Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Bimbo. Betty and Bimbo.

Bimbo is the second-biggest James Bond fanatic ever (right after UK fan David Fearn, who legally changed his name to James Dr No From Russia With Love Goldfinger Thunderball You Only Live Twice On Her Majesty's Secret Service Diamonds Are Forever Live And Let Die The Man With The Golden Gun The Spy Who Loved Me Moonraker For Your Eyes Only Octopussy A View To A Kill The Living Daylights Licence To Kill Golden Eye Tomorrow Never Dies The World Is Not Enough Die Another Day Casino Royale Bond). He's been reviewing all the Bond flicks this week (thanks, Mondo Kim's!). He even made it through On Her Majesty's Secret Service starring the trivia-doomed George Lazenby.

While Bimbo is a true Bond boy, you only need to read the Lazenby write-up to see why Betty is loving being along for this ride. Bond writers, filmmakers and devotees, both cult and mainstream, have created enough behind-the-scenes stories and lore to last a lifetime. For example, who knew that grumpy Kingsley Amis, writing under the pen name Robert Markham, published a James Bond novel in 1968? Or that part of the motive for filming From Russia with Love so early in the Bond movies was that JFK had named it one of his Top Ten favorite books of all time? That 007's like freaking Forrest Gump!

As timeless as the reputation and trivia are, each Bond movie really is a product for and a reflection of its time. The movies celluloid-date themselves so consistently, chronologically, and transparently that they actually avoid becoming "dated". Each theme song, gadget, witticism and Bond girl drop us squarely into a era, even though most of the gadgets (and Bond girls) have yet to be built for non-007 use in 2006.

Betty tends to fall asleep after the groovy credits and initial brush with death that marks most Bond films, but there's one notable exception. From Russia With Love is the classiest Bond film, and also yields the best trivia - Kurt Weill's supercool widow, Lotte Lenya! Pedro Armendariz's tragic story!

Maybe nothing, though, can ultimately top the absurb circus that surrounds, and is, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the Godfather, Part III of Bondiana. Wikipedia diplomatically reports:

The film's producers, perhaps mistrusting Lazenby's ability to carry the picture, took the unusual step of overdubbing Lazenby's voice with that of George Baker in major scenes in which Bond impersonated Baker's character. The technique had never been used in a Bond film for a leading actor whose first language was English.

Poor George Lazenby.

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