Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. It’s Skyfall day!
If you’ve hung around the Scribes blog long enough then you know we are movie fans. I’m sure I’m not the only James Bond aficionado around here. I started my 007 love affair at a young age, first watching Sean Connery, George Lazeby and Roger Moore on ABC with my family. At the time, I had no idea they were heavily edited. And, of course, all the double entendres went right over my head (Pussy Galore!).
The first James Bond movie I ever saw in a theater was Moonraker. One of the more campier offerings, but I distinctly remember everyone loving the metal-mouthed bad guy Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. I was probably in my early teens and still pretty naive about all the innuendo!
Over the years, I faithfully followed all the Bonds as they changed over time. I was thrilled when Pierce Brosnan finally got his chance with the Astin Martin. And while, I was sad to see him go, I loved Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The harder edged story and the intensity really made me fall in love with the franchise all over again.
As writers there are some lessons to take away from the Bond movies. Part of Bond’s enduring success is a formula that’s stood the test of time and multiple actors playing our hero.
1. Action – I can’t think of a single Bond flick without several pulse pounding action sequences. And they aren’t there just for the thrill value either. They have a purpose and serve to move the plot along (although sometimes you have to wait until the end of the movie to see all the connections).
2. Babes. Lots and lots of babes – skimpy outfits required – Aside from our favorite secret agent, there are always at least two sexy women. One could be loosely considered to be the “love interest” (at least for the duration of the movie). The other (mostly in the earlier movies), slept with Bond then ended up dead later. Who could forget Goldfinger? Jill Eaton dead on the bed, clad only in gold paint. Or in Moonraker, when the sexpot is eaten by dogs. After a while, the first woman to have sex with Bond had the life expectancy of a red-shirted ensign on Star Trek.
3. Villains – no one has more fascinating, campy villains than Mr. Bond. Granted they have stepped away from some of the more cornball aspects of the series (Man with the Golden Gun – extra nipple anyone!). 007 always shines best when the villains are a match for him . Who can forget Sean Connery strapped to a table with Goldfinger cackling overhead – “No. Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” Classic.
4. Gadgets – Bond has done it all and with the most amazing gadgets. Explosive pens, cars that morph into submarines, even a rocket jetpack. And the cars. So many beautiful and classic Astin Martins. I know, they strayed away from the AM in some of the films, but I hear it’s back and more awesome than ever in Skyfall.
5. Super sidekicks/happening henchmen- Q, Miss Moneypenny and Felix Lightner. They’ve all helped anchor James Bond and provide a sense of continuity no matter which actors have played them. And those henchmen – Jaws, Oddjob, Xenia Onatop (the fabulous Famke Jensen) and May Day (Grace Slick). There are way too many to name, but for a complete list – click here.
6. Exotic Locales – the locations are characters in their own right. I’m pretty sure Mr. Bond has been just about everywhere – including space.
7. Awesome catchphrases – Nothing says Bond like – “Bond, James Bond.” Or “Shaken, not stirred.” No one can quip like 007. There is always some humor. Depending on the actor and the decade, it’s dry or downright corny, but we fans love it all the same!
8. The Opening Credits – Nobody does it better. The classic theme song.That gun barrel eye view often followed by an amazing action sequence which culminates in opening credits (silhouettes of nude models, weapons – you name it) often sung by the pop star du jour.
Okay, back to writing. Yes, I know I got a bit carried away. Watch any Bond film and you’ll find all or most of these elements. And if you’re wearing your writer goggles, you will find the basics elements – the call to action, GMC, twists, black moments, love (okay, sex) scenes, and final victory.
I’m sure Ian Fleming, when he was writing his books in his hideaway Goldeneye, had no idea that fifty years of movies later, his characters would still be alive and thriving. Something most of us can only dream about.
I’m looking forward to seeing Skyfall. Anyone else? Favorite Bond actor? Favorite movie? Bond moment? Bond girl, villain, location?