THE BIBLE OF ‘BOND, JAMES BOND’ [BelserVerse, Part 2]: Bond On The Big Screen.

JaDarrell “The Belser”

Previously in Part 1…

As from laying out the origin of James Bond, I mentioned those two movie producers that were fans of the Bond novels and wanted to make them into a series of movies. Well…….

The official home of James Bond

EON Productions

 The British film company that officially  produces the James Bond film series. is EON Productions.  EON based  primarily out of  Pinewood Studios in London.

Broccoli and Saltzman: Bond’s on-screen fathers

EON was founded in 1961. by producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman.  Both Broccoli and  Saltzman had been in the hunt for the Bond novel rights for a number of years but as separate  entities. The two filmmakers were then introduced by a New York writer who knew them both. The two soon formed a partnership within a week of meeting each other. In addition to EON, they also formed Danjaq, which is Eon’s legal holding company.  It is through Danjaq that EON licenses the rights to produce the Bond films. 

NOTE: The name Danjaq is a combination of the producers’ wives’ names(Dana Broccoli and Jacqueline Saltzman)

In 1975, after nine films, Harry Saltzman sold his shares of Danjaq to United Artists. Albert R. Broccoli died in 1996 and Harry Saltzman in 1994.  

Barbara Broccoli and Michael G, Wilson, the current producers of the Bond Franchise since 1996.

Today, Eon Productions is owned by Albert R. Broccoli’s daughter, Barbara Broccoli, and his stepson, Michael G. Wilson.

The Bond Formula

Starting with Dr. No in 1962, Eon Productions established a series of beats and clichés that are synonymous with the Bond films.  Scenarios may change. Locales and time frames may change. However, the ‘Bond  Formula’ has stayed the same.

The Gun Barrel Sequence

In most of  Eon-produced Bond films, the film begins with a white dot blinking across the screen, going from left to right. Once it get to the right edge of the frame, the dot opens up to reveal the inside of a gun barrel.  From the P.O.V. of a would-be assassin, the camera follows James Bond as he walks casually  against a white background. Suddenly, Bond  stops at the center of the screen before he quickly turns and shoots his gun towards the camera. A red wash of blood runs down the screen. The gun barrel dissolves to a white dot which moves from side-to-side across the screen and settles in the corner. With a few exceptions, the circle expands into the full view of the first scene.

Maurice Binder created the gun barrel sequence for the opening titles of the first Bond film, Dr. No, in 1962.  Binder even created a pinhole camera just for the sequence.

Pre-title sequence

Starting with From Russia with Love and in all subsequent films, the titles are preceded by a pre-title sequence or “teaser”. The  pre-title sequence can relate to the main plot of the film in a number of ways, including being not at all related to the movie( Goldfinger),  be loosely connected to the movie (The World Is Not Enough) or full-on related to the movie (Licence to Kill ).

Beginning with The Spy Who Loved Me, the teasers showcased spectacular stunt action sequences (skydiving, skiing , flying small airplanes ,etc).

NOTE: The World Is Not Enough has the longest Bond pre-title sequence EVER at over fourteen minutes. Most others are 5 to 10 minutes

Main title sequence

The main title sequences use visual elements based on the theme of each film.  The title also show semi or fully nude women in silhouette set against said imagery.

The Bond titles were created by designer Robert Brownjohn,  who worked on two of the first Bond films From Russia With Love and Goldfinger,  Brownjohn was apparently inspired by seeing light projecting on people’s bodies as they got up and left a cinema.

Designer Maurice Binder retained Brownjohn’s original concept for the titles for thirteen other Bond films. After Binder’s death in 1991, the opening credits were taken over by Daniel Kleinman( with the exception of Quantum of Solace, which was done by the studio MK12).

Flirting with Miss Moneypenny

Most Bond films have a scene in which Bond interacts with Miss Moneypenny, the secretary of his boss M. The constant recurring joke is Moneypenny’s unrequited love/lust for Bond and his playful banter with her. She flirts back hoping to get a  dinner date, a sexual liaison  or a wedding proposal out of him.

NOTE:virtual reality sequence in Die Another Day marks the only occasion in the Eon film series in which Moneypenny was actually shown in any form of  romantic embrace. 

Receiving assignment from M

At the beginning of most Bond films, Bond is summoned in some way to see M, the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (now known as MI6) in his or her office to receive his assignment for the movie. There are moments where Bond receives the assignment outside the MI6 offices, or at a local secret office. Bond often finds M in an agitated mood of over this new threat to world peace. While M knows Bond is MI6’s best agent , he/she tends to chastise Bond for his slick behavior and risky lifestyle.

Technical briefing with Q

“If it hadn’t been for Q Branch, you’d have been dead long ago!” – Q to Bond, Licence to Kill

After getting his assignment, Bond is often sent to Q Branch for the technical briefing in which he receives special equipment to be used in his mission.  The gadgets got the big push in the 1964 film Goldfinger and that film’s success saw more and more spy gear from Q Branch to be supplied to Bond.

Q sometimes meets Bond in the field, creating a make shift workshop in the most unusual locations, such as an Egyptian tomb in The Spy Who Loved Me and a South American monastery in Moonraker.

Meeting the Villains

The third Bond film, Goldfinger, set up a pattern for Bond meeting  the film’s main villain with a loyal and dangerous henchman, a model which was followed in subsequent films. Bond usually bests him in a game of some kind and seduces the villain’s mistress. Examples include:

  • Goldfinger and Oddjob
  • Stromberg and Jaws
  • Elektra King and Renard
  • Eliot Carver and Stamper

Bond girls

Bond meets the main Bond girl, a character portraying Bond’s love interest or one of his main sex objects. There is always one Bond girl central to the plot, and often one or two others who cross his path, helpful or not. They may be victims rescued by Bond, or else ally agents, villainesses, or henchwomen.

We have just hit the tip of the iceberg, folks. Next time, we get into the actors and actresses that have been Bond’s closest allies over the course these films. Until next time.

James Bond Will Return in: THE FRIENDS WHO LOVE THE SPY!

-JaDarrel Belser

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