moneypenny. We talk about how MI6 has helped 007 too much. I feel that it’s time for Felix and Tanner to get more in the field. If M could pull off her own movie (Skyfall) and his comic book storyand Leiter can handle his own comic book series, why give both characters screen time in the action with 007?
P.S I’m still waiting for May the housekeeper to make a cinematic appearance. I say wait until DC is done though. It can be a nice recurring character for the next 007 (with a more humorous portrayal in mind) to bounce off of. Like Q, Felix and Moneypenny.

Chew Mee.


And her screen time is exclusively been under Harris. Was little more than a cameo previously. I’d personally like to see Tanner get more to do, but I think that’s knowing what the characters relationship is with Bond in the books, and just how good an actor Kinnear is.

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Absolutely - Tanner is always hinted at in the CraigBonds to be important… and then he disappears from the films again. I don’t know why they cast Kinnear who is such a great actor and then they don’t use him appropriately.

Because Dench’s late husband was his godfather?

No idea if that’s how they got him, but there’s a bit of trivia you can take to a pub quiz.

Appearances from Bond’s housekeeper May, Sir James Molony and Ronnie Vallance would all have been welcome. Loelia Ponsonby was, basically, incorporated into the screen version of Moneypenny.

It seems to me that Leiter should have been portrayed in DN as already Bond’s friend, an ally from unspecified past adventures. A young Clint Eastwood, James Coburn or maybe Richard Bradford might have been more interestingly cast than Jack Lord. Of course, Eastwood and Coburn’s subsequent rise to fame in the '60s would have precluded either of them continuing in the role, although Man in a Suitcase Bradford might well have been available. Starting off with Van Nutter from DN rather than TB would also have been preferable.

The henchmen!

Just a scene to show us what makes them tick and maybe set something up that gives their run in with Bond a little more dimension. Sometimes this might be empathy, others sadism.

Hinx and Odd Job get the benefit of this, yet they could’ve possibly gone further with their characters. Elvis felt like it was going somewhere different and interesting, though that evaporated, doubtless due to the writer’s strike.

Red Grant is a good example since he’s arguably Klebb’s henchman. When the individual Bond has to battle is given this much story and screentime it’s a far more interesting battle of wits as well as brawn.

Arguably at the cost of Klebb, she’s reduced to having to explain her own motivation in an info dump…and that was a reshoot…

Her motivation is unbridled ambition and loyalty. I think we get this, but you’re right, the info dump could’ve been handled better with a little more time. Grant’s is animalistic machismo and a reverse snobbery, which perfectly mirror’s Bond’s; the red wine and fish line nails this opposing breeding very well. While i dislike Bond’s snobbery it creates the perfect subtext to this very physical dual to come.

I agree, I just think Grant getting more of a character than the average henchman left Klebb a bit vague, something Hunt and Young clearly recognised, given they added some explanation in the edit. I haven’t read the book in a while, but from memory she gets less attention than him then as well, but with a higher page count a novel allows, she wasn’t as under represented as her film counterpart.

Indeed. I think in general FRWL, book & film are not your usual formula and this pays off imo. But a little more motivational exposition for Klebb, handled with more nuance would probably improve what’s already one of the best entries.

Of course this novel’s structure is avant-garde by Bond standards with it’s massive prologue (excitingly so, imo). But the villain hierarchy and the awkward balance of screentime this necessitates is also taking an ambitious leap away from the norm. It’s interesting to compare the Grant/Klebb/Blofeld dynamic and narrative roles to the more traditional Largo/Blofeld.

FRWL has this unique player in Klebb whom is neither puppet master, nor henchman (the usual double act of Goldfinger/odd job, Blofeld/Hinx etc.) Therefore Fleming does indeed struggle a little with her place in the story - how often to utilise her without making her top dog, nor diminishing Grant’s autonomy on the train, while all the while maintaining her as a sinister figure to return at the end.

It’s the fact that she’s a ‘middle man’ that gives FRWL an authentic cold war feel; that she’s a cog in the SMERSH Soviet communist machine (and that machine is well illustrated in the novel’s Russian set prologue). A layer lacking from most Bond fare. Though this layer is compromised, almost totally sabortaged by Eon’s questionable decision to change Klebb’s loyalties from SMERSH to SPECTRE for the film.

For an ‘airport novel’ it’s pretty ambitious and Fleming does a great job of finding a new way to present the same old story; something Eon and Hollywood struggle with to this day (see the new, appallingly trope-ridden trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate – that dark fate apparently being to suffer diminishing returns ad infinitum)

It is Fleming’s best. If it had been the last Bond novel as planned, he could definitely say he went out on a high.

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Aw, but that ending… I’ve never wanted to read a next instalment as much as after that ending . You really need to know what happened next.

Wish Eon would try that. I suppose they did to some extent with CR, but not to spoil FRWL it’s a very different kind of cliffhanger and far more effective.

Picking up on the sidetrack discussion on the News on Bond 25 spoiler thread…

I think Severine does actually not need more screen time - she is the classical sacrificial lamb. And Bond (deliberately) firing in order to miss while Silva just shoots her is the moment the story needs. Yes, it is shocking. Yes, Severine´s life is a tragedy. But within the story she is working for Silva, trapped in a life she would not be able to leave on her own, with Bond being her only chance. In the end one could even argue that she chooses the risk to betray Silva because she rather wants to die than going on existing like this.

I never got the impression that Bond uses her and then shrugs off her death. The remark about the Scotch is definitely just a way to appear unfazed in front of Silva. The reaction Silva wants to elicit Bond just does not want to give.

Sure, he contacts Severine in order to get to Silva. But she does not really need to be persuaded, nor seduced. She rather accepts this turn of events as something that would force Silva to act. In that way, she is kind of suicidal.

Regarding her sad past - well, wouldn’t it have been called “politically correct” if Bond had shied away from making love to her, desperately trying to get her to safety instead of following Silva´s trail?

Of course, Bond has to prioritize here. And Severine is not behaving like a victim. Bond does not find her trapped in a room, being held captive. Severine is not living a free life. But she is not depicted as someone who needs someone to help her. She rather takes the opportunity to put an end to her situation as Silva´s slave.

In contrast, Lucia would have needed more screen time. Bond does save her - but we get to know too little about her and her connection to Spectre. In fact, it is rather shortsighted that Bond only asks her about the meeting. She must have known much more about her husband’s entanglements with Spectre which would have been important for his future dealings with that syndicate.

Also, the casting of Bellucci suggests to the audience that this part is important. Having her not even die a meaningful death with ramifications for Bond is a let down storywise. She just disappears. Of course, one may argue that for the production this was the only way possible to cast Bellucci (her English is rather limited, she probably commands a high fee, she is in demand and not available for a longer time). Still, I see the whole character as a missed opportunity.


FRWL is a good thriller, however I do think YOLT is Fleming’s best.

Best villains - Blofeld and Bunt, the killers of his wife.
Best villain lair - The Castle of Death surrounded by poisonous plants.
Best character arc - Depressed, renewed purpose and then reborn.
Strong allies - Dikko, Tiger and Kissy deeply care for Bond.
Strong location - Japan and its customs described in detail.

For a time I found the novel boring, always wanting to get to that final duel with Blofeld. But I savour the journey to that moment these days, the sense of foreboding, the atmosphere and the relationships that Bond develops. As a piece of literature it really is something special.

It would have been a glorious conclusion to the Fleming series.

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