Proto Bond

Bored last night, I was digging around in HBO Max’s nether regions when I came across the entire Bond collection. I had only ever seen part of Dr. No when I was a kid so I decided to turn it on.

How young was I when I watched it first? Well, we apparently hadn’t gotten our color TV yet because I very clearly remember watching it in B&W. Also, I could only remember a couple of things about what I saw: Bond shooting the man who had emptied his gun into the bed and Honey Ryder coming out of the water.

My first real Bond experience was Diamonds are forever. They say your Bond is the one you see when you’re 13. So my Bond was mostly a sweaty, meat faced Sean Connery.

I couldn’t stand Roger Moore’s interpretation of the role. Too campy, for me, I liked my Bond Connery style, but I didn’t really understand what that style was until my actual favorite Bond came along.

Daniel Craig rightly saw the character as a tightrope between sadism and misogyny and did everything in his power to keep from falling to either side.

Connery is trim and young in Dr. No and stretching his legs as Commander Bond for the first time. He’s extremely violent, not yet a know-it-all but getting close, and completely dismissive of the women around him.

That much I get. It was the 1960s, after all. But then, I watched with growing dismay as he murdered an unarmed man and forced a woman into having sex with him against her will… twice.

Watching what amounts to a rape-as-revenge scene seemed to shatter my rose colored Ian Fleming glasses as the whole story suddenly seemed slow and a little silly.

For instance, if you can slip into a man’s hotel room without waking him, you can easily shoot him in the back of the head, something which has a far more likely outcome than putting a tarantula under the covers.

No need to mention the whole bit where people believe there’s a fire breathing dragon on an island until a helpful colonial points out it’s just a machine.

These movies are supposed to be fun, and I remember them being VERY fun at the time. I certainly understand we shouldn’t judge the past by the present’s standards, so watching Dr. No now is better viewed as a chance to measure how we and the film franchise have evolved together over time.

Anyway, I think I’ll watch Daniel Craig in Casino Royale (by the far the best Bond film ever made) as a pallet cleanser tonight.

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