Why bother to give him a code name at all?


The actress Eunice Grayson died yesterday at the age of 90. It was she who cued up the moment when Sean Connery would, as James Bond in Dr No, first say his name in the iconic way that has been parodied mercilessly so many times.

What always struck me is that the only people who ever called Bond by his code name of 007 were his co-workers in British intelligence. He himself would tell everyone his real name, even when introduced to his enemies, which seemed to make having a code name utterly pointless.

As a piece of trivia, the actual voices of Grayson and many of the ‘Bond girls’ (as they were referred to) in the films made in the 1960s and 1970s were never used but instead were overdubbed by voiceover artist Nikki van der Zyl. Why, I don’t know, but it did reinforce the impression that they were largely scenery and interchangeable.

Comments

  1. cartomancer says

    The reason was to create a bit of learned literary allusion. Ian Fleming gave James Bond the codename 007 because it was used by the academic Dr. John Dee in his capacity as part of Sir Francis Walsingham’s spy ring in the service of Elizabeth I in the 17th Century. Dee would sign his top secret messages with “007” to prevent them being traced back to him if they got into the wrong hands. The number held quite a significant numerological symbolism, something Dee was very interested in.

  2. Mano Singham says

    cartomancer,

    Wow, talk about an obscure allusion! I wonder how many readers would pick up on it.

  3. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    It’s also worth noting that “James Bond” is itself a code name, or at least if it wasn’t originally so, then at some point in the universe-building they retconned it as a “reusable cover” that was synonymous with 007 – whoever was 007 was also “James Bond” … until that person died, retired, or was promoted, when the next person took over the cover.

  4. Stephen K says

    I dont think 007 was the code name. It was the number on his “license to kill”. Implying that there were at least 6 others in the intelligence service similarly qualified. And I thought the implication of licenses was there were only a fixed number active at any one time. As Crip Dyke also points out, (arguably) the “James Bond” name itself may be a codename.

  5. says

    Also, just as one more indication of how Hollywood has changed since 1962, Grayson would have been in her mid-’30s when the movie was made. (Connery was three years younger.)

  6. anat says

    For a long time Annals of Improbable Research had an open contest for a type of chemical bond that could be named the James Bond. I have no idea if they ever got responses.

  7. Pierce R. Butler says

    Undoubtedly irrelevant: at the start of the US Civil War, the man who owned the most slaves in the state of Georgia was named James Bond.

    (A fact I know only because the # 2 slaveowner in that state at that time was named Pierce Butler.)

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