Licensed to Kill, Still

 

I just finished producing a story about the 50th anniversary of the James Bond film franchise. I know the purists will argue that there was a television version first and some other landmarks which pre-date the launch of this extraordinarily successful cinematic series….but, nit-picking aside, it really all started in 1962 with Dr. No.

Sean Connery and Dr. No.

That was the first time you saw the gun barrel track the secret agent silhouette across the scene. That was the first time you heard the now-famous theme. And if you were anywhere near your adolescence at the time the whole thing seemed to be an avalanche of titillation.

Earlier this week, I interviewed an expert in James Bond memorabilia. He had lobby cards and posters (in all languages), games, books, and collectibles. If you’d only bought a couple of dozen of those Corgi model toys of the glorious Aston Martin DB5 back in the mid-1960’s…you’d be sitting pretty right about now. But who does those things? Who could have known? Nobody buys a raft of toys on pure speculation and never takes them out of the shrink-wrap.

The DB5

Years ago I attended a private auction of an avid toy collector on the west coast. He had everything you can imagine from monster models to board games (a real walk down memory lane) but , by far, the greatest interest among those who attended was in his James Bond items. Among them was a plastic 007 attache case…complete with hidden dagger and various pop-up spy-worthy devices. It might have cost $12 back in the 60’s….but it sold for thousands when the final hammer fell . The attache case topped the sale.

I loved the Bond films. When Shirley Bassey’s bombastic version of the theme from Goldfinger was a hit on the radio I remember walking around the house (I was  12) singing it, badly, at the top of my lungs. It drove my parents absolutely nuts!

The first time I ever walked into a casino was in Freeport in the Bahamas…and I felt very Bondian despite my cheap sports jacket and knitted tie. Years later I stayed at the Sheraton British Colonial in Nassau..the pink palace where part of Thunderball had been filmed. There was not yet an Atlantis resort on Paradise Island..but Thunderball’s Cafe Martinique was there. I sought that venue out too.

I want to go to Goldeneye. That’s Ian Fleming’s Jamaican hideaway where the Bond novels were written and which is now a world class boutique resort property. I want to stare at the desk and the typewriter he used when he created the character. I’d like to see the ornithological field guide, written by James Bond, from whom he borrowed the name.  And I think I’d just sit on the beach, squint into the sun, and try to picture Ursula Andress walking up out of the surf in that white bikini with the dive knife strapped to her hip. Okay, Halle Berry (Jinx) in that snappy orange number will more than suffice.

The memorabilia collector told me that the attraction of the Bond franchise has never waned. The demand stays strong and has spanned generations. It’s doesn’t matter if you preferred Connery or Craig…or any of the other actors in between. People just want to feel connected to it. Give me another popular cultural reference that has lasted so long. There isn’t one.

Bond is the bond. And the next one, folks, is only six months away.

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2 Responses to “Licensed to Kill, Still”

  1. Catherine Bell Says:

    My husband listens to the sixties on 6 on his XM Radio station all the time in his car. Last weekend on our trip home from Penetanguishene Shirley Bassey came on singing Goldfinger. I had all but forgotten that song and her voice was so amazing. It brought back so many memories. I was only 12 but I remember seeing the movie and I can’t imagine how my parents let that one slip by. Sean Connery was my very favourite 007. Thanks for triggering that memory once again for me. I love your blog and never miss The Morning Show.

    • Thanks Catherine. We must be right in the same chronological wheelhouse. Not only was Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger a rousing little number but I was also very fond of Tom Jones singing Thunderball. I still remember sitting in the Odeon Theatre in London, Ontario gazing at the silhouettes of naked women swimming about to that theme. It seemed so exotic and naughty. What the hell happened to the world? It’s always been claimed that Tom Jones actually passed out in the studio while holding the last note of Thunderball.

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