Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
M (James Bond)
M - the title and code letter for James Bond's boss and fictional head of the British Secret Intelligence Service MI6. The title "M" is believed to derive from the first real life head of MI6, Mansfield Smith-Cumming, who used his initial "C" to indicate he had seen a paper and so became referred to as "C", a practice which carried on with his successors.
Admiral Sir Miles Messervy
In the Bond books M is named as Rear Admiral Sir Miles Messervy (the name, hinted at throughout the series, was finally revealed in The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming's final Bond novel). In the movies only his first name, Miles, was revealed (in The Spy Who Loved Me), and he also has the rank of Admiral. It is assumed that the M of the movies and of Fleming's books is the same person.
In the books M clearly has a liking for Bond, and they have obviously had a long professional relationship. M bends the rules for Bond on several occasions. At one point Bond attempts to assassinate M, as a result of extreme Soviet brainwashing, but M insists that Bond is rehabilitated rather than punished. In the first post-Fleming book Colonel Sun M is kidnapped, and Bond goes to great lengths to rescue him. In the later books of John Gardner, M/Messervy protects Bond even more from the new, less aggressive, climate in the Secret Service, saying that 'sometime this country will need a blunt instrument'. In the movies the relationship is similar.
In the movies the role of Messervy (M) was played by Bernard Lee from the first movie, Dr. No, until Moonraker (1979). Lee died in 1981 and out of respect the character was removed from that year's For Your Eyes Only (1981) (with M's lines given to either his Chief of Staff or Q). The film version of Dr. No suggests that Messervy is a relatively recent appointee to the position of M (he boasts about his ability to reduce the number of operative casualties since taking the job) suggesting someone else held the job before him. In the books, John Gardner makes references to M's predecessors in Scorpius, again suggesting that Messervy is not the first M. Also in the film version of Dr. No, M is heard to call himself head of MI5 (the actor originally said MI6, but for reasons unknown was overdubbed prior to the film's release); this contradicts later films that state he is in charge of MI6.
The M in the Bond books is believed to have been a composite character based on Rear-Admiral John Godfrey (Ian Fleming's former boss in the Department of Naval Intelligence), Maxwell Knight , former head of counter-subversion in MI5 and Maurice Buckmaster, head of the F Section of the SOE.
- Dr. No (1962)
- From Russia With Love (1963)
- Goldfinger (1964)
- Thunderball (1965)
- You Only Live Twice (1967)
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
- Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- Live and Let Die (1973)
- The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- Moonraker (1979)
Robert Brown as M
|James Bond character|
Robert Brown as M in Licence to Kill
After Lee's death in 1981, the producers decided to hire actor Robert Brown to continue the role of M in the James Bond films. Brown picks up the role in Octopussy however, it is never explicitly stated onscreen whether Robert Brown's character is intended to be the same person played by Bernard Lee, or if he was intended to be a promoted Admiral Hargeaves, the role played by Brown in 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me, though the later Bond books retain Messervy. The personality of Brown's M lacks a sense of humor and has absolutely no tolerance whatsoever for Bond's antics. Brown's M came off tougher than any other M, wasting no time to revoke Bond's licence to kill in the film Licence to Kill when Bond went off on a vendetta.
Edward Fox as M
In 1983's unofficial Never Say Never Again, it is clearly stated that a new M is in post, played by Edward Fox. This M is portrayed as being concerned with making the books balance, constantly testing agents and being quite open about his low regard for Bond, three character traits that Judi Dench's M also shares in her first movie, GoldenEye.
Judi Dench as M
|James Bond character|
Judi Dench as M in GoldenEye
After the long period between Licence to Kill and GoldenEye, the producers brought in Dame Judi Dench to take over as the new M. In reality, the character may have been based on Stella Rimmington, the head of the real MI5. Judi Dench clearly plays a new person appointed to the position of M. Her real name has yet to be revealed in the films, but recent Bond novelist Raymond Benson gives her the name Barbara Mawdsley in his books. In the films she is very cold, blunt and not at all anything like the previous M's. In her first film, GoldenEye, she comes right out and tells Bond that she thinks he's a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War". Because of these characteristics some MI6 agents have referred to her as "the evil queen of numbers". In her later films it appears she takes on a more "caring" role of Bond especially after Bond saves her in The World Is Not Enough, although in Die Another Day they're at odds with each again over Bond being disavowed and abandoned to torture in North Korea. Although it would appear that Dench's M and Bond don't get along too well, M still has a high respect for Bond on a professional basis that her predecessors had as well.
- GoldenEye (1995)
- Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
- The World Is Not Enough (1999)
- Die Another Day (2002)
- Casino Royale (2006)
Casino Royale 1967 spoof
The 1967 film spoof Casino Royale featured not one but two M's. The first was played by John Huston. In this film (which is not considered an official Bond film), M's real name is McTerry (first name not mentioned), and he is killed when he (for some reason) orders the military to fire mortars at Sir James Bond's mansion when the retired spy refuses to return to duty. The first quarter of the film featured Bond's subsequent visit to McTerry Castle on a quest to return the only piece of M's remains recovered after the attack -- his toupee, which is thereafter referred to as a "hair-loom".
Subsequently, Sir James Bond (David Niven) becomes the new M and proceeds to order that all MI6 agents male and female be renamed "James Bond 007" in order to confuse the enemy. And the audience.
- The Man Who Was M, Anthony Masters, Basil Blackwell ISBN 0-631-13392-5
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