"James Bond’s London" author Gary
Giblin weighs in on the reaction to the casting of
Daniel Craig in Casino Royale...
Opinion - Gambling on Bond
4th June 2006
GAMBLING ON BOND
OPINION BY GARY GIBLIN
They say there is no such thing as bad press, but you have to think
that by this point, the makers of Casino
would be ready for at least a few kind words. The 21st
Eon Productions James Bond film has generated more negative buzz
than any film in recent history, save, perhaps the Ben Affleck-Jennifer
Lopez disaster Gigli. Critics have panned both leading man Daniel
and the back to the basics makeover.
Die-hard Brosnan supporters have set up
an anti-Craig website, and the film’s producers have
found themselves in the rather unusual position of having
to defend both the dental health and the driving ability
of their leading man. Yet, just as “pretty boy”
the fading franchise, guiding it grandly into the 21st century,
Craig, I suspect, will do jolly well for our James.
Remember: in 1995, professional pundits worked themselves
into a lather over GoldenEye,
proclaiming 007 an irrelevant, outdated relic, the very
sexist, misogynist dinosaur that M
herself dubbed Bond in the film itself. And we all know
how that turned out.
Above: Eva Green and Daniel Craig
But let’s be fair and address the two issues that seem
to be bugging fans (and feeding the press frenzy) the most: Daniel
Craig as Bond and the “no gadgets” origin story. First,
I must admit that Craig did not immediately strike me as Bond
material. He is, as has been all too well reported, blond, relatively
short, and in no immediate danger of winning a beauty contest.
He stands, as it were, in rather stark contrast to all of his
predecessors as Bond with the possible exception of Woody Allen.
Above: Hoagy Carmichael
But who said Bond has to be drop dead gorgeous?
Certainly not Ian Fleming.
Fleming compared Bond to American singer/songwriter Hoagy
Carmichael (pictured opposite), and for those who
haven’t seen the late performer on film, let me assure
you, he was no Cary Grant.
Remember, too, that in his early literary adventures, Bond
met, fell for, and bedded but one woman. He was not some
kind of babe magnet who had to beat them off with a stick.
Later, commencing with Goldfinger,
Fleming upped the ante, creating the “three woman
rule” that the filmmakers adopted (and expanded or
contracted as needed). But even in Goldfinger, Bond didn’t
actually sleep with all three women. So, in a sense, the
“unglamorous” Craig can be said to be closer
to Fleming’s own conception of Bond. (We’ll
overlook the blond hair.) And, judging from location photos
of the actor in action, as well as the current trailer,
Craig certainly trumps both Fleming’s Bond and the
earlier actors in one department: the guy is built like
a brick casino.
In sum, generations of moviegoers have bought gritty tough guy
heroes, from Bogart to Willis, so we shouldn’t esteem it
the end of civilization if Eva Green slips under the sheets with
the craggy Craig.
As for the film entering the “no gadget”
zone, well, again, how many jet packs, ejector seats, laser
watches, and submarine cars can you trace to the pages of
Fleming’s oeuvre? None would be the short answer.
(Flying cars are, of course, another matter.) Yes, I know
that audiences have come to expect these things in a Bond
movie, but just as certainly as they crave the familiar
and formulaic, a fair share of filmgoers also crave novelty.
And, as Batman Begins and the second Star Wars trilogy well
attest, there is certainly a market for origin stories within
the confines of established film franchises.
Right: James Bond escapes using the
Rocketbelt in the opening credits of Thunderball.
So, those of us who have long championed the literary Bond, pining
for more of Fleming’s version on screen and less of Eon’s,
shouldn’t be half chuffed. My two favorite Bond films remain
Dr. No and From Russia With Love—the least gadget-laden,
most down-to-earth of the lot. Casino Royale looks to be cut from
the same film stock. How can that be so bad?
About The Author
GARY GIBLIN is the author of “James Bond's London"
and "Alfred Hitchcock's London". A native of Indiana,
he is presently working on his second book "Alfred Hitchcock's
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