Friday, October 5, 2012

Dr. No/Goldfinger

Dr. No
seen @ Landmark Loews Jersey City, Jersey City NJ

I was never that into James Bond. I didn't hate the Bond movies, but to me they never held that much of an appeal for whatever reason. I can't explain why. I remember seeing A View to a Kill when it came out, though that might have been because Duran Duran did the theme song and I was really into them at the time, but the movie never made an impression of me. I remember a fight on the Eiffel Tower and Grace Jones, but that's about it.

I was working in video retail around the time that Pierce Brosnan stepped into the role, and I remember all the discussion about this choice - basically, that he seemed like the perfect choice to play Bond since Sean Connery and that he should've been Bond long ago, et cetera. I watched Goldeneye on video and thought it was kinda cool, but again, I never bought the hype. By that time, though, I was beginning to become more disaffected by action movies. Indie films were attracting my attention more and more, and for awhile, I thought I was too cool for action flicks. Tomorrow Never Dies was notable for me because it was my first real introduction to Michelle Yeoh, but other than that, it meant nothing.

If I had to think of a reason why I never got into the Bond films, I suppose it might be because plot and character always seemed incidental to me. They may be enjoyable, but he basically does more or less the same stuff in every film with little in the way of character development. And yeah, there are other franchises in which you could say the exact same thing, but I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about Bond.

That said, I took the opportunity last weekend to see a doubleheader of Dr. No and Goldfinger because I had never seen either one before, and I wanted to see how the legend began. It's quite remarkable to see how many of the familiar tropes and catchphrases have almost always been with the character. And I'm not used to seeing Sean Connery so young. He's just barely recognizable as a younger man compared to his older self, but the charisma is definitely there.

Bond's been around for 50 years, so I reckon he's doing something right. I'm certainly aware of how big an impact he had in the first decade or so. Back in the 60s, it seemed like everyone wanted to be a secret agent. There were songs, TV shows, comics, parodies, all having to do with spies and how cool it was to be one. I'm sure the Cold War played a big part in that. But who are we spying on today? North Korea? Iran? It's not quite the same thing. Russia was the "evil empire," our counterpart, our rival. The Cold War wasn't fought the same way as the War of Terror...

...and yet Bond remains as popular today as he ever was. Maybe he's seen as a modern-day superhero, like Batman: he's got all those wonderful toys, he always thinks two steps ahead of the bad guys, and his rogues gallery is as memorable as he is. 

Who's the best Bond? Hard to argue against Connery, though in this case I imagine that, like Doctor Who, each one has its adherents who will swear up and down that their man is the best and to hell with all the others. I once read a theory that "James Bond" is a title, not a name, which would not only explain the constant changing of each actor, but would put the entire series in one continuity instead of successive reboots. I like that idea myself.

By the way, can I bring up Austin Powers for a second? I can't say that Mike Myers has ruined Bond for me because I never held Bond in as much high esteem as others. And I think Austin Powers is great, even though I only saw the first two films and not the third. But see, Bond is so much a part of the popular culture that I more or less recognized many of the Bond tropes that Myers parodied.

So while I don't love Bond, I don't hate him either. Will I go see Skyfall? I might. Great cast, good director. We'll see.

Soundtrack Saturday: The James Bond movies part 1 and part 2
Soundtrack Saturday: John Barry


  1. I LOVE Bond movies, though it's been soo long since I saw some of the Connery's Bonds, so I rewatched Dr No recently. Well, I think it's so silly and I'm glad Bond has come a long way in terms of the production quality, but Connery is definitely charismatic, not to mention utterly hunky! He's not my favorite Bond though, but I could see why he's rated so highly after all these years.

    Seems like this franchise is here to stay and I think I'll always be a Bond fan :)

  2. You came in late to Bond, so maybe it just doesn't resonate for you. One of the things I love about 007 is the ritual. I like a theme song, a pre-title sequence, an outrageous villain, a clever action scene, some smart ass dialogue, and the usual self introduction. Bond is a fetish object for many and I am happy to count myself among them.


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