Monday, August 8, 2011
Ian Fleming's "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," The Magical Car - a book review by Robert Steven Mack
It seems to me that Ian Fleming had a knack for writing books that would eventually be turned into movies. And it seems that all the films adapted from his books, whether they are the James Bond series or other, have not been quite close to the premise of the actual novel.
Does it not appear rather odd that a notorious writer of spy thrillers would write a children's book like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?" On the contrary, it simply proves that Ian Fleming was a talented and versatile writer of a wide range of genres. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" would be published in 1964, shortly after Fleming's death. I acquired a copy of the book at a library sale a few weeks ago and was very pleased with my find. I read the majority of the book by the pool on a hot summer day in Palm Springs last week - sizzling like a sausage in a frying pan. It surprised me that a man who had authored the great harrowing adventures of the world's most glamorous super-spy could write a such wonderfully entertaining novel for children.
The plot of the novel differs immensely from the 1968 musical film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" starring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howles, Lionel Jefferies, and Gert Froebe - who ironically also battled Sean Connery alias James Bond in Ian Fleming's "Goldfinger" in 1964 as the title character. The book is about an eccentric inventor who acquires a beat up old car and fixes it up to be a magical car that floats, flies and can drive by itself. He and his adventurous family, consisting of Mimsie, Jeremy and Jemima, travel to France where they encounter crooks and gangsters who kidnap the two children in order to use them to rob a famous candy store. In the film, by contrast, instead of battling crooks and gangsters, they are set up against pirates in far-off fairy tale lands. Also, in the musical there is no Mimsie (the mother) and the father is widowed. Along with a number of other significant differences, this book is sheer and original delight. Whether you watched the film first and read the book later or visa versa, the experience is the same. With the fun playfulness of a Ronald Dahl and like the witty wackiness of Lewis Carrol, this book is vivid, smart, yet humorously adventurous. In short, it is sure to be a great playmate for the young as well as the old.
In conclusion, I must mention that near the end of this delightful tale you will find Ian Fleming's top secret recipe, "Monsieur Bon-Bon Fooj" for a simply delicious fudge that's easy to bake and heaven to eat. This book -and the recipe inside- is a scrumptious delight, and I truly do recommend it to be enjoyed over and over again.
Bon appetit, "R"
Copyright 2011 by Robert Steven Mack (all rights reserved!)