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Samizdata quote of the day

And then Bond just skis off the edge and as he drops down through the sky he kicks loose his skis and pulls the cord and his parachute opens – a massive Union Jack chute, which is a bit of a giveaway for a secret agent in deep cover but, as Christopher Wood noted with pride, elicited huge cheers from audiences in the decrepit strike-ridden hellhole of pre-Thatcher Britain.

Mark Steyn on the late Roger Moore.

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21 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ed

    The late, great Auberon Waugh once wrote that everything vile about modern Britain was epitomised by the James Bond character. The gist of his approach was, iirc, that the ‘shoot first, sort out later’ approach was the fantasy (and often reality) of many an unpleasant bureaucrat, eager to throw his weight around without caring for or fearing any consequence, but particularly the stupid and unpleasant police officer types.

    I recalled this at the start of Skyfall, to me the worst film ever made, which at least I did not have to pay to watch. Looking back, I now realise that the makers of Skyfall depicting a government intelligence service cringing before a cretinuous buffoon were simply predicting 2017.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Auberon Waugh? Who is that?
    As for Bond Actors, Roger Moore was lucky that George Lazenby was also on the list, to stop him being the worst Bond actor! Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Timothy Dalton, and some others, with Lazenby last, would be my listing of the bonds.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The nature of the shows changed as time went on, naturally enough. I didn’t see Lazenby. I didn’t think Mr. Connery was so great in his Bond movies, but I think that may have been partly the fault of the script. I like From Russia with Love a lot better than Dr. No, for instance. (Although it does have one line so cringeworthy that the theater audience jeered. Ouch!)

    But the Roger Moore episodes were dreadful. It seemed to me Mr. Moore had no conception of the Bond character, and not much of a conception of acting either.

    My favorite by far is Pierce Brosnan (and I haven’t seen any more Bonds since he bowed out). But by the time of his first appearance, the series had lost any semblance of seriousness — they were all of the genre “comedy thriller,” or so I’d call it. And I thought Mr. Brosnan did very will with the part.

  • bobby b

    Here you go, folks:

    “The International Journal of James Bond Studies is an academic peer-reviewed journal dedicated to publishing interdisciplinary scholarship on all aspects of Ian Fleming’s James Bond franchise.

    The journal aims to develop contemporary critical readings of Ian Fleming’s James Bond across literary, filmic, and cultural history, and offers broader criticism of the popular appeal of Fleming’s creation and its relation to the spy genre.”

  • Laird

    I’m sorry, bobby b, but that’s just wrong.

  • Deep Lurker

    On a fiction-writing blog I read and comment on, someone brought up Ian Fleming’s writing about Bond’s lavish meals in the early (1950s) books as examples of excessive description. I pointed out that food rationing lingered in the UK until 1954 (and was a hot political topic at the time). So the detailed descriptions had an extra zing back then; Bond’s ration-busting meals weren’t just lavish, but transgressive.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – Auberon Waugh was indeed a great man, but he was not always correct.

    For example many European countries are more (not less) “Politically Correct” than the United States (which should not be a surprise as the Frankfurt School refers to Frankfurt Germany not Frankfurt Kentucky) – Auberon Waugh tended to see what he wanted to see in relation to the politics of, for example, France (hence his support for the vile European Union).

    As for James Bond – the Roger Moore version of James Bond would not shoot an innocent person, and to associate the James Bond of the Roger Moore era with the bureaucrats and so on is just wrong (see above – Auberon Waugh could be wrong).

    The Britain of the 1970s was falling apart, with power cuts and the dead sometimes going unburied – nothing worked (even the newspapers that Mr Waugh wrote for were using outdated machines and were at the mercy of the print unions) – certainly Mrs Thatcher failed in some ways (much too slow to get a grip on government spending and union power – the first couple of years as Prime Minister were horribly wasted), but the lady did the best she could and achieved quite a lot really (I wish Mrs Thatcher was Prime Minister right now).

    I tend to avoid modern films such as “Skyfall” – and you may well be entirely correct about them. But the actual post was about Roger Moore and the James Bond of the 1970s and early 1980s.

    Patriotic, brave, individualistic, good (yes good), and filled with wit and charm. That was the James Bond of Roger Moore.

    It saddens me that Mr Waugh was unable to see this.

  • Alisa

    Moore was the first Bond I saw, and remains my favorite. Stop being haters you all!

  • Roué le Jour

    Deep Lurker,
    Early Bonds were also travelogues, for people who could only dream of popping over to the Carribean for a spot of scuba diving. I still remember my astonishment at the scene where they load Goldfinger’s car on to a plane. You can do that!? Now that global travel is widely available that part of the adventures has lost its cachet.

  • Roué le Jour

    Alisa,
    My mother would be noticably pensive after watching Connery do his stuff. Just sayin’.

  • bobby b

    “I’m sorry, bobby b, but that’s just wrong.”

    But, Laird, it’s Peer Reviewed!

    That means “The Best Bond” is settled science!

    We can finally put those Connery Deniers in their place!

  • Watchman

    Roué,

    Thanks – I now understand why the recent Bonds have been relatively less well-travelled (other than the one we shall not mention set in somewhere in South America, which really needed Roger Moore to make it work…). That’s my cultural studies lesson for the day sorted…

  • Bond films also introduced new extreme sports, all of which are available to the general public now. Another reason they’ve lost their wow factor.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Quite right, Tim! Though only billionaires can afford to play Space Tag! I suppose the cost of the Shuttles and Space station will keep this out of the reaches of the hoi poloi for a decade or moore.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Roger Moore wasn’t the best (the early Connery movies, and actually George Lazenby’s solo outing were, and were closest to Fleming’s original character) but I liked his desire to entertain. Corny? Yes. Silly at times? Yes. But Moore seemed to have this good natured, raffish charm that seemed to carry it all off. (In person he was just the same, and a genuinely good man, say those who knew him.)

    It is interesting that these films had these glamorous, non-PC sort of qualities while the UK was going through the dire years of the 1970s (strikes, IRA bombings, etc). When Maggie came in and started to make some changes, and when of course the Cold War ended, it was if some of the original escapist appeal of the 007 series also ended.

    Here is a very damning review of a book about the Bond phenomenon, by Simon Winder, a few years ago at Chicagoboyz. Here is my own effort, of which I am rather proud.

  • Laird

    The end of the Cold War and, in general, the rise of political correctness have indeed spelled the end of the Bond phenomenon (or at least, its relevance). With no Soviet Union as an antagonist, the producers were forced to invent nonsensical villains for him to fight. Those villains couldn’t be black or obviously ethnic (which leaves out hispanic drug lords, or even Islamic terrorists). Thus they have been reduced to inventing a string of megalomaniacal psychotic industrialists bent upon destroying the environment and/or the world. Not particularly satisfying. Even Q’s gadgets have lost their panache.

    The series began its decline with the death of Albert Broccoli. It certainly hasn’t been helped by the casting of Daniel Craig as Bond, a man utterly lacking in humor (which is a necessary element of any action movie, in my opinion), although I am told by people who know the books that Craig’s Bond is actually closer to the thug created by Fleming than any of the others were. Still, I think the series has run its course. Time to pull the plug.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Bond is like Sherlock Holmes, one of those characters who can, and will, be recycled and rejuvenated to meet the times. What do you want to bet that his next case will involve a nasty Europeon villain who wants to control the world, who lives in Brussels? (“From Brussels with love”). (“The person with the environmentally-safe gun”?)

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Laird, actually Fleming’s Bond had a certain sardonic wit, as did his creator. “Thug” is unfair here, although the character was certainly tough, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There was also a sense of style and panache in the books.

    I do agree though that the series has run out of steam. There are other characters and stories, and it is time for some originality.

  • Laird

    Johnathan, I haven’t read any of Fleming’s books, so I can’t dispute that. “Thug” is the word used by a friend who was defending the casting of Daniel Craig in the role, which I accepted at face value.

    FWIW, Sean Connery is my favorite Bond, with Pierce Brosnan in 2nd place.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Johnathan, I just have to call attention to this gem, extracted from a sentence in your piece on Mr. Winder’s book on Bond. (I removed the colon, in order to produce a sensible sentence.)

    ” …Fleming produced a fizzy tonic for a grey and weary nation recovering from the war.”

    Perfect.