Thursday, 13 August 2015

The Iconic James Bond

It's a Thursday night, I've come home interested in something burbling in the background, and lo and behold in the outer regions of things satellite there's a Bond film to be found. It's For Your Eyes Only, it took me a while to figure out the name, and I figured that it's not quite a proper Bond film.

James Bond's interesting. I grew up somewhere in the 1970s or 80s (boundaries are vague) and so the Roger Moore era of high kitsch was introduced to me as somehow serious spy fiction. The formative me viewed Moonraker dispassionately, thinking that chemical weapon labs in Venice, transhipment hubs in Rio, and hidden launch platforms in the Amazon were perfectly feasible (and who says they're not?). That small me had no problem when a couple of years later I read the original Fleming and discovered that he didn't have hijacked space shuttles, cable cars, or space marines in the book at all, and really it was much more about the south coast of England and the mundanity of the nascent British space programme

It's a theme the lovely Riddle of the Sands Adventure Club guys explored with Pink Gin and the Man with the Golden Gun a while back, but it's worth disconnecting Fleming's books from the film cannon. The films are escapism, and they reflect the mores of their time; this means they sometimes date a little, showing how society has accepted and sometime celebrated less savoury approaches towards women and displayed unfortunate ethnographic stereotypes. So, when this evening I described "For Your Eyes Only" as somehow not resonating as Bond film what was I thinking?

Vague relative @SeafrontPages suggested it was something to do with the uncertainty of the Thatcher era and a Sheena Easton soundtrack. He's probably got a point.

Colleague @unfortunatalie asked if it was because there wasn't quite enough misogyny in it? She may also have a point.

The truth is probably somewhere else though. 

Bonds should have an iconic location?
FYEO has the whole Greek monastery scene

Bonds should have a massive plot?
No, when they captured the Ambler vibe in Casino Royale (Craig) they worked impeccably

Bonds should be more misogynistic?
Skyfall is maybe the most challenging here in terms of exploitation, FYEO is way more accommodating

So why not remember For Your Eye's Only? Maybe because inherently it's just an okay film. It's not outright bad like the later Dalton or Brosnan works, yet not as good as high points of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, From Russia With Love, or The Spy Who Loved Me, and as such we forget about it. 

Maybe it's time to go back and read some Fleming and see if there's something to be found.

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