For Your Eyes Only is a collection of James Bond short stories written by Ian Fleming, first published in 1960. The title story of the collection lent its name to the twelfth James Bond film, which was released in 1981 and was the fifth film to star Roger Moore as the suave and sophisticated British Secret Service agent. The film, produced by Albert R. Broccoli and directed by John Glen, was an EON Productions / United Artists movie and adapted both "For Your Eyes Only" and "Risico" from this collection, as well as part of the novel Live and Let Die. Other stories from this collection also provided source material for later Bond films.
The title of the collection is derived from a piece of jargon often used in government circles with regards to classified information. An "Eyes Only" notification indicates either a) the information contained is for the knowledge of authorized readers only, b) information contained is not to be discussed with anyone, or c) all of the above.
The short story collection
For Your Eyes Only marked a change of pace for Ian Fleming, who previously had written only full-length novels featuring his character, James Bond. In the late 1950s CBS made an offer to Fleming to write 32 episodes over a two-year period for a television show based on the James Bond character. This deal came about after the success of the 1954 television episode adaptation of Casino Royale on the CBS television series Climax!. Fleming agreed to the deal and began to write three outlines for the series; however, CBS later dropped the idea. In 1959 Fleming gathered his outlines and novelized them for a collection he originally titled "The Rough With The Smooth". The title was changed for publication to For Your Eyes Only and was additionally published with the subtitle of "Five Secret Occasions in the Life of James Bond". In America the subtitle was changed to "Five Secret Exploits of James Bond". In later editions, the subtitle was dropped.
The book contains five short stories:
- 1 "From a View to a Kill"
- 2 "For Your Eyes Only"
- 3 "Quantum of Solace"
- 4 "Risico"
- 5 "The Hildebrand Rarity"
Out of the five short stories included in the book, two were added in addition to the outlines Fleming had previously written for the proposed television series. The first, "The Hildebrand Rarity", was first published in Playboy in 1960. The second story, "Quantum of Solace", was an experimental piece Fleming had previously written for Cosmopolitan magazine. The short story actually has no secret agent elements.
The remaining three stories were, as previously stated, written as television scripts. The story "For Your Eyes Only" was originally written as the third episode in the James Bond TV series, first titled: "Man's Work", later "Rough Justice" and "Death Leaves an Echo" before finally settling on "For Your Eyes Only." Along with "Risico" (originally spelled "Risiko"), "For Your Eyes Only" was adapted closely for the 1981 film version of the same name. "Quantum of Solace" was chosen as the title for the 2008 Bond film, but otherwise the film had no connection to the story beyond some superficial similarity in that the lead female characters in both were in abusive relationships. "From a View to a Kill" provided the title (but little else other than the short story and part of the film both being set in France) for the 1985 film A View to a Kill. "The Hildebrand Rarity" provided the character of Milton Krest and the sea vessel name Wavekrest for the 1989 Bond film Licence to Kill.
According to Henry Chancellor's James Bond: The Man and His World, "From A View to a Kill" was initially intended to be the backstory for Hugo Drax, the villain of Moonraker. The similar story would have taken place during World War II and featured Drax as the motorcycle assassin who crashes his bike and is taken to an American field hospital. Later the hospital is bombed leaving Drax with amnesia and a disfigured face.
The stories within the collection have been republished in other formats. In 2008, the five stories, along with those in Octopussy and The Living Daylights, were compiled in the Penguin Classics release Quantum of Solace: The Complete James Bond Short Stories, released as a tie-in with the film. In 2011, Penguin Modern Classics paired "From a View to a Kill" with "The Living Daylights" (from Octopussy and The Living Daylights) in a small compilation titled The Living Daylights.
"From A View to a Kill"
"From a View to a Kill" sees Bond investigating the murder of a dispatch-rider en route from SHAPE (central command of NATO in Europe located in Versailles) to his base, Station F, in Saint-Germain, France. Since Bond was already in Paris, M sends Bond to assist in the investigation in any way he can. To unravel the mystery Bond disguises himself as a dispatch-rider and follows the same journey as the previous rider to Station F. As expected, the assassin attempts to kill Bond, however, Bond is ready and ends up killing the assassin.
Bond tracks down the site of the base and observes it. He takes note of the location and gives it to agent Mary Ann Russell. He then proceeds, alone, to blow it up in the early evening. He is attacked by several surviving villains and is rescued by Russell and her fellow staffers from Section F.
The title is taken from a version of the words to a traditional hunting song, "D'ye ken John Peel?": "From a find to a check, from a check to a view, from a view to a kill in the morning". The title, "From A View to a Kill", was later used for the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill, starring Roger Moore. Originally, the film was to be titled the same as the short story, but was changed just prior to release. The title, plus the fact part of the film takes place in France, is where any similarity between short story and the film end.
"For Your Eyes Only"
"For Your Eyes Only" begins with the murder of a Jamaican couple that had refused to sell their land to Major Gonzales, a Cuban killer hired by Herr von Hammerstein. This couple, the Havelocks, would turn out to be close friends of M, who served as the groom's best man during their wedding in 1925. M subsequently gives Bond a voluntary assignment, "off-book" from sanctioned MI6 duties, to sneak into the United States via Canada, track down Herr von Hammerstein, and prevent further harm to the Havelocks's only daughter by any means necessary. When Bond arrives on the scene, however, he finds the Havelocks' daughter, Judy, has arrived there first and intends to carry out her own mission of revenge. The girl completes her vendetta while Bond shoots von Hammerstein’s henchmen, and the pair escape.
"Quantum of Solace"
"Quantum of Solace" was the first of the five stories to be published, appearing in the May 1959 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. It is not a spy story, and Bond appears only in the background. Told in the style of W. Somerset Maugham and Joseph Conrad, the tale has Bond attending a boring dinner party with a group of rich, snobbish people he cannot stand. He listens as the Governor of Nassau tells him a harrowing tale about a relationship between a former employee of the Governor's, Phillip Masters, and an air hostess named Rhoda Llewellyn. After meeting aboard a flight to London they eventually marry, however, after a time Rhoda becomes unhappy and begins a long open affair with a young golf pro named Tattershall, eldest son of a prominent Bermudan family.
After a vacation to London during which Rhoda's affair ended, Masters returns and decides to end their marriage, although they would continue to appear as a happy couple in public for the sake of his job. While the story may not be full of adventure as previous Fleming tales, the point of the story was to show that Bond's adventures pale in reality to real-life drama. As the story closes, Bond reflects on the story the Governor told and comes to the conclusion that his current mission is dull and unexciting in comparison. The story is also an eye-opener for Bond who, before hearing the tale, had passed judgment on Rhoda who was one of the guests at the party.
In "Risico" James Bond is sent by M to investigate a drug smuggling operation based out of Italy that is pumping narcotics into England. M instructs Bond to get in touch with a CIA informant, Kristatos, who in turn tells Bond that a man named Enrico Colombo is behind the racket. Bond gets close to Columbo’s mistress, Lisl Baum, by posing as a researching author. When Bond sets out to find more information on Colombo from her, he is captured by him and brought aboard Colombo's ship, the Colombina. While in captivity Colombo informs Bond that Kristatos is actually the one in charge of the drug smuggling operation and that he is being backed by the Russians. On the next day, the Colombina arrives at Santa Maria, where men are loading another shipment. Bond, Colombo, and the crew of the Colombina attack the warehouse and discover Kristatos inside. While trying to escape, Kristatos is shot by Bond.
"The Hildebrand Rarity"
"The Hildebrand Rarity" also predated the publication of the collection, appearing first in the March 1960 issue of Playboy. In this adventure, Bond is on holiday in the Seychelles Islands with his friend, Fidele Barbey. Through Barbey, Bond meets an uncouth millionaire named Milton Krest who has offered the two the job of aiding him in the search for a rare fish named "The Hildebrand Rarity". After agreeing to help, the three as well as Mrs. Elizabeth Krest set off aboard the Wavekrest in search of the fish. During the journey Bond learns that Mr. Krest verbally and physically abuses everyone around him, specifically his wife whom he punishes with the use of a sting ray tail he dubs "The Corrector". After finding the Hildrebrand Rarity, the party returns to the Wavekrest and returns to port. Along the way Krest gets drunk and insults Bond and Barbey and also schedules an appointment for his wife with "The Corrector".
During the same night Bond hears Mr. Krest choking, after which Bond discovers Krest has been murdered and the rare fish was stuffed into his mouth. So as not to be entangled in an investigation for the murder of Krest, Bond throws him overboard and cleans up the scene of the crime. The following day after the Wavekrest has reached port no one knows what had happened to Mr. Krest and all presume he fell overboard. Bond investigates both Barbey and Mrs. Krest and finally comes to the conclusion that Mrs. Krest had murdered him in an act of revenge for the way in which Milton Krest had treated her, although she never admits to committing the crime and Bond never asks.
Comic strip adaptations
Four of the five short stories in For Your Eyes Only were adapted into James Bond comic strips which were published in the British newspaper the Daily Express and subsequently syndicated around the world:
- "Risico" (April 3 to June 24, 1961)
- "From a View to a Kill" (June 25 to September 9, 1961)
- "For Your Eyes Only" (September 11 to December 9, 1961)
- "The Hildebrand Rarity" (May 29 to December 16, 1967)
The first three stories were adapted by Henry Gammidge and illustrated by John McLusky and are largely considered a depature from what readers of the comic strips were used to, focusing more on character details and the plot of the story. More so than any other adaptation, "Risico", "From a View to a Kill", and "For Your Eyes Only" are considered to be the most faithful adaptations of Ian Fleming's original work. All three stories were reprinted in 2004 by Titan Books and are included in the Goldfinger collection.
The fourth adaptation, "The Hildebrand Rarity", did not appear until six years after the comic strip versions of the other stories. It was adapted by Jim Lawrence and illustrated by Yaroslav Horak. This adaptation was reprinted by Titan Books in the early 1990s and again in 2004 as part of the Octopussy collection.
The remaining story in the collection, "Quantum of Solace", is one of only three Ian Fleming James Bond stories that has never been adapted as a comic strip. The other two are "The Property of a Lady" and "007 in New York."
|James Bond short stories|
For Your Eyes Only (1960):
"From a View to a Kill" -- "For Your Eyes Only" -- "Quantum of Solace" -- "Risico" -- "The Hildebrand Rarity"
Octopussy and The Living Daylights (1966):
Charlie Higson (2009)