Friday, July 25, 2014

For Your Eyes Only | "The Hildebrand Rarity"

"The Hildebrand Rarity" was published in Playboy just a month before For Your Eyes Only came out. In it, Bond is in the Seychelles Islands (northeast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean), having just finished a security check for the British Navy. Most of the stories in For Your Eyes Only occur while Bond's hanging out after some routine mission ("Risico" and "For Your Eyes Only" being the exceptions) and this time Bond has a few days to kill before a ship arrives to take him home.

We already know from Live and Let Die that Bond's an accomplished diver, and that's how he's spending his time on his break. When a buddy of his on the islands gets an opportunity to help an American philanthropist track down a rare fish - the Hildebrand Rarity - for the Smithsonian, the buddy recommends that Bond come along too. (Side note for Creature from the Black Lagoon fans: the plan is to use Rotenone to catch the fish.) Unfortunately, the wealthy Milton Krest is a first class jerk who insults his guests and uses his charitable foundation to write off pleasure expenses. Most heinous though, he has a habit of beating his wife Elizabeth with a stingray tail when she displeases him.

Bond connects with Elizabeth, partly because she's British, but mostly because she seriously needs a friend. This is what I love most about "The Hildebrand Rarity" and one of the reasons it's my favorite in the collection. Elizabeth is beautiful, but there's not the usual sexual tension between her and Bond. I mean there is tension there, but it comes from knowing how Bond usually interacts with beautiful women and from knowing that Milton Krest is a dangerous man to offend. If Bond acts as he usually does, life on Krest's yacht is probably going to become deadly.

But that's not what happens and Bond simply befriends the woman. Her nervousness and unsuccessfully concealed desperation touch Bond and turn him into a listening ear for her. He becomes an oasis of comfort and normality in the life of fear that she's leading, which is a really odd role for him to take. But he wears it well and it's another great example of the post-Dr No Bond at work.

1 comment:

Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

Never expected James Bond and the Creature from the Black Lagoon in the same sentence without it being fan fiction.


Related Posts with Thumbnails