Thursday 22 January 2009

Premier Bonds

Further to my post about Quantum of Solace, I’ve been reflecting on the Bond movies I’ve seen – at least a dozen, over the years, perhaps more. One reason for this is that, one of these days, I would like to write a thriller of some kind, and though I’ll never be an Ian Fleming (or be able to work with the kind of budget enjoyed by the Bond franchise), it’s interesting to reflect on what makes action thrillers memorable. I’ve read few of the original books, but the movies I’ve seen have mostly been great fun.

There are several key ingredients to a successful Bond movie. The hero has to be compelling (thumbs up to Sean Connery and Daniel Craig, a definite no, thanks to George Lazenby.) The villain has to be a worthy opponent (Blofeld, Scaramanga and Dominic Greene top my list – it’s a real pity that Greene won’t be returning.) The settings have to be dramatic (the Tosca scene and the Bolivian desert in Quantum of Solace worked very well) and the love interest has to be exciting (Diana Rigg and Eva Green are among my favourites.)

The story-line ought to matter more than it does. Mostly, the Bond plots are rather iffy, and Quantum’s is no exception. But the touches of wit that you find in the Bond films are important to the overall effect, and so is the balance of the screenplay – I felt that Quantum was better than Casino Royale in terms of structure, even if the latter had a little more depth.

And finally, there are the peripherals – such as the gadgets in some of the movies, and the music. I’m a great admirer of John Barry’s work, and – if we leave aside the original spoof version of Casino Royale, which featured the incomparable Dusty Springfield singing ‘The Look of Love’ - my favourite Bond theme is ‘We Have All the Time in the World’, performed by the legendary Louis Armstrong. It came from one of the less renowned films in the series, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but that highlights the fact that even the weaker entries over the years have had their magic moments. The two songs, by the way, had different composers, but the same gifted lyricist.


Anonymous said...

I'm one of the few fans of OHMSS, perhaps the only person I know who actually liked Lazenby as Bond! Of course, it's also tough to beat Diana Rigg as a leading lady, and - as you point out - the soundtrack was one of the best. The books are well worth a read, but completely different to the films...darker, more realistic, and very much grounded in the Cold War...all of which explains why they don't have the appeal of the films.

Anonymous said...

Bollinger 69? You must have been expecting me... not my favourite Bond, or Bond film, but absolutely my favourite fizz.

You are now officially blogrolled!