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Why people keep paying to watch 007 do his stuff

Bond is driven by a lust for life — for adventure, for sleek luxury cars, for truffles and foie gras and martinis, and yes, for beautiful women. He is certainly out of place in our age of Neo-Puritanism. He probably eats processed meat, the scoundrel.

But this is not mere gluttony. Bond is a man of refined and expensive tastes. He manages to be both aggressively virile and suave and sophisticated. He’s a stone-cold killer in a tuxedo. The guy with the British accent and tailored suit is usually the villain.

That’s something that is missing from today’s movies, or rather something that has come to be associated with villains in American films. We’ve got plenty of knockaround blue-collar heroes (a Bruce Willis specialty) or wisecracking rule-breakers (the space now being filled by Chris Pratt). But the guy with the plummy British accent and the perfectly tailored suit? He’s usually the villain. Maybe this is the leftover reflex of a country founded in a rebellion against British aristocracy. When we see someone with the markers of aristocracy — fine clothes, expensive tastes, a posh accent — we instinctively distrust him.

Robert Tracinski

By the way, his analysis of why Daniel Craig hasn’t quite got the part down perfectly is very true. He tries too hard at the gritty realism and “I’m the tortoured soul” angle, which I suspect has a touch of PC “we are all victims of our environment/genes” point of view . That’s not what Ian Fleming, a complex character himself, created.

Of course, one thing that genuine liberals will point out is that 007 is a government agent.  But leave aside the ideological correctness for a bit (libertarians can be as big a pain in the butt about this as any socialist): the author of the quotes above absolutely nails why people like the James Bond character, quite as much as why social justice warriors and others don’t. He’s been attacked by the puritan left almost from the year when Fleming started bashing out his lines in his Jamaica home. Long may James Bond continue to give such folk a headache.

Right, I am in deepest Dubai, and heading off for an event which involves dressing in a tuxedo.

32 comments to Why people keep paying to watch 007 do his stuff

  • But it must be said, a Martini needs to be stirred, not shaken.

  • Actually from there

    A tuxedo???? Tut tut. A British gentleman would not wear a ‘tuxedo’…

  • Jason

    Correct evening costume. ‘Dinner jacket’ at the very least.

  • Jonathan Pesrce

    I see the pedants are out in force.zzzzz

  • RRS

    There are always different kinds of evil to be portrayed and dealt with; the “romantic” and imagined ways of facing evil are limited in the experience of most spectators.

  • Johnnydub

    As for Daniel Craig being a bad Bond, its more a case than Sicne Casino Royale, the films have been shit. I thought Skyfall was worse than a Quantum of Shite…

  • I thought Skyfall was worse than a Quantum of Shite

    Same here. Bond blubbering over his “mother” FFS. They totally emasculated him.

  • Mr Ed

    Why people keep paying to watch 007?

    Because they are superficial morons?

    Disclaimer: I (thankfully) didn’t pay to watch Skyfall.

    When there are and have been men like Captain Eric Brown RN on this Earth, (a lecture, audio only, he starts at 6′ 30″) the Bond films just seem so childish.

  • Actually from there

    “I see the pedants are out in force.zzzzz”

    This is metapedantry my dear boy.

  • Actually from there

    @Jason: Correct evening costume of course, but he would be no more likely to refer to it as a ‘tuxedo’ than he would be to refer to it as ‘un smoking’ or any other term from a language that is not his own…

  • James Strong

    The reason so many villains in American films are British or otherwise non-Americans –
    because if you have a black villain, or a Latino villain, or a villain from Colorado or Connecticut etc. you risk an uproar from SJWs because of your ‘bigotry’.

  • James Strong

    Most people seem tyo misunderstand the Bond films and the actors who take the role.
    Craig was excellent in Casino Royale because the script required him to play it that way.
    There is very little consistency in the character of James Bond in the films.
    His actions are the same but they are as shallow as a children’s cartoon.
    He gets in fights, the stunts are excellent, he sh*gs a beautiful woman or two, he gets captured by the chief villain but somehow emerges victorious.
    Rinse and repeat.
    But Connery, Moore, Lazenby, Dalton, Brosnan and Craig have played the part so differently as to be playing different characters. And they’ve been speaking lines written for them. They’ve each done a decent job with what they were required to do, but the reason Casino Royale was so good was not primarily due to the interpretation Craig brought to the role. Rather, it was due to the script and screenplay.

  • llamas

    I think that many people miss the sense of Bond that made Connery so good at playing him, and made all others pale in comparison, and it is this – as originally written, and as played by Connery, Bond is a stone sociopath. Just as Doyle wrote Holmes as a manic/schizophrenic (but nobody except Jeremy Brett even began to play him that way), Fleming wrote Bond as an amoral sociopath, devoid of any human loyalties or compass. Only Connery’s portrayal ever really touched this.

    I’ve seen one of the Craig Bond movies. I’m sure Mr Craig is a fine actor, but he and the director both missed spectacularly. Bond doesn’t brood, he doesn’t agonize, he just doesn’t care. He works towards the set goal – if he can get laid along the way, that’s fine, and if he has to beat you to death, or kick you out of an airplane in flight, well, that’s just what he has to do. Oh, well. The sociopathic disinterest that is the key to the character, and which makes him so engaging to readers, was only ever addressed by Connery’s portrayals. It’s like watching video of Great White sharks hunting – you can’t look away.



  • Sam Duncan

    Spot-on, James S. And the reason Casino Royale‘s screenplay is so good is that, apart from updating the setting to the modern day, it stuck more closely to Fleming’s book than any of the movies since, at least, Live and Let Die (possibly ever). Its Bond was the Bond Fleming actually wrote.

    It’s hard to say why Eon suddenly decided to play it more or less straight. Maybe there was a desire to erase the memory of the disastrous 1960s version. Maybe, with it being the first movie in over 20 years to use the name of one of Fleming’s works, they simply thought they’d better do it properly. Personally, I thought even updating it was a mistake. They should have taken the opportunity, when they finally won the rights to the first book, to start from scratch and remake the entire canon as 1950s period pieces. It would have upset a lot of people, no doubt, but I think they’d have got used to it, and it would have helped differentiate the Bond franchise from the horde of other action movies that it now competes with.

  • ragingnick

    I remember the scene from the beginning of Goldeneye when the Judi Dench character described Bond as a ‘relic of the cold war and a misogynistic dinosaur’, which quite neatly encapsulated how one Marxist empire, the USSR, had come to be replaced by a no less dangerous one in the form of a now hegemonic cultural Marxism.

    And I gather that the latest film ‘Spectre’ is a thinly disguised piece of pro Snowden propaganda.

  • Surellin

    I observed recently that, in Enemy At The Gates, the Soviets (good guys Jude Law and Rachel Weisz) have English accents whereas the evil Nazi sniper (played by Ed Harris) has an American accent. Nice turnabout, which I did not notice until the movie was nearly over.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    Jonathan Pesrce
    I see the pedants are out in force.zzzz

    ‘Pesrce’ is either one of the most apt typos ever or a very subtle joke. Either way, well done.

    And as you are familiar with Timmy’s blog, you shirley must know that that should be ‘the pendants are out in force.’ 🙂

  • Achillea

    It’s been many a year since I read the Bond books, but I vaguely remember in one of them some sort of ‘clean living’ directive came down from on high and 007 was ordered to quit smoking, drinking, etc. He did so for awhile (and IIRC did feel younger and healthier), but eventually said forget-this-noise and reverted to his old habits. Anybody else remember that, or is it totally my imagination?

  • Johnnydub

    “And as you are familiar with Timmy’s blog, you shirley must know that that should be ‘the pendants are out in force.’ :-)”

    I am, and don’t call me Shirley..

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    I do remember reading a book where Bond starts to sound like a health fanatic, and then gets back to normal when given a mission. He has his house-keeper give him a real breakfast. I think it was the book ‘Thunderball’. In the movie, they have him at a health resort.
    As for most real ‘Bond’, I remember reading that the writer wanted Roger Moore for the original role, but Connery beat him to it, and a good thing, too! I remember the moore films as being adequate, though that might have been the scripts that he was given.

  • I’m goingto break rank here. I thought “Skyfall” was good. A recurrent character has to be different each time* otherwise they can’t last. Bond has always had a complicated relationship with the boss so yeah, the death of Dench’s M was genuinely moving. Surellin’s point is beyond ridicule. The actors use their own accents (and Ed Harris is excellent as ever) because they didn’t want to make ‘Allo ‘Allo by the Volga. Does anyone complain that the Prince of Denmark speaks English? “Enemy at the Gate” is a flawed movie, but not bad, and it went through a turbulent pre-production complicated not least by the slated director dying. That was Sergio Leone. Imagine the Battle of Stalingrad seen through the eyes of the director of those westerns… Alas we never shall.

    Quantum of Solace mind was best bollocks. From a title that not even Morrissey would dare use for an album to a plot which was convoluted but silly. There is a blog-post in that last idea.

    *I’m thinking of a certain doctor here. Capaldi is growing on me but he isn’t there yet. That is part of the fun of watching.

  • Eric

    Moore is a fine actor and had the right look and sound for Bond. Unfortunately for him the franchise got a bit campy in those years. People liked the little gadgets, so they went overboard on laser watches, rocket pens, and transformer cars.

  • Roue le Jour


    Bond’s catchphrase was always better in conception than execution. It’s obviously supposed to be a pun on stirred into action rather than shaken by it, but it doesn’t work if martinis are normally stirred anyway.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a lot of truth in this post.

    Although I would point out that James Bond was a popular character in the United States – so Americans are not as opposed to this British style character as might be supposed.

    The much attacked Roger Moore portrayal of the James Bond character actually shows J.P.s point best.

    Someone who was not born with a tough genetic inheritance (such as Sean C.) or with wealthy background (I mean the actor – not the character).

    Roger Moore decided (made a choice – exercised Free Will) to reinvent himself as someone from a wealthy and cultured background, and to make a lot of films and television shows with himself as the action hero (without actually being much of a tough guy – “he hits wrong!” as a friend of mine in Ulster says in despair).

    There have always been British people such as Roger Moore.

    People who instead of being angry at the “upper classes” decide to become part of the upper classes.

    And they have done it.

    Done it by a mixture of hard work, intelligence (but never blatantly displaying intelligence – as this tends to irritate the English) and good humour.

    Hence Sir Roger Moore.

    It would have been wonderful if he had ended up an hereditary lord.

    In the Middle Ages the Paston (spelling alert) family were a good example of this.

    The process of getting rich, buying an estate (or marrying into one) and then reinventing the past of one’s family is not that uncommon in the British Isles.

    However, with the family P. we have the documents (the letters and so on) of a family who go from being poor peasants to “always aristocrats” within a few generations.

    And those were times just as tough and violent as the period of the Cold War.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the plots of the films – they have always been politically dodgy (unlike the book), and this has got worse with time.

    However, some scenes are still good.

    My favourite scene in a Bond film does not include the Bond character at all.

    It is the opening part of the film “Octopussy” (irritating title).

    The death of the “Clown”.

    We never see his real face or (I think) learn his real name.

    And he dies….

    But he gets the job done.

    A true intelligence officer.

  • the other rob

    If you’re still in Dubai, JP, the Four Points by Sheraton, Downtown, has Ardbeg.

    Utterly off topic, I’ll admit, but if I was visiting some random country, I’d want people to tell me where I could find an Islay malt.

  • Four Points by Sheraton

    Ah, the Viceroy Bar. Best bar in Dubai, or at least it was 2003-6 when it was run by a Georgian guy called Anton.

  • PeterT

    I have to admit to enjoying Quantum of Solace, which I found superior to Skyfall. Could be that I have a soft spot for Olga Kurylenko that prevented me from seeing the movie straight.

  • sackcloth and ashes

    ‘It’s been many a year since I read the Bond books, but I vaguely remember in one of them some sort of ‘clean living’ directive came down from on high and 007 was ordered to quit smoking, drinking, etc. He did so for awhile (and IIRC did feel younger and healthier), but eventually said forget-this-noise and reverted to his old habits. Anybody else remember that, or is it totally my imagination?’

    It’s in ‘Thunderball’.

    That said, the idea of 007 being a callous drinking, shagging and killing machine in the novels is misplaced. We see him grieve over the death of women he’s loved. He may have come out with ‘The bitch is dead’ line in ‘Casino Royale’, but he fantasises about meeting her in the afterlife when he’s in a delirium and think’s he’s a gonner (‘Goldfinger’), and it’s also revealed in ‘OHMSS’ that he annually visits her grave at Royale-sur-Mer.

    As for the death of Tracy Bond, he has a complete mental and emotional breakdown about it in ‘You Only Live Twice’.

    As for the other women, he has qualms about whether to bed Tiffany Case in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, being aware of her traumatic childhood. In ‘From Russia With Love’ there’s an aside to say that he had a relationship with her that didn’t work out. There is also a genuine romance between him and Kissy Suzuki in ‘You Only Live Twice’.

    Killings? He’s pretty damn cold about dispatching the thug who got Felix Leiter mangled by a shark in ‘Live and Let Die’. But when he discusses the two hits on his file with Vesper Lynd in ‘Casino Royale’, he says that the men he killed were probably good guys who just happened to be on the wrong side. At the beginning of ‘Goldfinger’ he’s shown having qualms about the killing of a Mexican hitman, and in ‘The Living Daylights’ he refuses to drop a KGB sniper, opting instead to shoot her in the hand. In ‘The Man With the Golden Gun’ he rejects an opportunity to shoot Scaramanga in the back of the head when his guard is down, thinking that this is a cowardly way to kill even a thug.

    As for his other emotions, he genuinely grieves over Quarrel’s death in ‘Dr No’, and in ‘Quantum of Solace’ he’s shown to be pro-Castro (even though he sabotages a consignment of weapons on behalf of the Batista regime).

    So all in all, the Craig Bond is not that far from the original article.

  • ams

    “It’s been many a year since I read the Bond books, but I vaguely remember in one of them some sort of ‘clean living’ directive came down from on high and 007 was ordered to quit smoking, drinking, etc. He did so for awhile (and IIRC did feel younger and healthier), but eventually said forget-this-noise and reverted to his old habits. Anybody else remember that, or is it totally my imagination?”


    But Bond wasn’t the health fanatic: His boss, M, was the one going on a health kick and decided all his agents needed to start living clean. Bond hated every minute at his mandatory health spa, IIRC. 😛

  • ams

    I would think there would be a difference between being nonchalant about killing a known enemy to your nation and all around evil SOB, and being completely unfeeling about *any* deaths.

    My understanding of Ian Fleming’s written James Bond character is that, while the rest of the world went home from WWII and enjoyed the ‘peace’, he never really stopped fighting. There were still enemies at the gates, he just had a much nicer travel allowance when dealing with them.

  • Achillea

    Thank you Nicholas Gray, sackcloth & ashes, and ams. Good to know I’m not losing my mind (or at least it’s not proven yet, anyway).

    Yeah, my recollection was that it wasn’t voluntary on his part, it was something he was ordered to do.

    Having discovered Matt Helm (and if you want to talk horrible, horrible movie adaptations, The Silencers is right up there), I quit reading Bond shortly after that.