Last night I went time travelling. I entered my time machine and set the coordinates for 2:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in March, 1972. The location was the Haida Theatre on Yates Street in Victoria, B.C. It was a cold day. The weather was cloudy and the sun was trying its best to shine through the bands of grey clouds hanging over Juan De Fuca Strait. The Haida was showing a James Bond double bill – Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever. I was a gawky, wide eyed 11 year old back then. My parents needed a break from my brother and I for the afternoon, so they packed us up in the car and dropped us off at the Haida. I had never seen a James Bond movie in my life. I was vaguely aware that he was some sort of super spy who had all kinds of awesome gadgets and super cool vehicles that he used against really bad guys like the Russians! In fact, when I was five years old, I remember seeing the James Bond spy attache’ case on TV and thinking how incredibly cool and wonderful it was. Sadly, I never, ever saw one of them for sale at a toystore. I really wanted one!
It’s fair to say that my parents didn’t give me any advance information on what James Bond movies were all about. Either they knew and thought it would be ‘healthy’ for my imagination, or they had no idea. I remember feeling confused, thrilled, and mystified at the opening introduction of Diamonds Are Forever.
I remember hearing this mysterious woman’s voice singing “Diamonds are forever, forever, forever“. Listening to her in the darkness of the theatre was hypnotic. I was entranced by her singing. Of course, I had no idea who Shirley Bassey was at the time. The blend of her voice with the orchestra mesmerized me.
The scantily clad ladies who Mr. Bond either fought or slept with confused my then 11 year old sensibilities. One of my all time favourite Bond scenes is when he meets two very beautiful women named Bambi and Thumper. I knew something was going to happen. I wanted to shout ‘GET OUT OF THERE, JAMES!’ After all, my parents taught me that hitting girls was wrong, even if they hit back?
I squirmed over the gushy suggestive scenes and desperately wished for them to end so we could see more of the bad guys! Evil masterminds, SPECTRE, cold blooded assassins, nuclear missiles, space death rays, underwater submersibles, amazing gadgets, saving the world! Exotic, heady stuff for a youngster living in the sleepy little city of Victoria.
James Bond movies became part of my growing up. I couldn’t wait for the next film to see what sort of new adventures James Bond had to face in serving Queen and country. Every few years, I suffered the periodic angst of dealing with the changing of the Bonds! Sean Connery was my boyhood Bond. He epitomized what Bond was all about in action, thought, and word. The way he said “Bond, James Bond” just nailed it for me. I loved his wry sense of humour. When Roger Moore appeared on the scene in the 1970’s, I was disappointed. He seemed smug and not very rugged like Connery. When Timothy Dalton appeared in the 1980’s, I was glad to see the end of Moore. Then Dalton was replaced by Pearce Brosnan, who reminded me of Moore again. I lost track of James Bond in the 1990’s as I was off on my own adventures in Japan and the Pacific Rim, looking for an island to set up my own secret hi-tech lair where I could launch my plans for world domination by subliminally controlling the minds of young people with video games (insert evil laugh here).
My faith in James Bond returned when Daniel Craig starred in Casino Royale. The man is the embodiment of Bond in the 21st century. He reminds me of Connery, but gawd, he’s much tougher. But it works, it feels right. Judy Denche has been amazing in her role as the head of British Intelligence. Which brings me to Skyfall. Wow. Just wow. It definitely deserves a place in the pantheon of Jame Bond movies. What surprised me was the choice of Adele to sing the movie’s theme. Her album 21 was a monster hit; I personally like Rolling in the Deep. But choosing her to sing a Bond movie theme? I really wasn’t sure. Well, when I heard her sing it in the theatre, I was sold. It’s an interesting blend of her own sound with the classic James Bond musical style. She won a Golden Globe, a BRIT, and last night at the 85th Academy Awards, she added an Oscar to her collection.
The James Bond franchise is now 50 years old (and you thought Star Wars had long legs!) The Oscars did a montage tribute to 007 that seemed very choppy to me. I suspect it was a rushed assignment. I would like to have seen it smoothed out. with some actual classic Bond quotes. They included a surprise in the montage – none other than Dame Shirley Bassey herself, singing the theme she made famous, Goldfinger. What floors me is how powerful her voice is for a woman who is 76 years old! She was poised, professional, and utterly polished. She was dressed in gold from head to toe, gold spotlights, and the orchestra brass introduced her with a full throated roar. It was an awesome performance. You can view it here at the Idolator website.
Here’s her singing the full version of Goldfinger at the 2011 Classic BRIT Awards show:
Now if you’ll excuse me, Q is waiting with my electrically powered three wheel jet engined motorcycle containing an advanced GPS system linked to my nuclear powered mini-submersible to transport me to my geothermal powered undersea fortress off the coast of Hawaii.
Hey, an 11 year old can dream, can’t I? 🙂
The Grumpy Ferret (Shaken, not stirred)