James Bond movies aren’t quite historical fiction — we’re pretty darn sure Moonraker is made up, at the very least — but that doesn’t mean they exist outside of history. For example:
- The real-life case of Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess, British diplomats found to be Soviet double agents in 1951, was part of a spy frenzy in the British media in the early ’50s … and just a few months after Maclean and Burgess were in the papers, Fleming began writing Casino Royale.
- George Lazenby made just one Bond movie, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in 1969. The year turned out to be important in his surprising decision not to make another: as the ’70s approached, the actor came to believe that the old-school spy could never survive in the new counterculture decade. He was, of course, wrong.
- Another current-events issue that affected the Bond movies was the fuel crisis of 1974. The Man with the Golden Gun was filming in Bangkok at the time, and the global energy problem meant that the film’s planned budget was no longer sufficient.
But perhaps the biggest connection between Bond movies and history is something that’s harder to pin to one moment: Bond is both a product and a harbinger of the sexual revolution. He and the women he meets engage in casual sex without moral consequences (even if the women have a tendency to become targets for Bond’s opponents). Bond girls dress provocatively and are confident in doing so. Playboy and the Bond novels are the same age, and Hugh Hefner, a fan, published an Ian Fleming short story in the magazine in 1960.