Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and its James Bond connections

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Let’s go to the seaside and have a picnic! You in? Image courtesy of diannehope, Morguefile.

Last weekend, I saw a production of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” (CCBB) at a local theater. A couple of people that I knew were in the cast, plus it had been a LONG while since I’d seen any live theater, so I decided to go.

It was a wonderful production — good choreography, great singing, imaginative staging that involved some of the actors walking or running through the audience’s space, and some interesting special effects. My personal favorites: after the “Toot Sweets” number, the stage went dark and the candy whistles lit up in various glow-in-the-dark colors such as red, yellow, green and blue. Another good special effect — as the Potts family and Truly fly in CCBB at night, people in dark clothing walked out on a dark stage and white lights on their heads came on to simulate stars at night.

Very clever. The kids in the audience loved it.

I noted that the CCBB book on which the movie is based was written by Ian Fleming, creator of the 007 James Bond series. On the way home, I got to wondering: what inspired Ian Fleming to create this children’s book, which is so different from his normal fare of the dashing hero with death-defying feats, great cars and stunning women?

So I did a spot of research……

It turns out that Ian Fleming wrote CCBB to entertain his son, Caspar, at bedtime. The book differs from the 1968 film somewhat — in the book version, the family ends up in France and has an adventure there.

But that’s not the only James Bond connection around this book:

  • Albert Broccoli was the producer and would later produce other James Bond movies.
  • Three actors from the James Bond movies appeared in the CCBB movie: Desmond Llewellyn (Q), Gert Fröbe (Auric Goldfinger) and Anna Quayle (Frau Hoffner in the 1967 version of “Casino Royale”).

And if you see the 1968 version of the movie, look really closely at the Toymaker. It’s Benny Hill.

It was a fun show to see and brought back some good memories. My favorite song from the movie has always been the “Doll on a Music Box” scene, where Truly (Sally Ann Howes) and Mr. Potts (Dick van Dyke) do their Trojan Horse thing to get inside the castle. It’s one of the best soprano/tenor duets even done in a children’s movie.

And to think that Sally Ann Howes filmed all that complicated choreography in one take. Amazing. (Video courtesy of testingdolls, YouTube)

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18 Comments

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18 responses to “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and its James Bond connections

  1. Lovely movie… Truly Scrumptious production that 1968 version.

  2. I was a big fan of the original Bond books, so when I discovered he had also written a kids book, I was surprised. My son was /is a devotee of chitty chitty bang bang. I think he would love anything that includes a car. Any car 🙂

  3. travelrat

    Did you know, there actually was a car (or rather, a series of cars) called ‘Chitty Bang Bang’, belonging to racing driver Count Louis Zborowski back in the 1920s? See http://brooklands.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=96:zborowski-and-the-chitty-bang-bangs&catid=52:cars&Itemid=50 (It is said the name derived from an old Royal Flying Corps song of WWI, which was definitely not for the ears of children!)

  4. Love this – you know, as much as I have grown up on that movie and it has a special place in my heart, I actually never knew the author of the original book. I’m excited to add that to my read-aloud list to my kids!

  5. There is a distinct possibility, lthough as far as I know it is undocumented, that Ian Felmming may have been inspired to write this through his association with Roald Dahl, of James and the Giant Peach and many others. Flemming and Dahl worked together in WW2 as intelligence officers.

  6. Please feel free to fix the typos and what-not. My fingers are betraying me this morning.

  7. Thanks for the clip. I’m a big Dick Van Dyke fan. I can’t recall a movie of his I haven’t liked.

  8. Sometimes happy, songs, and smiles wins the prize. Enjoyed the background story to the film.
    Live theater is fun – and a delight when done with surprises and skill like this one seemed to be

  9. What fun to read this! No, I had no idea that Ian Fleming wrote Chitty Chitty, a delightful children’s book. (And as one follower said above, anything that Dick Van Dyke is in, is good…). I love the fact that Fleming wrote his Bond books, but for fun, a children’s book for his son. An example of a good author.

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