Bond’s Canuck connections

From Miss Moneypenny to theme songs, plus the best #CanadianBondMovies on Twitter
Brian Bethune and Mika Rekai
Sean Connery talking to Lois Maxwell as she sits at a desk in a scene from the film ’Thunderball’, 1965. (Photo by United Artists/Getty Images)
Sean Connery and Lois Maxwell in Thunderball, 1965 (United Artists/Getty)

Dr. No to A View to a Kill (14 films)

Lois Maxwell, the first Moneypenny, was a Canadian actress born Lois Ruth Hooker in Kitchener, Ont. She grew up in Toronto, where her first job was working as a waitress at Muskoka’s legendary Bigwin Inn. During the Second World War, when she was just 15, she ran away from home to join the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. She began her career as an actress with the Army Show and the Canadian Auxiliary Services Entertainment Unit, where she appeared alongside the CBC’s Wayne and Shuster. When the army discovered her age, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London to avoid deportation to Canada. There she was classmates with future 007 actor Roger Moore. She played Moneypenny in 14 Bond films.

Thunderball (novel, 1961)

In his peripatetic youth, when he weighed much less, arch-villain Ernst Blofeld travelled about on a Canadian seaman’s passport. And Blofeld’s second-in-command, Emilio Largo, had a Canadian captain on his yacht. That skipper had been drummed out of the Canadian navy for drunkenness and insubordination, but once Largo smashed him over the head with a chair leg, the Canadian was amenable to discipline.

The Spy Who Loved Me (novel, 1962)

The Spy Who Loved Me is by far the most Canadian James Bond novel, but also the most unpopular. The story is a first-person account by a French-Canadian woman named Vivienne Michel, and James Bond does not even make an appearance in the first two-thirds of the book. The novel is short, sexually explicit and contains controversial subject matter including abortion and rape. The novel was so contentious that Ian Fleming tried to block its publication, and before his death sold the movie rights only on the condition that the title of the book, but not the plot, be used.

While it would have been an unpopular action film had the whole plot been used, it’s a shame that moviemakers took nothing from the original novel. In the voice of Michel, Fleming has an interesting hypothesis about French-Canadian culture and nationalism, and explores the displacement Michel feels as a Canadian in Europe. When Bond does appear in the novel, he explains to Michel that he came to North America after tracking down a SPECTRE agent who had defected to Canada and recounts how he and the Mounties routed him out of his Toronto apartment.

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Goldfinger (novel)

The plot of Goldfinger, the novel, is very similar to the plot of Goldfinger, the movie. At the very end of the book, Pussy Galore and Bond make a crash landing in Newfoundland, where they cavort beneath their parachutes. In the movie, Bond and Galore land in a sunnier Caribbean locale.

Tomorrow Never Dies (film, 1997)

The closing credit song, Surrender, performed by Canadian k.d. lang, was supposed to be the theme song. While it was considered by critics to be the superior song, producers chose a version by Sheryl Crow, allegedly based on her higher sex appeal.

For Your Eyes Only (short story, 1960)

The RCMP are of singular service to Bond when he undertakes an extremely private act of justice—vengeance, actually—in northern Vermont. As Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution gathers steam in 1959, the rats of dictator Fulgencio Batista’s regime start to flee. Three Cubans working for a former Gestapo officer, who is now Batista’s counter-intelligence chief, murder a Jamaican couple who refuse to sell their estate. Bad move on the killers’ part: M had been best man at the victims’ wedding 25 years before. When he learns the three murderers and their ex-Gestapo boss are hiding out in Vermont, M has a quiet word with some Canadians and dispatches Bond as his angel of revenge. After Bond arrives at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, a high-ranking Mountie cheerfully provides him with false papers, a sniper rifle and the location of a Prohibition-era smugglers’ trail into Vermont from Quebec’s Eastern Townships. At that point, it’s all over bar the actual shooting.

And #CanadianBondMovies are trending right now. Here’s a sampling of some of the best reimagined titles on Twitter: