BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up in November next year.
Last month, we looked at Dr. No's Guide to Being a Bond Villain, which taught all Blofeld wannabes how to take over the world without any hands. Now we look at Getting to Know James Bond.
After the success of Dr. No, director Terence Young had to follow up with the second entry in what would become a stellar franchise. The key to doing that? Developing 007's character.
At its heart, From Russia with Love is a straight-forward spy thriller, but away from the gadgets and volcano lairs, the 1963 sequel is in many ways a metaphor for the secret agent himself (if by "metaphor" you mean "flimsy excuse for a blog post").
Let's take a look at the defining characteristics of Ian Fleming's secret agent, as represented by From Russia with Love...
The opening titles are basically porn. Projecting the credits onto the scantily clad bodies of belly dancers, there are no stylish silhouettes here. Just 100% pure breasts, bellies and booty. Classy. Bond would approve.
Bond also approves of Tatiana Romanova - even if the film's lead female is a total wet blanket. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that her mouth is the perfect fit for Sean Connery's James Bond Jr.
Aside from being mere sex objects, women in From Russia with Love are basically only useful for three things: giving massages, belly dancing (see above) and being abandoned next to canoes (bye bye Sylvia Trench).
Of course, the only female who gets anywhere by being her own woman is Rosa Klebb - the one who looks like a man. I do love a bit of Klebb in the morning.
Foreigners are bad! Gypsies are rubbish! Let's beat the commies before they take over England!
You can't beat a healthy dose of racist sentiment, as best represented by
Live and Let Die the wonderfully psychotic Aryan Red Grant. A rival to Kerim Bey's racially stereotyped sidekick, Robert Shaw's evil secret agent provided perhaps the biggest threat to Bond in 50 odd years and is one of the franchise's most formidable henchmen.
Bond also gets the chance to demonstrate his tolerance of foreign culture in a clearly accurate depiction of a Gypsy camp. As we all know, Gypsies live in huts, enjoy campfires, and settle all of their differences with catfights - because if you can combine racism with sexism, you've got one powerful package.
All hail Her Majesty's Secret Service and its quest for knowledge and power - thankfully, Bond is around to protect the motherland from its enemies. By cracking the Ruskie's secret codes, Bond continues the government's rule and keeps the economy thriving. It's rampant capitalism, baby. Oh yeah.
Evil organisations furthering their profits and evil schemes so that a select few can dominate the rest of the world? That's not Bond's bag. He's all about society's basic human rights. It's rampant communism, baby. Oh yeah. Plus the film's totally set in Russia, duh. (Ok, so it's really in Istanbul - whatever, they're all foreign.)
Note that Bond spends most of the film being driven around by other people - usually foreigners. Why would a suave suit-wearing Brit who went to Eton and chills his bottle of Taittinger Blanc de Blancs in freshwater streams bother with public transport? The closest he gets is the Orient Express, which is hardly for commoners.
Bond's elitist approach is a great BS detector, too, as shown when he spots imposter Red Grant thanks to his choice of drink to accompany their meal.
Ok, so Bond is not a follower of Kaballah and what-not, but the whole film is about retrieving the Russian's Lector decoding machine. And that has numbers in it. That and I ran out of ideas of what to write.
007! That's a number too! (Can you tell I'm getting desperate yet?)
No, he's not a dated piece of 1960s concrete architecture, but Connery's Bond (later influencing Dalton and Craig) was the most brutal secret agent yet to be seen on screen. Not only does he slap women and shoot people in cold blood, he also holds his own in one of the franchise's harshest punch-ups.
Watch that psychotic Aryan punch the hell out of Sean Connery and tell me From Russia with Love doesn't give us an insight into the character of a brutal, violent killer.
He's sexist, occasional racist, elitist, faithful to his mother country and not afraid of brutal violence. Meet James Bond, your new franchise hero.
He returns next month in Goldfinger. (For more BlogalongaBond posts, head this way.)