Getting to grips with all things Bond
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
BEFORE we look at the next James Bond, let's look at over 50 years of Bond, James Bond.
Growing up with Bond films, I am sure I learnt the alphabet as much with Q and M as I did from Sesame Street. I have watched every single James Bond film in the cinema since I was eight years old and the last film, Spectre marked my tenth Bond film to watch on the silver screen.
Athlone didn't have a cinema, back in 1989, so it was the Savoy in Dublin for my first cinematic Bond experience followed by the old cinema over Quinnsworth for Pierce Brosnan´s films and later watching Daniel Craig in Athlone´s IMC before moving to Madrid shortly before the release of Skyfall.
Bond films have been a part of my life and I am sure many other people´s lives too. Before Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Transformers, Batman or the Avengers, James Bond offered us epic adventures, time and time again.
The franchise offered epic films which would take you to exotic places and entertain you with bigger and bigger explosions and stunts, most performed with brave stuntmen in an age before Computer Generated Imagery.
The World is not Enough for this multi billion pound Moonraker sorry money-maker that has excited children and adults alike for years.
Every boy loves the guns, gadgets, girls and cars in James Bond but sadly this film formula has become cliche-ed since the 1950s books and early films first came out, with everyone copying this essential sexy spy mix.
Getting to grips with all things Bond.
Starting in 1962 with the film Dr No, Sean Connery has excited and entertained us as Commander James Bond.
Acting On Her Majesty´s Secret Service and with a License To Kill James Bond has always saved the day through spectacular stunts and imaginative gadgets.
The films are based of course on the novels written by Ian Flemming which have appeared in cartoons, radio and TV. Bond has also been satire-ed as Austin Powers, Johnny English and in 1967 with Casino Royale.
Bond didn´t actually begin on television with Sean Connery but with an American version called Jimmy Bond in 1954 with the original 1953 novel, Casino Royale.
Dressed in a kilt, poor Gorge Lazenby tried imitating Connery before the Scottish actor returned for one more film, Diamonds are Forever, prior to Roger Moore taking up the Spectre fighting mantel in Live and Let Die. (Rest in peace, Sir Roger Moore.)
12 years later, despite claiming that he would never play Bond again, Sean Connery returned in a remake of Thunderball, cleverly called Never Say Never Again. While it was not an official, EON Production film, it was a successful Bond film in its own right and was released 6 months before Roger Moore´s Octopussy.
After six films, Roger Moore was succeeded by Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
Each actor taking his turn in an Aston Martin and each carrying a Walter PPK pistol.
Gadgets wise, I was always surprised by the use of a Walter PPK pistol. I´m not saying it is an old weapon but it was built by the Weimer Republic and was the last gun Adolf Hitler ever saw.
Starting with a DB5 and disappearing in an Aston Martin Vanquish, Pierce Brosnan´s Bond spent three films behind the wheel of a BMW. I am sure the fact that Bond from books, was a car enthusiast has helped to sell a few exotic Lotus Espirts, BMWs and Aston Martins over the years.
Ian Flemming gave us Bond-girls, and gadgets too but I never understood how the books and films got past Irish censors and the Catholic Church. I find it strange to imagine how the concept of an unmarried man seducing so many women, and killing so calmly could become the norm as other films mimicked Flemming´s formula for guns, gadgets, cars and girls.
Growing up in the 80´s, my parents didn´t see anything wrong with a kid watching, Sir sleazy Moore doing a Captain Kirk with every bikini glad Bond girl from Pussy Galore and Holy Goodhead to Maud Adams roles as The Man with the Golden Gun´s mistress to her later role playing Octopussy.
Bond girls are of course many but Mrs Bond was murdered while James was working On Her Majesty´s Secret Service. (The actress Dame Diana Rigg just passed away this September.)
Learning more about the franchise´s props and costumes, I went to an exhibition in Madrid in August 2015 to see the iconic Aston Martin DB5 which I have to tell you is even more beautiful in person.
Full of dresses and dinner jackets, knife-wielding shoes, golden guns and half sized helicopter models.
While the exhibition was a little expensive, You Only Live Twice, and I entered the oversized gun barrel that led to a gold painted mannequin on a bed and a replica of Goldfinger´s golden typewriter. Of course, I am referring to Ian Flemming and his middas touch and the books he wrote from his Jamaican retreat called, Goldeneye.
Explosions, gadgets and girls, add a little Vodka Martini and you have a nice James Bond theme going but sadly as I entered the James Bond exhibition, henchmen instructed, “no pictures”
I thought that a little strange as this was an exhibition about one of motion pictures' best movie franchise.
To put these Bond costumes and props into perpestive. I have taken photos of China´s first emperor´s 2000-year-old Terracotta Warriors in the same exhibition hall.
Shaken but not stirred by the revelation that I couldn't take any photographs, it was time to become The Spy Who Loved Me, (me) and infiltrate this secretive underground exhibition hall in the centre of Madrid.
Q department has entertained us for years with various gadgets so why not let people bring a camera or smartphone to the exhibition?
Maybe it was because it wasn´t a Sony camera or a laser firing, x-raying Polaroid or even a machine-gunning Hasselblad, and after taking a few secretive photographs, I was caught.
A henchman stopped me and scared The Living Daylights out of me as my girlfriend just watched with A View To A Kill.
All photographs are of course For Your Eyes Only as I don´t want to Die Another Day at the hands of their strict henchmen.
I am sure every boy wants to be Bond at some stage and fight Ernst Stavro Blofield in some hidden volcanic crater, and save the girl, and the world.
From Russia with Love and brainwashed by Bond, I was once on a Russian train, travelling from Minsk to a region contaminated by Chernobyl on an orphanage fact-finding mission for the Union of Students in Ireland and The Children of Belarus charity. Boarding the overnight train, I was met by a woman in a military-style uniform handing out bed sheets just as Moby´s James Bond remix played on the radio intercom.
Naturally, I immediately expected to have to blow up the train as the theme music tune played. Maybe crashing the train into a T54 Russian tank, like Meath man Pierce Brosnan did in 1995. Or maybe fighting a man with a giant hook for a hand and throwing him out the window of the train.
Instead, all I got in Belarus was a night, breaking curfew in a casino, drinking Vodka and watching out for the KGB (Now called the State Security Committee) while returning to my hotel which was been monitored by the military base opposite the international hotel. Questions had been asked why we had lights-on after 11PM on our first night there and it was very strange to live a real life Cold War experience in the early 2000s.
Apart from George Lazerby who was a model, and all the models bedded by Bond, the franchise has always used models to make effects more convincing. You didn´t really believe that was a space rocket leaving an underground volcanic base, did you?
Lotus don´t yet manufacture a submerciable car but I'm sure Elon Musk is working on a magic Lotus Esprit as he now owns the Lotus submarine used in the The Spy Who Loved Me.
While most modern films use CGI, Bond has been great for creating half believable stunts where they flip cars, spin double-decker buses and get stuntmen to jump from dams.
Quick quips distracted us from the violent acts, ¨I think he got the point¨, distracted us from the man harpooned to a tree, slowly bleeding out compared to Will Ferris´ lines in Austin Powers, “I´m in a quite a lot of pain, why won´t you help me?” Don't worry Mustafa lives to Die Another Day in Austin Powers´sequel The Spy who Shagged Me. Yeah baby.
I grew up with 007, I like when it gets it right and hate it when it gets it wrong. The more realistic modern films strangle people with grittier action compared to Laser Watches burning through ice caps, only a decade ago.
You have to turn off your brain while watching Bond films as I can´t imagine how a secret spy could remain secretive showing up to lavish parties in an Aston Martin, and running around rooftops wearing a Tuxedo, but Bond has influenced many other films and where would the Fast and Furious franchise be for example without guns, girls and fast cars?
Flemming´s formula has been copied and satire-ed repeatedly so much so that a more realistic Bond by the name of Bourne, Jason Bourne resulted in four films after Mike Myers comedy trilogy, fighting Dr Evil in the Austin Powers films.
My personal favourite spoof Bond was Woody Allen´s brief cameo in Casino Royale, with the lines, “my doctor said, I should try to keep bullets out of my body at all times”.
While Pierce Brosnan played the ultimate suave bond, Daniel Craig has made Bond, half believable. His interpretation of Bond grabs a dinner knife as a crude weapon, and checks for a pulse when his colleagues are shot. Carrying only a gun and a radio, Bond now chases parkour running bomb-makers, where he is caught on CCTV, shooting up an embassy much to the embarrassment of his government.
As unrealistic as Bond may sometimes seem, Goldfinger was actually based on a real fear.
A hundred years ago, under the gold standard, if the Bank of England´s gold reserve was jeopardized by a German attack, England´s economy would not have been able to enter the First World War.
More than 50 years of James Bond and 25 official films. I hope you have enjoyed the songs, stunts and stories of 007´s escapades. Loved the one-liners, and saw the world.
I have even tried learning some Spanish from Senor Bond.
While watching, Madrid´s most famous actor, Javier Bardem destroy London in Skyfall as the evil Silva back in 2012, I noticed as the subtitles played, how easy it is to understand a language watching the very well spoken James Bond. Me llamo Bond, James Bond.
As a result, I have encouraged all my adult English classes from CEOs to nuns, to watch everyone´s favourite spy but I sometimes wonder if I should have given nuns, my DVD of The Man with the Golden Gun.
If nun of us object, let´s shake a Martini and raise a glass to more than half a century of Ian Flemming's James Bond.
Once as a passanger in a dark grey Aston Martin DB9, I started to smile as we passed a black Alfa Romeo 159, and was reminded of the epic opening scene of Quantum of Solace.
I am eagerly waiting for the new film, No Time to Die which has been postponed by the pandemic and just like the last ten films since 1989, I will be standing in line at the cinema with either popcorn or a mask.
In 2020, we have have lost Pussy Galore actress Honor Blackman, Dame Diana Rigg and now Sir Sean Connery, Stay Safe everyone, wear a mask and socially distance yourself when possible, this is No Time to Die.
I hope I have managed to include all of the James Bond films even if only by mentioning the name.
Bond will return in
No time to Die