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Author Topic: New James Bond  (Read 24764 times)
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nightwing
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« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2006, 05:15:03 PM »

Yeah, the bad guys would hardly be able to get a word in edge-wise!

If you've ever seen "North By Northwest" (one of my top 3 films ever), it's pretty much a blueprint for the early Bond flics.  I don't know if Grant could have brought the hard edge to Bond that it needed, though he made a pretty unsettling (possible) bad guy in "Suspicion." 

The big issue would have been age, though.
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« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2006, 06:10:09 PM »

There are a lot of good points by different posters to reply to, but I'll do my best.

davidelliott, I am not "turned off". It will be the first Bond film I'm going to make a point of seeing for many, many years.

Permanus, I definitely liked Timothy Dalton as Bond. I thought he was far superior to, say, Roger Moore.

nightwing, you already know this but maybe others don't: I am a fan of your 007 articles (actually, all of your articles) and they are well worth reading.

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the brutish thug Craig looks like (and Fleming wrote about)

nightwing, I believe you're being too hard on the real Bond (from the novels). You understand the character very well, but I don't agree Bond is brutish or a thug. He does have some sophistication, and he is human (unlike the character in the films), despite being a "blunt instrument". Maybe you forgot for a moment that this man makes his living by being cool under pressure, thinking quickly, and adapting to different environments around the world. He's physically tough, and he can hurt people, but he's not a "thug".

davidelliott, on the face of it I am not so happy about the new actor's look, because Bond is good-looking and can turn a woman's head, even if she thinks he looks a little "cruel" upon closer inspection. I don't know how Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant could ever play Bond. Moore as Bond had the same problems they would have. None of them are physical men. Bond is hard. Jimmy Stewart is a bumbling goof who was great at playing an idiot caught up in espionage, but I find the suggestion of him being Bond way off. Likewise with Cary Grant: too soft, too flabby. Every time I see Moore in any role, it's obvious in real life the man wouldn't win a fight with a Barbie doll. Physically he's a non-entity.

But apart from not being good-looking, well, we shall see. I am looking forward to the film. Casino Royale is one of the better books. I re-read just over a year ago, and I remember being surprised again how good it was. It'll make a good basis for a film I think.

I don't mind things getting a bit darker, but I also like the quirkiness of Bond's world, which nightwing touched on. Bond needs to be a vicious character in a hand-to-hand scrap. Soviet killers are wary of this man! But large scale battles where he does a good impression of the Terminator are ridiculous. If the film makes things more gritty, more street, I'm all for it.
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davidelliott
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2006, 06:37:52 PM »

nightwing, you've given me a lot to think about...

The Moore Bonds were just really set-pieces strung together by a thread (which was intentional) and parts of DAD were embarrasing.  For me, the last GREAT 007 movie was The Living Daylights.  Dalton was excellent, it was a straight spy story (well, til the end when it sunk into some comedy)

I'm dwelling...
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nightwing
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« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2006, 08:48:28 PM »

Aldous writes:

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nightwing, I believe you're being too hard on the real Bond (from the novels). You understand the character very well, but I don't agree Bond is brutish or a thug. He does have some sophistication, and he is human (unlike the character in the films), despite being a "blunt instrument". Maybe you forgot for a moment that this man makes his living by being cool under pressure, thinking quickly, and adapting to different environments around the world. He's physically tough, and he can hurt people, but he's not a "thug".

Well, maybe "thug" is going it a bit high, as they say across the pond.  But the point I meant to make is that most people's impression of  "James Bond" is informed by the films, not the books.  In the books, he doesn't know how to fly a plane, defuse a bomb or perform a HALO jump.  He certainly isn't an expert on butterflies, rare orchids, vintage sherry or microchip technology.  In the early books, at least, he has no sense of humor and certainly doesn't crack wise as he kills people.  He averages one romantic conquest per adventure, not dozens.  In short, whereas most people would describe Bond as a high-society sophisticate, technologically adept, supremely cool under pressure and given to philandering ways, that is not what you find in the books, where Bond dresses relatively casually, probably couldn't operate a toaster without his housemaid May, falls hard for women and is always depressed when it doesn't work out, and definitely knows a thing or two about fear, even panic.

Movie Bond seems to be an amalgam of Fleming's creation plus traits of the actors who played him.  Much of what we think of as "Bondian" traits are really mannerisms and qualities of Connery and Moore.  So what I was getting at is that audiences who see this new film may be seeing Fleming's Bond for the first time ever, and ironically they may well come away saying, "that guy doesn't seem at all like James Bond."

Still, it's yet another misconception about Bond that he's a physical superman of some kind, or at least a brawler.  This seems to come from memories of Connery and Lazenby, and now Craig.  But while the Fleming novels had a great deal of violence, Bond himself was hardly what you'd call a powerhouse.  I seem to recall he was all of six feet tall (making him shorter than all his portrayers except Craig) and he weighed in at something like 170 pounds.  That's roughly my own stats, and trust me I'll never be mistaken for Mr Universe.  Yes, Fleming's Bond shot people in cold blood, stabbed them, kicked them down the stairs, whatever he had to do, but he would not have lasted long against the likes of Oddjob, for instance, or hit a guy over the head with a sofa(!).  If the new movie has a lot of physically demanding battle scenes, which apparently it does, this is more in deference to modern audience expectations than a nod to Fleming.  (I just re-read "Thunderball" recently and Bond comes off as a guy who fights tooth and nail when his back's against the wall, but without any great mastery of martial arts or anything beyond normal strength.  He gets his clock cleaned by Largo at the end and is only saved by a timely intervention from the love interest.  In fact he often ended up in the hospital at the end of his missions).

As far as being a "blunt instrument," I admit Bond was disgusted about something at the time he said that, and later might have felt differently. (Similarly, even though Vesper says Bond looks "rather like Hoagy Carmichael," in the next chapter he looks in the mirror and decides she doesn't know what the devil she's talking about.  So ultimately all we know about Bond is that he is 6 feet tall, 170 pounds with dark hair, a tan and a faint scar on one cheek.  Not much to go on).

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Jimmy Stewart is a bumbling goof who was great at playing an idiot caught up in espionage, but I find the suggestion of him being Bond way off.

Actually I think his lanky build sounds more like what Fleming wrote.  And he was good at pulling off terrified acts of desperation, which again is how I often saw Bond in the books.  The problem with Stewart was that he'd have brought too much baggage as "the likable fellow."  And that doesn't fit Bond very well, my affection for Roger notwithstanding.

Anyway, as I said in the earlier post, when Fleming said "James Stewart," he meant the British actor who changed his name to Stewart Granger.

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Every time I see Moore in any role, it's obvious in real life the man wouldn't win a fight with a Barbie doll. Physically he's a non-entity.

As a kid, I had no problem with that, partly because in Moore's era Bond dispatched more people with weapons and gadgets than he did with his hands.  But nowadays his fight scenes do come off pretty limp, with some notable exceptions (the running battle with Chang in the Venice glass factory in "Moonraker" is very, very good).  What helps is that Moore's Bond, despite his avuncular air, is actually more of a conniving cad than any of them.  He cheats to get his women and he cheats to win his fights. This works for me as his Bond is older and, one might assume, well beyond any interest in proving his masculinity or getting his blood pumping. He just wants to do his job and get back to the booze and broads, and for me that's okay.  (One of my favorite scenes comes in "For Your Eyes Only" when Roger/Bond runs up the winding staircase and pumps the villain's car full of bullets, finally kicking it off the cliff.  I always imagine he's thinking, "And THAT's for making me run up the stairs at my age, you young punk!"  Cheesy)

Still and all, I once saw "The Naked Face" with Roger as a psychiatrist who's in way over his head with the bad guys and gets beaten to a pulp by two or three of them, without getting in one decent lick of his own.  That scene deeply disturbed me because it was the only fight scene he ever did that rang totally true.  After that, I could never fully enjoy his Saint or Bond outings again.  Sad

davidelliott writes:

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The Moore Bonds were just really set-pieces strung together by a thread (which was intentional)

Here's what I find interesting:

As the Bonds became a franchise with no end in sight, each film had ideas that didn't make it to screen, but were shelved for the next film in the pipeline.  So what you got was plotting sessions where the filmmakers said, "Hey, what about that stunt we designed where Bond falls out of a plane with no parachute?  Can you set up a scene where that happens?"  And thus the story becomes servant to the set-pieces.

On the other hand, at least all those stunts were possible, however implausible.  Now you have the scriptwriters calling the shots and the stuntmen are asked to make it all work.  So let's say the script says "Bond drives his motorcycle off a cliff, free-falls into the falling plane and flies it away."  The stunt coordinator replies, "That is physically impossible, sorry" and the producers say, "Never mind, we'll do it all with special effects.  Same with the para-surfing thingee in DAD.  On the whole, I liked it better when the stunt guys were in charge.

I agree The Living Daylights was wonderful.  Even the comedy worked for me, because it was pretty low-key.  Too bad they erased it entirely from the next film, because Dalton was better at it than people seemed to realize...and you definitely need *some* in there.
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Aldous
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« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2006, 09:22:22 PM »

Nightwing:

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Movie Bond seems to be an amalgam of Fleming's creation plus traits of the actors who played him.  Much of what we think of as "Bondian" traits are really mannerisms and qualities of Connery and Moore.  So what I was getting at is that audiences who see this new film may be seeing Fleming's Bond for the first time ever, and ironically they may well come away saying, "that guy doesn't seem at all like James Bond."

Yes, I see what you mean.

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Still, it's yet another misconception about Bond that he's a physical superman of some kind, or at least a brawler.  This seems to come from memories of Connery and Lazenby, and now Craig.  But while the Fleming novels had a great deal of violence, Bond himself was hardly what you'd call a powerhouse.  I seem to recall he was all of six feet tall (making him shorter than all his portrayers except Craig) and he weighed in at something like 170 pounds.  That's roughly my own stats, and trust me I'll never be mistaken for Mr Universe.  Yes, Fleming's Bond shot people in cold blood, stabbed them, kicked them down the stairs, whatever he had to do.....

That's about right, because I remember from the books he was about six feet tall and around 12 stone, which would make him slender, and I think Fleming based him on his own size. (I don't have the books here to refer to so I am writing these things from memory.) Your last line that I've quoted there tells us what sort of a fighter Bond is. Don't dismantle the "misconception" too far, because I distinctly remember Bond is a dangerous fighter in a scrap, and this is in his dossier. He is good with his hands (boxer) and handy with a knife. He is also a very accurate and quick shot with a pistol. You can't interchange the movie and book characters, eg. throwing Oddjob from the films against Bond from the books. Oddjob cannot be harmed with physical blows in the films, which is pure cinematic fantasy. In reality, any man, no matter how well trained in chop-socky or whatever Oddjob's specialty was, can be hurt and even killed by a tough and aggressive fighter even if that fighter is smaller. (Oh no, I do apologise. I didn't mean to turn this into an Oddjob vs. Bond - Who Would Win? thread...) And yes, no one said he was a powerhouse. I am talking about something quite different.

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Actually I think his lanky build sounds more like what Fleming wrote.  And he was good at pulling off terrified acts of desperation, which again is how I often saw Bond in the books.

I'm afraid I still think he is way off. Physically he's a mess, gangly and awkward. Bond isn't lanky in the way of a Hollywood Western actor. Stewart always reminds me of Goofy when he moves. (I'm always expecting him to say "Gwarsh!")

"Terrified acts of desperation"? Yes, I guess so, but combined with an actor like Jimmy Stewart it creates entirely the wrong mental picture. Bond can focus his mind, even when very scared and in pain, and do what he has to do. Again, it's something quite different to James Stewart in a panic.

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Anyway, as I said in the earlier post, when Fleming said "James Stewart," he meant the British actor who changed his name to Stewart Granger.

Yes, I did see that.

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On the other hand, at least all those stunts were possible, however implausible.

Even the scene where the car goes from one side of the river to  theother, doing a mid-air roll on the way, was actually performed, of course. (Is that The Man With The Golden Gun?)
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nightwing
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2006, 04:40:04 AM »

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Don't dismantle the "misconception" too far, because I distinctly remember Bond is a dangerous fighter in a scrap, and this is in his dossier. He is good with his hands (boxer) and handy with a knife. He is also a very accurate and quick shot with a pistol.

If memory serves, he also wrote some sort of manual on hand-to-hand combat that became required reading for Secret Service recruits.

But if we focus on the knives and guns, and indeed plain old dirty fighting, I still think Roger Moore could have made it work.  I'll grant you aside from the karate school scene in Man With The Golden Gun and a few other moments here and there, there aren't many examples, but if you look outside the Bond films to work like "The Sea Wolves", "Gold" and "The Wild Geese," Roger could definitely pull of the "tough guy" routine and even the "right phony" school of ruthless killing.  The two problems with Roger's Bond are that (1) he saw it as the "signature" role that defined him to the masses, and thus resisted being as ruthless as he was in other, lower-profile work, and (2) the stunt coordinators for whatever reason insisted on a lot of silly kicks and roundhouse punches, rather than the close-quarters body blows of Sean and George's films.  Frankly I think it'd be easier to pull off that stuff and make it look realistic. Anyone's going to look silly with all those kicks.

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You can't interchange the movie and book characters, eg. throwing Oddjob from the films against Bond from the books. Oddjob cannot be harmed with physical blows in the films, which is pure cinematic fantasy. In reality, any man, no matter how well trained in chop-socky or whatever Oddjob's specialty was, can be hurt and even killed by a tough and aggressive fighter even if that fighter is smaller.

Well, Bond didn't get very far fighting the Oddjob of the novel, either.  In the book, he was pretty much as he appeared on film, except I'm not sure he had that lethal hat.  I do remember he took his shoes off and broke a stair railing with his bare foot to show off.  Anyway, Bond only beats him by setting him up to get sucked out a plane window, the fate reserved for Goldfinger himself in the film.

My point was that the movies have created an image of Bond that's closer to Tarzan or Superman than to Fleming's character.  Thus when people disparage Roger, they always say, "he's too weak and flabby for James Bond."  Flabby I'll grant you, at least at the end there, but he's a large man with, at the start, a fairly athletic build.  He was NOT a muscleman in the mode of Sean, George and now Daniel, but neither was Bond.  When audiences see James Bond take his shirt off, they expect to see the hunky physique of Sean Connery coming out of the bath in From Russia With Love.  If true to Fleming, you'd see something closer to Timothy Dalton seducing Talisa Soto in License to Kill...he was fit, but hardly hunky.

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And yes, no one said he was a powerhouse. I am talking about something quite different.

Well, you didn't say it, but it's been said.  I still maintain that as cool as it is to see Sean hurling gold ingots at Oddjob, or clobbering that guy in You Only Live Twice with a sofa (!), those kinds of superheroics should not define Bond.

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Even the scene where the car goes from one side of the river to  theother, doing a mid-air roll on the way, was actually performed, of course. (Is that The Man With The Golden Gun?)

Yes, but of course they cheated.  The steering apparatus was moved to the center of the car, the seats came out and the "driver" laid on the floor to guide the car.  So a real AMC Gremlin ( Cheesy ), balanced and equipped in standard fashion, could never have done it.

But still, it is a real car and a real bridge, and despite what Hollywood thinks, CGI is still not far enough along to match any stunt done in real life.  No matter how well it's done, our eyes and minds can always tell a fake.

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nightwing
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2006, 04:43:32 AM »

That delightful filter strikes again!

In my reference above to Roger as a "right phoney", the substituted word "phoney" was originally a B-word usually reserved for children born out of wedlock.

Phoney...Huh??
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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2006, 06:50:25 AM »

Where you said (or, rather, where the system said) "right phoney" really threw me till I read your follow-up post.

Two nice comments by Daniel Craig in my paper this weekend.

First one:

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I've given 100 percent on this. I've given everything I could. If people don't like it, stuff them.

Second one:

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I am not putting any negative spin on this because to be typecast as James Bond is a very high-class problem for an actor.

Both remarks show a healthy attitude. I admit I never understood what Sean Connery was on about when he disliked the Bond role because he wanted to do more and better things with his career. How quickly actors change their tunes after wishing and hoping to be famous.

This also brings up the issue of George Reeves for me. I don't know how accurate all those stories are of him being "bitter" and disgruntled about being "typecast" as the TV Superman. If you want to be a star, and you are in the top two or three of TV stars in terms of popularity and influence, how is that a bad thing? George must have known this was the height of his career, and a success 99 percent of actors can only daydream about.

And with Sean Connery. He ought to have known that Bond was the height of his career and was he never thankful?
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