Monday, October 17, 2005


I have very little to say about the whole James Bond/Daniel Craig thing. Given that the producers are going to keep making the same movies over and over, which means that Casino Royale will never be allowed to be as mean and cruel as the Fleming original, one Bond will do as well as another.

It's not like George Lazenby, who actually had to play the world's most popular movie character; Craig is being called upon to play a character who is reasonably popular but not particularly important, in movies that are reasonably popular but no more than that. The Bond movies are basically the big-budget equivalent of an endlessly-running TV adventure show, and replacing Bond doesn't mean much more than replacing Dr. Who.

The only interesting question about the new Casino Royale, apart from how much Fleming it will have in it (not much, I'm willing to bet), is what kind of an approach it will use to acclimate the audience to the new Bond.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which had the most riding on the new 007, tried several tricks to get the audience used to the new guy: starting the movie with M, Moneypenny and Q (so we know immediately that it's a real Bond movie), directly acknowledging the replacement ("This never happened to the other fella"), and including visual and audio clips from previous Bond movies. As insurance against an inexperienced Bond, they cast, for the first time, a leading lady who was more famous than the guy playing Bond (and they wanted someone even more famous than the actress they got: Diana Rigg was hired after Brigitte Bardot turned them down). And for the first time since From Russia With Love, they filmed the novel with few major changes; this was, I suppose, mostly because director Peter Hunt wanted to get back to the character's roots, but it also ensured that the new Bond would always be in-character, because most of his material would be pre-tested, authentic James Bond material. (Hunt, by the way, was probably the main reason -- apart from Connery -- for the success of the '60s Bond movies; he edited all the films prior to Secret Service, and he not only revolutionized the way action movies were edited, but he brought some life to the work of some directors who didn't do much of interest outside of Bond. He also pretty much rescued the same team's The Ipcress File.)

Live and Let Die took a different approach: Moore was a familiar figure, so he didn't need to be introduced; the problem was to keep viewers from associating him with The Saint. The solution: show him as little as possible. He doesn't appear at all in the teaser, and much of the movie is taken up by long, long chase sequences where Moore's stunt double appears more than he does. It was as though the producers didn't want to keep Bond onscreen too long for fear that we'd realize he was really Simon Templar.

I would comment on how Bond is introduced in the Dalton and Brosnan debuts, but I don't remember them well enough.

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