by Rick Villalobos
Original Special on Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond
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June 22, 2007—Encore will present a documentary about the man who inspired the 007 films. Fantasy or reality, only one man can distinguish the thin line that divide the two. Who is Dusko Popov—a secret agent during World War II or just a mere playboy probing for a quick thrill? Author Ian Fleming, the creator of the great emissary, 007, can best answer this question. Popov was a German spy recruited by Britain as a double agent. Yugoslav by origin, he managed to retrieve classified information for five years and was successful. Popov’s cover—was to play the part of a playboy—with a weakness for beautiful women.
James Bond was introduced in 1953, as the protagonist in the novel Casino Royale. Fourteen books later, Mr. Fleming sold the rights and in 1962—the film Dr. No was released. This film became a quick success, igniting a franchise of pictures that have yet to be dampened by any rival. In 1963, From Russia with Love followed causing a frenzy in the spy film genre.
Author Ian Fleming worked for British Naval Intelligence, eventually moving up in rank, serving as an assistant, Lieutenant, and Commander. Soon after, Mr. Fleming found his literary subject, Dusko Popov, a wealthy business man and ladies man. Although, British intelligence knew of his façade, German officials did not question his cover. This made Mr. Popov one of the most important figures of World War II. He was a master spy communicating by invisible ink and microdots—a special code that can only be seen through a microscope. Popov’s charm kept him within the elite circles of Europe, maintaining his cover, as he gathered intelligence.
No one may really know how much Dusko Popov inspired Author Ian Fleming to create such an influential character. Every detail remains top secret information—as it should, in the world of espionage. What is known is that James Bond will continue to surprise us with his adventures, no matter how far fetched or real they may be. James Bond has had many faces over the years, but his suave and debonair appeal has remained the same even after 16 films. In some fantastic way we all inspire to be that charming man in a tuxedo, living a life of luxury, even if we don’t have a license to kill.
Encore presents True Bond, an original special on Ian Fleming’s inspiration for James Bond—Followed by a 52 hour Bond-A-Thon.
Rick Villalobos is a film critic living in Chicago.
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