James Bond — The books vs. the movies


I just got done reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels.  Most of them are very different from the movies that followed.  Even the order of the books is vastly different from the order of the movies.

So here is a list of James Bond books vs. their movies:

  1. Casino Royale (written in 1953) — It welcomes James Bond as a double-O agent for the first time.  Introduces Bond’s drink of choice too.  The movie made in 2006 starring Daniel Craig is the best adaptation and a good movie.
  2. Live and Let Die (written in 1954) — The movie was made in 1973 starring Roger Moore.  The book is much better and is where CIA agent Felix Leiter has his arm bitten off by a shark.  The book is much better than the film.
  3. Moonraker (written in 1955) — Again, the book is better.  The movie, made in 1979, starring Roger Moore as 007, is one of the worst Bond movies as it takes place in outer space.  Some elements are contained from the book, bust mostly is science fiction as opposed to mystery and suspense.  Read the book instead.
  4. Diamonds are Forever (written in 1956) — Movie made in 1971 with Sean Connery.  The character of Tiffany Case is much more appealing and detailed in the book, as compared to the movie.  The movie is a disappointment compared to the book.
  5. From Russia With Love (written in 1957) — Both the book and movie in 1963 are excellent.  Some minor details are different in the book than the movie.  Also, there is no boat chase scene in the book but I do like it in the movie.  One of the best!
  6. Dr. No (written in 1958) — It is the first James Bond movie ever made in 1962 starring Sean Connery.  The film stays true to most of the book, except the book deals with Dr. No and contaminated manure on an island as compared to controlling rocket missiles.  The book is an interesting read since the plot is different from the movie.  Both movie and book are good.  Although I give a slight edge to the book.
  7. Goldfinger (written in 1959) — Both a good book and a good movie.  The book has more details on Pussy Galore and such, but both the book and movie are very good.
  8. For Your Eyes Only (written in 1960) — The movie coincides both plots from the short stories of “For Your Eyes Only” and “Risico,” and is a pretty good installment to the Bond movies.  The short stories are excellent and the film from 1981 starring Roger Moore does the stories proud.
  9. Thunderball (written in 1961) — The movie was made in 1965 starring Sean Connery.  Another good film as well, and pretty close to the book.  Although the character seem more fascinating in the book.  I recommend both.
  10. The Spy Who Loved Me (written in 1962) — Used the title only for the 1977 film.  The book is quite interesting and entertaining and is written from the victim’s point of view instead of focusing on the character of Bond.  I recommend both.  The book and movie are completely different but are both enjoyable.
  11. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (written in 1963) — Bond vs. Blofeld, head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., in Switzerland.  This is the story where Bond gets married at the end.  The movie made in 1969 stars George Lazenby as 007.  The movie is ok, if only Sean Connery would have stayed on as Bond, this might have been one of his best.  As it is, the movie adaptation is not bad, although the book is more exciting and has a wild bob sled chase as the climax.  I prefer the book.
  12. You Only Live Twice (written in 1964) — An excellent book, not a good movie.  The conclusion of the book involves Bond living on an island in Japan, with amnesia, which I found interesting and extraordinary.  Too bad they left that out of the movie, as with most of the plot from the book.  The film does take place in Japan, much like the book, but the book offers much more into the characters and involves a final showdown with Blofeld, which in the movie sequence, does not, since the movie came before On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  In the films, Blofeld isn’t destroyed until 1971’s Diamonds are Forever.  Just read the book.
  13. The Man With The Golden Gun (written in 1965) — Just read the book as it is masterful compared to the extremely disappointing film adaptation in 1974.  The film is in my opinion, one of the worst Bond films.  Found it confusing and stupid.  The character of Mary Goodknight is so much better in the book and is just a clumsy fool in the movie.  I really wish they took the time to make a decent movie from the book but failed miserably.  Don’t bother with the movie, just enjoy the book!
  14. Octopussy and The Living Daylights (written posthumously in 1966) and were made into movies.  The movie version of “Octopussy” from 1983 starring Roger Moore is a little silly and resembles part of the plot from the short story “The Property of a Lady.”  Overall, the short stories are better than either of the films.  The film version of “The Living Daylights” stars Timothy Dalton as 007 and the movie, at least the beginning, resembles the short story.  Again, I recommend the books compared to the movies, but both are not bad.

One thought on “James Bond — The books vs. the movies

  1. I first began reading the Bond books as a teenager and ended up buying all of them. I also began to watch the movies about that time. For me, the movies initially had some fascination at a time when TV was in its infancy in my country and going to the movies was a big thing. It soon wore off however; I have always loved the books and for me, the mental imagery created by Ian Fleming’s writing made the films seem banal. I found the deviation of the film plots from the books disappointing, particularly when SPECTRE was made the main villian in most of the films. It was made worse by the ridiculous gadgets and weaponry and the attempts at humour which again grated with me. Although the books were fiction I thought they were good fiction and much more realistic. Fleming was describing people with their virtues and foibles, ficitonal though they may have been while the movies were for me, totally unrealistic cartoons made with human actors. The books I found alive and approachable and the films boring and often predictable. If I had to name one film Bond I actually identified with it would have to be Timothy Dalton although I think Daniel Craig does a pretty good job leaving aside the surrealism of the movie plots.


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