Their Best of Bond


#41

Considering that Newman appeared to run out of gas in his second, and IMHO Arnold’s first three are all basically just the one, it does get forgotten how great Barry was in reinventing and updating “his sound.” Sure, there are moments in YOLT and, say DAF, that are interchangeable, but in general he was a master at keeping it new. Rather than being hampered by the longevity of his tenure, Barry seemed to thrive on the changing musical tastes and styles that surrounded his tenure. There’s over twenty years of musical influences separating say, GF and TLD, yet they’re both unique but distinctly and identifiably Barry and Bond.


#42

I sensed the subversion of Connery Bond only in later viewings (though I must have sensed something about DAF since it always appealed to me even before I understood why–also most probably my first Connery Bond), but that of Craig Bond seemed up front from the start. My teenage years coincided with the early Moore Bond, and I responded most deeply to his style and sophistication–MOORAKER was the pinnacle of this Bond for me. MOONRAKER also had Dr. Goodhead, and I enjoyed the confidence she had in who she was, though in my case it was not an attraction to that kind of woman, but rather for the manifestation of confidence in the face of forces which discourage/actively work against such behavior in people deemed second-class. For a similar reason, I loved the films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz which featured women making decisions and behaving autonomously.

For me, it is the opposite: the most memorable Bond girl for me was Dr. Goodhead (I always hear Michel Lonsdale’s voice when I see/write/speak the name) who struck me as her own woman (until the final de rigeur conquering and beneath-Bond positioning, which I took as both requisite and discountable). My identification was not the gay man identifying with female characters for either their female nature or their victimized state (which is how some gay men do identify), but rather one who aligned with situations where characters (most often women) are depicted as having their autonomy challenged and chose to fight. One quick and dirty way to express the distinction would be between those gay men who favor Judy Garland and those who prefer Bette Davis–each actress played characters at the mercy of dominating people/systems, but Judy often had an aura of helplessness that Bette eschewed.

What Fleming created is definitely interesting. I think of Book Bond as a disintegrating hero, and adding to your insight, not only did Fleming’s prejudices and insecurities undermine his attempt at creating a Byronic hero, but so did his knowledge that such a figure was impossible in the times he wrote–more than anachronistic, it was toxic to self and others. I admired Fleming’s aesthetic project for its honesty, especially as I recognized that there was an element of mourning on his part for the hero who could no longer be, but whom he desperately desired to exist.

Which may be why as a queer spectator I enjoyed them since they were naughty fun, rather than formative influences. I could aspire to Moore Bond’s sophistication without needing to be straight since his heterosexuality–though present—struck as me there but optional, and definitely not as constitutive, formidable, and urgent as Connery’s (which I liked best when queered in DAF).

Makes sense–a work of art must offer something, e.g., aesthetic pleasure; entertainment; vehicle of identification; vehicle of nostalgic reverie–in order to maintain/sustain repeat engagements.

We may not be told by the media, but media images–especially ones that reach saturation–do shape people’s attitudes–especially about race/sex/gender.

In my case, the films would be SPECTRE and DAF. What is interesting to me is how a person’s tastes and experiences are inflected by their sexual orientation (beyond I like girls rather than boys or I like both, but boys more).

I am not familiar with that model. What does it propose?

As I noted above, I found common cause with the situations women found themselves where they needed to assert their independence/autonomy (though my lovers and husband have all shared that quality as well).

I think they did as well as could be expected in what often seemed to me tentative works–the films knew what they did not want to be, but did not appear always sure of what they did want to be and how much of past iterations should be retained. Brosnan was effective in playing Intermediary Bond and adjusting without seeming to strain-- a slightly anxious variation on Moore’s sophistication/gallantry.


#43

Maurice Binder: Live and Let Die
David Arnold: Casino Royale
Bernard Lee: From Russia with Love
Derek Meddings: Moonraker
Richard Maibaum: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service


#44

In academic study the Hypodermic model is essentially used as the opposite of the uses and gratification model. The former says you, as a consumer, take on (“like a sponge” as I recall the original study kept saying) the exact principles and ideas the writer/director/propaganda wants you to take. You keep being shown something in a specific ideological framework and you will adopt it as your own. The latter says you pick out the things you want from the piece, and impose your own ideologies and meanings onto it, regardless of whether or not those ideas where ever even considered by the author/film-maker/playwright.

Most twitter rants are people doing the latter but assuming the piece was doing the former.


#45

BJ Worth: MR, where he conceived, arranged and peformed the spectacular freefall battle in the PTS. Still one of the great stunts of the series, and the inspiration for countless copycat sequences in films that followed, most of them much faker looking and none as exciting.

Derek Meddings: I’m going to cheat and name the double-bill of TSWLM and MR. Nothing’s harder than selling audiences on model work involving bodies of water, but the “Liparus” in TSWLM fooled even viewers in the shipping industry. Meanwhile the model work in MR was not only ingenious (streaming salt from the shuttle to create a “contrail”?!) but convincing in a pre-CG age. Lest we forget, Derek got a shuttle launch and flight to look right before NASA got the real thing off the ground. Computers are cool, but we lost something magical when Derek left us and John Dykstra quit the biz.

Willie Bogner: OHMSS, where he pretty much invented the ski action sequence, skiing at high speeds backwards to film the chases.


#46

Sir, you have exceptional taste!:clap::clap::clap:


#47

Thanks Orion for the explanation.

A person must ground meanings/interpretations/responses in the formal elements presented by the art work. Authorial intention cannot be known with certainty, but formal elements can be discerned and enumerated. I cannot know if the artists involved intended to queer the Bond formula/text when they made DAF (we know they were trying to revive what they feared was a flagging franchise and were open to the new/different/untried), but their collaboration produced enough queered formal elements to support a queer interpretation.

Why I am on neither Twitter nor Facebook. I am convinced that Blofeld and SPECTRE are behind both companies. The real Mark Zuckerberg is in a house in the desert guarded by the descendants of Bambi and Thumper.


#48

In regards to Uses and Gratifications model, any directorial intention is irrelevant, as the audience will take what they want from and read it only through their own lense.


#49

Connery: “Impregnable?”

Moore: “Well, it’ll go off” (from TSWLM)

Dalton: “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Brosnan: “He’s a Lienz CHHHHOOOOSSack”

Craig: “I’m all ears!”

Bernard Lee: “Codename? THUNDERBALL…” (combined with Barry’s creepy score seeping in, this is one of the most weirdly electric moments in the whole series)

Alan Hume: AVTAK (maybe has a more unified look than his other two, and some of the shots at Zorin’s house are very pretty)

Ted Moore: FRWL (shadowy and creamy, as befitting one of the very few real spy movies in the series)

Charles Gray: Henderson is one of the all time funniest movie fruitcakes - sad that he goes so soon, but his sudden exit gives him a gravitas he may not have had otherwise. A gem of a performance that still stands out in a movie full of strange gems.

David Hedison: LALD by an astonishing distance

Stuart Baird: Skyfall was the first Craig movie to have any real shape. That might be Mendes though - SPECTRE felt right too, despite being edited by butcher in chief Lee Smith, whose Batman films are the most shapeless in recent memory

Phil Meheux: GE looks burnished and rich, CR at time looks like a Czech back alley

Peter Lamont: painfully pedestrian sandwiched between Adam and Gassner, but the Russian conference room in Octopussy is amazing work

Jany Temime: Craig’s Skyfall lodge outfit with the Barbour coat

Colin Salmon: watching the jetstream from Bond’s MIG knocking over a truck in TND

Dame Judi: Goldeneye - a blast of icy fresh air. A real bulldog. An incredible scene. Her chemistry with Brosnan wasn’t even approached by Craig.


#50

But then it would depend on the amenability of the formal elements to such a reading, e.g., a queer reading only works with elements with queering potential (though anything can be treated as queer).


#51

But even that amenability is consumer decided, according to Uses and Gratifications Theory, So whilst you think there is room for that interpretation in DAF another consumer, or even the people who made it, could see no space for that interpretation at all, and both views would be right, as that’s how the piece of art related to them personally.

I should say I don’t really agree with Uses and Gratifications or Hypodermic needle as sole answers, as they are very much two extremes. I’d say all art is a sliding scale between the two, and how much you enjoy a film is how much directorial/writer intention meets your own readings and sensibilities.

I’m getting the conversation warning again…Apparently this new forum doesn’t like how much space our conversations on film theory take up…


#52

Keep going, it‘s no problem.


#53

Sidebars and their warnings have no administrative powers on CBn. You can treat them as friendly suggestions or entirely ignore them. The important thing is you’re having a worthwhile discussion going. The Discourse environment we’re using cannot judge the content of a thread.

Please do continue.


#54

I agree that Uses and Gratifications needs moderation to be useful. My own modification would be that amenability cannot be asserted/determined by use. For example, I cannot give a queer reading of FRWL–its formal elements deny/defy queering (though they could be treated queerly).

For me, formal elements gesture to possible interpretations while simultaneously warning off others. With Dustin’s permission, I want to cite his reading of SKYFALL. As I stated, it is not my reading, but in my view he does not impose meaning on the elements, but demonstrates their ability/potential to support his interpretation without being deformed/ignored. (In my approach I am indebted to D.A. Miller’s concept of too-close reading. I am not in complete agreement, but think that his queer approach can be queered LOL).

Lastly, thanks so much for this conversation. It has been greatly helpful to my work, and I hope not too geeky.


#55

Rosa Klebb’s interactions do play with the notion of her being attracted to Romanova. The gentle stroking during the briefing does spring to mind (obviously the book goes further with it)


#56

If I may chime in…

In contrast to music, a movie is constructed with many artistic forms of expression, each contributing to a meaning that is intended by the filmmakers.

While music, to stay with that example, can elicit various feelings and, often due too deliberately vague lyrics, interpretations, a movie, a narrative at least, has to be very clear how to tell its story so everybody can understand it. If it cannot pull off that job it has failed.

Now, of course, one can read into it a lot. And sometimes words and images might lead one to conclude that another meaning was intended. But if it wasn’t it is just a coincidence. A rose is just a rose sometimes.

Sure, if it increases the enjoyment of a film, I would welcome anybody to read into it whatever they want. But that does not mean it is grounded in the facts.

Call me crazy, but for me the intentions of the writer and the director do count. Just as those of a singer/songwriter. (If anybody wants to belt “Born in the U.S.A.” and think it celebrates that nation, they deliberately disregard the very clear lyrics and what Springsteen has said repeatedly.)

Just my two cents.


#57

Agreed. Discovering Rosa Klebb as a lesbian is one version of queering–bringing subtext to the surface. Another way of queering is bringing to the surface the instability/contradictions of the text which is one of the things I try to do when I write about DAF. I do not think that approach would yield much benefit if tried with FRWL. To use Robin Wood’s formulation: FRWL is a coherent text, while DAF is an incoherent one.


#58

Curiously, Robin Wood hated FRWL (and Bond in general).

Wood writes…

Compare, first, the crop-dusting sequence in North by Northwest with the helicopter attack in From Russia with Love (there is a fairly clear relationship between the two). The difference in quality will seem to some readers too great and too obvious for the comparison to be worth making; but its purpose is not to score easily off a bad film but to help us define the quality of the suspense in Hitchcock. It is worth, perhaps, pointing out that From Russia with Love represents precisely that pandering to a debased popular taste that Hitchcock is widely supposed to be guilty of; the most hostile commentator would find difficulty in paralleling its abuses of sex and violence in any Hitchcock film. The film itself, in fact, need scarcely detain us: it will be generally agreed that the sole raison d’etre of the helicopter sequence is to provide a few easy thrills. From a purely technical viewpoint (if such a thing exists) the Hitchcock sequence is clearly incomparably superior: it is prepared with so much more finesse, shot with so much more care, every shot perfectly judged in relation to the buildup of the sequence. Delicacy and precision are themselves strong positive qualities. In comparison, the Bond sequence is messy and unorganized, the mise-en-scene purely opportunistic. But there is far more in question here than the ability to construct a “suspense” sequence: the suspense itself in North by Northwest is of a different order. The suspense in the Bond sequence is meaningless: the attack is just an attack, it has no place in any significant development, there is no reason apart from plot - no thematic reason - for it to happen to Bond then or to happen in the way it does; it has no effect on his character. The suspense consists solely of the question: Will he get killed or not?; and as (a) we know he won’t and (b) there seems no possible reason to care if he does, it has no effect beyond a purely physical ttitllation. In North by Northwest the crop-dusting sequence has essential relevance to the film’s development. The complacent, self-confident Cary Grant character is shown here exposed in open country, away from the false security of office and cocktail bar, exposed to the menacing and the unpredictable. The man, who behaved earlier, as if nobody mattered except himself, is here reduced to running for his life, scurrying for cover like a terrified rabbit; he is reminded - and we, who found him smart and attractive in his accustomed milieu, are reminded - of his personal insignificance in a vast, potentially inimical universe. The sequence marks a crucial stage in the evolution of the character and his relationships, and, through that, of the themes of the whole film. If the character were not attractive, for all his shortcomings, our response would be merely sadistic, we would delight in the spectacle of an unpleasant man getting his deserts; but we have become sufficiently identified with him for our suspense to be characterized by a tension between conflicting reactions to his predicament. - Hitchcock’s Films Revisited, Robin Wood


#59

Agreed for popular cinema. But also, I am not speaking of failure in terms of failure as technical incompetence. I am speaking of what Jack Halberstam calls “the queer art of failure.” Let me use a personal example that may help: I used to tell people that I was a failed heterosexual (long before the word “queer” came into use). What I was attempting to convey was the fact that I had failed to follow a heterosexual narrative, and instead had succeeded at a homosexual one–though I was still recognizably a male human (rumors to the contrary).

In the case of DAF, it is recognizably a James Bond film, but it does not operate like its six predecessors. For some viewers, this “operating differently” is experienced as incompetence and technical failure. And I do want to mention here that when making an argument for queerness, any critic must be careful not to claim queerness for garden-variety incompetence.

But intended meaning cannot be determined with certainty.

I am not sure what you are referring to when you use the term “facts.” Readings are grounded in formal elements (which are facts, but I am not sure you are using the term that way).

But a person discerns intentions from interpreting the formal elements of the artwork, and different people will arrive at different interpretations. The measure of their rightness cannot be against an artist’s intentions (since they are unknowable and to invoke them causes the viewer to commit the intentional fallacy). Rather, the standard should be how well-grounded in the artwork’s formal elements an interpretation is, Did the makers of DAF intend to make a queer film? Who knows, but I would guess they did not. But I would maintain that my reading is very well-grounded in DAF’s formal elements and, therefore, valid.


#60

Though he wrote “Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic,” Wood was not a fan of anything queer. Though he left his wife and children and moved to Canada, he recreated his heteronormative life with a man in Toronto. He did become more open about gay issues, but he was never a fan of Fassbinder (he did not think Fassbinder provided positive images of gay/lesbian life) and disdained queer theory. He remained for all his career devoted to the approach of F.R. Leavis (who hated popular culture), and Wood only respected films with moral intensity, so appreciating Bond and anything queer was beyond his reach.