“Don’t sit too close to the television—it will make you blind.” This is a quote from my Mother, my Grandmother, my Aunts. Everyone who lived in the 1950s heard it. I do wear glasses, but I am sure it was not due to TV. People who schedule our television these days have figured this crisis, not named, needs a hero, an indomitable guy with skills, a bit of a HUNK, and perhaps a, “License to Kill.” I am speaking of BOND, JAMES BOND. The very first James Bond was on television starring Barry Nelson. He played him as an American from Ian Fleming’s book, “Casino Royale.” I never saw it since I was seven in 1954, and it did not get picked up as a series.
The first time I heard about Bond, James Bond, I was in class during my senior year, 1964-65, at St. Pius High on Louisiana. A boy I liked, Gary Gadzialla, was reading “Goldfinger” and after he read a page, he would tear it out and toss it in the trash can. I asked him, “Why?” and he told me if the nuns caught him with it, he might be expelled. So, of course when the movie came to the Winrock Theater, we had to go. It was a thrill. The music was great. It was a hit on radio. James Bond was Sean Connery who was all man. The Bond girl died from gold paint. There was talk all during that year we should try it?! Oddjob, the Villain’s sidekick, used his hat to cut off heads. And the plot was to contaminate all U.S. gold at Fort Knox with radiation from a dirty bomb. What a great movie. If only America had a guy like James Bond; and we loved the British (Scot) accent.
For the next 60 years, if we needed an example to look to for protection, it was BOND, JAMES BOND. Maybe that is why all this month antenna free TV on channel 4.2 has been playing the first six Bond movies to keep our mind off “you know what.”
“Dr. No,” “From Russia with Love,” “Goldfinger,” “Thunderball,” “You Only Live Twice” and “Diamonds Are Forever” are being played over and over. What seemed to be so normal or risqué in the 1960s is laughable. In “Dr. No,” a man comes to see Bond when he is at a hotel pool with a Bond girl. He pats her on the (ahem) and says, “Go on now honey, man talk.” She does not clobber him; she saunters off to later keep his sheets warm. Really, did we think that was OK? We did!
I looked up the 25 and more movies with James Bond and found some interesting facts. Sean Connery, who everyone thinks of as THE JAMES BOND, did seven movies starting with “Dr. No” in 1962. He quit in the middle of “You Only Live Twice,” but later finished that movie, only to come back for “Diamonds Are Forever,” in 1971. He returned after being gone all those years and did “Never Say Never Again,” in 1983. George Lazenby stepped in for “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” where Bond marries a lovely gangster’s daughter, played by Diana Rigg, only to have a hit man shoot her as they left for a honeymoon. Dangerous to be around that guy. He only did one Bond because his agent said it would not do to be typecast. Lazenby should have fired him on the spot.
Roger Moore picked up the pace with a comic wisecracking Bond from 1973 to 1985. The first “Live and Let Die” took place in New Orleans, with Bond girl Jane Seymour as Solitaire. She could tell fortunes and had a drug lord as a ward. Bond girls were wildly accepted in the acting field. They were often killed, but the actresses’ careers flourished if it was on their resume. Timothy Dalton did Bond twice, in 1987 and ’89 with “The Living Daylights” and “License to Kill.” He must have had the same agent as Lazenby. Pierce Brosnan, from television’s “Remington Steele,” worked as Bond from 1995 to 2002. He had Moore’s looks, but not Connery’s “Macho.”
Then we have the Bond of today, the one most like the original, rough and tough—Daniel Craig. He started the 007 brand in a remake of “Casino Royale,” in 2002. He will end his Bondage in November 2020 with “No Time to Die.”
What is it we love about the Bond movies? Could it be the drinking? Vodka Martini, “shaken not stirred?” The smoking? No, cigarettes are bad for you. Could it be the way he dances with beautiful women? Or the puns, like the one where the woman is shot while dancing with him. Double-Oh Seven drags her to a chair where others are sitting and says, “Let her rest here. She’s dead on her feet.” Maybe it’s the fast cars, was it Aston Martin, or Lotus? I do not even know these, but then I drive a 9-year-old Honda with fast food trash on the floor and no gadgets.
Oh, the gadgets. We loved it when Q, Quartermaster, would give James toys and he would use them to blow minions up. But it might be his gun; Bond used a Walther PPK gun given to him with the sanction of MI6, British Intelligence service. MI6 is the British equivalent of our CIA, the Central Intelligence Agency. So why are we so fixated on these movies 60 years later? I cannot answer that, or I would have to kill you. Cute huh? Everyone needs an escape. These days this is it. We cannot all be Bond girls, thank God, but we can dream of being rescued by a handsome fellow in a mask, like… Bond, James Bond. Roaring Mouse, getting too close to the TV, out.