YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Bound Up in Bond : A Fan Devoted to 007 Writes a Detailed Encyclopedia on the Secret Agent


He liked his women with exotic names, his cars with multiple gadgets, and his martinis shaken, not stirred.

His name was Bond. James Bond.

The dashing British secret agent, whose exploits have entertained world audiences for more than three decades, is back in a big way--in a sprawling 467-page encyclopedia. West Los Angeles resident Steven Jay Rubin, admittedly as obsessed with 007 as any of Bond's fiendish archenemies, has written "The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia" (Contemporary Books, $25), a veritable who's who and what's what of every celluloid Bondian adventure.

In it, you will find the names and backgrounds of every bit-part actress left on the bedroom or cutting room floor; the number of rupees Bond bets in the rigged backgammon game in "Octopussy" (200,000); the room number of Honey Ryder's torture chamber in "Dr. No" (12), and even the number of moles found on Domino Derval's left thigh in "Thunderball" (two).

Rubin, a film-unit publicist who penned an earlier Bond book in 1981, "The James Bond Films: A Behind the Scenes History," said his own background as a history major at UCLA led him to take the 007 chronicles one step further. In addition, he said, the richness of detail novelist Ian Fleming lavished upon his rugged hero was well-suited for an encyclopedia.

"The cornerstone of Fleming's books was the details--Bond even smoked a special brand of cigarettes--and that was fascinating to me," Rubin said. "But it's not just a book for Bond movie nuts. It's a book that appeals to nostalgia buffs, as well as people who just like to know about movies."

The author said he was one of the millions of youths who became fascinated with the debonair super spy when the first Bond movies arrived in the early '60s.

"If you looked around the desks at my junior high school, you would have seen a lot of (Bond) Signet Books," he said. "The Bond movies were an event, like seeing 'Star Wars' was later. I mean, how many movie series that started in the '60s are still around today? It's amazing."

When he began the project, Rubin contacted Albert (Cubby) Broccoli, producer of all but one of the Bond movies, who agreed to give Rubin access to the production records on the numerous film sets. He also contacted many set designers, production assistants and writers associated with the films for his compilation.

"The reports list the people who worked as stand-ins, the stunt people, everything that happened on the set on a given day," said Rubin, no stranger to movie sets. He has worked as the unit publicist on 40 films, including "Pretty in Pink" and "Eddie and the Cruisers II." "Getting access to those was like finding the Rosetta Stone," he said.

One of the book's key elements is its extensive use of rare photos, which Rubin culled from numerous sources on the Bond movie sets. The author said the photographs were necessary to make the book attractive to true Bond fans.

"Bond fans are just notoriously critical of photos," Rubin said. "They know the standard ones by heart, so it was important to try to find new ones."

Although the 39-year-old author said his fascination with facts led to his Bond encyclopedia, he strays far beyond a historian's role with his new book. Rubin slips on the critics shoes and judges the best and worst of the 19 Bond movies (in his count he includes two versions of "Casino Royale," a spoof of the Fleming novels), as well as his personal thoughts about some of the key villains and "Bond women" who made the long-running film series the most popular and financially successful in cinematic history.

By his measuring stick, Sean Connery was by far the best Bond and "Goldfinger" the best movie (although he adds that "From Russia with Love" was the best Bond story.) In his view, Claudine Auger, who played the sultry playgirl Domino in "Thunderball," was the most beautiful and voluptuous of Bond's love interests, outpacing even the more legendary sirens Pussy Galore, Holly Goodhead and Plenty O'Toole.

His also picks Gert Frobe, better known as Auric Goldfinger, as the most wicked of all the Bond villains, surpassing such other demented megalomaniacs bent on world destruction as Dr. No, Hugo Drax or Ernst Blofeld.

Although he is generally forgiving of the many Bond film miscues, he does toss some bricks toward what he considers the series' top turkeys--"Moonraker," "The Man with the Golden Gun" and "A View to a Kill."

But mostly, Rubin lets the facts speak for themselves, and the book has thousands of them. If you want to know the name of every Bond bad guy, what movie he starred in, which actor played him and how he died, it's there. (Kanaga, Yaphet Koto, "Live and Let Die": blown up; Dario, Benicio Del Toro, "License to Kill": shredded.)

Los Angeles Times Articles