James Bond Declassified: Father's Day Dossier
It is the 50th anniversary of James Bond's first theatrical feature film this year.
That alone would be justification enough to write my special series in which we review each and every film in the official James Bond franchise so far, but I must confess a more personal motivation at work here.
1977 was a big year for me in terms of figuring out my tastes as a filmgoer. It was obviously the year that "Star Wars" was released, and that film was like a lightning bolt someone fired directly into the top of my head. It was also the year that "Smokey and the Bandit" was released, and in some ways, that film was like my dad's "Star Wars," a movie that seemed to be almost specifically engineered for his pleasure. It made a huge impression on me, seeing him laugh like that, seeing how completely he handed himself over to it. My dad is cut from that same sort of pure cowboy cloth as Sam Elliott, and growing up, his stoicism was one of the things that defined my idea of manhood. Watching him laugh so hard he cried was uncommon, but it did happen on occasion, and I made careful note of what did it to him.
There was another film that opened in 1977 that I saw theatrically, and that trip was one of the rare moments when it was just me and my father together. He took me to see "The Spy Who Loved Me," and on the way to the theater, we had our first real conversation about James Bond. I felt like I was being offered up some of the secrets of the universe, like he was letting me in on something. James Bond meant something to him, and as a result, James Bond instantly meant something to me.
Not everything my father loves translated to me feeling the same way. But it did at least make me willing to try things out. I wanted to understand the things that were important to him because it meant that I understood him in some way. I think we spend much of our lives trying to understand our parents as people, real people who are more than just the role they play in our upbringing. In the case of James Bond, we immediately bonded over the rules of that world, the touchstones that make the series such a familiar sort of experience every time out. And I have spent much of the rest of my life not only watching the films but reading the books and also reading about Fleming and why he wrote what he wrote. I've tried to understand the context of when the books were written, the context of how the films were made, and the way the series evolved over time.
So this series isn't just about the anniversary. It is also my attempt to make sense of something that has always been what I consider my shared passion, something I inherited from my father, and something that I'm guessing I'll be passing on to my own little film nerds soon. After all, Toshi's turning seven in a few weeks. That's how old I was in 1977. And when I think of how much we've already shared through Film Nerd 2.0, and how much there still is that we'll be sharing in years to come, it pleases me enormously, because I know what it meant to me.
I still remember sitting in the passenger's seat of the car, my dad driving next to me, the early August sun beating down on me as we drove to the Countryside Six. I remember standing in line, I remember the posters, and specifically I remember the "Sinbad and the Eye Of The Tiger" poster. I remember all of these details, and at the center of those memories, I remember my father, right there with me, sharing something that was important to him. That's what I'm trying to share with all of you as we count down to the release of "Skyfall," and to that end, we need to get the series back on track.
This week, I'll be covering three different films, and this represents the moment where the franchise came the closest to going completely off the rails. We'll look at the first attempt to replace Sean Connery, his return to the series for one last film, and then the transition to Roger Moore. After this, we'll be doing the series one per Friday from now until "Skyfall," with a few key weeks off for things like Comic-Con and the Toronto Film Festival.
In case you haven't been reading the series so far, here's what we've already published:
"From Russia With Love"
"You Only Live Twice"
James Bond will return.
1995 | Mystery | NRSummary: Denzel Washington plays an out of work WWII vet who takes the wrong job and is soon neck-deep in a mess of politics, murder, and jazz in '40s Los Angeles.Director: Carl Franklin
Cast: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
2013 | Comedy | NRSummary: Insanely funny comedy show created by Amy Schumer, who stars in brilliantly funny sketches about sex, city living, dating, and friendship.Director: Daniel Powell, Amy Schumer (creators)
Cast: Amy Schumer, Kevin Kane, Mike Houston
2013 | Drama | RSummary: Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill have boundless energy in the story of a real-life commodities crook who earned millions through scummy small-time stock trades.Director: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie
2007 | Comedy | PGSummary: Newlyweds Nick (Ice Cube) and Suzanne (Long) decide to move to the suburbs to provide a better life for their two kids. But their idea of a dream home is disturbed by a contractor (McGinley) with a bizarre approach to business.Director: Steve Carr
Cast: John C. McGinley, Ice Cube, Nia Long, Aleisha Allen
1996 | Crime | RSummary: Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start ...Director: Joel Coen
Cast: William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare
2013 | Thriller | RSummary: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) a Miami bodybuilder who wants to live the American dream. He would like to have the money that other people have. So he enlists the help of fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and ex-convict, Christian bodybuilder Paul Doyle (D...Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub
1997 | Crime | RSummary: Quentin Tarantino adaptats an Elmore Leonard novel into this story of a few increasingly desperate people scraping to get by.Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster
1993 | Sports | PGSummary: Emotionally powerful sports classic featuring Sean Astin as a skinny high school kid with big football dreams and the determination to make his way towards his dream team at Notre Dame.Director: David Anspaugh
Cast: Sean Astin, Jon Favreau, Ned Beatty
2008 | Science Fiction | PGSummary: Animated series continues the story of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker as they battle the Emperor Palpatine, Count Dooku and General Grievous, but also takes time to explore other smaller characters in the Star Wars universe.Director: George Lucas (creator)
Cast: Tom Kane, Dee Bradley Baker, Matt Lanter
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