Before 007 appeared on the big screen Ian Fleming was involved in an aborted series for US television. When the project fell through many of the stories were reworked by Fleming and published in the collection For Your Eyes Only.
At the beginning of last month Ian Fleming Publications announced a new James Bond novel to be written by Anthony Horowitz. One thing notable about the announcement is that the book uses as its starting point an unused Ian Fleming story, a first for the continuation novels.
Murder on Wheels was originally conceived as an episode of an aborted television show for CBS worked on by Fleming in 1958. When the show was cancelled Fleming reworked some of the plot outlines as short stories, which were published in the collection For Your Eyes Only.
However, the TV treatment for Murder on Wheels was never reused leaving it available for Horowitz to weave into the new novel half a century after his death.
While contemporary readers disliked the short story format, the stories offer a mixture of compact Bond adventures on one hand while allowing Fleming to experiment on the other.
From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only and Risico all fall into the former (joined later by The Living Daylights), while Quantum of Solace and The Hildebrand Rarity (and then Octopussy and Property of a Lady) are far from what you might expect.
Over the years the film series has plundered the short stories for titles, characters and plots and so elements will be familiar to Bond fans brought up on the films; most notably For Your Eyes Only and Risico were used in Roger Moore’s fifth outing as Bond.
However, there is one curious omission.
From A View To A Kill has a very cinematic feel to its start, unsurprising given its origins. However, what is surprising is that while a shortened version of the title was used by Eon Productions and the French locations, the opening scene of the story has not yet been used in the film series.
It is a real shame as it is one of my favourite 007 shorts and surely would be easy to adapt. It begins with the murder of a Royal Corps of Signals motorcycle courier in France, which eventually leads Bond to a Russian intelligence unit operating right under the nose of NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
Will it be used by Eon Productions in the future?
I certainly hope so and it is possible it could appear in Bond 24 next year. However, it is likely to be much changed from Fleming’s short story and lacking the impact the story has always had on me.