Devil’s Racecourse

After James Bond and Quarrel arrive at their training grounds on the north shore of Jamaica, Bond checks the paper for any news of a diversion he had set up in an attempt to shake off anyone who had been watching him since his arrival on the Island.

The Gleaner said that a Sunbeam Talbot, H. 2473, had been involved in a fatal accident on the Devil’s Racecourse, a stretch of winding road between Spanish Town and Ocho Rios — on the Kingston — Montego route.

DR NO
Devil’s Racecourse

Looking at the section of road above, one can easily envision an “accident” being arranged on such a precarious stretch.

Devil’s Racecourse is also the name of a geological formation in the Benbow Inlier in central Jamaica, right around the area of the road. The formation contains some of the oldest Cretaceous marine sediments and fauna fossils in the Caribbean.

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Leica With Flash Attachment

After arriving in Jamaica in Dr No, and settling into his hotel, James Bond goes with his friend Quarrel for dinner at the Joy Boat restaurant.

A glint of light caught the corner of Bond’s eye. He turned quickly. The Chinese girl from the airport was standing in the nearby shadows. Now she was dressed in a tight-fitting sheath of black satin slashed up one side almost to her hip. She had a Leica with a flash attachment in one hand. The other was in a leather case at her side. The hand came out holding a flashbulb. The girl slipped the base into her mouth to wet it and improve the contact and made to screw it into the reflector.

This photographer was previously using the Speed Graphic Press Camera but has switched up to a smaller, more mobile camera for the restaurant. She was likely using either a Leica III or M3, two of the most popular Leica cameras during the 1950’s, along with a flash attachment.

Leica M3 Camera
Leica III Camera

The flash attachment could’ve been one such as this:

Or perhaps another brand such as Minox.

In Goldfinger, Bond uses a Leica M3 when going to Auric Goldfinger’s suite to photograph Jill Masterton assisting her employer in cheating Mr Du Pont.

Bond took the elevator up to his suite. He went to his suitcase and extracted an M3 Leica, an MC exposure meter, a K2 filter and a flash-holder. He put a bulb in the holder and checked the camera. He went to his balcony, glanced at the sun to estimate where it would be at about three-thirty and went back into the sitting-room, leaving the door to the balcony open. He stood at the balcony door and aimed the exposure meter. The exposure was one-hundredth of a second. He set this on the Leica, put the shutter at f 11, and the distance at twelve feet. He clipped on a lens hood and took one picture to see that all was working. Then he wound on the film, slipped in the flash-holder and put the camera aside.

He then startles her with the flash when photographing the scene.

Speed Graphic Press Camera

In Dr No, As James Bond arrives at Palisadoes Airport, he is greeted by Quarrel, and they start to head out to the car.

They were moving towards the exit when there came the sharp crack and flash of a Press camera. A pretty Chinese girl in Jamaican dress was lowering her Speed Graphic. She came up to them. She said with synthetic charm, “Thank you, gentlemen. I am from the Daily Gleaner.” She glanced down at a list in her hand. “Mister Bond, isn’t it? And how long will you be with us, Mister Bond?”

The Graflex Speed Graphic camera is perhaps the quintessential press camera. It was in production for 60 years, and many of the most famous photographs of the 20th century were taken with it.

The company began in the late 19th century as Folmer and Schwing Manufacturing Company. It was acquired by George Eastman and became a division of Eastman Kodak until the company was forced divest itself of the division. It was spun back off into its own company, becoming Folmer Graflex Corporation and then in 1946, Graflex, Inc. The last Speed Graphic cameras were produced in 1973.

 

In their next encounter with this photographer, she is using a different camera.

 

Roseate Spoonbill

In Dr No, when James Bond is being given the assignment to close out the case of the missing Strangways, a detail from the last case that the Station Head of Jamaica had been working on before his disappearance catches 007’s interest. The Chief of Staff had referred to it as “Only that damned business about the birds.”

The Audubon Society had been making noise in Washington, even getting the British Ambassador involved, which was how the case came to the attention of the Secret Service. Bond presses for more information. Tanner relates:

“It seems there’s a bird called a Roseate Spoonbill. There’s a coloured photograph of it in here. Looks like a sort of pink stork with an ugly flat bill which it uses for digging for food in the mud. Not many years ago these birds were dying out. Just before the war there were only a few hundred left in the world, mostly in Florida and thereabouts. Then somebody reported a colony of them on an island called Crab Key between Jamaica and Cuba. It’s British territory-a dependency of Jamaica. Used to be a guano island, but the quality of the guano was too low for the cost of digging it. When the birds were found there, it had been uninhabited for about fifty years. The Audubon people went there and ended up by leasing a corner as a sanctuary for these spoonbills.

The Chief of Staff goes on to relate that the Island of Crab Key was then bought by a certain Dr No, with the stipulation that the sanctuary not be disturbed. A few suspicious incidents resulting the deaths of the Wardens and of a couple of members of the Audubon really caused things to heat up. But Strangways had not reported back anything in his investigation prior to his disappearance.

Dr No would've been better off leaving these birds alone!
Dr No would’ve been better off leaving these birds alone!

Fugu Poison

In Dr No, once M and Sir James Molony have ended their back and forth over the health and prospects of James Bond, M queries as to the type of poison that had nearly killed Bond.

By the way, did you ever discover what the stuff was that Russian woman put into him?”

“Got the answer yesterday.” Sir James Molony also was glad the subject had been changed. The old man was as raw as the weather. Was there any chance that he had got his message across into what he described to himself as M’s thick skull? “Taken us three months. It was a bright chap at the School of Tropical Medicine who came up with it. The drug was fugu poison. The Japanese use it for committing suicide. It comes from the sex organs of the Japanese globe-fish. Trust the Russians to use something no one’s ever heard of. They might just as well have used curare. It has much the same effect-paralysis of the central nervous system. Fugu’s scientific name is Tetrodotoxin. It’s terrible stuff and very quick. One shot of it like your man got and in a matter of seconds the motor and respiratory muscles are paralysed. At first the chap sees double and then he can’t keep his eyes open. Next he can’t swallow. His head falls and he can’t raise it. Dies of respiratory paralysis.”

“Lucky he got away with it.”

“Miracle. Thanks entirely to that Frenchman who was with him. Got your man on the floor and gave him artificial respiration as if he was drowning. Somehow kept his lungs going until the doctor came. Luckily the doctor had worked in South America. Diagnosed curare and treated him accordingly. But it was a chance in a million.”

The globe-fish, or puffer fish is a member of the species of fish of the family Tetraodontidae. These fish have the ability to inflate themselves to a globe several times their normal size by swallowing water or air when threatened. The skin, liver and sex organs of the fish contain Tetrodotoxin.

fugu-fish

Tetrodotoxin is said to be 10,000 times more lethal than cyanide. As Sir James mentions, the poison interferes with the transmission of signals from nerves to muscles and causes an increasing paralysis of the muscles of the body. Bond was saved because  Rene Mathis gave him artificial respiration, and the Doctor on site thought Bond’s symptoms were similar to curare and treated as such.

Interestingly, eight years after his experience with Rosa Klebb (according to Griswold, that meeting took place on August 19th, 1954) while James Bond is on assignment in Japan for the events of You Only Live Twice where he has a dinner with Tiger Tanaka, who announces to Bond that they will be dining on Fugu fish.

‘Fugu is the Japanese blow-fish. In the water, it looks like a brown owl, but when captured it blows itself up into a ball covered with wounding spines. We sometimes dry the skins and put candles inside and use them as lanterns. But the flesh is particularly delicious. It is the staple food of the sumo wrestlers because it is supposed to be very strength-giving. The fish is also very popular with suicides and murderers because its liver and sex glands contain a poison which brings death instantaneously.’

If Bond recalls that he nearly died from Fugu poisoning, he doesn’t mention it to Tiger, and gamely goes ahead with the meal.

A very beautiful white porcelain dish as big as a bicycle wheel was brought forward with much ceremony. On it were arranged, in the pattern of a huge flower, petal upon petal of a very thinly sliced and rather transparent white fish. Bond followed Tiger’s example and set to with his chopsticks. He was proud of the fact that he had reached Black Belt standard with these instruments-the ability to eat an underdone fried egg with them.

The fish tasted of nothing, not even of fish. But it was very pleasant on the palate and Bond was effusive in his compliments because Tiger, smacking his lips over each morsel, obviously expected it of him. There followed various side-dishes containing other parts of the fish, and more sake, but this time containing raw fugu fins.

As Tiger tells Bond, every fugu restaurant has to be manned by experts and be registered with the State because of the risk of poison. Even today that remains the case.

According to Griswold, this meal took place on October 2nd, 1962. Are we to believe that Bond didn’t know what was in the spike in Rosa’s shoe, that he forgot about it, or that because of the seriousness of this assignment, he went ahead and participated in the meal?

Moran on Courage

After M quotes Dr Peter Steincrohn at Sir James Molony, the famous neurologist has the perfect comeback to the head of the British Secret Service.

This one I’ve had here is tough. I’d say you’ll get plenty more work out of him. But you know what Moran has to say about courage in that book of his.”

“Don’t recall.”

“He says that courage is a capital sum reduced by expenditure. I agree with him. All I’m trying to say is that this particular man seems to have been spending pretty hard since before the war. I wouldn’t say he’s overdrawn-not yet, but there are limits.”

“Just so.” M decided that was quite enough of that. Nowadays, softness was everywhere.

Sir James was quoting none other than Winston Churchill’s personal physician.

"Charles McMoran Wilson" by Unknown - http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/L0020151.html. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_McMoran_Wilson.jpg#/media/File:Charles_McMoran_Wilson.jpg
“Charles McMoran Wilson” by Unknown – http://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/L0020151.html. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Charles_McMoran_Wilson.jpg#/media/File:Charles_McMoran_Wilson.jpg

Born Charles Wilson in 1882, 1st Baron Moran was knighted in 1938 and became Churchill’s personal physician in 1940. In 1945, he wrote a groundbreaking study on the Psychological Effects of War entitled The Anatomy of Courage.

One of the passages from the book which is often quoted comes from this:

Courage is will power, whereof no man has an unlimited stock; and when in war it is used up, he is finished. A man’s courage is his capital and he is always spending. The call on the bank may be only the daily drain of the front line or it may be a sudden draft which threatens to close the account.

Another passage that Molony could’ve been referring to is this one:

Likewise in the trenches a man’s will power was his capital and he was always spending, so that wise and thrifty company officers watched the expenditure of every penny lest their men went bankrupt. When their capital was done, they were finished.

When you look at that line, Could it be that Molony was actually offering M some fairly strong criticism, noting how the “wise” officers carefully watched their men so that they weren’t “spending” too quickly?

Moran had a long life, living until 1977 when he passed away at the age of 94.

Dr Peter Steincrohn

In Dr No, M is preparing to meet with James Bond following his recovery from the near-death experience he suffered at the end of From Russia With Love. He is on the phone with Sir James Molony, consulting with him as to whether 007 is fit to return to duty. While Sir James deems it wise to perhaps ease Bond back into duty, M has no intention of coddling his star agent.

M said abruptly, “Ever hear of a man called Steincrohn-Dr Peter Steincrohn?”

“No, who’s he?”

“American doctor. Written a book my Washington people sent over for our library. This man talks about how much punishment the human body can put up with. Gives a list of the bits of the body an average man can do without. Matter of fact, I copied it out for future reference. Care to hear the list?” M dug into his coat pocket and put some letters and scraps of paper on the desk in front of him. With his left hand he selected a piece of paper and unfolded it. He wasn’t put out by the silence on the other end of the line, “Hullo, Sir James! Well, here they are: ‘Gall bladder, spleen, tonsils, appendix, one of his two kidneys, one of his two lungs, two of his four or five quarts of blood, two-fifths of his liver, most of his stomach, four of his twenty-three feet of intestines and half of his brain.’ ” M paused. When the silence continued at the other end, he said, “Any comments, Sir James?”

There was a reluctant grunt at the other end of the telephone. “I wonder he didn’t add an arm and a leg, or all of them. I don’t see quite what you’re trying to prove.”

M gave a curt laugh. “I’m not trying to prove anything, Sir James. It just struck me as an interesting list. All I’m trying to say is that my man seems to have got off pretty lightly compared with that sort of punishment. But,” M relented, “don’t let’s argue about it.”

Dr Peter J. Steincrohn (1899-1986) was a real person, a real Doctor, and a prolific writer, penning almost 30 medical books aimed at the layperson, in addition to being a long-running syndicated newspaper columnist and radio and TV guest. Dr. Steincrohn received his medical degree at University of Maryland Medical School in 1923 and interned at Muhlenberg Hospital, Plainfield N.J. He did Postgraduate work at Massachusetts General and Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, then established practice at Hartford, Conn, as an Internist and Cardiologist.

October 20, 1949 Daily Capital Journal from Salem, Oregon
October 20, 1949
Daily Capital Journal from Salem, Oregon

From this clipping, it appears that Dr Steincrohn originally penned the words M later uses in the October 1949 issue of The American Magazine.

Dr Steincrohn was considered something of a “Medical Maverick,” although espousing theories not commonly held by other physicians of his day, he was also ahead of his time in many ways, talking about issues such as heart disease and anxiety. His newspaper column was the longest running of its kind, going for over 30 years.

I had a chance to speak with Dr Steincrohn’s daughter, Maggie Davis, who remembers him as “embracing, caring, beloved,” and that he always had a “twinkle in his eye.” She noted that in her father’s private practice, he had both wealthy and poor patients, and it was important to him to make sure all of them were treated the same. It was his habit to talk to each patient for an hour before beginning any sort of examination.He ended up becoming friends with many of his patients. The Doctor didn’t merely treat his patients by rote, his daughter recalls him saying “Treat the patient, not the disease.” Among his colleagues he was known for his ability to diagnose and to ease pain. Included in his patients was the actress Gene Tierney. Dr Steincrohn was married for 50 years to Patti Chapin who was a singer for CBS Radio in the 1930’s on the Palmolive Hour. She also screen-tested for Hollywood, but chose instead to get married and raise a family.

Davis believes that Dr Steincrohn was aware of the above quote from Dr No.

Here are some of the titles of Dr Steincrohn’s books through the years:

Heart Disease is Curable 1943
Forget Your Age! 1945
How To Stop Killing Yourself 1950
How to Add Years to Your Life 1952
How To Master Your Fears 1952
How to Keep Fit without Exercise 1955
Live Longer And Enjoy It 1956
You Can Increase Your Heart Power 1958
How to Be Lazy, Healthy, and Fit 1968
Don’t Die Before Your Time 1971
How to Cure Your Jogger Mania!: Enjoy Fitness and Good Health without Running – A Doctor’s Warning on the Running Craze.  1980

From the back of one of his books:

Peter J. Steincrohn, M.D. is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the American Medical Association. A practicing internist and cardiologist for twenty-five years, Dr Steincrohn is a McNaught Syndicate columnist for over a hundred newspapers throughout the United States and Canada. He has written articles appearing in leaving magazines, including Esquire, Look, Saturday Evening Post and Reader’s Digest.

steincrohn

If you’re interested, here is a beautiful piece written by Maggie Davis about the last years of her parent’s lives.

PQ Convoys

At the start of the second chapter of Dr No, M is arriving at the office on a cold, raw March 1st (1956) in London. He exits his car, and speaks to his chauffeur:

‘Won’t be needing the car again today, Smith. Take it away and go home. I’ll use the tube this evening. No weather for driving a car. Worse than one of those PQ Convoys.’

This is about as close as M gets to using humor. He is referring to the Arctic convoys of World War II – an operation where Allied ships brought supplies to the Soviet Union.

These convoys often met with severe weather on their trips, as well as German opposition.

"HMS Sheffield frost" by Coote, R G G (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer - This is photograph A 6872 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 4700-01).
“HMS Sheffield frost” by Coote, R G G (Lt), Royal Navy official photographer – This is photograph A 6872 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums (collection no. 4700-01).

The above photograph is from one of those convoy missions and likely shows what M had in mind when making the reference.

Mona Reservoir, Jamaica

After Strangways and Mary Trueblood are killed in the opening chapter of Dr. No, their bodies are deposited in a body of water outside Kingston.

As the first flames showed in the upper windows of the bungalow, the hearse moved quietly from the sidewalk and went on its way up towards the Mona Reservoir. There, the weighted coffin would slip down into its fifty-fathom grace and, in just forty-five minutes, the personnel and records of the Caribbean station of the Secret Service would have been utterly destroyed.

The Mona Reservoir is the main water supply for Kingston, located in the neighborhood of Mona, about eight kilometers outside of Kingston.

After many years of development and several setbacks, the Mona Reservoir went into service in 1959.

Mona Reservoir - the final resting place of Commander John Strangways and Mary Trueblood.
Mona Reservoir – the final resting place of Commander John Strangways and Mary Trueblood.
View from the Reservoir looking towards Kingston.
View from the Reservoir looking towards Kingston.

R.A.F. Canberra

In the last pages of From Russia With Love, arrangements are made to transport a package from Paris to London, via Orly Air Base outside of Paris. Rene Mathis says:

We are to fill the laundry basket and and take it to Orly and await an R.A.F. Canberra which will arrive at two o’clock. We hand over the basket. Some dirty washing which was in France will be in England. Yes?

The R.A.F. Canberra was one of the most famous planes in the Royal Air Force, the first generation of jet bombers which were manufactured in the 1950’s.  The last Canberra jet was retired in 2006.

canberra

More on the record-setting English Electra Canberra.