My introduction to James Bond wasn’t through the movies, but through a book I checked out of the local library when I was a boy—Anglo-Scots Ian Fleming’s Gilt-Edged Bonds (1961), a collection containing Casino Royale, From Russia with Love, and Doctor No. The opening scene of Doctor No (1958) made a powerful impression on me in those pre-race conscious days.
British secret agent John Strangways leaves his bridge game at the posh Queen’s Club on Richmond Road in Kingston, Jamaica. (“Such stubborn retreats will not long survive in modern Jamaica. One day Queen’s Club will have its windows smashed and perhaps be burned to the ground . . .”) Richmond Road “is the best road in all Jamaica, where the best people live in big, old-fashioned houses with an acre or two of beautiful lawn.”
As Strangways approaches his car he becomes aware of three big, blind beggars wearing sunglasses and walking single file, each with his hand on the shoulder of the man in front, their white canes tap- tap- tapping against the pavement. “How odd, they were all Chigroes!”—Chinese Negroes—”How very odd!” They “would not have been incongruous in Kingston, where there were many diseased people on the streets,” but “in this quiet rich empty street” they certainly were. Moreover, “this is not a common mixture of bloods.”
As Strangways drops a coin into the tin cup of the lead beggar, the men suddenly fan out, drawing three revolvers with silencers from concealed holsters. “The three heavy coughs were almost one. Strangways’s body was hurled forward as if it had been kicked. It lay absolutely still.”
Shortly thereafter, Strangways’ blonde assistant, Mary Trueblood, is shot three times in the heart by “a big negro with yellowish skin and slanting eyes.”
Later, over lunch in the mahogany-paneled Queen’s Club dining room, Jamaica’s Colonial Secretary provides James Bond, who has arrived from England to investigate, with a thumbnail racial sketch of the Caribbean island:
“It’s like this.” He began his antics with the pipe. “The Jamaican is a kindly lazy man with the virtues and vices of a child. He lives on a very rich island but he doesn’t get rich from it. He doesn’t know how to and he’s too lazy. The British come and go and take the easy pickings, but for about two hundred years no Englishman has made a fortune out here. He doesn’t stay long enough. He takes a fat cut and leaves. It’s the Portuguese Jews who make the most. They came here with the British and they’ve stayed. But they’re snobs and they spend too much of their fortunes on building fine houses and giving dances. They’re the names that fill the social column in the Gleaner when the tourists have gone. They’re in rum and tobacco and they represent the big British firms over here – motor cars, insurance and so forth. Then come the Syrians, very rich too, but not such good businessmen. They have most of the stores and some of the best hotels. They’re not a very good risk. Get overstocked and have the occasional fire to get liquid again. Then there are the Indians with their usual flashy trade in soft goods and the like. They’re not much of a lot. Finally there are the Chinese, solid, compact, discreet – the most powerful clique in Jamaica. They’ve got the bakeries and the laundries and the best food stores. They keep to themselves and keep their strain pure.” Pleydell-Smith laughed. “Not that they don’t take the black girls when they want them. You can see the result all over Kingston – Chigroes – Chinese Negroes or Negresses. The Chigroes are a tough, forgotten race. They look down on the Negroes and the Chinese look down on them. One day they may become a nuisance. They’ve got some of the intelligence of the Chinese and most of the vices of the black man. The police have a lot of trouble with them.”
So colonialism and race figure prominently in the novel.
Dr. No (1962-British)
The first James Bond movie was Dr. No, of interest to me primarily because it was shot on location in Jamaica in 1962, the year the Caribbean island gained its independence from Great Britain, and unlike later, politically correct Bond films, presents a straightforward, unapologetic picture of colonialism and a racially clean world.
That world is essentially still the world of the 1950s. The first hour of the movie captures the look and feel of those days with remarkable fidelity—the dress, the sets, the people, the landscapes, the automobiles, the social relationships.
It reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) in that sense, which accomplished the same thing. Once the movie descends into Dr. No‘s underground lair on Crab Key it becomes just another Bond/sci-fi/cartoon flick, but the first part captures and preserves a visually powerful window into our lost past.
The complex racial dynamic of the novel is streamlined for the motion picture into a simple white-black-Chinese trichotomy.
Whites are comfortable and unapologetically in charge. (Strange!)
Dark-skinned blacks are subordinates. The key figure here is Cayman Islander Quarrel, CIA agent Felix Leiter’s (Jack Lord) and Bond’s faithful assistant.
In Fleming’s novel, Quarrel speaks in dialect: “Dey calls him ‘Pus-Feller’ seein’ how him once fought wit’ a big hoctopus.” This is eliminated in the film, although Quarrel is still depicted as superstitious (credulously believing in Dr. No’s “dragon”) and drinks rum in excess to buck up his shaky courage.
The mild calypso music is doubtless appealing to white audiences. It was composed by English Jew Monty Norman (Monty Noserovitch) but is performed by a well-known black Jamaican band, Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. Songs include “Under the Mango Tree” and “Kingston Calypso”.
In a scene at The Joy Boat bar and restaurant Byron Lee and the Dragonaires perform a number called “Jump Up.” Although filmed in such a way as to be virtually subliminal, interracial couples, including white women with colored men, can be seen dancing together. In the novel, “Only half the tables were filled, mostly by coloured people. There was a sprinkling of British and American sailors with their girls.”
A light-skinned black, Marguerite LeWars, plays Dr. No’s photographer/spy Annabel Chung in The Joy Boat scene. LeWars was the real-life Miss Jamaica at the time. Her eyes were taped to make her appear slightly Oriental. This is the only nod to Ian Fleming’s Chigroes in the movie, though it is far too subtle to be noticed.
Chinese are the villains, with demure Asian females everywhere working as spies for Dr. Julius No, a member of SPECTRE, a global criminal organization. Dr. No is disrupting the launch of America’s Mercury rockets.
No is the “unwanted child of a German missionary and a Chinese girl of good family” who became the treasurer of the most powerful criminal society in China, the Tongs, before escaping to America with $10 million in gold stolen from his fellow gangsters.
Dr. No is played by actor Joseph Wiseman, the son of Orthodox Jews. In the commentaries to Dr. No, in which everyone in gushing Hollywood fashion shamelessly heaps insincere praise on everyone else, Wiseman’s wooden performance as the first Bond villain passes virtually unmentioned. It’s not a matter of damning by faint praise, but of damning without comment, critical or otherwise.
Connery’s Bond engages in interracial sex with Playdell-Smith’s Chinese secretary, Miss Taro. The way this was insinuated for moviegoers in 1962 was to assign Kenyan-born Englishwoman Zena Marshall to play the part. Her naturally “exotic looks” were enhanced by taping her eyes Chinese-style. She was dressed in Chinese clothing and her bungalow was designed by Jewish set designer Ken Adam with “Chinese elements, the way I thought someone who was Chinese would live on the island.”
Clothing and décor can serve as quasi-racial markers. (Think of how Orthodox Jews or the Amish set themselves apart by dress and grooming.) Indeed, the only “racist” and “xenophobic” remarks (extremely rare) about Third World immigrants I hear from mentally homogenized Midwesterners are “They ought to dress like us” or “They should learn our language.”
When Zena Marshall asked director Terence Young what kind of Chinese she was supposed to portray, he told her, “Well, she’s Chinese, but you really don’t play her Chinese, she’s international, mid-Atlantic.” “What on earth is that?” “A woman that men dream about but doesn’t really exist.”
The net effect is to confuse viewers by having Bond engage in interracial sex with a woman who both is and isn’t foreign. It is a good example of how Hollywood subtly but manipulatively pushes the envelope to impose psychological-behavioral change on a passive audience via entertainment.
Behind the Scenes
Dr. No was the first James Bond film and the beginning of a decade-long collaboration between producers Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, an Italian-American, and Canadian-born Jew Harry Saltzman. Unusual in Jewish-white relationships, the Italian, not the Jew, was the dominant partner.
Broccoli, who started in films working for Howard Hughes, is believed to have been responsible, together with his gangster cousin Pasquale “Pat” DiCicco and movie star Wallace Beery, for the 1937 beating death of vaudeville and movie comedian Ted Healy outside LA’s Trocadero nightclub. (The Three Stooges rose to fame, 1922–34, as part of Healy’s vaudeville act when they were known as Ted Healy and his Stooges. Healy and his Stooges can be seen in a couple of early talkies.)
Broccoli and Saltzman, who did not know each other, were introduced by English Jew Wolf Mankowitz. Mankowitz, a Marxist whose psychoanalyst wife was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, had been under surveillance for 16 years until 1960 by MI5, suspected of being a Soviet spy. He wrote the first draft of Dr. No, but after viewing early rushes insisted upon having his name removed, fearing the film would damage his reputation. So the Commie shot himself in the foot.
The other screenwriter was Richard Maibaum, also Jewish, who eventually contributed to all but three of the Bond films between Dr. No and 1989′s License to Kill starring Timothy Dalton.
The director of Dr. No was elegant, sophisticated, debonair, Shanghai-born Englishman Terence Young. More than anyone else he was responsible for creating the Bond screen image. According to universal testimony he also transformed young, working class Sean Connery into the on-screen polished, urbane counterpart of himself known as James Bond. Young taught the rough-hewn actor how to walk, talk, dress, and eat.
Actress Ursula Andress, famous for appearing in a bikini in the movie, was born in Switzerland in 1936 to a Swiss mother and a German diplomat father who was expelled from the country for political reasons and disappeared during World War II. So there is probably a politically incorrect story lurking there.
Andress’s speaking voice was dubbed by voice actress Monica “Nikki” van der Zyl and her singing voice by Diana Coupland, songwriter Monty Norman’s wife. Van der Zyl has less of an accent than Andress and sounds more feminine and alluring, less harsh, than the Swiss German actress.
The famous still photographs of Andress in her bikini were taken by female porn photographer Bunny Yeager, a former pin-up girl who photographed bondage model Bettie Page. Yeager obtained the Dr. No gig from a man named Samuel Friedman (or Freedman).
Another important crew member was set designer Ken Adam. He created much of the “feel” of the series in this first movie. For M’s room in London he devised the English-paneled, traditional-looking office of an ex-Navy man. For the Governor’s office in Jamaica, he imparted “a colonial feel.”
Here is Wikipedia‘s account of Adam’s background, based upon newspaper accounts:
Adam was born in Berlin, Germany to a Jewish family, the son of a former Prussian cavalryman. His father owned a fashion retail shop, which enabled Adam to be educated at the Französisches Gymnasium, and the family to have a summer house on the Baltic. In 1933, however, on the ascent to power of the Nazi Party, Adam watched from the Tiergarten as the Reichstag burned. That same year his father’s shop was forced into bankruptcy by actions of the Brown Shirts, and the family agreed to relocate to England.
An heroic record as a British WWII fighter pilot, “Heinie the tank-buster,” is also claimed. Naturally, I am skeptical.
Chris Blackwell, the son of an Irish father and a Jamaican Sephardic Jewish mother named Blanche Lindo Blackwell, served as location scout and production assistant at Ian Fleming’s suggestion. (Fleming visited the set of Dr. No while writing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.)
Born in London, Blackwell was raised on the island. His mother’s family was one of twenty-one that controlled Jamaica in the 20th century. The Lindo fortune derived from sugar and rum during the slavery era. Blanche was Ian Fleming’s mistress and the inspiration for Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. She owned several thousand acres on Jamaica and sold properties there to both Fleming and Noël Coward.
The Nation of Islam in its underground classic The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews (1991) provides a useful summary of Jewish involvement in slavery in Jamaica. It states that Blanche and Chris Blackwell’s ancestor Alexander Lindo (1753–1812) and two other Jews “were the major slave importers” on the island. Alexander “admitted to being responsible for the deaths of over 150 African slaves in the Middle Passage and 20 more upon their arrival in Jamaica, though he was never punished.”
Blanche commissioned her family genealogy, which was published as Jackie Ranston, The Lindo Legacy (London: Toucan Books, 2000).
Chris Blackwell founded Island Records, a large independent label that became enormously powerful in the music industry. He made Bob Marley an international star and mainstreamed reggae music for white listeners.
Chris Blackwell also owns Fleming’s former Jamaican estate, Goldeneye, where the James Bond novels were written. In 1962 there were still many expensive estates dotting Jamaica’s coastline. However, they have since been razed to make way for high-rise apartment buildings.
Live and Let Die (1973-British)
Live and Let Die has little to recommend it—including the popular title song written by “Sir” Paul McCartney and his Jewish wife, “Lady” Linda McCartney—apart from some exciting automobile and boat chases. However, its depiction of race, so radically different from that of Dr. No a mere ten years before, begs for a comparison.
Jamaica was again used for location shooting of the Caribbean sequences, though the island is now given the fictional name San Monique. In fact, the crew stayed in the same bungalows which in Dr. No served as the scene for the sexual tryst between Bond and Miss Taro, who lived in one of them. A black named Quarrel Junior, the son of the Quarrel killed by Dr. No’s “dragon,” serves as Bond’s guide.
Just as Dr. No was Sean Connery’s first Bond picture, Live and Let Die is Roger Moore’s first. (Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman and Robert Redford were among the actors considered for the role.)
Racial Dynamics, ’70s-Style
Though directed by a French-born Englishman, Guy Hamilton, Live and Let Die was scripted by Jewish screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz, the son of screenwriter/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives, All About Eve) and nephew of Herman J. Mankiewicz. It was Mankiewicz, a graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Yale University, who gave the movie its pronounced racist tilt.
Indeed, Live and Let Die was chosen as the next Bond film after Diamonds Are Forever because Mankiewicz wanted to do a movie contrasting Negroes with whites in the new racist style. He described his role as “Pushing the envelope, but not too far, because it was just an entertainment.”
The story shifts between Harlem, the Caribbean, and black New Orleans. Negroes are portrayed as tough, smart, and in-charge—though today the outlandish Afros, loud dress, and spastic dance movements of the New Orleans funeral bands look racist, just as Seinfeld‘s Negro lawyer Jackie Chiles seems lifted straight out of Amos ‘n’ Andy.
Notable elements in Live and Let Die from our perspective are James Bond’s first interracial sexual encounter with a Negress and the erotic suggestiveness surrounding alluring, scantily clad Jewish actress Jane Seymour’s being struck violently across the face by her black master, Dr. Kananga, offered for sacrifice at a Negro voodoo ceremony, etc.
In real life Seymour hung around 6′ 6″ Trinidadian actor-choreographer Geoffrey Holder, who played Baron Samedi, and his black troupe, dancing with them during their rehearsals. Despite Holder’s high reputation in dance and show business circles, his choreographed voodoo numbers in the movie are dull and undistinguished.
Ian Fleming visited Harlem while researching Live and Let Die (1954), which focused on Negro gangsters in New York City and the Caribbean. There he learned about the political power in the US of the NAACP and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a black union.
Fleming’s novel was deemed so harsh in its depiction of blacks (e.g., “The air was thick with smoke and the sweet, feral smell of two hundred Negro bodies”) that his American publisher, Macmillan, censored the novel heavily prior to US publication (for example, it refused to reproduce the title of Chapter 5, “Nigger Heaven”). Whether the book exists anywhere today in unexpurgated form I don’t know. Possibly the first London edition was censored as well.
Mankiewicz expressed contempt for Fleming’s novel: “I didn’t really try to adapt it. All the blacks in the book were shuffling. Fleming’s idea of what he thought American blacks talked like sounded like people out of a [Jewish] Stepin Fetchit movie from the 1930s.”
Fetchit (Lincoln Perry), who appeared in numerous Hollywood films over many decades and was the first black actor to become a millionaire, is systematically censored and demeaned today; his movies are typically not shown or released on DVD. On the rare occasions when they are shown, his scenes are usually deleted.
Not that Mankiewicz had a principled objection to racism. Just as Hollywood previously gave America Stepin Fetchit, Willie Best (Sleep ‘n Eat), and bug-eyed manservant Mantan Moreland, Mankiewicz gave it white, pot-bellied hick Louisiana Sheriff J. W. Pepper.
Like Yaphet Kotto who played the villain Mr. Big/Dr. Kananga and was the most racist member of the black cast, Mankiewicz would have preferred to have the blacks defeat the whites. But since it was a James Bond movie he couldn’t do that. “So along the way I thought we would have some other people to make fun of.”
Yaphet Kotto, by the way, claims to have had an observant Jewish father who spoke Hebrew. According to him, growing up black and Jewish in New York City was tough: “And then going to shul, putting a yarmulke on, having to face people who were primarily Baptists in the Bronx meant that on Fridays, I was in some heavy fistfights.” Yeah, right.
“I used a stock Southern sheriff character [a white version of shuffling Stepin Fetchit],” Mankiewicz said.
I embellished on it by meeting all the Southern sheriffs down in Louisiana [during shooting]. They kind of resented that there was this stock Southern sheriff in the movie, although when they saw [actor] Clifton [James] play it, they all thought he was funny, and laughed like hell. They all looked like Clifton and talked just like Clifton, and I wondered what they were laughing at.
Pepper and several white lawmen use the word “boy” in the movie, almost always directed at other whites. But once or twice it is used in addressing a black. ABC censored this on television, although it had no problem with the many invocations by Mankiewicz’s blacks of epithets such as “honky,” “white face in Harlem,” or “Can’t miss him, it’s like following a cue ball.”
As Marlon Brando, who had German, Dutch, Irish, and English ancestry (the original spelling of his German surname was Brandau) observed in 1996:
Hollywood is run by Jews. It is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity. We have seen the nigger, we’ve seen the greaseball, we have seen the chink, the slit-eyed dangerous Jap. We have seen the wily Filipino. We’ve seen everything, but we never saw the kike, because they know perfectly well that is where you draw the wagons around.