Saturday, October 6, 2012


I’ve been a fan of James Bond films for as long as I can remember. It’s practically a cliché now to say this, but like many others, my first Bond film was Goldfinger. This isn’t a surprise when you realize that Goldfinger was the first Bond film to be shown on Television in the United States. This was in the early 70s and I have a vivid memory of this as it was one of the first times that I can remember my parents letting me stay up late on a school night. As the familiar and rather comforting theme music for the ABC Sunday Night Movie played, I had no idea what I was in for. My 7 year old brain was simply not prepared for the level of awesomeness that I was about to be witness to. A naked woman painted gold! A car with an ejector seat, tire shredders, machine guns, oil slicks and smoke screen! A villain who killed with his hat! The hero almost cut in half by a laser! It was incredible. I have memories of my father saying things like “you’ll like this next part” or “keep watching, this next part is really good!”. And I heeded his advice as VHS and DVR’s and TiVo’s were far in my future. If you missed it you didn’t get a second chance. Heck, we hadn’t’ even heard of television remote controls yet! Like fishing, camping, Ford Mustangs and swapmeets, James Bond was one of those things for which my father and I had an affinity.

Several years and two televised Bond films later (Thunderball, From Russia With Love) I developed a love of Film Scores thanks to James Bond and the music of John Barry. Every Friday afternoon, my class would walk down the street to the local Library. As I wandered around I drifted to the music section and discovered this amazing album with, at that time, all of the music of the James Bond films called “The Incredible World of James Bond”. It had music from Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball. Every Friday I would make a beeline for the records and listen to the John Barry music over and over till it was time to leave. This appreciation for John Barry’s Bond scores would eventually lead to a love of classical music as well. I would anxiously await the next Bond film to be televised. My parents seemed to think I was too young to go to the theater to see a Bond film but seemed perfectly fine letting me watch them on the family television. 
By the time I caught up with the current Bond film being shown in the theaters it was 1979. The Bond film du jour was Moonraker and it was a blast. My brother and I sat with our jaws to the floor as James Bond was pushed out of a plane without a parachute in one of the best pre-credit action sequences in the history of the franchise. More adult fans might not have enjoyed the comic book silliness of the Moore years but, to a comic book reading kid in his early teens, it was thrilling. I had seen The Spy Who Loved Me on “Select TV” so I was delighted to see the return of metal toothed menace “Jaws”. Even then, in a post Star Wars world, I knew that the space effects were sub par. As a budding film buff, I was old enough to catch the tongue in cheek nods to Lawrence of Arabia and Magnificent Seven. Moonraker was also my favorite Bond score up to that time and it was a foregone conclusion that I would buy the soundtrack (as well as the Moonraker bubblegum trading cards!)

Over the years it seemed as though Bond permeated my pop culture consciousness to the point where I could mark the various milestones in my life and those of loved ones by the nearby release of a James Bond film. The year I got my first real summer job? For Your Eyes Only. High School graduation? Octopussy. Break up with my high school sweetheart? A View To A Kill. The year my best friend got married? The Living Daylights. My sister giving birth to her first child? Licence to Kill. Of course, James Bond films come out fairly frequently, so it’s easy to make these connections. Still, coincidence aside, the connection is there. I was born the year From Russia With Love came out and it’s entirely possible that Maurice Binders’s “silhouette” girls jump started my puberty.

As I got older, I realized that the torch had been passed to my nephew when I took him to see his first James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies. Just like all those years ago watching Goldfinger on TV with my Dad, I found myself telling my nephew “you’ll like this part” and “watch, this is the good part”. Several years later I took my Dad to see the Bond film The World Is Not Enough. I couldn’t help but feel a strong twinge of nostalgia as we sat and laughed together at a rather outrageous speedboat chase on the Thames. It was one of the last films I can remember going to see with my Dad. I would be married that following year and my Dad would go in for his second leg amputation and several bypass surgeries soon after. After that he tended to stay home and watch DVDs rather than make the trek to the local theater. In spite of slowing down, we still managed to enjoy the occasional Bond film together on cable.
It’s been just over a year since my father passed away and another James Bond film, Skyfall, is about to be released. I can‘t help but feel a bit melancholy. I’m sure that I’ll have that familiar nostalgic twinge as well as the almost pavlovian rush of excitement that I’ve come to feel as I watch the white circle rolling by, the Monty Norman theme playing and James Bond turning to shoot at the iconic rifle barrel.  I have no doubt that, somewhere in the audience, a father will be telling his son “watch, this is the good part”. He’ll be right. 


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