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Bond. James Bond. Part One

Episode 217: Bond. James Bond.

Three delays and 18 months but it’s finally here…

CLIP Hello Q I missed you.

And we’ve missed you Mr. Bond.

Cinema Junkie The Theme bump 1 (drums)

Welcome back to listener supported KPBS Cinema Junkie. I’m Accomando. Beth Accomando.

Cinema Junkie The Theme bump 1 (Horns)

That’s right, No Time to Die, the 25th film in Eon Productions’ James Bond franchise, is finally here and playing in cinemas. Originally scheduled for an April release in 2020, the pandemic forced the last film in the Daniel Craig cycle of Bond movies to be postponed repeatedly increasing the level of anticipation to a cruelly high level. But it’s totally worth the wait. As a lifelong Bond fan, I have been eagerly awaiting No Time To Die but also feeling a tinge of sadness knowing that Craig’s tenure as the famous MI6 agent is coming to an end. (:38)

Music theme bump out

To discuss Bond’s final mission and to explore 007’s cinematic and literary dossier I have brought in a pair of special agents. My guests for this Cinema episode of part one of Bond James Bond are a pair of espionage aficionados, both of whom are regular contributors to Shane Whaley’s Spybrary podcast.

I’ll discuss No Time To Die with Gary Dexter …. and then Jeff Quest will join the conversation to consider the Bond franchise.

But first, I need to take one quick break and then I’ll be back to look at the fantasy spy world in this cinema junkie episode of Bond. James Bond.

To take us into the break, Eric Leonardis has a Share Your Addiction.

ERIC LEONARDIS

Hi, I'm Eric Leon Artis. I am a neuroscientist, and I'm here to share my addiction. So one quick point is everyone thinks that scientists are like those people in the Big Bang theory. No, no, this is nonsense. Actually, we are much more like the chaos mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park. And I'll explain to you why Ian Malcolm is not only a thoughtful scientist and mathematician, but he has something to say about the unintended effects in the world. He has taught us that just because you could do something doesn't mean you should. This is something that my students bring up all the time in class. I've found that Ian Malcolm has influenced my students ethically, more so than most people have. And when it comes down to it, he is also extremely sexy. And that's what scientists really are when we are doing and engaging in chaos mathematics, that's what it looks like.

Thanks Eric. I’m gonna check in with Q branch and then be back with my double O colleagues to discuss Bond. James Bond.

MIDROLL 1

Welcome back, Q assures me there’s no need not worry about any ejector seat if you are listening in your car so we are safe to proceed with a review of Bond 25, No Time to Die.

Gary Dexter flew to London to see No Time to Die at its earliest release date – that’s fandom for you – and Jeff Quest describes himself as a huge fan of spy novels and runs spywrite.com a website dedicated to spy fiction and nonfiction in all forms – movies, tv and books.

To start the podcast, I spoke with Gary shortly after he had seen No Time to Die for the second time in London. We’ll have a spoiler free review of the film but first I wanted him to describe the atmosphere in England surrounding the release of the film.

CLIP Music NTTD

BETH ACCOMANDO

So, Gary, you went to England to see the new Bond film. And before we talk about the film itself, tell me a little bit about the atmosphere in England right now.

GARY DEXTER

It's crazy the way the nation is embraced. Bond, this time is very similar to Bond mania in the hype of the Connery era. You can throw a stone, essentially and hit some sort of Bond tin or promotion. London had a gigantic do seven sculpture in Lester Square ahead of the movies. But and then I guess they move that over to the Albert Hall for the actual Premier. All the Omega shops have got the gun barrel motif on there. They've got prop displays inside. In fact, some of the props that are seen in the film, the portraits of the different Ms. I guess the Triumph motorcycle is over at Selfridges. Yeah, it's incredible. It's really exciting. It definitely has a vibe unlike any Bond that I've experience here in the past.

BETH ACCOMANDO

So you're seeing Bond in what's probably the best conditions with all that excitement and mania going on, and you've already seen it twice. So what's your gut reaction to it?

GARY DEXTER

It's unique. I've never seen a Bond like it. It's its own beast tonally. It seems very different. That being said, I think it's more so than any Bond. I recall it has callbacks to so many aspects of Bond in the past, both cinematic and literary. There's a lot of Fleming that's been left behind over the years, of course, as the movies have diverted from the literary Bond. But this one, I think, more than any other, certainly at a time when they ran out of original titles to use for the movies anyway, really pays a large and draws directly from a lot of literary. Bond is very exciting.

BETH ACCOMANDO

Well, I have to say that when I came out of it, I know that a lot of people are talking about the fact that it's almost 3 hours long, 2 hours and 45 minutes. But I have to say my first reaction to it was it moved fast and it felt like it had all the classic Bond action. And yet it had this emotional weight to it as well, which was both surprising and a great way to wrap up the series.

GARY DEXTER

I agree it was very much of Daniel's interpretation of Bond and keeping really with things that we've seen from the get go in Casino Royale. You carried emotional Haft unlike and we've ever seen before in A Bond, and it was all the better for it. I felt it was very much Craig saying goodbye to his tenure in the character. It reminded me a little bit of Harrison Ford and HanSolo Pratt's approach to this movie was kind of similar. He wanted a sort of finality to his arc, and I think we achieved that too.

BETH ACCOMANDO

Well, you mentioned these callbacks, and one thing I felt when I was watching it is there were these nice touches. Some of them were very overt, and some of them were more subtle. But you get the very clear reference to honor Majesty Secret Service with the line we have all the time in the world. And then you get other things that are a little more subtle where he's in Jamaica, which can reference both the location of a couple of Bonds and also the fact that Ian Fleming himself was in Jamaica. So it was like these Easter egg kind of things going on.

GARY DEXTER

It certainly was. And it began from the moment the credits dropped with the door no style dots appearing on the screen. As soon as I saw that, I thought, oh, I think I know where we're going here. And as you say, it ran throughout, yes, very much the line from Majesties, but also a lot of re orchestrations of Majesty soundtrack in there as well from that point and elsewhere in the movie. And it was absolutely lifted with Callbacks. I mean, we had a copious amount of Aster Martins, including the BB Five has almost become traditional in this era. But of course, we had the Living Daylights era Aston appearing as well. What I thought was really surprising. The Cuba setting was almost a callback to die another day. And I would have thought if you're avoiding Callbacks, that would be the one to avoid, but I guess not. So it was embraced everything. And I absolutely loved the production design of Sassin Layer because it was pure Ken Adam. I mean, it was just straight out of the Ken Adam school of design, and it was just absolutely fantastic look beautiful on screen.

BETH ACCOMANDO

Yeah, it did remind me when they have this section. I won't give anything away, but there's a point at which something opens up and it looks very much like the volcano layer, and you only live twice now is going like that kind of calls back to that.

GARY DEXTER

It really does. It really does. And it follows the revelation of who the bad guy is and where the bad guy is located, and then the they kind of going to the bad guys location and taking him out. And it was that was a series of beats. That kind of followed classic Bond as well. So I think that was even a call back to that.

BETH ACCOMANDO

But one of the things that I enjoyed about this is I felt it moved Bond into a more contemporary era in terms of how the female characters were, but without that kind of in your face way that they did it. And some of the Pierce Brosnan ones where I think M calls them out for being a dinosaur and money Penny yells at them for being a Shavani pig, but this was much more kind of organic. You just have female characters who seem to be about to behave in the way we typically expect in a Bond film, but then they don't, but they don't do it in this way of this kind of very stride. And, oh, we're going to make a feminist statement. It's just like, hey, you expected me to be one thing.

GARY DEXTER

And I'm another very much so I think none more so than Anadolu role. A character is set up to be extremely ditsy, just the way she communicates and what she tells Bond and her style. And we find out that, yes, that might genuinely be the characters nature, but it's no reflection on a competency. Yeah. I agree. It was very much a defying expectation, leading you one way and then taking you somewhere else. It was very, very good. And I really enjoyed knowing me as well. And the way she interacted with Bond and the evolution of the relationship on screen, it was much more credible for male female character interaction. She was forthright and a confident character in her own right without being sort of obnoxious or undermining Bonds fundamental nature, which really can't be too modern era. I think it's got to be bond has to be true to his nature and then confronting and interacting with 21st century women characters. And that reality defining the direction that the plot goes in. I think they did a fantastic job with that. I really enjoyed it.

BETH ACCOMANDO

Yeah. Because a couple of times we have instances where he thinks women are coming on to him or he thinks that he's going to be in some sort of sexual situation and it's completely diffused with a bit of humor and kind of the sense of like, yeah, you're getting a little old and this whole kind of trope is going away, but we'll play with it still definitely.

GARY DEXTER

Yeah. And in fact, I thought that might be one of the literary callbacks because, of course, in the literary Moonraker, Bond doesn't get the girl Gala brand. It doesn't sort of fall into his arms as so many head at that time. And I the way these characters were interacting with him and the outcome kind of put me in mind of that as well.

BETH ACCOMANDO

You know, I feel on a certain level, Barbara Broccoli has done what Kevin Feige did with Marvel is she's brought this sense of this overarching story line across multiple films, creating this kind of Bond universe where a character may come in, exit come back. But we feel there's this kind of sense of these films all go together in a very complex and clever way.

GARY DEXTER

Yeah, definitely. I had the same reaction because we've always sort of accepted Bond in the back of our mind. We kind of ignore the fact that he looks different every few years, and there's always some very, very loose. I admit, there's some sort of continuity through it and a game that we could always play, which was to say, well, if I look at the way everything's changed as a reaction to the modern world, the reality, how do these movies all fit together into some sort of continuous timeline for a single character, and they haven't often mentioned the past. I mean, there was in a few hours only if I'm remembering correctly and Bond visits Tracy’s grave. But there's not a lot of reference over reference to continuity in it. And again in Daniel era, we we had mentioned of Vespa, but even so, when you think, well, Casino Royale is at least a semi reboot. So does that mean if we look at the art of all the other movies and ignoring the fact of this sort of contemporaneous setting that we can plug these all together into one timeline that sort of begins with Casino Royale and moves forward. This kind of five film Mark changes that completely. And, you know, for a long time, many people have said, Wouldn't it be fun to go back in time and do a pure Cold War era bomb? And then everyone will say, Well, that's never going to work. You know, he has to evolve and stay with the modern era. But now, really, in a post annual world, we could do that. And that actually could be an awful lot of fun. I mean, again, looking at Marvel with Captain America, we visited his life at lots of different times. You could do this with Bonds as well. I think really anything's possible after this.

BETH ACCOMANDO

All right. Do you have any final comments about the film to leave people with

GARY DEXTER

Again without serving yet into spoiler territory, I think it's going to be highly divisive. I mean, most of the critiques that I've read over here have been extremely positive, I think, because it was just so bold. It's possible that everybody waiting, not just for this movie in particular, after three delays, but a movie of this type in event movie to hopefully reboot the cinematic experience played into it. So people are accepting more, more accepting, I'm saying, and than I expected of its boldness. But I do think in the fullness of time it's going to be highly divisive. I don't think anyone's going to be ambivalent towards it. There'll be strong pro and cons

Hope that whets your appetite to see the film. I have to confess that at the press screening I got goose bumps -- there was a taped message from Daniel Craig thanked audiences for their patience because Bond deserved the big screen and then the music started and yeah goose bumps.

I need to take one last break and then I’ll be back to look at the fantasy spy world of James Bond on screen and in the books with Gary Dexter and Jeff Quest.

MIDROLL 2

Welcome back. When I spoke with Gary and Jeff last month none of us had yet seen No Time to Die. So for this part of the discussion, remember we were only speaking in eager anticipation of the film’s release.

I began by asking them how they got introduced to Bond.

GARY DEXTER

Well, my earliest memory is Goldfinger, and I was I saw that on television. That may be a large part in the highest team that I hold it in. As far as what got me hooked on spy films, I'm not sure. To be honest, it was a simultaneous experience between films and books, and I tend to and for as long as I remember a relatively cynical outlook in life. And I enjoy the moral ambiguity that so prevalent in inspire fiction, particularly actually the literary Bond and Jeff.

JEFF QUEST

I can trace it back probably to reading Hardy Boys books, and they kind of transitioned into some spy activities. And I think that really sparked my spy fandom even more so than it had been. And then switching to movies when I was growing up, you couldn't turn on the TV on the weekend, the three channels that we had back then without seeing a Bond film popping up. And so I think that definitely let the fire lit the fuse for spy fandom.

BETH ACCOMANDO

What do you think it might have been about Bond in particular? That kind of hooked your interest and really captured your imagination when it comes to Bond.

JEFF QUEST

He's the big dog on the block, right? I mean, everybody else is playing catch up when it comes to Bond, and he's the one that everybody has been orbiting around. All the other spy films really took their cues from Bond, either as blatant imitators or as something to fight against. Go completely opposite. Right. With a more gritty look at Spider. And so I think it's hard not to look at Bond and have him be the one that you put everything else up against.

GARY DEXTER

I say there's somewhat tingin cheek, but Bond is as close as you can get to a superhero without sort of super soldier serums and actual superpowers. I mean, his capabilities are far beyond mortal human beings and yet still more grounded than the Marvel Universe, which I love as a close second, a Bond. Of course, one of the things that made him very successful in both literary forms and cinematic is that he came into everybody's pop culture consciousness at a time when the world was still reading from World War II and rationing was rife, especially in the UK and what was left of Europe.

GARY DEXTER

Of course, people were still coming to terms with the the fall of the Iron Curtain. And so you had a fairly sort of drag Gray time, particularly when Casino Royale hit and was published there. And so it was showing people a world far beyond mortal Ken as it were because Fleming came from a very privileged existence himself and was able to experience these things and share his impressions with other people. I think this is perhaps slightly less true when Dr no appeared in the 60s, but it was still showing people wonderful foreign locals and, you know, the beautiful Jamaican scenery in particular, at a time when the average man woman was incapable of air travel and traveling to these locations.

BETH ACCOMANDO

So I feel like I was born with Bond in the cinematic version. So I was born in 1960. And I remember seeing Gold Finger and getting the album and playing it so often that my parents had to hide it because they were so tired of it. And there was something about Bond that just really and Sean Connery in particular that just hooked my imagination. And honestly, I know I get a lot of Flack for liking pussy galore from some of my feminist friends. But to a young girl, like in the early Sixties, to me, that was like such an empowering image, you know, she got to kick ass.

BETH ACCOMANDO

She got to kick James Bond's ass, you know, and that wasn't something you saw a lot. And so Gold Finger is probably for me, the most rewatchable one. And it really like the whole the villain and everything was just so captivating to me as a young kid that I don't know, it was something that seems so different from a lot of the other stuff. I mean, here I am, a little kid going to see Disney movies. And then Bond and my parents took me to all these films, but it felt like something very different and exciting and on the screen.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And it seemed like, I'm just curious, what do you think kind of led to it being because it was kind of an instant success when Doctor no comes out, it was a big hit. And it feels like there was something going on that I know that also John F. Kennedy reading the books, kind of gave it an extra buzz because that kind of legitimize this kind of pop entertainment. And what do you feel kind of led to Bond being this instant pop culture success once the films came out?

JEFF QUEST

Well, I think for me, is he kind of the films, especially hit a moment in time, right? I mean, the Cold War was starting to heat up. Tensions are rising in the world, and people are looking for somebody who can fix it. All right. And take care of this and take out the bad guy and the world ending bad guy. You've got that kind of nuclear fear hanging over everybody. Right. And so this is somebody who can stop that. And I think that is a very powerful, powerful thought.

JEFF QUEST

And then you add that to just like the amazing locations, the sets, the gadgets, all of that stuff. I mean, it's like, how do you not want to watch more of that, I think, is the question they couldn't put them out fast enough. That's why people had to start imitating them.

GARY DEXTER

Yeah. I think Jeff makes an interesting point there. I think the frequency of production, but a certain momentum, which we strode the success, but certainly a game as far as the Cold War is concerned, you know, we were looking down the barrel of the Cuban missile crisis. So I think people were very hungry for some escapist righteousness, if you like. And Band had that. And in particular, with Gold Finger. Of course, that was the point at which they hit a formula which lasted for a very long time and became an absolute lynchpin of Rogers era, where the whole plot would be a very sort of strong three act structure on it.

GARY DEXTER

And the third act, of course, would be the assault on the bad guys gigantic base. And you'd end in this sort of big crescendo. And, of course, that became, as I say, a formula that lasted for years and years. And Gold Finger really struck the die on that formula.

BETH ACCOMANDO

And do you think it's that sense of formula that led to its incredibly lengthy success? I mean, we are now 25 films in decades later, and people are still excited about a new Bond film coming out.

GARY DEXTER

I doubt it because as we've seen in recent years, particularly with Daniel's On, the actual structure has definitely changed. I mean, even when Eon finally had the opportunity to go back and do Casino, it doesn't really follow that structure. But I'll think what's essential is almost an accidental benefit, which is the necessity of continually recasting Bond and everybody that comes to the role brings their own interpretation to it. And, of course, the world has moved on a great deal since the Cold War. We don't have have a Cold War as we know it back then anymore.

GARY DEXTER

So there's a necessity for for the E on team to continually reinvent and try to bring us a story that is escapist and yet is of its time is contextually relevant. And I think that sort of recasting of Bond bringing these new interpretations and to drive to kind of make the plots to a point contextually relevant is a key factor in its ongoing success.

JEFF QUEST

I'd agree with Gary, but I'd push back a little bit and that I think that there are certain formula elements that are essential to Bond that make Bond Bond and are part of what is the soothing element that make me want to come back to there, right? There's going to be the the gadgets that he gets in each movie. There's some sort of something like that. There is the romantic interest, typically a good girl and a bad girl if you want to put it that way. Right.

JEFF QUEST

So that's another essential part of that, then you have pieces. You know, there's going to be crazy stunts in each movie. And I think those are all essential elements that if you didn't do some of those things and there's more of them, but you got to see them in a tuxedo, you've got to get that moment of some sort of game back and forth with the villain. I think those are things that you can maybe goes light on one of those elements in each movie, but you got to have some sort of core of that.

JEFF QUEST

Otherwise the audience is going to feel a little bit cheated.

CLIP License To Kill

That wraps up another edition of KPBS listener supported Cinema Junkie. We just had too much to discuss to fit into one episode but like Bond, Gary, Jeff and I will return to finish this discussion of 007 and fantasy spies in part two of Bond, James Bond.

CLIP 007 always returns

Remember to check out Cinema Junkie presents Geeky Gourmet where I show you how to make food themed to each podcast. The videos are available on the KPBS You Tube Channel. And the latest one will show you how to make food themed to 3 of the locations featured in No Time To Die: Jamaica, Norway and Matera, Italy. Not only that but I will show you how to make a cake with the famous gun barrel design of the 007 open.

I’d like to acknowledge the talented team who that makes Cinema Junkie happen: podcast coordinator Kinsee Morlan, technical director Rebecca Chacon, and director of sound design Emily Jankowski.

Till our next film fix, I’m Beth Accomando your resident Cinema Junkie.

NO TIME TO DIE
Eon Productions/MGM
Daniel Craig makes his final appearance as James Bond in "No Time To Die."
Cinema Junkie Beth Accomando goes on a special mission with spy aficionados Gary Dexter and Jeff Quest to explore the cinematic and literary universe of James Bond 007. Get a spoiler-free review of "No Time To Die" and then enjoy part one of an in-depth and geeky exploration of the fantasy spy world of Ian Fleming's James Bond.

Three delays and 18 months but it’s finally here… "No Time To Die" is now in cinemas.

That’s right, No Time to Die, the 25th film in Eon Productions’ James Bond franchise, is finally here and playing in cinemas. Originally scheduled for an April release in 2020, the pandemic forced the last film in the Daniel Craig cycle of Bond movies to be postponed repeatedly increasing the level of anticipation to a cruelly high level. But it’s totally worth the wait. As a lifelong Bond fan, I have been eagerly awaiting "No Time To Die" but also feeling a tinge of sadness knowing that Craig’s tenure as the famous MI6 agent is coming to an end.

To discuss Bond’s final mission and to explore 007’s cinematic and literary dossier I have brought in a pair of special agents. My guests for part one of Cinema Junkie's Bond, James Bond are a pair of espionage aficionados, both of whom are regular contributors to Shane Whaley’s Spybrary podcast: Gary Dexter and Jeff Quest.