The Eras of Bond

ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
edited September 2017 in Bond Movies Posts: 1,984
I could've sworn there was a thread for this somewhere but I couldn't find it so I decided to make a new one.

My recent discussion with @Strog got me thinking about how the decades almost perfectly divide the Bond movies. There's a clear shift at the start of each decade of Bond to the preceding decade, with only one or two exceptions. Here's my take on it all, and hopefully there's lots to agree or disagree over.

The 1960's — The Golden Age

This is when Bond started, and they were full of fresh, innovative ideas. Every movie released in this era is widely regarded as a classic, and most of them are considered to be among the best to ever grace Bond. The Bond formula is in a raw state but still noticeable from the get-go in 1962's Dr No, and it's refined up to 1964's Goldfinger, which is essentially it's "publication". While it's not my personal favourite, Goldfinger was such a resounding success that it became the stereotype for all Bond movies and indeed the blueprint for a great many future Bonds. Even so, there is no strong deviation from Fleming until 1967's You Only Live Twice, which remains the only Bond movie of the 60's to discard the premise of Fleming's original novel. Coincidentally, it's the only Bond of this time which is outrageously over-the-top, which probably explains why it's perhaps the most parodied of the Bond films. However, with 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, we have a return to faithful Fleming.

At this point, Bond is completely its own beast — this is the time before action franchises and summer blockbusters. Bond is practically a genre of its own, becoming a pop culture phenomenon with the aid of smash-hits Goldfinger and Thunderball, whose records remain unsurpassed save for 2012's Skyfall, which benefited massively from circumstantial promotion. Every Bond flick in this decade makes it to the top three of its respective year at the box office, and all of them are critical successes also. And yet, this is the decade with the most Bond movies, with an unparalleled six — not a record I expect to be broken any time soon. From 1962 to 1965, there were Bond movies out every year, something completely unimaginable today. Considering that and the unrelenting success of Bond in this time, I think we objectively have to declare this era to be Bond's golden age.

The movie that epitomises 60's Bond most? Goldfinger. The Bond formula and all its tropes are fleshed out here, it's the only movie of this decade that tops its year in terms of box office (embodying the heights of Bond's popularity), and it's still considered the best Bond movie by the largest fraction of critics and fans (who were around at the time), to my knowledge.

We can safely declare this Connery's era, as Bond was entirely associated with him in this time. Lazenby unfortunately looked like a temporary stand-in, given his appearance in only one film and the fact that it's sandwiched between two of Connery's.

The 1970's — The Era of Exploitation

There's a big shift from the onset of this decade. 1971's Diamonds Are Forever features Connery returning to the role, but the magical quality of the 1960's Bonds just isn't present. Instead, DAF is an unashamed smorgasbord of campy tropes and feels like a knowing parody of Bond. Interestingly, it seems the sheer hysteria of having Connery return to Bond was enough to promote the movie on its own, and it topped the year at the box office. Yet it's equally evident that Connery wasn't interested in a sustained effort as Bond, so he leaves after his brief comeback and Sir Roger Moore steps into the picture.

When Moore enters the role, it's different. That's what he intended it to be; but it seems like the whole production crew was also headed that way. Moore seems to have received better treatment from the producers than Connery or Lazenby ever did, and the stories were written to accommodate him. Fleming's books are only loosely adapted, and if DAF carried the hint of knowing self-parody, Moore's flicks made that loud and clear. Building off the camp tone of DAF, there's no longer any attempt to take Bond seriously. Everything revolves around simply entertaining the audience. The first step was taken with forgetting about continuity in DAF. The next step is taken by forgetting about Blofeld, SPECTRE, all of the old stuff, entirely.

The other thing to note is that Bond is no longer setting trends like he was in the 60's, but rather riding them. Live and Let Die is an unabashed blaxpoitation movie, The Man With The Golden Gun is replete with references to the energy crisis and the martial arts craze, and Moonraker is almost a crossover of Bond and Star Wars. For this reason, Moore's entries in the 70's can look ridiculous when viewed today, especially if you're not a Bond fan. But when viewed in a contemporary context, they were undoubtedly successful in attracting fans to a new era of Bond.

While I think we can all call this Roger's era as Bond, I think it's disputable as to which of his films epitomises 70's Bond the most. The Spy Who Loved Me is the exception to the trend-riding pattern I mentioned above, although there's enough distinctly 70's elements (Moore's flared trousers, the disco soundtrack, etc.) to firmly root it in the decade. And arguably, it was the height of what Moore wanted to achieve with his Bond (he himself seems to think that way). A larger-than-life outing, completely outrageous, but something that fans loved. It's the only real critical success of the 70's (and it's still widely regarded as a classic) but still managed to do well at the box office.

On the other hand, Moonraker is the pinnacle of Moore's Bond in other ways. It takes YOLT's larger-than-life setting/plot and mixes it with the apex of the 70's trend-stealing. There's no topping it in that regard because unlike TSWLM, it just doesn't know when to stop. It's utterly relentless fun, to the point where you almost fear for the franchise's livelihood. But it was also a massive commercial success — the last time Bond topped the year's box office — and alongside TSWLM remains Moore's most remembered effort in the public consciousness (this is just from my experience). It might just be the ultimate form of Moore's vision for Bond.

The 1980's — Troubled Times

Another big change. Moore's age seems to have caught up to him. Gone are the immaculate sets of Ken Adam that gave Bond it's larger-than-life feel. Gone is the innocent feeling of unrelenting fun with the prior Bonds. At the same time, the landscape of cinema has changed. Movies are becoming increasingly commercialised, and there's a massive blockbuster at least once a year. Bond doesn't really have a chance to top the box office anymore, but the way they handle Bond here doesn't help it either.

The first thing this decade does is ground Bond again with For Your Eyes Only. The cartoonish elements of the previous decade are expunged, and we're expected to take Bond seriously now. So Bond is given a more serious feel; a darker atmosphere and grimmer, more realistic settings. But this might just be the most non-committal era of Bond, because whether it's Moore's last three movies or Dalton's subsequent duology, the producers feel like they can't get rid of the old, campy humour. It finds its way in each of the 80's Bonds from time to time, and like a venomous snake, its bite severely undermines the darker and more serious tone of these new movies.

We've already lost the over-the-topness of the 1970's, yet if we can't even be fully committed to this new, darker Bond, can we really expect Bond to be all that successful anymore? We kind of can't, which explains why this era on average features Bond's lowest box office draws. At the same time, the more serious take on Bond somewhat helps the critical reception of these movies, though since it's still a mixed approach, the reviews are still fairly mixed as well. We get solid ratings for For Your Eyes Only, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, but Moore's final two offerings — Octopussy and A View to a Kill — are widely decried as the worst of the franchise and have some of the worst (if not the worst), critical reception of all the Bonds. And while I'm personally more sympathetic to these films, I can see why some would view them as feeling tired and mundane. Bond was running on its own engine in the 60's. In the 70's, it worked off other pop culture trends to keep itself alive. But now that it's abandoned that, it feels exhausted. There's no longer anything fresh or inventive with the character. Even when we get to LTK, easily the darkest and most intense film up to that time, something is just missing. Throughout the 80's there was just a loss of grip between Bond and audiences worldwide. He remained a pop culture phenomenon and a box office hit, but if you compared him with how he was in the 60's, he was now one of many rather than his own thing. The unique flavour of Bond was just rapidly disappearing, IMHO.

Since Dalton never managed to fully win over the Bond fandom, I would still call the 80's a primarily Moore decade, just with a different take on Bond. And funnily enough, I think Octopussy epitomises this decade best, especially when it comes to having one foot in the serious side of things and one foot in the comical aspect.

The 1990's — The Blockbuster Age

The six-year hiatus from 1989 to 1995 might've been a blessing in disguise for Bond, because the landscape of cinema and the world change dramatically. The Cold War was over and we saw CGI being increasingly used in film. 1995's GoldenEye uses the best of both to send us a message that Bond can survive in this new, alien environment. It tells us that what makes Bond himself isn't tied to the classic era, and that Bond is fully capable of joining the new blockbuster kids. So it feels inventive, new, refreshing. It's strikes all the right notes so perfectly that you would be forgiven for thinking that we're about to enter the best age for Bond ever.

But sadly, that isn't the case. As someone who got into Bond in the 90's, even I admit that Brosnan's run as Bond was a self-destructive spiral. Every movie was an attempt to better the last, and we got more and more CGI and Americanization of Bond. If it wasn't for the stuffing of Bond tropes in the later Bond movies, they would hardly be recognizable as Bond movies at all. It's unfortunate that the closest we ever got to Brosnan's actual vision for Bond was his debut in GoldenEye. And what's even more unfortunate for me is that I didn't even have to mention Brosnan's two follow-up flicks to GoldenEye — they were such generic affairs that I could describe them without mentioning them by name because they just didn't do anything new. GE was a breath of fresh air, and it was like the Bond franchise just let that breath remain until it got stale.

Brosnan is the only actor in this decade, so we've got to call this Brosnan's decade. As for which film best epitomises this era? GoldenEye. You were expecting something else?

The 2000's — The Great Restart

The 2000's are basically Bond's miracle decade. First, we have Die Another Day, which nearly ended the franchise and did end Brosnan's tenure as Bond. By this point the aforementioned breath has become a complete joke.

Casino Royale breathes new life into Bond — or rather, jolts Bond back to life, sort of in the way that Vesper does. It's so electrifyingly good that most critics and fans think it smashed every Bond since Goldfinger (some think it's even better), and many people still think it's the best encapsulation of Fleming to date. With CR, Bond goes back to basics, forgoing the excessive stuffing of tropes that was the Brosnan era and redefining what it means to be Bond for the sake of his survival in the 21st century. Bond gets the GoldenEye treatment again just over a decade since the actual GoldenEye, but this one is even more of a shakeup.

This is what was missing since the 70's, if not the 60's, imho. The audience is no longer looking back at the old Bonds and lamenting about how far things have fallen, but is looking forward to see where we can take the new Bond. I think Quantum of Solace was such a disappointment for this reason; Casino Royale was so big that it would be hard to make something that didn't seem small in comparison. Granted, QoS was a decidedly dull affair with a few good elements ruined by terrible execution, so it wasn't exactly doing itself any favours, yet it didn't actually threaten the lifeblood of the Bond franchise like DAD. I chalk that up to the momentum of CR; one misstep honestly wasn't enough to stop it.

So Casino Royale epitomises this decade, no question. Hence this decade is really Craig's. What I always find interesting is that when I look at this decade in terms of straight facts, I see DAD, CR and QoS. Two of them are among the worst in the franchise, yet somehow I don't think of the 2000's as a terrible time for Bond. I think that gives a measure of how much I love CR and why it's no. 1 on my ranking. I suspect that's the case with quite a lot of you as well.

The 2010's — ???

The 2010's is going to be an interesting decade. The only time apart from the 90's that we've had only one actor in a decade, and therefore Craig will be the only actor other than Moore that I (and seemingly most people) will pick as the face of two entire decades of Bond. But on its own, we've only had two Mendes productions. The only real trend here that I can see is that they're digging more into Bond's past and personal background, but I suspect Bond 25 will do away with that. So we might not even have anything concrete here. I guess we're moving back towards classic Bond with the gadgetry and camp humour creeping back in.

What do you think the 2010's signifies as an era for Bond?

Comments

  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger @!#¤%^§
    Posts: 43,562
    Good summary. Too early to sum up the 2010s. Who knows if Bond 25 will close off the whole era, or just bridge some gap into the next one?
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @Thunderfinger - I think that's fair to say. If the leaks about Bond 25 are any indication though, it looks like they're sticking with the personal trend.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger @!#¤%^§
    Posts: 43,562
    I think exploration of the past has been a big trend so far in this decade.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @Thunderfinger - The franchise's past, or Bond's? I mentioned the latter, but you're right. There's plenty of references to older Bond. I hope they don't keep bringing back the DB5 for a send-off ride at the end of every movie, lol.
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger @!#¤%^§
    Posts: 43,562
    @Thunderfinger - The franchise's past, or Bond's?.

    Both.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited September 2017 Posts: 23,883
    Very well written and summarized @ForYourEyesOnly. I can't disagree with anything you've written above.
    What do you think the 2010's signifies as an era for Bond?
    I agree with you that it seems to be about digging into Bond's past to date. Given Craig returns, I recommend they stay with that theme and close out his tenure. To make a shift now would potentially rob a new man of his arc, and more than anything, I want the tenure of Bond 007 to start with a successful bang more than I want Craig to try to reimagine Bond again. As I've said many times, my loyalty is to the franchise more than it is to any one actor.

    Going forward into the 2020's, I'd like them to focus on character and plot. They need an actor who can deliver any and all aspects of the character (sometimes in one film) if called upon. Go gritty. Go real (in terms of narrative). Go raw. However, keep the larger than life aspect, the essential Britishness and glamour too. It will be all about clear focused execution next time out, to differentiate Bond from its many competitors.
  • edited September 2017 Posts: 684
    Wonderful summary @ForYourEyesOnly! This is quite an interesting topic to me.
    Even so, there is no strong deviation from Fleming until 1967's You Only Live Twice, which remains the only Bond movie of the 60's to discard the premise of Fleming's original novel. Coincidentally, it's the only Bond of this time which is outrageously over-the-top, which probably explains why it's perhaps the most parodied of the Bond films.
    Good point about its being the first to discard the premise. That, combined with its being the first to bring in a relative outsider to develop the script, YOLT is the first Bond film to sort of come outside itself in general. If TB was an attempt at 'doing GF better,' then YOLT is an attempt at 'doing Bond better.' It's self-aware in a way no Bond film had been to the point.
    There's a big shift from the onset of this decade. 1971's Diamonds Are Forever features Connery returning to the role, but the magical quality of the 1960's Bonds just isn't present. Instead, DAF is an unashamed smorgasbord of campy tropes and feels like a knowing parody of Bond.
    Totally agree that it lacks the magical quality of the '60s films. But DAF has always felt to me more like more pastiche than parody. It genuinely feels, at points, like Bond is sent into the imagined past of a gangster film. I sometimes wonder if this 'displacement' of the Bond character was in response to the feeling—shared most notably by Lazenby, and which goes a way in explaining why he wasn't in this picture—that Bond had become a man out of time. That the franchise was on its way out, that the Bond who embodied so much of what the youth/swinging 60s culture of ten years prior meant was now 'square' and 'establishment' and stood in complete opposition to where the culture was seeking to go. Almost like another context had to be found for him.

    At the same time, the film incorporates commentary on many of the contemporary issues in which those exact people calling Bond 'establishment' would have taken an interest: you have an evil Howard Hughes-like CEO figure (even though this turns out to be Blofeld, this is the first time in Bond there's the vilification of a corporate figure); you have the inclusion of gay characters and women's lib characters; the villain's ultimate lair is an oil rig; hell, even the idea of 'American exceptionalism' is tackled when the moon landings are revealed to be fake.

    DAF is such an interesting film. Love the script, less enthused about the execution (inverse of YOLT for me). Sometimes I feel like I give Tom Mankiewicz too much credit; then I remember that, being both young and the son of a man who was a renowned screenwriter himself, he may just have been ambitious enough to attempt such a thing.

    At any rate, for many of the reasons above (mining other styles of film, approach to topical issues), I agree with your marking DAF as the genesis point for the second era of films.
    The other thing to note is that Bond is no longer setting trends like he was in the 60's, but rather riding them. Live and Let Die is an unabashed blaxpoitation movie, The Man With The Golden Gun is replete with references to the energy crisis and the martial arts craze, and Moonraker is almost a crossover of Bond and Star Wars.
    Yes. Also note the influence of the Hollywood films that would eventually spawn the out-and-out action genre. Films like DIRTY HARRY and DEATH WISH. (The finale of LALD in fact features Bond using Harry's gun, IIRC).
    At the same time, the landscape of cinema has changed. Movies are becoming increasingly commercialised, and there's a massive blockbuster at least once a year. Bond doesn't really have a chance to top the box office anymore, but the way they handle Bond here doesn't help it either.
    Absolutely. The 80s is the series' worst stretch, in my opinion. With the flourishing of other big budget franchises, Cubby seemed content to play it safe with his money after the massive success of MR. (Maybe one of the reasons why Moore kept being asked back.)
    But this might just be the most non-committal era of Bond, because whether it's Moore's last three movies or Dalton's subsequent duology, the producers feel like they can't get rid of the old, campy humour. It finds its way in each of the 80's Bonds from time to time, and like a venomous snake, its bite severely undermines the darker and more serious tone of these new movies.
    Exactly. Of all the films, these were the ones most concerned with then-current political climates, and their tonal inconsistency and cartoonishness severely undermines that approach.
    The six-year hiatus from 1989 to 1995 might've been a blessing in disguise for Bond, because the landscape of cinema and the world change dramatically. The Cold War was over and we saw CGI being increasingly used in film. 1995's GoldenEye uses the best of both to send us a message that Bond can survive in this new, alien environment. It tells us that what makes Bond himself isn't tied to the classic era, and that Bond is fully capable of joining the new blockbuster kids. So it feels inventive, new, refreshing. It's strikes all the right notes so perfectly that you would be forgiven for thinking that we're about to enter the best age for Bond ever.
    I might argue that we ought to divide the 90s era starting with LTK in '89. The 'Americanization' of Bond you referred to kind of starts there. I mean, perhaps it goes all the way back to the early 80s and what seems, at times, like Bond's blending in with other action adventure films (or even lagging behind, in the case of Indy) -- but its most definitely there in spades by '89. LTK is very much in the style of a LETHAL WEAPON or a DIE HARD. The plot concerns drugs. The clothes and locations scream Miami Vice. Bond goes rogue ("this time it's personal"). Etc.
    such generic affairs that I could describe them without mentioning them by name because they just didn't do anything new
    Mostly agree, which is why I might say TND better epitomizes the 90s than GE, which is nevertheless still kind of reliant on a 'Soviet threat' even if the Cold War had ended.
    What do you think the 2010's signifies as an era for Bond?
    Aside from the 'personal baggage' angle already mentioned, I might suggest we'll end up with a group of films that aspire to be something more than just Bond films or entertainment — that seek to be regarded to some degree as art, for lack of a better word.

    Whether they've been successful or will be is another matter. ;)
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger @!#¤%^§
    Posts: 43,562
    Both Goldfinger and Osato were corporate figures.
  • edited September 2017 Posts: 684
    Both Goldfinger and Osato were corporate figures.
    Damn, missed Osato. You're right. He wasn't the central villain, would be my only counter-argument. But that doesn't hold much water, since I suppose in the end the idea of a 'corporation' at large could still be vilified by implication.

    I did think of Goldfinger, and I figured if anyone brought it up I would concede. So I concede. :P However, my line of reasoning was that he was portrayed as more of a rich tycoon rather than as a CEO specifically. Where Whyte was a public brand/figure himself, Goldfinger was more low key/out of the public eye (which could be applied to Osato, too, I guess -- maybe it would have been more correct to say Whyte was the first mogul to be cast as a villain?).

    Probably a weak argument either way, but there you have it. ;)
  • Posts: 2,485
    Strog wrote: »
    Good point about its being the first to discard the premise. That, combined with its being the first to bring in a relative outsider to develop the script, YOLT is the first Bond film to sort of come outside itself in general. If TB was an attempt at 'doing GF better,' then YOLT is an attempt at 'doing Bond better.'

    YOLT was when the Bond series really shifted into self-parody and pastiche. The producers decided they could throw out Fleming and instead repeat the various elements that had proved successful in the earlier films (especially DN and GF), while amping up the gadgetry and opulence. This approach had been taken for a partial test-drive in Thunderball and worked. YOLT marked the point when the Bond films began cannibalizing themselves, and this became the predominant approach to the Bond films until the Dalton era. The exceptions, such as OHMSS and FYEO, came when the producers realized it was impossible to top their preceding films.

    I agree that Moore's 80s Bond films teeter uncertainly between seriousness and cartoon humor, but I don't think this was the case with Dalton's--certainly in that period the complaint was that they were too serious. But for whatever reason Dalton failed to connect with American audiences. Brosnan was already popular in America, and since tastes had shifted toward more cartoony action heroes and more blatant action, his Bond films followed suit. One of the greatest differences between 1989 and 1995 is that the classic Bond team--most notably Albert R. Broccoli and Richard Maibaum and John Barry--was no longer involved with the series. The Brosnan era was one of "outsiders" behind the camera--new chefs trying to recreate the old dishes while making them seem hip and fresh.

    DAD didn't nearly destroy the series--apparently it grossed more than CR--but like MR, any attempt to top it would have been madness. Audience expectations had changed as well--damaged, dark heroes with personal traumas were the new rage after 9/11 and the Iraq War. Having recently acquired the rights to Fleming's CR, the producers realized it was the perfect platform for rebooting Bond. It was an immense success, as was SF. But Spectre demonstrated the drawbacks the new approach, and how it can easily turn as formulaic as the old one. Is it still viable? Craig's final film will likely be a valedictory one, a summation of his era. Afterwards, the producers will have to try and gauge audience expectations once again. How have tastes shifted since 2006? How should Bond shift with them?
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @bondjames - Thanks for the compliments, and I agree with your thoughts on where Bond's headed now or should be headed now. Hopefully it's not like the 90's where each movie gets worse and we end on a bombshell.

    @Strog
    Good point about its being the first to discard the premise. That, combined with its being the first to bring in a relative outsider to develop the script, YOLT is the first Bond film to sort of come outside itself in general. If TB was an attempt at 'doing GF better,' then YOLT is an attempt at 'doing Bond better.' It's self-aware in a way no Bond film had been to the point.

    Well, it kind of had to discard Fleming's premise, since the premise of Fleming's You Only Live Twice was that it would be a revenge story following On Her Majesty's Secret Service. YOLT was released before OHMSS in the cinema, so they definitely had to change what it was all about.

    But I think your comparison is apt. With TB, they were still adapting Fleming's screenplay faithfully, but trying to up the tropes they found had been a success with GF. That was the birth of the Bond formula. YOLT made it a staple because they began relying on that instead of Fleming. In a way, they were beginning to adapt the tropes to each movie as much as they were Fleming's material. From Diamonds Are Forever onwards, I would say they were adapting the tropes even more than they were Fleming's work.
    Totally agree that it lacks the magical quality of the '60s films. But DAF has always felt to me more like more pastiche than parody. It genuinely feels, at points, like Bond is sent into the imagined past of a gangster film. I sometimes wonder if this 'displacement' of the Bond character was in response to the feeling—shared most notably by Lazenby, and which goes a way in explaining why he wasn't in this picture—that Bond had become a man out of time. That the franchise was on its way out, that the Bond who embodied so much of what the youth/swinging 60s culture of ten years prior meant was now 'square' and 'establishment' and stood in complete opposition to where the culture was seeking to go. Almost like another context had to be found for him.

    I think that's fair. DAF is a strange, steaming mess of a film, but is an excellent study into the radical shift from playing Bond straight to knowingly playing Bond as a pop culture icon, a trend which was probably birthed around the time of Goldfinger or Thunderball but really came into its own in You Only Live Twice, as we discussed.
    Yes. Also note the influence of the Hollywood films that would eventually spawn the out-and-out action genre. Films like DIRTY HARRY and DEATH WISH. (The finale of LALD in fact features Bond using Harry's gun, IIRC).

    This is true. DAF's use of the Ford Mustang was probably a nod towards its increasing use in action films in the late 60's (e.g. Bullitt) and in the same way, LALD had Bond appropriating Harry Callaghan's .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson. In fact, Bond's PPK is destroyed early on in the movie without a shot even being fired. That was probably part of Moore's whole attempt to play Bond differently from Connery, which included smoking cigars instead of cigarettes, etc.

    I think LALD has a strange series of parallels and contrasts to DN, but that's a discussion for another thread.
    I might argue that we ought to divide the 90s era starting with LTK in '89. The 'Americanization' of Bond you referred to kind of starts there. I mean, perhaps it goes all the way back to the early 80s and what seems, at times, like Bond's blending in with other action adventure films (or even lagging behind, in the case of Indy) -- but its most definitely there in spades by '89. LTK is very much in the style of a LETHAL WEAPON or a DIE HARD. The plot concerns drugs. The clothes and locations scream Miami Vice. Bond goes rogue ("this time it's personal"). Etc.

    I think that's true but the Americanisation was more politically-oriented in LTK, with references to the drug cartels and all. "Latinisation" might be more appropriate, with even Kamen's score displaying hints of Latin American influence. Unfortunately, the Miami Vice feel was just associated with these kinds of productions, I believe. Whereas with Brosnan, it was definitely the franchise deliberately moving towards that style of blockbuster action film.

    The distinction is definitely blurred, but I think LTK's American influences were a matter of circumstance more than anything else, as compared to an actual evolution (devolution?) of the series. However, I do agree that both were influenced by ongoing movie trends in a way that Bond hadn't been in the 80's. Which makes LTK interesting, because you mentioned how Bond had been playing it conservative from FYEO up to TLD. LTK was clearly a step towards another world, but perhaps that was because they had run out of Fleming titles and had to try something new?
    Mostly agree, which is why I might say TND better epitomizes the 90s than GE, which is nevertheless still kind of reliant on a 'Soviet threat' even if the Cold War had ended.

    I think GE's use of the Soviet theme might make it better-suited to representing how 90's Bond still clung to old Bond tropes. But then, TND feels more Americanised. So you could be right — GE was more of a response to the franchise's past, while TND & TWINE were responses to the current state of affairs in the world. That's why their plots were pretty much ripped out of contemporary headlines!
  • Posts: 1,031
    A couple of quibbles with the OP. The 1980s saw a down trend in box office receipts generally, the '80s Bonds also have to be seen in that context. It's a bit if a stretch to say that DAD nearly ended the franchise. It's the worst Bond film for me, but it was successful. At that time, unadjusted for inflation, it was the highest grossing Bond film. It even got a good critical reception in some quarters - see Roger Ebert for example.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited September 2017 Posts: 1,984
    @Revelator
    YOLT was when the Bond series really shifted into self-parody and pastiche. The producers decided they could throw out Fleming and instead repeat the various elements that had proved successful in the earlier films (especially DN and GF), while amping up the gadgetry and opulence. This approach had been taken for a partial test-drive in Thunderball and worked. YOLT marked the point when the Bond films began cannibalizing themselves, and this became the predominant approach to the Bond films until the Dalton era. The exceptions, such as OHMSS and FYEO, came when the producers realized it was impossible to top their preceding films.

    Good points. This is indeed a motif in the Bond story: a massively over-the-top Bond which is commercially successful and has mixed contemporary views but is often slagged in retrospect (YOLT, MR and DAD), followed by a more down-to-earth entry which plays it straight and more true to Bond's roots (OHMSS, FYEO, CR) which isn't necessarily as big of a draw at the box office, but earns a much better critical reception.
    I agree that Moore's 80s Bond films teeter uncertainly between seriousness and cartoon humor, but I don't think this was the case with Dalton's--certainly in that period the complaint was that they were too serious. But for whatever reason Dalton failed to connect with American audiences. Brosnan was already popular in America, and since tastes had shifted toward more cartoony action heroes and more blatant action, his Bond films followed suit. One of the greatest differences between 1989 and 1995 is that the classic Bond team--most notably Albert R. Broccoli and Richard Maibaum and John Barry--was no longer involved with the series. The Brosnan era was one of "outsiders" behind the camera--new chefs trying to recreate the old dishes while making them seem hip and fresh.

    I think it's a stretch to say Dalton's films were affected to the same degree as Moore's — in large part because Dalton was channeling the spirit of Fleming's Bond the entire time — but I don't think it's inaccurate to say the films still suffered from the same problem in essence. My comments about the films being severely undermined were definitely more applicable to something like Octopussy rather than Licence to Kill, but the difference is only a matter of degree.

    In TLD, we had the laser cutting the car in half (and the subsequent "salt corrosion" line), the cello case sled scene, and the deleted scene with the "magic carpet". I don't necessarily mind these scenes (especially the "salt corrosion" one), but I think they show the producers were unwilling to let go of Bond fads from prior eras, definitely at odds with the Flemingesque Bond that Dalton was after.

    Even in LTK, we had Moore-era stunts and gadgets, ninja ambushes, etc. Again, I don't think they're all necessarily counterproductive to the film, and thanks to the overtly dark tone of the movie there's pretty much no chance that we're ever led astray from the revenge plot, but these things still existed. My point is that the producing team behind the 80's Bonds were in a mindset ready to accommodate Dalton's Bond, but not the whole way.
    DAD didn't nearly destroy the series--apparently it grossed more than CR--but like MR, any attempt to top it would have been madness. Audience expectations had changed as well--damaged, dark heroes with personal traumas were the new rage after 9/11 and the Iraq War. Having recently acquired the rights to Fleming's CR, the producers realized it was the perfect platform for rebooting Bond. It was an immense success, as was SF. But Spectre demonstrated the drawbacks the new approach, and how it can easily turn as formulaic as the old one. Is it still viable? Craig's final film will likely be a valedictory one, a summation of his era. Afterwards, the producers will have to try and gauge audience expectations once again. How have tastes shifted since 2006? How should Bond shift with them?

    Nah, Casino Royale eclipsed Die Another Day considerably at the box office, even adjusted for inflation. You're right in that I probably jumped the shark in saying DAD nearly destroyed the series, but there were definitely some heart-stopping moments. Although the response at the time wasn't as scathing as it is now, there were plenty of people who recognised just how over-the-top Bond had become, and the tone we were having with the films was especially out-of-tune when we had Austin Powers already parodying the Bond tropes. In my opinion, had they continued that approach, it's likely that Bond would've become anachronistic. That's why people laud Casino Royale so much for reinventing Bond, and almost certainly why Brosnan was unceremoniously booted from the role. Whether we knew it or not at the time, I think the franchise was at one of its pivotal moments and the producers chose wisely by introducing a completely fresh Bond.

    Agreed with the rest.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited September 2017 Posts: 1,984
    Dennison wrote: »
    A couple of quibbles with the OP. The 1980s saw a down trend in box office receipts generally, the '80s Bonds also have to be seen in that context. It's a bit if a stretch to say that DAD nearly ended the franchise. It's the worst Bond film for me, but it was successful. At that time, unadjusted for inflation, it was the highest grossing Bond film. It even got a good critical reception in some quarters - see Roger Ebert for example.

    Fair complaints. Bond definitely wasn't a dying beast in the 80's, I just feel the punch had been lost compared to earlier times. Part of that is likely due to the exponential rise in competition, though. Bond alone can't be blamed for the newer kids on the block.

    As for DAD, I wasn't really referring to a commercial failure as it was a definite success there. To reiterate my explanation of my poor wording:
    You're right in that I probably jumped the shark in saying DAD nearly destroyed the series, but there were definitely some heart-stopping moments. Although the response at the time wasn't as scathing as it is now, there were plenty of people who recognised just how over-the-top Bond had become, and the tone we were having with the films was especially out-of-tune when we had Austin Powers already parodying the Bond tropes. In my opinion, had they continued that approach, it's likely that Bond would've become anachronistic. That's why people laud Casino Royale so much for reinventing Bond, and almost certainly why Brosnan was unceremoniously booted from the role. Whether we knew it or not at the time, I think the franchise was at one of its pivotal moments and the producers chose wisely by introducing a completely fresh Bond.
  • mattjoesmattjoes What is the BUDANAYCHUR?
    edited September 2017 Posts: 5,164
    A good read, with some insightful comments. Your description of Moonraker I find especially accurate. You're right about the the pattern of decades coinciding with new "eras" of Bond, though I do think it was broken with Casino Royale, and will probably return with Bond #7 in the 2020s.

    I'd like to address a couple of points:

    - Was Octopussy derided as much as you say? I wasn't around back in the day, but from what I've gathered, it wasn't received any worse than the other films of the decade, AVTAK excepted.

    - I don't think the combination of comedic and serious elements in the 80s was always problematic. In the particular case of Octopussy, I feel they are adequately accommodated together by front-loading the film with funnier, lighter scenes and leaving the more serious, tense ones for later. While the sense of humor is not outright abandoned in these later scenes, I personally don't find that troublesome, since an overall tone of suspense is maintained, with the humor working merely as a sort of tip-of-the-hat to the audience, an acknowledgment that all things considered, the film still wants you to enjoy yourself, and is aiming for a certain sense of fun and spectacle. I understand some may find that bothersome, but I'm not taken out of the film when it's handled this way. By comparison, I think AVTAK definitely screws up with something like the fire truck chase, which is basically played entirely for laughs, with no real sense of danger at all. The jokes in the AVTAK pre-title sequence, even if clearly not great, are not nearly as detrimental, considering it's the beginning of the film and an opportunity to be a little more playful about things.

    - While generally, the Brosnan era stuck to the classic Bond tropes, without much room for significant reinvention, there still are a number of story and character elements that hint at the direction to come in the Craig era, namely, the relationships with 006 in GE and Paris in TND, the more elaborate character drama in TWINE and Bond's capture and torture in DAD. All four contribute or try to contribute toward humanizing and deconstructing Bond. While I feel only GE and TWINE succeed at it, I can't deny in all those films there was a push, albeit relatively slight, in that direction. So I feel the Brosnan era is not as generic as one might think.
  • mattjoesmattjoes What is the BUDANAYCHUR?
    Posts: 5,164
    Birdleson wrote: »
    mattjoes wrote: »
    - Was Octopussy derided as much as you say? I wasn't around back in the day, but from what I've gathered, it wasn't received any worse than the other films of the decade, AVTAK excepted.

    By that point expectations were low. OP did catch Hell for the overt silliness from critics and many fans (many who preferred the more reigned in NSNA later in the same year), but it dead defeat it's rival Bond film at the box office and had it's share of champions as well, and AVTAK was definitely beat upon far more two years hence. I don't remember anyone coming to it's defense at the time. Same with LTK, though it has aged very well (now a Top 15 for me), at the time fans and critics (with some exceptions) thought it cheap and dull (I don't recall too much of the complaint being that it or Bond went "too dark" as is now used as an explanation for it's poor financial showing; that is revisionist history). People simply didn't dig Timothy as Bond and they did not enjoy the film's mundane storyline. As fans we appreciate aspects of both Lazenby and Dalton that your generic moviegoer at large does not. Neither commanded to screen with the pre-requisite sex appeal and authority that the other four did (and do) in order to grab the generally filmgoing public. All other reasons are pretty much irrelevant; none of the other factors matter much if the audience doesn't feel a tingle or a bit of a charge every time 007 is on the screen. Those fellows were just not doing it. I guess that I went way off topic.

    I see. You're right in that success begins with the Bond actor; if the audience doesn't warm up to him, there's little else that can be done.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    I wasn't sure where to put this, but this thread seemed like a good spot. It's an interesting discussion on the impact of America, American actors & American cultural interests on Bond films throughout the years.

    http://www.denofgeek.com/uk/movies/james-bond/51982/the-james-bond-movies-special-relationship-with-america
  • GamesBond007GamesBond007 Golden Grotto
    Posts: 66
    @ForYourEyesOnly "I didn't even have to mention Brosnan's two follow-up flicks to GoldenEye — they were such generic affairs that I could describe them without mentioning them by name because they just didn't do anything new"

    I feel you are being quite harsh towards the Brosnan era. You're assumption that DAD nearly destroyed the series is blatantly inaccurate. It along with his entire tenure was a great success financially but still managed some decent success from critics during the time. Obviously not to the extent of our current era with Craig.

    To say that TWINE brought nothing new to the table is outright ignorant. I'd gladly argue that it did more new and interesting things than pretty much any other film in the series. Whether you think all of those were successful or fully fleshed out is a different story. When compared to the vast majority of films in the series it still managed to do more with a number of these than most do with one or two.
  • Posts: 19,339
    None of Brosnan's films put the the series in jeapoardy,they all made excellent money,especially DAD .

    If anything,Brosnan's films SAVED the series from disappearing into history after Dalton's outings.
    (Although I personally love LTK).

  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984
    @ForYourEyesOnly "I didn't even have to mention Brosnan's two follow-up flicks to GoldenEye — they were such generic affairs that I could describe them without mentioning them by name because they just didn't do anything new"

    I feel you are being quite harsh towards the Brosnan era. You're assumption that DAD nearly destroyed the series is blatantly inaccurate. It along with his entire tenure was a great success financially but still managed some decent success from critics during the time. Obviously not to the extent of our current era with Craig.

    I conceded above that my choice of diction was poor for DAD and I clarified that I wasn't referring to a financial aspect (although while Brosnan did manage considerable financial success in terms of box office, his ROI is actually the lowest of all the Bonds, although there had been a downwards trend with the occasional hiccup ever since Live and Let Die).

    To sum up, my complaint comes down to Bond being at its most parodied in the late 90's and early 00's, and this coincided with Bond indulging in tropes to an unprecedented degree. That was a dangerous combo and saw Austin Powers come close to eclipsing Bond himself at the box office.

    As I said before, whether we knew it or not at the time, I think Bond needed a reboot like CR or it risked becoming anachronistic. The fact that Brosnan was subsequently retired from the role and the producers themselves seemed to recognise that Bond was heading in the wrong direction adds credence to that position, imho.
    To say that TWINE brought nothing new to the table is outright ignorant. I'd gladly argue that it did more new and interesting things than pretty much any other film in the series. Whether you think all of those were successful or fully fleshed out is a different story. When compared to the vast majority of films in the series it still managed to do more with a number of these than most do with one or two.

    Well, I can understand myself being harsh here but it mostly comes down to the fact that I used to herald TWINE as being the primera of a lot of Bond elements before realising most of it was actually already done.

    I should award TWINE points for attempting to trying a Bond girl as a villain, but at most I can say it's an amalgamation of previously introduced elements in Bond. The character drama did hint at the Craig era but in of itself wasn't groundbreaking. So TWINE could be credited with being gutsy with its combination of elements (though the execution left much to be desired in my opinion), but I don't think the elements themselves were new.

    As for me calling the films generic, they were borrowing more heavily from contemporary blockbuster action movies than ever before, as evinced as Brosnan gunning down hordes in every movie with a machine gun, and the classic Bond tropes came up in every movie. Even Connery and Moore gave either the "Bond, James Bond" or the "Shaken, not stirred" lines a rest and even they had movies without the considerable use of gadgets. In Brosnan's movies the tropes kept coming up as if part of an overly conscious effort by the producers to tick all the boxes.

    It's telling that Brosnan himself admits to not really being able to distinguish between his last three outings. I mean, I myself grew up with Brosnan and I still love his take on Bond — it's just when you look at his movies in the context of the series as a whole, you have to admit it was a financial success but otherwise an era very heavily reliant on familiarity rather than charting new ground, just in the same way that the Moore era only ever moved forwards through cultural appropriation (with one exception).
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited September 2017 Posts: 23,883
    I 100% agree with your last post @ForYouEyesOnly. Bond in the 90s was indeed generic and too obvious pastiche, with an overemphasis on tropes for cheap audience thrills.

    I'll grant that they tried to inject a bit of vulnerability & sensitivity during this period (something which actually began with Dalton's era), but I found it was for the most part handled poorly. To me at least, this aspect seemed tacked on (almost in a daytime soap operatic manner in one film in particular). They've handled that element far better and more organically during the Craig era.

    Regarding a female villain, I've always felt that FRWL did that first and best.

    The one part where I beg to differ is whether the series needed to be origin rebooted post-DAD. I don't believe they needed to go down the origin reboot (and subsequent direct continuity) path, and actually think that in the long run this move may have hurt the series future longevity. I think all they really needed to do in 2006 was recast and soft-reboot like they did with GE. They could have introduced the grit, realism and energy back to the series without going down the 'young Bond starting out' route.
  • GamesBond007GamesBond007 Golden Grotto
    Posts: 66
    @bondjames I can't help but disagree with your notion that FRWL did the female villain take first or better. Rosa Klebb is a pawn who offers nothing to the final script outside of her appointment of Tatiana. You have Blofeld who spearheads the organization, Kronsteen who develops the plan and Grant who exercises said plan. As Grant said "My orders are to deliver the Lector, how I do it's my business".

    Klebb basically interviews somebody for a role and picks Grant. That is all she accomplishes in the film. She is a henchwoman who honestly doesn't even fill that role.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited September 2017 Posts: 23,883
    @GamesBond007, certainly in the grand scheme of things Klebb is merely a cog. Just as arguably Largo was in TB. However, in the context of the film she is the 'villain' who we see the most of and who hires Grant, not to mention Tatiana, and finally attempts to physically dispose of Bond herself. So even though there are strategists behind the scenes she has always 'appeared' as the main villain of the piece for me.

    I don't consider her to be a 'henchperson' any more than the other Spectre operatives (which we are led to believe include Le Chiffre, Greene, Silva et al.).

    I'll give you that Elektra is more of the dominant villain in TWINE in comparison.
  • GamesBond007GamesBond007 Golden Grotto
    Posts: 66





    Well, I can understand myself being harsh here but it mostly comes down to the fact that I used to herald TWINE as being the primera of a lot of Bond elements before realising most of it was actually already done.

    I should award TWINE points for attempting to trying a Bond girl as a villain, but at most I can say it's an amalgamation of previously introduced elements in Bond. The character drama did hint at the Craig era but in of itself wasn't groundbreaking. So TWINE could be credited with being gutsy with its combination of elements (though the execution left much to be desired in my opinion), but I don't think the elements themselves were new.

    I think it not only attempted something new but even succeeded in doing so for the most part.

    - Having Bond fail the pretitle sequence
    - First TRUE female main villain
    - Our first explored relationship between villain and henchman with context and history
    - Attack on MI6 HQ
    - Bond's first sustained injury that actually becomes a light plot point and remains the rest of the film
    - M becoming central to the plot and kidnapped

    Getting into further detail provides even more. Like the play on villain/henchman role reversal. While not everything is 100% new, most of it is explored with greater detail than those other films. Like the idea of a relationship between Zorin and Mayday which is given no context or screen time. The fact that TWINE opts to explain Renard's history and relationship to the main villain rather than the usual cardboard cut out henchman we had been given before who just blindly follow and obey is new in and of itself.

    I am not arguing your points that the Brosnan era was much too focused on being unfocused and checking the expected boxes. I actually agree with many of those sentiments. I am merely pointing out that his tenure was a success for the most part and was never in any danger of destroying the series. It did provide some light nuance and even offered some fresh ideas, primarily in GE and TWINE.




  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger @!#¤%^§
    Posts: 43,562
    There are some fresh ideas in TWINE, but the execution of them is so poor throughout.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited September 2017 Posts: 23,883
    There's a vulnerability in TWINE which I found unsettling at first (I still do). I assume some people like that about the film. It doesn't quite work for me. I believe it would have been better if they had gone for a sinister undertone of fear/dread vulnerability (something which I think they achieved in the earlier half of the SF pseudo remake). What they ended up with in TWINE seemed more soapy melodramatic vulnerability instead, which isn't to my tastes.
  • GamesBond007GamesBond007 Golden Grotto
    Posts: 66
    bondjames wrote: »
    There's a vulnerability in TWINE which I found unsettling at first (I still do). I assume some people like that about the film. It doesn't quite work for me. I believe it would have been better if they had gone for a sinister undertone of fear/dread vulnerability (something which I think they achieved in the earlier half of the SF pseudo remake). What they ended up with in TWINE seemed more soapy melodramatic vulnerability instead, which isn't to my tastes.

    Understandable, it's obviously a flawed film that is not to everyone's tastes. It just strikes a chord with me.

    Although I don't find the execution of these fresh ideas to be poorly implemented like @Thunderfinger does. I believe they did a fine job considering the constraints of the formula at the time. These days they seem to be giving things a little bit more room to breathe which was not the case during the Moore/Brosnan/later Connery films.

  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    bondjames wrote: »
    There's a vulnerability in TWINE which I found unsettling at first (I still do). I assume some people like that about the film. It doesn't quite work for me. I believe it would have been better if they had gone for a sinister undertone of fear/dread vulnerability (something which I think they achieved in the earlier half of the SF pseudo remake). What they ended up with in TWINE seemed more soapy melodramatic vulnerability instead, which isn't to my tastes.

    Understandable, it's obviously a flawed film that is not to everyone's tastes. It just strikes a chord with me.

    Although I don't find the execution of these fresh ideas to be poorly implemented like @Thunderfinger does. I believe they did a fine job considering the constraints of the formula at the time. These days they seem to be giving things a little bit more room to breathe which was not the case during the Moore/Brosnan/later Connery films.
    Yes, that's certainly true and I believe it's because they were still finding their feet during the Brosnan years (post-Cubby) and because they were still recovering from the relative box office problems of LTK, which was the last time they took a 'different' approach.

    Bourne showed them a third way could work, and Nolan reaffirmed it in 2005.
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    Posts: 1,984

    I think it not only attempted something new but even succeeded in doing so for the most part.

    - Having Bond fail the pretitle sequence
    - First TRUE female main villain
    - Our first explored relationship between villain and henchman with context and history
    - Attack on MI6 HQ
    - Bond's first sustained injury that actually becomes a light plot point and remains the rest of the film
    - M becoming central to the plot and kidnapped

    Getting into further detail provides even more. Like the play on villain/henchman role reversal. While not everything is 100% new, most of it is explored with greater detail than those other films. Like the idea of a relationship between Zorin and Mayday which is given no context or screen time. The fact that TWINE opts to explain Renard's history and relationship to the main villain rather than the usual cardboard cut out henchman we had been given before who just blindly follow and obey is new in and of itself.

    I am not arguing your points that the Brosnan era was much too focused on being unfocused and checking the expected boxes. I actually agree with many of those sentiments. I am merely pointing out that his tenure was a success for the most part and was never in any danger of destroying the series. It did provide some light nuance and even offered some fresh ideas, primarily in GE and TWINE.

    Rewatched TWINE yesterday and I can see what you meant by saying that it was too harsh to say it brought noting to the table. Fair enough; I'll edit that later.

    I did forget about the MI6 attack but for some reason it came off as feeling insubstantial, even on rewatch. I do agree on M being kidnapped, for me that always felt poorly done but at least they tried. Bond failing in the pre-title is fair-game.

    I think the femme fetale type had been done before, and I'm thinking more along the lines of Fiona Volpe than Klebb. If you're going to give it credit, you should give it for them interweaving that into a major Bond girl. I wouldn't say this is too new though, mostly an extension of Fiona Volpe's role in TB. But it's the one thing out of your list that is well-done and well-sustained in my opinion.

    Bond's injury thing is fair but it's only present, as you said, as a minor plot point. Every movie introduces some sort of plot point like that — I wouldn't give it any more points than say, the parrot in FYEO. Otherwise the actual injury itself never really hinders him throughout the movie (but I appreciated the nods they gave it throughout such as him groaning when he fell on it at the caviar factory).
  • ThunderfingerThunderfinger @!#¤%^§
    Posts: 43,562
    I haven t seen @ForYourEyesOnly around here for ages, but with a new decade upon us, it s a good time to revisit this thread. Do we think NTTD set the tone for the 2020s in any way?
Sign In or Register to comment.