BRIAN'S BOND NOSTALGIA

 

Please forgive me for rambling on here as I go forth into a Bondian nostalgic mist:

 

I was somewhat of a James Bond fan before I was even old enough to fully understand what he was all about. What initially hooked me were the James Bond toys manufactured by Gilbert that were pictured in a 1965 Sears-Roebuck 'Wish Book' Christmas catalog. For one, I just had to have Doctor No's flame-throwing dragon tank. But my parents must have deemed these toys unsuitable, for I never received any of them from Santa. (However, about five years later, I received a Corgi diecast metal Aston Martin DB5 for my birthday and this really made up for all of that lost time as far as James Bond toys were concerned. All of those Corgi James Bond cars I collected back then were the best!)

To alleviate my extreme disappointment, my mother made me a homemade dragon vehicle from a couple of C&H brown sugar boxes. Hey, don't laugh here! I was six years old and I just used my imagination a bit to get this cardboard toy to transform into a menacing mechanical nightmare being wielded by the nefarious 'Doctor No' -- whoever he was (I didn't actually see the DR. NO film until 1972, however). Of course, my older brothers just ridiculed all of this and so my mother was forced to make at least two more of these cardboard mechanical dragons due to the destructive nature of said older siblings.

You see, I was somewhat aware of the early James Bond phenomenon from those glorious LIFE and LOOK magazines. I was especially intrigued by the now very famous Shirley Eaton 'Golden Girl' cover. Concerning the film GOLDFINGER, some of the older kids in the neighborhood who had seen it described Odd Job's lethal derby antics and the ultimate James Bond gadget: the Aston Martin DB5. Alas, none of them were old enough to truly appreciate the charms of Shirley Eaton when I pressed them for details about her. All they could tell me was that she had been killed by being completely covered with gold paint.

However, this early fascination with some of the elements of James Bond took a long rest during the middle Sixties because of my interest in STAR TREK, the Apollo space program and my insatiable appetite for Major Matt Mason toys (Mattel's "Man in Space"). It wasn't until August of 1970 that my Bond cravings returned with a vengeance due to the rerelease of THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE as a double-feature. With the words "the biggest Bonds of all" blaring from that wonderful TV ad for this particular release, I was back in the firm grip of James Bond's world of action and international intrigue. Nothing was going to stop me from seeing this James Bond double-bill.

Well, nothing would stop me except my father. Fortunately, my dad wanted all of the kids out of the house on that particular Saturday, and so I got his permission to go see this Bond double-feature. With an older brother and a younger brother in tow, I attended a screening of THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE for only four bits (fifty cents) at an early afternoon matinee. Needless to say, my little ten year old mind was duly impressed. I've never been quite the same since, for I've seen every single classic James Bond feature film and double-bill that's hit my neighborhood cinema since that fateful day in August.

Following this first pair of James Bond films, there was an early 1971 rerelease of the oddly different ("where did Sean Connery go?"), but still most excellent ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. I wasn't allowed to see this particular film during its original 1969 release due to its 'M' ("Mature Audiences Only") movie rating at that time. The very first original release of a James Bond film that I saw came in December of 1971 and that was, of course, DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (rated 'GP'). I actually saw this film on its opening day along with a fellow Bond fanatic and classmate of mine. Even though we were just in the sixth grade, we both felt that DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER was sorely lacking when compared to the previous films in the James Bond series.

Nevertheless, I was still very interested in the James Bond phenomenon and so it was at this time that I picked up the Bantam paperback and movie tie-in edition of Diamonds Are Forever. This was my first Fleming Bond novel and Bantam paperback books quickly followed with their editions of Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Doctor No and Goldfinger. I can still recall being slightly embarrassed when I purchased these particular Bond paperbacks because of the provocative women on the covers. The female store clerks always had a rather bemused expression on their faces whenever I bought these Bond novels and so this didn't make things any easier.

By the time I was in junior high school, a new found friend provided me with the rest of the Ian Fleming novels via his older sister's paperback collection. These particular editions were from Signet and they had the original cover artwork from the late Fifties and early Sixties. Even though these novels presented a vastly different Agent 007 when compared to the film series, I was still fascinated by these Bond adventures. The only true misfire in Ian Fleming's Bond novel series occurred with The Spy Who Loved Me, in my humble opinion (fortunately for all of us, the filmmakers were only allowed to use the novel's title when it came time to adapt it due to contract stipulations made by Ian Fleming).

By the time the ABC television network purchased rights to air the James Bond film series and premiered with GOLDFINGER in September of 1972, I had read most of the Fleming novels. Fortunately, United Artists rereleased DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE right before this particular ABC television premiere and a few short months later, they rereleased another James Bond double-feature as well: GOLDFINGER and THUNDERBALL. Before the start of the Summer of 1973, I had seen every James Bond film produced up to that time on the big silver screen and I had read all of the James Bond books written by Ian Fleming (as well as Kingsley Amis' one-shot Bond novel, Colonel Sun).

Despite the fact that the James Bond films have had more than a few weak entries, I've been there at a nearby movie theater to catch the latest James Bond, Agent 007 film adventure. Even though I didn't totally enjoy the last two installments of the James Bond film series with actor Pierce Brosnan, I still felt rather obligated to attend a screening of the latest James Bond thriller at the local cinema -- that is, until the year 2006. Because of the needless 'reboot' of the James Bond series, I now refuse to go and see any future Bond films on the big silver screen due to the filmmakers' betrayal of the classic James Bond formula and to the millions of classic James Bond fans worldwide.

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