Whimsical 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is best remembered for its nutty flying car and catchy songs. One piece of chitty-chitty-memora-bang-bang-bilia (sorry) that often gets overlooked: The source material was written by Ian Fleming, who is much better known for creating the most famous fictional secret agent in literary history.
Fleming published 12 James Bond novels, two Bond short story collections, two non-fiction books... and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, a children's book he wrote based on bedtime stories he told his son, Caspar.
Published just over 50 years ago, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang spawned the Dick van Dyke-led movie of the same name, along with a novelization of that movie, a radio show, and a musical. Fleming didn't write the screenplay for the 1968 movie, and there are some big changes from page to screen (Truly Scrumptious doesn't exist in the book, and the movie widowed Caractacus Potts, who is married in the novel).
And here's a mini-Factually about a beloved author working on a project incongruous with his brand within a larger Factually on the same topic: Roald Dahl co-wrote the movie script.
Fleming got his ideas for the shape-shifting, mysterious automobile, as Opposite Lock explains:
Ian Fleming's inspiration for his bedside story came from the aircraft-engined racers of the early 1900's. These cars adapted aircraft engines to automobile platforms from the surplus of wartime equipment. The direct inspiration for the book came from Louis Zborowiski's and Captain Clive Gallop's race cars nicknamed Chitty Bang Bang. Fleming had seen the drivers race at a young age, and later visited Higham Park, the estate where the vehicles had been developed. The vehicles ranged from 180 to 450 horsepower, and were so loud laws were passed that prohibited them from entering the town. Both the racing team and Fleming adopted the name from the noise produced by the powerful engines.
Sadly, Fleming died before Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang was published, so he never got to see the way another one of his novels inspired beloved film.
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