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Double Oh Bondage
by Amanda Knoss

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Mr. Bond casts a large shadow - and big shoes to fill.

Mr. Bond casts a large shadow - and big shoes to fill.
The clock is ticking, the tickets are sold and the world - well, North America at least - is anticipating the return of James Bond to the big screen this week. Due to a "strategic move," the newest Bond flick had been moved from its original release date of Nov. 7 in Canada and the U.S. to Nov. 14, much to the fans' dismay. The reasoning, apparently, was to take advantage of what is considered to be the holiday boxoffice - which basically means that they wanted to make more money.

If Marc Forster and the crew behind the Daniel Craig Bond films have learned anything, it should be that despite the controversy (a blonde James Bond?!) and the supposed disappointment (a 'wussy' James Bond in love?!) a Bond fan is willing to go to those extra lengths to see their long-standing favorite fictional character in all his silver screen glory - even if it means drudging to the theaters on as horrid of day as Nov. 7.

This definitely reigns apparent in the numbers. CASINO ROYALE, the twenty-first Bond film, raked in nearly $600 million worldwide; its follow-up QUANTUM OF SOLACE has already taken in $106.5 million overseas, making it the number one foreign boxoffice film two weekends in a row.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE will mark actor Daniel Craig's second stint as the well-loved British secret spy. At a press conference in Stockholm last month, Craig said that he is contracted for a total of four Bond films, joining the likes of all but one Bond actor to star multiple times as the 007 role.

In 1969, George Lazenby was the first and only actor to only play James Bond once in the film ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. He also happened to be the youngest James Bond ever at 28 years of age.

ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is a movie that was very quite possibly ahead of its time. In fact, the film
Blondes have more fun.

Blondes have more fun.
shares many similarities to 2006's CASINO ROYALE, from the announcement of its cast to its reception in the theater.

The casting of both Lazenby and Craig of James Bond had similar reactions in the public. Lazenby was the first actor to follow the illustrious Sean Connery as the 'original' James Bond - some very large shoes to fill. Similarly, Craig also had quite the act to follow - Pierce Brosnan was the current cultural icon for James Bond as far as the newest generation was concerned with four Bond films, including the very popular GOLDENEYE.

So casting controversy was out to get the two actors from the start. Not only was it his very first movie role ever, but Lazenby's departure from the 007 franchise had been released to the press at his film's debut, a discouraging factor to many Bond fans. As for Craig, it seems that his blonde hair and stunning blue eyes were also disheartening to the world of the “hard-cores,” as James Bond has been traditionally played by actors with brunette hair and was said to have black hair in Ian Flemming's novels.

It didn't stop folks from seeing either film, though, for there was still plenty more to complain about post-screening.

ON HER MAJESTY'S and CASINO ROYALE were both very different tales with similar contextual aspects. The 1969 Bond film explored the 007 Agent's journey to find the evil group SPECTRE's leader and prevent him from unleashing a biological weapon upon the world. In 2006, Bond fans everywhere got to see James' very first mission to undermine the ruthless banker to many of the world's terrorist organizations. But in both films, James Bond falls deeply in love with his “Bond girl,” and in fact marries her in ON HER MAJESTY'S and quits M16 in CASINO ROYALE because of his current romantic interest. For this, we
That never happened to the other fellow!

"That never happened to the other fellow!"
get to see a side of the 00 Agent that we rarely are able to. Also due to this chain of events, we get to see Bond inevitably the face of tragedy.

After screenings of both films, the world of Bond fandom was divided. Some felt that Lazenby's portrayal of James was flat and uninteresting; this was probably not helped by the fact that his voice had been dubbed over for some of the lines. Craig was considered by many to be too weak and uncool; he wasn't enough of a cold-blooded and suave killer to some fans.

Despite everything, both Lazenby and Craig can be seen as successes. Lazenby had been offered a seven film contract as the world's favorite British secret spy in which he turned down (much to his later regret,) while Craig continues on in the franchise in QUANTUM OF SOLACE this week and, as mentioned earlier, should be starring two more times as James Bond.

People who hold either or both films in such low esteem are very quick to judge. Both ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and CASINO ROYALE are said to have been two of the most vivid portrayals of the spirit of Ian Flemming from his Bond novels. ON HER MAJESTY'S is actually a very exciting thriller, with memorable scenes such as escape on skis, a bobsled chase and an avalanche. Considering it was Lazenby's first film, and that it's been said that his director disliked him, he did a very good, if not unique, job of portraying the 007 Agent. And while the James Bond of CASINO ROYALE has been chastised for being charmless and unbelievable, but let's not forget that the movie was written about the time when Bond was completing his very first 00 mission ever. He has yet to become the witty, suave James Bond that everyone is familiar with, a personality set in motion due to the loss of his love.

While we get to see how Daniel Craig
Who's the real star here?

Who's the real star here?
does a second time around as the beloved James Bond, it's a shame that we'll never get to give Lazenby, whose agent convinced him to quit the franchise, a second chance. Although many seem preferential to Sean Connery as James Bond, one has to wonder how much of an impact Lazenby would have made on DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER had he taken the role.

Regardless, both ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE and CASINO ROYALE are two of the most memorable James Bond movies to date, not only for their unique love stories and even more unique actors, but for the fan reactions. Considering its original reception, ON HER MAJESTY'S is more recently being regarded as the decent film as it is, and has been making top five and top ten Bond lists everywhere. CASINO ROYALE has opened the gateway to the Bond franchise for listless audiences who grow more and more intelligent by the year; with its fresh start at the beginning of James Bond's 007-hood and it being the first Bond movie beyond Pierce's portrayal to hit many members of the fifteen to thirty-year-old audience, new fans have been created, old fans provoked and one cannot doubt that there will be much more of this to come.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE opens Thursday night at midnight across theaters in North America. It has a much larger budget than CASINO ROYALE and has already surpassed overseas expectations. If it's the first James Bond movie that you see or the twenty-second, as long as you're in the theater with an open mind, a love for fast-paced fun (or a hard-on for Daniel Craig,) the film is not likely to disappoint.



Author's Notes: I've used several sources for this column, including (but not limited to) wikipedia.org, hollywoodreporter.com, mi6.co.uk and jamesbondwiki.com.

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The new, the old and the ugly of film through the perspective of realism, fanaticism or just plain late-night insomnia ism.


Other Columns
Other columns by Amanda Knoss:

Secondaries: Part Two

Ub Iwerks: Engineering Creativity

UK-Crazy

Star Wars Cubicle Gear

Mano-a-Mano: The Travolta Role

All Columns


Amanda Knoss
If there's something Amanda can't commit to, it's a single taste in films. She believes that Walmart, Starbucks and a certain super-power government are going to clan together to take over the world. Either that, or she's over-caffeinated again.


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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Amanda Knoss by clicking here.


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