Once upon a time there was this incredible deal at Amazon on the Bond 50 Blu-ray Collection—22 James Bond movies (that’s all of them except for the one that just came out last year, Skyfall). And my darling husband purchased it because he really loves Bond films. Truthfully, I think he really loves the CARS in Bond films, but whatever. Details.
Here let us pause while I note that of the 23 James Bond movies in existence, I had seen maybe… three? Two or three, prior to Otto and his Bond enthusiasm. We saw Casino Royale together and I think I liked it. I don’t really remember anything about it. Then we saw Quantum of Solace together and I spent the whole movie going “What’s going on?” and “Who is that?” and “What the heck just happened??” When the lights went up in the theater, I turned to Otto and said THAT WAS TERRIBLE. He agreed that it was “disappointing for a Bond film.” And so it was with GREAT TREPIDATION that we ventured out to see Skyfall, and yet, that one was really very entertaining. So when the opportunity to get all the films for very little money came up, I thought what harm could it do? Sure, let’s watch all things Bond!
Let me just insert a small spoiler here and tell you that this has been a real test of our marriage. Because apparently I had never seen a really old Bond film before and I had NO IDEA what I was in for.
Look; Otto and I have a rich history of glomming on to a TV series or trilogy of movies or whatever and devoting so much time to it that it’s a wonder we don’t end up permanently atrophied and unable to get off the couch. Why, I still look back fondly on that Spring Break where we did almost nothing but watch West Wing episodes. The movies arrived and Otto started talking about Aston-Martins a lot and I figured this was going to be another television marathon that would cement our glorious union as two couch potatoes in love.
We’re watching them in order, of course. First, allow me to expound on the good points, so you know it’s not all bad:
1) Sean Connery. Young Sean Connery isn’t hard on the eyes, ladies, even if he does appear to be half-Sasquatch.
2) The cars. Okay, I grudgingly admit that Otto is right about the car stuff being kind of cool. I mean, once you overlook the terrible special effects (someone in a car winging the steering wheel back and forth while a grainy movie of street scene plays on the back windshield).
3) There’s something almost comforting about the formulaic “the bad guy captures the good guy and is so convinced that he’s got this in the bag that he lays out his entire evil plan for him so that once the good guy escapes he knows exactly what to do to save the world” thing.
4) Even the earliest films depict women in positions of power, which was unusual for the time, I guess.
On the other hand: WOW. Just… holy shit, seriously, I had NO IDEA of what passed for acceptable relationship dynamics in those there “olden days.” I remain gobsmacked.
So far we’ve watched the first 6 films (at a rate of about one a week, because a week is how long it takes for my rage to fade after each one), all of which are from the 1960s. The first five—Dr. No to You Only Live Twice—star Connery. Again, he’s rather nice to look at, and even though a lot of what happens in these films causes me to scream at the screen, “WHAT? NO! NOT OKAY!” somehow I have managed to keep with it because I keep telling myself SURELY once we get into the 1970s some of this misogynistic nonsense will fade out. Right? RIGHT??
Every single one of these first five films feature at LEAST one scene (sometimes more than one) where Bond smacks a woman around for some reason, and she—beaten into submission? turned on by his manly powers?—subsequently falls into his arms. Which: GROSS. Really, really disturbing. Even more disturbing than the whole notion that Bond simply walks into the room and the woman’s panties just fall off. There’s also more than one film where the implication is that THIS woman is the one who actually MEANS SOMETHING to him, but of course by the next movie she’s a distant memory. Although honestly, I could devote very little indignation to that aspect because I was so busy trying to figure out how this little he-hits-her-and-she-finds-him-irresistible dynamic was deemed acceptable not once, but FIVE FREAKING TIMES. I really WANT to love James Bond. International Man of Mystery! Suave! Debonair! Also: TOTAL ASSHOLE.
Last night we got to the sixth movie, and imagine my surprise when “Bond. James Bond” was not Connery. “Who is THAT?” I said to my poor husband, who is already regretting telling me how great these movies supposedly are.
“Oh, he was only Bond in this one,” he replied. “His name is… George?”
“Right,” I said. “Her Majesty’s Secret Service, starring… GEORGE!”
Turns out his name is George Lazenby, but who cares. He wasn’t Sean Connery. And it was still a 1960s Bond film, so THIS time, instead of the typical tussle-with-the-weak-female-before-she-falls-for-him, there’s a scene where he actually full-out PUNCHES HIS HEROINE DEAD IN THE FACE. She, naturally, still loves him completely.
Otto paused the movie while I had my conniption. Because… I just… and they… and this… GAHHHHHHH.
The first Bond movie I ever saw as a kid was For Your Eyes Only with Roger Moore. I recall Moore being fairly… benign. I am now TERRIFIED to work our way up to those films because what if I’m remembering wrong and even his James Bond is an unapologetic, violent asshole?
I feel like I’m going to need a significant amount of therapy to get through the rest of the movies, and yet I feel like I can’t give up now, because SURELY the movie where that particular line of nonsense CEASES is just around the corner. And I need to see that to restore my faith in humanity (emphasis on “man”). Then again, I hear from people who’ve actually read that 50 Shades garbage that the whole “man overpowers woman, woman falls into his arms” dynamic is still being shoved down our throats as what every single woman secretly desires.
Know what? I have NEVER wished for a guy to sock me, secretly or otherwise. I don’t think this is because I’m a feminist; I think this is because I’m a human being with an aversion to pain. But apparently I was raised all wrong! (I mean, if the Bond films are to be believed.) Ian Fleming completely hated women, right? It’s the only explanation that makes sense.
Monkey is having some pals over for a movie night, tonight. Think I can trick them into watch Norma Rae? I feel like my movie-viewing palate needs cleansing.