My Bond Experience

edited April 2011 in Bond Movies Posts: 116
Thought I'd share my own experience with James Bond:

It started for me in 1977 with The Spy Who Loved me. I wad four years old. Naturally, Star Wars took precedence that year, but I do remember seeing my first Bond movie at a drive-in movie theater. My next Bond movie made a much bigger impression, Moonraker in 1979. I absolutely loved it and can still smell the bubblegum that came with the trading cards.

My mom bought me and my sibs a pack each & we were supposed to share them (bad idea, mom) and when I finally whined enough to get her to buy me more, the 7-11 was all out of them! My heart still experiences a pang whenever I remember that black day. I just kept saying, "It's not fair!" LOL. Although I cannot watch the film at all now, it has profound nostalgic power, and it was one of my all time favorite films until I reached teenage years.

Next up was For Your Eyes Only in 1981, which was all but an obsession for me. I read and reread the Marvel Comics adaptation and wore the videotape out when it finally came on tv & I taped it. It remains a favorite Bond film for me.

Somewhere between 1981 and 1983 my mother sat us all down to watch her favorite of the series, Goldfinger. I had no idea that Bond had ever been played by anyone other than Roger Moore, and was simply knocked down by how cool and dangerous Sean Connery was. Much taping off of tv followed (there must have been a Bond-a-thon on the local station that summer, 'cause I taped most of the Connery's at that time). The Bond films became a joint obsession shared by myself and my brothers, and we obsessed over every last detail of the films, down to recurring names of key production members in the credits.

This era of my Bond fandom climaxed with Octopussy in 1983. At the time, I couldn't imagine a better Bond movie: it had intrigue, action, humor, and Moore! And I had a thing for Maud Adams in that movie for some reason: I guess I liked older women! Octopussy is also on my list of Bond movies I simply cannot watch any longer, but it was a huge deal back in '83.

1983 marks the first major turn in my Bond fandom: the Victory Games role playing set was published that year. My brothers and myself were big-time die rollers back then and my oldest brother picked the game up right away. I don't know how many hours I spent pouring over the rule book and supplemental materials (especially: Q manual, For Your Information, and Villains) from the box set and subsequent modules. It was an education for me. I learned how much bigger the Bond world was than the movies. I started to wonder about the novels. For the time being, I was satisfied with the VG manual and supplements.

For a few years my interest in Bond took a backseat to Frank Herbert's DUNE saga, which invaded my brain in 1984 and didn't let go for about two years. If it wasn't about the planet Arrakis, I just wasn't interested. I devoured the first three novels and loved the David Lynch movie in '84. It was kismet and to this day I can stop the most swinging party dead in milliseconds with my Dune-talk ;)

But Bond soon returned to my mind. My brothers wanted me to check out On Her Majesty's Secret Service and tell them if it was any good or not; I was to tape it just in case. The movie had a bad rep and they didn't want to waste time on it if it was a stinker. I dutifully watched and was blown away. Here was the Bond I had read about in the gaming manuals, the other-Bond was so intrigued by. The same summer, Dr. No was aired. I had always believed Goldfinger to be the oldest Bond movie. The commercials for Dr. No drew me like a magnet: it looked low budget, hard boiled and violent. And boy was it! I watched Dr. No on a virtual loop over that summer. Now I was thoroughly fixated with the harder side of Bond. Moonraker wasn't cutting it anymore.

I decided that the time had come to read Fleming. I headed for the B. Dalton Bookseller at the local mall in search of the OHMSS novel. They didn't have it, so I settled on The Man With The Golden Gun. I still remember vividly the electrical thrill the opening chapter gave me. This was definitely not Roger Moore, not even Sean Connery. The violence was shocking, the atmosphere sweaty and gritty; Bond was a grim character, closer to Clint Eastwood than someone who would hang out at the Playboy Mansion. I loved it, and started plowing my way through the Fleming novels. At this time I discovered the John Gardner novels and started reading those as well. I even ended up reading Col. Sun. My standout memory of the novels is reading Dr. No one hot summer's night; I have reread it innumerable times since, and it always takes me back to that night, unable to put the book down until it was finished, far past midnight. My tastes had altered so drastically I didn't even bother to see A View To A Kill in 1985 (although I bought the Duran Duran single, ha ha!).

This period peaked with the release of Living Daylights in 1987. It was the perfect Bond movie at the perfect time. I had come to the point of disliking most of the Roger Moore films and I was far more into the novels than the movies. I thought the film was epic, and at the time I likened it to John Le Carre's "Smiley" espionage novels. TLD restored my faith in the Bond films and Timothy Dalton remains my personal favorite Bond.

I waited with baited breath for License To Kill to be released. The wait seemed endless. But I was changing rapidly, far more interested in poetry than escapist novels, developing an appetite for Medieval literature, reading Beowulf and the Divine Comedy. I also became very religious at that time, something that would commandeer my life for ten long years. My taste in cinema had drifted over to Orson Welles, Akira Kuroswawa, Fritz Lang and Stanley Kubrick. By the time LTK finally came out, my interest in Bond had waned down to almost nil. I went more out of a force of habit than anything else. For some reason the film rubbed me the wrong way (it is now one of my favorites, go figure). It seemed like yet another violent action movie with a drug lord for a bad guy. The tone seemed uneven (it still does) and Dalton appeared a little tired (looking at it now, this is not surprising, it looks to have been a thoroughly exhausting production for the star). The magic was gone. Within a year or two I could be heard to say, "Is there anything more boring than a James Bond movie?"

For fifteen years, I had no interest in Bond. As the PC 1990's descended, Bond increasingly impressed me as being sexist, gratuitously violent, materialistic and vapid. The Brosnen movies really amplified this impression. I wouldn't have been caught dead anywhere near a Bond movie! A friend kept trying to make me watch Goldeneye but I just blew it off, after a few minutes I'd say, "I can't take another second of this crap, put on a real film!"

I'm not sure when this started to change. Somewhere around 2002 I began to think about my happy boyhood Bond period. If a really good Connery came on television, I would watch a few minutes before moving on. I'd started enjoying cigars, horse racing, boxing. Gradually, the extreme feminist brainwashing I'd received in young adulthood started to wear off. I was no longer religious in any way and I was less sensitive to what imaginary people did in movies. Finally, in 2005, I caved in and reread Dr. No. The floodgates opened again. I bought all the Fleming novels in neat old paperback editions and devoured them that summer. I read a few books about Fleming as well.

It was at this time that rumors started about Casino Royale: it was going to be a return to Fleming, to the original Bond. After watching Die Another Day on cable tv, I was doubtful. But I was there opening night with a lifelong friend and fellow Bond fan. I was completely blown away, as I had been by the films of OHMSS and Dr. No. Here was the Bond I had come to love, someone had finally done it! Big budget, well penned screenplay, real performances. Bond was a human being again, he could be hurt, he had a complex psychology, he was a cartoon superhero no longer. And that Chris Cornell song was killer! The best Bond song since McCartney and "Live & Let Die".

From that point on I never looked back. Today I enjoy Bond more than ever. I love to see how the character divides people: they either see a kindred spirit or a simpleton in a Bond fan. I can't say I trust the tastes of anyone who doesn't appreciate Bond on some level. I figure that they, like myself at one time, need to lighten up and enjoy the simple pleasures a little more. So here's to Fleming, and the actors who have played his great creation, and to the fans for keeping it alive!

Long live James Bond.


  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    edited April 2011 Posts: 987
    That was really interesting MrSpy, we are roughly the same age and my experience of being a Bond fan is very similar. I was really into James Bond as a boy but then like you Licence To Kill just killed my enthusiasm over night and I sold all my Bond videos and books at a car boot sale. For me my return to Bond came in 1999 I just stumbled across a paperback reference book called The Bond Files and that led to me rereading the Fleming novels, then the continuation novels before moving back to buying all the films and then onto the reference books. Since then I haven't looked back. I actually like Licence To Kill now and though it was a dramatic and disappointing departure for Bond when it came out, I think my rejection of all things Bond had as much to do with just getting to that stage as a teenager when you want to throw out all the the things you liked and valued as a child and discover new more supposedly mature interests and views.
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,552
    A good idea for a thread @MrSpy. I have moved it into the Bond Movies section as I think it deserves a place amongst the Bond discussion threads.

    Any more for any more ;-)
  • Posts: 116
    "I think my rejection of all things Bond had as much to do with just getting to that stage as a teenager when you want to throw out all the the things you liked and valued as a child and discover new more supposedly mature interests and views."

    This has a lot to do with it. Of course, I discovered Yeats, Eliot, Shakespeare etc. in that period, it is an important developmental stage; but all these things co-exist in happy harmony now! My imagination can contain both A.S. Byatt *and* Ian Fleming.

    "I have moved it into the Bond Movies section as I think it deserves a place amongst the Bond discussion threads."

    Thanks! Sure, let's hear from everyone!
  • Posts: 1,497
    Quoting MrSpy: This has a lot to do with it. Of course, I discovered Yeats, Eliot, Shakespeare
    etc. in that period, it is an important developmental stage; but all these
    things co-exist in happy harmony now! My imagination can contain both A.S. Byatt
    *and* Ian Fleming.
    I really enjoyed reading your story MrSpy. It hit home for me, especially the point where one feels the need to move on or grow up from Bond. I was this way for a good 4-5 years. But then Casino Royale came around and opened my eyes again. Fleming and the Bond films can happily exist in the same realm as the more critically acclaimed works of writing and film. Honestly, also having an online community like this to discuss every tiny minutia of the series has also helped keep my interest. It's also great introducing a significant other to the entire series; almost like watching the series yourself for the first time.

    Thanks for the great post!
  • NicNacNicNac Administrator, Moderator
    Posts: 7,552
    Bumping this one
  • Enjoyed reading that MrSpy, thanks.

    I'd been a fan of Bond since my Uncle took me to the press screening of OP. He later gave me the four Pan Fleming novels he owned. The first I read was the FYEO short story (couldn't tell you why, considering it's not the first one in the volume). From then on I was hooked.

    But, I too experienced the shift away from Bond- totally lost interest in it during my teenage years, with GE being the only Bond since OP that I've not seen at initial release.

    During the 'dark times' between LTK and GE, I too carried out a purge (I cringe at the thought of it now) with posters, cinema guides and the whole bundle of VHS copies meeting the local landfill......

    Somehow, the truely important stuff (novels, my original OP poster, Thunderball guide, Dr.No poster) survived by hiding out in the darkest corner of the loft.....

    The change back came with around the launch of TND..... was rooting through my parents loft when I stumbled upon the Bond box. The top item was my Pan paperback of FYEO (the very thing that started it all for me)- I still remember sitting there in the dusty loft, and flicking to the FYEO short story and reading in right there in the half light....everything I loved about Bond came flooding back in that moment.

    Later that day, I called the Cinema and booked my TND tickets.... and order was restored.
  • Posts: 1,092
    I'm already busy writing my own novels... so I'll just turn around and walk out of this thread now. :O
  • St_GeorgeSt_George Shuttling Drax's lovelies to the space doughnut - happy 40th, MR!
    edited May 2011 Posts: 1,699
    Interesting reads, chaps, and a fine thread. I'll have to add my own 'story' in here at some point, I guess. But until then I, like others I'm sure, would love to see more contributions - this sort of thread is what a Bond forum's all about for me... :)
  • Posts: 116
    Quoting The_Reaper: I'm already busy writing my own novels...
    Oh lord, good luck to you!! I suffered through abt 15 years of awfulness, craziness from publishers, novels bought & never printed, endless/pointless rewrites for projects that were dropped by editors, mad scrambles for hackwork that never materialized, outright plagiarism & general insanity from the publishing world. I'd rather be gassed to death in WWI than ever ever ever write a friggin' novel again, for as long as might live :P
  • Posts: 1,092
    Uh... thanks. Check this out:
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