Saturday, October 29, 2022

James Bond Film Retrospective Introduction


I’ve been a fan of the James Bond series ever since I was a kid, probably too young to be watching them, certainly too young to understand a lot of the themes in them (y’know, beyond Bond boinking a different woman in every movie), and I make it a point to catch new movies as they come out, or at least, I had been until the previous movie, Spectre was released. At the time I was busy getting married and had totally missed the hype train on it, even more so when the discussion revolved around the return of long-running big bad Blofeld.

I say I missed the hype train because I didn’t know who Blofeld was. Because though I said I was a huge fan of the series, the truth is the earliest Bond film I had seen start to finish was Goldeneye, long past the point where Blofeld disappeared from series canon, likely connected to the endless legal issues caused by Thunderball, only coming back for a brief death in the movie For Your Eyes Only. Kind of. It’s complicated. We’ll get to that.

Anyway, Blofeld’s coming back and I’m kinda ambivalent because I don’t know who the guy is. Whatever. I finally got around to seeing Spectre and I was…underwhelmed, but whatever, Bond’s been in many movies over the years and the quality has been all over the place. I’ll catch the next one when it comes out. They’ll probably be getting a new Bond since Daniel Craig wants out anyway.

That was my thought process, but as it turns out, Craig had one more in him when No Time To Die went into production, slated for a release in 2019, but kept getting pushed back due to production problems, and as it kept getting pushed back, I had this idea to go back and watch all of the James Bond movies. And heck, I’d even write up a little retrospective on my experience! Why not? It would be the perfect way to build up hype for the next movie!

Now, if you’re paying attention, you’d realize where I went wrong in my journey. Specifically that No Time To Die came out on October 8, 2021 in the US. As in, I’ve missed the release of the movie by over a year.

Love this series by the way, you should check it out

Well, I’ll tell you what happened.

First off, I had to decide if I was going to just leave it to the MGM/Eon Productions series, or if I was also going to include Never Say Never Again and the Casino Royale spoof from the ‘60s. Well, that was an easy decision, as most places I looked for information on those movies weren’t exactly positive towards them.

Another issue was finding them, as at the time, they were scattered across several different streaming services, and our local library doesn’t have DVDs or Blu-Rays of all of the movies. And the sites they were on, namely Tubi and Pluto TV, though free, were absolutely caked in ads, and several times I’d be watching a movie that would just get stuck in an infinite loop of ad breaks. So it was a bit of a hassle to watch them, and I kinda just lost interest.

Fast forward to earlier this month and as part of Amazon’s Prime Day sale, I got the Blu-Ray collection of the Dr. No to Spectre for a sweet deal, which was nice since they’d been sitting in my Amazon wishlist for years, and the Blu-Ray for No Time To Die was like an extra $13, so I decided to revive the project. Made even easier since, now that Amazon owns MGM, the movies would be easily accessible on Prime Video. Or so I thought since they’re leaving the service shortly after just reappearing. Why? I dunno. Probably so they can be everywhere for the Bond marathons around Christmastime, who knows?

So here I am, finishing what I started. I’m going to be breaking the movies into separate articles based on each actor’s tenure as Bond, the only exception would be adding Lazenby’s sole film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service to the Connery era since he only made the one and Connery came back for the next one. That, and there’s some obvious shared continuity, and they’re similar enough in structure to the other 60’s movies that it works. It’s not a drastic shift in tone and style like the switch from Moore to Dalton to Brosnan, at any rate. Also, this is only going to be focusing on the movies themselves. While I’ve read a handful of the novels, the movies tend to do their own thing rather than being straight adaptations of the novels, and it means I have to spend less time talking about how awkward and “of its time” Live and Let Die reads as a novel. We’ll get to that.

Anyway, we’re starting next time with Connery and Lazenby, so stay tuned for that.