An oral history of six decades’ worth of entries in the James Bond film franchise.
For some fans, James Bond is Sean Connery, who turns up here at the last moment to mutter, “Of course the films will go on, but who’ll play me, I just don’t know and can’t guess.” Others are perfectly happy with the work of Daniel Craig, who lacks Connery’s twinkle but has nicely captured the character’s essential amorality: He’s perfectly capable of mayhem and extreme violence without pausing for a breath (and doesn’t really need to, the Bond of today having lightened up on the cigarettes and booze of his 1960s iteration). Besides, he looks good in a tux. Altman, the co-author, with Gross, of like-minded oral histories of Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Battlestar Galactica, talks to figures before and behind the camera to chronicle the changing face of Bond and the Bond films—including the “Bond girls,” some lethal and some merely eye candy. The compilers don’t always hit the mark: It does little perceptible good to know that Robert Rodriguez was introduced to Bond through The Spy Who Loved Me or to repeat the well-worn truism that Ian Fleming named his spy after the author of a book about Caribbean birds. But there’s plenty of meat on the bones, too, such as the authors’ exploration of the pioneering work of Bond’s early producers in product placements, with Dr. No sporting more than 20 of them as “a result of James Bond and Sean Connery being fairly unknown entities” at the time. Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby, and Timothy Dalton weren’t much better known. However, along with Roger Moore and Craig, all, note the authors in a rare criticism, have done their part to play Bond as Fleming wrote him, “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur who is always ready to do what’s right for England and the world.”
Die-hard Bond fans will delight in this compendium.