Tuesday, 11 September 2012

More on Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

In an earlier article, I discussed the origin of the phrase, 'Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang'. The phrase, which became widespread around 1964/5, is usually attributed to the Italian fans or press, but I revealed that Ian Fleming had used a similar phrase. His version – 'bang, bang, kiss, kiss' - appears in an article based on a 1963/4 interview published in 1965.

In fact, we can place Fleming's usage some seven or eight years earlier. In 1959, The London Magazine published a tribute written by Fleming to his friend Raymond Chandler, who had died that year. In his article, Fleming presented a selection of correspondence between him and Chandler in which they discussed, among other matters, books, writing, and authors (they both admired Eric Ambler and Dashiell Hammett).

In a letter dated 27th April 1956, responding to Chandler's view that, despite his favourable review of the book, Diamonds Are Forever contained some bad parts, Fleming admitted that he probably didn't take his own writing seriously enough. Fleming suggested that while Chandler's novels were 'sociological studies', his were 'pillow fantasies of the bang-bang, kiss-kiss variety'. 

Of course, we needn't make a direct link between Fleming's 'kiss, kiss, bang, bang' phrase, and the later variant used in Italy. But the closeness of both variants points to something of a 'common ancestor' from which both originated. In other words, the phrase already had a degree of currency in cultural space, certainly before the phrase gained greater prominence with the release of Thunderball in 1965, and probably before Fleming put his words in a letter to Raymond Chandler in 1956.


Fishman, J, 1965 007 and me, by Ian Fleming, in For Bond Lovers Only (ed. S Lane), Panther
Fleming, I, 1959 Raymond Chandler, The London Magazine, vol. 6, no. 12

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