Page to Screen: The Hunt for Red October (1990)

The Hunt for Red October
based on the novel by Tom Clancy

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I don’t know enough about the current state of the genre in publishing to comment, but I think it’s fair to say that, insofar as film goes, the technothriller has fallen a little out of fashion. 2012’s entrants into the category, Safe House and The Bourne Legacy, came in at twenty-fifth and twenty-ninth in the American grosses. Nothing to sneeze at, certainly, but that’s hardly the heights of the big-budget speculative fiction films that dominate multiplexes. I didn’t even know Safe House existed before I started writing this post.

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Page to Screen: Quantum of Solace (2008)

Quantum of Solace
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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While I remember Casino Royale coming out to a lot of fanfare, especially critically, I barely remember Quantum of Solace’s release. I mostly remember puzzlement over its title. It’s taken from the short story “Quantum of Solace” and refers to the necessary humanity required to keep a person in a relationship. If it drops to zero, then the relationship cannot hold. Thematically appropriate for this film and for Craig’s brutal Bond, but hardly something you can sing along with while weeping alone in your car. (You don’t do that every time “Skyfall” comes on the radio?) I never made an effort to see it and utterly forgot about the franchise as a whole until Skyfall. You know the rest.

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Page to Screen: Casino Royale (2006)

Casino Royale
based on the novel by Ian Fleming

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Casino Royale was the first Bond movie I ever saw and, until I started the Bondathon after watching Skyfall, the only James Bond film I’d seen. My father took me as part of our long-standing agreement to see action films with each other since my mom can’t take the surround sound. I remember being utterly delighted by the opening sequence and offended by the end. This was the year I concluded that the use of the word “bitch” was an instant and unredeemable misogyny bomb; I read Slaughterhouse-Five the same year. In my defense, I was fifteen. Still, I remembered it fondly as my Bond film, my entry-point into the franchise, so I was quite looking forward to revisiting it for the Bondathon.

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Page to Screen: Die Another Day (2002)

Die Another Day
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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Despite my relative unfamiliarity with the Brosnan films before embarking on the Bondathon, I knew about Die Another Day. I heard the theme song on the local top 40 station (Star 94 represent!) in middle school. It was the one with all the CGI. It was the one with the invisible car. It was the one that made Eon realize that they had gone too far, thus the reason Casino Royale is a deliberate reboot, not a soft one like GoldenEye. I both looked forward to and mildly dreaded its reputed awfulness. I ended up just blasting through it in a double bill with The World is Not Enough, because I just had to get out of the Brosnan years before my fondness for the franchise died.

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Page to Screen: The World is Not Enough (1999)

The World is Not Enough
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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Throughout the entire process of the Bondathon, I had been looking forward to the Brosnan years, especially when I was struggling for breath during the Moore years. I first experienced conscious thought in a world where Brosnan was Bond; the two could not be separated. I knew, on a gut level, that GoldenEye was a good movie. And even after watching Tomorrow Never Dies, I still held out hope that the next two Brosnan films would self-correct, even though I knew Die Another Day exists. I probably should have listened to my friend Natalya, who would only nod knowingly at me every time I mentioned Pierce Brosnan. Ah, bliss. Or, as it’s often better known, ignorance.

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Page to Screen: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Tomorrow Never Dies
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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While checking out a handful of the Connery films at the library, I, all fired up about the Bondathon, told the librarian what I was doing. “Oh,” she said, “Pierce Brosnan was my favorite. I’m just so disappointed that he only made one…”

I wasn’t sure how to respond. On the one hand, I could surprise her with the delightful fact that Brosnan, in fact, made four Bond films, giving her three more movies to watch. On the other hand, now actually having seen Tomorrow Never Dies, she may have been thinking of GoldenEye the way I think of the first season of Heroes and other people think of The Matrix: what a shame they never made another! Sometimes, you must lie to yourself to protect yourself from disappointment.

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Page to Screen: GoldenEye (1995)

GoldenEye
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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GoldenEye was my first exposure to James Bond. Not the film, mind you, the video game. At the dawn of the millennium, I attended a birthday party of the daughter of friends of my parents. I sat quietly with these girls I didn’t know terribly well, until the mother finally said, “Okay, you can go play with the boys.” I immediately scampered off to the other room, where her brother and his friends were playing GoldenEye 64’s multiplayer mode. Gamer being my identity of choice in my preteen years, I was in heaven. I didn’t even know there was a movie attached to it. Ah, childhood ignorance. Well, there’s certainly nothing like the present to correct that.

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Page to Screen: Licence to Kill (1989)

Licence to Kill
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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As an American Anglophile raised by a French Anglophile, I feel I have a pretty good handle on the differences between UK and US spellings. Whenever my mother is writing a letter, she invariably glances up at me and asks me if she spelled something the American way or the English way. “No,” I said last time, “but leave it. It looks classier.” But for some reason, the difference between License to Kill and Licence to Kill kept tripping me up, and not just because MacJournal tells me the latter is wrong. Vowel variations look more or less natural to me, presumably due to aforementioned Frenchness, but consonant replacements creep me out a little for whatever reason. Anyway, the last Dalton Bond, right?

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Page to Screen: The Living Daylights (1987)

The Living Daylights
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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As a nail polish fiend and pop culture junkie, the licensed nail polish collection is seemingly tailored to me specifically. Ever since I missed the chance to buy the perfect multicolor glitter from the OPI Alice in Wonderland collection a few years back, I’ve been keeping a keen eye on such offerings. When OPI produced a James Bond collection to celebrate Skyfall and Fifty Years of Bond, I knew I had to get at least one—a nail polish inspired by such a butch franchise? How could I not? Alas, I could not actually find them, so I was floored when my awesome friend Natalya (who must be name-checked in every Bond review I write) gave me one of them as a gift. How is this relevant? That nail polish was called “The Living Daylights”. So not only have I been looking forward to watching Timothy Dalton step into Bond’s impeccable shoes, but I already feel like I should like the film, since I like the nail polish so much.

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Page to Screen: A View To a Kill (1985)

A View to a Kill
based on characters by Ian Fleming

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A View To a Kill is the first Bond movie I remember learning about outside of Goldeneye. (I may not have seen the film, but even I remember the majesty of the video game. It saturated the Nintendo 64 years like a glorious vodka martini-scented halo.) It was the one with Christopher Walken and Grace Jones. It was the one where Roger Moore’s age had become laughably apparent. It was the one from the mid-eighties, when the whole eighties aesthetic had stabilized and hadn’t soured yet. It was the one I was destined to love, for just as Meyerian werewolves imprint upon their soulmates in utero, I, too, imprinted upon the eighties at a tender age. Bring it on.

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