David Farrar: The James Bond Who Never Was

There have always been discussions about who will be the next James Bond. Always contentious, the discussions are simultaneously fun and infuriating. This piece will take a quick look at someone who never even had a chance: David Farrar.

Ian Fleming invented the character of James Bond in 1953, and British actor David Farrar already had about 35 screen performances under his belt by the same time. However, the fictional spy and the real man would never meet. And that’s a shame.

When we think of James Bond, words like “debonair”, “dashing”, “handsome”, and “virile” (among slew  of others) come to mind. Usually a tall-ish, dark-haired man who can hold his own in any situation, whether in a tuxedo or whatever the hell that swimsuit is Sean Connery wears in Goldfinger, James Bond is sex and spycraft personified. David Farrar checks off all of those prerequisites.

Admittedly, I’ve seen only two of Farrar’s films (Black Narcissus and The Small Back Room), and he’s fantastic in both of them. In Black Narcissus, Farrar plays a British agent who gets some nuns hot and bothered for his half-naked self. I don’t recall 007 ever getting a nun to lose her shit and leave the order. That’s some sex appeal!

Black Narcissus (8)

In The Small Back Room, Farrar is an alcoholic and an explosives expert. Hmm…a proclivity for booze and dangerous situations, and he looks damn good in a tux. Sounds pretty 007-y to me.

David Farrar (2)

By the time Eon Productions released the first Bond film, Dr. No, Farrar would have been in his early-mid fifties. Although Roger Moore played 007 into his late-fifties, it really is a shame that the character hadn’t been developed early enough to allow for Farrar to play the spy in the late 1940s.

I often think on what we missed by not having such an iconic character played by such a charismatic actor. Perhaps David Farrar would be the “definitive” bond we all argue over to this day.

One thought on “David Farrar: The James Bond Who Never Was

  1. Thank you, Peter, that was very interesting to read. I agree that David Farrar would have been perfect to play James Bond. I only recently discovered that David Farrar, whose real name was Cyril Edwin Matthews is my second cousin. As soon as I Googled images of him I was struck by how similar he looks to my late father, Brian Arthur Matthews, born in the UK in 1931. I’m not sure if they ever met, as he didn’t discuss his childhood in wartime Britain. Anyway, thanks again.


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