Like many teenage boys, I grew up with the Bond films. 007 was the epitome of my childhood heroes – a list which included some stiff competition from the likes of Indiana Jones, MacGyver, Han Solo…
I distinctly remember the first Bond film I ever saw on television as a boy, Never Say Never Again – a film that is generally considered downright blasphemous by the 007 community. An unofficial remake of Thunderball produced by a rival studio, Never Say Never Again is an anomaly among the Bond films. It’s not considered part of the canon of the 23-plus EON-produced 007 series and yet it controversially starred the first and disputably greatest James Bond actor of all time – Sean Connery.
I remember being captivated, not so much by the film itself (which would probably rank among the weakest if compared to the rest of the series) but by the character of Bond himself. Here was a quick-witted, eye-winking action hero in a film that merged the thematic elements of the more adult movies I longed to watch as a child with the outlandishness of a Saturday morning cartoon.
I immediately begged my parents to take me to the library – every parent’s ultimate dream. A dream ultimately shattered into a million microscopic shards when they realized what I was after when I rented the first film in the series, Dr. No. By the time I got to the second, From Russia with Love, I was hooked. Even at that age, I never had a disregard for older films so the slower pace and outdated special effects that would turn off many from the earliest Bond flicks never bothered me. With the beauty of the Bond girls, I couldn’t have cared less about the antiquated back projections during the car chases.
In little time, I had watched them all – practically in order. I waited breathlessly for my first Bond in theaters, GoldenEye, and was upset when all my friends at school played the infamous Nintendo 64 game without ever having seen any of the movies. I would tell them the significance of the moonraker laser only to be ignored – all they cared about was how it never ran out of ammo. Ignorant fools, I thought. They would never know the awesomeness of a movie that featured space marines fighting an epic laser battle in orbit.
Over the years, I looked forward to each new James Bond adventure. Sure, there were highs (Casino Royale; Skyfall) and lows (Die Another Day; Quantum of Solace) in terms of quality, but I didn’t care. I was spending time with an old friend. As one of his villains once said to him, “You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.” Not exactly the most flattering description but it did ring true to every film’s closing promise that James Bond would indeed return – a promise that he’s kept for over fifty years.
So, in honor of my old friend, the 7th of every month will feature a new 007 review from the classic era of Sean Connery to the grittier adventures of Daniel Craig. All the girls, cars, and gadgets will be here along with other segments such as “How It Could Have Ended,” “The Chronicles of Felix Leiter,” and more.
To inaugurate the series, I will be reviewing James Bond’s very first screen adventure, Casino Royale. “Wasn’t the first Bond film Dr. No,” you ask. Yes and no. For our first review, we’re going back to the days of live black & white television to the small screen adventure that introduced the world to the one and only Bond. James Bond. Oh wait, I’m sorry, I meant – Bond. Jimmy Bond.
James Bond will Return
Casino Royale (1954)
Join 007 on the 7th of next month for more!