Bond midterm

What James Bond looks like, according to Ian Fleming ca 1950s, and according to current Bond theory.

Work commitments currently have conspired to put my Bond viewing on hold while I watch some car-race movies (currently on my stack, The Great Race, The Gumball Rally and Cannonball). But while ye faithful wait (with bated breath, no doubt) for my penetrating (ahem) analysis of Octopussy and beyond, I’d like to open up a discussion on what exactly is the appeal of this character.

We know who Batman is. Batman is millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, whose parents were killed by a mugger outside a movie theater in Gotham City. At that moment, Bruce Wayne lost his identity and became a crime-fighting spirit of vengeance. Bruce Wayne is forever haunted by the deaths of his parents, and so puts on a scary costume and goes out every night on an impossible quest to rid Gotham City of crime. We know that Spider-Man is bespectacled-loser Peter Parker, we know that Luke Skywalker is a restless teenager aching to get off his crummy backwater planet, we know that Charlie Brown pines for the little red-haired girl who will never know he’s alive.

But what do we know about James Bond? In spite of having 21 movies made about him, he remains maddeningly elusive as a person. I was shocked to learn, in the new Casino Royale, that he’s an orphan, brought up as a ward of the state. That explains a lot, especially the glee evident in Daniel Craig’s demeanor at getting to live a life of luxurious splendor far beyond the station he was born to. But mostly in the movies Bond has no past to speak of, just a casually-worn knowledge of every subject in the universe, mostly-excellent taste in clothes, a life of drunken leisure and a desire to screw beautiful women.

(I was about to add his love of gadgets, but Bond has no love of gadgets — a car, a gun, a super-magnetic watch, they’re all just tools, things useful for getting the job done. Q has a love of gadgets, Bond couldn’t care less. If he can kill a guy with a coat-hanger, he will — he doesn’t need Q’s fancy crap, in spite of how often it comes in handy. And the car will inevitably be destroyed during a chase in some bad-guy’s warehouse. You don’t see James Bond worrying about his paint job.)

It’s entirely possible, of course, that it’s Bond’s lack ofstory that has allowed him to have 21 movies made about him. The Bond movies occupy a peculiar narrative universe. They’re not a continuing narrative, they’re more of an attitude and a set of values, a formula if you will. A satisfying story demands a beginning, middle and end, but James Bond just goes on and on and on. Each adventure rolls off his back, rarely is a timeline or sense of past mentioned, he starts over fresh every time he slouches into M’s office. (“What do you know about a man named Scaramanga?” asks M at the beginning of The Man With The Golden Gun and Bond shrugs and recites, for about two minutes, every detail of Scaramanga’s life, as though it were common knowledge and barely worth mentioning.) Like pornography, Bond promises satisfaction and keeps you coming back in spite of never giving you what you’re accustomed to receiving in a movie theater. Perfect popcorn movies, the Bond features always taste more-or-less great, and you always want more in spite of the fact that they never really fill you up.

After watching Goldfinger the other day I began to wonder how Bond spends his time when he’s not blowing shit up and saving the world. He doesn’t seem to search out danger and intrigue, that’s just his job. Now me, when I’m not sitting at my computer writing I’m driving around town taking care of family errands and thinking about writing. Bond doesn’t seem to have this problem. When the job is done, he’s back to what he considers man’s natural state — sleeping late, playing cards, getting drunk and screwing beautiful women, preferably in the back of a boat adrift in some warm tropical sea.

(There was an excellent Saturday Night Live episode where Steve Martin played Bond on his off-hours, where he’s trying to live the Bond life in order to impress his date, but because he’s not on billable hours he has to pinch pennies, get free food from the casino bar and worry about dirtying his white dinner jacket.)

Indiana Jones has a similar narrative strategy, we only get little scraps of his life in dribs and drabs, and yet the Indiana Jones movies feel different, perhaps because of the scale of the adventures, perhaps because of the religious nature of the artifacts he searches for, perhaps because each movie takes him on an emotional and/or philosophical journey. Things affect Indiana Jones, he’s never the same man at the end of the story as he was at the beginning, but nothing seems to affect James Bond. I get the feeling that if it wasn’t his job to save the world, he wouldn’t particularly care if the world was saved or not. When he’s taken prisoner by Dr. No, and No tells Bond about SPECTRE’s plan to rule the world, Bond snorts with amused derision “World domination, the same old dream.” He has no serious worries that Dr. No has any real ability to pull off his mad scheme (whatever the hell it is, I still haven’t figured it out), it’s just his job to stop it. Or rather, it’s just his job to get the girl and get off the island alive, and if that involves stopping No’s scheme, then so be it. There’s always this feeling when he walks into M’s office that he’d just as soon turn right back around and go back to playing cards.

Maybe Bond exists best as a state of being. He does a lot of guy things — he parasails, bungee-jumps, punches people, chases women (well okay, he doesn’t do much chasing, the birds pretty much fall out of the trees when he walks by), drives fast cars, or cars fast anyway, consumes electronics. The consumer aspect of Bond is as powerful and important, I think, as any other. It’s not for nothing that brand-names are always being tossed around in Bond movies (from Casino Royale: WOMAN: “What’s that watch you’re wearing? BOND: “Omega.” WOMAN [visibly aroused]: “Perfect”). The only reason I know the term “Walther PPK” is because that’s, you know, James Bond’s gun. He’s a kind of style-sheet — a proper gentlemen wears X clothes, drives Y car, drinks Z drink, thinks about topic A, B and sometimes C, but only when necessary to do so for Queen and Country. A man, says Bond, learns everything in the world and is capable of performing any task imaginable, so that he may then live a life of luxurious decadence.

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54 Responses to “Bond midterm”
  1. themacguffin says:


    I have the original screenplay in PDF form if interested in reading it?

    The Gumball guys held a script/treatment contest this year for a new movie to be made about the rally and I placed in the Top 10, not too shabby

  2. teamwak says:

    Bond ghosts as a 5 star travel writer when he’s not working for Queen and country. Have you ever noticed how many hotel managers, maitre D’s, and casino owners all know him by sight! In The Living Daylights Bond gets dropped in a jeep in the middle of Pakistan. He comes to a sign that says Karachi or Islamabad. Bond says “I know a great little restaurant in Karachi”. He’s The Times lifestyle guru 🙂

    PS. You wont be getting away with out Bond if you are watching Gumball Rally. Jaws himself, Richard Keel turns up – partnered with a very young Jackie Chan, if I’m not mistaken.

    • greyaenigma says:

      I think you mean Cannonball Run, which stars Moore himself — and former potential Bond Burt Reynolds!

      • teamwak says:

        Thanks. Those screwball road-race comedys blur after a while.

        Is Gumball the one with Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin then? They dress as priests and drive a flash red car. Sammy says “God is our co-pilot”. Good times.

        • greyaenigma says:

          I think that’s Cannonball again. Gumball has fairly few big names, and Gary busey was right near the beginning of his career.

          Oh, and it’s Cannonball Run II with Richard Kiel. He doesn’t seem to appear in the first one.

        • papajoemambo says:

          Gumball is the one with a very young Raul Julia as a manic Italian guy on a motorcycle.

          • Todd says:

            The young Mr. Julia is definitely in the movie, but it is English actor Harvey Jason who plays the manic Italian guy (who is actually Hungarian) on a motorcycle. Julia plays Tim McIntyre‘s girl-crazy Italian driver, and ends up attracting quite a bit more attention than McIntyre himself.

            • papajoemambo says:

              My bad – My memory is failing me.

              Ahhhh yes – sorry – it’s been a long time since 1976 and the double-feature release of GUMBALL RALLY and AMERICAN GRAFITTI (something we went to each Saturday for the three weeks it ran at one of our local drive-ins in Ottawa where I grew up).

    • black13 says:

      No that’s Cannonball Run, the one with Kiel and Chan. (Chan’s first foray into Hollywood — he took the idea for the bloopers over the end credits home from this movie.) It also co-stars Roger Moore as a rich guy who believes he is James Bond.

    • mikeyed says:

      That’s so weird that people know him by sight. You would think that that would be what he would want to avoid as to not leave any real trail behind. i guess since Bond’s more of a fantasy secret agent, rather than a real world one, he can leave a paper trail only because the bad guys are so focused on grandiose projects of building insidious lairs and crafting unnecessarily extravagant plots to take over the world that they never need notice the one guy who consistently foils them all.

    • rojagato says:

      Bond ghosts as a 5 star travel writer when he’s not working for Queen and country. Have you ever noticed how many hotel managers, maitre D’s, and casino owners all know him by sight!

      Or, he’s an insomniac leading a double existence &agrave: la Fight Club: by day, he’s the suave MI6 operative working to preserve the Old World Order by any means necessary (as long as it doesn’t dirty his fingernails or spill his drink); by night, he’s Tyler Durden, pissing into soup tureens, setting up vast criminal enterprises to undo everything for which his alter ego stands, and getting to know those hotel managers, maitre D’s, and every down-trodden busboy in every five-star hotel where the Western World has its tentative talons.

  3. planettom says:

    Charlie Higson has been writing a series of books about Bond’s teenage adventures, the first two of which have been published in the U.S., SilverFin, and“>Blood Fever
    (The third, Double or Die, is out in the U.K., and the 4th, Hurricane Gold, is coming out in September.

    As ridiculous as the concept sounds, they’re actually pretty fun pastiches that do capture Fleming’s style a bit. Of course, you have to drink down a big old steaming cup of suspension-of-disbelief that Bond is tangling with supervillains bent on world domination even before it’s his job.

    A nice touch is that they’re set in the 1930s, so keeping more with Fleming’s timeline.

    • ninebelow says:

      And in these books he is an orphan but hardly a ward of the state: he lives with a relative until he is packed off to Eton.

  4. greyaenigma says:

    Twin Spinnakers

    I was thinking about the Bond appeal the other day — I’ve got one of the DVD box sets, and I think I’ve only watched one of those DVDs. (I actually have this problem with a lot of my DVDs.) And with your discussion of all the movies I’ve been thinking of getting the new set with the new transfers. Partly that’s the completionist in me, but it also got me wondering why I wanted the sets in the first place.

    The best I can figure is that I just had this unconscious understanding that these were movies one watched. Or simply that when I was a kid, these were the epitome of action movies. Or, rather, adult aciton movies. (The relative maturity between these and certain science fiction movies notwithstanding.) Certainly Bond is the archetypical spy daydream — one that’s slightly more plausible than the fantasy, space opera, or superhero genres.

    It’s worth remembering that since a lot of earlier heroes (like Batman) started as investivators that just dressed a little funny. Bond is just a government-employed Batman with a fancy (formal) suit. And less slightly reliance on gadgets. And without that pesky disdain for guns. I’m curious to lookup The Saint and rewatch the Prisoner — I seem to recall McGoohan (or at least his characters) having a disdain for guns, as a fairly directly response to Bond’s reliance on them.

    Maybe it’s the combination of gadgets and women (shark tanks and bikinis) that does it. As a little kid, I could care less about the women (enough of this, I want to see the aquacar!) but for adults, there’s the sexual eye candy of the women, and presumably Bond himself. And of course, exotic locales and volcano bases. Either way it’s definitive modern escapism.

    • Todd says:

      Re: Twin Spinnakers

      …I’ve been thinking of getting the new set with the new transfers. Partly that’s the completionist in me…

      You’ve hit it on the head. This is why a movie as bad as, say, The Man With the Golden Gun gets the deluxe, high-definition DVD treatment — because Bond movies appeal to the teenage fanboy completist nature of men’s personalities. The studio knows this, that’s how they have the balls to put only one Connery Bond in each of the boxes, the bastards. Because they know that men will need to own them all, regardless of their relative quality. I know that’s why I had to get the new transfers, even though I know I only really like maybe five of the twenty movies well enough to own them. Mind you, I waited until the price was right, but still…

      • greyaenigma says:

        Gotta Catch ’em All

        I knew if I whacked that hammer enough times I’d get it just right.

        I first noticed this trick in all the Best Of… albums that always managed to be missing my one favorite song by said band.

  5. rxgreene says:

    Bond is a high functioning sociopath. He uses whatever is at hand (guns, knives, women, cards, natives) to get what he wants. The Secret Service gives him license to indulge in the seven deadly sins, a small price to pay for them to “keep the peace.”

    So long as Bond is kept in manner to which he is used to, he is a faithful dog. He still despises authority, mocks it at his leisure, but ultimately does as he is told. Not for “Queen and Country”, but for his own self interest.

    There is no greater depth to him – he is leading a hollow existence, memorizing facts that serve his needs, his appetites and desires. If he were an accountant, he’d know tax law like the back of his hand. As a sports writer, he would know every bit of trivia and stat about all the players in the sprt he specialized in. Bond’s business is money, sex, and death. He knows the players, the rules (and lack thereof) and plays accordingly. Given that he was an orphan as mentioned above would likely only decrease his compassion and (forgive me) bond with others, and lead to a self dependent loner, with little to nothing to make him actually care for others.

    • Todd says:

      And that makes him — appealing? Because if Bond is as you say he is, then millions of men all over the world daydream about high-functioning sociopaths. Which, in all probability, is true.

      And also explains the “nowness” of the character. Bond has no past because he exists in a state of eternal “now.” Which one does when one is a sociopath, I guess. You kill a guy, have sex with a beautiful woman, blow up an oil refinery, change your clothes, go play cards, get drunk, have sex with another beautiful woman, go to sleep, wake up the next day as though nothing had happened. No guilt, no attachment, no particular desire for anything really.

      • greyaenigma says:

        I’ve heard a few serious theories that most successful business leaders and politicians are actually sociopaths. “High functioning” in the sense that they hide it well, I guess, I don’t know of anything in the sociopath psychology itself that prevents people from functioning. It’s not being able to pretend like they care that would trip up a sociopath.

        • Todd says:

          What? A sociopath politician? With no sense of right or wrong, who just wanders around destroying things, forgetting everything he does a day later, making up bullshit excuses and blaming everyone else for decisions he makes? What weird fantasy planet do you live on?

      • mikeyed says:

        If there’s people who dream to be sociopaths, then that leads me to quote thusly…

        “Who’s the more foolish: The fool, or the fool who follows him?”

      • rxgreene says:

        Well, on the surface, Bond has it all. Great clothes, cool gear, hot women. On a second look, there is nothing below the surface – No children to go home to, no wife, no pets even. Deep within there is a a sad, lonely man who doesn’t know how to do anything else, nor does he want to.

        And also explains the “nowness” of the character.
        Exactly! Bond is in a self imposed permanent zen state – he does not want to remember the past (killings, fleeting romances, his orphaned youth) and so he lives in the now more than a child would.

        A high funtioning sociopath is, as Greyenigma describes, someone who is able to mask (for the most part) their disdain for humanity, their feelings of superiority, and their habitual “use” of others beneath a more socially acceptable face. Were Bond on the street, he would likely get killed (or kill another) for his debauchery. He could have easily been the enforcer of a mobster of some stripe, but instead, after his service in the Navy, became a spy. Had he gone into politics he would have either ended up Prime Minister or the centerpiece of a scandal involving one of his habits. Possibly both.

  6. chadu says:

    That explains a lot, especially the glee evident in Daniel Craig’s demeanor at getting to live a life of luxurious splendor far beyond the station he was born to. But mostly in the movies Bond has no past to speak of, just a casually-worn knowledge of every subject in the universe, mostly-excellent taste in clothes, a life of drunken leisure and a desire to screw beautiful women.


    The consumer aspect of Bond is as powerful and important, I think, as any other. It’s not for nothing that brand-names are always being tossed around in Bond movies (from Casino Royale: WOMAN: “What’s that watch you’re wearing? BOND: “Omega.” WOMAN [visibly aroused]: “Perfect”).

    Actually, I’ve been hearing lately from some quarters (and as I reflect on the books), that James Bond has pretty crappy taste in drinks, food, smokes, and… well, just about everything.

    He seems to go for things that are Expensive and Name Brand, but of dubious quality. Either a friend or an article I read somewhere pointed out that this was intentional on Fleming’s part, to show that Bond was essentially a thug with an exorbitant expense account, and that anyone with actual refined tastes could see and recognize this.

    From my own personal experience, his favored cigarettes are horrible. A wine-lover friend pointed out that Bond’s favored wines, champagnes, and liquors are very expensive, but not necessarily best quality. Someone else mentioned that the way that Bond eats his caviar (the very detailed prep) is EXACTLY the way one restaurant in London was known for doing…. but no one else usually ate it that way.

    I suspect that most Americans’ unfamiliarity with pre- and post-WWII European high culture led us to think Bond was refined, when he’s really just a thug in a tux.

    If anyone has actual textual back-up of any the assertions I’m probably mangling above, please link!


    • Todd says:

      I was just reading that the brand-name consumerist aspect of the character was intentional on Fleming’s part, but I have not heard that it is meant ironically. Nor does it indicate whether the movies mean it that way. And I’m quite certain that the manufacturers who pay for more than half of Bond’s advertisements (Omega — as featured in Casino Royale), thus making the movies that much more tempting a distribution offer (since the studio gets three times the advertising space but only pays for 1/3 of it itself). Not being one to buy a gun, drink a vodka or drive a car just because James Bond does, I have no idea whether he’s attracted to quality goods or flashy trash.

      • chadu says:

        I was just reading that the brand-name consumerist aspect of the character was intentional on Fleming’s part, but I have not heard that it is meant ironically. Nor does it indicate whether the movies mean it that way.

        I don’t think the movies mean it that way at all.

        IIRC, the vodka martini, shaken not stirred, is a key to the irony — it is “all wrong” according to martini purists. Check out the WIkipedia entry for further details, though it’s not specificly dealing with the issue we’re discussing.

        • Todd says:

          There’s a beat in Casino Royale where Bond takes a moment to invent a new drink, and it sounds so ludicrous (to me, anyway) that I thought they were daring the world to take them seriously, like the producers would laugh themselves silly if suddenly people were going into bars and ordering this concoction.

    • ninebelow says:

      I am sure I remember a similar article about the vulgarity of his tastes. I thought it might have beeen this review of Casino Royale but apart from the avocado reference, it doesn’t seem so.

  7. craigjclark says:

    If that Cannonball on your stack is the one directed by Paul Bartel, I greatly envy you because it’s one of the few films of his that I’ve never caught up with (despite the fact that it was put out by Blue Underground a few years back). Of course, that begs the question of whether Death Race 2000 is on your list, too.

    • Todd says:

      Cannonball is indeed directed by Paul Bartel. It also has cameos by both Martin Scorsese and Sylvester Stallone.

      Death Race 2000 is on my list, but a bit further down, after Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry and Vanishing Point.

  8. Actually, in the books, he’s pretty freaking bored when he’s not on a mission. He gets stuck doing a lot of office work and kind of spaces out, like pretty much everyone else. They even imply that the majority of his time is spent in this state (as Indiana Jones does in his lecture to his archeology class in Raiders of the Lost Ark and his “X never marks the spot” speech in The Last Crusade), and that, when he’s not on the Company expense account, he sticks to bland, simple foods like cold roast beef sandwiches. He does a lot of compartmentalizing of his life, seems to have a strong (if highly subjective) moral code which doesn’t always jive with the code his superiors would have him live by, and is a kind of control freak loner. Presumably he’s a little conflicted about some of the horrible things he has to do and seeks to squeak out a little bit of pleasure from ultimately small, controllable things: sex without messy attachments, an old Bentley, good food, good wine. He bums out a bit over the relatively meager pay his government job provides him and so lives as high as he can when they send him to Monte Carlo or wherever, where, being a smart, controlled guy with a system, he can sometimes parlay his meager earnings into a nice little nest egg because he knows this ride isn’t going to last long. Definitely a touch of the existentialist in him, with the moral/professional code of your old time detective heroes.

  9. rojagato says:

    My fascination and occasional preoccupation with James Bond has everything to do with his lack of backstory (I haven’t seen the current, canon Casino Royale yet) — I could take the attitude and fantasize from there, riffing on my own embroidered backstory where, for example: Bond’s father was the imperious Admiral of the Baltic Fleet, rather than an abusive and PTSD-ridden Navy medic with shore duties evacuating horribly-wounded civilians and Marines to get their mine-shrapneled, gangrened limbs sawed off onship; and where Bond spent his free time at the British Museum lost in card-catalog serendipity (and a smuggled flask of fine Scotch) while researching the foes against Civilisation, rather than interning as a sous-librarian in a hospital and pulling articles on decubitis ulcers and fascitis secondary to heroin injection.

    The thing about Bond’s lack of backstory (and, as you’ve pointed out, a total disconnect from worldly physics, logic, and detectively plodding), is that he sets some of us free to imagine how we would do it.

    I mean, I’m not likely to get bitten by a radioactive spider (I’ve actually been bitten by quite a few spiders, but they haven’t changed my life beyond a couple of bad scars), I thank God I haven’t seen my parents shot down in front of me (for all of my wishing that would happen when I was an adolescent), and there is no way I’d trade my clubrat life for being an armchair coacaine-addict didact like Sherlock Holmes. But, in my secret life? I can be Bond, because I can make Bond’s off-hours a romantic version of mine.

    I think that Barry Adamson pretty much summed it up for me, at least musically, in his Phantasy Bond Theme — the appeal of Bond is he can be what you want him to be, and for some of us who want to change the world to something better to our taste, he’s as good as any avatar on which to hang our hats.

    • planettom says:

      An odd thing in the Bond novels is that Bond gets horribly tortured almost every book, and about half the time ends the book in a hospital bed, recovering.

      With very few exceptions (CASINO ROYALE), the movie Bond avoids getting tortured.

      So if Bond is fantasy-fulfillment for the reader, it seems there’s a price to be paid for all that action, fine dining, and having mysterious beautiful women show up in your hotel bed unannounced.

      • Todd says:

        In Dr. No, he does get taken to a cell and punched a couple of times, but it hardly counts as torture.

        • planettom says:

          I haven’t read it, but I’ve been meaning to mention this book in these threads: The Man Who Saved Britain: A Personal Journey into the Disturbing World of James Bond by Simon Wender.

        • He also gets the crap kicked out of him when he’s held in a North Korean (or was it Chinese?) prison at the beginning of Die Another Day, which I was pretty excited about because it harkened back to the kind of things that would happen to Bond in the books but never the movies. (There’s also a nice callback to some props from the older Bond movies–for once acknowledging past continuity in a small way–when Bond meets M in an underground MI6 storage facility after he’s released). The thing about the Brosnan movies was that in each one of them the filmmakers would finally do something cool with Bond that they hadn’t done in years (or had never done), but they could never get it together to make one completely solid, super-cool Bond movie. Like he’d finally get a colorful, megalomanical, take-over-the-world villain (after fighting nothing but bland post Cold War arms dealers for like twenty years) but then the Bond Girl or the villain plot would suck. Or he’d get a good Bond Girl and a good deformed henchmen, but they’d blow it with a retarded, impossible action sequence. Or they’d improve Bond’s dialogue and get him sounding lethally cold and darkly funny instead of pompous and quippy, but then the ending would peter out. If you could take certain elements from all the Brosnan Bonds and put ’em together, you’d have a pretty decent film.

          • Todd says:

            He also gets the crap kicked out of him when he’s held in a North Korean (or was it Chinese?) prison at the beginning of Die Another Day

            I’d forgotten that. Hey, James Bond gets tortured two movies in a row, both released after the invasion of Iraq! I wonder what that could possibly mean?

            • planettom says:

              Not only that, but you really identify with the protagonist. Like, when I came out of the theater at the end of DIE ANOTHER DAY, I too felt like I’d been tortured for exactly 133 minutes.

  10. rojagato says:

    A personal note: thank you, Mr Alcott, for your systematic and detailed reviews of the Bond films. The reviews have allowed me to relive (sometimes joyfully, sometimes painfully, often both) my first, second, and sometimes the third times of watching those movies with the added frisson of seeing them through someone else’s eyes, too.

    But mostly, you’ve helped me to see that Bond is a palimpsest, not just a relic of the Cold War.

  11. Anonymous says:

    (What a great series posting, thanks!)

    “Maybe Bond exists best as a state of being.”

    That point without the arrival at “luxurious decadence”, sounds more like 60s-70s Clint Eastwood, as anti-Bond.

    Bond only seems familiar in the movies because he is a machine, a set of precise gestures were distilled from the book, to shape a role to be filled by different actors. Is that a full character would be a question because we recognize him only in the total package – music, shots, devices, plots, etc…So psychology, his backstory doesn’t matter. But this is the opposite to the lack of a backstory in Eastwood’s character in the 60s Italian Westerns.

    Bond is forever a period-piece, independent Brittania, moored in the beliefs of 1950s-60s attempt at a “Hollywood” cinema industry vehicle. Eastwood’s is a 60s alterna-Hollywood, blurs borders in a lowbudget, Italian / Eastern Europe hybrid vehicle. The latter is a new international by production, and wakes up an American genre- the western genre. Bond introduces to cinema a kind of global genre, a myth where England – not Europe, not America – can do it alone still…

    Eastwood is meaningful in his solitary existentialist pose. Bond must be a willing part of a Government agency whose only independence is on a technical level, at tactics. Death in Bond becomes part of the machine’s cold logic, its measured by numbers; in Eastwood’s characters development onto Dirty Harry, “death” becomes the individual’s acceptable tactic in society, as part of growing conservative tendency.

    Eastwood’s 2 movie characters that arrive parallel to the Bond franchise, the cowboy and the Dirty Harry series, are motivated in inverse relation to Bond. You require Eastwood for the role, vs Bond is just a role to fill. Eastwood’s characters are anti-hero, darker, loners, and agendas not assigned nor clearly writ out for anyone. They occur, as if by accident, “humanist” to some degree despite the negative, anti-societal or misanthropic outlines. Bond, well, you’ve covered that.

    Bond is revamped GB taste, class-based England exclusion by having the “right” details that seperate the lowers from the uppers (Bad guys always love outfitting, uniform codes seem necessary to rule the world) that dovetail with 80s Hollywood brand-marketing. Eastwood is without tags, with the exception of the later “Dirty Harry” incarnation and weapon of choice.

    (Notice I am passing over the Eastwood-character in his Trucker films, which inverses his other characters)

    I think the drawing illustration you have makes perfect sense – all human virtues rather than “superman”, Bond seems there morphed out of excellent but B-movie actor Randolph Scott, underachieving, doomed author F.Scott Fitzgerald, and certainly thinning on top, not matinee idol stuff in ten years..

    • Todd says:

      Actually, I was just looking at that illustration (which I think dates back to the late fifties) and thinking how much it looks like Daniel Craig.

    • Todd says:

      I think it’s also worth mentioning that Eastwood developed his “Man With No Name” character very much on his own, while Bond has always been the product of many sensibilities working in tandem with a strong producorial hand overseeing the project. If there is a star of the Bond series, it is Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who figured this thing out and understood from the beginning what was important and vital to the character and what could be safely experimented upon. As one Bond book pointed out, just look at the Tarzan movies (or Superman, for that matter) to see just how fully a character can be lost through a misunderstanding of what makes him work.

      • Anonymous says:

        That illustration looks like Daniel Craig, really? Hm… I’m not seeing it in the nose especially. I have Randolph Scott on the mind I guess. I need to use that face-o-matic link you listed before.

        “(Broccoli and Saltzman) who figured this thing out and understood from the beginning what was important and vital to the character and what could be safely experimented upon.”

        But… it seems no one followed that really, if you add up hits and misses of your posting. I agree with JPublick, cut up all the Brosnan series and maybe ONE great film is there. One…

        • Todd says:

          The hits and misses of my reviews, or anybody’s, have nothing to do with the enormity of the franchise’s success or the extent to which the character has penetrated our culture. I doubt, for instance, that the Indiana Jones movies could sustain a change of director at this point, much less a change of actor. The Jurassic Park movies, one would think, could offer up an unlimited supply of stories, with their formula of people + island + dinosaurs = $$$. But look what happens when simply replace the name-brand director with the merely gifted. People know that Spielberg, the guy who brought them Jaws and Close Encounters, is the true star of Jurassic Park and they’re not going to settle for an off-brand adventure. The same applies, I would say, to the Terminator franchise.

  12. r_sikoryak says:

    “I was shocked to learn, in the new Casino Royale, that he’s an orphan, brought up as a ward of the state.”

    Do we learn that, or is that just the conjecture of Vesper Lynd? Is she right? One of the things I like about Casino Royale is how new clues about Bond are dangled in front of the audience, but he remains a cipher, as always.

    I was also startled to see that M seems to have a homelife — and is that her husband in bed with her?!? Who knows?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Bond Midterm

    “Work commitments currently have conspired to put my Bond viewing on hold while I watch some car-race movies (currently on my stack, The Great Race, The Gumball Rally and Cannonball).”

    Are you watching these films because you’re working on the Fox show “Drive”? I thought it was cancelled (after 1 ep). Curious.

    PS: The Gumball Rally was directed by the great Stuntman/Actor/Writer/Director Chuck Bail, who played himself in the awesome Peter O’Toole vehicle “The Stuntman”. Very cool guy.

    • Todd says:

      Re: Bond Midterm

      I am unfamiliar with the Fox show Drive. I’m working on a game-based feature, the narrative of which has, after much time, come to resemble a round-the-world race. More than that I cannot say.

      Chuck Bail seems like a talented enough guy, but The Gumball Rally, while entertaining enough, I found largely unuseful for dramatic purposes.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: Bond Midterm

        Thanks for the info. Good luck w/ your film. “Drive”, BTW, had a similar tone as Cannonball & Gumball. Awful show. Died an appropriate death. I have a show @ Fox & they picked “Drive” over mine (“too brainy”). You understand my glee.

        • Todd says:

          Re: Bond Midterm

          You understand my glee.

          Alas, happiness at others’ misfortune is not something I’ve ever encountered in the world of show business.

          • Anonymous says:

            Re: Bond Midterm

            Though I’ve always defined misfortune as innocent unfortunateness, the minds and actions behind such aesthetic sensibility are anything but.