Saturday, October 6, 2012
HALF A CENTURY OF JAMES BOND
Fifty years ago I had recently graduated from Stanford University, proposed to Pearl Nakamichi, who accepted, and in October of 1962 went to a movie with who was to be my Best Man in two months, Rodney Shimoko. Several years later I also became his Best Man. I should call him to go see Skyfall, for the movie we saw was Dr. No, with the second James Bond, Sean Connery (to be later explained why). There were mixed, but mostly negative, reviews. However, we both loved it! The Tomatometer I see now gives this film a 98% rating, with an Audience liking of 78%. Strange, but the latest accumulation of reviews showed a 100% rating. It's almost like the field of reviewers corrected their initial doubts and redacted the past. Anyway, who can forget the presence of Ursula Andress:
There are now 25 Bond flicks (with Skyfall), two unsanctioned, a 1967 spoof, Casino Royale, the funniest Bond(s) from the first book on this British spy by Ian Fleming, and in 1987 with the return of Sean Connery in Never Say Never Again. This first Casino Royale movie was a wild and disorganized trip, with at least six James Bonds (David Niven, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, etc.). Woody Allen was the mysterious Dr. Noah of SMERSH, who by script, was Jimmy Bond, the nephew of James. Also appearing were Orson Welles, Deborah Kerr, William Holden, George Raft, Charles Boyer, John Paul Belmondo and John Huston, who was also one of the six directors. Mind you, all the above in this one film. Oh, there were two songs by Burt Bacharach, the title, Casino Royale (Herb Alpert), and The Look of Love (Dusty Springfield). Somehow, the Academy Award song of 1966, Born Free, also was used. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a terrible 31% rating, but this film made nearly $300 million (in 2012 dollars).
Daniel Craig, of course, also starred in Casino Royale, his first Bond role in 2006 as the 23rd film chapter of Ian Fleming's books. Actually, this Casino Royale was #3, as there was a 1954 TV production with Barry Nelson and Peter Lorre, with the same familiar music. Apparently, Bacharach mostly arranged the music for that first Casino Royale movie, as his first music credits only began in 1958. David Arnold, who composed five Bond songs, wrote this one.
The official James Bond films have earned close to $5 billion, or $12 billion, inflation adjusted. The oldest hero was Roger Moore, who acted in seven, the most, the last one when he was 57. That's him to the left in his 1985 finale, A View to a Kill, which got a 14% critics' rating, the worst of them all, tied with The Man with the Golden Gun (1974, also Roger Moore). Youngest was George Lazenby at 30, his only attempt.
Ian Fleming was an intelligence officer and journalist, who sold more than 100 million copies of his Bond books. He also wrote Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, a 1968 musical with Dick Van Dyke. Fleming was a heavy smoker and drinker, and died in 1964 at the age of 56 from a heart attack.
The next Bond will be Skyfall with Daniel Craig, to be released this month in the UK, and the USA in November: