The Art of James Bond
October 5, 2002 2:04 PM   Subscribe

The Art of James Bond captures the aesthetic of a character Martin Amis called "lonely, melancholic, in some way ravaged... dark and brooding in expression, of a cold or cynical veneer, and above all enigmatic, in possession of a sinister secret." Of course, the movies are a different story.
posted by Hildago (11 comments total)
The James Bond paperback covers are a part of my youth, I suppose, and my favourites are the mid-sixties graphic designs (I couldn't afford the Richard Chopping first editions, that's for sure) - I bought a number from jumble sales and second hand shops, including the one with the bullet holes in. The books never quite lived up to the covers for me, though.
posted by Grangousier at 3:53 PM on October 5, 2002

If you take the time to read the Flemming's original Thunderball, it's easy to see why 007 preferred his martinis "shaken...not stirred": like coffee and tea, cocktails can be good, bad, or in-between, but whatever does the trick when you're following a deadline is all that matters.

It's too bad the films never explored that level of tension, though
the adaptation of John Le Carre's Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy
with Alec Guinness did an excellent job.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:06 PM on October 5, 2002

Quite a find, Hildago. Thanks for sharing. The care taken by Red Grant in scanning all those old movie posters really paid off in some gorgeous imagery. It was interesting to see all of those storyboards from the Connery films as well.

I grew up watching the Connery Bond films, and Thunderball was my favorite, right after From Russia With Love. I read all of the novels during a single summer when I was 13. I can remember wondering why they couldn't make the films hew closer to the books, and make Bond more human instead of something more akin to a superhero.

And the theme song from Thunderball singelhandedly turned me into a Tom Jones fan. He still sings it in concert, every bit as powerfully as he did back in the 60s.
posted by MrBaliHai at 4:21 PM on October 5, 2002

Great link, Hildago.
posted by Stan Chin at 4:37 PM on October 5, 2002

I'd put From Russia With Love first, then ThunderBall, then, oh, I don't know, The Man With the Golden Gun.

Anyway, it really gets me how the 007 franchise has basically become Rambo in a dinner jacket. I like the idea of James Bond as a darker character, and I almost reposted the Lanchester essay that was brought up a few months ago, but that would have violated the prime directive.

Speaking of breaking rules, I also don't like that they're considering showing a sex scene in Die Another Day. I always thought it was a great commentary on the character the way they only showed the before and after shots of Bond's many liasons, as though there was no more emotional relevance to them than getting a haircut.
posted by Hildago at 4:55 PM on October 5, 2002

Thanks for the links Hildago. The Bond books are being re-released with new covers. Casino Royale, Dr No and Goldfinger are pictured here.
posted by Tarrama at 8:40 PM on October 5, 2002

The newsgroup is packed with hardcore fans of the whole milieu, though starting about now to a couple of months after the movie release bunches of them absent themselves -- as much to avoid spoilers as to keep out of the teenaged flamefests. The consensus there is that the Bond character is very much a dark, lonely, self-hating hitman with a burning conscience. When I'm reading the books, I like to transpose them mentally to the present day as much as possible, and the Bond I picture is played by Russell Crowe from LA Confidential.

Moore's lighter interpretation is, obviously then, my least favorite -- though I certainly appreciate his movies too. My favorite actor is Dalton, for his grittier, grimmer approach (which wasn't, by the way, the reason for the hiatus -- that was due to a complicated TV rights dispute). But the best film, the hardcore fans almost all agree, is the overlooked On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- best stunts, best pacing, best (and longest) chase scene, best score, best Blofeld, best Bond Girl (Diana Rigg!), and an at least serviceable Bond (Lazenby). ABC avoided showing it at all (good thing, considering the way they butcher the films), but fans know better. God, I hope TNT gets the rights back when ABC's done treating them like trash.

EON/MGM have recently won control of both Never Say Never Again and Casino Royale, and some fans fondly hope -- and Brosnan has encouraged them -- that EON will do CR as a serious 007 story. In their wildest dreams, Bond is done as a period piece set in the 1955-1965 era. I can see their point, though I don't share the passion.

Oh, and the book Bond got beat up a lot -- often with sado-masochistic overtones (in CR, the Commie toughs beat his genitals through a hole in a chair). The films certainly never explored that -- other than some allusions with Bond girls such as FRWL's Romanova.
posted by dhartung at 11:40 PM on October 5, 2002

Hmm, 007 comic strips. I had no idea. Did you know there was a Bond RPG, that, while out of print, is evidently still being played? And this guy (who, oddly enough, seems to be involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism mentioned today) has a collection of Bond memorabilia that includes a 007 Tarot card game, which for some reason strikes me as funny.
posted by taz at 11:51 PM on October 5, 2002

the Bond I picture is played by Russell Crowe from LA Confidential

Yes! Except more intelligent and composed than that character. He's gruff, mysoginist, completely emotionally cold, totally masculine and a nihilist. I want Clive Owen to play him.
posted by Summer at 8:09 AM on October 6, 2002

i have alot of the Signets. "You Only Live Twice" and a nice Signet of "Octopussy". also a few others. My fav is my Dell "The Diamond Smugglers".

great post Hildago.
posted by clavdivs at 11:12 AM on October 6, 2002

I must evangelise for the wholly underrated Casino Royale:

Numerous 'James (or Jimmy) Bonds', 5 directors (including John Huston), an awesome cast: Niven, Sellers, Allen, Andress, Belmondo, Holden, Huston, Kerr, Welles, Bisset..., The best Bond score (by Bacharach, plus some Debussy), the best Bond song (Dusty Springfield version of Look of Love), incredible sets, tripped out psychedelia (pre-dates Yellow Submarine), a flying saucer in Trafalgar square, nuclear destruction and the sexiest line in cinema - Vesper Lynd's (Ursula Andress) simple yet stunning 'Helllllo'.

Bizarre, nonsensical, unfathomable and fantastic for it - a dadaist masterpiece.
posted by niceness at 3:41 AM on October 7, 2002

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