A most interesting question that gives plenty food for thought. When exactly do we leave the base of Fleming behind? Is perhaps the change of tone in GOLDFINGER* already a crucial step? Must events be intact, can characters change? Or the opposite? And what if both are in evidence yet the result is entirely different from what Fleming wrote?
Take YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE…
Characters: Bond, Tanaka, Kissy Suzuki, Blofeld all there in book and film.
Events and elements: Bond in Japan, helping out the head of Japan’s secret service, some travel, some yellow facing, a ninja school, an ama village giving Bond cover, a villain’s base infiltrated and a surprise meeting with Blofeld. All that is also in the film. And yet, in spite of characters and elements shared with the book YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is a totally different result in spirit from everything Fleming wrote.
The series gives plenty of examples where it put Fleming through the mincer to get elements handily enough to spread over a film script, with varying degrees of ‘source’ content. And often enough they claimed to want to get back to the spirit of FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and the various train fights seem to support that aspiration.
Another tough case might be THUNDERBALL. It’s definitely a Fleming title, follows the book probably closer than FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE does its source. But is it an original Fleming story? Not according to the judges of the case McClory brought.
*From the book’s moody middle aged philosophy excursion about life and death, various shortcomings of other nations and finally an entirely out-of-the-blue change of heart of a minor protagonist to a fun adventure spectacle with specks of sci-fi atmosphere.