TCM gets shaken and stirred by a month of Bond
Any television outlet knows it’s struck gold – and, often, “Goldfinger” – when it has Bond. James Bond.
One of the most enduringly popular of all film franchises has been a home-screen staple since the early 1970s. As the cable era evolved, other avenues challenged broadcast networks for TV rights to the adventures of novelist Ian Fleming’s spy, but Turner Classic Movies has shown them only rarely.
In September, though, TCM dedicates every Thursday night of the month to Agent 007. Two veterans of the series appear in a related mini-documentary: Martin Campbell, the director who guided the introductions of two Bonds, Pierce Brosnan (in “GoldenEye”) and Daniel Craig (in “Casino Royale”); and Bruce Feirstein, who wrote or co-wrote the first three of Brosnan’s four Bond outings.
On Sept. 5, the chronologically organized event begins with five 1960s films that made Sean Connery a superstar: “Dr. No,” “From Russia With Love,” “Goldfinger,” “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice.” The month’s included titles run up through Brosnan’s “The World Is Not Enough,” and in an interview for this article, Campbell notes that a classic scene always is part of auditioning potential 007 portrayers.
“It’s the scene from ‘From Russia With Love’ where Bond comes into his hotel room, takes off his jacket and throws down his gun,” the filmmaker explains. “He crosses the suite and opens the door, and there’s Tatiana Romanova in bed. She wants to get information from him, and of course, he wants information from her – so to get it, he has to kind of seduce her. It’s a scene that pretty much covers all the Bond things, and they’ve tested every new Bond with it. And you always shoot two other scenes that are from the (current) script.”
Though he worked with two successors, Campbell allows that “Connery, for me, is still the best Bond ... probably because I was brought up on him. Then you look at Roger Moore, who was more lightweight, but there’s a lot of humor in Roger’s stuff. He brought a unique quality that I still absolutely enjoy. And then (also after George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton) we had Pierce, where it got a little more serious, and Daniel brought it back to where we are now. He’s done a terrific job, and who knows what the next actor will bring?”
Indeed, with Craig’s supposedly final Bond caper now in production for release in April, another actor will inherit the role. Having introduced the last two, would Campbell do it again?
“Well, if they ever asked me, I would certainly consider it,” he says, “because always with a new Bond, the actor brings his own particular skills to the part.”