Friday, October 21, 2005

007 comes full circle

Another James Bond. Can I even name them all anymore? This new guy's blond, fer chrissakes!

While it is, probably, too much to hope that the producers of the next film will make something appealing to a thinking adult, hope springs eternal.

I can't help getting a little excited by the prospect of the new guy, Daniel Craig, returning the character to one Ian Fleming would recognize. I lament many of the changes that have been made to the character of James Bond and to movies in general. Like many of my age, James Bond was a fixture and a lodestar in my life. Along with people like John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds and Charles Bronson - Sean Connery, George Lazenby and Roger Moore (at least in the first couple of movies) instructed young Anglo-American males in the art of being a man. A man dressed well, was polished, suave and polite - until somebody messed with him - then he was an accomplished martial artist and crack shot who dealt death as coolly as he chatted with beautiful women. This sort of model, although tempered necessarily by reality, taught the lesson that one ought to be civil - until it was no longer possible, then you should be prepared to do what was necessary to defend yourself and that in which you believe. A lesson that, based upon that which passes for popular culture and discourse today, is seemingly no longer taught.

When my friends and I watched 007 as kids, we noticed that working for your country against those who threatened you was a risky business. You were likely going to get hurt, or even killed, but you did it anyway. The closest James Bond has come recently to the cinematic ass-whuppin' he took in Dr. No is to have his suit wrinkled (and an Italian Brioni suit at that! Brioni! Don't get me started!). According to those who make movies today, patriotism is considered too juvenile even for teenagers and moral clarity is a sign of intellectual inferiority that could get you kicked out of the filmmakers’ club. Finally, it seems that today thinking is out of vogue - reliance on gadgetry is in.

The foregoing is why an adult treatment of the world of covert intelligence services that lacks the cynical nihilism of a Le Carre would likely stand out - if only because it stands alone.

Another reason for hope is: how hard could it be to make a James Bond movie today? After the events of the last four years, is the idea of a fight to the death against a megalomaniac criminal mastermind and his mercenary henchmen, in an armed hideaway in a remote corner of the world all that far-fetched? Art imitates life, right? The only problem movie-makers have today (and actually it is not an insignificant one) is - how can you top reality?

The decision to return to the first Bond novel Casino Royale for the next movie is another sign that, just perhaps, we may see an adult version of James Bond. Of all the novels, Casino Royale most prominently displays the gaps in the thin veneer of sophistication that only barely covers Bond’s (and generally Anglo-Saxons’) rough and bloody-minded willingness to defend himself and get his way. There is so much potential here.

However, I am fully prepared to be disappointed - again.

For those who care, below is a list of those who’ve played James Bond and a chronological list of Ian Fleming’s spy novels:

Actors

Barry Nelson (1954 [TV]) - Sean Connery (1962-1967) – George Lazenby (1969) – Sean Connery (1971) – Roger Moore (1973-1985) – Timothy Dalton (1987-1989) – Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002) – Daniel Craig (2006- )

Novels

Casino Royale (1953)
Live and Let Die (’54)
Moonraker (’55)
Diamonds are Forever (’56)
From Russia with Love (’57)
Dr. No (’58)
Goldfinger (’59)
For Your Eyes Only (’60)
Thunderball (’61)
The Spy who Loved Me (’62)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (’63)
You Only Live Twice (‘64)
The Man with the Golden Gun (’65)*
Octopussy & The Living Daylights (’66)*

*-Published posthumously

4 Comments:

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Blogger DirtCrashr said...

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8:01 AM  

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