Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Formula 44

They provide reliable, effective escapism: the villan, the girl, the techno wizardry, the fight, the conquest. A rugged, sophisticated, mysterious and lethal leading man anchors the phenomenon. These are the forces and formula behind the 44 year success of 007.

As of today I have seen every Bond film except On Her Majesty's Secret Service. I watched Dr. No last night for the first time, what a hoot. This was the first of the Bond films, released in 1962.

Its interesting that Ian Flemming, the writer for the series of 007 books, had difficulty having his books turned into movies; almost everyone in Hollywood turned him down. I wonder, in retrospect, how many of those who turned Flemming down have removed their collective feet from their collective mouths, considering.

Flemming's first 007 book, Casino Royale, written in the 1950's, is just now being turned into a Bond episode. Casino Royale will be the platform from which they will launch the new Bond, Daniel Craig.

Dr. No is worth watching on many levels. It's exceptional in that its a crazy time capsule: 60's music, furniture, slang, clothing and let's not forget the 60's dancing.

Ursula Andress makes her debut in Dr. No as Honey Ryder. The director called her to Jamaica to star in the role because he saw her picture on a colleague's desk. The colleague was John Derek, Ursula's husband for many years. She never auditioned nor met any of the cast until days before filming.

Her voice on the film is not her own. They had to dub her over since her Swiss-German accent was far too thick to be understood by a 1960's audience. Frankly, even now, I have a hard time understanding her.

I wonder if she thought she would be making movie history as she emerged from the ocean in her now-famous white bikini? I wonder if she knew she was setting the standard for the next 44 years of Bond girls. I think even now, at 70, she probably smiles herself to sleep.

'I wasn't just any Bond Girl, I was THE Bond Girl.'

That she was ... and still is.

The producer wanted Roger Moore for the 007 role but he was not available. The producer's wife saw Sean Connery in one of his lesser known movies and decided that he had all the Bond characteristics. What a lucky break for the then 30 year old Connery, it propelled his career into the big league.

I liked most of the Bonds but Connery had that rough around the edges quality that, at least for me, brands him as the best Bond. I haven't seen another actor portray the character as well as he did.

Of course, the most important reason to watch Dr. No is so that you too can witness the first time one of the most memorable lines in film was spoken.

Bond, James Bond


Blogger Gregor said...

You actually put thought into what you write. I'm impressed. Wish I took more time and energy into my entries, but my attention span is too short for quality material.

I was a huge Brosnan fan (though I haven't seen any of the Connery films since I've become sufficiently interested in the franchise to pay attention. I've heard good things about all of the Bonds except Lazenby. I see alot of folks are planning to boycott Casino Royale. Upset as I may be about Brosnan getting axed, I see no reason to take it out personally on Craig. I'm excited for its release.

Been reading the books - got thru Casino Royale and Goldfinger, so far. Just started Live and Let Die.

11:17 PM

Blogger ScottyFerguson said...

Now I have to say you are missing the best of the bond films by not seeing OHMSS. That has to be my favorite one. Back in the late 70s ABC tv Aired On Her Majestys Secret Service and completely re-edited the film. The film features an uncredited actor narrating as james bond and the film started with the ski chase escape from piz gloria. That ski chase happens half way thru the theatrical release. It is worth seeing. Lazenby is a fineBond. The problem with the franchise is not the actor who now plays Bond (craig) but with Michael Wilson the dumb ass producer. He has been wanting to retool the franchise. I kid you not he wanted to do TEEN BOND. He's an idiot and many have told him so. So to compomise he is making this film. Look I'm all for re-energizing the franchise. If they want to faithful screen versions of the books great but dear god dont turn it into spykids. I'm a huge fan of the films to date. I hope this one doesn't kill my intrest.

1:25 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Gregor, thanks for the compliment! Actually my attention span is short too, sometimes it takes days to get a paragraph out :)

Thats great that you are taking the time to read the books, I haven't read any of them ... yet.

I'll definitely see C.R.too, like you, I'm curious to see how Craig will do in the role.

7:39 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Scotty, I'll definitely get to OHMSS! It will be nice to complete the series.

TEEN Bond? No, I would check out if that is the spin they apply in the future. You're right, that is a little crazy, they would likely lose the audience they accumulated in the 60's and 70's.

7:48 AM

Blogger DEREK said...

Connery has always been my favorite as well. I've watched and read them since I was a young boy.

4:15 PM

Blogger Jim said...

I guess I better get on 007 book reading kick Derek :)

8:54 PM


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