erik lundegaard

Movies posts

Tuesday November 27, 2012

Lincoln's Voice: at Gettysburg and (Hollywood) Elsewhere

I know Jeff Wells of Hollywood Elsehwere, for one, objected to the way Daniel Day-Lewis voices Abraham Lincoln in “Lincoln.” Even after Wells owned up to its historical accuracy, he objected. He called it “flat, undistinctive, unimpressive, Matthew Modine-ish.” It gave him the shivers.

I actually liked it, along with everything else about Day-Lewis' performance. More important, most important, it is historically accurate. Last night I was reading Garry Wills' “Lincoln at Gettsburg: The Words that Remade America,” and came across the passage below, in which Lincoln is contrasted with Edward Everett, teacher of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and the main speaker at Gettysburg that day. He was considered the country's great orator after the death of Daniel Webster:

Everett's voice was sweet and expertly modulated; Lincoln's was high to the point of shrillness, and his Kentucky accent offended some Eastern sensibilities. But Lincoln derived an advantage from his high tenor voice—carrying power. If there is agreement on one aspect of Lincoln's delivery, at Gettysburg and elsewhere, it is his audibility. Modern impersonators of Lincoln, like Walter Huston, Raymond Massey, Henry Fonda, and the various actors who give voice to Disneyland animations of the President, bring him before us as a baritone, which is considred a more manly or heroic voice—though both Roosevelt presidents of this century were tenors. What should not be forgotten is that Lincoln was himself an actor, an expert raconteur and mimic, and one who spent hours reading speeches out of Shakespeare to any willing (and some unwilling) audiences. He knew a good deal about rhythmic delivery and meaningful inflections.

It's a shame that Wells' machismo, which he often wears like a Paul Fist-in-Your-Face, overrules his sensibilities regarding Hollywood bullshit: the ways that the movies have lied to us forever. After 100 years, a Hollywood movie finally gets something right and he attacks it for that very reason.

Daniel Day-Lewis is Abraham Lincoln, tenor

Posted at 08:31 AM on Nov 27, 2012 in category Movies
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Wednesday November 21, 2012

The Movie You Could Watch A Million Times

I was thinking about this question, or something similar, the day I saw this link on NPR's site. Apparently it's a regular feature? They interview different folks, generally movie-industry people, and ask them which movie they could watch “a million times.” Here's how the recent interviewees answered:

  • Writer-director Peter Hedges: “Harold and Maude”
  • Director Simon West: “Withnail and I”
  • Actress Regina King: “The Sandlot”
  • Actress Kristen Bell: “Wet Hot American Summer”
  • Actor-writer-director Jon Favreau: “Mean Streets”
  • Actor Michael Pena: “Broadway Danny Rose”
  • Callie Khouri: “A Face in the Crowd”
  • Actress Susan Sarandon: “The Grapes of Wrath”
  • Producer Glen Mazaara: “Alien”
  • Director RZA: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

Everyone's answer changes with time, of course. Here's how mine did. Let's start in adolesence: “Star Wars,” “Superman: The Movie,” “Duck Soup,” “Annie Hall,” “The Godfather,” “Casablanca,” “Seven Samurai,” “All the President's Men,” “The Thin Red Line.”

Now? It's probably Michael Mann's “The Insider.”

It's a perfectly balanced film about two men, one of whom encourages the other to betray corporate confidentialities for a greater good, and who then has to betray his own corporation, CBS, for the greater good of airing the first story. It's the individual vs. the coporation, which is the story of all of us. It's about sacrifice, and how it takes sacrifice to make heroes, and how heroes aren't men and women with great powers. They're ordinary people under extraordinary pressure still doing the right thing.

Anyone know when it comes out on Blu-Ray?

Posted at 06:40 AM on Nov 21, 2012 in category Movies
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Sunday November 11, 2012

The Ultimate James Bond Quiz: The Answers

Welcome to … Universal Exports. Ninety-five percent of your class has already dropped out of our training program, but you, the top five percent, remain. There is, however, one test left. Take the quiz below and we’ll figure out where to place you: in administration, in the Q branch, in the secretarial pool, or scrubbing toilets. Get 100 percent and you’ll be given the most coveted position of all: double-oh secret agent.

1. Ian Fleming named his secret agent after who ... or what?

  • A: His favorite uncle
  • B: An American soldier who saved his life during World War II.
  • C: The author of the book, “Birds of the West Indies.“
  • D: It was a pun on Thames Bonds, of which he was a major shareholder.

The correct answer is C: Ian Fleming got the name James Bond from one of his favorite books, “Birds of the West Indies.” Fleming said he wanted “a really flat, quiet name” and James Bond fit the bill.

2. For the first three films, the man who appears in the “gun barrel sequence” was not Sean Connery. Who was he?

  • A: Stuntman Bob Simmons
  • B: Producer Albert Broccoli
  • C: Author Ian Fleming
  • D: Actor Jack Lord

The correct answer is A: Stuntman Bob Simmons was the man in the gun sites for the first three Bond films. He was a stunt double for Sean Connery and stayed with the franchise in various stunt capacities until “A View to a Kill” in 1985. He died in 1988.

3. In “Dr. No,” what prompts Bond to introduce himself as “Bond. James Bond” at the baccarat table?

  • A: The croupier is hard of hearing.
  • B: A woman at the table introduces herself as “Trench. Sylvia Trench.”
  • C: Dr. No asks for his name — last name first, damnit.
  • D: That’s actually his name: Bond James Bond. His real first name, “Bond,” was dropped in subsequent movies as too confusing.

The correct answer is B: A woman introduces herself as “Trench. Sylvia Trench.” Here’s the dialogue:

         Bond: I admire your courage, Miss...?
         Trench: Trench. Sylvia Trench. I admire your luck, Mr...?
         Bond: Bond. James Bond.

"My name is Bond. James Bond."

4. In “Goldfinger,” Bond tells Jill Masterson that drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above 38 degrees is as bad as...?

  • A: “Sex without foreplay.”
  • B: “Shirts without cufflinks.”
  • C: “Listening to Dom DeLuise.”
  • D: “Listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

The correct answer is D: Bond felt that drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above 38 degrees was as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs. This was when they were still “mop-tops” known for their “yeah yeah yeah” music. Before they became, well, bigger than Bond.

5. What is Bond’s response when Honor Blackman introduces herself as Pussy Galore?

  • A: “I must be dreaming.”
  • B: “I must talk to your parents.”
  • C: “High school must’ve been hell for you.”
  • D: “My name is Bond. James Bond.”

The correct answer is A: “I must be dreaming.”

6. Ernst Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE, is seen petting a cat in most early Bond films. In which film do we first see his face?

  • A: “From Russia with Love” (1963)
  • B: “Thunderball” (1965)
  • C: “You Only Live Twice” (1967)
  • D: “Moonraker” (1979)

The correct answer is C: Blofeld’s face was first seen, with a scar down the eye, in “You Only Live Twice.” Donald Pleasance got the honor.

7. Which is the first movie where Bond does NOT wear a fedora during the gun barrel sequence?

  • A: “Goldfinger” (1964)
  • B: “Thunderball” (1965)
  • C: “You Only Live Twice” (1967)
  • D: “Live and Let Die” (1973)

The correct answer is D: Bond finally loses his fedora in the gun barrel sequence in “Live and Let Die,” the first Roger Moore film. A few times in the ‘80s, Moore carried a fedora into Miss Moneypenny’s office, but he never wore one.

8. At the end of the pre-title sequence in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Bond (George Lazenby) turns to the camera and says...what?

  • A: “This never happened to the other fellow.”
  • B: “I must be dreaming.”
  • C: “Instant karma’s gonna get you.”
  • D: “My name is Bond. James Bond.”

The correct answer is A: Lazenby said, “This never happened to the other fellow.” The “this,” by the way, is being ditched by a girl.

9. What is the name of the CIA agent who has appeared in numerous Bond movies?

  • A: Alex Bradbury
  • B: Smitty Wesson
  • C: Felix Leiter
  • D: Michael Busick

The correct answer is C: Felix Leiter is the CIA agent who helps Bond from time to time. For the record, he’s been played by eight different actors: Jack Lord (“Dr. No”), Cec Linder (“Goldfinger”), Rik Van Nutter (“Thunderball”), Norman Burton (“Diamonds are Forever”), David Hedison (“Live and Let Die” and “License to Kill”), Bernie Casey (“Never Say Never Again”), John Terry (“The Living Daylights”) and Jeffrey Wright (“Casino Royale” and ”Quantum of Solace“).

10. In what fundamental way were the producers going to change James Bond in 1970?

  • A: They were going to make him American, and star Adam West.
  • B: They were going to make him French, and star Jean Paul Belmondo.
  • C: They were going to make him a teenager, and star Kurt Russell.
  • D: They were going to make him a woman, and star Raquel Welch.

The correct answer is A: The Bond producers were contemplating making Bond an American, and considered both Adam West and Burt Reynolds for the part. At one point, TV actor John Gavin was even signed for “Diamonds are Forever” but was set aside when Connery agreed to return. Gavin had to settle for becoming U.S. ambassador to Mexico during the Reagan administration.

11. In the first Roger Moore movies, Bond does not smoke cigarettes. What does he do instead?

  • A: He smokes cigars.
  • B: He sucks lollipops.
  • C: He chews gum.
  • D: He chews tobacco.

The correct answer is A: In his first few movies as Bond, Roger Moore smokes cigars. Then he gives up all forms of oral fixation. Insert your own joke here.

Roger Moore as 007

12. What characteristic does the villain Francisco Scaramanga in “The Man with the Golden Gun” share with a character on “The Simpsons”?

  • A: He sucks a pacifier — like Maggie.
  • B: He says “D’Oh!” – like Homer.
  • C: He has a third nipple – like Krusty the Klown.
  • D: He tastes like a peanut — like Hans Moleman.

The correct answer is C: Francisco Scaramanga has a superfluous third nipple — just like Krusty the Klown.

13. What happens to Bond during the pre-title sequence in “Moonraker”?

  • A: He gets pushed out of a plane without a parachute.
  • B: He is pulled by a helicopter around Kuala Lumpur.
  • C: He gets teased by the other double-oh secret agents for the size of his gun.
  • D: He plays Pong.

The correct answer is A: He gets pushed out of a plane without a parachute. For my money, it’s the best Bond opening ever. Not that I have much money.

14. What future Academy Award-winning actor plays Dario, Sanchez’s sadistic henchman in “License to Kill” (1989)?

  • A: Alfred Molina
  • B: Kevin Spacey
  • C: Benicio del Toro
  • D: Marisa Tomei

The correct answer is C: Benicio del Toro plays Dario. He’s quite good. “Don’t worry. We gave her a nice honeymoooooon.”

15. Which of the following does the new “M” (Judi Dench) NOT call Bond in “Goldeneye”?

  • A: Sexist and misogynistic
  • B: A dinosaur
  • C: A relic of the Cold War
  • D: A great piece of ass

The correct answer is D.

16. When Bond visits Q in “Die Another Day,” what gadget from a previous Bond film does he toy with?

  • A: Ursula Andress’ bikini from “Dr. No”
  • B: The jet pack from “Thunderball”
  • C: A crocodile from “Live and Let Die”
  • D: Sean Connery’s toupee from “Diamonds are Forever”

The correct answer is B: Besides the jet pack from “Thunderball,” he also picks up Rosa Klebb’s deadly shoe from “From Russia with Love.” Meanwhile, in Cuba, he also flipped through the book “Birds of the West Indies,” which we all know, if we’ve been reading these answers, was one of Ian Fleming’s favorite books, and the inspiration for the name “James Bond.”

17. In 2006’s “Casino Royale,” Danish actor Mads Mikkelson plays Bond’s baccarat nemesis Le Chiffre. What other two actors have played Le Chiffre?

  • A: Peter Lorre and Orson Welles
  • B: Peter Sellers and Woody Allen
  • C: Vincent Price and Dean Martin
  • D: Danny Bonaduce and Christopher Knight

The correct answer is A: In a 1954 TV version of “Casino Royale” with American Barry Nelson playing Jimmy Bond, Peter Lorre was cast as Le Chiffre; and in the 1967 “Casino Royale” send-up starring David Niven, Orson Welles played Le Chiffre.

18. Which country has produced the most Bond girls in the 23 official Bond films?

  • A: America
  • B: England
  • C: France
  • D: Sweden

The correct answer is A: America. Although the first American Bond girl, Jill St. John, didn’t come along until 1971, there have now been more American-born actresses cast in the part than actresses from any other country. The international rundown:

  • America: 7
  • England: 4
  • France: 4
  • Sweden: 2
  • Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Malaysia, Ukraine: 1 each

Bérénice Marlohe in SKYFALLL

19. Which of the following actors has NOT had a famous ”emerging from the surf“ scene in a Bond movie?

  • A: Ursula Andress
  • B: Halle Berry
  • C: Daniel Craig
  • D: Desmond Llewelyn

The correct answer is D: Desmond Llewlyn is the most recognizable actor to play ”Q.“ But no emerging-from-the-surf scene.

20. Which of the following singers did NOT sing a James Bond title song?

  • A: Tom Jones
  • B: A-Ha
  • C: Sheryl Crow
  • D: Iron & Wine

The correct answer is D: Iron & Wine never sang a Bond theme song. Would be interesting if he did.

21. Which of the following actors has NOT played a Bond villain?

  • A: Telly Savalas
  • B: Yaphet Kotto
  • C: Rutger Hauer
  • D: Sean Bean

The correct answer is C: Rutger Hauer has never played a Bond villain.

22. Which is NOT the name of a Bond girl?

  • A: Honey Ryder
  • B: Mary Goodnight
  • C: Taki Klozoff
  • D: Holly Goodhead

The correct answer is C: Taki Klozoff. Honey Ryder is from “Dr. No,” Mary Goodnight is from “The Man with the Golden Gun,” and Holly Goodhead (Dr. Holly Goodhead) is from “Moonraker.”

23. Which of the following puns does Bond NOT use after killing someone?

  • A: “I think he got the point.”
  • B: “Bon appetit.”
  • C: “He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.”
  • D: ”My name is Bond. James Bond.“

The correct answer is D: ”My name is Bond. James Bond." “I think he got the point” is from “Thunderball,” “Bon appetit” is from “You Only Live Twice” (and “The Living Daylights”), and “He always did have an inflated opinion of himself” is from “Live and Let Die.”

The gun barrel sequence of James Bond

Posted at 04:18 PM on Nov 11, 2012 in category Movies
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Saturday November 10, 2012

The Ultimate James Bond Quiz

Welcome to Universal Exports. Ninety-five percent of your class has already dropped out of our training program, but you, the top five percent, remain. There is, however, one test left. Take the quiz below and we’ll figure out where to place you: in administration, in the Q branch, in the secretarial pool, or scrubbing toilets. Get 100 percent and you’ll be given the most coveted positoin of all: double-oh secret agent.

1. Ian Fleming named his secret agent after who ... or what?

  • A: His favorite uncle
  • B: An American soldier who saved his life during World War II.
  • C: The author of the book, “Birds of the West Indies.“
  • D: It was a pun on Thames Bonds, of which he was a major shareholder.

2. For the first three films, the man who appears in the “gun barrel sequence” was not Sean Connery. Who was he?

  • A: Stuntman Bob Simmons
  • B: Producer Albert Broccoli
  • C: Author Ian Fleming
  • D: Actor Jack Lord

3. In “Dr. No,” what prompts Bond to introduce himself as “Bond. James Bond” at the baccarat table?

  • A: The croupier is hard of hearing.
  • B: A woman at the table introduces herself as “Trench. Sylvia Trench.”
  • C: Dr. No asks for his name — last name first, damnit.
  • D: That’s actually his name: Bond James Bond. His real first name, “Bond,” was dropped in subsequent movies as too confusing.

"My name is Bond. James Bond."

4. In “Goldfinger,” Bond tells Jill Masterson that drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above 38 degrees is as bad as...?

  • A: “Sex without foreplay.”
  • B: “Shirts without cufflinks.”
  • C: “Listening to Dom DeLuise.”
  • D: “Listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

5. What is Bond’s response when Honor Blackman introduces herself as Pussy Galore?

  • A: “I must be dreaming.”
  • B: “I must talk to your parents.”
  • C: “High school must’ve been hell for you.”
  • D: “My name is Bond. James Bond.”

6. Ernst Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE, is seen petting a cat in most early Bond films. In which film do we first see his face?

  • A: “From Russia with Love” (1963)
  • B: “Thunderball” (1965)
  • C: “You Only Live Twice” (1967)
  • D: “Moonraker” (1979)

7. Which is the first movie where Bond does NOT wear a fedora during the gun barrel sequence?

  • A: “Goldfinger” (1964)
  • B: “Thunderball” (1965)
  • C: “You Only Live Twice” (1967)
  • D: “Live and Let Die” (1973)

8. At the end of the pre-title sequence in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Bond (George Lazenby) turns to the camera and says...what?

  • A: “This never happened to the other fellow.”
  • B: “I must be dreaming.”
  • C: “Instant karma’s gonna get you.”
  • D: “My name is Bond. James Bond.”

9. What is the name of the CIA agent who has appeared in numerous Bond movies?

  • A: Alex Bradbury
  • B: Smitty Wesson
  • C: Felix Leiter
  • D: Michael Busick

10. In what fundamental way were the producers going to change James Bond in 1970?

  • A: They were going to make him American, and star Adam West.
  • B: They were going to make him French, and star Jean Paul Belmondo.
  • C: They were going to make him a teenager, and star Kurt Russell.
  • D: They were going to make him a woman, and star Raquel Welch.

11. In the first Roger Moore movies, Bond does not smoke cigarettes. What does he do instead?

  • A: He smokes cigars.
  • B: He sucks lollipops.
  • C: He chews gum.
  • D: He chews tobacco.

Roger Moore as 007

12. What characteristic does the villain Francisco Scaramanga in “The Man with the Golden Gun” share with a character on “The Simpsons”?

  • A: He sucks a pacifier — like Maggie.
  • B: He says “D’Oh!” – like Homer.
  • C: He has a third nipple – like Krusty the Klown.
  • D: He tastes like a peanut — like Hans Moleman.

13. What happens to Bond during the pre-title sequence in “Moonraker”?

  • A: He gets pushed out of a plane without a parachute.
  • B: He is pulled by a helicopter around Kuala Lumpur.
  • C: He gets teased by the other double-oh secret agents for the size of his gun.
  • D: He plays Pong.

14. What future Academy Award-winning actor plays Dario, Sanchez’s sadistic henchman in “License to Kill” (1989)?

  • A: Alfred Molina
  • B: Kevin Spacey
  • C: Benicio del Toro
  • D: Marisa Tomei

15. Which of the following does the new “M” (Judi Dench) NOT call Bond in “Goldeneye”?

  • A: Sexist and misogynistic
  • B: A dinosaur
  • C: A relic of the Cold War
  • D: A great piece of ass

16. When Bond visits Q in “Die Another Day,” what gadget from a previous Bond film does he toy with?

  • A: Ursula Andress’ bikini from “Dr. No”
  • B: The jet pack from “Thunderball”
  • C: A crocodile from “Live and Let Die”
  • D: Sean Connery’s toupee from “Diamonds are Forever”

17. In 2006’s “Casino Royale,” Danish actor Mads Mikkelson plays Bond’s baccarat nemesis Le Chiffre. What other two actors have played Le Chiffre?

  • A: Peter Lorre and Orson Welles
  • B: Peter Sellers and Woody Allen
  • C: Vincent Price and Dean Martin
  • D: Danny Bonaduce and Christopher Knight

18. Which country has produced the most Bond girls in the 23 official Bond films?

  • A: America
  • B: England
  • C: France
  • D: Sweden

Bérénice Marlohe in SKYFALLL

19. Which of the following actors has NOT had a famous ”emerging from the surf“ scene in a Bond movie?

  • A: Ursula Andress
  • B: Halle Berry
  • C: Daniel Craig
  • D: Desmond Llewelyn

20. Which of the following singers did NOT sing a James Bond title song?

  • A: Tom Jones
  • B: A-Ha
  • C: Sheryl Crow
  • D: Iron & Wine

21. Which of the following actors has NOT played a Bond villain?

  • A: Telly Savalas
  • B: Yaphet Kotto
  • C: Rutger Hauer
  • D: Sean Bean

22. Which is NOT the name of a Bond girl?

  • A: Honey Ryder
  • B: Mary Goodnight
  • C: Taki Klozoff
  • D: Holly Goodhead

23. Which of the following puns does Bond NOT use after killing someone?

  • A: “I think he got the point.”
  • B: “Bon appetit.”
  • C: “He always did have an inflated opinion of himself.”
  • D: ”My name is Bond. James Bond."

The gun barrel sequence of James Bond

Feel free to answer in the Comments field below. I’ll post the answers tomorrow. And, yes, one of these days I need to come up with a better systems for quizzes.

Posted at 08:17 AM on Nov 10, 2012 in category Movies
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Friday November 09, 2012

The Men Who Played James Bond, 007

Today is the U.S. release of “Skyfall,” the 23rd James Bond film. Below is a retrospective on the men who have played Bond, James Bond, over the years. Sans one-timers. Sorry, George Lazenby.

Sean Connery
What’s startling about watching the first Bond movies is how tepid they are. Since each Bond must inevitably trump the Bond before it — bigger stunts, wilder gadgets, crazier villains — it makes sense that each preceding Bond is trumped. We’re used to Bond whizzing all over the planet, but in the first film, “Dr. No,” Bond flies to Kingston, Jamaica, boats to Crab Key island ... and that’s it. The fights are early 1960s judo flips, the “stunt” a car chase along a mountain road. When a tarantula is unleashed in Bond’s hotel room, he kills it with his dress shoe, seeming more frightened husband than secret agent.

But these Bond films quickly established a formula and kept to it. In the pre-title sequence we watch the end of Bond’s previous adventure or the beginning of his new opponent’s villainy. After the titles, Bond is given his assignment and gadgets. In an exotic locale, he meets his local contact, usually ethnic, who usually dies halfway through the picture. There are chases, attempts on Bond’s life, meetings with the new villain and the new villain’s super-powered henchman. He beds three women: The inconsequential one at the beginning, an enemy agent in the middle, then “the Bond girl,” with whom he shares the final assault on the enemy’s fortress. There, captured, he learns the villain’s diabolical plot to a) blackmail the West, b) start World War III, or c) both. Left to die, he escapes, kills the henchman, blows everything up, and winds up with the girl on a raft in the middle of the ocean, a double entendre on his lips, sex on his mind. Cue credits and “James Bond will return in...”

Nobody had seen anything like it. Imitators popped up everywhere. Most were American and forgettable. The best was British and anti-Bond: Michael Caine as the bespectacled gourmand Harry Palmer in “The Ipcress File” and “Funeral in Berlin.”

Sean Connery as James Bond, 007, in "Dr. No"

Roger Moore
Bond was an establishment figure, given to fine clothes and fine champagne, while the heroes of the early 1970s tended to be anti-establishment and rumpled. As a result, even when the producers coaxed Connery back for one more turn, Bond lost some of his polish. He didn’t play baccarat in Monte Carlo wearing a tux; he played craps in Vegas in his shirt sleeves. Jill St. John became the first American Bond girl, and she was dumber than the other Bond girls. Bond calls her a twit and slaps her. He rides a three-wheeler through the desert and leads police on a car chase through Vegas. The cops keep crashing into each other. Yee-ha.

So it would be throughout the Roger Moore ’70s. SPECTRE, cigarettes and the baccarat table all disappeared, while car chases (a la “Bullitt”) and car jumps (a la Evel Knievel) became essential. Bond was now less imitated, more imitator. “Live and Let Die” was the blaxploitation Bond; “The Man with the Golden Gun” contained elements of “Enter the Dragon.” Bond fought a henchman named Jaws two years after “Jaws.” After “Star Wars,” Bond went into outer space.

He repeated himself. In “The Spy Who Loved Me,” a megalomaniac is bent on destroying our corrupt civilization and building a better one undersea. In “Moonraker,” a megalomaniac is bent on destroying our corrupt civilization and building a better one in outer space. In “Golden Gun,” a car becomes a plane; in “Spy,” a car becomes a boat; in “Moonraker,” a boat (a gondola) becomes a car and Bond drives it through St. Mark’s Square, where the pigeons do double-takes. It's all fairly cartoonish.

Roger Moore as James Bond, 007

Timothy Dalton
In the 1980s, movies were increasingly filled with action heroes in the Bond mould — Indiana Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McClane — and Timothy Dalton’s Bond responded by becoming more like them rather than like himself. His tastes were pedestrian. He favors leather jackets rather than tuxes. In “License to Kill,” a girl orders a Bud with a lime and Bond, the man who thinks it’s a crime to drink Dom Perignon ’53 above 38 degrees, tells the waitress: “Same.” He made headlines by becoming, in the age of AIDS, monogamous (one or two girls per film, instead of three), but the bigger story was missed: this Bond hardly flirted anymore. Dalton has a shy smile, and he employed it with women in his films. He seems almost ... puppyish.

And how does this new, bashful Bond bring the beautiful enemy agent over to his side? In “The Living Daylights” he tells the girl the truth. And in “License to Kill” he’s just, well, a nice guy. Nice guys and truth-tellers around the world rolled their eyes.

Timothy Dalton as James Bond, 007

Pierce Brosnan
In 1995, Pierce Brosnan brought back the true cinematic Bond. In the first 20 minutes of “Goldeneye,” he 1) seduces a reluctant girl, 2) wears a tux, 3) plays baccarat in a French casino, 4) says “Vodka martini, shaken, not stirred” and 5) tells a lovely enemy agent his name is “Bond. James Bond.” No pussy-footing around here.

Arguments can be made that Brosnan is the most quintessentially Bond of all the Bonds. He has the intensity of Connery and Dalton, and the light comedic touch (although drier and more muted) of Moore. He’s even given a rationale for Bond’s playboy ways. This is a Bond who tries not to love, who tries not to care, because loving and caring get in the way of work. “How can you be so cold?” Natalya Simonova asks him in “Goldeneye.” “It’s what keeps me alive,” he responds, almost helplessly.

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, 007

Daniel Craig
With “Casino Royale,” they’ve bitch-slapped the series. Bond, originally borne of WWII, and long steeped in the Cold War, is here remade as a post-9/11 secret agent who never knew the Cold War. Craig's Bond is physical and relentless. He bulldozes past everything. Sometimes literally. In Craig, the series has something it hasn’t had since Connery: a Bond believable as both roughneck and sophisticate. He doesn’t quite have the “wicked twinkle” that Honor Blackman attributed to Connery, but he does give good smoulder.

“Casino Royale” isn’t just grittier and bloodier than previous Bond movies; it’s deeper. All of those elements lampooned in “Austin Powers” (“All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism”) are gone. It’s an origin movie, and there’s small pleasures when familiar elements are introduced: Oh, so that’s why the Aston-Martin. Ah, so that’s why the vodka martini. These small pleasures, coupled with the new-found grittiness, actually make the movie feel like the reality upon which all of those other, more cartoonish Bond movies are based. It feels like they took the adventures of this guy, the Craig Bond, and gave us those crazy Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan flicks.

Daniel Craig as James Bond, 007

All of the above was taken from “Buying Bonds: a Cinematic History of James Bond, 007,” which I wrote for MSNBC in 2006.

Posted at 08:20 AM on Nov 09, 2012 in category Movies
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